More coronavirus relief is on the horizon for farmers and ranchers. Minnesota Farm Bureau members got an update on aid from the United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Steve Censky during a webinar in mid-July. Censky told farmers there continues to be strong interest in the current Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. So far, the USDA has distributed under $6 billion to farmers and ranchers across the country. However, the funds are not enough to help everyone. “Certainly, we’ve been working and talking to Congress about providing more resources,” Censky said. “We hope more funding becomes available to help producer’s deal with the shocks to the markets.” In the first round of CFAP, the USDA is paying out 80% of what was calculated; holding 20% in reserve due to demand. “Right now, it is looking like we’ll have sufficient funds and be able to pay out the remaining 20% on the initial tranche of $16 billion. Probably that decision won’t be made for another few weeks, but at this point in time, it looks like we can pay out what we were holding in reserve,” he said.

Trump touts USMCA   
    For the second time in the last 10 months, President Donald Trump has delivered comments exclusively to members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Trump shared thoughts on COVID-19 assistance, regulatory relief and market access. Trump also touted the newly implemented U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement. “It’s brand new and it is already doing well,” Trump said. As part of the deal, Canada has agreed to lift one trade deal, saying China is on track to fulfill the trade obligations in this agreement.

Lawmakers seek more market access in Japan for dairy products
    A bipartisan group of House members has sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and trade representative Robert Lighthizer, urging them to quickly pursue a phase two trade agreement with Japan. The lawmakers said efforts should be taken to build on the success of the phase one deal and deal with remaining market access issues for U.S. dairy products. The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council agreed, saying the remaining trade barriers have left U.S. dairy farmers at a disadvantage in this important market.

$27.1 million secured for FMD vaccine bank
    National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank that was created in the 2018 farm bill. This is just one component of a three-part program in the farm bill to support animal disease prevention and management. In the event of an FMD outbreak, animal health officials would then decide when, where and how to use the available vaccine.

Dairy groups promote whole milk in dietary standards
    The Dairy Guidelines Advisory Committee is recommending the consumption of low-fat or no-fat dairy products for the 2020-25 guidelines. The American Dairy Coalition sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, saying there is no reason to avoid whole milk, especially in school menus. The coalition said science “demonstrates that full-fat dairy products reduce chronic disease in children and adults and promotes learning readiness in children.” The guidelines are expected to be published in December.

PCRM claims dietary guidelines reflect ‘racial bias’
    The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has also sent a letter to USDA and HHS. The activist group said dairy products are unnecessary and goes on to make a claim about the guidelines, warning that they take a “particular health toll on people of color.” PCRM asserts lactose intolerance is more common in the African American, Asian American and Native American population. In the letter, PCRM said dairy foods contribute to a variety of health problems, especially for the Black and Latin communities. The letter summarizes by saying if cow’s milk is recommended in the guidelines it “reflects racial bias.”

Burger King evaluates cow ration
    Burger King is consulting with experts to develop and test a new diet for cows that would help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. This project adds lemongrass to the ration. According to preliminary testing, this diet can reduce the cow’s daily methane emissions by one-third during the last three to four months of their lives. Burger King said this is just one aspect of its focus on sustainability.

New dairy menu items at Taco Bell
    Taco Bell has two new dairy products on the menu for a limited time. The grilled cheese burrito is a blend of three cheeses with sour cream, beef, rice and chipotle sauce. There is also a layer of cheese surrounding the burrito. The other new product is a dairy beverage called the pineapple whip. The dairy checkoff program supported Taco Bell in the development of these dairy-centric products.

Making health coverage available to Minnesota farmers
    Major insurance companies got out of the individual health insurance business in 2017. The following year, the Minnesota Legislature authorized the creation of independent health care cooperatives, and Land O’Lakes and 40 Square Cooperative Solutions came into the market. Land O’Lakes is dropping its farmer health plan in 2021, but 40 Square will continue to be an option for Minnesota farmers. 40 Square Cooperative Solutions Executive Director Char Vrieze said there is immense need for this coverage. Risk is a daily part of farming. One way to offset risk is with health insurance. “It is also a component if you want to turn your business over to the next generation; it’s very difficult for young farmers to get into the industry,” Vrieze said. “One of the barriers is health coverage.”

USDA announces advisory committee members
    USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has named members to two key advisory committees. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee includes James Mulhern of the National Milk Producers Federation, Michael Dykes of the International Dairy Foods Association, Rob Larew from National Farmers Union and more. There are approximately 30 individuals appointed to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products. The lineup includes Jaime Castaneda of the National Milk Producers Federation, John Wilson of Dairy Farmers of America and John Newton of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Retirement on the horizon for former Minnesota ag commissioner
    Mark Seetin, who has been in a leadership role with the U.S. Apple Association, is now working on a part-time basis and transitioning into retirement. Seetin was Minnesota’s agriculture commissioner from 1978-82.

Scharpe moves to Edge Dairy Cooperative
    Edge Dairy Cooperative has added Peter Scharpe to its member services team. Scharpe will focus on member engagement and verification services primarily in Minnesota. Scharpe has worked as a reporter for Minnesota Farm Guide.

Trivia challenge
    The ice cream cone was invented in 1896 in New York by an Italian immigrant. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, what is the term for Italian ice cream? We will have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.
    Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network, based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Wick has been recognized as the National Farm Broadcaster of the Year and served as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Don and his wife, Kolleen, have two adult sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.