Agribusiness
Grassley: Iowa Farmers Express Drought Concerns During Town Hall Meetings, Calls to Office PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 07:13
WASHINGTON –Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider additional remedies to help Iowa farmers withstand one of the worst droughts in years.

“I heard directly from farmers at my town halls, in addition to the people calling my office, about issues that they are encountering, beyond low yields, because of the drought,” Grassley said.  “It’s a tough situation out there for these folks.  The weather conditions of this growing season have been challenging enough as it is for Iowa farmers without further complications.”

In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Grassley urged the Secretary to extend the emergency haying period to September 30, 2012.  Grassley said that when USDA opened up CRP land for haying and grazing, farmers had a relatively short window to take advantage of the opportunity compared to when farmers harvest hay on CRP land under mid-contract management situations.

Grassley also wrote that he was concerned about the logistical difficulties of inspecting corn for aflatoxin as it relates to crop insurance claims.  Grassley said that farmers often are not aware of the presence of aflatoxin, or at least aware of unacceptable levels of aflatoxin, until they are sitting at the grain elevator and the elevator’s sample shows levels are too high for the elevator to accept.  At that juncture, the farmer must take his crop back to the farm and find something to do with it in a timely manner so he or she can get back to the next load of corn coming out of the field.  The requirements set forth by the Risk Management Agency state that if the crop is not tested by the crop insurer prior to placing it in the bin then no indemnity can be paid for that portion of the crop loss.

The text of Grassley’s letter is below.  A copy of the signed letter can be found here.

 

August 28, 2012

Secretary Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

During my recent travels around the state of Iowa I have been able to observe the harmful effects of this persistent drought.  My staff and I have heard from numerous farmers dealing with the hardship of this year’s extreme conditions.  Even though temperatures have cooled a bit and some parts of the state have finally received some much needed rain, farmers are still dealing with the consequences of this drought.  I appreciate some of the steps the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken to assist farmers.  However, there are still actions your department can take to help farmers deal with these difficult circumstances.

First, while I appreciate USDA opening up Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for haying and grazing, there is still another step USDA could still take to help farmers wanting to harvest hay on CRP land.  Due to how long it took USDA to finally open up CRP land for haying and grazing, farmers have had a relatively short window to take advantage of this opportunity compared to when farmers harvest hay on CRP land under mid-contract management situations.  Under mid-contract management practices, farmers are able to hay CRP land up to September 30th.  But under the rules for emergency haying, farmers have to harvest the hay on CRP land by August 31st.  Under these near historic drought conditions, this shorter period for emergency haying on CRP land simply doesn’t make sense.  I urge you to consider extending the emergency haying period to September 30th of this year.  While much of the grass on CRP land has suffered under the heat, every little bit will help farmers looking for ways to feed their livestock.

Another issue farmers have been contacting me about is the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) and crop insurance companies’ handling of aflatoxin contamination in the corn crop.  As reports suggest, the hot dry conditions are exacerbating the aflatoxin issue in many parts of the country.  Under RMA’s “Loss Adjustment Procedures for Aflatoxin” (Revised August 2012), RMA states farmers must have their crop tested for aflatoxin prior to putting it in grain bins.  However, farmers are concerned with the logistical challenges this requirement will present them.

Often times, farmers are not aware of the presence of aflatoxin, or at least aware of unacceptable levels of aflatoxin, until they are sitting at the grain elevator and the elevator’s sample shows levels are too high for the elevator to accept.  At that juncture, the farmer must take his crop back to the farm and find something to do with it in a timely manner so he or she can get back to the next load of corn coming out of the field.  The requirements set forth by RMA state that if the crop is not tested by the crop insurer prior to placing it in the bin then no indemnity can be paid for that portion of the crop loss.

I am concerned on a couple fronts in this regard.  First, given the large number of claims that are going to be reported to insurers this year based simply on lost yields, will there be enough adjusters to deal with this added challenge of timely serving farmers dealing with aflatoxin contamination claims?  In addition, are RMA and the crop insurance companies doing enough to inform farmers of the requirements when aflatoxin contamination is a concern?  What is RMA doing to help ensure farmers are aware of the requirements for when they have crop damaged by aflatoxin?  Is there any flexibility that RMA can provide so our farmers don’t run into a logistical nightmare of having trucks full of corn with no where to put it while they wait who knows how long for an insurance adjuster to come and test the corn?

The weather conditions of this growing season have been challenging enough as it is for Iowa farmers.  I urge USDA to do all it can to assist farmers dealing with the short time frame for harvesting hay on CRP land.  In addition, USDA should do what it can to assist farmers who have aflatoxin contamination claims so farmers aren’t caught off guard and end up with the added challenge of potentially losing out on indemnity payments.

I appreciate your consideration of my questions and requests.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
United States Senate

 
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Announce Grants to Support Beginning Farmers and Ranchers across 24 States PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 07:09

WASHINGTON, August 29, 2012 – TOMORROW, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a media conference call to announce grants to organizations across 24 states that will help beginning farmers and ranchers with the training and resources needed to run productive, sustainable farms. Under the Secretary’s leadership since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has driven a number of efforts meant to spur interest in agriculture and provide the necessary support to young, beginning and socially-disadvantaged producers.

The grants will be announced through USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) established through the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA makes BFRDP grants to organizations that implement education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. At least 25 percent of the program’s funding supports the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers who want to get a start in farming and ranching.

In the first year of USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, three-year grants supported training for 5,000 beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2011, grants supported training for more than 30,000.

 
IOWA FARM BUREAU MEMBERS TO SET STATE AND NATIONAL POLICY DIRECTION FOR 2013 SESSION PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 13:01

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Aug. 24, 2012 – Media are invited to attend the 2012 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Summer Policy Conference Aug. 30-31 at the Farm Bureau office in West Des Moines, Iowa. The conference kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 30.

Leaders of all 100 county Farm Bureaus have gathered the opinions of their members on issues impacting agriculture and rural Iowa over the past several months.  The Summer Policy Conference aggregates those ideas to form statewide policy for Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization.

“For 94 years, Iowa Farm Bureau members have set a strong course by inviting every member to weigh in on policies important to them and this is the culmination of those efforts,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “We have always been driven from the grassroots and while our policies do change over time, our commitment to listening to members doesn’t,” says Hill.

A few of the issues expected to generate the most discussion at this year’s conference include: crop insurance, road funding, FSA office closures and the RFS target, which has come under pressure in the wake of drought-driven high corn prices. “Individual commodity groups have their own policies on the RFS target, but as a general farm organization, we have both crop and livestock farmers and a unique grassroots policy development process, which should bring lively discussion of RFS policy positions for 2013,” says Hill, also a livestock and crop farmer from Milo.

Lunch will be provided for attending media both days. Please RSVP to Laurie Johns (515-225-5414, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Heather Lilienthal (515-225-5409, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) for lunch by Aug. 28.

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to helping farm families prosper and improve their quality of life.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve economic growth, educational improvement, and environmental quality in their communities.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online newsroom at www.iowafarmbureau.com.

 
4-H Exhibitors Awarded in Iowa State Fair Meat Goat Show PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Lori Chappell   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:29

DES MOINES, IA (08/23/2012)(readMedia)-- Lyn Claussen of Long Grove exhibited the Grand Champion Meat Goat in the 4-H Market Meat Goat show judged Thursday at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. The goat was first named the Division Two Champion.

The Reserve Grand Champion Market Meat Goat banner went to Eric Taylor of Bouton and his Division One Champion.

Additional results below:

Champion Market Meat Goat Division 1: Eric Taylor, Bouton

Reserve Champion Market Meat Goat Division 1: Lakota Larson, Jefferson

Champion Market Meat Goat Division 2: Lyn Claussen, Long Grove

Reserve Champion Market Meat Goat Division 2: Frankie Mittag, Aplington

Champion Market Meat Goat Division 3: Frankie Mittag, Aplington

Reserve Champion Market Meat Goat Division 3: Eric Taylor, Bouton

"Nothing Compares" Iowa State Fair. The 2012 Fair ended August 19. The 2013 Iowa State Fair is set August 8-18. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit iowastatefair.org.

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Ag Secretary Vilsack Announces Rural Economic Development Funding PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 24 August 2012 15:33
Support Will Create and Retain Employment in Rural America

WASHINGTON, August 22, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of recipients for grants and loans to help spur economic development and create or save jobs in six states.

"This funding will help rural businesses obtain the financing they need to thrive, grow and create jobs," Vilsack said. "These grants and loans are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing commitment to ensure that rural communities attract capital investments that lead to business development and job creation."

The announcement was made in North Carolina on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. USDA Rural Development is providing assistance through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG), which provides zero-interest loans to local utilities that they, in turn, pass through to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. For more information about the program, please visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_redlg.html.

Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation in Brunswick County, NC, has been selected to receive a $1 million loan to help the Rural Consumer Services Corporation complete energy efficiency improvements. The funding is expected to create nine, full-time direct jobs and save an additional three full-time jobs.

In Reno, Kan., Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. will use a $160,000 loan to purchase the Haven Foodliner Grocery Store in the city of Haven, Reno County. As a result of the purchase, nine jobs will be retained and the small city of Haven will retain its only grocery store.

The REDLG program continues to bring economic opportunity to rural communities. In South Carolina, Piedmont Technical College (PTC) needed funding to connect the McCormick County center to a unique fiber optic interactive network called the Piedmont Educational Network (PEN) and to relocate the PTC McCormick County Center to a larger facility. In 2010, RD provided a $500,000 Rural Economic Development Loan to West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc., which, in turn, made a loan to PTC to relocate and renovate its McCormick County Center. The PTC McCormick County Center moved from a 2,200-square-foot log cabin to a much-larger, newly renovated facility. The new classrooms allow students to participate in classes locally, rather than commuting. PTC is able to offer an expanded program with much-needed broadband access for students and the public.

In Napoleon, N.D., KEM Electric received a $450,000 REDLG loan in 2011 to assist Green Iron Equipment expand its service shop. The company services farm equipment and was able to add 15,000 square feet to its shop and create five new jobs.

With today's announcement, USDA is investing nearly $3.6 million to spur economic growth. The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

Iowa

  • Hawkeye Tri-County Electric Cooperative – $500,000 loan. This project will help Lime Springs Beef, LLC, build a 13,000-head-per-year beef slaughtering plant in Lime Springs, Iowa. This project will create 41 new jobs.
  • Laurens Municipal Light & Power Plant – $300,000 grant. Laurens will add $60,000 to the funds to create a $360,000 revolving loan fund. The revolving loan fund will make a loan to Laurens Care Center to assist with the renovation of the facility. An estimated 35 jobs will be saved.

Kansas

  • Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. – $160,000 loan. This project will help purchase Haven, Kansas' only grocery store. As a result of the purchase, nine jobs will be retained.

Mississippi

  • South Mississippi Electric Power Association – $1,000,000 loan. These funds will be used to purchase machinery and equipment and to finance the construction of a 57,600-square-foot industrial peanut-buying facility in Clarksdale, Miss. The project will lead to 10 new jobs upon completion and 23 seasonal jobs.

North Carolina

  • Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation – $1,000,000 loan. This project will provide financing to Rural Consumer Services Corporation, which will then utilize the funds as working capital to complete energy efficiency improvements. The project will create nine full-time direct jobs and help save an additional three full-time jobs.

Oklahoma

  • Caddo Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $400,000 loan. These funds will be used to help Kimball and Company, LLC expand an existing veterinary clinic. This project will create or save a total of 18 jobs.

South Dakota

  • Dakota Energy Cooperative, Inc. – $300,000 grant. Funds will be used to construct a 50,000-square-foot commercial building under the direction of the Greater Huron Development Corp. for Economic Development, in Huron, S.D. The building will attract businesses that will create new jobs in the area. The project is estimated to retain up to 10 jobs.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

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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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