Feb. 19, 2021: Senate reveals Appropriations Committee leaders
The Senate this month revealed assignments for subcommittee leaders for the next two years. Among the new leaders is Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Sen. Baldwin will be leading the Agriculture Subcommittee with Ranking Member John Hoeven (R-ND).
The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is responsible for provided appropriations for agriculture programs, including the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI). FNRI supports research on the floriculture and horticulture industries.
House Ag Committee COVID-19 Aid Reconciliation Bill Markup
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the House Agriculture Committee held a meeting to consider the agricultural provisions of the budget reconciliation measure, S. Con. Res. 5. The measure if part of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and outlines the $16.1 billion for USDA. The lengthy markup concluded with a party-line vote to adopt the measure.
The committee approved only one amendment. The amendment would expand support to those eligible for WHIP+ disaster payments for the 2020 crop year. The details of how payments would be made are still somewhat unclear as the amendment does not appropriate additional funding, but rather includes payments under the funding already made available.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes WTO Chief
World Trade Organization (WTO) countries appointed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the Director-General, making her the first African and woman to hold the position. Okonjo-Iweala will take office on Mar. 1 and will have the opportunity to select four deputies based on members’ recommendations.
In an exceptionally long term for the position, Okonjo-Iweala's term will last four years and six months, ending on Aug. 31, 2025. As a dual Nigerian and American citizen, Okonjo-Iweala has worked at the World Bank for decades and served as the finance minister for Nigeria. Her candidacy was endorsed by President Biden, breaking the gridlock between her and South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee.
As chief, Okonjo-Iweala will lead the WTO in dealing with the rules of trade between nations, including floral trade partners, to help ensure smooth trade.
Senate Ag Committee Priorities in 2021
The Senate Agriculture Committee will be putting climate change and fixing food supply disruptions due to COVID at the top the committee’s agenda.
Incoming Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) both cite concerns about the current situation of the agriculture community after trade wars, weather, and the pandemic have hit producers hard. The two senators also seek to work together on climate change and reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.
Social justice will also be a top priority; Stabenow said she will work with the House Agriculture Committee to address challenges faced by producers in marginalized communities.
At first glance it might be difficult to see how floriculture fits into conversations regarding food security, but we need look no further than our industry’s greenhouses. When COVID first hit the U.S. last year and questions regarding impacts on trade and food supply, USDA began identifying critical infrastructure.
That infrastructure would be vital if the US had to quickly ramp up domestic production of fruits and vegetables. In addition, the industry is already involved in conversations with leaders and federal decision-makers regarding research and the potential for incentivized innovation implementation to help floriculture producers reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and be part of a bipartisan climate solution.
Jan. 22, 2021: Biden's Inauguration
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20 as the 46th President of the United States. Hours after his inauguration, the President signed 17 executive orders, which included actions to provide additional protections for children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, halting construction on the border wall, and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accords. The orders also called for a broad review of regulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration, particularly actions that the new administration deemed impactful to public health and the environment. In addition, the Biden team instructed agencies to closely review more than 100 rules made final in the last administration and consider alternative approaches, including regulations regarding certain pesticides, the definition of a Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and endangered species determinations.
In addition to reviewing regulatory actions from the last four years, we should anticipate aggressive actions on issues the Biden Administration believes are necessary to address climate change and environmental justice. Documents developed by members of the President’s transition team, proposed the development of voluntary and incentived programs to encourage farmers to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). We expect considerations about climate and “carbon costs” to permeate nearly every aspect of federal agency action under a Biden administration.
The new COVID-19 Ag relief plan
Following months of negotiations, Congress passed the $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill with financial support for agricultural producers and funding for agricultural research, as well as food assistance programs. The bill gives approximately $13 billion to support agricultural sector, following the $9.5 billion in direct aid allocated to farmers under the CARES Act of March 2020. The bill includes $1.5 billion for food purchases and distribution and grants and loans to small and midsized food processors and distributors, farmers’ markets, producers, to help with COVID response, including worker protections. The new package provides an additional $200 million divided evenly between Specialty Crop Block Grants for the states and the Local Agriculture Market Program. In addition, USDA will provide further direct assistance to producers, including we anticipate floriculture, through a CFAP 3 payment. However, we will have to wait to see how the new Administration will implement it and how payment rates will be determined.
For any growers that received 2019 crop insurance indemnities, such as the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) payments, which negatively impacted earlier CFAP payments, the new COVID package allows producers to recalculate their 2019 revenue and receive a corrected payment. Producers must work with their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by February 26, 2021.
Paycheck Protection Program 2.0
During its initial run, the Payment Protection Program (PPP) helped 5.2 million small businesses pay their workers by distributing $523 billion dollars in forgivable loans from the federal government. Congress has renewed the program, providing an additional $284 billion in funding, as part of the larger coronavirus stimulus package. Funding is available to first time borrowers in addition to those who borrowed during the first round of PPP with some differences in eligibility. Many of the original rules remain in place for first time borrowers and now more groups are eligible to borrow. However, second time borrowers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), must have 300 or fewer employees, be able to demonstrate a 25 percent drop in gross receipts for the same quarter of 2019 and show that they used or will use all of the money from the first loan.
The bill, which includes both the COVID-19 relief funding and the PPP renewal, quickly moved through two roll call votes in the House, both of which received tremendous bipartisan support, and was approved with a 359-53 vote. In the Senate, the bill received similar bipartisan support with a 92-6 vote.
Nov. 19, 2020: COVID-19 Relief Package:
Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats for a coronavirus relief package have not resumed since the Nov. 3 election despite hospitals filling to capacity and the country breaking records with new COVID-19 cases. Top US leaders have agreed that a coronavirus relief package is desperately needed before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, but it is looking unlikely.
On Friday, Nov. 6, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a narrow relief bill, pointing to a new jobs report that showed the unemployment rate had fallen to 6.9 percent in October, down from nearly 15 percent in April. McConnell said this is evidence that only limited additional federal intervention is needed.
Senate Republicans do not support robust spending, with McConnell instead trying to advance legislation closer to $500 billion, which Senate Democrats blocked. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been negotiating for months on a bill with a price tag around $2 trillion but the talks fell apart. Heading into the lame duck, there is little sign that the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks will resume.
If no agreement is reached in the lame duck, it will fall to president-elect Joe Biden to negotiate an aid package as his first order of business after taking office in late January.
Three of the four leadership positions in the House and Senate Ag Committees will have new faces next year.
On the House side, Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13) is first in seniority to succeed chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota on the House Agriculture Committee and has the support of the Congressional Black Caucus. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be Chair. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16), who has a long history of supportive specialty crop production, is also in the running. Peterson, a conservative Democrat who voted against impeaching President Trump, lost his race for a 16th term in the House to Republican Michelle Fischbach, a former lieutenant governor of Minnesota, who was endorsed by Trump. Additionally, Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA-15), and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR-01), are vying for Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX-11)’s position after he retired. All of the candidates laid out their priorities earlier this year.
On the Senate side, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is in line to chair the Senate panel. Boozman, considered a consensus builder, was tagged weeks ago as the likely successor to Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts, who is retiring after four terms. Roberts is the only person to have chaired both the House and Senate committees.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is the ranking member for the Democrats, and would likely become chairwoman if the party controls the Senate. On the Republican side, Senator John Boozman (R-AR) would likely move up to chair the committee if his party controls the Senate.
Biden’s Agriculture Secretary
Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is considered to be the top pick for Biden’s Agriculture secretary. The North Dakota Democrat, who lost her Senate seat in 2018, has strong moderate credentials and has in the past broken from her party on controversial policy issues. Many environmentalists strongly oppose her because of her support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and because she voted to confirm President Donald Trump’s top two nominees at the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been pushing Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) for Biden’s Agriculture secretary. Fudge is the top candidate among progressives and chairs a House Agriculture subcommittee on nutrition. She also has made increasing food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program a primary issue. She has been fiercely critical of the nutrition rollbacks at USDA and other actions there, including the approach to scientific research.
;Fellow House Democrat Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who chairs her caucus’ campaign arm, is also under consideration. Bustos sits on the House Agriculture Committee but her seat in a vulnerable district will likely be a strike against her, given that Democrats will not want to risk losing a member of the caucus in a close special election.
Oct. 23, 2020: Stimulus Proposal Updates
House Democrats Stimulus Proposal – “The Heroes Act”
The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion updated version of the Heroes Act on a party line vote after negotiations with the White House stalled. The bill contains a number of agricultural provisions that were in the earlier Heroes Act — additional support for dairy producers; expansion of the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a pilot set-aside program created by the 2018 farm bill and an increase of 15% in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
The bill provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program; includes another round of stimulus payments up to $1,200 to individuals earning an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 and up to $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000; and provides $600 enhanced unemployment benefits through Jan. 31. The bill also provides: funding for a Livestock Dealer Trust Fund; payments for livestock/poultry dependent on shut-down processing plants; $1.25 billion for contract growers of livestock and poultry who face revenue losses because of COVID-19; a grant program for processing facilities, and; funding for a new report on meat and poultry processing.
Senate Republicans “Skinny” Stimulus Proposal
The roughly $500 billion package would: revive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program through Dec. 27, with payments of $300 per week, down from $600 when the program lapsed at the end of July; protect businesses, schools, and other establishments from liability related to coronavirus exposure; provide emergency funding for health, child care, education, and farm programs.
As for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the bill authorizes: a second round of loans under PPP and extending it to Dec. 31, from Aug. 8; rescinds $146 billion in unobligated PPP funds, and appropriates $257.6 billion in new funds for the SBA to guarantee first- and second-round loans. The bill also provides for $20 billion for the Agriculture Department to support farmers, ranchers, and processors affected by the coronavirus. It also would provide $500 million for fisheries disaster assistance through the Commerce Department.
White House Stimulus Proposals
The White House’s current proposal includes: another stimulus payment ($1,200 for eligible adults); $400 unemployment benefits enhancement; funding for coronavirus testing and tracing; and $300 billion for state and local funding.
CFAP 2 Reminder
On September 18, 2020, President Donald Trump and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that up to an additional $14 billion will be available for farmers and ranchers who continue to weather market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19. The new program will be called the Coronavirus Food and Assistance Program (CFAP 2); sign-up for the program began on September 21 and will last until December 11, 2020.
Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. The program is designed to provide financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will also be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with marketing costs.
Sept. 24, 2020: U.S. Horticultural Growers Can Apply for CFAP2
Last Friday, September 18, 2020, President Donald Trump and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that up to an additional $14 billion will be available for farmers and ranchers who continue to weather market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19. The new program will be called the Coronavirus Food and Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2); sign-up for the program began on September 21 and will last until December 11, 2020.
Funding for the program will come from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to directly support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and other commodities. Stakeholder engagement and public feedback greatly assisted the USDA in the formation of CFAP 2. 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.”
Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. The program is designed to provide financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will also be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with marketing costs. CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities: Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-Rate Crops and Sales Commodities.
USDA categorized specialty crops, which includes fruit, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery and floriculture crops, as sales commodities where producers are paid based on five payment gradations (8.8%-10.6%) associated with their 2019 sales.
Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that were not eligible in the first iteration of the program. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found here. All eligible forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information can be found here. More general information can be found at www.farmers.gov/coronavirus. There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships, may qualify for additional payments. The special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and CFAP 2.
The inclusion of floriculture in this program was not a forgone conclusion, as it was initially excluded from CFAP 1 and early indications from USDA were a lack of interest in providing payments to non-food crops. However, PMA, in collaboration with other national floriculture groups, engaged Congress and the Administration to help facilitate the inclusion of floriculture about halfway through the CFAP 1 application period and now for the entirety of CFAP 2.
Aug. 25, 2020: Flower Industry Relief
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended aid to support the domestic flower industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was created by the CARES Act to provide aid to agricultural commodity producers that have suffered a greater than five percent price decline or losses due to market supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. USDA announced earlier this month that nursery crops and cut flowers will now be eligible to receive CFAP relief.
CFAP payments for nursery crops and cut flowers will be based on a percentage of the producer’s wholesale value of inventory. Producers’ total payments will be the sum of payments provided by the CARES Act and the Commodity Credit Corporation.
- CARES Act Payments: For nursery crop and cut flower inventory that was shipped but subsequently spoiled or is unpaid due to loss of marketing channels between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020, the wholesale value of the inventory that was shipped that spoiled or is unpaid, multiplied by 15.55 percent; and
- CCC Payments: For nursery crop and cut flower inventory that did not leave the farm between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020, due to a complete loss of marketing channel, the wholesale value of the inventory ready for sale that did not leave the farm by April 15, 2020, and that will not be sold due to lack of markets, multiplied by 13.45 percent. Only inventory effected between January 15 and April 15 will be eligible to receive relief funds. Producers may submit applications to receive aid through September 11, 2020.
Inventory sold after April 15, 2020 is not eligible for CFAP.
The announcement to include the U.S. floriculture industry in CFAP comes after a joint letter requesting relief from several flower industry trade groups, including PMA, addressed to USDA. Flower producers may submit applications to receive aid through September 11, 2020.
Read the notification of funding availability; Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
July 27, 2020: COVID-19 Stimulus Update
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to discuss the Senate Republican proposal for the next stimulus bill. While draft text has not been released, Secretary Mnuchin has said that the administration is committed to passing a bill before the July 31 deadline before the expiration of the enhanced unemployment insurance. Leader McConnell, Secretary Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows outlined the bill to Republican senators at the Senate GOP lunch earlier this week. Senate Democrats have not released significant proposals other than supporting provisions of the Heroes Act. Beyond extending unemployment insurance, funding for state/local/tribes, and funding for education and health, Senate Democrats have been talking about many other issues, including rental assistance and supporting communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. House leadership has told their membership to be prepared to vote the first week of August, so it seems unlikely that the Senate will meet the Administration’s July 31 deadline.
The House passed the Democrats’ opening bid for the next bill, the Heroes Act, on May 15 and it will likely serve as a marker of what Senate Republicans will be responding to in their bill. Leader McConnell has raised liability protections for employers and other organizations as a priority, stating that organizations would only be liable if they failed to make “reasonable efforts to follow applicable public-health guidelines and committed an act of gross negligence or intentional misconduct”. There continues to be discussion among the Republican caucus to provide funding for health programs, especially for testing and vaccines; education funding, specifically for school reopening; and some form of funding for funding for state, local and tribal governments.
Based on recent reports it appears that enhanced unemployment insurance could be included in a negotiated bill, though likely less than the current $600/week and other limitations could be included as well. Despite President Trump interest in including a payroll tax cut, opposition from Democrats and Senate Republicans make it an unlikely element of a final bill. Furthermore, we anticipate changes to the next round of the Paycheck Protection Program. Senate Republicans have said they want to require businesses to show a 50% or more reduction in revenues to qualify for a second PPP loan and reduce the small business threshold from 500 employees to 300.
June 26, 2020
On June 22, a coalition of horticulture groups, including PMA, submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) regarding direct payments to domestic agricultural producers economically impacted by COVID-19 – part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The comments and supporting evidence make a clear case for the appropriateness and need for direct payments to domestic floriculture producers.
In addition, the group suggested a revenue-based approach that better reflects the actual harm rather than a price-loss mechanism emphasized in USDA’s current approach. In the initial CFAP announcement, USDA mentioned that floral producers will be eligible for payments after the NOFA comments are considered and a final rule with a payment approach are determined. The final rule will include a payment formula for floral producers and applications can then be made through their local Farm Service Agency office for CFAP payments.
On June 22, President Trump issued an executive order suspending the issuance of any H-1B visas (visas that are used for skilled workers) , H-2B visas (visas that apply to seasonal workers), H-4 visas (visas are given to spouses of H-1B visa holders), L-1 visas (visas are used for executives transferring to the United States from positions abroad with the same employer), and certain J-1 visas (visas are given to researchers, scholars and other specialized categories such as au pairs) for the rest of 2020, as an attempt to address the high unemployment numbers that came as a result of COVID-19.
The order does not apply to those already in the United States, and it gives the Administration some flexibility in creating other exceptions. For example, immigrants applying for visas to provide labor "essential to the United States food supply chain" are exempt. Individuals "whose entry would be in the national interests" as determined by the federal government are exempt, as well. On April 22, the President ordered a 60-day freeze on several categories of family and employment-based immigration visas, limits that have now been extended through the end of 2020.
May 22, 2020
On May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details for the implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). While floriculture products were not enumerated in the list of specialty crops that are to be included in the initial use of funds, floriculture growers will be able to apply at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office once USDA issues a Notice of Funding Available (NOFA).
Through the NOFA process, USDA will accept submissions of data from growers for 30 days to determine the degree of the impact on the market and to create a price formula. Once the formula is published in the Federal Register, floriculture growers needs to submit comments to the Federal Register to show the severity of the impact of COVID on the floricultural industry.
After USDA finalizes the formulas, growers will be able to apply for funds at their local FSA. It is not yet clear when the NOFA will be published and when floriculture growers will be able to apply for funds under CFAP.
April 27, 2020
Small Business Funding
Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, a nearly $500 billion bill that provides additional funding for small business loan programs as well as hospitals and COVID-19 testing supplies and equipment. The bill infuses an additional $310 billion into the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The initial $350 billion in PPP was exhausted in less than two weeks, and most lenders are expecting the SBA to run through these new dollars in less than a week due to high demand.
Learn more about the SBA Paycheck Protection Program.
USDA Support for Floriculture
USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which was created through funding provided by the third COVID emergency funding bill. USDA will spend approximately $19 billion, of which about $16 billion will go to direct payments for growers and livestock producers. Despite the name and emphasis on food production, we have confirmed with USDA and Congressional staff that floriculture will have access to direct payments to help provide some support in response to significant sales losses and order cancellations.
USDA is expected to release additional details on the program and how to apply in the coming days. We have been told the application process will open in early May, and checks should be delivered in June. However, despite a payment limit of $125,000 per operation, the total dollars available are finite and demand across agriculture will be high. Once information is available and the application process is open, we urge members to apply quickly. Learn more.
Learn more about the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
March 31, 2020
Last week, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The $2 trillion coronavirus relief package will provide financial support for the nation’s families and working people, stabilize the economy, provide relief for small business, support hospitals and schools, and protect jobs.
The bill includes nearly $350 billion for a Paycheck Protection Program to provide small business with zero-fee loans for up to $10 million. The bill also includes $10 billion in funding to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan. SBA is still working through how these loans will be administered and will post guidance soon.
For agriculture, the bill provides: $9.5 billion to support farmers who are experiencing financial losses due to the coronavirus crisis, $14 billion through the Commodity Credit Corporation, $3 million to support an increase in capacity to help USDA Farm Service Agency meet increased demands from farmers, and eligibility for farmers and agricultural and rural businesses to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans.
Feb. 20, 2020
President Trump released details of the administration’s FY 2021 budget request. The President’s budget, A Budget for America’s Future, proposes $4.4 trillion in savings over the next 15 years. The budget cuts $48 billion in discretionary funding, including $28 billion from program eliminations and $20 billion in reductions.
For EPA, the budget requests $6.7 billion, a $2.4 billion or 26% decrease from FY 2020, cutting 50 program it considers wasteful. The budget also finds cost savings by decreasing funding for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative. The budget includes a $3,181,000 decrease in funding for FNRI.
The President’s budget provides $18.2 billion, an increase in $800 million, for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, specifically including “preventing the spread of agricultural pests and diseases” as one of the four core priorities. Additionally, there is an increase in Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Fees. These fees are collected to recover the costs of inspection activities for international passengers, conveyances, animals, plants, and agricultural goods at point of entries. This authority established fees on five modes of international passenger and conveyance transportation: International air passengers, commercial aircraft, commercial vessels, commercial trucks, and commercially loaded rail cars.
Ag Guestworker Bill
The House voted 260 to 165 to pass H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, in December. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), seeks to improve the agricultural visa programs to better accommodate the needs of U.S. farmers and immigrant agricultural workers.
The bill includes: a requirement for Certified Agricultural Worker status applicants to show proof of agricultural employment for 180 days over the last two years; five-year renewable agricultural visas for qualified applicants with an option for permanent resident status; nationwide H-2A visa program changes; wage reform; and language to streamline the filing of applications.
U.S. Signs Phase One of Trade Agreement with China
On January 15, President Trump signed Phase One of the trade agreement with China. The pact increases farm and energy exports and additional protection for American technology and trade secrets. In the agreement, China commits to purchasing an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. goods and services.