Disaster Bill Passed—-Almost

After several weeks of negotiation and haggling between the House, Senate and White House, a compromise on the long-awaited disaster bill finally came through YESTERDAY. The House passed a bill late last week and the Senate finally worked things out and passed their own version of a 19 Billion dollar bill. All indications are that the President has agreed to sign the bill. Everything had been on track to get the bill passed before the Memorial Day Break UNTIL….

The House had to agree on the Senate passed bill rather than sending the bill to conference. It had been expected that since the Senate bill was substantially similar to the House passed bill that a Unanimous Consent vote could be taken for final passage but there wasn’t unanimous consent. A lone congressman from Texas, Chip Roy, expressed objection to the the unanimous consent and therefore blocked passage of the bill for today. Most of the House and the Senate left for a week long break yesterday. There is no way to take a voice vote today.

While there is a technical possibility to have another unanimous consent vote next year, the consensus seems to be that there will be a vote after they return in 10 days. It is largely expected that the bill will pass when they return by a significant margin but as we’ve seen before in the Congress, nothing is etched in stone.

We will likely have to wait to see what happens in what seems to have turned into a soap opera type never ending saga of this disaster bill. Stay Tuned.

In the mean time, we hope you and your family have a great Memorial Day weekend!

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Second MFP Announced

In response to the lack of progress on trade negotiations and the increasing tariffs that China has imposed on US commodities, the USDA has announced a second Market Facilitation Program. The first MFP was for the 2018 crop while this one will be for the 2019 crop. While the 2018 program was based on production of affected commodities, this one will be based on planted acres.

The program, as we understand it right now, will be based on 2019 combined plantings of affected commodities (including cotton) regardless of the acreage of each commodity planted. Each county will get a per acre per county payment and will be limited to a maximum of your 2018 plantings. This is being done so as not to affect the planting decisions of a given commodity.

The program will be delivered in up to three tranches where the first one will be set soon and the second and third will be based on market and tariff conditions. Once USDA plantings are set in mid July the payments will be determined for the first tranche.

More information can be found in the USDA press release found here:

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2019/05/23/usda-announces-support-farmers-impacted-unjustified-retaliation-and

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Tariff Assistance Program Likely in Days not Weeks or Months

Senior leadership in the Trump administration have told journalists in the past day or two that the assistance that the President talked about late last week could be announced in days not weeks or months like the Disaster Bill has been.

Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney told journalists in Washington this morning that this is an all hands on deck issue. Americas farmers need to understand that the Administration has its back according to reports. Secretary Perdue has been quoted as saying assistance in response to the Chinese deal breaking down is a very high priority. The Secretary is currently on a tour of Asian countries this week.

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Gin School Right Around the Corner

The National Cotton Ginners Association and USDA Gin Labs work together each year to put on several ginning schools across the country. The third and final school for 2019 will be in Stoneville, MS from June 4th through the 6th. This is the closest school to the SE each year. Many manufacturers and designers as well as researchers and experts in regulatory and safety issues will be on hand to give the attendees presentations on a number of topics.

This year there will once again be three levels of school covering various levels of experience and detail. Level one is the most basic and is designed for those that are just beginning in the process. Level two is an intermediate level and level three is the most advanced. Most of the levels require the previous level to attend. There is also a continuing education session for two of the three days which typically goes into a few topics a bit more in depth.

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House Passes Disaster Bill – Pressure Still on the Senate

Friday, last week, the House of Representatives passed a roughly 19 Billion dollar disaster bill that includes about $3Billion of ag disaster relief. The bill passed 257 to 150 with all Democrat members and 34 Republican members voting for the bill. The remaining Republicans voted against the measure at the urging of the President. The President seems to still be opposed to additional aid to Puerto Rico. President Trump continues to insist publicly that he wants Congress to pass assistance to farmers hit by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in the past several months.

The House bill adds aid for the mid-west (mostly Iowa and Nebraska) that were devastated by flooding earlier this year. It provides some help for farmers who lost grain in their bins and helps to rebuild levees and other infrastructure to control future flooding.

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More On SSA No-Match Letters

As you likely know, we work with a lot of attorneys on labor and immigration issues. Sometimes those issues overlap, especially in agriculture. One of the law firms we turn to a lot is Fisher and Phillips. They have feet in many facets of labor law and immigration as well so we trust what they say. Until today, F&P hasn’t had guidance on the new no-match letters. We encourage you to read the document linked below if you have have received a no-match letter already.

Apparently not many gins have received these letters and that’s good. For those of you that have, there has been a good bit of trepidation about what to do. A couple weeks ago, we posted a guidance document from some other attorneys that work in these fields. Now we have another in-depth document written by folks that understand ag as well. We will send out additional documents tomorrow or early next week but we wanted to get this guidance in front of you as soon as possible.

Give us a call if you have any questions.

LINK TO FISHER AND PHILLIPS GUIDANCE ON NO MATCH LETTERS

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