Alaska Farm Bureau News                                                                 June 2020

A Note from Your Executive Director


Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe and having a wonderful start to summer! This year is shaping up to be one that has more and more Alaskans thinking and talking about the need to have a robust agriculture industry in Alaska and realizing just how vulnerable our food system is. Help us spread the word that Alaska's farmers need to be supported EVERYDAY not just during a crisis.
The Governor reopened Alaska's businesses while monitoring Coronavirus case numbers. With reopening businesses, there are still some mandates in place and recommendations to keep the spread of COVID down. 

There is still a 14-day quarantine mandated for anyone traveling into Alaska; if your farm has workers traveling in be sure and file your protocol with the state at .

Whether you have workers traveling in or locals working, its smart to have a worker safety plan in place, you can find some great information through UC Davis and PA Dept of Ag.
We will continue to see impacts of COVID 19 throughout the year, we at the Alaska Farm Bureau are confident Alaska will be the stronger for it. One impact we're seeing is the decision to not hold the Alaska State Fair - we'll be looking forward to attending next year!
In this newsletter you'll find information on assistance programs for farmers impacted by the COVID 19 crisis, information on EPA's greenhouse gas emissions analysis, how to apply for the Agriculture Education Mini-Grant offered by Alaska Farm Bureau as well as some other information.

Please review the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program eligibility - not all growers are included in this program. Nursery, aquaculture ad cut flowers are currently not eligible; USDA is requesting feedback on these specific areas on impacts, lost income, needs, etc. Comments can be submitted through June 22, 2020 at:
  • Federal Rulemaking Portal - Go to and search for Docket ID FSA-2020-0004. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail - Director, SND, FSA, US Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 0522, Washington, DC 20250-0522.
Wishing everyone a fruitful growing season! Stay healthy and safe!
If you haven't renewed your dues for 2020, it's quick and easy to take care of that online.

All the best,

Amy Seitz
Executive Director

Alaska Farm Bureau

37075 Nicholas View Lane
Soldotna, AK 99669 

PS. Check out the video we made to promote Alaska agriculture.  Big huge thanks to Paula Williams of Eaglesong Family Peony Farm for spearheading this project!! 

Alaska Farmers - Still Farming
Alaska Farmers - Still Farming


Important information for produce growers whose farms are Qualified Exempt under the Produce Safety Rule!

On Friday May 22, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency it is providing flexibility for qualified exempt farms to shift sales away from qualified end users, and still maintain Qualified Exempt status.


Qualified Exempt Farms:

  • Farms whose food sales averaged less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) per year during the previous 3 years; AND
  • The majority of sales averaged over the previous 3 years were to qualified end users (the consumer of the food, or a restaurant or retail food establishment located in the same state).

Temporary policy for farms who are currently Qualified Exempt, but are shifting sales away from qualified end users during the COVID-19 public health emergency:

  • The majority of sales DO NOT have to be to a qualified end user.
  • The total food sales must still be less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) averaged over the previous 3 years.

This policy will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. FDA will issue additional guidance prior to the withdrawal of this policy.


Please contact our office (907-375-8200) if you believe this policy may impact your farm, so that we can provide the most current information.  Also contact us if you have any questions about your current coverage status under the Produce Safety Rule.


Visit the FDA's website to view the Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption Guidance Document in its entirety.

Farmers and Ranchers in Alaska Can Now Apply for Financial Assistance through USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Online Tools and Toll-Free Number Available to Assist Producers

Agricultural producers can now apply for USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The application and a payment calculator are now available online, and USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation.

Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five- percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

We also want to remind producers that the program is structured to ensure the availability of funding for all eligible producers who apply.

In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from . Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.

Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a good first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Applying for Assistance

Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print off a pre-filled CFAP application, sign, and submit to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred method. Find contact information for your local office at .

Documentation to support the producer's application and certification may be requested after the application is filed. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed.

Additional Commodities

USDA is also establishing a process for the public to identify additional commodities for potential inclusion in CFAP. Specifically, USDA is looking for data on agricultural commodities, that are not currently eligible for CFAP, that the public believes to have either:
  1. suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
  2. shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, or
  3. not left the farm or remained unharvested as mature crops.
More information about this process is available on .

More Information

To find the latest information on CFAP, visit or call 877-508-8364.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at .

Questions? Please contact Lloyd Wilhelm, Northern County Executive Director/Farm Loan Manager, at (907) 895-4242, or Erin Sturdivant, Southern County Executive Director/Farm Loan Manager, at (907) 761-7754

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

USDA Rural Development Business and Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program Webinars

Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 (For Stakeholders and the Public) Time: 2 PM Eastern

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

B&I CARES Act Program loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for or  respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The loans may be used only to support rural businesses, including agricultural producers, that were in operation on Feb. 15, 2020.

The Department begins accepting applications on May 22, 2020. Applications must be received no later than midnight Eastern Daylight Time on June 22, 2020, or until funds are expended. Program funding expires Sept. 30, 2021.

Eligible applicants may contact their local USDA Rural Development State Office in the state where the project is located.

Eligible Program Applicants: Federal or State-Chartered Banks, Savings and Loans, Farm Credit Banks, Credit Unions

Webinar Topics: Program Compliance & Documents, Application Requirements, Program Resources, Application Process Examples, Guidance on How to Apply.

Who Should Attend:
June 3 webinar - rural lenders, stakeholders and the general public

To register for the webinar on Wednesday, June 3 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, visit 

The Alaska Farm Bureau is accepting applications for the Agriculture Education Mini-Grant Program. This program is open to individuals and organizations with the purpose of increasing agriculture awareness, knowledge and appreciation to youth around the state.
Information on the application process can be found here .
Application deadline is June 15, 2020 and can be submitted by mail to Alaska Farm Bureau 37075 Nicholas View Lane, Soldotna, AK 99669 or email .
Visit and use code AKFRB at checkout
Agriculture's Greenhouse Gas
Emissions and Sinks - 
Reviewing EPA's U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions 
U.S. farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of climate-smart farming, utilizing scientific solutions, technology and innovations to raise crops or care for livestock. These efforts are designed to protect soil and water, efficiently manage manure, produce clean and renewable energy, capture carbon and improve  sustainability .

This analysis provides an update on agriculture's contribution to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks using the Environmental Protection Agency's   Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks report . The report identifies agriculture's and other economic sectors' contributions to greenhouse gas emissions for 2018 and earlier years.

A deep dive into the data reveals that not only is agriculture a distant fourth in a sector-by-sector comparison of contributions to total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but if farmers' carbon sequestration efforts were recognized, their contributions to GHG emissions would be significantly lower. On the livestock front, U.S. producers' continuous innovation has lowered their per-unit GHG contributions.

Using two measurement methodologies, EPA provides data on greenhouse gas emissions and sinks, i.e., carbon sinks, for various sectors. The first is the measurement by economic sector and the second is based on methodologies consistent with those recommended in the 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This article will review agriculture's contribution in both measurement categories.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector
EPA's February 2020 Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks report revealed total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 of 6.7 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalents, up 2.9%, or 188 million metric tons, from the prior year's 6.5 billion metric tons. When including land use, land-use changes and forestry carbon sinks of 774 million metric tons, net greenhouse gas emissions totaled 5.9 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalents - up 3.1%, or 179 million metric tons, from the prior year.

The increase in greenhouse gas emissions was primarily due to higher emissions from the industry and residential and commercial sectors of the U.S. economy. Figure 1 highlights the trends in greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector.

Representing approximately 28% of all emissions, transportation is the largest economic sector in greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation sector emissions totaled 1.88 billion metric tons in 2018, up 1.6% from 2017. Following transportation was the energy sector, i.e., electric power, representing nearly 27% percent of all emissions and totaling 1.8 billion metric tons. Electric power emissions were up 1.2% from 2017.

Up 4% from prior-year levels, emissions from the industry sector represented 22% of all emissions and totaled 1.5 billion metric tons. Other greenhouse gas emission sources, including commercial, residential and U.S. territories, totaled 867 million metric tons in 2018 and represented 13% of all emissions. These emissions were up 8% from 2017 primarily due to a 14% increase in residential-based heating and cooling needs during 2018.

Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions
EPA estimates that during 2018, agriculture represented 9.9% of all emissions when measured by economic sector. When measured using the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international standard, agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions totaled 619 million metric tons and represented 9.3% percent of all emissions. Figure 2 highlights agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by sector measurement for 2018.

Greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture totaled 659 million metric tons in 2018, up 2.5%, or 16.2 million metric tons, from prior-year levels. Additionally, farmers and ranchers also help remove greenhouse gases through the management and preservation of grasslands, wetlands and forestland, which create carbon sinks that store carbon in the soil.

During 2018, forestland management, land converted to forestry, grasslands and wetland management contributed to a 768-million-metric-ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. When including total emissions and removals, total land use, land-use change and forestry represented a net emissions reduction of 774 million metric tons. While not all of these carbon sinks are directly related to the activities of farmers and ranchers, when including these sinks, they more than offset agriculture's direct contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The largest agriculture-related greenhouse-gas-producing source category was agricultural soil management at 338 million metric tons, up 3.3%, or 11 million metric tons from the prior year. Soil management practices, such as the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers, deposition of livestock manure and the growth of nitrogen-fixing plants, represented 55% of total agriculture GHG emissions in 2018.

Following soil management, enteric fermentation in livestock contributed 178 million metric tons, up 1.3%, or 2.2 million metric tons, from 2017 and represented 29% of total emissions. Livestock manure management represented 13% of all agricultural emissions and totaled 81 million metric tons in 2018, up 3.3%, or 2.6 million metric tons. Rice cultivation represented 2% of total emissions and totaled 13.3 million metric tons in 2018.

Importantly, a variety of agricultural practices such as the planting of cover crops, conservation tillage and crop rotation can increase the amount of carbon stored in soils. These sequestration efforts, however, are not assigned to agriculture but to the land-use sector. If these carbon sequestration practices were included, the amount of GHG emissions tied to agriculture would be much lower.

Emissions from Animal Agriculture
Based on IPCC measurements, agricultural emissions during 2018 totaled 619 million metric tons. Of that total, 42% of the emissions - approximately 259 million metric tons in CO2 equivalents -- were related to enteric fermentation or manure management. Enteric fermentation emissions totaled 178 million metric tons, up slightly from prior-year levels.

Beef cattle contributed 128 million metric tons, followed by dairy cattle at 44 million metric tons and swine at 2.8 million metric tons. Other livestock, including horses, sheep, goats, bison and mules, contributed 0.62 million metric tons.

As a percentage of total GHG emissions, enteric fermentation from livestock represented less than 3% -- actually 2.66% -- of all emissions in 2018. When manure management is included, livestock-related emissions represented less than 4% of all emissions.

Importantly, the proportion of livestock-related emissions relative to total emissions declined from 2017's 2.7%. Since EPA began its series in 1990, livestock-related enteric fermentation emissions have never exceeded 2.71% of all emissions. Figure 3 highlights U.S. livestock emissions from enteric fermentation as a share of total GHG emissions.

While total livestock-related emissions as a percentage of total GHG emissions have remained mostly flat for the past three decades, it is important to factor in livestock producers' productivity gains when evaluating total GHG emissions. Compared to 1990, U.S. milk production has increased by 71%, beef production has increased by nearly 50% and pork production has increased by 17%, while GHG emissions from animal agriculture have remained mostly flat.

To evaluate how the efficiency gains made in animal agriculture have lowered the environmental footprint, the enteric fermentation emissions per unit of production were measured across beef, pork and dairy. Then, the annual values were indexed to their 1990 levels. Compared to 1990, enteric fermentation emissions per unit of beef production have fallen by nearly 10%, pork-related emissions have fallen by nearly 20% and enteric fermentation emissions per unit of milk production have fallen by 25%. U.S. livestock producers are doing more with less, which has lowered their per-unit GHG contributions, Figure 4.

Crop Productivity Lowers Agriculture's Environmental Footprint

Productivity gains have had a similarly positive effect on crop production. Due to the adoption of precision agriculture and biotechnology across many crops, fewer acres are needed to produce today's crops than in 1990.

For example, in 2018 U.S. farmers produced 14.3 billion bushels of corn, with an average yield of 176 bushels per acre, on 81 million harvested acres. Farmers in 1990 would have had to harvest 121 million acres to produce the same 14-billion-bushel crop produced in 2018 - that represents an acreage reduction of 39 million acres, or 33%, from 1990. Similar productivity gains mean we are using 4 million fewer acres to produce cotton, 42 million fewer acres to produce soybeans, 8 million fewer acres to produce wheat and 1 million fewer acres to grow rice. Across only these five crops, the productivity and technological gains made in agriculture allow farmers to use nearly 100 million fewer acres to raise corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat than they would have needed in 1990, Figure 5.


Recently released data from EPA puts agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions at 659 million metric tons in 2018 and 619 million metric tons based on IPCC measurement. Either way, agriculture in 2018 represented less than 10% of total U.S. GHG emissions - a distant fourth behind the transportation, electricity generation and industrial sectors.

Moreover, agriculture is part of the climate solution as a variety of agricultural practices, such as the planting of cover crops, conservation tillage and crop rotation, increase the amount of carbon stored in soils. Total carbon sink efforts from forestland management, land converted to forestry, grasslands and wetland management more than offset agriculture's contribution to total emissions. However, many of agriculture's carbon sequestration efforts are not directly assigned to the agriculture sector. It is certain that if the carbon sequestration efforts of U.S. farmers and ranchers were assigned to agriculture, our contributions to GHG emissions would be significantly lower.

More productive livestock operations allow ranchers, pork producers and dairy farmers to maintain their total contribution to GHG emissions at less than 3%, while also leading to lower per-unit GHG emissions. Similarly, productivity gains in crop production allow farmers to produce more food, fuel and fiber while using at least 100 million fewer acres than three decades ago.

U.S. farmers and ranchers contribute significantly fewer GHG emissions than their counterparts around the world. Additional EPA data shows agriculture's global contribution to GHG emissions was 24% in 2010, more than double U.S. farmers' and ranchers' contributions to total U.S. emissions in 2018.  This significant difference is largely driven by farmers' enthusiastic adoption of technology. Farmers are the pioneers of sustainability and any policy debate should recognize their contributions, efficiency gains and the considerable impact of their carbon sequestration efforts.

John Newton, Ph.D.
Chief Economist
(202) 406-3729

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