The Biden administration is wasting little time selling the media and public with this gargantuan new spending and tax bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says benefits from the bill include $3.1 billion in debt relief that will help keep many struggling farmers in business.
Speaking to members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Vilsack said that up to 25% of farmers on USDA loans are either delinquent or have had a recent history of delinquency, indicating “some level of distress.”
“We know at the moment that there is a moratorium on foreclosures. But that moratorium will be lifted if and when the public health emergency is lifted. And that may happen sometime this fall,” he said.
He continued, “It’s a tool we’ve longed for… to have the flexibility, with a reduced interest rate or a restructuring of your loan, to say, ‘We’ll put you in a position where you’re in the yard can stay.’”
By the way: He noted that debt relief will be based on need, not race. The funding replaces a program for minority farmers that was blocked by courts.
More Vilsack: Funding to tackle the backlog in nature conservation “immediately”.
The climate bill will also allow the USDA to immediately address the huge backlog of environmental protection programs, says Vilsack. The measure provides approximately $18 billion for four programs, with the first tranche of funding being approved for fiscal 2023, which begins Oct. 1.
“The expectation is that these resources will be used immediately,” he said. The money “will allow us to cut the very significant waiting lists that we have for projects that require conservation resources,” he said.
Republicans: We will watch
Senate GOP whip John Thune, a South Dakotan who is on the Senate Ag committee, says Republicans want to make sure IRA conservation funds are used for purposes “that make sense, whether they’re labor land programs or decommissioning programs and not a bunch of crazy stuff they might decide to spend it on.
Under the bill, the USDA will be directed to prioritize projects that “mitigate or address climate change through agricultural production management.”
Thune and other members of the South Dakota delegation held a roundtable Wednesday during the Dakotafest show in Mitchell.
By the way: South Dakota’s other GOP Senator, Mike Rounds, says he personally spoke to Attorney General Merrick Garland about the seriousness of the matter Department of Justice investigation into possible price-fixing by the four largest beef processors.
“They will do it in their own time, but we’ll definitely be following them up and trying to see if they’ve moved in the direction that we think is right,” Rounds said.
Dicamba risk assessments are available today
The EPA will today release risk assessments on dicamba as part of its review of the controversial herbicide, which has been linked to damage to off-target vegetation and is subject to numerous restrictions. The assessments include risks to human health and the environment, the agency said in a statement from the Federal Register on Wednesday.
“After reviewing comments received during the public comment period, EPA may issue a revised risk assessment, explain any changes to the draft risk assessment, and respond to comments and solicit public risk mitigation input before finalizing a proposed registration review decision,” EPA said .
Keep in mind: Environmental groups and soybean and cotton farmers have filed lawsuits in federal courts in the District of Columbia and Arizona challenging the 2020 registration of the herbicide, which is sold as Xtendimax, Tavium and Engenia.
USTR-Taiwan sets negotiating mandate
The US Trade Representative and Taiwan have agreed on a Negotiating mandate that sets broad goals for trade talks that will take place this fall.
The mandate includes a paragraph on agriculture, saying the two countries will work on regulations to “facilitate agricultural trade through science- and risk-based decision-making and the adoption of sound, transparent regulatory practices.”
Another goal: Provisions that support “collaborative and cooperative mechanisms for food security and exploitation of production practices, including new and innovative technologies that increase agricultural productivity while reducing land, water and fuel consumption and contributing to climate adaptation and resilience.”
top appropriator survived; Irrigation Lawyer takes over Wyo. Run
The senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the EPA and Interior Department, survived and made it to the Alaska general election.
Lisa Murkowski, who voted to sentence President Trump in his 2021 impeachment trial, held a four-point lead over fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka with more than 70% of the votes counted on Wednesday from Alaska’s unusual open elementary school. The top three, including Democrat Patricia Chesbro, advance to the general election.
Wyoming changes course: GOP Rep. Liz Cheney says she’s considering running for president after her resounding loss in Tuesday’s Wyoming primary, where she lost to Harriet Hageman after receiving just 28.9% of the vote to Hageman’s 66.3%.
Hageman, who is a blocker in the Republican Wyoming general election, is a natural resources advocate who represents several irrigation districts across the state and “deals with matters like protecting irrigated agriculture and the impact of land-use change.” after a biography.
UN chief meets Zelenskyy and Erdogan in Ukraine
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday, where he will meet today with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to review the progress of the deal with Russia that has opened three ports in Odessa.
One of the many ships now transporting grain from Odessa ports departed Tuesday with 23,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat, which will be donated to drought-stricken countries in East Africa.
He said so. “We’re going to go back to DC now that the law is signed and we’re going to work to figure out exactly what that means and try to get that out as soon as possible because that was the direction of Congress.” – The Farm Service Administrator Agency Zach Ducheneaux speaks in South Dakota about provision for farm debt in Inflation Mitigation Act.
Steve Davies, Bill Tomson, Noah Wicks, Hannah Pagel, and Spencer Chase contributed to this report.
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