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June 22, 2021 - 11:32am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Le Roy Meadows, HUD, USDA, genesee county, V&V Development Group.

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The project manager of Le Roy Meadows says a solid plan is in place to address more than $600,000 in back taxes owed to Genesee County and necessary roof and driveway repairs at the 10-building, 80-apartment complex at 18 Genesee St.

David Renzo Jr., president of V&V Development Corp., of Batavia, today said a vouchering system to retrieve subsidies owed to the project by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a commitment of an investment group out of California, which owns 95 percent of the complex, are the keys to getting Le Roy Meadows back on track.

“As soon as we get the subsidy in for all that, the taxes are going to be paid,” Renzo said.
“We’re resubmitting vouchering covering the past three or four years, and we’re thinking that in four to five weeks we will start receiving the HUD subsidy again and the taxes will be paid.”

The Batavian has learned that the county is waiting to receive $605,886.43 in back taxes owed by Le Roy Meadows -- $603,167.33 on the property assessed at $2.2 million and another $2,719.10 on a small parcel assessed at $10,000. The taxes are for the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Genesee County hasn’t started the foreclosure process yet due to the signing by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of an extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act through Aug. 31.

Renzo said the location’s current problems stem from HUD suspending its contract with Le Roy Meadows several years ago. Tenants there pay 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent with HUD supplying the difference.

“Our HUD contract was suspended but we’re working on that with HUD right now by sending the vouchers (for the back subsidies),” he said. “There was a lot of confusion. The tenants shouldn’t be worried now because we have a plan in place. They’re not going to lose their rental assistance.”

He said the worst-case scenario is that tenants will receive an individual voucher that can be used for the rental assistance – giving them a choice between staying at Le Roy Meadows or taking that voucher to live somewhere else.

“Right now, rental assistance is project-based. The investment group in California is committed to getting this done. They’ve got positive feedback from HUD and getting the back subsidy that is owed to us to pay off the taxes and get the work done,” Renzo advised.

Concerning the condition of the roofs and driveway, Renzo said he is working with the investment group, soliciting the bids and lining up the work, to have all of the roofs replaced and to blacktop “the worst part of the driveway.”

He also said that repairs of the original sidewalks are part of the plan.

The tarps covering the roofs on many of the buildings are there as precautionary measures, he noted. Thus far, one of the 10 roofs has been repaired.

“With the subsidies about to come, plus the reserve accounts that we have set up and the backing of the investment group, the work will get done,” he said, adding that the interior of the apartments are in “great shape.”

Renzo said that contrary to what was reported in another local news outlet, neither he nor the V&V Development Group own Le Roy Meadows. He did say that plans are to bring in a new management group specializing in HUD policies and procedures to run Le Roy Meadows.

V&V Development Group also manages three complexes governed by the United States Department of Agriculture – The Meadows at South Main Street and Northside Meadows, both in Batavia, and Corfu Meadows.

Photo: Le Roy Meadows building with tarps protecting the roof, which needs replacing. Courtesy of Le Roy code enforcement officer.

May 22, 2021 - 6:37am

Press release:

The Salvation Army in partnership with Northgate Free Methodist Church will be hosting a drive-through food distribution at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 24th.

This distribution will begin at 2 p.m. at Northgate Church’s north campus, 8160 Bank Street Road in Batavia.

The FDA food boxes will contain milk, produce and frozen meat. We don’t know exactly what will be in the boxes until we get them.

This will be a no contact distribution. Be sure your trunk/hatch are cleared out so the volunteers can place the boxes in your vehicle. Please present a photo ID for each household you will be picking up for.

April 29, 2021 - 5:10pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C. -- The American Families Plan includes critical tax reform to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes in order to finance essential investments in workers and families, including childcare, nutrition, higher education and more.

One of those reforms is a change in the way capital gains are treated in our tax system so that, for people making over $1 million, the tax system no longer favors income from wealth over income from work. The plan won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

Part of this plan to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share is a proposal to close the “stepped-up basis” loophole for wealthy estates so that enormous fortunes do not completely escape taxation. Under the proposal, unrealized capital gains (those that have never been previously taxed) are taxed at death above $2 million in gains per couple. But this won’t affect family farms that stay in the family.

  • Under this proposal, estimates indicate more than 98 percent of farm estates will not owe any tax at transfer, provided the farm stays in the family. The tax the remaining less than 2 percent would owe, would be on their non-farm assets.
The President recognizes the importance of agriculture and family farms to the American economy and way of life. He also recognizes the risks and economic challenges unique to agriculture, family farms and ranching operations across America. The Biden Administration is committed to American agriculture, family farms, ranches and the rural way of life.

The American Families Plan protects family farms and ranches in two key ways:

  • No capital gains taxes at death for family farms. This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses. It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President’s tax reform guarantees that.
  • $2 million exclusion from increased capital gains for all married couples. This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free.

How the President’s Capital Gains Reforms Affect Family Farms:

  • A married couple with $900,000 of farm gains and $200,000 of non-farm gains passes the farm onto their children. No capital gains taxes are owed, even if they sell the farm because the $1.1 million in gains are below the $2 million per-couple exemption.
  • A married couple with $3 million of farm gains and $250,000 of non-farm housing gains passes the farm onto their children. No taxes due as long as the children keep the family farm.

The President’s capital gains reforms are a key part of building a tax code that rewards work, and not wealth. The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan are once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s future.

The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s physical infrastructure and workforce, and spark innovation and manufacturing here at home.

The American Families Plan invests $1.8 trillion in our children and our families—helping families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lowering health insurance premiums, cutting child poverty, and producing a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce in the years ahead. Together, these plans reinvest in the future of American families, American workers, and the American economy.

To learn more about the American Families Plan, visit the White House.

April 22, 2021 - 4:41pm
posted by Press Release in news, pembroke, Bethany, water projects, infrastructure, USDA.

Press release:

Today, in honor of Earth Day 2021, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.

USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

“When we invest in accessible and modern climate-smart infrastructure in rural communities, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs,” Maxson said. “The investments we are announcing today demonstrate how the Biden-Harris Administration has put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions.”

In Genesee County, the USDA today announced these federal loans and a grant for infrastructure in two towns:

Town of Bethany -- $16,680,000 loan: This Rural Development investment will be used to expand public water service to residents and businesses located outside of the existing service area. The new water district will relieve the financial and logistical burdens of replacing or repairing failing private weel water system, minimize threats to public health and will provide water for fire protection. The total project cost is $16,686,000 with a direct loan for $16,680,000, and an applicant contribution of $6,000.

Town of Pembroke -- $1,145,000 loan + $904,000 grant: This Rural Development investment will be used to create the Pratt Road Water District in the Town of Pembroke. Funding will replace and repair failing private well water systems. The improvements will help enhance public health and provide water for fire protection.

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Press release from Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27)

“I applaud the USDA’s continued commitment into ensuring Western New York farmers and residents in rural communities have access to clean drinking water," Jacobs said. “Many rural communities in my district have outdated water delivery systems. This funding helps modernize that infrastructure and will serve as an economic boost. I will keep working to ensure these investments and improvements are made so residents throughout our region are supported.”

Bethany Town Supervisor Carl Hyde Jr. said “Securing this funding has been a major priority of mine. I want to thank the USDA for this funding and for the great rural development work they do. With this funding, Bethany will now be able to cover close to 90 percent of our town with public water service.”

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.

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