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June 2019

POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

MAY 2019 WRAP-UP

Overview

Congress returned to Washington June 3 from a week-long Memorial Day recess. We held this report to see if the House could pass the disaster bill which it failed to do prior to leaving for recess. They did and we have the details. Spring planting fell behind in the rain and storms of May. By the end of May, plantings were 32% behind normal. Late plantings usually favor soybeans over corn the later the season becomes. A new round of trade assistance to producers impacted by retaliatory tariffs was announced amid threats to Mexico. WOTUS takes a hit in court. HHS abandons harmful "step therapy" proposal. Surprise medical bills get Hill attention.

Presidential campaign politics are already heating up a little earlier than normal this year. That's partly because of the huge field of Democratic hopefuls this primary season. Candidates have to do everything possible to get noticed even if it's a little crazy. Look at the candidates' web sites for their policy positions on the issues important to you. You might be surprised....both good and bad.

Agriculture and Food

Disaster Aid

The House overwhelmingly passed the disaster aid bill that had been debated for six months. The Senate previously passed the $19.1 billion disaster relief bill containing aid for agriculture and rural disaster losses. The legislation had been stalled in the House by several members objecting that it did not contain "pay-for" provisions nor did it contain $4.4 Billion the President requested for border security. This delay followed a previous delay of a month on the Senate side because of disagreements over funding for Puerto Rico and border security. The package includes $5.5 billion in agriculture assistance to cover a wide array of producer loses from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, snowstorms and other natural disasters dating back to early 2018. Included were coverage for prevented planted acres, a provision ensuring industrial hemp will be eligible for crop insurance, and funds to help landowners restore culverts, stream banks, levees, forests and other infrastructure.

WOTUS Takes Another Hit

The 2015 Waters of the United States regulation that farmers, ranchers, landowners and many others have fought fiercely to overturn took a recent hit when the US Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the federal agencies violated basic requirements of fair process by issuing the rule without first releasing for comment a key report that was the basis for many of their most controversial decisions. The EPA and Corps of Engineers are currently working on a replacement regulation that better fits congressional intent and definitions established by the Clean Water Act.

"Best if Used By" Labels Cut Food Waste

FDA has endorsed food company efforts to standardize voluntary date labeling to indicate quality and freshness across all food categories. The current "sell by" date on food packages is an indication of freshness and is not meant to indicate the food should not be eaten after that date. However, it is confusing to consumers. Confusion about date labeling accounts for approximately 20 percent of consumer food waste. Over 85% of consumers surveyed said the streamlined dates were clear and helpful to them.

What Does Local Food Mean?

Apparently consumers haven't a clue. According to Neilson researchers, 46% of grocery shoppers say they are aware of the importance of buying local. But when shoppers are asked to define local food, their perceptions of local food were all over the place. Most respondents said eggs, baked goods and produce should come from the same general area as the store. Dairy, deli and meat were considered local if they came from within the state. Consumers said frozen foods, seafood and packaged goods are local if they come from within the U.S.

Health Care

Final Medicare Rule Abandons "Step Therapy"

The Department of Health and Human Services has withdrawn two proposals that would have been harmful to Medicare Part B and Part D patients. The agency will prohibit the use of step therapy for patients who are stable on their current treatment. Step therapy would have denied the patients with serious illnesses access to newer and more effective drugs until the patient's current medication failed. The agency also says it will not weaken safeguards for vulnerable patients covered by the "six protected classes" of serious therapeutic concern (serious treatments such as oral chemotherapy drugs). This is good news; the National Grange has been deeply involved with both these issues.

Surprise Medical Bills

Patients are reporting dramatic increases in exorbitant prices for medical treatment. These surprise bills and high charges stem largely from hospitals or emergency medical facilities which are not in the patient's insurance network. Surprise charges are most often for physicians (53%), followed by laboratory tests (51%), hospitals or medical facilities (43%), imaging (35%), and prescription drugs (29%) according to research by the University of Chicago. A bipartisan group of senators led by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy (a physician) is working on a legislative package to protect patients. The National Grange is strongly supporting their efforts.

FDA Guidance Needed on Hemp and CBD

The extract of industrial hemp is cannabidiol or CBD oil. It has been hailed as a cure for just about everything that ails a person. Production of hemp was legalized in the recent farm bill to be grown as an agricultural crop. The catch is that FDA has not formally approved CBD as a medication or food supplement. USDA wrote a legal opinion in May that the farm bill language removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and prevented states from prohibiting interstate shipment of hemp legally produced under permit. The catch is that FDA has not formally approved CBD as a medication or food additive nor identified the potential risks and benefits associated with CBD. Both USDA and FDA are working on clarifying regulations. In the meantime, the industry will have to deal with a confusing patchwork of state rules.

Telecommunications

Mixed Reviews on Rural Broadband Deployment

The good news is that fixed broadband reached an additional 4.3 million rural residents in 2017. The bad news is that 21.3 million still lack broadband service according to the Federal Communications Commission. The report states that fixed and mobile services are substitutable for many residents and broadband providers of both services are competing for customers. Challenges to the accuracy of FCC broadband deployment maps have been raised and the challenge process has not yet concluded. Higher speed (250Mbps/25Mbps) broadband service to rural Americans increased by 81.5 percent in 2017. Rural broadband deployment is a top priority for the National Grange.

Congress Must Reauthorize the Satellite Act

The National Grange is urging Congress to reauthorize the Satellite Act that is set to expire at the end of 2019. Satellite is the only viable technology that allows many rural communities consistent access to programming at a fair price. The Act preserves the ability of providers to import distant signals to underserved households without the threat of fee disputes or suspension of certain channels without notice. Many rural communities still depend on satellites for news, sports, entertainment and other programming.

Trade

Mexico Threatened with New Tariffs

Keeping up with trade issues these days is like watching the trading board of a stock exchange. Within days of dropping steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, the President has threatened to reinstate a new 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods beginning June 10. The rate will go up 5 percent per month until Mexico complies with his latest effort to force Mexico to clamp down on Central Americans crossing Mexico to get into the U.S. A new trade war with Mexico would hit American agriculture hard economically with the loss of a major pork, poultry, wheat and dairy export market. The move raises new fears that new tariffs could jeopardize the chance for Congress to ratify the U.S Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Trade Aid

In late May, the USDA announced it would make up to $16 billion available in a second trade assistance package for programs to help producers most impacted by retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. Payments will be made in three tranches, with the second and third tranches evaluated as market conditions and trade prospects dictate. These Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments will be based on commodity prices, production, acres and county averages, depending on the specific commodity produced. More specific details have yet to be announced by USDA.

Perspective

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. ~ Gustave Flaubert

Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul. ~ Jamie Lyn Beatty

If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: it's lethal. ~ Paulo Coelho

People don't take trips, trips take people. ~ John Steinbeck

The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you can't fly, run, if you can't run, walk, if you can't walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving. ~ Martin Luther King

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

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2019 EXPO NOW AVAILABLE

WHAT WILL YOU ENTER THIS YEAR? Canning, Grange Youth Fair projects, Photography, Art, or any of the myriad contests and competitions open to California Grange Members and Guest Exhibitors?

NEW THIS YEAR: Our theme is Super Heroes, be they in the movies, in your community, or even you. If your entry connects to Super Heroes make sure to mark it on your entry form.

EVEN MORE: The California Grange Expo responds to requests for classes. We just created an Interlocking Building Block (think Lego, Knex, or other) competition for all ages. Maximum foot print is 24 x 24 inches. It must be attached to a base plate or a single free-standing unit. Kits are not allowed, however major modifications or re-purposed kits will be allowed. Look in Division 300.

COMPETITIONS AT JUNIOR, YOUTH, & FAMILY CONFERENCE: Public Speaking and Sign-A-Song contestants will compete June 22, 2019 at the inaugural JY&F Conference at Prunedale Grange Hall, Prunedale, CA

Kind regards, California Grange Expo

Get Entry Form

Get Expo Handbook


May 2019

We are in the process of making some improvements to the look of the California Granger website. These improvements will include updating graphics, minor changes to menu options and hopefully a better user experience.

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In this issue:

NEWS
• Master's Message
• You can lobby for Grange Youth
• PR Contest reminder
• Membership Zoom meeting coming soon
• Members benefit from various savings programs
• Items great for all members available from Supply Store

RESOURCES
• Grange Foundation Mercantile Flyer
• Grange Quilt Block Contest Info and Form
• Grange Revival Registration Form
• Good Day!™ Subscription Form

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.



In this issue:

• MASTER'S MESSAGE
• FOUNDATION BENEFITS FROM VIRTUAL RACE WITH $460 DONATION
• LAST CALL: SIGN UP NOW FOR GRANGE REVIVAL
• SUMMER INTERN OPPORTUNITY AT THE GRANGE!
• Add the next chapter to your Grange story
• UPS Flat Rate Pricing

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.

POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

APRIL 2019 WRAP-UP

National Grange Fly-In


The National Grange Fly-In to Washington, DC was April 28-May 1. A total of twenty- two Grange members from eleven states met with thirty-one members of Congress or their staffs. The group also was briefed by Anne Hazlett, Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President, and by Preston Wise, Special Counselor to Chairman Pai at the Federal Communications Commission. The National Grange focused on priority public policy issues that need action by Congress and the federal agencies during 2019. These actions include disaster relief, rebuilding rural infrastructure, passing the Student Agriculture Protection Act, legislation to protect online privacy, upgrade rural broadband coverage maps, emerging broadband technologies to reach rural areas, maintaining the Lifeline program for rural residents, the dangers of importing non-FDA-approved prescription drugs, and prescription drug discount rebates to patients to lower out-of-pocket costs at the drug counter. Grange members also urged Congress to take action on pending bills in Congress that address patient prescription drug costs.

Agriculture and Food

Census of Agriculture Documents Change


The USDA's latest ag census shows that the major trends in agriculture since the 2012 census are continuing:
• Dairy farm numbers declined 17 percent but milk sales increased 4 percent as dairy operations grow larger and smaller producers are squeezed out. Overall, the number of all farms decreased by 3.2 percent.
• The number of farmers increased by 6.9 percent as young, beginning and female farmers took on decision-making roles.
• The average age of all farmers rose to 57.5 years compared to 56.3 years in 2012.
• One in four producers is a beginning farmer with less than 10 years of experience and an average age of 46.3 years.
• A record low 105,453 farms produced 75 percent of all sales, down from 119,908 farms in 2012.
• Ninety-six percent of American farms and ranches are family owned.

New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the DMC which is a voluntary risk management tool that offers dairy producers financial protection when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by producers. Sign-up for the DMC begins June 17 through USDA's Farm Service Agency.

Farm Bill Tackles Feral Swine

Between funds authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and additional funds appropriated by Congress, USDA now has $30.5 million in fiscal 2019 to reduce feral swine damage to crops and land across 35 states. Wild hogs destroy anything in their path including crops, land, fencing, roads, wildlife and can spread disease to domestic pigs.

AG Workforce and Immigration

The agriculture community continues to push Congress to pass legislation that would assure producers access to sufficient, flexible, legal and dependable labor. The House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing in early April on the availability of farm labor to meet seasonal and year-round needs. There appears to be increased bipartisan support in the House for an agriculture-only workforce bill. But judging from past experience, there will be pressure to add a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries to any immigration legislation that makes it to the House floor. The more provisions that are added the less likely the bill is to pass. In the meantime, the Department of Labor is collaborating with USDA to streamline the H-2A visa application process for ag employers.

Conservation, Land and Water

Permanent conservation easements are generally presumed to benefit the natural environment, but their purpose and results can vary widely. For agriculture, they can be double-edged swords, protecting and preserving farming and ranching or, conversely, blocking some farm uses forever. House Agriculture Chairman Colin Peterson says he wants to review these easements with a common-sense approach "to think about what we're doing, why we're doing it, and what effects these easements have." Peterson intends to review all types of conservation easements as part of hearings on farm bill implementation. Most farmers and ranchers prefer working-land conservation initiatives rather than land-idling conservation programs.

Health Care

Dangers of Imported Drugs


The National Grange continues to alert members of the rural and small town communities about the dangers of taking imported non-FDA approved prescription drugs. The National Grange joined over 100 cosigners on a Partnership for Safe Medicines letter to the President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. The letter pointed out that historically, attempts to import drugs from "safe countries" like Canada result in Americans getting counterfeit, substandard or black market medication. These substandard substances are often transshipped from third world countries through Canada's free -trade zones but these drugs never enter the Canadian regulatory sphere to assure safety and efficacy for the patient.

Prescription Drug Rebates to Patients

The Department of Health and Human Services should finalize its proposed rule to reduce patients' out-of-pocket costs at the drug counter according to the National Grange. Currently, prescription rebates are negotiated between biopharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers aimed at lowering the net cost of medicines. Unfortunately, these rebates have been used to lower a plan's overall costs instead of lowering patients' out-of-pocket costs at the drug counter.

Telecommunications

Rural Broadband Maps Need Work


Maps that show broadband coverage in rural areas are not accurate. The Federal Communications Commission collects rural broadband data by census block. If just one home or business in an entire block has internet service, everyone in that block is counted as having service available. Rural census blocks cover large areas where a few miles can mean the difference between having broadband or not. During the April National Grange Fly-In, attendees met with Preston Wise, Special Counsel to FCC Chairman Pai, and urged the FCC to place a priority on upgrading rural broadband coverage maps.

Protect Online Privacy

Recent investigations reveal how mobile apps share personal, business, and location information with Facebook, Amazon, Google, and other, and that Facebook in particular stores incredible amounts of personal data on just about everyone. National Grange president Betsy Huber was featured recently in Washington's Morning Consult calling for Congress to establish a uniform national privacy standard for everyone on the internet. The Senate Judiciary, Senate Commerce, and House Energy and Commerce Committees have all held hearings on privacy and are urging prompt Hill action before states pass a patchwork of individual laws.

Trade

American farmers, ranchers, processors, vintners and bakers are losing sales to Japan as foreign competitors lock in new business under preferential trade pacts. Member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are seeing tariffs on their agricultural exports to Japan reduced for a second time. The United States withdrew from the TPP before ratification. As a result, U. S. wheat, beef, pork, dairy, wine, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and more are seeing their Japanese market share decline. The National Grange and other agriculture groups are asking the Administration to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Japan that restores access and expands markets for American producers.

Youth Call to Action

Would you lobby for agriculture's youth? Well, here's your chance. First, ask your U.S. Representative in Washington to cosponsor H.R. 1770, the Student Agriculture Protection Act, sponsored by bipartisan Representatives McCaul, Cuellar and Peterson. The bill exempts tax on the first $5,000 in proceeds from the sale of livestock or agricultural projects by FFA or 4-H participants. Second, ask your Representative to cosponsor an amendment to include Grange Youth in the bill. Let us know if you need the contacts for your Representative. Also please tell us if your Representative will cosponsor a Grange Youth amendment.

Perspective

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. ~ Mark Twain

To err is human, to forgive, divine. ~ Alexander Pope

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. ~ Nelson Mandela

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misconceptions. ~ Gerald G. Jampolsky

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

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

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April 2019



In this issue:

• MASTER'S MESSAGE
• DEAF ACTIVITIES GRANGE DEADLINE ALMOST UPON US
• YOUTH SELECTED FOR TRAINING TO TACKLE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
• NUMBER, BREADTH OF SERVICE HAS DIRECTOR "IN AWE"
• MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR SEEKING MEMBERS TO JOIN LEADERSHIP TEAM
• SUMMER INTERN OPPORTUNITY AT THE GRANGE!
• JUNIORS SPEARHEADING CAMPAIGN FOR KELLEY FARM
• PARTICIPATE IN VIRTUAL RACE TO BENEFIT GRANGE FOUNDATION
• CONGRATULATIONS TO GRANGES!

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.



Registration for the 153rd Annual Convention of the National Grange is now available. This year the Midwest Region will be hosting so please come and join your Grange friends from across the nation in Minneapolis, Minnesota November 5 - 9, 2019.

View Registration Information



Four California Students Win GIA Scholarships

Grange Insurance Association is pleased to announce that Stephanie Mills of Corning, Katlyn Lima of Dos Palos, Julianna Davey of Merced, and Jessica Allen of Redding, California were awarded Grange Insurance Association scholarships.

Each year Grange Insurance Association awards scholarships to qualified applicants. The applicant or their parents must be policyholders of Grange Insurance Association. Among the 49 applications received, 27 scholarships were awarded this year.

The quality of applicants was exceptionally high again this year and the Company is extremely pleased with the caliber of students who applied for our scholarships. It is always a difficult process to make the selections when all the applicants are so highly qualified. An announcement will be made in the late fall regarding the program for the following year, and we encourage you to watch this paper for information on the application process for next year’s program. Grange Insurance Association has made scholarships available since 1965. They may be used at any accredited school or college and are offered throughout GIA’s operating territory, which includes the states of California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Washington. The Home Office of Grange Insurance Association is in Seattle, WA.





In this issue:

NEWS


• Master’s Message
• Fundraising on the move for Grange Foundation
• Members benefit from various savings programs
• Items great for all members, Halls available from Supply Store
• Don’t forget to use our partner, Monroe Classic
• Big savings on computers offered to members for Grange Month
• Juniors, Subordinate members: You can still come to Fly-In!
• National Lecturer shares success story

RESOURCES


• Grange Foundation Virtual Race flyer
• Grange Revival Registration Form
• 2019 Theme One-Page Use Guide
• Grange Month Poster
• Good Day!™ Subscription Form

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.



In this issue:

• GOOD NEWS FOR GRANGE MONTH
• VIRTUAL RACE TO BENEFIT GRANGE FOUNDATION
• REGISTRATION NOW OPEN - NATIONAL SESSION 2019
• LEGISLATIVE FLY-IN REMINDER
• COMMUNICATION FELLOWS APPLICATION AVAILABLE
• GOOD DAY - SUBSCRIBE SOON!
• ESSENTIAL SAVINGS FOR GRANGE MEMBERS
• CONGRATULATIONS TO GRANGES!

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.

POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

MARCH 2019 WRAP-UP

Agriculture and Food

Politics Sidetrack Disaster Relief

Senators so far have failed to pass much-needed disaster aid to help farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes, floods, tornados and wildfires. The political divide is over how much money should go to support Puerto Rico's humanitarian crisis. The National Grange will continue to urge Congress to help farmers and ranchers rebound from these dire circumstances beyond their control.

Stress Down on the Farm

Storms, floods, low prices, labor shortages, uncertain credit for spring planting, and heavy workloads are causing significant strain on farmers', ranchers' and farm workers' mental and emotional well-being. The National Grange joined 22 other farm, ranch and rural organizations to ask the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Subcommittees on Agriculture Appropriations to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network for FY 2020. The Network provides grants for extension services, state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations and other entities to provide stress assistance programs to farmers, ranchers, farm workers and other agriculture-related occupations. Around 60% of rural residents live in areas that suffer from shortages of mental and emotional well-being professional services.

Selling CBD in Food is Illegal

CBD or cannabidiol derived from hemp is a non-intoxicating compound reputed to have numerous health benefits. CBD is being added to foods, beer, sauces and elixers. Restaurants promote their menus structured around CBD as an ingredient. Despite language in the 2018 Farm Bill allowing hemp to be grown as an agricultural crop, the Food and Drug Administration prohibits the addition of CBD to prepared foods. So, for now CBD in food and drink is illegal. FDA has scheduled a public meeting for May to receive input and has appointed an internal working group to explore how CBD could be sold legally in food, beverages and supplements.

Pesticide Residues in Vegetables and Fruits

According to the Environmental Working Group, strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines and apples top EWG's list of fresh foods with the highest levels of pesticide residues. The least residues were found in avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions and sweet peas. However, EWG did not reveal which food items, if any, had residues above the tolerance levels set by FDA.

FDA's Produce "Water Rule" Delayed

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) more than eight years ago. FDA, industry and outside scientists are still struggling to figure out the best way to ensure the water used for irrigation and packing fresh produce is safe. In response to producer concerns, FDA has decided to give produce farms two additional years to comply with the rule's segment on agriculture water requirements.

Beagles to the Rescue

Pork producers in the U.S. are depending on USDA's "Beagle Brigade" to keep the deadly African Swine Fever virus away from their pigs. ASF is a highly contagious fatal disease ripping through European and Asian pork production right now. There is no treatment or vaccine for it. These beagles are on duty at all international airports to aid in keeping diseases and pests out of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents and USDA beagles randomly screen arriving international passengers and cargo. The dog paws or sits near a bag or container to indicate the presence of an agricultural product. In March, a million pounds of pork products smuggled from China were seized at the Newark, N.J. airport. The pork was hidden in packages of noodles and laundry detergent. Since 2015, beagles have seized prohibited agricultural goods from an average of more than 137,000 travelers per year.

Health Care

Beware of Imported Drugs


The National Grange continues to take the lead to caution rural and small town residents about the little-known dangers of importing prescription drugs. The national watchdog group Partnership for Safe Medicines has partnered with the National Grange and scores of patient advocacy, medical, pharmacy, health care, law enforcement and consumer interest organizations to once again raise awareness of the dangers of importing non-FDA approved medications that could endanger the health and safety of our communities. In letters to President Trump, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives, the groups reiterated:
• Attempts to import drugs from "safe countries" like Canada could result in Americans getting counterfeit, substandard or black market medication
• There is no oversight, safety enforcement or FDA protection; Canada does not inspect, regulate or supervise transshipped medication that Canadian companies sell to Americans because these medications aren't entering the Canadian drug supply
• Counterfeiters are using Chinese-made fentanyl and it's coming into the U.S. freely
• For patients with serious conditions, counterfeit medicine with substandard or no active ingredient could be a death sentence
• Allowing importation is not the answer to the prescription drug price crisis in the United States

Several state Granges have been active on the imported drug issue with their state legislatures as well

Give Drug Rebates to Patients

The price of prescription drugs is a huge concern to just about everyone. Health and Human Services Secretary Azar has proposed changes to the Medicare Part D rebate distribution system that would require negotiated discounts on drugs to be shared with Medicare patients at point of sale. The National Grange joined a large number of patient groups and health care organizations on a letter of support for Secretary Azar's patient-centered proposal. The letter reiterated:
• Rebates for prescription drugs is a secretive process with middlemen reaping the benefits while patients are left holding the bill
• Prescription drug rebates are negotiated by biopharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers aimed at lowering the price of medicines. But unfortunately, Pharmacy Benefit Managers keep these discounts and use them to lower the plans' overall costs instead of lowering cost-sharing for patients who use the rebated medicines.
• The proposed rule would eliminate existing protection for rebates and permit manufacturers, PBM's and insurance plans to negotiate for discounts to be used to lower patient cost- sharing.

Immigration/AG Workforce

The dire need for ag labor nationwide is beginning to generate activity on Capitol Hill. Representatives Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Panetta (D-CA-20) are the original sponsors of H.R. 641 which is a companion bill to S. 175 sponsored by Senator Feinstein (D-CA). Lofgren is the new chair of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship which held a hearing on H.R.641 in late March. H.R. 641 is a stand-alone ag labor bill that that would establish an earned legalization program for undocumented farm workers who have been consistently employed in U.S. agriculture and meet other requirements. A majority of the nation's 2.4 million farm workers are undocumented.

Telecommunications

Value of Digital Tools to Rural America


A new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the digital potential of rural businesses could add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and create thousands of full time jobs in rural communities. The report indicates that:
• Adoption of online tools and digital services across rural areas could create more than 360,000 jobs in the next three years
• Increased adoption could grow annual revenues of rural small businesses by more than 21% over the next three years with states in the South seeing the greatest benefit
• Online tools and technology have the highest potential impact on rural small businesses with annual revenue under $100,000
• The report specifically recommends expanding education and training programs, helping rural areas attract talent, and increasing the availability of high-speed internet access and mobile phone connectivity

Use TV White Space to Deliver Broadband

The National Grange joined partners in the Connect Americans Now coalition to submit comments to USDA regarding the needs that must be addressed to ensure rural communities can survive and thrive in the modern economy. One of several options to close the rural broadband gap is to use the unlicensed vacant channels below 608 MHz, ie. the TV white space, to deliver broadband access to underserved rural areas in a cost effective manner.

Improve Broadband Data Maps

Data maps which the Federal Communications Commission uses to show the extent of broadband coverage across the landscape are inaccurate according to those who work and live in rural America. The FCC maps tend to overstate coverage in rural areas because if one customer in a census block has service, the Commission considers that census block provides service all customers in the area. Those assumptions lead to a vast overstatement of broadband availability to rural areas. Rural groups, agriculture organizations and members of Congress are asking the FCC to improve the accuracy of their broadband coverage and mobile data maps.

Fraudulent Robo-Calls

Robo-calls are annoying at the very least. Perhaps robo-calls are better described as an ever-worsening scourge. Block one today and more pop up tomorrow. That's why the National Grange issued a statement applauding AT&T and Comcast for their joint efforts to halt fraudulent robo-calls. The companies have completed a successful cross-network test of a new system to authenticate caller ID numbers. Once available to the public, the system will screen incoming calls by phone number to ensure the call is actually coming from the number shown. In Congress, both Republicans and Democrats appear ready to take steps toward cracking down on scammers who prey on consumers' phones. Hearings have already been scheduled before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Want Your Paper?

Some people prefer to get their bills, notices, reports, and the like the old fashioned way...on paper. That's why the National Grange is part of the Keep Me Posted North America group. The group advocates for the right of every consumer to choose, free of charge, how they receive important information from their service providers. Letters are sent to government agencies, companies and other entities who are switching customers from receiving paper copies to digital-only communications without receiving clear permission from their customers.

Perspective

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. ~ Francis Bacon

Nature grows her plants in silence and in darkness, and only when they have become strong do they put their heads above the ground. ~ Annie Besant

It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. ~ Mark Twain

I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent. ~ Publilius Syrus

A fool is known by his speech; and a wise man by his silence. ~ Pythagoras

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

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GRANGE MONTH 2019 IS HERE!

Brothers and Sisters,
It’s here! That most wonderful month, April – Grange Month! These 30 days we look forward to the whole year. Time for us to celebrate the greatest organization, The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.

We have a proud history of supporting, educating, advocating, and sometimes fighting for rural Americans. I hope that you have made plans to not only celebrate our 152nd year, but our continued efforts for improvement. Improvement in the skills, talents, and knowledge of our members, in making our communities better places to live, in providing common sense solutions to your State and Nation. In this time of extreme partisanship, incivility, and lack of respect for our fellow men and women, the Grange is needed more than ever.

Our traditions of civic involvement, open discussions of difficult issues, civility and respect for all, make Grange a valuable contributor to every community across America.

CLICK HERE TO GET GRANGE MONTH MATERIALS

This is the year that you must open the doors of your hall and welcome interested residents of your community, or step outside your hall and share the benefits of our Order with the good citizens that live nearby. We may often seem to be the best kept secret. We need to change that now!

As I talk with Grangers and others throughout our country, I find people who are interested and enthused about our organization. Youth and young adults seek opportunities to learn and improve themselves for better careers and better lives. Parents tell me of the challenges that society often places in the way of teaching their children American values. The newly retired are looking for places to give back or develop interests that they postponed during their careers. To all of these, the Grange is the solution – all they need is an invitation to be a part of our family. Please look at your community and invite some of these folks to join our organization this month. Share with them what your community Grange does and give them the opportunity to be part of our national organization. And most of all, celebrate and have fun!

Fraternally,

Betsy E. Huber
National Master


March 2019

HAVE YOU REGISTERED YET?
National Grange Legislative Fly-In 2019

There's Still Time

JOIN US APRIL 28 - MAY 1

Set your 2019 travel schedule to include a trip to Washington, D.C., for the National Grange Legislative Fly-In. Join Brothers and Sisters from around the nation to promote Grange policy priorities and get advocacy training so you can better present your community’s concerns to elected officials and their staff.

Legislative Fly-In Schedule

Sunday, April, 28
• Arrival and check-ln
• Evening mix and mingle dessert social at the hotel

Monday, April 29
• Issue briefings and speakers at the National Grange
• Agency visits
• Congressional Capitol Hill appointments

Tuesday, April, 30
• Congressional Capitol Hill appointments
• Late day/evening departures for some

Wednesday, May 1
• Finish Congressional Capitol Hill appointments
• Return home

Lodging: Quality Inn, 1587 Spring Hill Road, Vienna, VA 22182. Call the hotel at (703) 448-8020 to make your reservation by April 1. Book Now!

Register Now! Click here to Register



In this issue:

NEWS:
• Grange Youth energized by Ag Day
• Grange Month is Coming. Share!
• Attendees enjoy Mid-Atlantic Conference
• Juniors encouraged to lead charge in Kelley Farm Fundraiser
• Members benefit from nearly half-off discount on computers
• Membership Director seeks regional assistants
• New Mission Statement Poster hot off the presses, for sale
• Reminders about sale items from Supply Store, Monroe Classic
• Time winding down to register for Legislative Fly-In
• National Lecturer provides overview


RESOURCES:
• REV 2019 Quilt Block Contest and Form
• Quilt Raffle and Grange Mercantile Info
• 2019 Theme One-Page Use Guide
• Grange Values Ad
• Grange Month Poster
• Toolkit: Grange Inventory
• 1 in 1,000 Club Membership Form
• Esto Perpetua: Giving Form
• Evening of Excellence Poster
• Good Day!™ Subscription Form

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.

POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

FEBRUARY 2019 WRAP-UP

Agriculture and Food

Farm Bill Implementation

Despite the recent 35-day government shutdown that halted work on the new farm bill, USDA is about ready to announce the timeline for implementing revisions to programs. The legislation made relatively small changes to the 2014 farm bill and is generally considered "farmer friendly" by producers. At the farm bill listening session in Washington February 26, USDA was pressed to act quickly on dairy and conservation provisions. The Farm Service Agency expects Dairy Margin Coverage signup to begin June 17 with payments starting as soon as July 8.

Protein Demand

The demand for plant and animal protein food products shows no sign of letting up. With steadily rising incomes, especially in developing countries, consumers appear to want more and more protein-laden foods. Trend-watchers are betting on robust growth in production and consumption both in the U.S. and worldwide. These pundits also look for a spectrum of cultural diets, nutrition and health concerns, and animal welfare to continue their mixed influences on demand for high-protein foods.

Support for Wildlife Services

The National Grange joined over 200 farmer and rancher, landowner, hunter, aviation, wildlife management and state government groups to support continued funding for USDA's Wildlife Services. The groups gave examples to the House Appropriations Committee leadership of the need for an effective Wildlife Services presence where wildlife control is necessary. Wildlife damage to fruits, vegetables, crops and livestock has reached almost $1 billion annually. The spread of wildlife-borne disease to humans, livestock and other wildlife is a growing concern.

Food Stamps in Limelight Again

Just two months after the farm bill food stamp/SNAP debate was settled, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that at least $1 billion in food stamp benefits are fraudulently used. GAO found many stores were "selling" cash instead of food. For example, a store might give a person $50 in exchange for $100 in benefits then pocket the difference. GAO has given the Food and Nutrition Service which administers the program several concrete recommendations to crack down on SNAP fraud.

Conservation/Environment

EPA Pushing States to Address Nutrient Problems

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking states to tackle nutrient contamination in water which has become an increasingly visible issue in farm country. EPA and USDA are seeking input from states on water quality solutions to mitigate excess nitrogen, phosphorous and nutrients from livestock manure.

Bipartisan Support for Major Land Conservation Bill

By a bipartisan vote of 363-62 the House has approved sweeping public lands legislation that designates more than a million acres of wilderness for environmental protection (prohibits all development and the use of most motorized vehicles), numerous conservation measures and permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Under the Fund, fossil-fuel companies, rather than taxpayers, cover a major portion of protecting public lands.

Revised Definition of "Waters of the United States"

The EPA and Corps of Engineers are inviting public comment on a proposed rule to more closely define the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The agencies propose to interpret the term "waters of the United States" to encompass traditional navigable waters, tributaries that that contribute perennial or intermittent flow to such waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, and wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters. The agencies propose as a baseline concept that all waters are not "waters of the United States". Farmers, ranchers, landowners and many others see the proposal as a major improvement over the original WOTUS rule.

Health Care

Concerns About Imported Drugs

The National Grange is leading a nationwide coalition to raise concern about federal and state initiatives to import prescription drugs. Grangers depend upon accessible, affordable, effective and safe prescription drugs. Cheaper prescription drugs delivered by mail from Canada seem like a perfect answer to their needs, right? No, not really. Counterfeit and possibly dangerous drugs via this route are a distinct possibility. The Grange is particularly concerned about the safety and effectiveness of counterfeit drugs produced in third world countries and transshipped through multiple other countries before they reach American patients. To make matters worse, Canada says it has no regulatory responsibility to assure the safety and effectiveness of these transshipped prescription drugs coming into America.

Give Drug Rebates Directly to Patients

HHS Secretary Azar has proposed a major change to the drug purchasing and rebate system. His plan calls for prescription drug discounts by drug makers to be offered directly to patients instead of insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers. National Grange President Betsy Huber issued a statement stressing that the proposed rule gets the middlemen out of the way and will lower prescription drug costs for those with chronic conditions. "We look forward to working with Secretary Azar and his team to assure rural America actually does see lower drug costs and does receive better access to treatment."

Public Wary of "Medicare for All"

According to a Hill-HarrisX poll released in February, just thirteen percent of respondents want "Medicare for all" if it means the end of private insurance. Respondents were clearly saying the health care system is broken to some degree but there was not consensus around how to fix it. Health care policy is proving to be challenging for both political parties.

Private Care Proposed for Vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs has released proposals to determine whether a veteran gets treatment from the VA or the private sector. Under the "designated access standards" proposal, the VA wants to set a 30-minute drive time standard, or a 20-day wait-time standard for primary care, mental health and non-institutional extended care. This proposal is in line with National Grange policy and is an important step for rural and small town veterans who may be located long distances from VA facilities.

Immigration/AG Workforce

The dire need for agricultural labor is beginning to get more attention in Washington. USDA continues to work on a plan to allow farmers to apply for H-2A foreign labor through USDA rather than the Department of Labor. California's Representative Jimmy Panetta and Senator Diane Feinstein have co-sponsored a "Blue Card" bill to provide agriculture a more stable workforce which provides a pathway to citizenship. The National Grange works closely with the Ag Workforce Coalition which is pushing for:

• An available, dependable and legal ag labor supply
• A "Card" that allows workers to enter the country legally to work in agriculture
• Modification of the H-2A program to be more timely, more responsive and less burdensome.
• Creation of a program to allow trained and skilled ag workers (milkers, machinery operators, animal care workers, managers, etc.) to stay longer.

Infrastructure

The National Grange joined 240 cosigner members of the Rebuild Rural Coalition on a letter to Senate and House leadership encouraging Congress to move quickly to pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen our nation's infrastructure. The letter highlighted rural broadband expansion, safe drinking water, reliable roads, bridges, inland waterways, ports, railroads, rural health care and more.

Telecommunications

Federal Privacy Law Needed

A new internet privacy law with a single, uniform standard for the internet will provide clarity for millions of online users who value their privacy, according to National Grange President Betsy Huber in an editorial in the February 13 Morning Consult. Lawmakers across party lines recognize the need to give internet users better protections to oversee companies that collect and use their personal online information. Congressional action on a uniform privacy standard for all internet companies should come quickly. Already this issue is percolating in state legislatures and individual state action could lead to continued confusion among consumers as they engage in daily online activities.

Rural Broadband Providers Get More Time to Apply.

USDA has given telecommunications companies until late May to apply for its Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program. Congress has awarded $1.1 billion for the pilot. These investments are expected to prioritize projects that deploy broadband infrastructure to rural areas which will expand both the availability and speed of rural broadband service.

Perspective

I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light. ~ Helen Keller

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. ~ Thomas Aquinas

Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. ~ George Washington

The better part of one's life consists of his friendships. ~ Abraham Lincoln

A friend is one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden. ~ Unknown

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE NATIONAL GRANGE FLY-IN

Mark your calendars for April 28-May 1, 2019 and come to Washington during a beautiful time of year for the annual National Grange Fly-In. We'll hear from issue experts, deliver Grange policy to government agencies and the Hill, and meet with Senators and Congressmen. Visit the National Grange website to more details.

REGISTER NOW!

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

Download the Latest Newsletter


February 2019



In this issue:

NEWS:
• Master's Message
• Annual Masters' Conference yields great results
• 3 new benefits will save members big in tech, shipping, tickets
• Guest Column: How do we fix Dairy?
• New Jersey member interns at National HQ
• Letter to Editor: Book answers questions I didn't know I had
• National Lecturer provides overview
• Sign-up to Attend Mid-Atlantic Leaders Conference

RESOURCES:
• Grange Revival Registration Form
• REV 2019 Quilt Block Contest and Form
• Quilt Raffle and Grange Mercantile Info
• 2019 Theme One-Page Use Guide
• Grange Values Ad
• Grange Month Poster
• Toolkit: Grange Inventory
• 1 in 1,000 Club Membership Form
• Esto Perpetua: Giving Form
• Evening of Excellence Poster
• Good Day!™ Subscription Form

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.


Come help us celebrate the life of Johnny Alberto Squire on his beloved family ranch.

Spring and cotton planting season was one of his favorite times of the year.

Please wear comfortable clothes in a shade of blue. A Grange memorial service is scheduled for 2 PM. We plan to be serving favorite foods and pieces of chocolate cake, possibly with chocolate ice cream.

Please join us as friends, family, and "framily" (friends so close they are family). This is a celebration so "ya'll come" if you can.

Saturday, April 6, 2019
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Squire Family Ranch
47598 Coalinga Mineral Springs Rd, Coalinga, CA

Click Here to RSVP via Facebook


Lee Geiger
1935 - 2019



Dear Grange Brothers and Sisters,

Our Brother Leland "Lee" Geiger, past California State Grange Deputy, Past Master of Subordinate and Pomona Granges, Past State Grange Gatekeeper, and husband of State Grange Chaplain, Barbara Geiger, passed from this earth on on January 20, 2019.

Brother Lee was a stalwart member of the Grange and worked diligently at any task set to him. He did beautiful woodwork and made gavels for the State Grange Masters. He will be missed.

Arrangements are pending for a celebration of life. We send love and comfort to Sister Barbara and their family.

California State Grange - Child Protection Policy

Background Clearance Reminder

Hello Grange Brothers and Sisters, As a reminder, the California State Grange By-Laws require background checks for all adults (18 and over) working IN ANY CAPACITY with our Grange Youth and Junior-age members, under the age of 18.

Article VIII, Section 8.5.8 Special Requirements; Background Checks - It shall be a requirement that a background check shall be required for any appointments where the members’ duties will require any supervision of any Youth or Junior Members, under the age of 18.

If you are a Grange Leader for Youth, Junior, Fair, Project, Advisor, Committee member, or Officer, etc., please click the link below to request access for a background check. The cost for the background clearance is approximately $20.00. All of your personal identifying information is securely held by the background company and not by the California State Grange. If you hold multiple positions i.e. Youth Fair Leader and Project Leader, only one background clearance is required for all Grange positions. If you are cleared by your profession or another volunteer organization, a Grange background clearance is still required. Backgrounds cannot be shared between employment or volunteer organizations.

If you have any questions, please contact Lillian Booth, State Grange Secretary, at 916-454-5808 or lbooth@CAStateGrange.org.

Thank you.



Open Background Access Request Form

POLICY UPDATES AND ISSUE NEWS

JANUARY 2019 WRAP-UP

Agriculture and Food

The Shutdown


The federal government partial shutdown has ended...for now. The longest shutdown in history is over until February 15 to give all parties the opportunity to negotiate a compromise on border security, security for Dreamers, and other immigration issues. This was called a partial shutdown because FY19 funding for some agencies had cleared Congress but funding for others had not. Many agencies of government that producers and rural residents depend upon were shuttered for over a month and employees were furloughed. Employees considered "essential" were expected to work during the shutdown. These included meat inspectors, TSA employees, safety and security personnel and the like. Lights were out in local Farm Service (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) offices but Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) employees remained on the job using surplus funds from last year's budget; this scenario is raising questions on Capitol Hill. SNAP recipients not only received their January benefits but are getting their February benefits early. This was made possible by an obscure provision in the now-expired (December 21) continuing resolution that allowed SNAP and child nutrition programs to use funds within 30 days of the CR's expiration. Market and economic reports were suspended but care for plants and animals at research facilities continued. Most economists reported the shutdown had a large negative effect in the nation's economy. Bipartisan lawmakers with reputations as "Deal Makers" from the House and Senate began meeting January 30 to seek a deal on border security that would prevent a second shutdown this year.

FSA Deadlines Extended

The Farm Service Agency has now extended program deadlines such as:

• Marketing Assistance Loans - February 14
• Market Facilitation - February 14
• Emergency Conservation - February 14
• Livestock Forage Disaster - February 28
• Emergency Assistance (livestock, honey bees, farm-raised fish) - February 14
• Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance - February 14
• Tree Assistance - February 14
• Acreage Reporting for Honey - February 14

A New Quarterback and Lots of Rookies

Colin Peterson (D-MN), the new chairman but seasoned veteran of the House Agriculture Committee, has a new Democratic majority that's nearly half newcomers. That's not all bad, but his chairman's role will include lots of educating. The new Democrats are Axne (IA-3), Brindishi (NY-22), Carbajai (CA-24), Harder (CA-10), Cox (CA-21), Craig (MN-2), Delgado (NY-19), Hayes (CT-2), Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Schrier (WA-8), Spanberger (VA-7) and Van Drew (NJ-2). New Republicans on the Ag Committee are Johnson (SD-All), Baird (IN-4), and Hagedorn (MN-1).

Regulatory Preview

What are the major agriculture regulatory challenges facing producers during 2019? Here are a few top-of -mind issues from across agriculture:
• Revised WOTUS rule. The "Waters of the US" proposed rule as revised is meant to replace the 2015 regulation that has been so controversial among landowners. The proposal attempts to clarify how EPA and The Corps distinguish between intermittent and ephemeral streams and allows states to claim jurisdiction over waters unclaimed by EPA and the Corps.
• Plant-based "milk". Grange policy supports the definition on the books at FDA that milk is the product of a lactating animal and wants FDA to enforce that regulation.
• "Healthy" definition. The food industry has long used the term "healthy" as a free-wheeling marketing tactic without having to define what healthy means. FDA will be proposing a rule that would require healthy claims to reflect current scientific and dietary guidelines.
• Produce safety. FDA is proposing to clarify when certain requirements of the Produce Safety Act do not apply. This should help the Grange's smaller produce growers.
• Cell-cultured meat. USDA and FDA have agreed to share regulatory oversight of lab grown meat. The agencies plan to issue regulatory guidance documents in coming months which the Grange will monitor closely. Bull Market Ending for Farm Land?

One dependable indicator of a farm's financial situation is a comparison between debt and the income available to service that debt. Farm debt in 2013 was $315 billion; today it is $409 billion. Net farm income in 2013 was $123 billion; last year net farm income was $66 billion. Interest rates are climbing making other investments more attractive than farm land. These appear to be warning signs of a possible slowdown for the farm land market.

Health Care

Opioids Remain a Rural Problem


The good news is that opioid prescribing rates are falling significantly. The bad news is that the percentage of patients prescribed an opioid is higher in rural than in urban areas according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose is the leading cause of nonintentional injury-associated death in the United States. Higher rates of opioid deaths have been recorded in rural areas. In 2017, 14 rural counties were among the 15 counties nationwide with the highest opioid prescribing rates. Patients in rural counties had an 87% higher chance of receiving an opioid prescription compared with persons in urban counties.

Rural Elderly Care Challenges

People 65 years old and older make up over 14 percent of the country's population. That same population is responsible for 34 percent of health care-related spending, according to the National Rural Health Association. But here's an even more sobering statistic: every day more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old and one in four of those seniors live in rural or small town areas. Major challenges to future care of these seniors are rural hospital closures, nursing home closures and qualified staffing shortages. Infrastructure is another challenge as rural and small town areas struggle to provide health clinics, safe and affordable housing, and high speed broadband internet to connect with telemedicine, tele-education and more. Most elderly people in rural and small town America want to age in place at home in their community. Some elder care groups suggest that one way to address the scarcity of services is for providers to diversify and provide medical attention, assisted living, home care, meals and transportation through one organization.

National Grange Files Comments

The National Grange joined several patient groups to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at HHS to consider the success of Part D and Medicare Advantage as the agency prepares proposals to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The current program has successfully provided beneficiaries with access to prescription drugs and self-administered drugs. While the National Grange supports CMS' goal to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, the Grange is concerned that proposed policy changes generally favor health plans rather than focusing on patient care and program transparency. The Grange also expressed opposition to proposed step therapy because it would be an impediment to prescribed therapy, particularly for patients who require timely and personalized Part B medications.

Immigration/AG Workforce

Green Card or Blue Card


Older farmers and ranchers remember the "Green Card" that allowed workers to legally enter the U.S. for short term employment. They contend it worked well and should never have been discontinued. Now, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA 2) have introduced legislation to create a similar "Blue Card" program. Their bill enjoys a large number of cosponsors. It would provide the agriculture industry with a more stable workforce and allow an eventual path to citizenship. The National Grange will push for hearings but remains skeptical that Congress has the will allow ag workforce legislation to pass without holding it hostage to other immigration issues.

Three Big Immigration Issues Congress Can Tackle

Michael Wildes is the mayor of Englewood, N.J. and managing partner of Wildes and Weinberg P.C. specializing in immigration law. Wildes laments the fact that immigration reform has eluded all efforts at reform for a generation. But the system is in dire need of reform he says. Here are three big immigration items he suggests Congress tackle:

• Upgrade Immigration Courts. Immigration courts are small, overcrowded, and places where judges hand out trial dates two and three years in the future. He says hiring more immigration judges and restoring a level of autonomy to trial attorneys would go a long way to alleviating the excessive court backlogs.
• Legalize Dreamers. These are legal recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and have lived here continuously since 2007. They are 800,000 students, college graduates, professionals and parents. They have been granted permission to work, attend school and live in the U.S., but if they leave, they cannot reenter.
• Address Root Causes of Central American Refugees. Wildes says the fundamental cause of our Central American refugee crisis is the violence and instability in their home countries. He favors cooperation with law enforcement in those countries, improving economic conditions through foreign investment, free trade agreements, and volunteer initiatives.

Telecommunications

More Rural Broadband Funding


The Senate-House conference committee on USDA appropriations has awarded $550 million in additional funds to a rural broadband loan and grant program created by Congress last year with an initial appropriation of $600 million. Projects must serve communities of less than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10/1 Mbps.

Bridging the Rural Broadband Gap

A recent editorial in the Washington Examiner by National Grange President Betsy Huber applauded the Federal Communications Commission for its leadership toward closing the rural-urban digital divide. She then suggested the FCC make two changes to enhance rural efforts. The first is better data collection accuracy in rural areas which should be far different compared to urban areas. The second is to allow providers to wirelessly deliver broadband to rural communities using unused spectrum between broadcast television stations.

Check Your State Laws

Your state might need to update its laws to better compete for the new $1.15 billion USDA funding for rural broadband projects and grants. Some states restrict rural electric cooperatives to only provide electric services to customers. In these states, such laws may have to be changed to allow electric co-ops to deliver broadband service or create public-private partnerships with rural telephone cooperatives.

Perspective

The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them everlasting gratitude. ~ Jeff Miller

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. ~ Eckhart Tolle

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things he has not but rejoices for those which he has. ~ Epictetus

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses. ~ Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated. ~ William James

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

Download This Newsletter


January 2019



In this issue:

NEWS:
• Time is now to register for Grange Revival 2019
• National Grange Fly-in Registration Now Open
• Use Grange Theme All Year, Following Guidelines Very Important
• Membership Department provides Planning Tool
• 2 Deadlines Fast Approaching for Youth Opportunities
• Sign-up to Attend Mid-Atlantic Leaders Conference
• New Grange Radio Programming Hits the Air
• Updates made to Grange in Action Program
• Mascot for Community Service Department Introduced
• National Lecturer provides Revised 2019 Quilt Block Info


RESOURCES:
• Grange Revival Registration Form
• REV 2019 Quilt Block Contest and Form
• 2019 Theme One-Page Use Guide
• NEW Grange Values Ad
• Grange Month Poster
• Toolkit: Grange Inventory
• 1 in 1,000 Club Membership Form
• Esto Perpetua: Giving Form
• Grange Food Security Survey
• Good Day!™ Subscription Form

Click here to download the entire issue of the Patrons Chain.



Jan Saxton joined the Grange in 2003 when she moved to the tiny town of Aromas on the Central Coast. The Aromas Grange had reorganized around 1999/2000 and it was an active, happening place. When Jan first moved to Aromas her mom told her she had to go to the monthly Grange pancake breakfast. Through the folks she met there, she volunteered to help with an auction on her first Aromas Day, which turned out to be a fundraiser for the Aromas Grange’s scholarship fund. It was a very successful fundraiser—in more ways than one. It was through the scholarship auction that she met her sweetheart and partner for fifteen years, Rich Saxe. Through her relationship with Rich, who was President at the time, she became deeply involved with the Aromas Grange.

After helping to build the Aromas Grange into a thriving organization, with a growing membership and lots of popular events and activities, Rich and Jan served for two years as State Membership Directors under State Grange President Randy Lewis. In that capacity they reached out to as many Granges as they could, traveling around our beautiful state, meeting with folks and encouraging them to open their halls and invite their communities to join them. One of Jan’s particular passions is encouraging new Grangers to come to Convention and encouraging all Granges to send delegates every year. She believes that experiencing the State Convention and participating in the degree work really deepens a member’s understanding of the Grange, how it works and what it stands for. Besides, how often do you get to experience true participatory democracy in action?

Jan served two terms as President of the Aromas Grange, during which she forged a relationship with the Community Foundation for Monterey County. A fundraising grant from the Community Foundation led to a successful capital campaign and a new—and much needed—commercial kitchen for the Aromas Grange Hall. Jan is looking forward to sharing what she learned from their professional fundraising consultant with anyone who wants to learn to raise more money. She is a Past Vice President, a Past Executive Committee Member and currently is the Chaplain. She is Director of the Teressie White Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the Aromas Grange’s scholarship fund. Before moving to Aromas, Jan raised her four sons in Carmel Valley, California, where she volunteered at the local elementary school, the scouts, and the Little League. When her sons were all in school, Jan went back to college and graduated from UCSC with a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies in 1998.

As Vice President of the CSG, Jan is looking forward to traveling the state again to visit as many Granges and meet up with as many Grangers as possible. She is grateful for all the people involved with the Grange and the work they have done for generations to keep our organization alive and our halls standing. One of the things Jan likes best about the Grange is that it is a place where we can get to know people with very different opinions and perspectives than our own, work side by side, and become friends with them. In these times, she believes that is an especially valuable thing. We don’t have to agree on stuff to become friends with folks, we just have to be friendly.



The California State Grange and Orangevale Grange invite all to a CELEBRATION OF LIFE for our brother, Ed Komski

Please bring photos, stories, and your instruments to play music. Ed loved nothing better than a good jam session of musicians, laughing and playing together. Ed's favorite dessert was sprinkle-covered cupcakes

Come and share in a very special day full of love, memories, music, laughter, and sprinkles.

Saturday, January 26, 2019
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Orangevale Grange Hall
5807 Walnut, Orangevale, CA

Contact Lillian Booth, California State Grange Secretary, 916-454-5808 with any questions.

Hope to see you there,
Kent Westwood,
Master/President California State Grange

View On Google Maps


DECEMBER 2018 WRAP-UP

Overview

The first session of the 116th Congress opens the first week of January. Democrats control the House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) as Speaker. The Senate continues to be controlled by Republicans with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Majority Leader. The federal government continues in a partial shutdown mode because of a stalemate between President Trump and Democrats over funding for the border wall and several other immigration issues. The shutdown affects several unfunded departments and agencies including USDA, EPA, and Interior. Locally, agencies such as county Farm Service Agency offices have closed, new rural development and other grants and loans are suspended, research facilities except for care for animals and plants are closed, and economic and statistical reports will not be issued. However, USDA's Market News Service will continue to operate. On other fronts, protecting Medicare Part B and Part D are ongoing Grange initiatives; rural broadband continues to expand; cable programming may need some safeguards

Farm Bill

Legislation Becomes Law


In December, the new farm bill passed with huge bipartisan majorities in the Senate (87-13) and House (369-47). Following its passage, National Grange President Betsy Huber issued the following statement: "America's farmers, ranchers and landowners have a reasonable, balanced, common-sense $867 billion farm bill headed to the President's desk today. The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by a vote of 87-13 and in the House by 369-47. The package now gives much needed multi-year certainty to commodity programs, crop insurance, conservation, farm loans, beginning farmers and ranchers, SNAP assistance, nutrition programs, foreign markets promotion and more. It also establishes a new Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank. "I want to thank Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Minority member Debbie Stabenow for their bipartisan leadership to get this done. Both have proven themselves worthy to have named National Grange Champions of Rural America (Stabenow in 2017 and Roberts in 2018)".

Trade

USDA's four trade promotion programs were funded at $251.5 million per year.

Commodity Programs
  • Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage are similar to the 2014 farm bill with several enhancements on reference prices and yield data
  • Loan rates are increased substantially
  • The new Dairy Margin Coverage Program builds on the recent Margin Protection Program passed in February by reducing premiums on the first 5 million pounds of production (about 240 cows) and raises the top margin coverage from $8 per hundredweight to $9.50
  • Does not set payment limits on eligibility for commodity program payments

Conservation
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program has increased funding; the Conservation Stewardship Program has reduced funding but is preserved as a standalone program
  • Conservation Reserve Program enrollment is increased from 24 million acres to 27 million acres
  • The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is now a standalone with its own rules separate from other conservation programs from which it was previously funded

Nutrition
  • Additional work requirements and tightened eligibility requirements were omitted from the final Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provision; governors will be required to approve state agency applications to USDA for waivers from the existing work requirements
  • The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program is given permanent funding and is renamed the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program for the former USDA Undersecretary and Grange member from Massachusetts

Credit
Farm loan limits on operating and ownership loans are increased ($1.75 million on guaranteed operating and ownership loans; $600,000 on direct ownership loans; direct operating loans are raised to $400,000).

Rural Development

  • Provides permanent authority and rules for the $600 million rural broadband grant and loan program created by the fiscal 2018 spending bill.
  • Prioritizes funding for projects to combat opioid addiction and authorizes a 33 percent increase in grants under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program

Research

Funding is increased for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative

Forestry

Renews the categorical exclusion that allows diseased and insect infested trees to be removed from government forests.

Energy

Renews the authorization but reduces the funding for bioenergy programs.

Horticulture

  • Legalizes the production of industrial hemp
  • Creates a new Local Agriculture Market Program
  • Creates a new Urban, Indoor and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education and Extension Initiative
  • Maintains funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants
  • Authorizes USDA to require additional documentation for shipments from abroad under the National Organic Program

Crop Insurance

  • Hemp is made eligible for crop insurance
  • Discounts for beginning farmers and ranchers are extended to 10 years from the current 5 years under Whole Farm Revenue Protection
  • New policies will be researched by USDA to cover crops affected by hurricanes and tropical storms

Miscellaneous


  • Creates and funds a new Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program that includes a new Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank
  • Creates a new Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program
  • Requires the President to nominate an undersecretary for rural development

Waters of the United States

In early December, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released their highly anticipated proposal to replace the definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) which determines the scope of waters and wetlands that fall under the federal Clean Water Act. The proposal would eliminate ephemeral streams (those created by rainfall and snowmelt) from federal jurisdiction, tighten guidelines for when other streams and wetlands are considered for federal protection, exclude ditches unless they contribute flow to a "waters of the U.S", exclude farm ponds, log cleaning ponds and cooling ponds, and require wetlands to be physically connected to other jurisdictional waters to fall within the scope of WOTUS. Farmers, ranchers, landowners, builders, and other businesses welcomed the new definition while several conservation and environmental groups were critical. The proposed rule is subject to a 60-day comment period. If the rule becomes final, it is almost certain to face legal challenges.

Disclosure of Bioengineered Foods

USDA has announced the Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard to require food manufacturers, importers, and certain retailers to identify foods that are or may be bioengineered. The standard defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.

SNAP Changes Proposed

Late in December, USDA issued a proposed rule to significantly amend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the first time in 22 years. The proposed change would prevent states from getting waivers from work and job training requirements unless their unemployment rate is at least 7 percent. The proposed rule is subject to a 60-day public comment period and will likely face legal challenges if enacted.

Antibiotics Use in Livestock Falls by a Third

Usage of medically important antibiotics in food production has fallen sharply according to the Food and Drug Administration. Antimicrobials important to human health are no longer allowed to be used for growth promotion purposes in livestock and may only be obtained through a veterinarian's order to treat sick animals.

Health Care

Medical Device Tax

The National Grange joined a large group of patient advocates to call for permanent repeal of the medical device tax in a letter to Senate and House leadership. New medical technology discoveries are critical to diagnosing and treating disease and conditions that significantly impact patients' lives. Since the tax is levied on revenues, not profits, it is particularly challenging for smaller companies which make up 80 percent of the industry and are the source of much innovation.

Protect Medicare Part D

Because Part D is so important to Grange members, the National Grange joined other patient groups in a letter to Congress opposing any proposal that would repeal the program's non-interference clause. The clause states that manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurance companies must negotiate directly to reach the lowest possible prices for prescription medications.

Medicare Part B Demonstration Questioned

The National Grange has urged Senate and House leaders to question a potentially harmful Medicare Part B demonstration by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The proposed CMS International Pricing Index demonstration would import foreign-based price controls regardless of value or innovation and interjects new middlemen between physicians and patients with complex life-threatening conditions.

Telecommunications

Rural Veterans Need the Lifeline Program

The National Grange filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission to support access to affordable rural broadband for the 24 percent of America's veterans who live in rural America. The filing urged the FCC to preserve no-cost Lifeline offerings, implement the National Verifier in a common sense, straight-forward way, and reexamine the minimum standard regulations that could lead to the elimination of no-cost Lifeline services.

Binding Arbitration for Comcast/NBCUniversal

The National Grange wrote the chairmen and ranking minority members of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law regarding the expiring terms of the Comcast/NBCU merger. The Grange suggested that binding arbitration be required to settle program access disputes, that sensible safeguards are necessary to protect consumer prices and assess to programming, and that protections for independent programmers be established.

Raising the Bar for Rural Broadband

The USDA will now require its rural broadband projects to provide access speeds of at least 25 megabits per second upload and 3 megabits per second download as mandated in the new farm bill. Funded projects must serve communities of less than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10/I Mbps. Projects will compete for $600 million provided by Congress earlier this year.

Perspective

"I don't know what's more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you're doing". ~ Jim Gaffigan

"Family: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space". ~ Evan Esar

"Parents are the only ones obligated to love you; from the rest of the world you had to earn it". ~ Ann Brashares

"Never lend your car to someone to whom you have given birth". ~ Erma Bombeck

"A man travels the world over to in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it". ~ George Moore

Feedback and questions are welcome. Call Burton Eller, at (202) 628-3507 ext. 114 or email beller@nationalgrange.org

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FEDERAL COURT ASSIGNS ALL GUILD DUES TO THE GRANGE

As you may recall, Judge Shubb sanctioned the California Guild in 2016 for its “deliberate and willful” violation of his injunction prohibiting it from using the “Grange” name. The Guild initially paid that sanctions award using charitable Grange funds held by the California Grange Foundation and Grange trust funds held in the California State Grange’s asset management account at Morgan Stanley that was subject to Judge Brown’s preliminary injunction. To keep the National Grange from realizing that the sanctions were being paid with Grange funds, the Guild routed those monies through the bank account of its now-disqualified attorneys at the Ellis Law Group.

When it learned last year of the true source of this laundered money, the National Grange moved to set aside the judgment and reinstate the sanctions award. Judge Shubb granted the motion and reinstated a sanctions award of $102,707.78. The National Grange thereafter filed a motion for an order assigning all dues payments and loan repayments that the Guild is set to receive from its local chapters until the outstanding sanctions award is paid in full.

On January 2, 2019, Judge Shubb entered an order granting the motion and assigning all payments to the National Grange. In particular, Judge Shubb ordered that:
  »1. All membership dues due to [the Guild] now or in the future from the local chapters … are hereby assigned to [the National Grange] to the extent necessary to satisfy the court’s post judgment order (Docket No. 235);
  »2. All payments due to [the Guild] now or in the future pursuant to loans defendant made to the local chapters … are hereby assigned to the extent necessary to satisfy the court’s post judgment order.
  »3. [The Guild] is hereby enjoined from assigning, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of the payments discussed in (1) and (2) to any other person or entity until it has satisfied the court’s post judgment order.
  »4. Counsel for [the National Grange] shall serve a copy of this Order on the local chapters.

So what does this assignment order mean? If your Grange is in good standing and is making payments to the California State Grange, nothing changes. But if you are a member of a group that has been making payments to the Guild, expect to receive a letter from the National Grange’s lawyer enclosing Judge’s Order. I urge you to read it closely and follow it to the letter. If you have any doubts about what is required, please consult with a non-conflicted attorney so that you fully understand your legal obligations. Given the Guild’s past behavior (which resulted in the sanctions award in the first place), the court is unlikely to look kindly at violations of its latest order.

After over six years of litigation, the lawsuits against the Guild are wrapping up. Both the state and the federal courts have delivered resounding victories to the Grange and made clear that the rules of our Order have meaning and will be enforced in California. Continued litigation is not going to change things at this late stage – it is just going to line the lawyers’ pockets. The California State Grange continues to move to restore our Order, and is actively assisting Granges throughout the state as they rebuild. If your Grange would like to move forward with the rest of the Order and return to good standing, please contact me or Lillian Booth. The California State Grange stands ready to help in any way we can.

We always encourage everybody to read the actual court documents for themselves, but this one in particular is worth a read.

Click here to read full order.




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