Current Grange News 2021

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Latest NewsBoard of Directors Meeting - Sunday January 24, 2021 - Open Session 12:30 pm to approximately 4:00 pm



January 2021

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OFFICIAL NOTICE

California State Grange Board of Directors Meeting

Closed Session will be held Friday January 22, 2021 at 7:00PM via Zoom

State Officers and Directors Meeting will be Saturday January 23 starting at 9am to approximately 2:00pm - via Zoom.

Board of Directors Meeting - Sunday January 24, 2021 - Open Session 12:30 pm to approximately 4:00 pm

Please RSVP -- Zoom link will be sent the Friday before the meeting. RSVP Here Click here to RSVP





JANUARY 15, 2021

Zoom Meetings

By: Betsy E. Huber, National Grange President

Here we are in a new year, with no sign of the pandemic abating anytime soon. Is your Grange meeting? I would not encourage you to meet in person during these times, but are you using other means like conference calls or Zoom?

You may have started out in April thinking, “We can skip a meeting this month; we’ll be back together in a few weeks.” Boy, did that turn out to be wrong! I sincerely hope your Grange has stayed connected through these ten months of being shut in. If you have not had a meeting or event in the last ten months your Grange is in extreme danger of never meeting again. It’s easy to get out of the habit of “Grange every other Friday night” or whatever night you meet. Our theme “Cultivating Connections” is carried over through 2021 because it is so important—even more important in these times to stay connected with each other and with our communities.

There can be great benefits from meeting virtually. My own Pomona met last Saturday via Zoom, and we saw members we had not seen in many years or ever! One member said it was the first Pomona meeting she was able to attend in 17 years since she moved away from the area. I hope you will consider keeping a Zoom option even after the pandemic, so members who are unable to be physically present can still participate.

Another benefit is programming. If you thought you had too few members to invite a speaker to your meeting, this is your opportunity. Anyone will be happy to join you from the comfort of their home to speak about their favorite topic for 15 minutes. You can even invite the public or the entire Grange community to participate.

Also if members are in their homes, they will be able to demonstrate a craft they like to do, or show off a collection or a hobby. Think of all the possibilities! Many people have picked up new hobbies during this time—ask them to share with the group.

If your Grange has not utilized virtual meetings yet, what are you waiting for? It appears that we may be restricted from in person meetings for months to come. There is no excuse for not meeting, at least by telephone, to keep your Grange members connected and in the Grange habit. It doesn’t matter if you are not the President, or even any officer. Take the initiative to volunteer to set something up. We are depending on you to save your Grange!

Difference of Opinion is no Crime

By National Membership Director Joe Stefenoni

“We propose meeting together, talking together, working together and, in general, acting together for our mutual protection and advancement. We shall constantly strive to secure harmony, good will, and brotherhood, and to make our Order perpetual. We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices, all unhealthy rivalry and all selfish ambition. Faithful adherence to these principles will ensure our mental, moral, social and material advancement.”

These words, from the Declaration of Purposes of the National Grange, penned in the aftermath of the Civil War echo today with new resound. Over the last month we have watched events in our country unfold that are simultaneously shocking, unimaginable and unlike anything most of us have ever seen. The fabric of the American experiment is being tested and it is the responsibility of us all to ensure its strength. With the uncertainty these events have created, the Grange today is a place for communities across our county to find stability, just as they were in the decade following a time where brother took up arms against brother.

“We acknowledge the broad principle that difference of opinion is no crime, and hold that ‘progress toward truth is made by differences of opinion,’ while ‘the fault lies in bitterness of controversy.’”

These principles which create the foundation of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry can serve to create a roadmap for Granges on how they help their communities heal and move forward. Welcoming new people into our fraternal circle where they can feel the goodness and kindness of those who are their friends and neighbors is what our country needs. It is especially important to strengthen the fabric of our national life that we bring together groups of people with a variety of opinions so that we can make the “progress toward truth” hoped for by our founders over 150 years ago.

As we begin a new year, Community Granges should look at how they can work to bring their community together for good fellowship, healthy debate and positive healing that will help to ensure our mental, moral, social and material advancement.

2021 Youth Programming

By Mandy Bostwick, National Grange Youth Director

What a crazy year 2020 was. I was deeply saddened that I wasn’t able to spend time with youth, young adults, and other Grangers at the regional conferences in 2020. It proved to be a time that, as Grangers, we must persevere through whatever is thrown at us.

With the pandemic still looming in the background, some of our events may be altered or canceled. It is with regret that we must cancel the 2021 Washington DC Experience. Last year’s event was a huge success, and I was looking forward to seeing how many more young faces we could bring to Washington DC. It will be continued in 2022. The Grange Inter-State Youth Exchange (GISYE) will continue, but there may be stipulations put in place because of the pandemic. As we move forward with this unpredictable time, there may be changes or modifications to all programming. I will keep you all updated if those changes arise.

I am excited to announce the introduction of Grange Debate to this year’s program. It will be a contest held at regional conferences only. The Code Reading contest will also be held as a regional conference. I hope that with these contests being held regionally, it will garner more interest since there are fewer travel costs to stay within the region rather than travel to National Session, and it will also allow more time at National Session for building our young Grange leaders.

The National Grange Youth Department remains committed to recognizing Youth Achievements through its Youth recognition programs- National Youth Officer Team, Horizon Leadership Program, and the John Trimble Legislative Experience. Please review the guidelines for each of these programs because there have been some changes made for these programs as well.

I will be hosting bi-monthly zoom meetings on the 3rd Sunday of even-numbered months for directors and anyone interested in youth programming. Join me for the first “Youth Yammerings” on Sunday, February 21 at 9 EST/8 CST/7 MST/ 6 PST. Use the direct link:

Use the direct link

I look forward to working with all of the youth, young adults, and state directors across the country as we go into 2021 with new programming that will help guide us into the future of our organization. Continue to strive to “Be Proud. Be Leaders. Be Grange Youth.”

My Grange Mentor

By Derek Snyder

Each of us has benefitted from having at least one mentor in our lifetime. Mentors come from all walks of life and offer advice, guidance, experience, and wisdom among other things. These people are often our friends, family, colleagues, or other individuals that have a compassion and interest in helping us develop into being better humans.

I first met Dan Greer back in 2015 when I visited Durango, Colorado during my time as National Grange Youth Ambassador. Within 30 minutes of Dan picking me up at the airport we had developed a bond that quickly turned into a lifelong friendship. Since that time, Dan has become one of my most valued mentors, as I have learned from him the importance of things like family, faith, confidence, intuition, and the importance of laughter and humor in everything I do. I am motivated and inspired by his success in his own life, whether it be starting his own company or raising a wonderful family.

Dan would tell you the credit for his accomplishments belong to God. He would also tell you that he has had his own share of mentors within his life, I am sure his father Harry (or Old Man Greer as some Grange Youth Adults affectionately call him) being one of them. Dan has continued to provide me with advice as well as support in times of need. Had it not been for the Grange or my time as youth ambassador I do not think I would’ve had the privilege to meet and build a friendship with my lifelong mentor and friend. Dan continues to encourage and advise me in our ever-changing world and for that I am deeply thankful.

Despite living nearly 2,000 miles apart, Dan and I still find time to get together at least twice a year, once at a Grange event and when I become an adopted member of the Greer family, usually for a family vacation (sorry again for that time I threw up in your car). The other 50 weeks of the year, I often find myself talking or texting Dan and getting advice on all aspects of my life. I continue to cherish our friendship, his mentorship, and look forward to whatever comes next for both of us on our Grange journey.

Chairman Pai’s Farewell Address

By Kennedy Gwin

In a farewell address with the National Grange and MMTC, Chairman Pai took the time to outline the FCC’s accomplishments in the last four years as well as addressed the rural urban digital divide. Chairman Pai said that his number one priority since day one has been the expansion of rural broadband and its deployment to underserved communities.

The two main strategies and reforms Pai discussed were the changing of the Universal Service Fund so that they could provide companies subsidies for investing in rural and underserved communities. The second reform was the repealing of current regulations to strengthen the case for business to invest in rural America.

One of these strategies included the reverse auction format for companies bidding on networks and spectrum. These auctions were a massive success as they produced competitiveness in the market and allowed private business to fill the gap where taxpayers’ dollars previously were tapped. This saved taxpayers 3.5 billion dollars and created a new market for internet and cell phone providers to enter. The second strategy was the removal of dated regulations that were slowing the process of deployment and no longer relevant to the modern market. This meant getting rid of regulations that were passed in the 1930s and clearing the bureaucracy for today’s providers. The repealing of these regulations had a direct impact on closing the digital divide in rural America by cutting the number of underserved nearly in half.

Another program the FCC continues to roll out and hopes to be continued into the next administration is the creation and implementation of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This fund has set up auctions for providers and has generated 11 billion dollars for rural broadband in hopes that 99% of rural individuals will be served 5G and broadband within the next 5 years.

Pai also highlighted the direct action he took to expand broadband to Puerto Rico as well as the US Virgin Islands in aggressive actions unprecedented by previous FCC administrations. The belief that all Americans deserve access to broadband continued to be a goal of the FCC.

Despite the pandemic the FCC was on top of the crisis and created the Keep Americans Connected pledge that asked providers to not cut off broadband service for nonpayment for 60 days and assist low-income families during these troubling times. This pledge was later extended to June. After June Congress took direct action to provide funding and keep families connected for both school and telework.

Moving forward into the next administration Chairman Pai says he “looks forward to phase 2 of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and that we look forward to seeing the 11 billion dollars spent to support the continued expansion of broadband in rural America”. For those who would like to read his address go to https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-369186A1.pdf or check out the YouTube video on the National Grange YouTube Channel.

A Few Grange Mentions

This is a new section we will include each week with a few of the links to articles in which the local, State or the National Grange have been mentioned or our statements have appeared.

• Technology Drives the Sustainable Practices Needed to Meet 21st Century Food Demand, Washington DC, https://morningconsult.com/opinions/technology-drives-the-sustainable-practices-needed-to-meet-21st-century-food-demand/

• Interview: National Food Program Defunded, Sacramento, CA, https://fox40.com/morning/interview-national-food-box-program-defunded/?fbclid=IwAR1vIxvFNa8GYYk0F1lB4fqhVyOINjiAdj-vDMxWivk0az2kYgC6pmjhQh4

Grange Comments on Weekly Items of Interest

This is a new section we will include each week with at least one quote from the week prior made about a policy issue or current event by National Grange President Betsy Huber or other Grange leaders for inclusion by media or to spark interest in the rural perspective.

• Betsy Huber Hosts Chairman Pai’s farewell address followed by a Q&A with MMTC

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The National Grange HQ | 1616 H St. NW, Washington, DC 20006 | (202) 628-3507

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JANUARY 8, 2021


Farmers to Families Food Box Program

By: Betsy E. Huber, National Grange President

Since May, 132 million food boxes have been delivered to struggling Americans thanks to the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program. As of midnight December 31, that program was scheduled to end--in fact, funding in many regions had already run out weeks before because the need was so great.

Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act combined with another COVID aid bill on December 21st, but it did not specifically fund the Food Box Program. The Grange sent out a statement calling on legislators and the incoming administration to prioritize this crucial program.

We stated that we hope Congress will act, but also urged President-elect Biden and Secretary of Agriculture nominee Vilsack "to prioritize and restore the Farmers to Families Food Box Program with funds Congress just authorized in the coronavirus relief package and omnibus spending bill." Measures must be taken to ensure the citizens of one of the most food-rich countries in the world do not needlessly go hungry.

The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is critical because it not only aids the hungry, but also supports our farmers who work every day to produce the great food we have available. Because of distribution problems in the pandemic, many farmers lost access to large portions of their markets. American farmers are extraordinarily productive, and it's important that farmers are able to fulfill their calling - to provide sustenance to their families, their neighbors and the world. Hunger should be unnecessary in America. Government intervention through programs like the Farmers to Families Food Box Program are critical to personal health and civil stability, and we urged its immediate restoration.

USDA Secretary Perdue announced on Monday that the program will be funded with the purchase of another $1.5 billion of food for nationwide distribution. Since the program began on May 15th, more than 132 million boxes of food in support of American farmers has been distributed to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This totals more than 3.3 billion meals!

We all hope and pray for the day to come soon when this aid will no longer be needed and families can return to work to provide for their families. Meanwhile, we thank Congress and Secretary Perdue for continuing to fund this essential program.

In Light of an American Tragedy

The National Grange is shocked and saddened by the loss of civility and respect in America today.

The tragedy that unfolded yesterday as a mob overran our Capitol building was not a spontaneous event, but something fostered over time. It has been slowly encroaching into the fabric of our lives for a number of years.

It is not the result of any one faction but of all factions who are intolerant of every point of view except their own. Americans have always been proud of the fact that we can disagree with each other without being disagreeable. Our country was founded on the famous "melting pot” principle, where all peoples who share the values and principles of our country's founding documents are welcome on our shores.

Those who promote hate, intolerance, violence, destruction and insurrection are not part of the American way. Those who seek to divide us as Americans are dangerous to our democracy. What’s more, intolerant individuals who cannot abide by one of our founding principles - “difference of opinion is no crime” - have no place in the Grange, which was borne out of a time of strife similar to that today.

At that time, lines seemed cleanly divided based on geography. Today, hate and anarchy are festering insidiously among us in every community and it is the job of the Grange and organizations like it to find ways to foster dialogue, nurture human kindness and bring people back together, respecting each other as neighbors even when disagreeing on issues. Should we fail to rise to this challenge, we are failing the legacy left us by our great Grange founders and all those who came before us in this organization.

First, however, we should observe our most basic principles - faith, hope, charity and fidelity - and urge every neighbor and friend of ours “of good moral character” to do the same. It is only through these actions that we will see peace and civility return to our nation and make it one worth passing onto the next generations.

Mentors, Mentoring and The Power of Let's!

By Christine Hamp National Grange Lecturer

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote by Benjamin Franklin, for me, perfectly describes mentors and mentoring.

Mentors provide opportunities to grow and to reach. Mentors are cheerleaders who will also provide a “swift kick” when necessary. Mentorship plays an important role in shaping leaders of character, discipline and vision. Mentorship represents an investment – an investment where we may not know the full impact until many years later.

We must ask ourselves, are we adequately preparing the next generation of leaders? Are we providing them with the tools and skills and opportunities necessary to navigate successfully through the challenges and uncertainty that they will face in the future? Did our mentors do the same for us?

Let me start by talking about my own Grange journey. I am fortunate that my Grange journey is that of my lifetime. Every step along the way provides tools and lessons and yes, some hard knocks. There has been no single ah-ha moment. No single person – but wow have there been some AMAZING people. A Grange journey is not one you take alone!

No other organization, ever, offers its members the opportunity to be mentored for a lifetime! I want to make some points about mentors and mentoring – and I’m going to name names – the names are for me, but each of you will find yourself putting names of your own mentors in as I go along. Each of these folks were and/or are mentors of mine as I’m sure they were for many others.

• Ray Schneider – Brother Schneider was a member of our State Grange Executive Committee and a perennial Chair of the state convention Good of the Order Committee – my first year as a delegate he named me secretary of his committee and taught me how the process worked. • Vance Arter – Brother Arter was our Special Deputy for Ritual who made the ritual cool for so many of us, and taught me to do it right every time, regardless of where you were or how many people were present. • Dorothy Harper – Sister Harper was a delegate to state convention for decades and whose attention to detail was second to none – the clock didn’t matter, the subject didn’t matter, if it was going to be Grange policy, then get it right! It matters! • Codi Titus – Sister Codi was a girl just enough older than I to do all the things I wanted to do and do them well (State Youth Master, Master of National Youth Officer Corp) – she was so cool (she still is really cool!) • Del and Lucy Snodgrass – Brother and Sister Snodgrass were the nicest couple who always had a smile, a hug, and a kind word and who always seemed to sit in a strategic place to give a thumbs up. I still always find myself looking for a Del and Lucy!

This is by no means a complete list, but simply some folks who influenced me and who served as mentors whether they knew it or not.

We must remember the importance of mentors. Also, we must remember that people are watching and listening and following our lead. Can your actions be defined as mentoring? Our beloved Grange’s future depends on our stewardship, especially our ability to prepare the next generation of leaders to lead! We must ensure that we are stronger tomorrow than we are today!

Earlier, I talked about my Grange journey, but while I was doing that you were thinking back about your own. While there are plenty of testimonials to this organization’s ability to grow and develop its members – there are not enough, not near enough. Why are our youth and young members leaving and not coming back? Why are we struggling to recruit and retain members? What young person, or any person, wouldn’t want to receive and benefit from the skills and experiences gained through Grange membership? How do we better share our stories?

These tools and the experiences I speak of are indeed relevant and coveted in today’s world. It is our responsibility to ensure that our journey be repeated in some form or fashion over and over and over in every community across this country. It’s called investing in the future.

Share your passion! Empower young people and/or new members by getting them started on their own Grange journey. Pay it forward! Do it now! Each of us must recognize that we are only temporary stewards of this tremendous organization and that it is incumbent upon us to honor the memory of those before us by ensuring they will not be a forgotten footnote in history.

Georgia Senate Runoffs Rundown

By Sean O’Niel

On January 5, voters once again went to the polls to resolve the final outstanding election of the 2020 cycle by voting in a duo of crucial Senate runoff races. In Georgia if neither candidate receives greater than 50% of the vote in a statewide election then that race automatically goes to a runoff election featuring the top two candidates. In both the regularly scheduled Senate election for a six-year term between incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, and the special election for a two-year term between incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Rafael Warnock neither candidate received greater than 50% of the vote and so runoffs were initiated. These runoffs gained extra importance as the balance of power in the Senate following November’s elections left Republicans with 50 seats and Democrats with 48, meaning that if Democrats won both runoffs, they would hold an equal number of seats as the Republicans and Vice President Kamala Harris could break ties in their favor.

Following an expensive and fraught campaign, both Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rafael Warnock were able to narrowly win their respective races on January 5th adding two seats to the Democratic caucus and leaving a 50-50 divided Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote. The impact of this change is enormous and will affect President-elect Biden’s cabinet appointments, judicial nominations, and legislative priorities.

The most immediate impact of narrow Democratic control of the Senate will come as President-elect Biden seeks to quickly confirm the cabinet for his new administration. Had Republicans retained control of the Senate many cabinet nominees would likely have faced an elongated and difficult confirmation process, however with Democratic control the process will likely be quick and smooth. While many of President-elect Biden’s currently announced nominees were more moderate and likely to receive bipartisan support regardless of the outcome of Georgia’s runoffs, key nominees such as Neera Tanden to direct the Office of Management and Budget were likely to face significant headwinds. It was rumored that President-elect Biden was waiting for the results of the Georgia runoffs before determining his choice for Attorney General out of fears that some of his preferred candidates may struggle to be confirmed. Post the results from Georgia, Biden announced his pick of Merrick Garland on Thursday.

Democratic Senate control is incredibly important for moving judicial nominations. During the final years of the Obama administration, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took pride in denying many judicial nominations a chance to be confirmed until President Trump took office, most notably in the case of then-DC circuit court Judge Garland who was nominated to the Supreme Court. With Democratic control of the Senate, Garland and other judicial nominees will be guaranteed hearings and are significantly more likely to be confirmed.

Finally, with control of the Senate President-elect Biden will be able to push more of his legislative priorities. With the Senate in Democratic hands, bills passed by the Democratic House of Representatives will be able to receive a vote in the Senate, unlike in the past few years when the Republican Senate often refused to vote on House bills. However, in order for these priorities to be passed not only will moderate Democratic Senators such as Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly, and John Tester have to be persuaded but also 10 Republican Senators so as to overcome the filibuster with 60 votes. In select instances, certain key priorities will be able to be passed with 50 votes through a process known as budget reconciliation but these opportunities will be rare.

Altogether, the Democratic victories in both Georgia runoffs will be very impactful in the next two years of the Biden administration allowing him to confirm his cabinet nominees, judicial selections, and push his legislative agenda.

A Few Grange Mentions

This is a new section we will include each week with a few of the links to articles in which the local, State or the National Grange have been mentioned or our statements have appeared.


• Civility, high-speed rural broadband, defending dairy and defining meat, the Pa. State Grange outlines its 2021 agenda https://www.goerie.com/story/opinion/columns/2021/01/05/op-ed-pennsylvania-grange-outlines-its-2021-agenda/4016030001/, Erie, PA


• Grange presses state over Chinook Tunnel safety, https://www.chinookobserver.com/news/local/grange-presses-state-over-chinook-tunnel-safety/article_edaeef56-4eeb-11eb-bce2-3f275c143af2.html, Long Beach, WA

Grange Comments on Weekly Items of Interest

This is a new section we will include each week with at least one quote from the week prior made about a policy issue or current event by National Grange President Betsy Huber or other Grange leaders for inclusion by media or to spark interest in the rural perspective.


• National Grange President Betsy Huber, Legislative Director Burton Eller, and Communications Director Amanda Brozana-Rios met with the Biden transition team to discuss goal for rural America in 2021. Topics discussed were broadband, healthcare, infrastructure, and rural mail delivery.



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Avoid scams claiming to get you early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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As the country begins to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, there's no doubt scammers are already scheming.

Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you. If anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam.

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• Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

If you come across a COVID-19 vaccine scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or call us at 1-800-MEDICARE. And check out CDC.gov for trustworthy information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sincerely,
The Medicare Team

Click here for more information





DECEMBER 2020 WRAP-UP

Washington Overview

Coronavirus Relief and Government Funding

Following a week-long delay, on Sunday December 27th President Trump signed an omnibus bill into law which included Coronavirus Relief Funds and the annual bill which funds the government. In the coronavirus relief package highlights include a new round of $600 stimulus checks, an eleven-week extension of expanded unemployment benefits, a new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, as well as money for vaccines, schools, child care, the postal service, rental assistance, and food/farm aid (more details in the next section of this newsletter). The government funding bill was mostly as expected, with significant overlaps with last year’s budget and President Trump’s proposed 2021 budget plan. As well, other measures were included in the omnibus package such as new regulations of surprise medical billing, money for community health centers, and various tax breaks and extensions. Despite eventually signing the bill, President Trump complained that stimulus checks were not valued at $2,000, and that unrelated measures such as the ending of Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (which protects websites from being sued for content posted by third parties to the site), or the creation of a commission to investigate claims of election fraud were not included. Following President Trump’s criticism, Democrats in the House passed a bill to increase stimulus check payouts to $2,000 on Tuesday December 29th, however in the Senate the Republican Majority Leader has tied a vote on $2,000 checks to ending Section 230 and the creation of a commission to investigate claims of election fraud, leaving the bill’s fate unknown.

National Defense Authorization Act

Every year Congress passes an act to fund the military called the National Defense Authorization Act with overwhelming support. However, this year President Trump vetoed the bill due to it not containing unrelated measures to end Section 230, leaving the bill’s fate and funding for the military in jeopardy. Despite this, on Tuesday December 29th the House overrode President Trump’s veto with significant support from Democrats and Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled an override vote for Wednesday December 30th; however, some prominent Democrats like Senator Bernie Sanders have threatened to filibuster the vote unless McConnell allows a stand-alone vote on expansion of stimulus checks to $2,000.

New Congress

On Sunday January 3rd, a new Congress will be sworn in with a narrowed Democratic majority in the House and an unclear majority party in the Senate as run-offs for both Georgia Senate seats will not take place until January 5th. With the start of a new Congress, leaders in both chambers will be selected with Representative Nancy Pelosi likely to narrowly remain as Speaker of the House, and Senator Mitch McConnell to remain Majority Leader at least until new Senators from Georgia can be seated.

Agriculture and Food

Financial Relief for Ag and Food Industries

The $900 billion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump provides an estimated $13 billion for food and agricultural programs. Additional assistance will go these programs:


• A supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage program
• Specialty crop block grants, Local Agriculture Market programs, The Gus Schumacher nutrition program, farming opportunities training and farm stress programs
• New funds to address gaps in nutrition research
• Producers of ag commodities who suffered market price declines over a specified time period
• Additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
• Changes to the Small Business Administration’s PPP rules to allow the deduction of business expenses paid for with PPP loan funds
• Support for livestock, poultry and dairy producers who were forced to euthanize animals due to disruptions at processing plants
• Provides funding for poultry and livestock contract growers to cover up to 80% of losses suffered because of supply chain disruptions earlier in the pandemic
• Aid to small meat processors for facility improvements to qualify for federal or state inspection that allows them to sell product over state lines
• Assistance to affected fisheries
• Payments to producers of advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, conventional biofuel, and renewable fuel due to unexpected market losses due to the pandemic
• Funds for USDA to purchase and distribute food and agricultural products through nonprofit organizations

U.S. Challenges Canada’s Dairy Quotas

The two countries will begin consultations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement dispute rules. This comes after months of complaints by U.S. dairy farmers that Canada is manipulating USMCA’s new tariff rate quotas to minimize U.S. gains to the Canadian dairy market.

Food Insecurity Crisis Deepens

Lines outside food pantries are a common sight around the country as families wait their turn in row after row of cars. Many pantries fear they will run out of food, too. Feeding America is the largest responder to hunger in the charitable sector and reports an average of 60% more people this year are seeking help from the organization’s 200 food banks. Second Harvest Food bank has seen a sharp decline in food drives as people are not gathering in offices, schools and other places where food drives would normally be organized. Second Harvest says people are arriving on site at 2-3 am or even the night before to be sure they receive supplies, and approximately 4 in 10 are new to needing charitable assistance.

Climate Change

Climate Change Vaults to Top of Biden Agenda

President-elect Biden has made it clear he’s listening on climate change. He has announced his intentions to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement which is an international accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama joined the agreement by executive action in 2016 and President Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2017. Biden has announced his administration’s “climate team” to be led by John Kerry, former senator from Massachusetts, former Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, and Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. Other members of the team will include EPA Administrator Michael Regan (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality director), Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, (congresswoman from New Mexico), White House climate czar Gina McCarthy (former EPA Administrator), Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (former governor of Michigan), and White House Council on Environmental Quality chairperson Brenda Mallory (former regulatory policy director at the Southern Environmental Law Center).

Climate 21 Project

Robert Bonnie, former Under Secretary of Agriculture with President Obama who heads the Biden transition team at USDA, has authored an in-depth transition memo called the Climate 21 Project. It provides the incoming USDA leadership a blueprint of opportunities to maximize USDA’s contributions to an aggressive Administration-wide climate change mitigation effort. He suggests USDA has tremendous resources to partner with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to reduce greenhouse gasses through carbon sequestration and emissions reductions. In the past, Bonnie had advocated for carbon credit trading and carbon banking.

Questions Raised About Agriculture as a Climate Solution

Soil scientists and soil health experts caution that the science is not yet in place for accurate and cost-effective measurement and quantification of soil carbon sequestration. On the other hand, carbon market proponents suggest using “simulation modeling” to assign carbon credits for cover crops, no-till and other practices to estimate the conversion of carbon dioxide. To help navigate the dilemma of a climate change path forward for Agriculture, the National Grange is considering joining the newly formed Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. The group represents farmers, ranchers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates.

Health Care

Grange COVID Letter in National Spotlight

In early December, National Grange president Betsy Huber wrote to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration urging the FDA to consider all safe and effective COVID treatment options. She referenced efforts by American companies to innovate and invent new solutions including promising results on a potential oral delivery method for a COVID-19 vaccine. Offering multiple vaccine delivery mechanisms could mitigate many of the concerns facing rural residents, ensuring that doses could be distributed rapidly and administered in the safety of their own homes instead of having to travel long distances to a health care professional. This could allow vaccine access for those with difficulties traveling or those who are unwilling to travel for fear of contracting the virus. The Grange letter was picked up by media outlets nationwide and Huber was interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek which titled its report “At Age 153, the National Grange Confronts the Pandemic”.

Grange COVID Vaccine Message Circulates in Washington

An editorial by National Grange president Betsy Huber in Washington’s The Hill newsletter highlighted the need to consider all options for COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The Hill is widely read by policy-makers and influencers in the nation’s capital. Huber praised American innovation in conjunction with a proactive federal reaction for the speed of vaccine development, approval and distribution previously believed impossible. But with a COVID virus likely to be a part of our lives for a long time, future vaccine delivery options need to reflect the needs of vulnerable populations living in remote areas.

Congress Curbs Surprise Medical Bills

One of the National Grange’s top policy priorities is now a reality. Congress passed a plan to prohibit most surprise medical bills as part of its end-of-year spending and COVID-19 relief package. This action ends a two-year debate over how to fix the practice of surprise out- of- network emergency care medical bills. The enacted compromise stipulates:


• Surprise billing would be barred for out-of-network emergency care. Patients will be asked to pay only their in-network charges for the care received. The question then becomes what the insurer will pay the care provider.
• There will be a 30-day period for the insurer and health care provider to negotiate payment for out-of-network claims.
• Arbitration will be available for both sides to make an offer and have the arbitrator make a final decision on payment.

New Drug Pricing Rule Threatens Access to Critical Care

The National Grange joined over 300 patient groups, care providers, membership organizations and advocacy groups in urging Congress to pass legislation to delay a new Health and Human Services rule that mandates foreign drug pricing for Medicare Part D therapies. The Most Favored Nation pricing rule will adversely affect Medicare patients with debilitating and deadly conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, autoimmune disorders and rare diseases. Patients would be forced to accept cheaper alternative therapy that may have lower efficacy or greater risks, or decide to postpone or forego treatment.

Telecommunications

Sustainable Agriculture Will Depend on 5G connectivity

National Grange president Betsy Huber was featured recently in the Washington newsletter Morning Consult talking about how sustainable agriculture for the future will use high speed connectivity. Huber called upon Congress to prioritize 5G buildouts in rural America to increase agriculture’s productivity, decrease input costs and reduce its environmental footprint.

Threat to Rural Broadband Innovation

The National Grange and several ag groups recently asked the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider proposed changes to the distributed transmission system rules that threaten further deployment of innovative rural broadband solutions such as TV white space technology.

FCC Targets Unserved Rural Areas

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is a Federal Communications Commission program designed to close the digital divide by investing billions of dollars in the construction of rural broadband networks. The recent RDOF Phase 1 auction targeted the rural locations that are most difficult to serve. Over 300 providers participated in the auction including cable operators, electric cooperatives, telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers. RDOF winners had to commit to provide service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at FCC’s current funding support amount. Successful providers will deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes, businesses, farms and ranches over the next 10 years.

Perspective



"Public opinion is no more than this; what people think that other people think." ~ Alfred Auston
"Don’t let your opinion sway your judgment." ~ Samuel Goldwyn
"Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice." ~ Steve Jobs
"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato
"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." ~ Harlan Ellison
"Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth." ~ Joseph Joubert
Please submit your feedback and questions to Burton Eller or Sean O'Neil.

Burton Eller
Legislative Director
(202) 628-3507 ext. 114
beller@nationalgrange.org

Sean O'Neil
Legislative Intern
sean.oneil@grange.org

National Grange | 1616 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

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