Current Grange News 2021

The most recent news article are on the top of the list. You can view prior years news article in the archives.

Due to a serious illness, I have been delayed in making updates to the website. In some case, news article have been linked to the original pdf and not broken down to text..

Latest NewsCalifornia Grange Roundtable - Thursday, 4/22/2021 - Zoom Session 7:00 pm - Click here for more info.



april 2021

Click on article title to open or close article.



In This Issue...

• Cultivating Programs
• Upcoming Telethon
• Volunteer Safely at Home or in Person During Global Volunteer Month
• Member Benefit: Tickets at Work
• Cultivating Connections Calendar
To view this issue, please click the link below.

Download this issue for more information






To view this issue, please click the link below.
Download this issue for more information




March 2021

Click on article title to open or close article.



To view this issue, please click the link below.
Download this issue for more information






To view this issue, please click the link below.
Download this issue for more information





PATRONS CHAIN NEWSLETTER MARCH 12, 2021







The Therapeutic Power of Plants

By Betsy Huber National Grange President Courtesy of NICH/ConsumerHort.org. with Commentary by National Grange


Celebrate National Horticultural Therapy Week March 14-20, 2021! Many people (especially me!) enjoy looking at plants and flowers and find it relaxing to dig in the dirt. But research and a growing number of horticulture therapy programs are showing that gardening holds serious healing power.

Trained and certified therapists, including members of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), help clients treat physical and psychological conditions including PTSD, addiction, and dementia through gardening.

According to the AHTA website, “Horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance.”

Horticulture therapy programs have been implemented in schools, correctional facilities, retirement homes, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and community centers, and the same techniques can be adapted to home gardens. More information on finding a program or licensed therapist can be found at AHTA.org.

National Garden Bureau past-president Heather Kibble says, “Caring for plants and experiencing nature brings healing and purpose to people whose lives have been affected by illness, addiction, violence or military service.” The National Garden Bureau (NGB.org) administers an annual grant for therapeutic gardens to support garden-based education and therapy.

Research compiled by the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) reveals other benefits of plants and gardening on the healing process, including a reduction in the amount of pain relievers taken post-surgery by patients in rooms containing plants. Plants in room décor also reduced the stress, blood pressure, and reported fatigue levels of hospital patients.

More findings on the healing benefits of plants can be found in the infographic, “#PlantsDoThat Where We Heal,” available for download, reprint, or adaptation at ConsumerHort.org. When posting on social media, please use the hashtag #PlantsDoThat.

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is a consortium of industry leaders who are promoting the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry, and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants — indoors and out.

If you have a Grange hall with property, have you considered using a portion of it for community gardens? You could be instrumental in feeding people as well as healing their stress from a long winter of pandemic isolation!

COVID Relief Highlights

By Sean O’Neil, Legislative Intern


Earlier this week, the House finally passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a bill aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession. Highlights of the bill are:

• $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals earning up to $75,000 and dependents
• Extension of $300 federal unemployment benefits increase to September 6
• Expansion of the Child Tax Credit to $3,600/child for children aged 0-6, $3,000 for children aged 6-17
• $7.25 billion in money for the Paycheck Protection Program, with new emphasis on small businesses
• $128 billion in education funding
• $4.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, expanded SNAP and WIC benefits
• $25 billion in rental assistance
• $7.5 billion for the CDC, $46 billion for coronavirus testing, $14 billion for vaccine distribution
• $350 billion for state and local governments
• Increased assistance under the Affordable Care Act, incentives for states to expand Medicaid

These are just highlights of the bill as the Senate discussed many different issues such as a wage increase. These issues will continue to be at the forefront of the 2021 session and amidst the COVID crisis.

Attention Secretaries

Form M – Grange Membership Recognition Application form has been updated and revised on 11/20. Here is the link CLICK HERE

The form can be found on the National Grange website Member Resources tab, under Secretaries forms.

While some states have created their own version of this document, we ask that you make sure you utilize this new form and discard any old forms that you may be using.

Grange Month is just around the corner

Don’t forget to order your Community Citizen Award and/or Pomona Grange Award for Public Service either in the Grange Supply Store or by mailing the order form These awards are available for purchase year round and with Grange month right around the corner, there is no better way to honor those within your community. Click here for form.

Grange Month Citizen Award Order Form

A Few Great Mentions

The Grange has been hard at work these last two weeks! Here are some links to some of our more popular articles about the Grange in action. Take the time and check out what is happening both on the National and State level. If you have any news highlights you would like to share with the Grange community email, them to kgwin@nationalgrange.org

High Desert Grange, NV. Thanking front line workers: -> CLICK HERE

Williamsport Grange #1815, OH. Hometown Hero Banner Project: -> CLICK HERE

Membership Matters: Off on the Right Foot

Join us for the next Membership Matters Zoom event on Tuesday, March 16 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern as State Presidents and membership directors from Washington, Pennsylvania and North Carolina will discuss the ways in which their State Granges work to welcome new members. From the importance of welcoming to the timeliness of outreach to our newest members and the ways in which we can engage and put our best foot forward.

To log on, go to bit.ly/z-1867 or your Zoom app or zoom.us and enter the Meeting ID: 525 965 930 and Passcode: 981892. You may also call (301) 715 8592.






National Grange Member Benefit

RX Pharmacy Card provided by CVS-Caremark (also for pet prescriptions) –program offers the RxSavings Plus Card, a NO FEE exclusive benefit to National Grange members that is not offered to the public. The RxSavings Card allows members to go to almost any pharmacy. Unlike other savings plans, the CVS-Caremark program applies to 99% of prescription drugs. Save on Lipitor, Viagra, Plavix, high blood pressure medications and thousands more—even pet medications! For the Rx Card Program, go to http://nationalgrange.rxsavingsplus.com.







Save the Date, Wednesday April 7, 2021

Speakers from Capitol Hill, the Biden Administration, issue coalitions, National Grange leadership staff & more. Visit the National Grange website for more information coming soon.

REGISTER TODAY FOR THIS EVENT

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

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




Download this issue for more information




Feburary 2021

Click on article title to open or close article.


POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

FEBRUARY 2021 WRAP-UP

Washington Overview


With the time and attention consuming impeachment trial of former President Trump now over, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are turning towards completing cabinet confirmations and moving forward their agenda.

COVID-19 Relief

The Democratic proposal for another round of COVID-19 relief is soon to face critical votes in both the House and Senate this week. In the House, a vote on the final package is expected on Friday the 26th or Saturday the 27th of this week. With a narrow majority, Democratic leaders have to walk a careful line in crafting the relief bill to not be too big or too small so as to scare off moderate or progressive members and ensure the bill makes it to the Senate. At the same time, members of Republican leadership in the House are actively pressuring their members to not support the bill. While current expectations are that the House bill will pass on a party line vote, with narrow majorities passage is not guaranteed.

At the same time, in the Senate a fight is brewing within the Democratic caucus over the bill’s proposed $15 minimum wage hike. On one side, moderate Senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona do not support a $15 minimum wage and would prefer a more moderate increase to something like $11. On the other side, Senators such as Vermont’s Bernie Sanders are adamant that the minimum wage must be increased to $15 without compromise. At the same time, it is not yet clear if the $15 minimum wage will be able to be included in this COVID relief package because the unique process Democrats are pursuing to pass the bill (called budget reconciliation) only allows for measures which directly effect the budget. The office of the Senate parliamentarian will have ultimate authority to determine if the $15 minimum wage is allowed and a decision is expected to come at any time.

Confirmations

With more available time the Senate is also rapidly pushing forward nominees for President Biden’s cabinet, with key hearings and votes schedule across the next few weeks. So far most of Biden’s nominees have moved through the process without much trouble; however Biden’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, Director of the Center for American Progress Neera Tanden, will likely not make it through the narrowly divided Senate because Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has announced he will vote no on her nomination due to her previous controversial tweets.

What’s Next

Following COVID-19 relief and cabinet nominees the Biden administration has begun to signal their future legislative priorities such as immigration reform and infrastructure spending. While details of the timeline for future proposals are not yet clear, this is a space to be watching for the rest of the year.

Agriculture and Food

Secretary Vilsack’s Priorities


During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee in early February, Secretary of Agriculture-designee Vilsack spoke about several of his priorities for USDA, including:

• Establish an agriculture carbon bank using the Commodity Credit Corporation spending authority to provide incentives for farmers and ranchers to participate.
• Assistance to develop a new local meat processing capacity by subsidizing small processors seeking to qualify for federal inspection.
• Expand agricultural trade.
• Take bold action to address discrimination in all its forms across USDA.
• Embrace sustainable and regenerative agricultural production practices.
• Expand food and nutrition assistance.

Grange Congratulates Vilsack

Following the Senate 92-7 vote February 23 to approve Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, National Grange president Betsy Huber delivered a congratulatory letter to the Secretary pledging Grange support to advance policies which benefit rural America. She specifically pointed to rural broadband, rural health care and farmer-focused agricultural policies.

Hunger is a Pandemic Issue

The number of citizens relying on the federal government for food assistance jumped 14 percent in September compared to the same month a year ago. USDA said nearly 43 million people received help from the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) compared to 37 million in September 2019. Endless lines at local food pantries are expected to increase as the pandemic crosses the one-year mark. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23 million adults reported they sometimes or often struggled to provide food for their families.

Bill to Boost Locally Processed Meat Sales

Representatives Johnson (R-SD) and Cuellar (D-TX) have introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act to allow locally processed meat to be sold at retail across state lines when standards meet federal requirements. If enacted into law, the DIRECT Act will allow farmers, ranchers and smaller processors more options to market directly to consumers. The National Grange has strong policy supporting this concept and will work diligently to pass the DIRECT Act in the 117th Congress.

AG Workforce/Immigration

Agriculture Takes a Hit


House Democrats have introduced a sweeping immigration bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act, backed by President Biden that would require farms and ranches to pay overtime, pay minimum wage and provide an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented ag workers. Family members would continue to be exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements. The Act does not expand the H-2A visa program to allow for year-round work by the experienced foreign workers that agriculture depends upon.

Environment/Climate Change

Capturing Carbon on the Farm


The Biden administration is targeting $30 billion from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to pay farmers and ranchers to implement sustainable practices and capture carbon in their soil. CCC money to create a carbon bank and facilitate emerging carbon trading markets does not need specific Congressional approval. The Depression-era CCC was created nearly a century ago and has the authority to borrow from the up to $30 billion from the U.S. Treasury to help stabilize farm income and commodity prices.

Waters of the U.S. Rule Safe for Now

The Senate voted 51-49 in favor of preserving the Navigable Waters Protection Rule which more clearly defines wetlands, ponds, streams and rivers regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Protection Rule was finalized in 2020 with strongly support by farmers, ranchers, landowners and others. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) joined Republicans to preserve the rule.

30x30 Order to Triple Protected Lands and Oceans

President Biden has signed an executive order aimed to protect a third of the nation’s land and ocean waters by 2030. Much of the President’s goal of 440 million acres, a land area twice the size of Texas, can be accomplished on federal lands by restricting multiple use such as timbering, drilling, mining and livestock grazing as well as declaring more wilderness and monuments. Tools such as conservation easements might be used to bring private lands into the fold. More clarity will be needed for an on-the-ground definition of “protected.”

Infrastructure

The National Grange and the Rebuild Rural Coalition sent a letter with over 200 cosigners to President Biden acknowledging his Build Back Better in Rural America plan. The Coalition emphasized the state of our deteriorating rural infrastructure and thanked the President for including roads and bridges, locks and dams, broadband, health care, railroads, electrical and water systems, housing and land grant university research in his infrastructure plan.

Health Care

Exit Polling Targets Health Care


A national voter exit poll by Morning Consult indicates voters are most worried about protecting pre-existing conditions coverage and rising out-of-pocket costs. Voters said they want policymakers to deal with the real drivers of health care costs rather than simply shifting costs to consumers and the sickest patients.

Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening

The National Grange, five state Granges and numerous patient advocacy groups sent a letter to Capitol Hill expressing support for bipartisan bills S. 5051 and H.R. 8845, the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act. This legislation will dramatically cut the time between the approval of a procedure by FDA and its approval for Medicare coverage by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). New innovative multi-cancer early detection tests can now utilize a simple blood draw to find most cancers before they spread.

Ease Medicare Enrollment During Pandemic

The National Grange and 49 state and national organizations are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reinstate policies to help people sign up for Medicare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrollment pathways were established last May but the enrollment flexibilities were allowed to lapse shortly thereafter despite clear and ongoing needs.

Taxes

Paycheck Protection for Ag Organizations

Nine agricultural organizations, including the National Grange, are asking the Senate and House leadership to include 501(c) 5 agricultural organizations in the next round of pandemic relief in budget reconciliation legislation. The groups stressed the importance of keeping ag-focused, non-profit organizations in business to serve as key resources for farming best practices, market information, educational outreach, farm and ranch life, youth in agriculture, rural life and pandemic-related assistance.

Telecommunications

Broadband Network Traffic Spikes


Traffic on broadband networks has increased by 51% during the pandemic, according to OpenVault. Total broadband traffic was also driven by a 6.5% increase in subscribers. Extreme power users who consume more than 2 TB per month jumped 184% year over year.

FCC Should Reconsider Data Order

The National Grange filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to urge the Commission to reconsider its Lifeline Data Collection Order which was released without public comment. The National Grange has long maintained that it is the FCC’s prerogative to review and, if needed, revise the Lifeline program, its services and its customer base. However, in the middle of a pandemic is not the time to change the program or to make new demands on Lifeline customers. Lifeline is a federally subsidized phone and internet service for the disabled, elderly, shut-in individuals and low-income households.

National Grange hangs banner facing the White House welcoming President Biden

Save the Date, Wednesday April 7, 2021


Speakers from Capitol Hill, the Biden Administration, issue coalitions, National Grange leadership staff & more. Visit the National Grange website for more information coming soon.

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

Download this issue for more information






FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Grange Month and Community Awards

By Betsy Huber National Grange President


As you plan your Grange Month activities for April, may I suggest that you include some recognitions or awards as part of the program? Whether virtual or in person, it is even more important this year to honor people in your community who have been especially helpful to you or others during this pandemic.

National Grange recognizes several “of the Year” occupations at convention, and you can nominate your local honorees using the application forms on the website under Programs – Community Service. Law Enforcement Officer, Firefighter/EMS, and Teacher are those who qualify for National Grange recognition, but you can honor anyone in your community who has gone “above and beyond” this year. When your Grange makes its selection, be sure to publicize the honoree and his/her story with a press release, Facebook post, even radio or TV spot. This will recognize the person for their work, and recognizes your Grange as an organization that serves the community and celebrates its residents.

Also available from National Grange are the Award for Public Service (Pomona) and the Community Citizen Award (Community Grange.) Each has a certificate or plaque and paperweight to present to the awardee. These are available from the Grange Store on the website www.nationalgrange.org.

Recognizing community members for their outstanding work is a great way to publicize the Grange and its important position in your community. Make it a part of your Grange Month celebration!

2021 Grange Month Community Service Activity Suggestions

By: Pete Pompper National Grange Community Service Director

Since Grange month and spring both occur in April, I feel it is appropriate that we look at some community service ideas that can be refreshed or would be new to your Grange. If your Grange is in an area where the weather permits you can hold an outdoor event for the community. People are looking for activities that are in a safe environment and still socially distanced.

Some ideas include:

• Seed or seedling swaps: these are a great way to share extra seeds or seedlings you may have either left over from last year or from what you started this year. Several Granges throughout the nation do this.
• Easter egg hunt
• Story time for children (story telling or reading a book)
• Open mic night for the community
• Holding informational meetings/programs that are relevant to your community.
• Organize and host a community wide picnic utilizing locally grown
• produce or products.
• Start a Farmers market where local producers can sell their products. (This is a great way to introduce the local consumer to the producer which consumers are wanting, also is a great way to support local economy).

Feel free to use these ideas and engage with your community during Grange Month. As you are putting these events on don’t forget to take pictures and send them to either the National Grange Community Service Facebook Page or the National Grange Facebook Page. We greatly look forward to seeing your photos and hearing about your projects.

Planning Events Online

By Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Director of Membership, Leadership Development and Communications

Plans were disrupted quickly last year, but as we canceled Grange Month celebrations, many of us said “we’ll just reschedule this for next year.” Well, next year is upon us and most of use are realizing rescheduling may not be in the cards in 2021.

So, among many other Grange Month activities, open houses are on hold - or are they? This year, consider holding a virtual open house! Invite your community to “visit” your hall or other meeting place, or meet your members through a platform like Zoom or FreeConferenceCall.com (which has a video component to the platform and allows up to 100 person meetings free). Take the event a step further, though, to raise interest by offering more than just a look inside your doors. Ask one of your members to teach a very basic handicraft or have someone provide a quick cooking lesson for a favorite throwback dish.

People who attend events like these in person or online are looking for an experience, not just a walk-through and high-pressure sales. Teach your attendees something and make the experience one they will remember and seek out from your Grange again and again.

You can also use your Facebook Page to create a free event. Even individuals without a Facebook account can attend, and the best part is there is no limit to the number of attendees you can accommodate with the event.

Just go to your page and use the top navigation bar (under your cover photo) to find Events. Click on Events, then Create a New Event > Online > Free. Name your event, select a date and time, write a brief description and choose a category (I’d suggest “Networking”).

In your description, you can list contact information for an event host or someone else in your Grange so those who attend can go back and find how to contact you easily for more information or to get an member application. “For more information about the Grange, contact…"

Additionally, if you are providing an opportunity for attendees to follow along as someone presents a workshop, such as a simple painting lesson or a cooking segment, list the supplies attendees will need in order to take full advantage of the event.

On the next page, choose Facebook Live as your event type, then select next. Click on the gear icon “Event Settings” and choose any co-hosts you wish to include in the event, then select “Show Guest List” under event options. Remember: people follow their friends, so if they see someone they know is attending your event, they are much more likely to attend it as well.

You can choose to allow people to ask you questions through messenger about the event - a good idea if you check your Facebook account frequently. Turn all other options off, then click Save. Finally, consider uploading a cover photo (maybe a good photo of your Hall or your members doing some charitable work), and click Create Event. Invite people who do not have a Facebook account, or who you are not already friends with, go to your Event and click on the arrow facing right that appears under the cover photo (see picture). Share the link with others (these are case sensitive, so always copy and paste directly or make sure if you type it, you have any capital letters capitalized and lower case letters in lowercase) through email, text or on printed flyers. Make sure to note the link is case sensitive.

Be creative! Get others in your community to help you make a successful event and create enthusiasm for your Grange. Use the pandemic to eradicate the “way we’ve always done it” mentality and embrace ideas that will attract new folks to your Grange or the Grange as a whole. And don’t forget to invite us so we can share ideas and success stories with others!

Send your event link to communications@nationalgrange.org. You can also request help at the event from the National Grange Membership department by emailing membership@nationalgrange.org.

Staff Changes Announced at National Grange

National Grange Membership and Leadership Development Director Joe Stefenoni has announced his departure from the National Staff effective this month. Stefenoni said he remains dedicated to the organization that has been such a large part of his life and is excited to continue serving in his role as Vice President of the California State Grange and as a deputy for the Nevada Granges.

“The Grange is an incredible organization that I have had the amazing fortune to not just belong to, but work for in service to our members and our mission,” Stefenoni said. “I will always be a part of the Grange and look forward to the many visits to come with my fellow Brothers and Sisters at Grange events.”

Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rios will be taking on the Membership and Leadership Development Director responsibilities. She previously assisted in membership and leadership development efforts in 2016-17 prior to Stefenoni’s return to the National Staff and called the move both exciting and challenging.

“There are big shoes to fill here – big boots that is. Joe has done an amazing job producing materials for our leaders and members to use to strengthen our organization and bring new ideas to the way we do membership and leadership development. I’m fortunate to follow such a dedicate staff member who has ensured a solid foundation,” Brozana Rios said.

Kennedy Gwin, a lifetime member of the Washington State Grange, who has been working as an intern with the National Grange since July, has been hired full-time as the Communications Manager and will assume many of the day-to-day tasks carried out by the department including producing this weekly newsletter, the Patrons Chain, preparing press releases and statements, writing op-eds, pitching stories about the Grange to reporters, managing the social media accounts of the Grange and providing assistance to Granges, among other tasks.

“This is a big job, but I’m excited to take on this new role and learn and grow with the Grange. I greatly look forward to working with new people and getting the chance to expand my horizons,” Gwin said.

National Grange President Betsy Huber said she believes the hires will provide continuity for our members and excel in their new roles.

Programs, Benefits, Sales and Membership Recognition Director Loretta Washington, IT Director Stephanie Wilkins, Operations Manager and Junior Director Samantha Wilkins, as well as Gwin, will each be taking on a small portion of the duties of Program Assistant Kelly Klingman, who is no longer with the National Grange.

“We wish Joe all the best, but know he’s a shining star in the Grange that will remain with us as a leader in our membership,” Huber said. “The dedication our staff has shown to the organization is humbling and we know they will do a wonderful job serving our members and continuing to move our organization forward in their new roles.”

Who Do You Think You Are?

By Samantha Wilkins, National Junior Grange Director, and By Mandy Bostwick, National Grange Youth Director


For nearly a year now we have been stuck at home and have had to learn to change and adapt the way we do things. Those things could be how we work, how we are educated, or even how we grocery shop. Over the past year, many of us have learned more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. Some of us have discovered and taken on a new hobby or advanced our skills in one we were already passionate about. Many of our Grangers have been very creative about how they have been able to come together and serve their communities.

Many of us have learned new attributes about ourselves that we didn’t know we had; we have gained new insight as to what is most important to us. But have you ever wondered what Muppet or Sesame Street character you were most like? We know we hadn't considered that before. While we were digging deep into some old archived workshops, we found this quiz that we knew we needed to share.

A team of researchers got together and analyzed the personalities of Sesame Street/Muppet characters, and put the information gathered into a quiz. Sometimes it is really fun to break away from the monotony of the day today and discover new things about ourselves. Some of you may be thinking how does this relate to Grange? Well, folks let us tell you: Discovering more about ourselves is sometimes the best way to unearth a little more detail about ourselves; that then furthers our abilities to succeed in our day-to-day work, or within our Grange work. Learning about our inner strengths and weaknesses will help in exploring and investigating how we can best serve our Granges and furthermore our communities. After you complete the quiz, go to the National Grange Youth or Junior Facebook page and complete the survey, where over the next few days, we will share what character best described us and a little bit of why we think that it could be beneficial in our Grange work.

Answer each question with the answer that most describes you, then add up the points that corresponded with your answer. Use a pen and paper, because you’ll want to keep track of both the question number and your answer. You’ll need both to unlock the secret code at the end.

1. What describes your perfect date?
a) Candlelight dinner for two
b) Amusement park
c) Rollerblading in the park
d) Rock concert
e) See a movie

2. What is your favorite type of music?
a) Rock and Roll
b) Alternative
c) Soft Rock
d) Classical
e) Pop

3. What is your favorite type of movie?
a) Comedy
b) Horror
c) Musical
d) Romance
e) Documentary

4. Which of the following jobs would you choose if you were given only these choices?
a) Waiter/Waitress
b) Sports Player
c) Teacher
d) Policeman
e) Bartender

5. Which would you rather do if you had an hour to waste?
a) Workout
b) Read
c) Watch TV
d) Listen to the radio
e) Sleep

6. Of the following colors, which do you like best?
a) Yellow
b) White
c) Sky Blue
d) Teal
e) Red

7. Which one of the following would you like to eat right now?
a) Ice Cream
b) Pizza
c) Sushi
d) Pasta
e) Salad

8. What is your favorite holiday?
a) Halloween
b) Christmas
c) New Year’s Day
d) Valentine’s Day
e) Thanksgiving

9. If you could go to one of the following places, which would it be?
a) Paris
b) Spain
c) Las Vegas
d) Hawaii
e) Hollywood

10. Of the following, who would you rather spend time with?
a) Someone who is smart
b) Someone with good looks
c) Someone who is a party animal
d) Someone who has fun all the time
e) Someone who is very emotional

ANSWER KEY


Q1) a=4 | b=2 | c=5 | d=1 | e=3
Q2) a=2 | b=1 | c=4 | d=5 | e=3
Q3) a=2 | b=1 | c=3 | d=4 | e=5
Q4) a=4 | b=5 | c=3 | d=2 | e=1
Q5) a=5 | b=4 | c=2 | d=1 | e=3
Q6) a=1 | b=5 | c=3 | d=2 | e=4
Q7) a=3 | b=2 | c=1 | d=4 | e=5
Q8) a=1 | b=3 | c=2 | d=4 | e=5
Q9) a=4 | b=5 | c=1 | d=2 | e=3
Q10) a=5 | b=2 | c=1 | d=3 | e=4

10-17 points: You are OSCAR You are wild and crazy and you know it. You know how to have fun and can sometimes seem as though you are too rowdy. You know what you are doing though and are much in control of your own life. People don’t always see things your way, but that doesn’t mean that you should compromise on your beliefs. Try to remember that your wild spirit can lead to hurting yourself and others.

18-26 points: You are ERNIE You are fun, friendly, and popular. You are a real crowd-pleaser, You have probably been out on the town to share of times, yet you come home with the values that your mother taught you. Marriage and children are important to you, but only after you have fun. Don’t let the people you please influence you to stray.

27-34 points: You are ELMO You are cute and everyone loves you. You are a best friend that no one takes the chance of losing. You never hurt feelings and seldom have your own feelings hurt. Life is a breeze. You are witty and calm most of the time. Just keep clear of backstabbers, and you are worry-free. 35-42 points: You are KERMIT You are a lover. Romance, flowers, and wine are all you need to enjoy yourself. You are serious about all commitments. A family person. You call your mom every day, and never forget a birthday. Don’t let your passion for romance get confused with the real thing.

43-50 points: You are BERT You are smart, a realm thinker. Every situation is approached with a plan. You are very healthy in mind and body. You teach strong family values. Keep your feet planted in them, but don’t overlook a bad situation when it does happen.

New Junior Passports

By Samantha Wilkins, National Junior Grange Director and Claire Wubben, Intern


There are some new additions coming to the Junior Grange Passport Program! This innovative way for our Junior Grangers to learn more about their world, their country, their state, their community, and their Grange is constantly looking to improve in order to provide the best curriculums for Junior Grangers. The Passport Program is broadening in size with a variety of new passports for the Junior Grangers to work on and earn their stamps as they learn about new subjects to see what peaks their interest. New career passports include subjects focused on the following areas: What Doctors Do?, Veterinarian Career, Chef Career, French 101, Ecosystems, and Reading English.

The National Grange’s new interns, Valerie Stewart, Lindsey Sather, and Claire Wubben are working with the National Junior Grange Director, Samantha Wilkins, to help create new Junior Grange Passports that are related to subjects that they themselves are interested in and studying in college right now. They are so excited to create passports and share what they are learning in college with Junior Grangers through these educational programs.

Their main purpose is to benefit Junior Grangers by providing simple ways to learn more about various subjects in a low-stress environment. In addition, Junior Grangers will benefit by using the passports as a way to embark on a path of self-discovery and learn more about what they might be interested in. There are thousands of possibilities for the continued expansion of the Passport program, and we are excited to have the enthusiasm and expertise of our interns, Claire, Lindsey and Valerie. They are thrilled to share their passions with the Grange and hope some of their enthusiasm spreads to our Junior Grangers and proves to be beneficial in allowing them to study various subject areas without needing nay background knowledge on the subject.

If you have an idea that you would like to see created in a passport please feel free to utilize the Passport Idea Submission Form or contact Samantha Wilkins, junior@nationalgrange.org

Passport Idea Submission Form

Lecturer's Program In a Box

By Kennedy Gwin National Grange Communications Manager


February is Black History month and what better way to learn about Black History than with a program in a box, great for Lecturers or a Youth member looking to get more involved!

Lucky for you and all Grangers across the country the National Grange interns, with assistance from National Grange Programs, Benefits, Sales and Membership Recognition Director Lorretta Washington, have been hard at work with a slide show that showcases some of the most influential African American and Black icons in the world that have made strides for the Black community. Some of these inventors you may not know by name but have definitely used their products, whereas others are modern Black icons.

Take time and share this program with your members and learn something new this Black History Month or any other month where you’re looking for a fun new program! Click on the link below for the slide show. If you have any issues and need further assistance contact Kennedy Gwin at kennedy.gwin@grange.org

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SLIDESHOW

National Grange Member Benefit

The National Grange has teamed up with Lenovo, a global leader in the PC marketplace, to offer discounts on its entire line of reliable, high-quality, secure and easy-to-use technology products and services.

Members save up to 30% off the everyday public web price of Lenovo laptops, tablets, desktops, all-in-ones, workstations, servers, and accessories. This includes savings on a variety of products for the home and office, such as the award-winning ThinkPad laptops and innovative multimode YOGA tablets.

National Grange members also receive: Free ground shipping on all web orders; Monthly limited-time special offers; Access to energy-efficient green technologies; Award-winning service and support before, during and after your purchase. For more information and easy ordering, visit: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/m1nationalgrange

A Few Great 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.


Op-Ed by Betsy Huber addressing skilled migrant worker visas in the dairy industry: bit.ly/ng021821-1
• Letter by Burton Eller on paycheck protection programs: bit.ly/ng021821-2

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

Download this issue for more information





FEBRUARY 12, 2021








Get ready for Grange Month; start planning now

By Betsy Huber National Grange President


In this issue we introduce the 2021 Grange Month materials to help you in planning your special activities for April. You probably were unable to hold any public Grange Month events last year because the pandemic had recently closed down all activities. That makes it even more important to plan something this year—even if it is unusual or virtual.

Part of these materials is a list of activities, community service projects, and fundraisers that Granges across the country have done this year. Study this list in your next Grange meeting and it will give you some ideas for what you can do to keep your name in the public eye. You probably cannot hold any events in your halls or meeting places, but you can plan a virtual open house or a drive-through public dinner or dessert. This list will help you brainstorm and encourage you to try something you haven’t tried before—all these things have been successful in another Grange community.

Whatever you decide to do, contact your local newspaper and let them know. Post it on your website or Facebook page. Especially this year, people are looking for interesting things to do so they may be more likely to participate in your event.

A sample press release is included in the packet to help you write something the newspapers will print for you. The “old fashioned” way of putting up posters in the local stores can help too. The success of any event depends on letting people know it is happening.

Be sure to take photos of your event so you can enter them in “Grange in Action.” Information about this program is on the website www.nationalgrange.org. It is aimed especially at smaller Granges who think they can’t qualify to be a Distinguished Grange, but still do great things in their community. It’s easy—just print photos of 3 events on one sheet of paper! We’re looking for lots of entries this year.

I encourage you to take a look at these Grange Month materials CLICK HERE – the proclamation, sample media alert, social media posts, Facebook page covers, activity and idea sheet and more – and share them with your Grange members, and plan now to have a special event in April to celebrate the 154th year of Grange!



GRANGE MONTH 2021 PROCLAMATION

To find more social media posts like this CLICK HERE












CLICK HERE





More Program ideas coming soon!

GRANGE MONTH 2021 SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE





Ag Career Outlook Strong for All Skill Sets

By Donny Oleniczak National Grange Foundation Development Director


Residents of rural communities have the experiences that the agricultural industry is looking for today. The industry knows that a person who grew up around agriculture is more likely to stay, thrive, and live in the industry. As time passes, fewer people are growing up in agricultural communities and this shrinking pool of potential employees concerns the industry today.

Recent studies indicate that there will continue to be a high demand for all agricultural-related skill sets over the next five years, with no indication of it slowing down soon. The agriculture industry is actively seeking candidates from a wide range of skill sets to fill positions critical to its success. A one-stop place to locate current job openings is www.agcareers.com. This site lists open positions for all skill levels in Agriculture and Food Science across the United States and is free to use, with advice on resumés and an Ag Food and Career Guide that is available as a PDF. This guide includes instructions on how best to use Ag Careers and an application for a Career Success Kit that is an eight-part series with videos, infographics, and tip sheets. Agricultural and Food Science jobs at every skill level are posted on AgCareers.com. The need for skilled workers is clearly shown with just a look at some of the industry’s offers. For example, the GROWMARK Foundation offering, not for the first time, a $1,500 scholarship program for students in the United States and Ontario, Canada, pursuing two- or four-year degrees or trade school certification in an agriculture-related field. High school seniors or students at any level of higher education may complete the application, which can be found at www.growmark.com/about-us/corporate-commitments. Applications are due by midnight Central Time on April 15, 2021, and recipients will be notified by July 1, 2021.

John Deere has two offers for technicians. The first is a Registered Apprenticeship Program. It is a learn and earn program that is offered through participating John Deere Dealerships. In addition to on-the-job training experience, an apprentice will receive technical instructions and be assigned a personal mentor. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, he or she will receive a nationally recognized Journey worker certificate. The other offer is the John Deere TECH program. This program sponsors programs at 24 colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada. Participants completing this program earn an Associates’ Degree and more details are available at www.deere.com. Caterpillar also offers a US Student trainee Program at www.caterpillar.com.

College graduates with degrees in Agricultural Sciences will continue to be in demand. A new report, released in December 2020, by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, shows a strong job demand for new college graduates with degrees in agricultural programs. U.S. college graduates can expect approximately 59,400 new job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025, reflecting a 2.6 percent growth from the previous five years. This means that employer demand will exceed the supply of available graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture-related fields for the next five years. The opportunities for employment are diverse, including food science, renewable natural resources and the environment, business management, science, engineering, education, communication, government, animal sciences, agricultural education, agricultural communication, veterinary medicine, agricultural engineering, forestry, agronomy, and crop science. Additionally, there will be a strong demand for graduates with expertise in data science across all disciplines. Expect to see secure employment for specialists in marketing, e-commerce, field technical service, water quality and environment, climate and invasive species, food technology, and environmental and rural policy.

All of the opportunities, as numerous and exciting as they are, have no value to you without the addition of a special ingredient on your part. Action. I urge you to reach out to your local County Extension Office, Ag-Retailer, Veterinarian, John Deere Dealership, Feed and Fertilizer salespersons. Talk to anyone and everyone that you can network with and learn from. More often than not they will be impressed with your interest and eager to provide assistance. Once you have secured a meeting, be prepared. Make a list of questions for your time with these individuals that hold the knowledge and experience you seek. Some examples include: How did you get started in your job? When you look at the industry what do you see happening in the future? My interest lies in this area of the industry, who should I talk to next? If you were me where would you look for a career? And afterwards, always remember to send a thank-you email, text, or letter. I encourage you to take advantage of this advice, you will learn with every contact you make.

The future is bright and it will take a diverse, motivated, and action-oriented workforce with skill sets at all levels to support the Ag Industry of the future and to feed the world.




















What Partners Need to Know Now about Medicare Fraud

Courtesy of Center of Medicaid and Medicare Services

As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out across the country CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has compiled resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page.

We look forward to partnering with you to promote vaccine safety and encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity.

COVID-19 SCAMS

As the country begins to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The HHS Office of Inspector General alerted the public about COVID-19 fraud schemes, with scammers using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

Con artists may also try to get Medicare Numbers or personal information so they can steal identities and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.

What can you do to help prevent Medicare beneficiaries from being a victim of fraud? Share this important information with Medicare beneficiaries to help them protect themselves from Medicare fraud:

Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you.

• You will need to share your Medicare card with your health care provider or pharmacy when receiving your vaccine, even if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
• If anyone else asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam.
• You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
• You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
• Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card.

• Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
• Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
• You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
• Medicare will never visit you at your home.
• Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

Learn more tips to help prevent Medicare fraud.


Learn How to Spot Medicare fraud. Review your Medicare claims and Medicare Summary Notices for any services billed to your Medicare Number you don’t recognize.
Report anything suspicious to Medicare. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
If you need to replace your card because it’s damaged or lost, log into (or create) your secure Medicare account to print an official copy of your Medicare card. You can also use your Medicare account to access your Medicare information anytime, add prescription drugs to help you find and compare health and drug plans in your area, and more.

What role can partners play in fighting healthcare fraud, waste and abuse?

Become a HFPP partner. The Healthcare Fraud Prevention Partnership (HFPP) is a voluntary public-private partnership that helps detect and prevent healthcare fraud through data and information sharing. Partners include federal government, state agencies, law enforcement, private health insurance plans, employer organizations, and healthcare anti-fraud associations.
• By working together, we can be more effective at preventing health care fraud, waste, and abuse. The Healthcare Fraud Prevention Partnership (HFPP) continues to expand nationally by encouraging participation by all eligible public and private health care entities. The insights and input of each member contribute to the overall value of the Partnership.

Share the Love this National Donor Day

Story Provided by StatePoint Media Wire


National Donor Day, aptly recognized every Valentine’s Day on February 14, is an annual opportunity to share you love and compassion with friends, family and your community. Here are a few ways you can take part:

1. Register to be an organ donor. Registration is quick and simple and could save lives. To learn more, visit donatelife.net.
2. Contact a blood center. Communities are in constant need of whole blood, platelets and plasma to keep patients healthy. If you’re eligible to donate, consider making an appointment, particularly if you’ve recovered from COVID-19. Your donation could help those with the virus fight it.
3. Spread the word. Talk to friends and family about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation and your decision to become an organ donor, as well as the importance of donating blood.

Enjoy This Heart Healthy Recipe for American Heart Month

Ham and Broccoli Frittata

Recipe courtesy of Know Diabetes by Heart



Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4 (1/4 frittata per serving)

Ingredients:

• 2 c. frozen fat-free potatoes, thawed
• 6 oz. small broccoli florets, rinsed in cold water, drained but not dried
• 8 large egg whites
• 1 large egg
• 4 oz. lower-sodium, low-fat ham (uncured, nitrate/nitrite-free), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
• 1/4 c. fat-free milk
• 1/4 tsp. pepper

Steps:

• Preheat the oven to 400 F.
• Lightly spray a medium ovenproof skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Put the potatoes in the skillet. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown, stirring occasionally.
• In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the broccoli, covered, on high for 3-4 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain in a colander. Stir the broccoli into the potatoes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and egg. Whisk in the ham, milk and pepper. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and broccoli; stir well.
• Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

Nutritional information per serving: 180 calories; 30 calories from fat; 3 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat; 1.5 g monounsaturated fat; 60 mg cholesterol; 460 mg sodium; 570 mg potassium; 17 g total carbohydrate; 2 g dietary fiber; 4 g sugar; 1 g added sugar; 18 g protein; 210 mg phosphorus. Choices/Exchanges: 1 carbohydrate, 2 lean protein.

A Few Great 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.

Is your Grange doing amazing things in your community? Let us know! We love sharing all your work and want to continue to highlight your accomplishments! Send them to communications@nationalgrange.org

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

Download this issue for more information





FEBRUARY 5, 2021


Heart Health Month

By Betsy Huber National Grange President


Today, February 5, is Wear Red Day for Heart Health Month. How is your heart? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Research shows more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. That's one in every four deaths in this country.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on your heart health has never been more important. Health officials say people with poor cardiovascular health are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Health experts suggests preventing heart disease by choosing healthy habits. That involves exercising and keeping a healthy weight and diet.

According to the CDC, heart disease is also the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decades, research shows, only about half of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer. Although some women have no symptoms, others may have:

• Angina (dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort)
• Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat
• Pain in the upper abdomen or back

These symptoms may happen when you are resting or when you are doing regular daily activities. Women also may have other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Exercise and eating right to lower your LDL cholesterol are the best ways to improve your heart health.

How is your heart? I mean your emotional, spiritual “heart”? It’s easy to get depressed and down in the cold, dark days of winter. I encourage you to find something to be thankful for each day. It doesn’t need to be something big—I am inspired by beautiful sunsets and sunrises, ice sparkling on the trees, the beautiful faces of the many newborn babies we see recently with our Grange young adults who are starting families. When you awaken each morning, thank God for allowing you another day and look for the little things to appreciate around you.

If you find yourself feeling down, make that effort to call a fellow Grange member just to check in and talk. That will brighten your spirits and improve your “heart” health.

New Faces at the National Grange

By Kennedy Gwin National Grange Intern


The National Grange would like to take the time to welcome four new interns to our team! Our interns come from all over the U.S. and are all currently students at Baylor University and the State University of New York.

Our first intern is Valerie Stewart. Valerie Stewart is a junior pre-medical student at Baylor University who is studying biology and international studies.

Stewart grew up learning about agriculture from her grandparents, who owned a small ranch in Huntsville, Texas. She spent much of her childhood helping with the livestock and working in her family’s garden. Her 11 years as a Girl Scout further exposed her to the outdoors and gave her an appreciation for community service.

During her time at Baylor, Stewart has held a position on the service committee of her chapter’s American Medical Women’s Association and worked with the nonprofit Unbound, teaching human trafficking prevention courses at schools. She has volunteered with the food pantry, Caritas of Waco, and the Meyer’s Community Center, a free health clinic. Through these organizations, and her experience as a pharmacy technician, Valerie has witnessed the complexities of health policy and how it intersects with an array of issues. Stewart is also an active member of Baylor’s Model UN team where she spends time developing her public speaking skills as well as her policy writing skills.

Stewart is eager to join the Grange staff so that she can expand her knowledge of rural-focused health policy. She is excited for the opportunity to work in advocacy and policy development, for she plans to work as a family physician in rural communities in the future.

Next is Lindsey Sather from Chicago Illinois. Lindsey Sather is a sophomore at Baylor University. She is studying International Business and Management Information Systems with minors in Political Science and Military Studies.

Sather grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, and spent much of her time on her grandfather’s farm in Indiana. It was this time spent helping on the farm during which she learned both the joys and challenges faced by the rural community.

Throughout her three semesters at Baylor, Sather has been an active member in Baylor Women in Business, the Certificate in Global Engagement program, and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. She serves as New Member Education Chair for her co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Through this organization, she has actively participated in serving her Waco community at a local middle school and the Salvation Army.

Sather has previously interned at Aspen Group, an architectural firm specializing in designing church buildings. There, she wrote a book of standards, gaining writing and research experience that she is eager to apply in her internship with the Grange. She is excited to join the Grange to learn more about agriculture-focused policy and contribute to advocating for rural families.

Next is Claire Loker from Walton New York. Claire Loker is a senior in the Agriculture Business Development program at SUNY-Morrisville. Loker will be working remotely with National Grange as a new intern in January, then will be joining on-site in Washington, D.C., in May.

Loker was an active member of the FFA throughout high school and continued to grow her passion for agriculture through FFA. During her time in FFA, she competed in Career Development Events, served as her chapter’s president and worked with her community with many different service projects.

Loker on her campus is currently involved with Dairy Club and Collegiate FFA. Within her Collegiate FFA she serves as president and represents the college at the National FFA Convention and Expo each year. She recently earned her American FFA degree and has earned it through many years of service to FFA and hundreds of hours dedicated to the organization.

Loker has previously worked with the SUNY-Morrisville marketing department and is involved with posting and sharing posts on social media for the Agriculture Business Department. Loker is a founding member of her college’s NAMA chapter (National Agri-Marking Association) and will be starting a position with the SUNY-Morrisville admissions this spring.

Loker’s long-term goal is to be an Agricultural lobbyist in Washington D.C., where she can advocate for farmers in rural America.

Our final intern is Claire Wubben. Wubben is a junior at Baylor University majoring in liberal arts with an emphasis in Political Science, English, and French.

Wubben is from Ankeny Iowa, and grew up surrounded by corn and soybean fields alongside, and has spent too many times stuck behind a tractor slowly driving down the streets of her hometown.

Wubben is a member of several highly selective programs and organizations on campus including the Honors Program, the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC), several honors societies, the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, and most recently the Baylor in Washington Semester Program. In addition to having a place on the Dean’s List every semester, Wubben has worked to expand her horizons and experience by volunteering at a local elementary school, taking a course on how to lead public deliberation, and gaining a Global Experience Certificate, all while working on campus as an intern in the Donor Relations department.

Wubben has spent the last two summers interning for Farm Bureau Financial Services, and it was from her time working there that she got to see on a first-hand experience of those who live in rural areas. After experiencing the derecho storm that swept through and decimated Iowa this last summer and assessing the damage that had occurred to rural America.

Wubben says that she is so excited to join the Grange staff this semester so that she may expand her knowledge of the legal ways that small advocacy groups can gain attention and aid.

We are excited to spend the spring working with these amazing young women and look forward to their contributions to the Grange.



The National Grange 2021 Roster

The National Grange Roster for the 2021 year is now available in both a printable and digital versions. Digital Version Now Available DOWNLOAD NOW!

Printable Version Now Available DOWNLOAD NOW!





EPA and USDA Hearings

By Sean O’Neil


On February 2nd and 3rd, the Senate held nomination hearings for the important cabinet positions of Secretary of Agriculture and EPA Administrator respectively. For Secretary of Agriculture, President Biden nominated former Obama-era Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who had his hearing in the Senate Agriculture committee, and for EPA administrator Biden nominated current North Carolina Secretary of Environmental Quality Michael S. Regan.

The defining feature of Secretary Vilsack’s hearing was a spirit of bipartisanship and comity from Senators of both parties. In fact, to begin the hearing both the Chair and Ranking Member of the committee made it clear that they wanted to expedite Secretary Vilsack’s confirmation process so that he can begin work immediately. Throughout the hearing, Republican Senators most significant concern came in regards to potential environmental regulations, particularly with regard to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule. At the same time, Democratic Senators placed a greater emphasis on the need for action regarding climate change, racism in agriculture, and food assistance programs under the purview of USDA. Despite these differences in emphasis, Senators Stabenow and Braun both made clear that they expected to pass their bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, which seeks to provide funds and assistance to farmers who voluntarily take conservation actions, during this Congress. Yet more, Senators of both parties expressed concerns over issues such as trade, innovation, and many more state-specific agriculture issues.

In the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing for the nomination of Michael Regan to be EPA Administrator, Senators were notably more combative, but nevertheless were generally pleased with Regan’s answers. Specifically, Republicans Senators expressed wariness and dissatisfaction with President Biden’s announced climate proposals and executive orders, although they were pleased to hear that Regan planned to bring in stakeholders and listen to many parties when forming rules. One area of notable concern for agriculture, was Regan’s discussions of the WOTUS rule, in which he indicated that the Biden administration did not plan to return exactly to the previous rule under former President Obama, but would also not maintain former President Trump’s current rule. Instead, Regan indicated that he would consult with many interested parties and seek to create a rule somewhere in between which allows for more state-level flexibility and provide outreach and technical assistance to affected groups. As well, Republicans highlighted an endorsement of Regan from twenty national agriculture groups as a heartening sign. For their part, Democrats did not spend much time questioning Regan about agricultural issues, with the exception of concerns raised by Senator Booker over the rights of farm workers and Senator Duckworth on the importance of biofuels.

Altogether, both Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Regan are likely to be confirmed within the next week or so, and will likely be key components of implementing President Biden’s climate agenda as it relates to agriculture and more.

A Few Great 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.


• Prioritize Health Options for rural Washington, Washington State Grange, https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/feb/03/tom-gwin-prioritize-health-options-for-rural-washi/

Grange Comments on Weekly Items of Interest

In this section, we include quotes 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 was quoted about Rosenworcel's potential as Chairwoman of the FCC, https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/15207-acting-fcc-chair-the-digital-divide-is-very-real-and-very-big?fbclid=IwAR0WMMASJhqS5J1M7us0Y6SwMpdUVpsKQFTRMxOUs36lfH9eToVMZYGXhSQ

• Betsy Huber was quoted again discussing how perceptions of agriculture have continued to change through out the U.S., https://wtaq.com/2020/12/21/the-perception-of-agriculture-is-changing/

Besides Super Bowl, this is not intended to be a Valentine Day message -- but maybe it should be. Because, from a supplier to a non profit perspective, when a person voluntarily places a brand on their personal stuff, (and proudly displays it), this may be the ultimate token of "I love you". The simple placement of a branded item communicates so much without saying a single word. When placed on a person item like a laptop, tablet, water flask, even on a car window, it communicates your support for the Grange and most of all, it's an endorsement. We're talking about fundamental, grassroots marketing at its finest!

American Hearing Benefits – is a convenient hearing benefits program which provides access to free hearing consultations and significant discounts on hearing aids through our nationwide network of hearing professionals. To learn more call 1-888-461-3209 or CLICK HERE

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

Download this issue for more information







Living & Learning in 2021

Adjusting plans is definitely part of what we are going through as a society right now. Originally scheduled for mid February, the California State Grange Living & Learning Conference will be held this year on April 24 and 25 during Grange Month! Mark the dates on your calendar.

Plan to join us for this virtual online conference featuring activities for all ages and focusing on Living and Learning! Make your Grange thrive with ideas for Community Service and Fundraising. Learn some artisan crafts or a new recipe or two. Find out how you can effect change through a look at the resolution process. Have fun with other members in a virtual setting. Discover a "life hack" that might be of benefit or a computer program that will help your Grange. Honor the recipents of the inaugural 2021 California Grange Foundation Scholarships.

Preview new digital media approaches to teach our members and nonmembers about the foundations and relevance of the Grange. Cheer on the contestants of all ages competing in the Public Speaking and Sign-A-Song contests. This is just a taste of what is planned.

Come for the information and stay for the fun. We are planning a great virtual conference. Registration material will be available later this month. Watch for more information coming your way by email, at the California State Grange website, on our Facebook sites and by word of mouth.

Looking forward to seeing you in April,

Katie Squire, Lecturer

California State Grange







Download this issue for more information




January 2021

Click on article title to open or close article.


POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

JANUARY 2021 WRAP-UP

Washington Overview

President Biden’s Team is Coming Together


Following his inauguration on the 20th, President Biden’s cabinet team has been rapidly coming together. So far top-level picks such as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been confirmed, with votes on Secretary of Transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandra Mayorkas, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo expected soon. As well, President Biden has moved faster than most previous administrations in appointing thousands of lower-level political positions throughout agencies in order to jumpstart his agenda.

President Biden Lays Out COVID-19 Relief Plan

With his cabinet coming together, President Biden has laid out his first legislative priority: a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. In the $1.9 trillion package are another round of stimulus checks at $1,400, billions of dollars in aid for schools, state and local governments, small businesses, unemployment benefits, and vaccine distribution. As well, the package includes larger overhauls including an increase to a $15 minimum wage, expanded paid leave for workers, increased tax credits for families with children, and an extension of an eviction moratorium. Despite efforts from the White House to gain Republican support for the bill, no Republican has indicated support for the current version and so, while the White House continues outreach, Democrats in the House and Senate are already pushing the bill through the complicated budget reconciliation process which will only require the support of Democrats to pass.

President Biden Signs a Flurry of Executive Orders

Like all other modern Presidential administrations, President Biden has spent his first week in office signing numerous executive orders. These orders generally target one of the four crises which his team has identified as the largest currently facing America, including COVID-19, the economic downturn, social justice, and climate change. As well President Biden has signed a number of miscellaneous orders targeting traditional Democratic priorities.

On COVID-19 Biden has signed orders to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase necessary vaccine supplies, purchase 200 million more vaccine doses, mandate masks on Federal property and interstate travel, require negative coronavirus tests to travel to the United States, create task forces focused on supply chains and equitable access, and canceled plans to leave the World Health Organization.

On the economic crisis, President Biden has signed an extended eviction moratorium, paused federal student loan payments, directed government agencies to have $15 minimum wage for all government contractors, signed a ‘buy American’ memorandum for Federal agencies, and created workplace COVID-19 protections.

On social justice, President Biden has signed orders to emphasize diversity in allocating Federal funds, end Department of Justice contracts with private prisons, condemn xenophobia against Asian Americans due to the origins of the coronavirus in China, end the ban on transgender service in the military, enforce sex discrimination rules in the case of LGBT+ individuals, place a moratorium on deportations for 100 days, end construction of the border wall, end the ban on individuals entering the US from certain Muslim-majority countries, and strengthen DACA protections.

On climate change, President Biden has signed orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, cancel permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, place a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on Federal land, paused pending environmental orders from the Trump administration and placed many others under review to likely be rescinded, and created various climate policy councils and task forces to focus the administration’s efforts to combat climate change.

President Biden has also signed many other miscellaneous orders and will likely continue to issue executive orders at a rapid pace through the early weeks of his administration.

Agriculture and Food

Pandemic Relief for Agriculture


On December 28, President Trump signed the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 which included $900 billion to combat the pandemic and $1.4 trillion in annual appropriations to run the federal government for FY21. Agriculture and food assistance relief provisions include:

• Expanded hunger and food assistance
• Market loss payments to row crop producers, cattle producers, dairymen and contract growers
• Purchase of agricultural products for feeding programs
• Loans to food processors, distributors, farmers markets and others
• Support to offshore aquaculture
• Support to timber harvesting and hauling businesses
• Additional funding for local agricultural market programs, farmer training and outreach, specialty crop block grants, farmer stress programs and more.

In early January, Agriculture Secretary Perdue authorized an additional $1.5 billion food purchase to be distributed through the Farmers to Families Food Box program. Then on January 23, President Biden signed an executive order increasing SNAP (food stamp) benefits and expanding them to the over 40 percent of recipients who are already at the maximum benefit. Hunger among Americans is growing more serious. According to a recent Census Bureau tracking survey, 14 percent of all adults reported their household didn’t have enough to eat the previous week.

Agencies Fight Over Animal Biotechnology

In mid-January, Secretary Perdue and Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D., head of the Public Health Service, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the regulation of agricultural animal biotechnology innovation. The MOU gives USDA animal biology regulatory oversight and FDA will ensure the safety of products derived from new technologies and animals developed using genetic engineering. USDA already is the lead agency regulating plant biotechnology. Since the signing however, FDA Commissioner Stephan Hahn has pushed back on the idea of sharing regulatory jurisdiction.

Who Owns the Biggest Farm?

We probably wouldn’t have guessed the fourth wealthiest person in the world, Bill Gates, is America’s largest private owner of farmland with 242,000 acres in 18 states across the country. But Gates is not the largest total landowner. That spot goes to Liberty Media Chair John Malone who owns 2.2 million acres of ranches and forests. CNN founder Ted Turner owns 2 million acres of ranch land across eight states. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is investing in land with 420,000 acres mainly in west Texas.

Agriculture and Climate Change

President Biden’s executive order signed on January 27 brings the agriculture sector into the federal government’s thrust on climate change. The order directs USDA to gather input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart ag practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations, and to create new sources of income and jobs for rural residents.

Health Care

Rural Residents Hesitant on COVID Vaccination


A December Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported rural respondents gave three main reasons for refusing vaccination:

• They were not worried that they or a family member would become infected
• The seriousness of the pandemic is overblown
• Vaccination is more of a personal choice than a community responsibility

The groups most likely to be vaccine-hesitant are Republicans, people ages 30-49 and rural residents in that order. The groups most likely to get vaccinated are Democrats, households with serious health conditions and urban residents in that order. The survey noted, however, vaccine hesitancy has been steadily dropping since September. Another barrier to vaccination in rural areas is access. One in three rural counties do not have a pharmacy connected to a national chain or network that has signed on to participate in the federal COVID Vaccine program.

Overall Vaccination Acceptance Up

Morning Consult is tracking the public’s attitudes on vaccination, social distancing, and comfort, plus political and institutional leadership. The share of adults who now say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine hit 60 percent for the first time since July. Interestingly, there is even a partisan divide on vaccination with 74 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans indicating they would get vaccinated. Vaccine willingness is up 19 percentage points among Hispanic adults and 10 percent among Black adults.

Drug Overdose Deaths Rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports overdose deaths have accelerated during the pandemic with over 81,000 drug overdose deaths between May,2019 and May,2020. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have driven much of the increase. The National Association of Counties has conducted research on the opioid epidemic that concentrated on the multistate area surrounding the Appalachian Mountains. NAC found the best solutions came through local leadership spearheading a movement of educating community leaders on the effects of drug addiction and providing local resources to combat addiction (similar to the Grange work with RALI).

Early Detection Cancer Screening

According to the National Grange and a large number of health care advocates and patient groups, Medicare should cover new categories of multicancer screening for early detection of many forms of cancer. Early detection of cancer saves lives, lowers treatment costs and increases the quality of life for patients and their families. The groups cosigned a letter urging Congress to pass authorizing legislation to shorten FDA approval time for early detection tests.

Infrastructure

The National Grange joined over 200 agriculture, food, rural, business, community and other groups on a letter to President Biden asking for his support for rebuilding the infrastructure of rural America. These needs include roads, bridges, waterways, broadband, health care, water systems, housing and more. The group suggested an approach that would pair federal resources with state, local and private sources of capital.

Telecommunications

Broadband Funds in Relief Package


The $900 billion COVID relief package provides $7 billion in new broadband funding that includes these new priorities:

• Purchase of connectivity and devices for low-income individuals
• Additional connectivity for unserved areas and low-income communities
• Telehealth expansion
• Broadband mapping support (to determine the availability of access)
• Additional funding for state and local online learning technology and connectivity
• Support for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband Program administered by USDA
• Support for small telecommunications companies to replace Huawei/ZTE equipment with secure equipment

More Telehealth

Health care visits by broadband households increased from 15% in 2019 to 41% in 2020. Widespread adoption of virtual care is rapidly increasing the demand for ways to integrate connected devices with physician workflows to meet patient demand.

Closing Rural Telehealth Gaps

The Health Resources and Services Administration has been awarded $8 million to fund the Telehealth Broadband Pilot project to access the broadband capacity available to rural health care providers and patient communities. Also created was the Rural Broadband Initiative, a cross-cutting, multi-department move to coordinate programs working to expand and improve telehealth access.

Congress Asks for Accountability

A broad bipartisan coalition if 153 senators and representatives is asking the Federal Communications Commission to thoroughly vet the $9 billion in rural broadband funding awarded to internet providers last year through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The legislators are urging the commission to validate that each provider has the technical, financial, managerial, and operational skills to deliver the services they’ve pledged. The RDOF is designed to close the digital divide that has existed since the beginning of the internet by investing in the construction of rural broadband networks.

Perspective

"The family is more sacred than the state." ~ Pope Pius XI

"Cherish your human connections – your relationship with friends and family." ~ Barbara Bush

"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future." ~ Alex Haley

"The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege." ~ Charles Kuralt

"You are born into your family and your family is born into you. No returns. No exchanges." ~ Elizabeth Berg

"The family that prays together stays together." ~ Al Scalpone

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

Download this issue for more information





JANUARY 22, 2021

Inauguration Day

By Betsy Huber National Grange President

I’m writing this article on Wednesday, January 20, the one day every fourth year that most symbolizes the democratic government of the United States and why it has stood firm for 245 years—Inauguration Day. On this day, we bear witness to the peaceful transfer of power from one President to another, and in this case, from one party to another.

In his inaugural address, President Biden asked for unity and promised to be the President of “all the people.” For the sake of our nation, which is so very divided, we hope this is the case.

The voters and the Congress are almost evenly split; there is an uneasy peace in Washington DC locked down like never before, and state capitols have heightened security. For almost eight months, radical groups on both sides have initiated riots and caused damage to private businesses and public buildings.

The Grange will have a big job ahead of us this year, not only to present our grassroots policy issues to a new administration, but especially to continue promoting civility, faith, hope, charity, and fidelity in our local communities and in our government at all levels. Let’s all pray for wisdom for our new leadership in Washington and all those in authority across our land.

Honoring Members of your Community

By Pete Pompper National Grange Community Service Director

The importance of Grangers saying thank you to those in our communities who deserve our praise cannot be stressed enough. As we all know, a simple thank you – the recognition of good work or going above and beyond – goes a long way to not only lifting people’s spirits but also connecting people to your Grange.

I hope that every Grange in some way honors those in our community who go unrecognized but truly are deserving. This is not only the above-mentioned categories but anyone or group who help those who need it. Elmer Grange #29 (NJ) has done this for many years because they realize the importance of this. They have honored a gentleman who owns a bus company who for years has donated buses for special events and groups that needed it. Another person was recognized for his many years on the local fair board who spends countless hours giving back to the community. All the awardees are extremely humbled and feel they don’t deserve this award. There are so many Granges out there that do this by having a Community Citizen of the Year award meeting.

A Grange can honor more than one person or group --remember it is your dream, you can make it as big as you want. In a small community, I would have to believe that most people will know who you are honoring. Have an open meeting; invite as many people as your hall can hold or have it in the summer and have it outdoors. Nothing is better that an outdoor meeting with homemade Grange food and ice cream. The National Grange store has available for a small fee a Community Service certificate and a nice paperweight that can be given to the honoree. My hope is every Grange will say thank you to those who deserve it. Invite your local newspaper or TV station to the meeting and tell them what and why you are honoring this individual or group. I would also like you to send me any press coverage or drop me a note of who you honored.

While the Community Service Department has the “Of the Year” awards for teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers, don’t feel you’re limited to just people in those professions. Today we see that community heroes and those deserving thanks come from all walks of life – just like the fair board member and bus company owner. Think outside the box, choose those who may otherwise go unrecognized and delight in the smile you bring to your recipients’ faces.

Speaking of the “of the Year” awards, the 2020 winners were: Firefighter/EMT Carrie Dunn-Thompson (CO), Teacher Kellie Perkins (NC) and Law Enforcement D/Sgt Eric Shirley (NH). All of them are very deserving of these awards and the judges were complimentary of all the nominees.

Building sustains no further damage; banner to be hung

By Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Communications & Development Director

Much of D.C. was on high alert throughout the past few weeks, and in preparation for potential unrest, the National Grange saw its building’s front door and windows boarded up again.

Thankfully, with protections put in place around the several blocks surrounding the White House and limited traffic in the area, along with very few protesters for Inauguration week, the headquarters building sustained no damage this week. Also, Building Engineer Mujo Mrkonjik was preparing to hang a banner welcoming President Biden to the White House, per the organization’s tradition when a new president takes office.

A decision was made not to place the banner on the top of the building, facing the White House, prior to the inauguration as has been done in the past so as not to draw negative unwanted attention of potential destructive or violent individuals.

“We will follow our tradition and make welcome President Biden, raising the profile of the Grange in doing so,” National Grange President Betsy Huber said. “The delay was designed to ensure our precious asset would not be targeted, but we will not be deterred from supporting the new administration as we have done for many years and showing our interest in working to elevate the interests of rural Americans.”

Show your Support Today

By Mandy Bostwick National Grange Youth and Young Adult Director

Show your Junior and Youth pride by purchasing one, or both, of these exclusive Pura Vida bracelets. Pura Vida is a movement that is celebrating the simple things in life. These bracelets are 100% waterproof, wax-coated with an iron-coated copper “P” charm on each bracelet. Bracelets are adjustable from 2”- 5”.

The Junior bracelets feature nine strings in red, black, and vanilla while the youth bracelets feature nine strings in Gold, Kelly Green and Hunter Green. These bracelets are a great way to show that you are a proud Jr. and Youth alumni. They also make great gifts for the Jr. and Youth in your local Grange.

Each bracelet is as unique as the person wearing it. Pura Vida bracelets were founded in Costa Rica and each bracelet helps provide full-time jobs for artisans around the world. Funds from sales of our exclusive Youth and Junior bracelets will support our Junior and/or Youth Leadership Fund. To order, go to bit.ly/YouthandJuniorPureVidaBracelet (case sensitive).

If you are interested in making a donation but don’t want a bracelet, both the Youth and Junior funds are open for direct donations. Place your order soon, quantities are limited!

Junior, Youth Departments start virtual Monthly Meet-Up Series

By Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Communications & Development Director

Meeting ID: 697 859 421 | Password: 568970

The Grange’s youngest members will have one more way to get involved and connected across the organization thanks to the addition of new monthly meet-ups hosted by the Junior and Youth departments.

Starting in February, the departments will alternate months to host sessions on the third Sunday, as a way to provide details about contests and programming and encourage young members to stay active in the organization.

“We’ve seen that virtual meetings are successful in connecting people and of course, youth and kids are used to having virtual events to take part in especially since the pandemic started,” Youth Director Mandy Bostwick said.

Junior Director Samantha Wilkins said the events – titled Junior Jibber-Jabber for the 5-14 crowd – are not meant to take the place of Junior meetings, but will help to encourage Junior members and leaders to explore programs and activities they may not normally focus on.

“We hope this opens some doors for our kiddos, especially those whose Junior Grange or Subordinate Grange they affiliate with as 1+ members haven’t been very active over the past year,” Wilkins said.

The events are held on Zoom, and each director asked members to share the information with every Junior and Youth they know.

Meeting ID: 833 7712 0738 | Password: 969128

Grange Foundation NAITC Applications

By Kennedy Gwin National Grange Intern

The Grange Foundation each year sponsors a National Agriculture in the Classroom Award (previously known as the Agriculture Advocate Award) where we honor educators and community members for spreading agriculture awareness beyond their communities.

Last year’s recipient Sara Harward from Salt Lake City, Utah, won this distinguished award for her work in agriculture and how she has continued to introduce it into the classroom. On her corn and pumpkin farm, she hosts thousands of students each year showing them the complexities of agriculture and how it impacts their everyday lives. Sara was going to receive her award at the National Ag in the Classroom Convention in Salt Lake City but due to COVID-19 the convention had to be postponed.

2020 WINNER | 2019 WINNER

If you know someone in your community whose story and efforts are similar to Sara’s in the realm of agriculture and believe that they deserve to be recognized, go online to grangefoundation.org and nominate them for their efforts. Honoring those who continue to advocate and educate the public about agriculture in America is a cornerstone of our organization and these individuals deserve positive recognition about their programs. Applications are due February 26th so make sure to spread the word and nominate advocates in your life.

NATIONAL AG IN THE CLASSROOM APPLICATION

Distinguished Grange and Grange in Action

By Kennedy Gwin National Grange Intern


Each year the National Grange sponsors the Distinguished Grange Award to recognize Community and State Granges across the country who go above and beyond with activities and service to their communities during the year. As COVID-19 has continued to impact states and Granges across the country we wanted to reaffirm to Grangers that the rules for Distinguished Grange have not changed, that the pandemic is being taken into consideration in judging, and to encourage you highlight the work your Granges have accomplished.

With COVID-19 hitting rural communities the hardest due to limited resources and lack of access, many people turned to their local Granges for assistance. Grangers mobilized to support people in their communities and became innovative, coming up with ideas such as grab and go dinners even before restaurants considered it. Many Granges started to host outside community events with social distancing in mind and even utilized Zoom and other platforms to continue to meet and foster community in what seems like a very lonely time. Staying active during the pandemic and continuing to support your community despite the chaos has pushed Grangers beyond distinguished and has made them pillars in their communities.

With all these events such as food drives and virtual events happening in Granges everywhere, we wanted to remind you that these count towards Distinguished Grange points and that you should fill out the application even if you think you don’t qualify this year. Cancellations and virtual State Sessions will be taken into consideration, but there are so many other ways to earn points on the application form that you may qualify in spite of these difficulties.

If you ultimately feel that your Grange is not able to make up the points needed to earn the Distinguished Grange title, you can always apply for the Grange in Action Award. This award requires that you take pictures at three different Grange hosted events, caption the photos, and submit the application to receive this award. Every Grange should be capable of this and we would love to see more applications for Grange in Action displayed at the 2021 National Grange convention.

Great job, Grangers, for your work in the community during tumultuous times and we hope to see you continue this great work into 2021!

Office Depot/Office Max – We have partnered with Office Depot/Office Max that when you products through this program a portion of the sale goes to support National Grange. Even if you don't have an Office Depot/Office Max in your area you can get the same discount with the card number information.

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

Download this issue for more information





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

American Hearing Benefits – is a convenient hearing benefits program which provides access to free hearing consultations and significant discounts on hearing aids through our nationwide network of hearing professionals. To learn more call 1-888-461-3209 mentions National Grange or visit http://americanhearingbenefits.com/partners/grange

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

Download this issue for more information





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.



Visit http://www.officediscounts.org/grange.html

Office Depot/Office Max - We have partnered with Office Depot/Office Max that when you purchase products through this program a portion of the sale goes to support National Grange.

Even if you don't have an Office Depot/Office Max in your area you can get the same discount with the card number information.

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

Download this issue for more information







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

Watch out for COVID-19 vaccine scams

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.

Here's what to know:

• You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
• You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
• 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

Download this issue for more information






Visit News Archive Index