Agribusiness
New Pilot Program Offers Coverage for Fruits and Vegetables, Organic and Diversified Farms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 08:40
2014 Farm Bill Expands Crop Insurance Options, Provides Premium Discounts for Qualified Operations

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new risk management option that will be available for fruit and vegetable growers and producers with diversified farms. The policy, called Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, will provide flexible coverage options for specialty crop, organic and diversified crop producers. The program will be implemented in counties across the country and will expand in availability over the next several years.

Whole-Farm insurance allows farmers to insure all crops on their farm at once, rather than insuring commodity by commodity. Traditionally, many fruit and vegetable crops have not had crop insurance programs designed for them—making it less attractive for a farmer that primarily planted a commodity crop like wheat or corn to use another part of his or her land for growing fruits and vegetables or other specialty crops. This allows farmers greater flexibility to make planting decisions on their land.

"Crop insurance has been the linchpin of the farm safety net for years and continues to grow as the single most important factor in protecting producers of all sizes from the effects of unpredictable weather," said Vilsack. "Providing farmers the option to insure their whole farm at once gives farmers more flexibility, promotes crop diversity, and helps support the production of healthy fruits and vegetables. More flexibility also empowers farmers and ranchers to make a broader range of decisions with their land, helping them succeed and strengthening our agriculture economy."

The 2014 Farm Bill requires a whole-farm crop insurance policy option, and paves the way for the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to make it broadly available to specialty crop, organic, and diversified growers. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors (FCIC Board) approved the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection pilot policy for RMA to offer it through the federal crop insurance program in 2015.

USDA has taken many steps to provide effective insurance coverage for diversified, organic and specialty crops. The whole-farm crop insurance policy provides flexibility to meet the needs of specialty crop growers, organic producers and those with diversified farms, and who have farm production and revenue history, including five years of historic farm tax records. This policy is also part of USDA's commitment to small and mid-sized producers managing diversified operations.

USDA has been strengthening crop insurance by providing more risk management options for farmers and ranchers. The policy offers coverage levels from 50 to 85 percent; recognizes farm diversification through qualification for the highest coverage levels along with premium rate discounts for multiple crop diversification. The Market Readiness Feature, as outlined in the Farm Bill, simplifies insurance coverage for producers under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection pilot policy by allowing the costs such as washing, trimming, and packaging to be left in the insured revenue instead of having to adjust those amounts out of the insured amount.

The new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy combines Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and AGR-Lite along with several improvements to target diversified farms and farms selling two to five commodities, including specialty crops to wholesale markets. The new policy is also designed to meet the risk management needs of diversified crop or livestock producers including those growing specialty crops and/or selling to local and regional markets, farm identity preserved markets, or direct markets.

As part of the pilot, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection will be available where AGR and AGR-Lite are currently offered, and will expand to other counties as data are available for underwriting and actuarial ratemaking. RMA will release information on the policy later this summer when it becomes available. This information will be announced on the RMA website at www.rma.usda.gov.

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Gov. Branstad to sign biofuels promotion bill Wednesday at POET Biorefining in Coon Rapids PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 16 May 2014 14:36

Senate File 2344 promotes e-15, biodiesel and next generation of biofuels, bio-butanol.

 

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today announced he will sign Senate File 2344 into law Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. at POET Biorefining in Coon Rapids, Iowa.

The bill promotes the development of bio-butanol and bio-butanol blended gasoline, which are next generation biofuels; and modifies the rate of the E-15 promotion tax credit and extends provisions for the biodiesel production refund.

The following bill signing ceremony is open to credentialed members of the media:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

 

12:30 p.m. Gov. Branstad signs Senate File 2344

POET Biorefining

1015 Grant Avenue

Coon Rapids, IA

Note: Parking is available outside the administration building.

Senate File 2344 an Act relating to renewable fuels, by providing for bio-butanol and bio-butanol blended gasoline, modifying the rate of the E-15 plus gasoline promotion tax credit and extending provisions for a biodiesel production refund, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions. 

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Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 16 May 2014 07:55
USDA Announces Fall Summit on Bee Nutrition and Forage; Launches "Bee Watch" Website to Broadcast Bee Activity and Increase Public Awareness of the Role of Pollinators in Crop Production

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 - A yearly survey of beekeepers, released today, shows fewer colony losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level that they consider to be sustainable. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent.

More than three-fourths of the world's flowering plants rely on pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.

"Pollinators, such as bees, birds and other insects are essential partners for farmers and ranchers and help produce much of our food supply. Healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "While we're glad to see improvement this year, losses are still too high and there is still much more work to be done to stabilize bee populations."

There is no way to tell why the bees did better this year, according to both Pettis and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland assistant professor who is the leader of the survey and director of the Bee Informed Partnership. Although the survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland Bee Informed Partnership shows improvement, losses remain above the level that beekeepers consider to be economically sustainable. This year, almost two-thirds of the beekeepers responding reported losses greater than the 18.9 percent threshold.

"Yearly fluctuations in the rate of losses like these only demonstrate how complicated the whole issue of honey bee heath has become, with factors such as viruses and other pathogens, parasites like varroa mites, problems of nutrition from lack of diversity in pollen sources, and even sublethal effects of pesticides combining to weaken and kill bee colonies," said Jeff Pettis, co-author of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

The winter losses survey covers the period from October 2013 through April 2014. About 7,200 beekeepers responded to the voluntary survey.

A complete analysis of the bee survey data will be published later this year. The summary of the analysis is at http://beeinformed.org/results-categories/winter-loss-2013-2014/.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also announced today that it will hold a summit this fall aimed at addressing the nutrition and forage needs of pollinators. The summit will take place in Washington D.C. on October 20-21 and will be attended by a consortium of public, private, and non-governmental organizations. Attendees will discuss the most recent research related to pollinator loss and work to identify solutions.

Additionally, today USDA launched the People's Garden Apiary bee cam at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an additional effort to increase public awareness about the reduction of bee populations and to inform Americans about actions they can take to support the recovery of pollinator populations. The USDA "Bee Watch" website (www.usda.gov/beewatch) will broadcast honey bee hive activity live over the Internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Created in 2010, the People's Garden Apiary is home to two beehives. The bees are Italian queens, the most common bee stock and the same used in many honey bee colonies throughout the United States.

In March of 2014, Secretary Vilsack created a Pollinator Working Group, under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, to better coordinate efforts, leverage resources, and increase focus on pollinator issues across USDA agencies. USDA personnel from ten Department agencies (Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Forest Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Risk Management Agency and Rural Development) meet regularly to coordinate and evaluate efforts as USDA strives toward improving pollinator health and ensuring our pollinators continuing contributions to our nation's environment and food security.

Earlier this year, USDA made $3 million available to help agriculture producers in five states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) provide floral forage habitats to benefit pollinating species on working lands. The Honey Bee Pollinator Effort is intended to encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other flowering habitat for bees and other pollinators.

The President's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal provides $71 million for pollinator health activities through multiple USDA agencies. This includes an increase of $40 million in combined mandatory and discretionary funds to advance efforts, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal partners, to respond to the decline in honey bee health and ensure their recovery. This coordinated effort is focused on targeted research that addresses multifactorial stressors, their interaction, and identification and implementation of measures to improve and increase habitat available to pollinators on Federal and private lands. In addition, this initiative will help prevent introductions of invasive bees, bee diseases, and parasites; document the status of honey bee health factors associated with bee losses and honey bee production; and work with stakeholders on best management practices. A coordinated communication strategy, including outreach and education, will engage the public to help solve this important challenge.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., 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).


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Braley Urges White House to Abandon EPA’s Proposal to Weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:42

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley today issued the following statement urging the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resiliency, which is meeting today in Des Moines, to revisit the EPA’s proposal to weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Iowa is at the forefront of developing the type of energy and industry we need to combat climate disruption head on—and the Renewable Fuel Standard is at the center of that effort. In addition to creating 60,000 Iowa jobs and adding billions to our economy, it’s replacing billions of gallons of foreign oil with renewable ethanol. I hope that the members of the White House’s task force will take this opportunity to urge the EPA to rethink its counterproductive proposal and stand up for this growing source of clean, renewable American energy and all the related innovation it is spawning.”

Braley has consistently fought the proposed EPA changes since they were first reported on in October. Late last year he joined VoteVets.org to deliver over 110,000 signatures to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protesting proposed changes. In November, Braley wrote a letter to President Obama expressing his anger and frustration with the proposed EPA changes. In December, he joined Governor Branstad to testify at an EPA hearing stressing the benefits of the current levels and the positive impact the RFS has on Iowa. 

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USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board Chair Dr. Gerald Bange to Retire PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 12:45
Dr. Seth Meyer Named Acting Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 13, 2014 – Chief Economist Joseph Glauber has announced the May 31, 2014, retirement of USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board Chair Dr. Gerald Bange and the appointment of Dr. Seth Meyer as Acting Board Chair. Dr. Meyer is currently a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) and will assume his new duties June 1.

"USDA has benefited enormously from Bange's distinguished leadership as Chair of the World Board," Glauber said, "where he was responsible for the monthly forecasts of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and the Joint Agricultural Weather Facility." Bange also served as Program Chair for USDA's respected, largest annual meeting, the Agricultural Outlook Forum.

"Meyer is well-prepared for the demands of the post," Glauber said. Meyer joined USDA's Office of the Chief Economist in 2013 as a Senior Economist for domestic agricultural policy. Prior to joining USDA, Meyer was an economist in the Economic and Social Development Department at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Meyer also served as a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia as part of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. 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).


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