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USDA grants available to expand meat and poultry processing

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Legislative Watch: Senate passes growing Climate Solutions Act; US-EU reach aircraft agreement and suspend tariffs; USDA nominations announced.

USDA is making available $55.2 million to current small and mid-sized meat and poultry processing facilities that want to become federally inspected plants, or to operate under a state's Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. The funds are being made available through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program that was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "We are building capacity and increasing economic opportunity for small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors and producers across the country.  Through MPIRG, meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities can cover the costs for necessary improvements to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program."

USDA would like the grant applications to focus on:

  • improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency;
  • developing new and expanding existing markets;
  • increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand;
  • maintaining strong inspection and food safety standards;
  • obtaining a larger commercial presence; and
  • increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran producers.

MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection (PFGI) project is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward federal inspection. Applicants can be located anywhere in the states and territories. Whereas, MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Compliance project is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) CIS program. These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Applicants must be working toward CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort toward doing so.

Applications are due electronically by 11:59 p.m. EST on August 02, 2021.

Senate passes growing Climate Solutions Act

The Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act by an overwhelming vote of 92-8. The legislation provides voluntary, market-driven programs to assist farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience. 

The bill establishes a USDA program to certify credit verification services and provide technical assistance for farmers and forest owners interested in enrolling in a carbon credit market. USDA would establish protocols for carbon markets and provide guidelines to farmers on how to qualify for carbon-credit programs. The carbon credit program would then become USDA certified. A 25-member advisory council of farmers, forestry industry, scientists and representatives from private markets would be established to make recommendations to Congress and USDA. A majority of the committee members would be farmers.

The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by 55 Senators and was supported by over 75 agriculture, food, forestry and environmental organizations.  

US-EU reach aircraft agreement and suspend tariffs

The U.S. and the European Union (EU) reached an agreement for a five-year suspension of tariffs imposed over aircraft subsidies to Airbus and Boeing. The U.S. Trade Representative said the tariffs will be suspended as long as the EU support for Airbus "is consistent with the terms of the agreement." The U.S. and the EU will continue to negotiate towards a permanent solution.

The suspension of the tariffs is good news for U.S. wheat, orange juice, grapefruit, almonds, walnuts, cheese, vodka, rum, brandy, and other commodities which faced tariffs ranging from 15-25%.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in 2019 that U.S. could impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on the EU nations over Airbus subsidies. Then in 2020, the WTO said the EU could impose $4 billion in tariffs over the U.S. subsidizing Boeing. 

US-EU steel and aluminum

The U.S. and the EU announced they will work on finding a solution to end the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by the end of the year.

The two countries said in a joint statement: "We will engage in discussions to allow the resolution of existing differences on measures regarding steel and aluminum before the end of the year. In this regard, we are determined to work together to resolve tensions arising from the U.S. application of tariffs on imports from the EU under U.S. Section 232, and will work towards allowing trade to recover from its 2020 lows and ending the WTO disputes."

U.S. corn, rice and other commodities have been hit with EU tariffs in retaliation for the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. Corn is hit with a 25% tariff.

CRP enrollment deadline is July 23

The deadline for enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup is July 23. FSA is including a new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for practices that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, there is a one-time inflationary adjustment for payment rates as well as having more flexibility on adjusting soil rental rates. Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by July 23 to enroll.

Torres Small nominated for USDA Rural Development

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Xochitl Torres Small as USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development. Previously, she was a Congressional member representing the second district of New Mexico. Torres Small served on the House Agriculture, Armed Services, and Homeland Security Committees.

Wilkes nominated for USDA Natural Resources and the Environment

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Homer Wilkes as USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. Wilkes has served 41 years with USDA. Currently, he is the director of the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Division where he has been integral to restoring the health of the Gulf Coast ecosystem after the BP Oil Spill of 2010.  Previously, Wilkes served as the acting chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from 2010-2012. He has also served as state conservationist for Mississippi. He holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral degree from Jackson State University.

Sources: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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