Grassley Leads Effort to Encourage USTR, USDA to Break Down Ag Biotech Barriers with Trading Partners PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:33
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is pressing the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to engage U.S. trading partners in high-level discussions on breaking down barriers to biotechnology.  Grassley is the former Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade policy.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as much as 90 percent of commodity crop acres utilize seeds improved through modern biotechnology.  Trade disruptions caused by barriers to biotechnology derived crops hurt both American farmers and the international customers they serve,” the senators wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis.

Grassley was joined by Senators Debbie Stabenow, the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dan Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Joe Donnelley of Indiana, Al Franken of Minnesota, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, and Mark Udall of Colorado.

A copy of the text of the letter is here.  A signed copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.


May 7, 2013


Secretary Thomas Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250


Ambassador Demetrios Marantis

Acting United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508


Dear Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Marantis:

American agriculture has made significant advancements in the last 100 years. We have seen vast improvements in how farmers grow crops, raise livestock, manage risk, and conduct their operations. American farmers are constantly looking for new tools to maximize efficiencies and productivity.  Biotechnology has been one of these tools.  Biotechnology helps farmers better manage droughts, pests, and weeds with fewer resources.  Biotechnology provides a major boost to American farmers that face an increasingly competitive international market.  Biotechnology has also helped feed a growing world population with abundant, nutrient rich crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as much as 90 percent of commodity crop acres utilize seeds improved through modern biotechnology. Trade disruptions caused by barriers to biotechnology derived crops hurt both American farmers and the international customers they serve. Regulatory asynchrony, zero tolerance policies, and re-registration requirements are among the most prevalent and costly regulatory hurdles.

We know and appreciate how both of you and your offices have given priority to these international regulatory challenges, and work extensively with our trading partners to find long term solutions.  For instance, USDA has been engaged in efforts to launch a pilot project with China which aims to address, bilaterally, some asynchrony issues.  We also understand that the U.S. government is engaging trading partners in multilateral efforts to discuss how to best address other critical issues, including unintended low-level presence.

Given the widespread adoption of biotechnology by American farmers, it is imperative you further raise the priority of these regulatory issues in discussions with our trading partners, emphasizing the importance of facilitating robust international trade.  We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to working with you to address these important and complex issues.


USDA Funds Major Research Initiatives to Study the Affects of Weather and Climatic Variability on Beef and Dairy Cattle PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 13:52

MADISON, WI - May 7, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded $19.5 million to support research, education and Extension activities associated with climate solutions in agriculture aimed at the impacts of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

"We have seen the impact that variable climate patterns have had on production agriculture for the past several years. These projects will deliver the best tools available to accurately measure and respond to the effects of climate on beef and dairy production," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Farmers and ranchers need sound, science-based information and solutions to help them make management decisions that will sustain their productivity and keep their operations economically viable."

The University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison, Wisconsin, received $9.9 million over five years to study the environmental impact of various dairy production systems and develop best management practices for producers to implement at the farm level. The project's ultimate goal is to increase the resiliency of dairy production systems while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The team will also develop an agricultural education curriculum with an urban foods focus at Vincent High School in Milwaukee in an effort to educate future leaders and consumers about the contributions of the dairy industry to economic and environmental sustainability. Curricula at the high school and college levels will be developed related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change and agricultural sustainability.

The University of Wisconsin is partnering in the project with the University of Arkansas, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, North Carolina A&T University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Washington, along with four USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy and the industry-sponsored Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, received $9.6 million over five years to better understand vulnerability and resilience of Southern Great Plains beef in an environment of increased climate variability, dynamic land-use and fluctuating markets. The team's goal is to safeguard regional beef production while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. The project also includes education and Extension components to train the next generation of producers and researchers in addressing the impact of climate on beef cattle. Using a community- and citizen-science approach, the project will train young students and citizens to use GPS-enabled digital cameras and smartphones and web data portals to participate in field data collection. The geospatial data will be integrated into a portal for community-based analysis and inventory and used to educate the general public on climate change related to range-based beef production.

The team is comprised of 32 scientists from OSU, Kansas State University, University of Oklahoma, Tarleton State University, the Samuel R. Noble Foundation, and two ARS laboratories.

These Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) bring together teams of researchers that represent various geographic areas to support discovery, applications and promote communication leading to innovative, science-based solutions to critical and emerging national priorities and needs. This year's awards broaden NIFA's CAP climate change portfolio, which includes three projects awarded in 2010 focusing on loblolly pine in the South, corn production in the Midwest and wheat crops in the Northwest.

NIFA made the awards through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding opportunity. AFRI's Climate Variability and Change challenge area is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration in agricultural and forest production systems and preparing the nation's agriculture and forests to adapt to changing climates.

AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) renewable energy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at:


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).


USDA Announces Final Call for 2012 Census of Agriculture PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 06 May 2013 14:38
Don't Miss Your Chance to Provide the Facts Straight from the Farm

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2013 – With the window to respond to the 2012 Census of Agriculture officially closing on May 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is urging farmers and ranchers not to miss this opportunity to be counted and help determine the future of farming in America. USDA has already received more than 2 million completed Census forms.

"Our nation needs your help to ensure that decisions about U.S. agriculture accurately represent you, your communities, and your industry," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "For every 158 people in America there is one farm. I urge you to take action today and respond to the Census – your country is counting on the information to help ensure a continued supply of food, fiber and fuel for generations to come."

The Census of Agriculture, conducted only once every five years, is the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. It looks at farms, value of land, market value of agricultural production, farm practices, expenditures, and other factors that affect the way farmers and ranchers do business. The information is used by agribusinesses, town planners, local governments, and policy makers, as well as farmers, ranchers, growers and others to shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow the future of farming.

"Agriculture in America is an industry built on tradition, honor and pride," said Vilsack. "We have heard this from the farmers and ranchers who completed their Census of Agriculture form. It's not too late for those who have not yet responded to join the generations of producers who participated in the Agriculture Census since it was first conducted in 1840. Only you can continue to provide the facts straight from the farm."

The 2012 Census will provide a complete picture of agriculture that will be used to shape the future of agriculture, rural America, and the lives of those USDA serves for years to come. The deadline to respond to the Census of Agriculture is only a few weeks away on May 31. USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) may contact producers by phone or in person to collect Census information since time is running out.

Farmers and ranchers can also return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, Federal law requires a response from everyone who receives the Census form and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.

For more information about the Census, including helpful tips on completing your Census form, visit or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD)or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


U.S. Soy Leads By Example in Soy Sustainability PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Friday, 19 April 2013 13:52
USB farmer-leader shares best management practices at World Soybean Research Conference
ST. LOUIS (April 18, 2013) – Speaking on a world stage about the excellent sustainability performance of U.S. soy, Jim Carroll recently confirmed what he and the soy checkoff already knew: global customers demand soybeans and soy products produced in a sustainable manner.
Carroll, a soy checkoff farmer-leader from Brinkley, Ark., recently brought his farm expertise to South Africa, where he told attendees at the World Soybean Research Conference about the practices he’s implemented to decrease his farm’s carbon footprint while maintaining high productivity. Carroll says the conversations he had at the conference reinforced his notion that soy customers place a high priority on sustainability.
“Several people from around the world came to me after the presentation was over and asked me for more information about sustainability,” said Carroll. “Sustainability is constantly gaining importance, and I am very honored to have had the chance share my experiences.”
Many U.S. soy customers consider sustainability an important issue. The U.S. soy industry received good marks in several reports and studies conducted by the checkoff measuring the sustainability performance of various aspects of U.S. soy production. This makes the practices of U.S. farmers a good example for soybean operations in other countries.
Sustainability was one of many topics discussed at the conference, which brings together members from every link of the soy value chain. Participants heard presentations and discussed the geographic differences in growing, processing, transporting and marketing soybeans, soy meal and soy oil.
Recent polls of U.S. soybean farmers show they do their part to increase sustainability on their operations. More than 50 percent of farmers say they made changes to improve their farms’ sustainability performance.
Carroll said, “I spoke with several people from both Africa and Europe who were very interested in how I increased efficiency and conserved water while irrigating.” Overall, in the last 30 years, U.S. farmers have reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing irrigation efficiency per bushel of soybeans by more than 40 percent.
“For me, sustainability is just about trying to make reasonable, economic and environmental decisions for my farming operation,” Carroll said. “If you are a farmer today, chances are you already work to improve your farm’s sustainability, whether you know it or not. All farmers want to make the best decisions possible for their land and operation.”
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Seeks Nominations for Forestry Research Advisory Council PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:22

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the re-establishment of the Forestry Research Advisory Council and is seeking nominations for new members.

"This council will play a critical role as USDA continues to lead the way in forest conservation efforts," said Vilsack. "We base our forest conservation policies and decisions on the best available science, and this group will bring the expertise and experience to help us continue that practice."

The council's many responsibilities include providing advice to Secretary Vilsack on national and regional research planning projects and on coordination of forestry research within federal and state agencies, forestry schools and forest industries. In addition, the council will provide advice to the U.S. Forest Service's Research and Development program—the world's largest forestry-research organization.

The Forestry Research Advisory Council has 10 current and upcoming vacancies. Nominations are sought to immediately fill six vacancies on the council and additional vacancies that will occur when current appointments expire in December 2013. Vacancies are open in the following categories:

  • Forestry schools
  • State and Federal agencies
  • Forest industries
  • Voluntary organizations

Nominations must be received by April 29, 2013. The announcement appeared in the Federal Register and is available here, along with the required nomination form and more background information.

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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