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We try to keep our news fresh and current, you won't find archived news info here, only the LATEST news!

Oregon Wheat specific Press Releases can be found here.



Decision to Include All Wheat Classes in CFAP 2

OWGL Welcomes USDA’s Decision to Include All Wheat Classes of Wheat in CFAP 2


Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a second round of coronavirus relief payments which extends eligibility to additional classes of wheat. The new $14 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) package covers producers of all classes of wheat. It assures support for all Oregon Wheat producers affected by price declines, market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

“The Oregon Wheat Growers League thanks Secretary Perdue and USDA for the inclusion of all wheat classes in CFAP 2 to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on wheat prices.” stated OWGL president Clint Carlson. The Oregon Wheat Growers League encourages qualifying producers to work with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) on their application. FSA will accept CFAP 2 applications from September 21 through December 11, 2020.

Producers will be able to apply online (https://www.farmers.gov/cfap) or work directly with their local FSA office. To complete the CFAP 2 application, producers will need to reference their sales, inventory, and other records.

The expansion of CFAP 2 to include all classes of wheat recognizes the impacts of market disruptions to all wheat producers. NAWG President and Cass City, MI, wheat grower Dave Milligan stated that “This relief comes at a much-needed time when producers are being hit with depressed prices resulting in part from the effects of COVID-19. Futures prices have dropped more than 12% since beginning of 2020 until early August.” NAWG was a key advocate for the program expansion, meeting with senior USDA officials throughout the summer. Clint Carlson stated that “The partnership with NAWG and the support of our congressional members has been critical to achieving this support.” Earlier this month, letters signed by Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Representative Walden, along with 19 other US Senators and 25 other House members identified the need for this program expansion to address the deteriorating economic conditions for wheat producers.

The effectiveness of OWGL, NAWG and other state associations in providing feedback and expressing the need for program support helped ensure CFAP 2 would be open to wheat producers. Dave Milligan stated: “NAWG applauds USDA’s work on CFAP and will continue to work with the Agency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure all wheat farmers in need of support have access to it.” OWGL appreciates USDA’s responsiveness and will provide further information for our members to access resources. Producers can visit https://www.farmers.gov/cfap for further details.

NAWG release, here.






OSHA Recommends pause on outdoor work activity

Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces, and recognizing and addressing hazards to workers—including unsafe air quality.Such outdoor operations include farming harvests, construction and those in

which outdoor activities require heavy and prolonged exertion.

Oregon OSHA also offers other resources to help employers and workers assess and address hazards, including air quality issues. They include consultation services and technical experts .

Other resources include:

Contact information:

Aaron Corvin, public information officer, Oregon OSHA, 971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@oregon.gov

Jonathan Modie, communications officer, OHA, 971-246-9139, PHD.Communications@state.or.us


PPE Distribution for Agricultural Employees

The State of Oregon has made a limited quantity of KN95 masks available at no cost for farmers and agricultural employees who need to work outside in smokey conditions. Mask distribution sites are listed by county below. However, quantities are limited and certain Extension Offices may have distribution sites other than their Extension Offices, so please call to request information on when and where to pick up masks and to verify availability. Quantities are limited to one per employee.

The Oregon Occupational Safety &Health Administration has also provided additional interpretation of OR-OSHA’s Friday guidance regarding working in smokey conditions in the Capital Press this week. OR-OSHA clarified that the State does not have authority to stop outdoor work because of smoke, but that they strongly encourage employers to follow their recent guidance. We encourage you to contact your attorney or use OR-OSHA’s technical assistance resources if you have additional questions.

1 of 2


ODA & OSU Seek Stakeholder Input

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and OSU’s Oregon IPM Center is seeking stakeholder input into the development of an analysis of the biological control needs for Oregon growers. The goal of this meeting is to identify and discuss top priority critical needs for biocontrol in Oregon and to help develop a survey designed to capture input from growers and consultants directly.

We will be holding a stakeholder webinar on October 22nd 2020, 10am - Noon.

The results from this survey and analysis will help guide Oregon Department of Agriculture’s biological control program, and help us better serve the needs of Oregon growers.

If you can't attend the webinar, but wish to contribute, please respond to this email. A recording of the webinar presentations will be made available.

Join Zoom Meeting (Please note, this meeting will be recorded)

Password: biocontrol

Phone Dial-In Information

+1 971 247 1195 US (Portland)

Meeting ID: 541 224 1629


DEQ to host "Cap and Reduce" webinars

The Department of Environmental Quality plans to hold three webinars next month on cap and trade, or “cap and reduce” as they call it now. This is the only opportunity we are aware of that our members & the public will have to comment on the program’s design and priorities before they begin formal rulemaking.

We’re working on finalizing a summary of the work that has been done to date and will share that will you and Amanda H. next week.

  • Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020; 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020; 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Details will be available on DEQs webpage. See summary provided by Dalton Advocacy below.

Summary on Cap and Reduce - Dalton Advocacy



OWGL Applauds COVID-19 Wheat Letters to USDA

This week 21 Senators and 26 Representatives representing wheat-producing states issued letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture “regarding the deteriorating economic conditions being experienced by wheat farmers across the country” and the compounding impact this is having with COVID-19.

In the letters, the Members of Congress point to the economic impact of COVID-19 on wheat prices and the need for assistance for all wheat growers. The letters focuses on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), stating that while this assistance remains important to those (hard red spring and durum wheat) producers, these classes of wheat represent approximately 30 percent of 2019 production, leaving the majority of wheat farmers without access to assistance through the CFAP program.

We appreciate Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley and Representative Walden for their continued and direct advocacy in support of Oregon’s wheat producers. Low commodity prices for all classes of wheat, but particularly soft white wheat, have adversely impacted Oregon Wheat producers. We thank our congressional leaders for coordinating in this request to provide stability for Oregon farmers ," stated OWGL President Clint Carlson.

View NAWG Press Release 9/3
View NAWG Press Release 9/4
View Senator Letter
View Representative Letter








FSA Adjustments, Final Rule

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) published a final rule making adjustments to the actively engaged and payment limitation rules for farm program participation, in part as implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

A few key revisions include:

  • The definition of “family member” for purposes of farm program eligibility is expanded to include first cousin, niece, and nephew
  • Changes to qualification requirements based on management contributions
  • Loan Deficiency Payments and Marketing Loan Gains are removed from the combined $125,000 payment limitation.
  • Enables the Secretary to waive the $900,000 Adjusted Gross Income limitation of certain FSA and NRCS conservation contracts for environmentally sensitive land of special significance.


Pete Parsons' Seasonal Climate Forecast

Meteorologist Pete Parsons' Seasonal Climate Forecast September-November prediction is now available here PDF.

Highlights:

  • Predicting an early start to autumn with a marked transition to relatively cool and possibly damp conditions in September.
  • La Niña watch. Regardless, the fall/winter weather will be in stark contrast to the last two years with were El Niño years


Dam Repairs Come as Wheat Crop Heads Downriver

The navigation lock at the Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River will be closed during daylight hours for emergency repairs, but wheat industry representatives say they expect only minor delays as they ship this year's harvest to ports downstream.

The navigation lock will be closed 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 31 to Sept. 16. "Delays appear at this point to potentially be a matter of hours," said Dan Hart, general manager of the Almota Elevator Co., in Colfax, Wash. "As far as curtailing shipping, we don't expect any effect from it." Hart said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will alert carriers on the days they might be able to open early. The closure comes at a time when some Washington farmers are seeing an exceptionally big harvest.

READ MORE


Fall Seed and Cereal Crop Grower Meetings

OSU Extension will be hosting annual Fall Seed and Cereal Crop Grower Meetings in a virtual format. While, not the ideal scenario, they are striving to continue to provide growers and industry reps with up-to-date recommendations and research updates. Presentation topics will be focused on production issues that are important to consider as we head into a new crop season.

Webinars are broken the content into three 1.5 hour sessions.

  • #1 – Vole Management and Soil Fertility Updates (September 16, 8:30 am)
  • #2 – Slug and Weed Management (September 17, 8:30 am)
  • #3 – Wheat: Variety, Disease, Agronomic Management (September 23, 8:30 am)

If you have any questions about the webinars, how to register, earning pesticide credits, etc., please contact Betsy Verhoeven @ 503-779-8217 or Nicole Anderson @ 503-553-9922



Deadline Extension for CRP Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) Pilot

On August 21, 2020, the USDA has announced that it will extend the deadline to enroll cropland in CRP through SHIPP from August 21, 2020, to November 20, 2020. All offers must be submitted no later than COB November 20, 2020.



EPA and USDA Announce Competition to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have announced the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges, a joint EPA-USDA partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States. The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment.



Successful Farming: USDA Tightens Eligibility Rules For Farm Subsidies

“Loopholes remain, but the USDA is tightening its crop subsidy rules by limiting who can collect a payment for managing a farm, historically one of its most porous definitions. The new regulation, to be published on Monday, requires people to perform at least 500 hours of management or at least 25% of the management work required annually to merit a subsidy check — ‘a very major advancement,’ according to a small-farm advocate.” Read more here.

Winter wheat variety tours

Low rainfall variety tour, a recording of the session can be found here

Separately, preliminary results are available for our Corvallis location are available on our website.


Wheat Marketing Center Crop Quality Reports

Week 6: September 10, 2020
Click here to access the report

Week 5: September 3, 2020
Click here to access the report

Week 4: August 27, 2020
Click here to access the report

Week 3: August 20, 2020
Click here to access the report

Week 2: August 13, 2020
Click here to access the report

Week 1: August 6, 2020
Click here to access the report

If you have any issues in downloading the report, please send an email to info@wmcinc.org.

If you have any questions regarding the report, please contact Bon Lee, Operations Manager at blee@wmcinc.org.







additional commodities eligible for CFAP

USDA made an announcement regarding additional commodities eligible for CFAP. The announcement does not include additional classes of wheat beyond HRS and durum. For eligible commodities, the deadline for signing up for CFAP is also being extended to September 11th, and the additional 20% of the payment rate will be made. As a reminder, CFAP still only applies to qualified 2019 crop losses.

We are disappointed in the announcement, and at the same time our main focus has also been on pressing for USDA to use existing resources to begin providing coverage on 2020 crop losses; that is still a pending question USDA is considering.

USDA Announcement here.




Food Security and Farmworker Safety Funds

Farmworker Safety Funds (FSF) Still Available
More information here.

The program can help support agricultural producers are impacted by OSHA’s temporary rules requiring increased field sanitation, increased physical distancing for transportation and/or those faced with additional housing-related compliance costs.




USDA Releases August WASDE Report

On August 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its August Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. “The outlook for 2020/21 U.S. wheat this month is for increased production offset by lower imports, higher exports, and lower ending stocks. U.S. wheat production is raised 14 million bushels to 1,838 million as increased Hard Red Spring (HRS) and Durum production more than offsets lower winter wheat production as indicated by the NASS August 12 Crop Production report.”





NRCS CAMP

This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) started the Conservation Agricultural Mentoring Program (CAMP). CAMP is a state-driven, partnership and field-based program to build strong employee-producer relationships and increase employees’ knowledge of production agriculture in their local areas. NRCS will match producer volunteers with field employees to mentor the employees through “on-the-land,” hands-on learning to help them develop their agriculture knowledge.

You can learn more about the program here.





DEQ Workshops and Town Halls on Greenhouse Gas

DEQ will hold a series of six technical workshops during August and September 2020, which will be detailed discussions about specific policy design options to fulfill its obligations under the Governor’s Executive Order on Greenhouse Gas:

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – 9 AM – 1:30 PM

Alternative Compliance Options: Should the program allow for alternative ways of complying with cap(s) aside from DEQ-issued permits? Should the program allow permits from other GHG regulatory programs? Should the program award additional credits to certain actions or investments that reduce GHGs?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 – 9 AM – 1:30 PM

Distribution of Compliance Instruments: How should the program allow emissions and how should permits to emit be issued? How can the program avoid emissions leakage? What other factors should the program consider when distributing permits (sectoral differences, market dynamics, etc.)?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 9 AM – 1:30 PM

Cost effectiveness: How should the program account for sectoral differences? Should the program allow for trading? Under what circumstances? What strategies exist to reduce economic burden on impacted communities and small businesses?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – 9 AM – 1:30 PM

Impacted Communities: Considering all the above elements, how can impacted communities be protected? What strategies are needed to prevent negative impacts? How does the program incorporate priorities of these communities?

Thursday., September 17, 2020 – 9 AM – 1:00 PM

Three town halls will be held during October.:

Thursday, October 1, 5-8 PM; Thursday, October 8, 5-9 PM; and Wednesday, October 14, 1-4 PM.





Emergency Haying & Grazing

FSA announced implementation of a 2018 Farm Bill requirement authorizing new emergency haying and grazing. Information can be found at the link below, and if you have interest in this provision we strongly encourage you to contact NRCS before taking any action!

Learn more at https://bit.ly/30I8tP4



OR-OSHA Seeks to Increase Maximum Penalties

OR-OSHA Seeks to Increase Maximum Penalties & Lessen the Agency’s Burden of Proof When Demonstrating Employer-Fault

Generally, Oregon law says that for an employer to be liable for a serious violation, Oregon OSHA must prove that the employer knew, or with the exercise or reasonable diligence could have known, of the violation. It is a fault-based system. OR-OSHA proposes defining “reasonable diligence” to change our fair and reasonable fault-based system to a strict liability system that makes it easier for OR-OSHA to win a contested case. To be clear, this rule change is about agency convenience in contested cases, not employee safety.

Additionally, through a separate rulemaking, the agency seeks to grant Oregon OSHA’s Administrator unfettered discretion to impose maximum penalties on businesses up to $135,382. The agency has no persuasive explanation for this rule change. As explained in more detail below, these rules will have drastic impacts on Oregon’s family farms, and we must OPPOSE these changes to OR-OSHA’s authority and burdens under the law: 1. The proposed rule redefines “reasonable diligence” in a way that eliminates OR-OSHA’s obligations to prove that a violation was something a reasonable employer was capable of knowing about: The proposed rule states: For purposes of ORS 654.086(2), a standard of care where the employer identifies and anticipates hazards and violations that could occur in the workplace and then takes measures through the use of devices, safeguards, rules, procedures, or other methods that eliminate or safely control such hazards or prevent such violations.

Oregon OSHA’s Proposed Increase of Certain Minimum and Maximum Penalties for Alleged Violations

OR-OSHA Proposed Rulemakings



Grower Organizations make Difficult Decision

Grower Organizations make Difficult Decision to Cancel 2020 Convention

Due to the uncertain timeframes of current group restrictions and financial implications of delaying a decision, the small grain grower associations of Idaho, Oregon and Washington regret to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention. The event was originally scheduled for December 1-4, 2020 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

The Tri-State Grain Growers Convention has become a premier annual event in the Pacific Northwest for small grain producers and industry partners. It attracts nearly 450 people from Idaho, Oregon and Washington. At the event, the grower associations hold their annual business meetings to direct their policy work and install new leadership. Jointly, the three states hear from nationally elected officials, high caliber keynote speakers, participate in educational breakouts, collaborate with industry partners, and more.

We want to express our sincere appreciation to the grower members, sponsors and exhibitors for your continued during these uncertain times. State leadership and boards will continue their work on behalf of the association members as we head in to critical legislative sessions.

The 2021 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention is slated for November 30-December 3, 2021 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane, WA. Idaho Grain Producers Association, Oregon Wheat Growers League and Washington Association of Wheat Growers hope to see you there!


Oregon will hold the annual Oregon Wheat Growers meeting on December 1, 2020. More details will be announved soon.


ODA FILES TWO PROPOSED PERMANENT RULES

Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) filed two Proposed Permanent Rules with the Oregon Secretary of State's (SOS) Office and will begin accepting comments on the following proposals starting Aug. 3, 2020 and ending October 1, 2020.

  1. A proposed rule providing limitations on pesticide products containing the insecticide, chlorpyrifos, OAR-603-057-0545.
  2. A proposed rule to amend a currently existing rule to provide consistency between statute and rule, when listing a pesticide as restricted use, OAR 603-057-0205.

When developing these rules, the Department worked extensively with stakeholders in a Chlorpyrifos Workgroup for nine months.

Additional information regarding the proposed rules and workgroup efforts may be found here.

Written comments can be emailed to chlorpyrifos-comments@oda.state.or.us; or mailed to,

Amy Bingham
2020 Rulemaking Comment
Directors Office
Oregon Department of Agriculture
635 Capitol St NE
Salem, OR 97301-2532



Seeds in the Mail...do not open!

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is aware that people across the country, including Oregon, are receiving unsolicited packages of seed from China in recent days. Often the package is labeled as jewelry and the recipients say they did not order jewelry or seeds.

Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China should immediately contact their state department of agriculture or the APHIS state plant health director and follow these steps:

  • Save the seeds and the package they came in, including the mailing label.
  • Do not open the seed packets.
  • Do not plant any of the seeds.
  • If the packets are already opened, place all materials (seeds and packaging) into a zip lock bag and seal it.
  • If the seeds have been planted, leave the seeds/plants in the ground until you receive further instruction from your state department of agriculture or APHIS.

If you have already opened the seed package, please place the entire package in a plastic bag and seal it and then send it to ODA. Do not plant any of the seeds. If you already planted the seeds, please contact Dr. Helmuth Rogg, ODA Plant Programs Director at 503-986-4662 or hrogg@oda.state.or.us.





Making it Official: USMCA In Force

The US Mexico Canada Agreement officially entered into force on July 1, 2020. This final step means that all required legislative and regulatory changes needed to implement the agreement have been put into place or are scheduled to take effect.

The Oregon Wheat Growers’ League celebrates this critical trade agreement taking effect. “The majority of Oregon wheat is exported, so stability in our overseas markets is essential for Oregon wheat producers” stated OWGL President Clint Carlson.

“USMCA provides that certainty and market stability, benefiting wheat producers.”

One of the key wheat provisions in USMCA is continued tariff free access for US wheat exports to Mexico. While Mexico is not a top market currently for the Pacific Northwest, it is the nation's largest wheat importer. In the marketing year 2019/20, which ended May 31, 2020, Mexico purchased more than 3.87 million metric tons (MMT) of U.S. wheat valued at $881 million. Its ability to continue to source U.S. wheat into the future strengthens the entire market, to the benefit of Oregon producers as well. A second key provision in USMCA is improved grading treatment for US wheat shipped to Canada. The new rules, allowing U.S. grown wheat brought across the border to Canadian grain elevators to be graded on a level playing field, are a significant step in furthering equal trade between the countries’ wheat growers. Other measures that benefit the wheat industry include the Agreement’s language around agricultural biotechnology which supports 21st Century innovations in agriculture and new language to strengthen disciplines for science-based SPS measures.

OWGL celebrates USMCA’s entry to force and appreciates the hard work of Congress and the Administration for helping to put this trade deal into effect.



natural disaster designation

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated two Oregon counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Crook and Umatilla counties who suffered losses due to recent drought, may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is Feb. 11, 2021.



NAWG & USW News Release

Wheat Industry Applauds Bipartisanship Around the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture held a business meeting to markup the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act (GSA) of 2020. The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) applaud the Committee for their bipartisan work to move the bill forward and reauthorize the GSA through September 30, 2025.

“Thanks in part to the advantage and premium international buyers place on the grain inspection system, U.S. wheat continues to maintain its competitiveness in the international market. Given the current uncertainty in trade agreements and many of the bearish factors working against U.S. wheat exports, it is critical we maintain one of our key advantages,” said National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Cass City, Mich., farmer Dave Milligan. “To avoid any disruption in inspection services and keep the flow of grain moving NAWG encourages Congress to act quickly to reauthorize the Grain Standards Act before expiration in September.”

Read More


Cover Crop Survey

Please take an important survey about cover crops to help improve outreach and inform cover crop incentive programs to better serve farmers. Did you know the Western region now has a cover crops council? The Western Cover Crops Council aims to promote the successful use of cover crops in our diverse agricultural systems. In order to do that, they are asking farmers/ranchers like YOU to share your perspectives on cover crops. Whether you plant them now, planted them in the past or have never planted them—your perspective is important! The survey is being conducted by partners at the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, and Boise State University with funding from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. This brief survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey is confidential, and your responses cannot be linked to you.

Take Survey


PNW-All Wheat Farmers Need to be Supported

PNW Wheat Associations call on USDA to Reconsider Coronavirus Food Assistance Program; All Wheat Farmers Need to be Supported

USDA released details of its Coronavirus Food Assistance (CFAP), which provides direct financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities affected by COVID-19. The PNW wheat associations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho welcomed news that eligible commodities for the program include durum, hard red spring wheat and malting barley.However, leaders from all three state wheat associations expressed significant reservations because most of the wheat produced in the region is excluded from program eligibility.

Read More



OWGL Responds to CFAP Assistance

OWGL President stressed the challenges facing Oregon Wheat farmers stating “We are struggling with cash flow like all other farmers and ranchers throughout the nation. Unfortunately, unless USDA reevaluates, we will not have access to these critical resources. Most of our wheat production is soft white wheat, which is specifically excluded from these payments.”

Read More


USDA RELEASE


NAWG STATEMENT


Mental Health is VITAL.

COVID-19 brings new challenges, awareness to rural mental health crisis
05/27/20 6:40 AM By Hannah Pagel
View AGRI-PULSE Article

COVID-19 brought a wave of new economic challenges that producers are still working through. But for beginning farmers, the pandemic has added a new level of stress that's making it that much harder to get started in agriculture, echoing the psychological toll of the 1980s.

“There's a lot at stake in the first place with getting started in farming, especially trying to get started as a young farmer. But for me, I bought my farm and two weeks later the coronavirus hit and everything is completely in the tank,” said Lillie Beringer, who closed March 2 on a northeast Iowa farm previously owned by her grandparents.

“To be honest, if the markets don't come back up, I don't know what’s going to happen or how I'm going to make my land payments,” she said.

To add to Beringer's challenges, only 28 of the farm's 110 acres are tillable. She seeded those acres to pasture for her herd of 20 cows, but she needed to take on more cattle in order to cash flow. By her estimation, she needed about 60 calves, "and whatever I had left for profit was supposed to make my land payment."

Beringer not only increased her herd from 20 cows to 60, but she also signed up to custom-contract calving another 120 cows for another producer. With the help of her mother, who assists with calving and other tasks associated with the cow-calf operation, Beringer is now balancing care for 180 head of cattle and a full-time job as a livestock production specialist for Purina Feeds.

Bob Worth, a southwest Minnesota farmer who has battled his own depression, told Agri-Pulse these are historically tough times to start farming.

"If I was a young person with a with a heavy debt I would feel the same stress that I did in the '80s. The difference is I'm a lot older. I healed myself up from the '80s, so I could survive the 2020s,"

Economic stress and agricultural hardships are nothing new to farmers of all ages and across many different forms of production agriculture. There are many familiar factors that lead to farm stress, but a global pandemic has added a new dimension.

“Some of the stress we are seeing was here before COVID, but much of COVID has exacerbated that stress,” said Anne Hazlett, senior adviser for rural affairs at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Agriculture was already in flux prior to COVID-19 hitting. Producers were experiencing ongoing trade wars with many U.S. trading partners, low commodity prices, years of uncontrollable weather conditions and much more.

A forecast released last month by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute estimates net farm income in 2020 at $86 billion, down 11% from USDA’s estimate of farm earnings for 2019. The new forecast doesn’t account for billions of payments that the Trump administration is sending to farmers or the $1.2 billion in surplus food distribution through the agency's Farmers to Families Food Box program.

“The situation has become even more uncertain. And I think that’s the word that capitalizes everything in this situation — uncertainty,” said Michael Rosmann, psychologist, farmer, and agricultural behavioral health specialist located in Harlan, Iowa, “The producers are having a hard time making ends meet, and I'm getting quite a few phone calls from people.”

The stress of the agriculture industry has led to increased mental health issues and a swelling concern about farmer suicides. However, a lack of solid data on the subject adds another layer of difficulty to an already sensitive conversation.

“I think it's actually ironic that farmers are struggling to put food on their table when they grow food for everybody else,” said Theresia Gillie, a Minnesota farmer who lost her husband to suicide three years ago.

Farmer suicides have been a topic of concern since the 1980s farm crisis, and many farmers today are starting to speak out to help share their story in hopes it might help a struggling farmer.

“Farm stress is certainly not a new concept," said Worth, the Minnesota farmer. "My father saw rural suicide rates spike in his farming days in the 1930s and when I was a young farmer just getting started in the ‘80s, I got super depressed. … I didn’t want to get out of bed or go to work. I didn’t care about harvest and just wanted to stay in the house.”

Worth recently shared his story to help bring awareness to farmers who are also struggling.

“There is no shame in getting the help you need. Farm stress isn’t something you need to take on alone — sometimes you can’t just do it yourself. I was on medication for three years before gradually weaning off — but every so often, when I can tell that I am sliding back into depression, I reach out,” said Worth.

When asked why farmers won’t reach out more often, almost every person interviewed by Agri-Pulse said the same thing — farmers are proud.

“Farmers are very private people and don’t like to talk about their own personal problems, but we need to start talking,” Worth said.

Rosmann also pointed to "economic threats to the farm itself — that is the loss of the land. Farmers cling desperately to the land, and other assets that are needed to farm."

Meredith Bernard is a North Carolina farmer who lost a friend to suicide. She actively speaks out on the stigma and concern of mental health to help provide awareness to those around her. In her mind, a major issue is not necessarily a lack of resources, but the funding and access to those resources.

“I believe there are more resources available than most realize, the problem seems to be in making people aware of how and where to access them. I believe there are gaps in access, as well, due to costs of professional health and lack of available, sufficient insurance for a lot of the farming population,” said Bernard.

Hazlett commented that a big piece of the puzzle in terms of accessing mental health resources is access to rural broadband.

“We need the broadband to be able to power much of the telemedicine and so there are dollars that have been put into some USDA programs to build additional broadband. It's going to take all of these pieces working together I think to help people get the care that they need,” said Hazlett.

She also stated that because of the COVID-19 pandemic these issues have been able to gain the attention they’ve needed in terms of funding.

“There's been a silver lining in the COVID pandemic — it has really been the opportunity that we've needed to increase access to care through policy changes around telemedicine.”

Beringer, the beginning producer in Iowa, said she doesn't regret the purchase of her farm despite a turbulent first few months of ownership.

“It's definitely not a great time in agriculture, especially for a young person to get started and then to have coronavirus (outbreak) on top of it — it’s just stressful," she said. "But the farm is what drives me, and it all goes back to crediting my grandpa, as far as why I want to continue on.”

The National Suicide hotline is available 24/7 and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. An online chat option is also available.


U.S. & UK Trade Talks

The United States and Britain launched formal negotiations on a free trade agreement on Tuesday, vowing to work quickly to seal a deal that could counter the massive drag of the coronavirus pandemic on trade flows and the two allies' economies. The talks, to be conducted virtually, will involve over 300 U.S. and UK staff and officials in nearly 30 negotiating groups, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and UK trade minister Liz Truss said in a joint statement. "We will undertake negotiations at an accelerated pace and have committed the resources necessary to progress at a fast pace," they said. "A Free Trade Agreement would contribute to the long-term health of our economies, which is vitally important as we recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19," the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Learn More


Check out the U.S. Wheat Associates "Dependable People" spotlight.

Member: Oregon Wheat Commission
USW Member since 1980

Location: Portland, Oregon

Classes of wheat grown: Soft White (SW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Hard Red Winter (HRW)

USW Leadership: William L. Hulse, 1981/82 Chairman; Stan Timmermann, 1993/94 Chairman; Darren Padget, incoming 2020/2021 Chairman

The Oregon Wheat Commission works to enhance the profitability of Oregon wheat growers by communicating, educating, assuring markets and conducting and stimulating research. Oregon grows primarily soft white (SW) wheat in the vast expanses of Eastern Oregon, and in the lush Willamette River Valley.


SPOTLIGHT


NORTHWEST WHEAT STATES RESPOND TO DRAFT EIS

On behalf of the Northwest wheat-producing states, we strongly support the findings in the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), specifically the Preferred Alternative for the operations, maintenance and configuration of the Columbia River System.

Together, our four states produce over 500 million bushels of wheat annually. Much of that wheat is bound for export markets. Pacific Northwest wheat growers are uniquely positioned to access the global marketplace by moving grain through the Columbia-Snake River system to Portland or Vancouver, then onto foreign customers.

The draft EIS evaluated the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects that comprise the federal Columbia River System. It has taken nearly four years of analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration to put the draft EIS together. The federal agencies identified their Preferred Alternative in the draft EIS, which focuses on fish recovery using water management measures, including flexible spill, while balancing the need for hydropower production and water supply. The Preferred Alternative does not include dam breaching.

Our organizations applaud the approach taken in this comprehensive study and support the recommendations put forth. Continued improvements to fish passage at the four Snake River dams enable fish to pass the dams with remarkable success. Dams with navigation locks providing barge transportation can in fact coexist with fish.

Meanwhile, the ability to barge wheat is a pillar of our industry – it is also the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation available. Over a period of just nine months in 2017, more than 3.5 million tons of cargo were barged on the Snake River; it would have taken more than 35,140 rail cars to carry this cargo, or more than 135,000 semi-trucks.

The four Lower Snake River dams alone provide enough clean energy to power 1.87 million homes. Eliminating the clean power and efficient transportation provided by the Lower Snake River dams would increase CO and other harmful emissions by over 1.25 million tons per year, the equivalent of adding more than 101,000 vehicles to the road.

We are pleased the draft EIS recognizes the Congressionally authorized uses of the river system for power generation, navigation, recreation, irrigation and a measure of flood control, all while working to bring the greatest benefit to fish through strategic operation of the system.


Clint Carlson, President - Oregon Wheat Growers League

Walter Powell, Chair - Oregon Wheat Commission

Jamie Kress, President
Idaho Grain Producers Association

Ned Moon, Chairman
Idaho Wheat Commission

Vince Mattson, President
Montana Grain Growers Association

Ryan Poe, President
Washington Association of Wheat Growers

Gary Bailey, Chairman
Washington Grain Commission



USDA Expands Market for U.S. Wheat:

Adds Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to List of States that Can Export Wheat to Kenya

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that, effective immediately, U.S. wheat may now be shipped to Kenya regardless of state of origin or port of export. This important step will allow U.S. wheat from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to be added to the list of states that can ship wheat to Kenya.

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Cap and Trade Legislation Still Not acceptable

February 13, 2020

Pendleton, OR - The Oregon Wheat Growers League has carefully considered SB 1530, the 2020 version of Cap and Trade legislation, and the many proposed amendments to the bill being considered by the Legislature. While there have been changes from last session’s HB 2020, that would delay some elements of the Cap and Trade system for some areas of Oregon, the fundamental provisions that are most troubling to Oregon’s wheat growers are essentially unchanged.

SB 1530 provides no significant reduction in Oregon’s carbon emissions but would eventually inflict large cost increases on all sectors of Oregon’s economy.

Costs that wheat growers would be unable to pass on to our customers. As an industry with many centennial and sesquicentennial family farms, we are keenly aware that these delayed costs will eventually come due, including higher fuel and energy costs that increase further over time, higher costs for all our farm inputs, and higher transportation costs to ship our crops to markets. This is on top of significant regulatory cost increases, tax increases, and higher wage and benefit costs already inflicted on our growers by legislative actions in the last few years.

The global wheat market is hyper-competitive, and we are already unable to compete on price in many markets. Further raising our costs will simply drive wheat farmers, especially smaller operations and new and young farmers, out of business in the years ahead. We see no changes in world markets that will make us any more able to absorb these costs in the future than we are today.

We continue to believe that the money extracted, now or later, from rural Oregon and our natural resource industries will largely be redistributed on social programs that have little to do with carbon reductions or climate adaptation. There will be no funding for practical research to improve crop varieties and agronomic practices to further reduce our carbon footprint. No funding to reward growers for the work they’ve already done through no-till practices, precision ag, new technologies or any other innovations, and nothing to offset the real cost increases to our operations.

SB 1530 offers little true reduction in carbon emissions and no significant change in the trajectory of future climate change. We hope the bill will be rejected by the Legislature.We want the Senate to do whatever they can to block the legislation. If SB 1530 moves forward in the legislative process, it should be referred to the voters.

Oregon can do much better than SB 1530. We hope that this legislation will be defeated so we can develop a carbon plan that actually helps with climate change, strengthens Oregon’s rural economy, Oregon agriculture, and Oregon’s other natural resource industries.



Local wheat farmers at National Leadership!

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Local wheat farmers selected for National Leadership Program

Washington, D.C.: Clint Carlson, a Morrow County producer currently the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) State President, Brent Cheyne, a producer in Klamath Falls currently the National Wheat Growers Secretary and Erin Heideman, a Morrow County producer currently OWGL county president, just returned from the Syngenta Leadership At Its Best Program in Raleigh, NC and Washington, D.C.

Now more than ever, public opinion, government policy, regulation, and even consumer attitudes have direct impact on the way farmers and agribusiness operate.As a result, the need for effective leadership and advocacy for agriculture has never been greater.To help meet this need, Syngenta sponsors Leadership At Its Best program, partnering with ag organization to develop and prepare their leaders with a robust ag advocacy conference.

Participants experienced refreshed modules based on today’s leading thoughts, ideas and techniques while focusing on various aspects of leadership training and priority issues facing agriculture.The conference ended for the group on Capitol Hill with time spent using their recent training visiting with congressman from around the nation. “As agriculturalists, we know we need to tell our story and be advocates of our industry,” said Erin Heideman. “The Syngenta Leadership program helped give us the skills and confidence to actually do it.”

In addition to the National Wheat Growers Association, other organizations represented included the Agriculture Retailer Association, National Soybean Growers, National Corn Growers Association and National Agricultural Aviation Association. For over 90 years after Oregon wheat producers first came together to work for the common interest, OWGL remains hard at work promoting wheat interests and providing a means for wheat growers to work together. From advocacy work in Salem to providing key input on federal farm legislation, the voice of Oregon grain producers is being heard through the efforts of their Oregon Wheat Growers League.



A New Definition of WOTUS (from EPA Headquarters)

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule ends decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. For the first time, EPA and the Army are recognizing the difference between federally protected wetlands and state protected wetlands. It adheres to the statutory limits of the agencies’ authority. It also ensures that America’s water protections – among the best in the world – remain strong, while giving our states and tribes the certainty to manage their waters in ways that best protect their natural resources and local economies.

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Effects of 1980 Grain Embargo


 More>

Effects of 1980 Grain Embargo Echo Through the Years

Originally published April 14, 2020, By Vince Peterson,USW President


As a new decade and a new future for wheat export market development dawned in January 1980, the urgency facing the wheat-producer boards of both Great Plains Wheat and Western Wheat Associates could not have been much greater.


They were under the strain of discussions and negotiations for months in the effort to merge the two existing regional wheat market development groups into one, single national association. Then, on January 4, these farmer leaders and all U.S. wheat producers sat in disbelief hearing President Jimmy Carter address the nation and summarily cancel 17 million metric tons (MMT) of existing wheat, corn and soybean sales contracts between U.S. exporters and the former USSR. That was 17 MMT of production that had already been grown and harvested and scheduled for movement by truck, barge, rail car and ocean vessels through the U.S. grain export system; 17 MMT of system revenue, margins and farmers’ annual income – all cancelled.

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U.S. Wheat Supply Chain System: Research and Plant Breeding

Professional millers and bakers know that the appearance and taste of every product depends on the specific characteristics imparted by its flour ingredient. And those characteristics are deeply rooted in the ancient craft of plant breeding. [Plant breeding is an ancient craft.] As far back as 10,000 years, farmers looked for traits that helped them grow more and better food. Egypt became the breadbasket of ancient Rome as its farmers adopted a type of wheat from the “fertile crescent” in modern Iraq to plant along the Nile River. Over time, the Egyptians found ways to grow a grain that was sturdy enough to transport long distances and stand up against pests. The Egyptian wheat traded with the Romans may not be what we are used to today, but the process for how it was grown to meet the needs of the consumer is by no means ancient history.

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Be Road Safe!

To help keep both motorists and farmers safe, the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) Health & Safety Committee offers a video and free brochure with important tips on how to share the road safely with farm equipment.

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Neonics and Chlorpyrifos information sheets

Related Important Links

OR-OSHA "Fighting farmland and rangeland wildfires" publication

Guide to Farm Trucking in Oregon – ODOT, online version

OSU Extension Cereal Newsletters – online reports by county


Crop Quality Oregon State Reports


Items of Interest

U.S. Wheat Around the World

New Tool to Combat Major Wheat Disease

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their colleagues have discovered a gene that can be used to develop varieties of wheat that will be more resistant to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), a disease that is a major threat both overseas and to the nation's $10 billion annual wheat crop.

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USTR to Work With Congress on Strengthening Brazil Trade Ties

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is making it clear to Brazil that the U.S. is serious about strengthening trade and economic ties between the two countries whose leaders appear to be fond of each other.

Learn More

Ukraine Wheat Prices Hit Seasons High Amid Strong Export Demand

Ukraine has exported around 18 million tonnes of wheat so far in 2019/20, leaving an additional 2 million tonnes available for export over the rest of this season that runs until June 30, in line with a memorandum signed with traders.

Learn More

Podcasts

Washington Grain Commission Podcasts


Worker Protection Standards

Web-Based Training for Trainers of Agricultural Workers and Pesticide Handlers under the National Worker Protection Standard (WPS) – Train the Trainer course – online, 24/7 training

WPS Compliance Assistance Library – A comprehensive guide with links to FAQ and more.

WPS: A Manual for Trainers of Ag Workers & Pesticide Handlers

PERC website – Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative

“How to Comply” Manual


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