News

  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/31/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Gearing Up for Food Safety Modernization Act is Focus of Session for Northeastern-State Farmers

    More than 50 farmers, retailers, educators and regulatory officials who are part of New Jersey and Delaware’s produce industry gathered at the Rutgers EcoComplex to discuss the impending implementation of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on Monday, March 23.
    The consensus opinion: It’s real, it’s coming and all in the produce industry, from the farm to the fork, need to be prepared for it.

    “You don’t do food safety because the FDA says FSMA is here and you have to. You don’t do food safety because the retailers say you have to or I’m not going to buy from you. You do food safety to protect your business,” said Dr. Robert Whitaker, Chief Science and Technology Officer for the Produce Marketing Association.

    FSMA was passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by the President in 2011, following a series of foodborne illnesses linked to fresh produce, everything from spinach to peppers to cantaloupe. It expanded the ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 03/31/2015 by Nathan Bowen

    USDA announced $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept ACEP applications to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to protect the nation's critical wetlands and grasslands, home to diverse wildlife and plant species

    The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation. In FY 2014, NRCS used $328 million in ACEP funding to enroll an estimated 145,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through 485 new easements.

    ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive ...

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/31/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last Friday, the White House released a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, which identifies “critical actions” the federal government will take to combat the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Action Plan’s objective is "to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation, diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics."

    This National Strategy follows the Executive Order – Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which the President issued last September, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report to the President on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/31/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA announced a one week extension for farm owners and producers to choose to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The deadline for this decision was originally set for today, March 31st, and is now extended to April 7th.

    If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years. Producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.

    These safety-net programs provide important financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace. As part of the strong education and outreach campaign launched by ...

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/31/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Stearns County, Minnesota.

    This is the third confirmation in a commercial flock in Minnesota. The flock of 39,000 turkeys is located within the Mississippi flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.

    Samples from the turkey flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the findings. APHIS is working closely with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health on a joint incident ...

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/31/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA announced a proposed rule to limit farm payments to non-farmers, consistent with requirements Congress mandated in the 2014 Farm Bill. The proposed rule limits farm payments to individuals who may be designated as farm managers but are not actively engaged in farm management. In the Farm Bill, Congress gave USDA the authority to address this loophole for joint ventures and general partnerships, while exempting family farm operations from being impacted by the new rule USDA ultimately implements.

    The current definition of "actively engaged" for managers, established in 1987, is broad, allowing individuals with little to no contributions to critical farm management decisions to receive safety-net payments if they are classified as farm managers, and for some operations there were an unlimited number of managers that could receive payments.

    The proposed rule seeks to close this loophole to the extent possible within the guidelines required by the 2014 Farm Bill. Under ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/31/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    South Dakota: Growing in Agriculture - Unmanned Aerial Vehicales (UAVs) Proposed Rule

    Excitement surrounds the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in our state’s agricultural industry. This technology could be used to fly over pastures and check cows or to take aerial surveys of crops and spray pesticide accordingly.

    The uses for this tool are impressive, but the possible economic growth is appealing as well. A recent report published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems stated total UAV spending in the agriculture sector in South Dakota could be more than $1.4 million in 2015. The economic impact of UAV airspace integration in South Dakota could hit $9 million in the first three years and possibly will grow to over $56 million between 2015 and 2025.

    I am enthusiastic for UAV technology, but there are also potential problems with their use. How to analyze and process the data, set attainable standards for possible flight failures and deal with potential connection failures are all issues that will need to be addressed.

    UAVs, like other ...

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  • DeWitt  Ashby Posted on 03/31/2015 by DeWitt Ashby

    The Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA has announced the FY 2015 program for U.S. Exchange Opportunities to China. Priority consideration will be given to innovative proposals that address the following topics: Veterinary Epidemiology; Animal Genetics; Soil Conservation and Irrigation Practices; Food Safety Risk Communication; and, Food Manufacturing: Quality Control and Nutrition. The program is designed for teams of six persons including a Principal Investigator, and, if necessary, an interpreter. This is a cost-share program. U.S. teams will be responsible for roundtrip international airfare and China’s Ministry of Agriculture will be responsible for most in-country expenses. The application deadline is April 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm, although short-term extensions may be considered upon formal request. Eligible applicants include academic institutions, non-profit research organization, or consortiums of eligible institutions. For more information, click here.

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/31/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp

    USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced it is seeking reviewers to evaluate grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).

    Prospective FMLFPP reviewers are expected to have operational knowledge of direct-to-consumer or local/regional marketing venues, as well as a background in local agriculture, agricultural retail or farm-to-table marketing. Reviewers will apply their knowledge and expertise to comment on and score the grant applications. Selected FMLFPP reviewers’ work will run approximately six weeks between June 1 and July 11, 2015. A mandatory half-day training webinar will take place in late May. Reviewers will be organized into teams of 3 and follow a pre-set scoring rubric. Individuals will review 15 to 20 proposals, each requiring 1 to 3 hours to complete, and participate in an online group review to reach a consensus score and summary comments. ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/31/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Vermont: H.35 is a Vital Step Forward in Addressing Clean Water and Agriculture in Vermont

    The clean water bill currently under consideration in the Vermont House of Representatives (House Bill 35) is a vital step forward for Vermont’s efforts to address the problem of polluted storm water runoff into our lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. This bill addresses the problem of excess nutrients and sediment that flow off of our parking lots, roofs, roads, driveways, yards and farm fields when the snow melts or the rain falls. As Secretary of Agriculture, as a farmer, as a father, and as someone who takes great pleasure in enjoying swimming, boating and fishing on Lake Champlain, I could not be more pleased with the direction that the legislature is headed with this important piece of legislation. The health of our state’s economy, including our farm economy, depends upon finding a solution to the our water quality challenges.

    One telling indicator of the current problem are the outbreaks of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that have, in recent years, grown worse, ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/31/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Washington: Bud Hover Announces He is Leaving WSDA

    Director Bud Hover announced today he is leaving the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to return to his farm in Okanogan County and spend more time with his wife and family. In his resignation letter to Governor Jay Inslee, Director Hover wrote:

    “I believe we have made great strides in the past two years in advancing new and innovative solutions to help solve some of the pressing issues facing agriculture today as well as making great strides in improving efficiency in the Department of Agriculture,” adding, “However, after many hours of discussion with my wife, Tonya, and considering the needs of her aging father, we have decided that it is time to return to the farm and the Methow Valley.”

    Governor Jay Inslee thanked Hover for his work at the agency.

    “As a farmer himself, Bud has been a tireless advocate for the average farmer, making sure their concerns were heard at the highest levels of government. He provided key leadership in ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/24/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp

    Numerous states are seeking applications for Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Projects. The SCBG Program is a USDA program which will invest nearly $63 million in the competitiveness of the specialty crop industry in FY 2015 alone. Specialty crops are fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, nursery crops (including floriculture).

    To view a collection of press releases from states seeking applications, click here.

     

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/24/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Kansas: Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Provides Comments, Raises Concerns Regarding WOTUS

    Assistant Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Susan Metzger testified today to a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the Unites States” (WOTUS) proposed rule.

    The proposed WOTUS rule expands federal jurisdiction under EPA’s Clean Water Act and has ignited widespread concern from farmers, ranchers and rural constituencies around the country.

    “Applying a blanket definition of tributary in Kansas will result in in nearly a 460 percent increase in the number of stream miles classified as Waters of the U.S., subject to all programs and provisions of the Clean Water Act. A nationally defined, “one size fits all,” definition for terms like tributaries is not appropriate given the scarcity of flow in Western States such as Kansas, and the inherent variability of those streams to impact downstream waters,” Metzger said.

    She noted that “the distraction and diversion brought forth by ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/24/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Illinois: Philip Nelson Confirmed as Director of Illinois Department of Agriculture

    The Illinois Senate voted recently to confirm Philip Nelson as the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The fourth-generation grain and livestock farmer was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner on January 16, 2015.

    "I've been in agriculture my entire life, both as a farmer and a professional working to promote the industry," Nelson said. "I realize that there is a lot of work to do, such as strengthening our transportation infrastructure, increasing exports, and serving our customers in a timely manner. My priority is to listen and work with producers and stakeholders to make sure we are supporting our #1 industry and ultimately working to turnaround Illinois' economy."

    Nelson previously served as the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau. Additionally, he was president of the companies that make up COUNTRY Financial, Illinois Agricultural Service Company, the IAA Foundation, and served on the Coordinating Committee of GROWMARK, Inc. He operates ...

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/24/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Vermont: Matchmaker Event will Pair Farmers, Food Producers with Local Buyers

    Vermont farmers, food producers, and processors will meet face-to-face with grocers, restaurants, hotels, and institutions at the 2015 Vermont Local Food Matchmaker Event Wednesday, March 25th at Vermont Tech.

    The event, which organizers say is “like speed-dating” for the local food community, will provide an opportunity for food buyers to preview locally grown and produced products.
    “Our farmers and producers don’t need to travel far to find buyers, there are many right here in Vermont,” said Meghan Sheridan, Executive Director of Vermont Fresh Network, one of the organizations sponsoring the event. “There are lots of national food shows, but we are keeping it local, helping people here in our community connect and create opportunity.”

    Over sixty producers will have the opportunity to showcase their products for more than forty buyers, representing grocery chains, colleges, hotels, and hospitals, and other institutions.

    “It’s ...

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/24/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance (#203) intended to help animal producers develop and implement on-farm practices to ensure the safety of animal feed maintained and fed to animals on the farm.

    FDA is asking for public comments on this draft guidance by June 3, 2015. The Agency will consider those comments before beginning work on the final version of the guidance.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 03/24/2015 by Dudley W Hoskins

    U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, announced a total of $35 million in broadband infrastructure loans for three rural telecommunications infrastructure projects that will improve broadband service in portions of rural Arkansas, Iowa and New Mexico.

    This announcement coincides with the news that the President Obama signed a new Presidential Memorandum to create the Broadband Opportunity Council, co-chaired by Secretary Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The Council will report back to the President, within 150 days, with the steps each agency will take to advance these goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/17/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    USDA: Family Farms are the Focus of New Agriculture Census Data

    USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that family-owned farms remain the backbone of the agriculture industry. The latest data come from the Census of Agriculture farm typology report and help shine light on the question, "What is a family farm?"

    "As we wrap up mining the 6 million data points from the latest Census of Agriculture, we used typology to further explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today," said NASS Statistics Division Director Hubert Hamer. "What we found is that family-owned businesses, while very diverse, are at the core of the U.S. agriculture industry. In fact, 97 percent of all U.S. farms are family-owned."

    The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report is a special data series that primarily focuses on the "family farm." By definition, a family farm is any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator, including ...

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  • DeWitt  Ashby Posted on 03/17/2015 by DeWitt Ashby

    Thirty-three weeks before the event, exhibit space sales for the USA Pavilion at the Americas Food & Beverage Show, October 26-27 in Miami Beach, are two thirds complete and running 675% ahead of last year’s pace. The Americas Food & Beverage show is sponsored by the World Trade Center Miami. The USA Pavilion is sponsored by NASDA and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The event features a number of other national pavilions and food importers from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Canada. The Caribbean, in particular, offers excellent opportunities for small and new U.S. exporters of food products. NASDA members from Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota and FAS cooperator groups, including the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, are participating with pavilions inside the USA space.

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  • Amanda Bryant Culp Posted on 03/17/2015 by Amanda Bryant Culp
    Idaho: State Seeking Applications for Agricultural Bureau Chief - Laboratory Manager

    The Idaho Department of Agriculture is currently recruiting for an Agriculture Bureau Chief – Laboratory Manager. This job announcement will be posted until Friday, March 20th. If anyone has questions please have them contact Hanna Hall at 208-332-8522.

    KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:
    • Establish, implement, and monitor program priorities, goals, policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures
    • Directs development and coordinates implementation of program plans and activities
    • Hires and trains subordinate supervisors and evaluates performance
    • Directs budget development and authorizes expenditures
    • Plans, develops, implements, and evaluates chemical and microbiological laboratory testing programs and for organic and inorganic services including plant, animal, soils, and water
    • Directs development of and negotiates grants and contracts and ensures contractor performance
    • Develops and implements a quality assurance program
    ...

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