The National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

The National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association was founded in August of 2004 in Washington, D.C as the National Association of Latino/Hispanic Farmers & Ranchers. This alliance of Latino advocacy groups evolved from a long soul searching ordeal & after working with many farmer and farm worker advocacy groups for several years.

The MISSION of the organization is to engage and empower Latino farmer advocacy groups throughout the United States and beyond to protect and promote sustainable farm policy issues for quality and safe food systems for the future.

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White House Rural Council Announces $10 Billion Private Investment Fund to Finance
Job-Creating Infrastructure Projects in Rural America

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 - The White House Rural Council today announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.

CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank's initial commitment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies will help to identify rural projects that could be potential beneficiaries of financing through this new fund and other private sources.

The creation of the new fund was announced during the first-ever White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together business and financial community leaders, Administration and other government officials, rural development experts, and others to promote investment opportunities in America's rural communities.

"This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country," said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and Chair of the White House Rural Council. "USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite and there are backlogs of projects in many parts of the economy. We know where investment opportunities exist, so we are in a position to help promote these projects among investors. With new efforts like this we can move beyond existing programs and help encourage substantial private investment in projects that grow the economy and improve quality of life for millions of Americans."

The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.

The fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through private sector dollars. In others, private dollars may be leveraged with and extend critical government loan and grant programs.
The new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund and the White House Rural Council's Rural Opportunity Investment Conference are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to spark additional private investment in rural communities through private sector sources or through public private partnerships like the new fund announced today. For example, USDA announced the $150 million Rural Business Investment Company earlier this year, which allows the Department to help facilitate private equity investments in innovative agriculture-related businesses. Vilsack said today that more investment vehicles such as this are in the pipeline, and other efforts to continue promoting private investment in rural areas will be announced later this year.

"Meeting the world's needs for food and farm products, as well as the growing demand in areas like renewable energy, local food, and the bioeconomy will require continued investment in rural places," Vilsack said. "Many major investors in urban centers aren't always aware of the significant investment opportunities in rural communities. If the White House Rural Council can help facilitate even a small portion of the enormous amount of available investment capital into rural places, we can grow key industries and create jobs in rural and urban areas from coast to coast."

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Sign on Letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding California Drought

July 17, 2014

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
1400 Independence Ave NW 
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

As the impact of the severe drought in California widens, we are grateful to you to call attention and action to the crisis by traveling to Fresno tomorrow.

We continue working with National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. (NHAF) to support their emergency efforts to reach and assist the Hmong and other diverse producers in the region who face this sudden and growing loss of their crops and their livelihoods. 

Our Board member, Chukou Thao of NHAF, has already been working with state and local USDA officials and other agencies on a solution oriented approach to the emergency.  We have attached the fact sheet assembled from a recent interagency meeting that NHAF has begun using to help make families aware of the resources and support available to them.

We fear that given the scale of the situation, the resources and action identified will be insufficient to address the most immediate needs. We therefore recommend the following additional actions:

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Proclaims August 3-9 National Farmers Market Week

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9, 2014, "National Farmers Market Week". Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate our nation's thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

The declaration was made via an official proclamation signed by Secretary Vilsack. This year marks the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week recognizing the important role that farmers markets play in the agricultural and food economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began declaring National Farmers Market Week in 2000.

"National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide," said Secretary Vilsack. "Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms, and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food."

In honor of National Farmers Market Week, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo will be at the Dane County Farmers Market located on the grounds of the State Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, August 2. The Madison farmers market is the largest producer-only farmers market in the U.S. On August 8, the USDA Farmers Market, located at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, will host a Healthy Back-To-School Challenge to show kids and their families how to cook simple, healthy, and delicious snacks with seasonal ingredients. Other USDA officials will be at other farmers market locations across the country throughout the week.

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Legislative News

In Agriculture news, following Congress' five week August recess, there may be additional days added to the U.S. Senate's schedule to attempt to pass more appropriations bills and other measures. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), “Following the August recess, we’re going to be here for two weeks and two days. That’s not a lot of time for the workload we have to do. There will be no weekends off.” This despite the "Senate [being] in the habit of leaving for the weekend on Thursday afternoons."

Yesterday, the USDA announced additional food safety requirements for poultry products. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) "will now require that all poultry companies take measures to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs. Also for the first time ever, all poultry facilities will be required to perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to show that they are controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter. These requirements are in addition to FSIS' own testing, which the agency will continue to perform.

FSIS is also introducing the optional NPIS, in which poultry companies must sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to FSIS inspectors. This system allows for FSIS inspectors to focus less on routine quality assurance tasks that have little relationship to preventing pathogens like Salmonella and instead focus more on strategies that are proven to strengthen food safety. More inspectors will now be available to more frequently remove birds from the evisceration line for close food safety examinations, take samples for testing, check plant sanitation, verify compliance with food safety plans, observe live birds for signs of disease or mistreatment, and ensuring plants are meeting all applicable regulations."


In Immigration news, yesterday, "House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his allies claimed they had enough votes in the GOP-run chamber to pass a stripped-down, $659 million border bill, H.R. 5230, aimed at speeding up deportations. But a revolt by hard-liners — inspired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — led Boehner to pull the bill in the face of certain defeat." Cruz's strategy was "[lightning] up the telephone lines in the Capitol after an appearance on a tea party webinar. He further stoked opposition among House Republicans when he met with them privately over pizza on the eve of Thursday's vote."

U.S. Senate Democrats "also ran into problems passing their version of the [immigration] bill, S. 2648, with two Democrats, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), joining Republicans on Thursday to prevent the measure’s advance. Although the Senate will be in session Friday too, no votes are scheduled. No matter what happens in the House, Congress is not expected to find agreement and send any legislation to President Obama before leaving for a five-week break." Senate Republicans "opposed the measure because it didn't include any policy changes to make it easier to deport children back to Central America." Funding to fight wildfires and for Israel's anti-missile 'Iron Dome' were also in the bill.


In Voting Rights news, general elections are scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Remember, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election, and 33 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election.

Senate Floor Schedule for Friday, August 1, 2014

The Senate stands adjourned until 11:00am on Friday, August 1, 2014.

Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 2:00pm.

There will be no roll call votes during Friday’s session of the Senate. The next roll call vote will occur at 5:30pm on Monday, September 8, 2014.

House Floor Schedule for Friday, August 1, 2014

Although there are no U.S. House events scheduled today, House Republicans are expected to try to pass their $659 million border bill, H.R. 5230, again.




USDA implements new poultry-inspection rule

July 31, 2014 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new long-awaited poultry inspection rule that will require companies to conduct microbiological tests for pathogens that cannot be seen by the naked the eye, and will remove federal inspectors from the beginning of lines, but will not increase the speed at which birds can whiz by the inspectors. ...

USDA releases report on how to quantify ag, forestry greenhouse gas emissions

July 31, 2014 | The Agriculture Department today released a report on greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and forestry that USDA officials say can help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners figure out how to participate in carbon markets, but is more likely to be used by government officials and consultants to try to help farmers. …

Rural development nominee moved forward in Senate

July 31, 2014 | The papers for President Barack Obama’s nomination of Lisa Mensah to be the Agriculture undersecretary for rural development have gone to the Senate Agriculture Committtee, and Mensah has begun meeting with senators to discuss her nomination. …

House members call for Japan, Canada to be left out of TPP

July 31, 2014 | House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., subcommittee ranking member Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and 138 other House members said Wednesday that if Japan and Canada do not provide full market access under the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement they should be left out. …

WTO finishes COOL compliance report

July 31, 2014 | The chief parties involved in the continuing dispute over the latest iteration of the U.S. country-of-origin import labeling law received a final World Trade Organization compliance report Wednesday, Washington Trade Daily reported late Wednesday. …

Vilsack continues promotion of private-sector financing in rural America

July 30, 2014 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Bridgeport, N.Y., today to continue promoting the potential of the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund USDA launched with CoBank last week, although there are still some questions about exactly how the fund will function and what benefits it will provide to rural America. …

USDA reviewing Port of Vancouver grain inspection shutdown

July 30, 2014 | Agriculture Department officials are reviewing the shutdown of grain inspection and weighing services at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., but cannot comment on any possible action until the review is complete, a USDA spokeswoman told The Hagstrom Report late Wednesday. …

Center releases model for ag youth employment

July 30, 2014 | The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety today release a document entitled “Model Policy: Youth Employment in Agriculture,” which addresses age- and developmentally appropriate assignments, training needs for adolescent workers, and ideal supervision and mentoring by adult workers. …

USDA announces small and beginning farmer assistance

July 30, 2014 | The Agriculture Department on Tuesday announced the availability of more than $9 million in outreach and technical assistance for minority farmers and ranchers and military veterans who are new to farming and ranching. …

USDA implements Supplemental Coverage Option

July 30, 2014 | The Agriculture Department announced Tuesday that the new Supplemental Coverage Option known as SCO will be available for corn, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, spring barley, spring wheat, and winter wheat in selected counties for the 2015 crop year. …

DeLauro introduces soda tax bill

July 30, 2014 | Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., today introduced a bill that would impose a federal tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of caloric sweetener, such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages. ...

Appeals Court upholds COOL law in blow to meatpackers

July 29, 2014 | The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the Agriculture Department’s authority to issue rules implementing the country-of-origin labeling law for meat and poultry products and denied a request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the USDA’s May 2013 final rule for the labeling law. …

White House meeting with food, ag, tech businesses on addressing climate change today

July 29, 2014 | Senior Obama administration officials are meeting at the White House today with representatives of leading food, agriculture and technology businesses to discuss ways these companies are leveraging open government data, information tools, and other innovations to improve the resilience of the U.S. and global food system and reduce the contributions of food production to climate change, the White House announced early today. …

White House, companies announcing new climate-change steps

July 29, 2014 | The White House today will release a report that says delaying action to stem climate change will have major negative economic consequences, and companies will announce steps to focus on food security and resilience in the agricultural sector, White House officials said Monday. …

Insecticides linked to bees found in rivers

July 29, 2014 | Neonicotinoids, the insecticides that affect bee health, have been found to be “pervasive” in six states and nine Midwestern rivers, including the portion of the Mississippi that drains southern Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday. ...

Froman, Punke: WTO in crisis over failure on trade facilitation, food stockpiling

July 25, 2014 | Trade Representative Michael Froman and Michael Punke, the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, today expressed disappointment that India has blocked a finalization of a trade facilitation agreement over the issue of food stockpiling, and said the situation has put the WTO and the future of the Doha round of negotiations in danger. …

House ag subcommittee SNAP hearing shows partisan divisions

July 25, 2014 | A House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, Thursday showed partisan differences over the program that were similar to those during the farm bill debate. …

Ryan proposes ‘opportunity’ block grant to include food stamps

July 25, 2014 | House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Thursday released a proposal to turn a dozen federal social programs including food stamps into a block grant. Ryan released what he called a discussion draft of the proposals. …

SBA official says definition of small agricultural enterprise by receipts is too low

July 25, 2014 | The government’s definition of the size of a small agricultural enterprise by annual receipts is too low, a Small Business Administration official and business leaders testified Thursday before the House Small Business Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee. …

Cargill explains need for immigrant laborers

July 25, 2014 | Cargill Meat Solutions successful employment of immigrant laborers shows the importance of immigration reform legislation, a Cargill executive explained last week at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event entitled “Open for Business: Spurring Local Economic Growth by Welcoming Immigrants.” …

Roll Call: Man arrested with gun on Capitol Hill was Pork Council leader

July 25, 2014 | The man with a firearm arrested Wednesday trying to enter the Cannon House Office Building is the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, Roll Call reported. …

Franken: Podesta says RFS announcement is imminent

July 24, 2014 | White House counselor John Podesta told a group of senators today that the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of the volumetric requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 is imminent, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said today. …

BlackRock executive: Investors should seek returns in rural America

July 24, 2014 | Investors should put more of their money into projects in rural America because they are not generating high enough returns in traditional investments, a key Wall Street investment banker said today at a White House Rural Council conference. …

Lew: Ex-Im Bank, Treasury stand ready to finance rural America

July 24, 2014 | The Export-Import Bank is an essential tool to finance exports in rural America and several Treasury Department programs are also available to participate in financing in rural America, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told investors today at the White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference. …

Advocates to Justice: Extend Tyson-Hillshire merger review

July 24, 2014 | A coalition of 82 farm, ranch consumer and faith-based groups sent a letter to the Justice Department today urging it to extend its review of Tyson Foods’ proposal to take over Hillshire Brands. …

SNA calls Michelle Obama remarks ‘offensive’

July 24, 2014 | The School Nutrition Association today sent First Lady Michelle Obama a letter saying they consider her remarks at a Tuesday event about people serving junk food to students to be “disappointing” and “offensive to school cafeteria professionals.” …

CoBank to announce rural investment fund at Rural Opportunity conference today

July 24, 2014 | CoBank, the large cooperative agricultural bank, will announce today that it has created a Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund to finance the projects that USDA’s Rural Development division usually funds, such as electricity, water and sewer projects and rural business loans and grants, CoBank CEO Robert Engel and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said late Wednesday. …

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NLFRTA In The News

Something New Under The Sun: Latino-Owned Farms In U.S. Growing At A Healthy Pace

By Soni Sangha/ Fox News Latino

The number of Hispanic-owned farms is rapidly increasing in the United States, and it's thanks in part to the fact that about 15 years ago minority farmers successfully sued the U.S. government for discriminating against them.

Since that lawsuit, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stepped up their outreach to minority farmers (a group referred to using the unironic, bureaucratic-speak term, “socially disadvantaged farmers”) which has been a small contributor to the growth. But activists and plaintiffs charge that the changes may seem monumental but still leave minorities out of key opportunities. “We’ve made forward progress but we still have a ways to go,” explained Lorette Picciano, director of Rural Coalition, an organization that represents small farmers and producers in the U.S. and Mexico. Latinos are the largest minority segment among farm owners with the greatest concentrations living in Texas, New Mexico and California. They are have become key providers of certain produce. For example, they own two-thirds of the strawberry farms in California. Though Latinos only own a little more than three percent of all the farms in the U.S., there has been a 21 percent increase in ownership in the last 5 years, according to the Census of Agriculture. That increase is double that of other groups, and it counters the overall decrease in farm ownership in the country.

Most of the Latino-owned farms are small or mid-sized. That kind of farm presents challenges because it doesn’t always bring in enough money to support families. Spouses and relatives have other jobs to supplement family income.

Because of the investment required to begin a farm and the delay in income in the start up phase, access to loans and credit are critical. The discrimination lawsuit in the 1990s was about minorities being denied access to capital.

Alfonzo Abeyta’s family has been farming in Colorado for five generations. They bought their land in 1963 from a retiring Anglo farmer. Currently, the average farmer is older than about 65, so the USDA has launched recruitment efforts to bring in younger people.

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Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating

by: David Bacon

The mass migration of children from Central America has been at the center of a political firestorm over the past few weeks. The mainstream media has run dozens of stories blaming families, especially mothers, for sending or bringing their children north. The president himself has lectured them, as though they were simply bad parents. “Do not send your children to the borders,” he said in a June 27 interview with George Stephanopoulos. “If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”

Meanwhile, the story is being manipulated by the Tea Party and conservative Republicans to attack Obama's executive action deferring the deportation of young people, along with any possibility that he might expand it—the demand of many immigrant rights advocates. More broadly, the far Right wants to shut down any immigration reform that includes legalization, and instead is gunning for harsher enforcement measures. Even Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, has sought to frame migration as a national security threat, calling it a “crime-terror convergence,” and describing it as “an incredibly efficient network along which anything hundreds of tons of drugs, people, terrorists, potentially weapons of mass destruction or children—can travel, so long as they can pay the fare.”

All of this ignores the real reasons families take the desperate measure of leaving home and trying to cross the border. Media coverage focuses on gang violence in Central America, as though it was spontaneous and unrelated to a history of U.S.-promoted wars and a policy of mass deportations.

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