In a time of uncertainty, Farm Bureau is reminding Americans that one thing still holds true, farmers and ranchers are still farming to help put food on tables across the country and the world. Check out the American Farm Bureau’s new video that drives home this powerful message.

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The gap between the value of meat products and the prices producers receive for livestock triggered President Trump, as well as Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and 11 other state Attorneys General, to request the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate potential market manipulation by meat processors this week. Their actions follow a similar request made by the Nebraska Farm Bureau. American Farm Bureau Economist Michael Nepveux shared more insight into the issue in a recent Market Intel update.

Market Intel Update

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the economy, shutting down businesses and triggering problems up and down the food supply chain. What happens with contracts in times like these? Are contracts enforceable? What does a farmer, rancher do if a buyer backs out of a contract? What recourse does a producer have if a buyer will not take delivery of cattle, hogs, or grain contracted for delivery? Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed a resource to help provide insight into those situations.

Contracts During COVID-19

Exercise your freedom! Vote in the May 12 Primary Election. Nebraska Farm Bureau – PAC has designated several candidates as “Friends of Agriculture” including U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (Dist.1), Congressman Don Bacon (Dist.2), and Congressman Adrian Smith (Dist.3). Support those who support Nebraska farm and ranch families! Visit our “Friends of Agriculture” webpage to learn more.

NEFB Friends of Agriculture

Drought conditions creep into Nebraska; Nebraska farm bankruptcies climb; Farm Bureau joins the Vice President for supply chain talks; and implementation of the U.S./China Phase One agreement is underway; read more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Did you know science, technology, engineering, and math are all used on the farm? This week the Foundation hosted a Facebook Live event that took viewers on a tractor ride with Farmer Mitch as he planted corn and shared about the technology he uses on the farm.

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Make a difference and sign up for the 2020-2021 Ag Pen Pal Program. The Ag Pen Pal Program develops a personal connection between a Nebraska farmer or rancher and a kindergarten – eighth grade classroom during the school year. Through this connection students can begin to understand the connection between agriculture and natural resources, seasons, nutrition, communities, the environment, weather, and the culture of rural Nebraska. Sign up today!

Sign Up Here

Introducing the Nebraska Farm Bureau Exchange! The Exchange is a place for Nebraska Farm Bureau members to buy, sell, or trade their items through classified ads for free and a place where members can connect to do business with someone they trust. Learn how to use the Exchange in our video.

USMCA Effective July 1

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) will go into effect July 1, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The July 1 date represents a one-month delay from the original timeline, following the signing of the agreement by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The agreement contains significant improvements and modernized approaches to rules of origin, agricultural market access, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, labor, and numerous other sectors. The trade agreement ensures most agriculture tariffs will remain at zero and expands dairy market access to Canada for the U.S., among other benefits.

Members of Congress are hammering out what should be included in the next round of COVID-19 aid. In a letter sent to all five members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation this week, Nebraska Farm Bureau identified several needs, including ensuring personal protective equipment is available to keeping meat packing facilities open; financial support to compensate producers forced to euthanize animals; monetary aid for contract livestock producers who were left out of USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance program; additional financial support for cattle and dairy producers, and re-evaluation of payment limitations to make sure they realistically capture the capital needed in all segments of the livestock industry.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau is working with Gov. Ricketts and others to support protection measures for employees so meat processing can continue to move forward in Nebraska. With that said, slowdowns and closures of processing plants due to COVID-19 may require livestock producers to make decisions about depopulation of livestock. At Nebraska Farm Bureau, we understand these are difficult decisions not easily made, but ones that may be necessary. To help, Nebraska Farm Bureau has worked with federal and state agencies to gather resources that may be of assistance to producers.

Resources and Guidance

The May 12 Primary Election is right around the corner and the Nebraska Farm Bureau – PAC has designated several candidates as “Friends of Agriculture” including U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (Dist.1), Congressman Don Bacon (Dist.2), and Congressman Adrian Smith (Dist.3). Support those who support Nebraska farm and ranch families! Visit our “Friends of Agriculture” webpage to learn more.

Resources and Guidance

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has activated a Cattle Markets Task Force to examine underlying issues and focus on the creation of a roadmap for the long-term viability of Nebraska’s cattle industry. The Task Force is made up of cattle producers from across the spectrum of the industry. Task Force recommendations will be used for consideration in developing Farm Bureau policy, programming, and potential structural changes within the cattle industry. Learn more by visiting the Cattle Markets Task Force webpage.

Cattle Markets Task Force

USMCA to start July 1; 2019 ARC vs PLC; Meat Processing Capacity Falls Sharply; read more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Congratulations to Liz Ruskamp, a Dodge County Farm Bureau, who qualified for the Sweet 16 in the American Farm Bureau’s (AFBF) first ever virtual Collegiate Discussion Meet. Ruskamp represented Nebraska and competed against Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the Sweet 16. Ruskamp submitted two videos for the first two rounds and her scores from those videos placed her in the Sweet 16. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the YF&R Leadership Conference and Collegiate Discussion Meet competition took place virtually.

In recognition of #GivingTuesdayNow (May 5), the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is raising money for free, fun, educational resources for kids and families. High five an AgMag! Help us translate our 6-series AgMags so more Nebraska students can learn about its number one industry! High five a student today! A gift of $5 supports online access to interactive lessons. High five a classroom! A gift of $25 supports live virtual field trips to farms and ranches.

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Should farmers switch from corn to soybeans? NEFB Senior Economist Jay Rempe examines the corn-to-soybean price ratio which could have some farming rethinking their planting intentions. And Director of National Affairs Jordan Dux outlines additional aid directed to farmers and ranchers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Farmers Qualify for Additional Small Business Aid

Nebraska Farm Bureau thanked members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and President Trump Friday for authorizing a $484 billion COVID-19 relief bill to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with an additional $320 billion. The measure also makes farms eligible for a separate disaster loan program for small businesses, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program of which farmers did not previously qualify for. Last week, Nebraska Farm Bureau had urged congressional leaders to replenish the PPP fund when available funding for the program expired less than 48 hours after the administration issued regulations for participation for self-employed individuals, including farmers and ranchers. The PPP is a forgivable loan program for small businesses with application to be made through SBA approved lenders. The EIDL loans for small businesses are non-forgivable loans with application for assistance made directly through Small Business Administration.

Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association partnered this week to publicly thank Gov. Ricketts for his efforts to work with meat processors to protect workers and keep meat processing moving forward in the state. In joint release, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson noted the challenges producers are already facing due to slow downs and plant closures in other states. “Widespread closure of processing plants, even for limited periods of time, could be devastating for farmers and consumers alike,” said Nelson

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As details continue to be rolled out, the American Farm Bureau has updated information for farmers and ranchers on the Coronavirus Food Assistance program announced earlier this week by Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. Check out the latest by clicking below.

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Farmers Qualify for Additional Small Business Aid; Farm Bureau’s PPP Guide Available Now, Farm Bureau’s EIDL Guide Available Now, China “Phase One” Trade Deal Kicking In; and Last Chance to Vote by Mail; read more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Farm Bureau members can now buy, sell, or trade items on the organization’s new, free, online Farm Bureau Exchange. The online classified ad platform allows Farm Bureau members to go online and upload a photo of their item, leave a description and contact information. Members can post everything including hay, livestock, farm equipment, fencing materials, antiques, RVs, used cars and trucks, and everything on down the line. Put this new member tool to work for you today.

Buy, Sell, Trade Here

COVID-19 has changed everyone’s world including that of our young people. To help recognize and give a proper send-off to Nebraska’s retiring State FFA officers who didn’t get to have a State FFA Convention, Nebraska Farm Bureau hosted the team for Facebook Live “Meet and Greets” this week to give them the chance to talk about leading in uncertain times and to share more about their experiences.

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The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has awarded the Ron Hanson Collegiate Leader Scholarship to two members of Collegiate Farm Bureau at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln who are pursuing degrees from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR). The recipients are...

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President Steve Nelson provides an update on how Nebraska Farm Bureau is working for farm and ranch families in the face of COVID-19 impacts. From conversations with Gov. Ricketts on meat processing closures to visits with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on the need for the USDA to move quickly to implement programs to provide assistance, Nelson details how Nebraska Farm Bureau is a leading voice for Nebraska farmers and ranchers through this unprecedented pandemic.

A Note from the President and Chief Administrator

Speaker Thinking Three Week Cram Session

The Legislature indefinitely adjourned on Wednesday, March 25, after meeting to pass $83 million in COVID-19 emergency funding. Speaker of the Legislature Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk, in consultation with members of the Legislature, will decide when it is appropriate to reconvene and complete the 2020 session. Only 17 of the 60 legislative days remain. Before adjourning, the Speaker announced that the Legislature will not meet during the two-week period preceding Nebraska’s May 12 primary election. He did note that when the Legislature reconvenes, he plans to condense the remaining days into a three-week period. He will prioritize bills debated, beginning with the budget adjustment bills and state claims bill, then “…the bills that need to be passed” that are in “the best interests of the State of Nebraska.”

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is encouraging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to utilize all its authorities and undertake a “full investigation” to monitor and address any potential price fixing or market manipulations in U.S. cattle markets to ensure the cattle meat packing industry is in compliance with the federal antitrust laws targeted to maintaining a competitive marketplace.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking Congressional leaders to put aside their differences and provide additional funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Just 48 hours after unveiling participation rules for sole proprietorships, including farmers and ranchers, SBA announced the COVID-19 forgivable loan program was out of funds.

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Ag Secretary says all ag sectors will qualify for direct payments; Vote by mail deadline looms; How bad is the COVID-19 impact to state coffers; and Speaker of the Legislature looking at three week cram session upon return; read more on these topics and more in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau hosted a telephone Town Hall this week for Farm Bureau members to share feedback on how COVID-19 is impacting their farms and ranches. Through comments and questions, members covered a wide range of topics including federal assistance programs through USDA and the Small Business Administration, cattle markets, ethanol plant, and meat packer closures, in addition to numerous other topics. Find out what’s on the minds of fellow members.

Listen to Town Hall