USDA highlights implementation accomplishments to date
One year ago, on December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the Farm Bill) into law. Since that time, USDA has been working as quickly as possible to implement the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA leaders have testified before Congress multiple times regarding Farm Bill implementation and held dozens of listening sessions with stakeholders.
USDA has issued the following communications throughout the last year to our constituents to ensure our process is transparent and all interested could follow us along on this journey.
- December 20, 2018: USDA Secretary Perdue commends President Trump for signing the Farm Bill into law
- April 12, 2019: USDA issues Farm Bill implementation progress report
- June 26, 2019: USDA issues Farm Bill implementation progress report
- July 1, 2019: USDA released Secretary Memorandum 1076-030 which listed which mission areas would implement which Farm Bill provisions
USDA will continue to work diligently to implement the remainder of the Farm Bill to ensure our nation’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers have long term certainty they need and are provided the best customer service possible under the leadership of Secretary Perdue.
A list of USDA’s top accomplishments to date by title are below. USDA looks forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders, customers, and Capitol Hill throughout this process.
TITLE I – Commodity Programs
- Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC):
- On May 8, 2019, FSA announced that participants of the former Margin Protection Program for Dairy were eligible for reimbursements paid between 2014 and 2017, which could be received in a cash or as a credit to DMC. So far, more than 3,700 payments were made, totaling more than $21 million.
- The 2019 sign-up, which ran through Sept. 27, enrolled more than 23,000 dairy operations. Payments began June 8, 2019, and dairy producers who purchased coverage will receive more than $310 million in much-needed program financial support.
- DMC signup for 2020 opened on Oct. 7, 2019, and closes today.
- Milk Donation Program:
- The final rulemaking published on Sept. 5, 2019.
- On Nov. 4, 2019, USDA extended the application deadline for the Milk Donation Reimbursement Program through Dec. 6, 2019.
- Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC):
- The final rulemaking published on Sept. 3, 2019, which initiated signup for 2019, which runs from Sept. 9, 2019 to March 15, 2020.
- On Oct. 15, 2019, FSA announced 2020 signup runs from Oct. 15, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
TITLE II – Conservation
- Conservation Reserve Program (CRP):
- FSA accepted applications June 3, 2019 through Aug. 23, 2019, for certain practices under the continuous CRP and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements.
- On Dec. 6, 2019, FSA published the interim final rule, which initiated the beginning of a general and continuous signup on Dec. 9, 2019. The general signup runs through Feb. 28, 2020; the continuous signup is ongoing.
- This general signup is the first since the 49th CRP signup that began on Dec. 1, 2015.
- On Dec. 6, 2019, FSA also announced the CSP Grasslands signup will run from March 16, 2020, to May 15, 2020.
- Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP):
- NRCS anticipates publishing an interim final rule in early 2020.
- Announcement of FY19 Program Funding was released on Sept. 3, 2019. Applications were due by Dec. 3, 2019.
- Currently, we have 375 active RCPP projects with close to 2,000 partners. Partners are leveraging nearly $1 billion in NRCS investment with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars.
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP):
- The interim final rule published on Nov. 12, 2019.
- Signup 2019 CSP Grasslands Conservation Initiative began on June 10 and to-date NRCS has received nearly 12,000 applications totaling 826,628 acres.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program:
- The interim final rulemaking published on Dec. 17, 2019.
- Agricultural Conservation Easement Program:
- NRCS anticipates publishing an interim final rule in the coming weeks.
- Review and Update of NRCS Conservation Practice Standards:
- On March 11, 2019, NRCS published a notice in the Federal Register announcing it was reviewing, evaluating and updating the agency’s 171 conservation practice standards.
- On Oct. 13, 2019, NRCS published a notice seeking input on 13 updated practice standards.
- NRCS anticipates additional notices on standards as they’re updated. So far, 58 standards have been improved, and two new ones have been developed.
- Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG):
- On May 15, 2019, NRCS announced that it is investing up to $25 million per year over the next five years to help support On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, part of the CIG and available to farmers eligible to participate in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS accepted proposals through July 15, 2019 for the new On-Farm Trials. Awards were announced on Nov. 27, 2019.
- On May 30, 2019, NRCS announced the availability of $12.5 million to support CIG on agricultural lands. NRCS accepted proposals through July 30, 2019. On Dec. 17, 2019, NRCS announced 19 projects focused on pollinator habitat, water quantity, urban agriculture and accelerating conservation adoption.
- Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP):
- On May 16, 2019, NRCS announced a funding opportunity to provide technical and financial assistance to support critical wetlands. NRCS accepted proposals through July 30, 2019 for WREP. On Sept. 13, 2019, $48 million was awarded to support partner projects in eight states.
- Reports to Congress:
- NRCS submitted the Small Wetlands report to Congress on July 17, 2019.
- NRCS submitted the Conservation Innovation Grants Status of Activities report on Oct. 11, 2019.
- Emergency Conservation Program (ECP):
- The final rulemaking published on July 10, 2019.
- Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP):
- On June 20, 2019, USDA announced $75 million in funding for the eradication and control of feral swine through the FSCP in a joint effort between NRCS and APHIS. Applications were accepted through Aug. 19, 2019, for partners to carry out activities as part of these pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Awards were announced on Nov. 18, 2019.
- The Notice of Availability (NOA) to recirculate APHIS’ FEIS was posted to the Federal Register on July 5, 2019. NRCS’s Feral Swine Notice of Intent to adopt APHIS’s FEIS published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2019.
TITLE III – Trade
- Food for Progress:
- The final rulemaking published on Aug. 28, 2019.
- The report was provided to Congress on Sept. 20, 2019 and is currently posted on FAS’ website.
- FAS announced FY 2019 funding allocations for projects totaling nearly $140 million to improve agricultural productivity in developing countries and expand trade in agricultural products, adding eligibility for U.S. public and non-profit colleges and universities.
- McGovern-Dole Program:
- The final rulemaking published on Nov. 26, 2019.
- FAS announced FY 2019 funding allocations for McGovern-Dole valued at approximately $191 million to provide school meals and nutrition programs for children in countries with high food insecurity.
- USDA International Food Assistance Report FY 2018: The report was provided to Congress on Nov. 4, 2019.
- Agriculture Trade Specialty Crops Report: The report was provided to Congress on July 23, 2019.
- Trade Rules:
- The Emerging Markets Program final rulemaking published on Dec. 20, 2019.
- The Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program final rulemaking is scheduled to publish on Dec. 23, 2019.
- USDA anticipates publication within the next couple weeks of the Market Access Program, and the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program.
TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On April 12, 2019, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the solicitation for the FY 2019 SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grants required by Section 4010 of the Farm Bill. Responses were due by June 10, 2019. FNS announced the awards on Sept. 25, 2019.
- SNAP Quality Control Improvements: The interim final rulemaking began OMB review on Sept. 18, 2019.
- SNAP Employment and Training Program: The proposed rulemaking began OMB review on Dec. 3, 2019.
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): The final rulemaking published on Oct. 4, 2019.
- The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program: On April 23, 2019, the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program RFA was issued. Responses were due by June 10, 2019. Awards were announced on Oct. 9, 2019.
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): On Sept. 3, 2019, FNS published a final rule Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations: Revisions to the Administrative Match Requirement.
- Buy American Requirements (4207):On Aug. 15, 2019, FNS issued a policy memorandum to the States on the Buy American Requirements.
- Service of Traditional Foods in Public Facilities: On July 17, 2019, FNS issued a memorandum revising existing policy guidance expanding liability protections related to the donation, storage, preparation and service of traditional foods in public facilities to States, counties, LEAs, and others.
- Guidance on Minimizing Food Waste: On Aug. 16, 2019, FNS issued guidance outlining best practices to minimize food waste of commodities donated to State agencies and emergency feeding organizations.
TITLE V – Credit
- The 2018 Farm Bill increased the limits for direct and guaranteed operating and ownership loans. Producers were eligible for these higher-limit loans beginning in the spring 2019 loan making season.
- In 2019:
- Direct Farm Ownership loan obligations reached a new high of $1.47 billion.
- Guaranteed Farm Ownership loan obligations reached more than $2.05 billion.
- Obligations of Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership and Farm Operating loans exceeded $5.7 billion.
- Direct and Guaranteed total loan assistance to beginning farmers reached a new high of $2.7 billion.
TITLE VI – Rural Development
- Expanding Access: Most recently, RD has expanded access to credit for rural communities by increasing population limits for the Community Facilities and water and Waste Disposal programs to 50,000.
- Rural Broadband Access: The interim final rulemaking began OMB review on Sept. 16, 2019.
- Repeal of Programs: On Nov. 7, 2019, RD published a final rulemaking to repeal regulations concerning the Rural Telephone Bank, the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program, and the Local Television Loan Guarantee Program.
- Interagency Task Force on Rural Water Quality: The three working groups within the Rural Water Task Force have been meeting on a biweekly basis since Aug. 2019.
- Memorandum of Understanding: USDA and the Department of Energy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, which will enhance collaboration and coordination between the two agencies and help facilitate energy-related investments in America’s rural communities, on Oct. 24, 2019.
- Solid Waste Management Grants: USDA announced the availability of funding on Oct. 1, 2019. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 31, 2019.
TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters
- Updated Report to Congress: In Aug. 2019, ERS submitted an update of the report to Congress entitled ‘‘Changes in the Size and Location of US Dairy Farms’’ contained in ‘‘Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming’’ (ERR-47, Sept. 2007).
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI): NIFA announced eighteen new awards for FY 2019 on Oct. 2, 2019, to develop high-tech solutions to meet the needs of U.S. specialty crop farmers and processors.
- Informational Webinar: NIFA held a webinar to collect stakeholder feedback on Sept. 26, 2019.
TITLE VIII – Forestry
- Report to Congress: On Aug. 30, 2019, FS provided a report to Congress that summarizes conditions on Federal lands and actions taken to reduce wildfire, insect, and disease hazards as well as timber production.
- Communication Sites Management: On Sept. 25, 2019, Forest Service published a proposed rule for the Communication Sites Management provision, which aims to expedite application processes for individuals and companies that want to build communication sites on notation forest and grasslands. These changes will help connect rural communities as well as improved customer service to those applying for, and operating under, special use permits for communication sites.
- Good Neighbor Authority:
- On July 12, 2019, Forest Service hosted a webinar, “Empowering Local Forest Service Officials to Successfully Implement the Good Neighbor Authority.” The training was for line officers, timber staff officers, interdisciplinary team leaders, and others providing leadership for Good Neighbor Authority partnership agreements. A second webinar for Agency employees was held on July 24, 2019.
- On Aug. 20, 2019, Forest Service held the first of three externally-focused webinars on Good Neighbor Authority. The second webinar was help on Aug. 22, 2019. The third webinar was held on Aug. 27, 2019. Total attendance was approximately 428 representatives of States, Tribes, counties and other partners.
- Tennessee Wilderness: In Aug. 2019, the Cherokee National Forest shared the new Upper Bald River Wilderness (9,038 acres) publicly, having completed a Forest Plan amendment, posted portal signs and held a dedication ceremony that marked the on-the-ground designation.
- Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program: On Oct. 15, 2019, the Forest Service issued a Federal Register notice calling for nominations to serve on the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel reviews CFLRP proposals and issues recommendations to the Secretary on which projects to fund. Nominations were due Nov. 14, 2019.
- Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committee: On Oct. 7, 2019, the Forest Service published a notice of intent to stablish the Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committee.
TITLE X – Horticulture
- Hemp: Hemp Production Program: AMS has been working aggressively to stand up the Hemp Production Program in advance of the 2020 planting season.
- On Feb. 27, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade stating that USDA had begun the process of gathering information to initiate a rulemaking to implement a program for the commercial production of hemp. AMS also stated that under the 2018 Farm Bill tribes and institutions of higher education could continue operating under the authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill until 12 months after USDA established the plan and regulations required under the 2018 Farm Bill.
- On April 18, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade regarding importation of hemp seeds.
- On May 28, 2019, AMS issued two Notices to Trade regarding hemp production. The first of these speaks to questions raised concerning provisions pertaining to the interstate transportation of hemp and who may obtain a license to produce hemp. The second clarifies avenues for Tribal participation under authorities in the 2014 Farm Bill to grow industrial hemp for research purposes during the 2019 growing season.
- Over the summer, USDA worked with our Federal partners to ensure the Hemp Production Program does not conflict with existing programs and to ensure the burden on producers and other stakeholders is minimized.
- On Oct. 31, 2019, AMS published an interim final rulemaking implementing the Hemp Production Program.
- On Dec. 18, 2019, AMS extended the public comment period due date for the interim final rulemaking for an additional 30 days, from Dec. 30, 2019, to Jan. 20, 2020.
- Plant Variety Protection Office: AMS published the proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on July 12, 2019.
- NOP; Strengthening Organic Enforcement: The proposed rulemaking began OMB review on Sept. 24, 2019.
- Specialty Crop Block Grant Program:
- On July 23, 2019, AMS signed a cooperative agreement with the NASDA Foundation to facilitate the engagement of and meetings with stakeholders to gather feedback on existing Specialty Crop Block Grant Program performance measures, as well as recommendations for new standardized measures and program improvements.
- March 7, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Awards were announced on Sept. 18, 2019.
- Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group: On May 14, 2019, AMS established the Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The first meeting took place on June 27, 2019.
TITLE XI – Crop Insurance
- Grain/Graze – On May 7, 2019, RMA announced updates to Annual Forage insurance for the 2020 Crop Year that enables producers in the Great Plains states to insure their small grains crop with both an Annual Forage Policy for grazing and a multi-peril Small Grains Policy for grain.
- Veterans: On May 22, 2019, RMA announced that veterans who farm and ranch are eligible for additional crop insurance benefits per the 2018 Farm Bill.
- Catastrophic Risk Protection Endorsement; Area Risk Protection Insurance Regulations; and Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions: The final rulemaking published on June 28, 2019. The rule raises fee to $655 for CAT policies, put yield cups (APH declines of more than 10% can be ‘cupped’ at 10%) within the policy, updates native sod to 2018 rules, and puts Veteran Farmer or Rancher in the policy.
- CCIR: Rice Crop Insurance Provisions: The final rulemaking published on Nov. 22, 2019.
- Cover Crop Management: On June 28, 2019, RMA announced they would add more flexibility to when cover crops must be terminated while remaining eligible for crop insurance. Producers now know up front that insurance will attach at time of planting the insured crop. Cover crop management practices are covered by Good Farming Practice provisions, and the guidelines are no longer a requirement for insurance to attach.
- Hemp: On Aug. 27, 2019, RMA announced that hemp growers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs could receive coverage through the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection in crop year 2020. RMA also announced it was working on additional crop insurance options.
TITLE XII – Miscellaneous
- National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank: As the first step toward implementation of this important provision, APHIS issued a source sought notice on Sept. 10, 2019, to gather information from interested food-and-mouth disease vaccine manufacturers. The notice closed on Oct. 11, 2019, and APHIS is analyzing the market research received, developing a roadmap for a forward looking FMD vaccine procurement strategy, and issuing one or more requests for proposals for vaccine.
- Animal Disease Prevention and Management: On Aug. 26, APHIS announced the 2019 open periods for Farm Bill funding opportunities supporting animal health activities in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) programs. On Oct. 25, APHIS concluded the open period when applicants could submit proposals for the 2019 funding opportunities in the NAHLN and NADPRP programs. APHIS received over 125 proposals with total requests of about $35 million. APHIS has selected over 30 subject matter experts to review proposals. APHIS anticipates completing the review process and announcing the spending plan in the first quarter of 2020.
- Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives: On April 16, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives. Awards were announced on Sept. 18, 2019.
- Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program: On April 23, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program. Awards were announced on Sept. 18, 2019.
- Acer Access and Development Program: On March 12, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Acer Access and Development Program. Awards were announced on Sept. 18, 2019.
- Feasibility Study on Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust: On April 26, 2019, AMS published in the Federal Register a notice soliciting input for the study on a Livestock Dealers Trust. Over 1,500 comments were received. In the coming weeks, AMS will submit to Congress the highly anticipated Livestock Dealers Trust study to help Congress determine the feasibility of establishing a livestock dealer trust.
- Veteran Farmer or Rancher (12306): On June 28, 2019, RMA published a final rulemaking to codify the new definition for Veteran Farmer or Rancher that gives the same benefit for Veterans as beginning farmers or ranchers. These benefits include:
- Exemption from paying the administrative fee for catastrophic and additional coverage policies;
- Additional 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for additional coverage policies that have premium subsidy;
- Use of another person’s production history for the specific acreage transferred to you that you were previously involved in the decision making or physical activities to produce the crop; and
- An increase in the substitute Yield Adjustment, which allows you to replace a low yield due to an insured cause of loss, from 60 to 80 percent of the applicable transitional yield (T-Yield).
- Reports to Congress:
- On July 1, 2019, the inclusion of natural stone products report in the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 was sent to Congress.
- On Aug. 23, 2019, the importation of live dogs’ report was sent to Congress.
- On Sept. 26, 2019, the report on the Authorization of Protection Operations for the Secretary of Agriculture and Others was sent to Congress.