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

With the challenging environment facing agriculture today, farmers and ranchers are experiencing increased stress levels. This added stress can negatively impact a person’s mental health. Throughout Farm Bureau’s history, we have always looked out for our members’ best interests and have worked hard to help. In keeping with that tradition, here are some resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with stress in their communities, their families, and their personal lives.

Resources Here

With parents and kids cooped up at home, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has gone virtual to bring agriculture awareness and educational opportunities to families looking for activities to keep kids learning. This week the Foundation hosted a Facebook Live event to allow a pig farmer to open his barn doors to show what happens on the farm!

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Tina Barrett, executive director of Nebraska Farm Business, Inc., was the featured presenter on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “The CARES Act and Agriculture” Facebook LIVE event. Does my farm/ranch qualify for the new small business loan assistance? What should I know about direct economic impact payments? What other tax provision changes could impact my operation? Tina tackles those questions and more. Missed the event? We’ve got you covered!

NEFB Guide to CARES Act

USDA Extends Maturity for Marketing Assistance Loans

Agricultural producers now have more time to repay Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The loans now mature at 12 months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities. Effective immediately, producers of eligible commodities now have up to 12 months to repay their commodity loans. The maturity extension applies to nonrecourse loans for crop years 2018, 2019, and 2020. Eligible open loans must be in good standing with a maturity date of March 31, 2020, or later or new crop year (2019 or 2020) loans requested by September 30, 2020. All new loans requested by September 30, 2020, will have a maturity date 12 months following the date of approval.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau has asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to address four key areas to help deliver relief to Nebraska farms and ranches feeling pressure from the COVID-19 outbreak. Included in the requests were for USDA to quickly roll out the aid programs established under the CARES Act, ensure USDA is working with the Department of Justice and others to ensure all laws are being followed to prevent market manipulation, keep food processing and meat packing facilities operating, and being flexible with restructuring and repayment for those utilizing USDA loan programs.

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Concerns shared by Nebraska Farm Bureau and others about volatility in livestock markets have led the American Farm Bureau to urge the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to leave no stone unturned as they monitor and analyze market activity.

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The Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminded their lending partners of servicing options available to FSA guaranteed loan customers feeling impacts of COVID-19; USDA announced it would expand maturity dates for marketing assistance loans; and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy shared guidance for dairy producers on acceptable practices for disposing of milk producers are unable to ship to processors. Find more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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The 2020 Nebraska Primary Election is May 12. Nebraska Farm Bureau encourages you to exercise your freedom to vote. In the face of COVID-19, many may prefer to exercise social distancing and vote via mail. Early voting ballot applications are being mailed to every registered voter in Nebraska. Don’t be left out because you prefer not to go to the polls. The last day to request a ballot be mailed to you is May 1, 2020. Please note your application to receive a ballot by mail must be physically signed and you can take a picture/scan of your request and email it to your county election officials. Visit the Secretary of State site below for complete details and deadlines.

Early Vote Info Here

With parents and kids cooped up at home, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has gone virtual to bring agriculture awareness and educational opportunities to families looking for activities to keep kids learning. This week the Foundation unpacked its first Lunchbox Mysteries video. Lunchbox Mysteries programming answers questions about who and where food is grown and how it gets from the farm to your plate. Learn more about Lunchbox Mysteries and how the Foundation is highlighting the work of farmers and ranchers!

Lunchbox Mysteries

Nebraska Farm Bureau would like to wish a blessed and meaningful Easter to our members. May you find renewal of hope, health, and love during the Easter Holiday.

As ethanol plants look to idle back or shut down in response to economic conditions, cattle producers may find themselves with limited or no access to distillers grains. Karla Wilke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cow/Calf Systems and Stocker Management specialist provides some insight as to what producers can do during a distillers grains shortage.

CARES Act – Economic Impact Payment

NEFB continues to work through the implications of the passage of the federal stimulus/COVID-19 relief bill for farmers and ranchers. This week the Internal Revenue Service updated guidance for the Economic Impact Payment (EIP) of which Nebraska farmers and ranchers will be eligible for. Here are more details on the EIP

Nebraska Farm Bureau joined 25 other state farm bureaus in asking USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to explore all options within his authority to provide relief to cattle producers across the country in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the inception of the COVID-19, live cattle futures have declined by roughly 28 percent. In a joint letter to Sec. Perdue, the organizations emphasized the need to provide direct support to stocker and cow-calf producers who’ve shouldered the brunt of the market decline. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson was also among Farm Bureau leaders who joined Sec. Perdue on a conference call this week to discuss this and other topics.

Read Letter Here

The Small Business Administration (SBA) began rolling out details this week on financial assistance programs initiated by passage of the federal stimulus/COVID-19 relief bill. While many questions remain around the programs, we know farmers and ranchers are eligible to participate in SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. The program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons). The first step for any ag producer interested in the program should be to contact their lender as application can be made through SBA approved lending institutions, including the Farm Credit System. Look for more details from Farm Bureau in the coming days as complete information is available.

PPP Program Details

PPP Program Application

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has issued guidelines for Livestock Auction Markets to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Even though livestock markets are not considered gatherings under the Directed Health Measures (DHMs) issued by the state, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture strongly recommends that livestock markets adhere to the guidelines that have been suggested, which means changes not only for auction markets, but livestock buyers and sellers.

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Do your farm employees know what’s expected if you can’t work due to COVID-19? Do you know what your obligations are to employees if they get sick? Farm Bureau continues to update its COVID-19 checklist to help make sure your farm or ranch is ready for extended spread.

Review Checklist

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation selected two recipients for the FFA Advisor of the Year award. Gary Maresh from Central City High School and Dan Mowinkel from Logan View High School in Hooper were honored during a Facebook LIVE ceremony on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Facebook page on Thursday, April 2. The winning advisors received a plaque and a $1,000 donation to their FFA chapter.

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The Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program is offering virtual at-home learning resources for teachers, students, and parents during the COVID-19 outbreak. The new virtual and at-home learning resources include live experiences, self-guided opportunities for students, and activity guides to aid parents and teachers.

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Now is the time to apply! With school out of session for many students across Nebraska now is the time to apply for scholarships, there are numerous scholarship opportunities that are available for high school and college students.

County Scholarships

Student Project Grant Application

Hall County Farm Bureau Scholarship

Kenneth E. Schwartz Memorial Scholarship

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, the chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was the featured speaker on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “COVID-19 and Rural Health” Facebook Live event this week. How real is the risk to rural Nebraskans? What challenges will rural health providers face? How can I lower my risk of being exposed? Dr. Gold provided answers to those questions and many more. Missed it? We’ve got you covered!