Local Matters

Community Sponsors

USDA

April 2, 2021 - 11:53am

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday took action to provide $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to an estimated 25 million people in very low-income households that are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and struggling to put food on the table due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimated increase in food assistance for New York State for one month is $66.2 million and for six months it is $397.1 million.

Starting this month, households that had not received at least $95 per month in increased benefits through emergency allotments during the pandemic – because they were already at or close to receiving the current maximum benefit – will now be eligible to receive additional benefits. Benefit levels will remain unchanged for households that have been receiving increased payments of at least $95 per month.

States may need a few weeks to update their systems and get the additional benefits to participants.

“The emergency SNAP increases authorized by Congress last year were not being distributed equitably, and the poorest households – who have the least ability to absorb the economic shocks brought about by COVID – received little to no emergency benefit increases,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“As part of President Biden’s commitment to deliver economic relief, and ensure every family can afford to put food on the table, today’s actions will provide much-needed support for those who need it most.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized emergency allotments to SNAP households to help address temporary food needs during the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, USDA has issued about $29 billion in additional benefits, to bring all SNAP households up to the maximum benefit for their household size. Unfortunately, households already at the maximum SNAP benefit received no additional support. Among households that received little to no benefit increase, about 40 percent have children, 20 percent include someone who is elderly and 15 percent include someone who is disabled.

On Jan. 22, President Biden, issued his Executive Order on Economic Relief Related to the COVID-19 pandemic, directing all federal agencies to consider administrative actions to better address the current economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. At that time, the White House called on USDA to consider allowing larger Emergency Allotments for the lowest income SNAP households.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on: more resilient local and regional food production; fairer markets for all producers; ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities; building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices; making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America; committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

March 29, 2021 - 12:38pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, CDC, USDA, eviction moratorium, American Rescue Plan.

Press release:

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the eviction moratorium to affected multifamily housing residents through June 30. This halt in residential evictions allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend relief to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on USDA-supported multifamily housing communities.

“Due to COVID-19, the United States is facing a nationwide housing affordability crisis," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson. "That’s why, in a whole-of-government effort, USDA is taking this important action today to extend rental relief to the tens of thousands of individuals in USDA-supported multifamily housing communities.

"Currently, more than 40,000 tenants are rent-overburdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Today’s actions will give tenants at USDA-financed properties essential relief while the Department works as quickly as possible to extend the $100 million for emergency rental assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan Act to USDA’s most rent overburdened tenants.”

For more information about the protections provided under this moratorium extension, see the FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Administration’s Multi-Agency Effort to Support Renters and Landlords | The White House.

In a recent Census Bureau survey, nine million renters (or an estimated 15 percent of all renters) reported being behind on rent. The same survey showed that about 29 percent of Black families and 17 percent of Hispanic renters were behind on rent.

USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Programs provide affordable multifamily rental housing in rural areas by financing projects geared for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals and families, as well as domestic farm workers.

USDA extends its reach by guaranteeing loans for affordable rental housing designed for low- to moderate-income residents in rural areas and towns. USDA also provides grants to sponsoring organizations to repair or rehabilitate housing for eligible families and subsidizes rents for low-income tenants who cannot afford to pay their full rent.

COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on rural America. Families have lost their homes, students have resorted to unconventional solutions to access schoolwork online, the need for food assistance has grown, and access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations have been limited.

The American Rescue Plan implements funding that invests in the people of rural America:

  • $100 million through September 2022 in rental assistance for low-income and elderly borrowers.
  • $39 million through September 2023 to help refinance direct loans under the Single-Family Housing Loan Program and the Single-Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants.
  • $500 million in Community Facility Program funds to help rural hospitals and local communities broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines & food assistance.

In addition to programs facilitated by USDA, the American Rescue Plan provides significant investments into rural communities by expanding internet connectivity and establishing a homeowner assistance fund to assist struggling homeowners with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities and other housing related costs.

March 24, 2021 - 12:50pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, SNAP, news, covid-19.

Press release:

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the D.C. Circuit Court's decision to allow USDA to withdraw its appeal on the previously vacated final rule, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (84 FR 66782).

"We are pleased to finally put to rest a policy that would have restricted the ability of states to provide nutrition assistance to able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) during times of high unemployment," Vilsack said. "The rule would have penalized individuals who were unable to find consistent income, when many low-wage jobs have variable hours, and limited to no sick leave.

"Groups with typically higher unemployment, including rural Americans, Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color, and those with less than a high school education would have been disproportionally harmed by this cruel policy."

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Under normal circumstances, adults who are age 18-49, able to work, and do not have dependents are not able to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months within a three-year period unless they are working, enrolled in a work program, or participating in some combination of those two, for 80 hours each month.

The vacated rule limited states’ ability to request waivers of the time limit to certain restricted conditions.

The time limit is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. USDA plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register to confirm its return to long-standing regulations that existed prior to the publishing of this rule.

March 9, 2021 - 2:13pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, covid-19, summer meal programs, news.

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through Sept. 30.

USDA is extending these waivers to provide local program operators with clarity and certainty for the summer months ahead, when many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year. The waivers were previously extended only through June 30.

“We will do everything we can to make sure children get access to healthy, nutritious meals regardless of their families’ financial circumstances,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our child nutrition professionals are doing a heroic job ensuring kids across the country have proper nutrition throughout this public health emergency, often times with limited resources.

"USDA is committed to providing local operators with the flexibilities and resources they need to continue offering the best meal service possible to their children, given their day-to-day realities.”

The waivers extended today allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:

  • Allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) – collectively known as “summer meal programs” – to be made available in all areas at no cost;
  • Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times; and
  • Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days of feeding children.

Right now, up to 12 million children are living in households where they may not always have enough to eat. These critically needed summer meals will provide relief to many children in families who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and are fighting daily to put food on the table.

Summer meal sites are places where children and youth age 18 and under can receive meals at no cost in a safe environment. The meals are also available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities. Sites may be located in a variety of settings including schools, parks, community centers, libraries, churches and more.

USDA is issuing this guidance as early as possible to empower communities to establish as many meal sites as they can effectively manage this summer. To learn more about how the program works and the role of sponsors and meal sites, visit www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/how-become-sponsor.

February 17, 2021 - 2:56pm

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by the recent winter storms that USDA has programs that provide assistance.

USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are prepared with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities.

"USDA is committed to getting help to producers and rural Americans impacted by the severe weather in many parts of the country," said Kevin Shea, acting Secretary of Agriculture.

"As severe weather and natural disasters continue to threaten the livelihoods of thousands of our farming families, we want you and your communities to know that USDA stands with you."

Visit farmers.gov or your local USDA Service Center to inquire about assistance.

Risk Management and Disaster Assistance for Agricultural Operations

USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after they are impacted by severe weather, including those impacted by winter storms and extreme cold.

Even before disasters strike, USDA provides tools for producers to manage their risk through the Federal Crop Insurance Program, a public-private partnership between USDA’s Risk Management Agency and private companies and agents.

For crops that do not have crop insurance available, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) is available through the local Farm Service Agency. This risk protection includes crop production loss and tree loss for certain crop insurance products. It is recommended that producers reach out to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office for more information.

Producers that signed up for Federal Crop Insurance or NAP who suffer losses are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available, so there are several disaster programs for them. Key programs include:

  • The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or loss of feed.
  • The Tree Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate or replant and clean-up damage to orchards and vineyards that kill or damage the tree, vines or shrubs. NAP or Federal Crop Insurance often only covers the crop and not the plant.

USDA reminds producers that it’s critical to keep accurate records to document the losses and illnesses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking photos or videos of any losses.

Other common documentation options include:

  • Purchase records
  • Production records
  • Vaccination records
  • Bank or other loan documents
  • Third-party certification

Additionally, USDA can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) also has a variety of loans available including emergency loans that are triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs.

February 16, 2021 - 12:24pm

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through June 30. The actions announced today (Feb. 16) will bring relief to residents in rural America who have housing loans through USDA.

“USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson. "That’s why USDA is taking this important action today to extend relief to the hundreds-of-thousands of individuals and families holding USDA Single Family Housing loans.

"While today’s actions are an important step for them, we need to do more. The Biden Administration is working closely with Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan to take more robust and aggressive actions to bring additional relief to American families and individuals impacted by the pandemic.”

recent Census Bureau survey showed that 8.2 million homeowners are currently behind on mortgage payments, and of that 8.2 million, 3 million homeowners behind on payments were Black or Hispanic.

This effort underscores a commitment by USDA to bring relief and assistance to farmers, families and communities across the country who are in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In January, USDA took action to bring relief to more than 12,000 distressed borrowers of USDA farm loans by temporarily suspending past-due debt collections, foreclosures, non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and more. Learn more at the following link: USDA Temporarily Suspends Debt Collections, Foreclosures and Other Activities on Farm Loans for Several Thousand Distressed Borrowers Due to Coronavirus.

Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for additional information on USDA’s Rural Development COVID-19 relief efforts, application deadline extensions and more. USDA Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as additional actions are taken to bring relief and development to rural America.

Homeowners and renters can also visit www.consumerfinance.gov/housing for up-to-date information on their relief options, protections, and key deadlines from USDA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

February 10, 2021 - 1:37pm

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 10 — In January, President Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (pdf). The plan is driven by science, data, and public health to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s fight against COVID-19 and to restore trust, accountability and a sense of common purpose in our response to the pandemic.

The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It is organized around seven goals:
  1. Restore trust with the American people.
  2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments, health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.
  5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.
The plan calls on all parts of the federal government to contribute its resources—facilities, personnel, and expertise—to contain the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to the President’s call to action. In addition to personnel, USDA is offering its facilities, cold chain infrastructure, public health experts, disaster response specialists, and footprint in rural areas and Tribal communities across the country. Here are the some of the ways USDA is working alongside our federal partners to contain the pandemic and get our economy back on track.
 
USDA Programmatic Announcements
USDA Personnel Deployments
 
127 Personnel Deployments to Date
  • Feb. 10: The USDA Forest Service has deployed 64 Incident Management Team personnel and they are currently assigned to the National COVID Vaccine Campaign staffing vaccination centers, providing logistical support, planning at regional/state levels with FEMA and states, and more.
  • Feb. 9: The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has deployed 63 employees, including 53 employees to Nevada and Oklahoma to administer vaccinations at a variety of rapid points of distribution including mobile teams and pop-up clinics; four employees to Washington State to assist in planning vaccination efforts; and six employees to support FEMA.
For more information about USDA’s efforts and resources to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus.
January 27, 2021 - 12:25pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, covid-19, business, agriculture, Farming, Farm Service Agency.

Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice; and USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice.

Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers.

Today’s announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10 percent of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary.

“Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.”

The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides several different loans for producers, which fall under two main categories:

  • Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other nontraditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95 percent.
  • Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.
The most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating, and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with Microloans for each:
  • Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs, and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.
  • Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.
  • Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans, and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, nontraditional, and niche-type operations.

Contact FSA

FSA encourages producers to contact their county office to discuss these programs and temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and the loan servicing options available. For Service Center contact information, visit farmers.gov/coronavirus. For servicing information, access farmers.gov.

January 22, 2021 - 12:32pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, SNAP, hunger, covid-19, news.

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced several efforts today to expand nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In support of President Biden’s call to action on hunger and with authorities provided by Congress, USDA is increasing the Pandemic-EBT benefit by approximately 15 percent, providing more money for low-income families and millions of children missing meals due to school closures.

Separately, in response to this national emergency, USDA is looking at ways to increase Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to all participants, especially lowest-income households and those struggling to afford a healthy diet for their families.

As a part of the end of year COVID-19 relief package, Congress bolstered food assistance programs, including boosting monthly SNAP benefits by 15 percent and provided new funding for food banks and school and childcare meals.

USDA is committed to implementing these changes, but the measures alone will not solve the food hardship so many Americans are experiencing. Today, some 29 million adults and as many as 12 million children live in households struggling to afford food. More than 1 in 5 Black and Latino adults and many more children report food insecurity. These numbers continue to worsen each month.

USDA is committed to working with states and supporting governors, school districts, food banks and other key partners to deploy food assistance to struggling families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in the months ahead. The efforts announced today are detailed below.

P-EBT Benefit Increase

Upon taking office, the Biden administration took immediate action to deploy the emergency resources and new flexibilities Congress has provided. Established under Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March, the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) connects low-income families with kids with food dollars equivalent to the value of the meals missed due to COVID-related school and childcare closures.

To date, the program has capped P-EBT benefit amounts at $5.86 per child per school day and many households have had trouble claiming benefits. USDA will increase the current daily benefit amount by approximately 15 percent to tackle the serious problem of child food insecurity during this school year when need is greatest.

“As soon as the President took office, he called for immediate action on the hunger crisis gripping vulnerable families and children," said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

"The announcement today provides more food dollars directly to food insecure kids living in low-income households who are missing critical meals due to school closures."

SNAP Emergency Allotments to States

Separately, USDA will begin working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its authority to allow states to provide extra SNAP benefits through Emergency Allotments to the lowest-income households.

Last spring, Congress passed emergency increases to SNAP benefits to help address food insecurity during the pandemic. But those benefit increases have not been made available to the lowest-income households who make up 37 percent of SNAP households. Increasing SNAP benefits will not only help families most in need, but it is also a critical and effective form of economic stimulus.

recent USDA study found that in a slow economy “$1 billion in new SNAP benefits would lead to an increase of $1.54 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—54 above and beyond the new benefits.”

Moreover, SNAP benefits reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009 and had a significant effect on reducing child poverty.

Revising the Thrifty Food Plan Per 2018 Farm Bill

Finally, some 43 million Americans count on SNAP to help put food on the table. Currently, however, USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for determining SNAP benefits, is out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face when trying to buy and prepare healthy food. As a result, the benefits may fall short of what a healthy, adequate diet costs for many households today, especially in high cost of living areas.

Therefore, as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA will begin the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the cost of a healthy basic diet today. USDA believes federal nutrition programs and benefits should support a basic healthy diet.

Call for More Congressional Action

While these actions will help address food insecurity for tens of millions of households nationwide, more is needed to solve the hunger crisis in America. As part of his American Rescue Plan proposal, President Biden is calling on Congress to:

  • Extend the 15 percent SNAP benefit increase;
  • Invest another $3 billion through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help vulnerable mothers and kids get the food they need;
  • Look for creative ways to support restaurants as a critical link in the food supply chain to help feed families in need;
  • Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance funding.
January 21, 2021 - 12:46pm

Press release:

In one of his first acts in office, President Joe Biden requested federal agencies to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for millions of Americans.

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans (SFHDLP and SFHGLP) through March 31. The actions announced today will bring relief to residents in rural America who have housing loans through USDA.

USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States. Today, 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments.

In addition to the actions taken, the Biden Administration looks forward to working with Congress to take more robust and aggressive actions to bring additional relief to American families and individuals impacted by the pandemic.

Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for additional information on USDA’s Rural Development COVID-19 relief efforts application deadline extensions and more. USDA Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as additional actions are taken to bring relief and development to rural America.

Foreclosure Moratorium Extension

The actions announced today make it possible for the foreclosure and eviction moratorium announced by USDA, Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program (SFHGLP) and the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) on Aug. 28 to be extended until March 31. The moratorium does not apply in cases where USDA or the servicing lender has documented the property is vacant or abandoned.

Forbearance Requirements

Lenders should continue to provide impacted borrowers relief in accordance with the CARES Act by offering forbearance of the borrower guaranteed loan payment for up to 180 days. In addition, the initial forbearance period may be extended up to an additional 180 days at the borrower’s request. Lenders should outline potential solutions that may be available at the end of the forbearance payment and explain to borrowers that a lump sum payment of the arrearage will not be required.

During the forbearance options outlined above, no accrual of fees, penalties or interest may be charged to the borrower beyond the amounts calculated as if the borrower had made all contractual payments in a timely fashion.

Lenders may approve the initial 180-day COVID-19 Forbearance no later than the earlier of the termination date of the national emergency declared by the President on March 13, 2020 or March 31.

Post Forbearance Options

Upon completion of the forbearance, the lender shall work with the borrower to determine if they can resume making regular payments and, if so, either offer an affordable repayment plan or term extension to defer any missed payments to the end of the loan. If the borrower is unable to resume making regular payments, the lender should evaluate the borrower for all available loss mitigation options outlined in HB-1-3555.

The special relief measured that are outlined in Chapter 18 Section 5 “Assistance in Natural Disasters” will apply. These options include Term Extensions, Capitalization and Term Extensions, and a Mortgage Recovery Advance.

January 15, 2021 - 11:36am

Press release:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement applauding the Department of Labor’s final rule modernizing the H-2A visa program:

“This final rule streamlining and modernizing the H-2A visa process will go a long way in ensuring American farmers have access to a stable and skilled workforce, all while removing unnecessary bureaucratic processes," Secretary Perdue said.

"USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program that is administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department so hiring a farm worker is an easier process. These modernizations make the Federal government more responsive to our customers, ensuring American agriculture continues to lead the world for years to come.”

Background

The final rule will streamline the H-2A application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications. These elements are designed to bring the H-2A application process into the digital era, by harnessing the power of the FLAG electronic filing system to share information with other federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security while also sharing information with the State Workforce systems and domestic farmworkers.

Additionally, the final rule will provide additional flexibilities to cut down on unnecessary burdens on the agricultural employers that use the program. These flexibilities include the ability to stagger the entry of workers into the country over a 120-day period and allowing agricultural employers the flexibility to file a single application for different dates of need instead of multiple applications. 

January 5, 2021 - 12:49pm

Press release:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

In total, USDA has distributed more than !32 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This new round of Farmers to Families Food Boxes will go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," Perdue said.

December 24, 2020 - 11:43am
posted by Press Release in USDA, news, S. Nicholas Claus, Rudolph, reindeer, covid-19, Christmas 2020.

Tongue-in-cheek press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to S. Nicholas Claus, of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2020 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2020, through or over any U.S. border port.

“This is a holiday season like no other. But as I told my grandkids, Santa has immunity to COVID, so he and his reindeer will circle the globe as planned,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach.

“We are all looking forward to Mr. Claus’ special brand of Christmas cheer, this year more than ever. To help ensure a smooth trip, USDA worked with Worldwide Gifts Unlimited to issue this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees.”

Veterinary officials ensured the reindeer met all entry requirements before issuing the permit. It was noted on the health certificate that one reindeer, Rudolph, has a minor physical anomaly. The veterinarian indicated that Rudolph’s red nose, while bright, was normal for him and not a concern.

The reindeer will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel, who will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and follow all COVID-19 safety rules, will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry. They will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Claus will disinfect his boots and thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.

Claus also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.

“It’s important that Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited take all the right steps and precautions to protect against the potential introduction of pests and diseases,” Claus explained. “I appreciate USDA’s assistance every year as we gear up for our big night.”

Whether you see the smiles, joy, and wonder on children’s faces this Christmas morning in person or on video chat, enjoy the moment. Happy holidays from USDA!

December 18, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, NY27, news, USDA, covid-19.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is applauding the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on their substantial investments into rural New York communities.

“Rural communities comprise the majority of NY-27, and I commend the USDA and the President for their commitment to making the health, prosperity, and future of rural communities a priority,” Jacobs said. “This commitment will translate into a strong, thriving economy in these communities and deliver new opportunities to students and younger generations.”

Overall, the USDA invested $40 billion in rural communities throughout the United States in FY20 -- $434 million of that was invested directly into New York State. Notable highlights include $16.8 million in rural broadband funding, $112 million to deliver safe drinking water supplies, and $1.6 million for small and emerging businesses. To read more about USDA investment, click here.

NY-27 Highlights:

  • $17,235,000 into the towns of Byron, Pavilion, Byron and Dansville Village. These loans and grants were used to enhance water storage and access, as well as clean up contaminated water supplies. 
  • $269,900 to the Springville Volunteer Fire Company to update their facilities to better respond to emergencies in the surrounding community. 
  • $99,900 United States Department of Agriculture Grant (USDA) for the Village of Perry to improve local trail mapping, bolster tourism, and create jobs.
  • The Farmers to Families Food Box Program developed in response to COVID-19 supported producers and processors throughout NY-27, including HH Dobbins in Lyndonville.

I was proud to announce these significant investments into our Western New York communities, and I remain committed to maintaining a strong partnership with the USDA to ensure NY-27 rural communities are supported,” Jacobs said.

“Furthermore, I am going to be fighting for increased investment in the new Congress, especially to support rural broadband development to connect our communities – the urgency of this need has grown substantially with COVID-19 as small businesses, schools, and medical visits have moved online.”

October 27, 2020 - 12:21pm

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Trump Administration today (Oct. 27) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $891 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 43 states.

In Genesee County, three towns will benefit: Byron, Pavilion and Stafford. Collectively, the USDA has authorized a total of $7,470,000 in loans and $6,064,000 in grants for water projects that will benefit about 3,280 residents in those three communities.

“Upgrading water infrastructure provides a path to economic growth and protects the health and safety of people who live and work in rural areas,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said, “...because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Nationwide, 220 projects will help improve rural water infrastructure for 787,000 residents. The projects are being funded through the Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program.

Background

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

These USDA investments are going to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, click here.

In Genesee County

  • Byron -- $5,550,000 loan / grant $4,425,000

This Rural Development investment will be used to create Water Improvement Area #1 in the Town of Byron. This project will extend public water service to users in the town that currently do not have safe potable water. Water quality testing indicates a significant portion of residents' individual weels have coliform and E. coli contamination, which the health department indicates does not meet standards and are a threat to the health of residents. Approximately 600 people will benefit from this project. There are no other funding sources.

  • Pavilion -- $567,000 loan

This Rural Development investment will be used to build a 300,000-gallon water storage tank and more than one mile of supply pipeline. The new water storage tank and pipeline will serve 2,495 people in the Town of Pavilion. Currently, due to the present water tank's deteriorated condition, the town has significant water quality concerns. The current tank is located in a lower elevation so that the town does not have sufficient water pressure to fight fires in all areas. The new water tank will be located at a much higher elevation 1,280 feet and will supply plenty of water pressure and good quality water.

  • Stafford -- $1,353,000 loan / $1,639,000 grant

This Rural Development investment will be used to create Water District #12 in the Town of Stafford. This project will extend public water service to 185 residents in the town that currenrtly do not have safe potable water. Water quality testing indicates a significant portion of residents' individual sell have coliform and E. coli contamination, which health department indicates do not meet standards and are a threat to the health of residents.

September 22, 2020 - 1:07pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C., Sept. 22 -- The Trump Administration today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture USDA is investing $268 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across 28 states.

The expenditure includes a total of $13,534,000 in loans and grants to three Genesee County towns: Byron, Pavilion and Stafford.

“Upgrading the infrastructure that delivers safe drinking water and modern wastewater management facilities will improve public health and drive economic development in our small towns and cities,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is a strong partner with rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Background:

USDA is funding 76 projects through water and waste disposal loan and grant program. These investments will help to improve rural water infrastructure for 267,000 residents and businesses.

The investments that USDA announced today are being made in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov

Here is what will be allocated in Genesee County in this round of infrastructure funding:

  • Town of Byron -- $5,550,000 loan + $4,425,000 grant. Total: $9,975,000

This project will extend public water service to 608 people in the town who currently do not have safe potable water. Water quality testing indicates a significant portion of residents' individual wells have coliform and E. coli contamination, which the health department indicates does not meet standards and are a threat to the health of residents. There are no other funding sources.

  • Town of Pavilion -- $567,000 loan

This Rural Development investment will be used to build a new 300,000-gallon water storage tank and over one mile of water supply pipeline. The new water storage tank and pipeline will serve 2,495 people. Currently, due to the present water storage tank's deteriorated condition the town has significant water quality concerns. The current tank is located in a lower elevation so that the town does not have sufficient water pressure to fight fires in all areas. The new water tank will be located at a much higher elevation 1280 feet and will supply plenty of water pressure and good quality water.

  • Town of Stafford -- $1,353,000 loan + $1,639,000 grant. Total: $2,992,000

This Rural Development Investment will be used to create Water District #12 in the Town of Stafford. This project will extend public water service to 185 residents in the town who currently do not have safe potable water. Water quality testing indicates a isgnificant portion of residents' individual wells have coliform and E. coli contamination, which the health department indicates do not meet standrds and are a threat to the health of the residents.

September 18, 2020 - 2:39pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C. – President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin Sept. 21st and run through Dec. 11.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” Secretary Perdue said. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

Background:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. 

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities. 

Price Trigger Commodities

Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton, and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85 percent of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75 percent of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31. The milk production for Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 will be estimated by FSA. 

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16 and Aug. 31.

Flat-rate Crops

Crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed, and several others.

Sales Commodities 

Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales. 

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated. 

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call (877) 508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.   

September 10, 2020 - 1:12pm
posted by Press Release in agriculture, business, USDA, Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

Press release:

To further the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) work on the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), USDA today announced it is seeking public- and private-sector input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture.

USDA is looking for ready-to-go technologies and practices to achieve its goal of increasing agricultural production by 40 percent to meet global population needs in 2050 while cutting U.S. agriculture’s environmental footprint in half.

“Across America, we have seen significant advances in agricultural production efficiency and conservation performance during the past two decades,” said Under Secretary Bill Northey, who leads USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We want to keep the momentum. As part of our Agriculture Innovation Agenda, USDA wants to continue helping farmers access new approaches.”

To help identify and accelerate adoption of ready-to-go innovations, USDA is currently accepting public comments and written stakeholder input through its Request for Information (RFI) through Nov. 9, 2020, which is published on the Federal Register.

Input is welcome from the private sector, not for profits, farmers, forest sector, trade associations, commodity boards and others involved in the supply chain or development of widely applicable practices, management approaches or technologies.

A ready-to-go practice, technology or management approach includes those that are fully developed, have been field tested and have completed independent research trials.

Based on stakeholder input from the RFI, USDA will develop a comprehensive U.S. agriculture innovation technology strategy for our customer-facing programs.

USDA has launched a new AIA website where visitors can access information on the latest research and data, innovative conservation technologies offered via USDA programs, and other conservation resources. Visitors can also stay up to date on USDA’s accountability metrics and learn about the experiences of producers who share similar paths to success.

Background on USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda

The AIA is comprised of four main components. The first component is to develop a U.S. agriculture innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public- and private-sector research. The second component is to align the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs.

The third component is to conduct a review of USDA productivity and conservation data. USDA already closely tracks data on yield, but on the environmental side, there’s some catching up to do. Finally, USDA has set benchmarks to improve accountability. These targets will help measure progress toward meeting future food, fiber, fuel, feed and climate demands.

Some of the benchmarks include:

  • Agricultural Productivity: Increase agricultural production by 40 percent by 2050 to do our part to meet estimated future demand.
  • Forest Management: Build landscape resiliency by investing in active forest management and forest restoration through increased Shared Stewardship Agreements with states.
  • Food loss and waste: Advance our work toward the goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50 percent in the United States by the year 2030.
  • Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas: Enhance carbon sequestration through soil health and forestry, leverage the agricultural sector’s renewable energy benefits for the economy and capitalize on innovative technologies and practices to achieve net reduction of the agricultural sector’s current carbon footprint by 2050 without regulatory overreach.
  • Water Quality: Reduce nutrient loss by 30 percent nationally by 2050.
  • Renewable Energy: Increase the production of renewable energy feedstocks and set a goal to increase biofuel production efficiency and competitiveness to achieve market-driven blend rates of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30 percent of transportation fuels by 2050.
View the RFI on the Federal Register, or download it here (PDF, 247 KB). For more information about the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, please visit www.usda.gov/aia.
August 31, 2020 - 11:15am

Press release:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand today announced that USDA is implementing the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative, releasing new information on rates and terms that will help lenders apply for loan guarantees to support rural businesses, infrastructure and community facilities and increase private investments in rural America.

Ahead of Fiscal Year 2021, USDA is providing guarantee percentages, annual fees, periodic retention fees, and optional construction fees to help lenders apply for the Agency’s four flagship loan guarantee programs. These programs are:

The fees in this notice are effective Oct. 1. Additional information is available in the Aug. 3 Federal Register (PDF, 203 KB).

Background:

Today’s announcement comes as part of the Administration’s commitment to cut red tape and streamline regulations to increase private investment under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative.

On July 13, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that USDA is taking steps to increase private investment in rural communities across the country by making it easier for lenders to access four flagship loan guarantee programs.

Through a series of regulatory reforms, USDA is eliminating duplicative processes and launching a single platform for the Agency’s four key loan guarantee programs.

USDA is also standardizing requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servicing and loss claims. These measures will make the application process simpler and faster for lenders.

The regulatory changes will take effect on Oct. 1. Additional information is available on page 42494 of the July 14 Federal Register (PDF, 889 KB).

Interested parties may join the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative subscription list to receive updates from USDA on this initiative.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

August 26, 2020 - 5:25pm
posted by Press Release in Child Nutrition Program, Chris Jacobs, news, covid-19, USDA, education.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs has sent United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue a letter, with 24 Republican members, calling for the review and swift implementation of flexibilities within the Child Nutrition Program. 

“As we head into the 2020-2021 school year, we need to be sure schools can accommodate the needs of children, many who may be observing hybrid or fully online classes this fall,” Jacobs said.

“As someone who has consistently advocated for quality education, I know that during this time when parents are stressed about children completing classwork, they shouldn’t have the extra burden of worrying about school meal services for their child.”

Originally, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA utilized flexibilities within the Child Nutrition Program to allow schools to provide meals to children as they were learning from home. As it stands now, these flexibilities, though within the legal bounds of the program, have not been authorized for the 2020-2021 school year.

“With the variety of plans different districts are implementing, it is critical that schools have the appropriate tools and flexibility to ensure they can carry out quality meal service and delivery for all students who need it,” Jacobs said.

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button