Nestled along the southern edge of Adams County, the Atwater family farm buzzes with activity. Second generation farmer Lance Atwater and his wife, Krystal, gear up for another season.

New Federal Hours of Service Rules Released

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule updating hours of service (HOS) rules providing some much-needed updates to existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The new hours of service rule will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register. While the new rule does not include everything Farm Bureau or Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation has been pushing for the past few years, the new rule does make some needed improvements to current law. FMCSA’s final rule on hours of service offers four key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is preparing to take applications for its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) targeted to providing aid to farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses during the 2020 marketing year due to COVID-19. While full details are still to come, the USDA hosted a webinar this week and has developed resources to help farmers and ranchers know what information they will need to have ready to apply when applications open.

Watch Webinar

Get CFAP Resources

All four of Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC’s “Friend of Agriculture” (FOA) candidates advanced to the November General Election following Tuesday’s Primary. U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, FOA, advanced with 75 percent of Republican voters. Sasse will face Democrat Chris Janicek, who secured 30 percent of the vote in a six-person field. Congressman Don Bacon (Dist. 2), FOA, also advanced to the General Election taking 91 percent of the Republican vote. Bacon will face Democrat Kara Eastman who secured 62 percent of the vote in a three-person race. Congressman Adrian Smith (Dist. 3), FOA, received 82 percent of the Republican vote and will face Democrat Mark Elworth Jr. who ran unopposed. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (Dist. 1), FOA, did not have a challenger in the Republican primary. Fortenberry will face Democrat Kate Bolz in the General Election. Bolz secured 78 percent of the Democrat vote in a two-person field.

Primary Elections Results

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Farm Bureau backed improvements to Hours of Service Regulations this week; Farm Bureau likes what it sees in the USDA’s newly announced Final Biotech Rule; Dry conditions continue to spread across Nebraska; and Farm Bureau takes a closer look at the agriculture provisions of the House of Representatives latest COVID-19 relief proposal, the HEROES Act.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Sr. Economist Jay Rempe was a lead presenter on a webinar hosted by the Platte Institute May 13, targeted to helping elected leaders and others understand how COVID-19 is impacting Nebraska agriculture. What impacts agriculture impacts Nebraskans as one out every four Nebraska jobs is tied to agriculture.

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The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are addressing challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $145,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services, and Farm Bureau Bank. Got an idea?

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The Farm Bureau Exchange is a new online resource giving Nebraska Farm Bureau members a place to buy, sell, or trade their items through free classified ads. Check out the FB Exchange today!

Farm Bureau Exchange

Newswire is on a new schedule for the summer months and will be sent out every other week after May 15. The biweekly schedule will run until Labor Day. Newswire may be emailed out periodically in the off weeks based on urgent topics or news. If you have any questions or concerns please, contact Kylee Planer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Make a difference and sign up for the 2020-2021 Ag Pen Pal Program. The Ag Pen Pal Program develops a personal connection between a Nebraska farmer or rancher and a kindergarten – eighth grade classroom during the school year. Through this connection students can begin to understand the connection between agriculture and natural resources, seasons, nutrition, communities, the environment, weather, and the culture of rural Nebraska. Sign up today!

Sign Up

The U.S. Small Business Administration reopens the portal for agricultural businesses to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Nebraska Farm Bureau asks congressional delegation to assist Nebraska livestock producers, and the Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and 11 other state Attorneys General request the DOJ to investigate potential market manipulation by meat processor; it's a full recap of top stories in this week's Newswire video.

Drought Conditions Creep into Nebraska

The drought conditions sweeping across large portions of the Pacific Northwest which stretch as far east as Colorado and Kansas have begun to creep into Southern Nebraska. This week’s national drought monitor shows 22 Nebraska counties as being “abnormally dry” including all counties along the state’s southern border except for Pawnee and Richardson Counties in Southeast Nebraska. The “abnormally dry” designation is made when rangeland conditions have declined. In comparison, only nine Nebraska counties were designated as “abnormally dry” two weeks ago. View the May 7 U.S. Drought Map here.

In a time of uncertainty, Farm Bureau is reminding Americans that one thing still holds true, farmers and ranchers are still farming to help put food on tables across the country and the world. Check out the American Farm Bureau’s new video that drives home this powerful message.

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The gap between the value of meat products and the prices producers receive for livestock triggered President Trump, as well as Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and 11 other state Attorneys General, to request the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate potential market manipulation by meat processors this week. Their actions follow a similar request made by the Nebraska Farm Bureau. American Farm Bureau Economist Michael Nepveux shared more insight into the issue in a recent Market Intel update.

Market Intel Update

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the economy, shutting down businesses and triggering problems up and down the food supply chain. What happens with contracts in times like these? Are contracts enforceable? What does a farmer, rancher do if a buyer backs out of a contract? What recourse does a producer have if a buyer will not take delivery of cattle, hogs, or grain contracted for delivery? Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed a resource to help provide insight into those situations.

Contracts During COVID-19

Exercise your freedom! Vote in the May 12 Primary Election. Nebraska Farm Bureau – PAC has designated several candidates as “Friends of Agriculture” including U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (Dist.1), Congressman Don Bacon (Dist.2), and Congressman Adrian Smith (Dist.3). Support those who support Nebraska farm and ranch families! Visit our “Friends of Agriculture” webpage to learn more.

NEFB Friends of Agriculture

Drought conditions creep into Nebraska; Nebraska farm bankruptcies climb; Farm Bureau joins the Vice President for supply chain talks; and implementation of the U.S./China Phase One agreement is underway; read more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Did you know science, technology, engineering, and math are all used on the farm? This week the Foundation hosted a Facebook Live event that took viewers on a tractor ride with Farmer Mitch as he planted corn and shared about the technology he uses on the farm.

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Make a difference and sign up for the 2020-2021 Ag Pen Pal Program. The Ag Pen Pal Program develops a personal connection between a Nebraska farmer or rancher and a kindergarten – eighth grade classroom during the school year. Through this connection students can begin to understand the connection between agriculture and natural resources, seasons, nutrition, communities, the environment, weather, and the culture of rural Nebraska. Sign up today!

Sign Up Here

Introducing the Nebraska Farm Bureau Exchange! The Exchange is a place for Nebraska Farm Bureau members to buy, sell, or trade their items through classified ads for free and a place where members can connect to do business with someone they trust. Learn how to use the Exchange in our video.

USMCA Effective July 1

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) will go into effect July 1, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The July 1 date represents a one-month delay from the original timeline, following the signing of the agreement by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The agreement contains significant improvements and modernized approaches to rules of origin, agricultural market access, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, labor, and numerous other sectors. The trade agreement ensures most agriculture tariffs will remain at zero and expands dairy market access to Canada for the U.S., among other benefits.

Members of Congress are hammering out what should be included in the next round of COVID-19 aid. In a letter sent to all five members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation this week, Nebraska Farm Bureau identified several needs, including ensuring personal protective equipment is available to keeping meat packing facilities open; financial support to compensate producers forced to euthanize animals; monetary aid for contract livestock producers who were left out of USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance program; additional financial support for cattle and dairy producers, and re-evaluation of payment limitations to make sure they realistically capture the capital needed in all segments of the livestock industry.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau is working with Gov. Ricketts and others to support protection measures for employees so meat processing can continue to move forward in Nebraska. With that said, slowdowns and closures of processing plants due to COVID-19 may require livestock producers to make decisions about depopulation of livestock. At Nebraska Farm Bureau, we understand these are difficult decisions not easily made, but ones that may be necessary. To help, Nebraska Farm Bureau has worked with federal and state agencies to gather resources that may be of assistance to producers.

Resources and Guidance

The May 12 Primary Election is right around the corner and the Nebraska Farm Bureau – PAC has designated several candidates as “Friends of Agriculture” including U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (Dist.1), Congressman Don Bacon (Dist.2), and Congressman Adrian Smith (Dist.3). Support those who support Nebraska farm and ranch families! Visit our “Friends of Agriculture” webpage to learn more.

Resources and Guidance

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has activated a Cattle Markets Task Force to examine underlying issues and focus on the creation of a roadmap for the long-term viability of Nebraska’s cattle industry. The Task Force is made up of cattle producers from across the spectrum of the industry. Task Force recommendations will be used for consideration in developing Farm Bureau policy, programming, and potential structural changes within the cattle industry. Learn more by visiting the Cattle Markets Task Force webpage.

Cattle Markets Task Force

USMCA to start July 1; 2019 ARC vs PLC; Meat Processing Capacity Falls Sharply; read more on these topics in this week’s Policy Watch.

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Congratulations to Liz Ruskamp, a Dodge County Farm Bureau, who qualified for the Sweet 16 in the American Farm Bureau’s (AFBF) first ever virtual Collegiate Discussion Meet. Ruskamp represented Nebraska and competed against Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the Sweet 16. Ruskamp submitted two videos for the first two rounds and her scores from those videos placed her in the Sweet 16. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the YF&R Leadership Conference and Collegiate Discussion Meet competition took place virtually.

In recognition of #GivingTuesdayNow (May 5), the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is raising money for free, fun, educational resources for kids and families. High five an AgMag! Help us translate our 6-series AgMags so more Nebraska students can learn about its number one industry! High five a student today! A gift of $5 supports online access to interactive lessons. High five a classroom! A gift of $25 supports live virtual field trips to farms and ranches.

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Should farmers switch from corn to soybeans? NEFB Senior Economist Jay Rempe examines the corn-to-soybean price ratio which could have some farming rethinking their planting intentions. And Director of National Affairs Jordan Dux outlines additional aid directed to farmers and ranchers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Farmers Qualify for Additional Small Business Aid

Nebraska Farm Bureau thanked members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and President Trump Friday for authorizing a $484 billion COVID-19 relief bill to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with an additional $320 billion. The measure also makes farms eligible for a separate disaster loan program for small businesses, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program of which farmers did not previously qualify for. Last week, Nebraska Farm Bureau had urged congressional leaders to replenish the PPP fund when available funding for the program expired less than 48 hours after the administration issued regulations for participation for self-employed individuals, including farmers and ranchers. The PPP is a forgivable loan program for small businesses with application to be made through SBA approved lenders. The EIDL loans for small businesses are non-forgivable loans with application for assistance made directly through Small Business Administration.