Agribusiness
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and World Food Prize Foundation Cement Partnership to Support USDA's Wallace-Carver Internship Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 22 February 2013 15:05

DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 19, 2013-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn came together today at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa, before a crowd of 200 youth and business leaders to formalize a partnership enhancing the Wallace-Carver Internship Program for students involved in cutting-edge agriculture, science and research.

The partnership, as represented in the formal Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the World Food Prize Foundation that they signed, will expand opportunities for high school and college students and prepare the next generation of agricultural and scientific leaders. John Ruan III, chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation, also participated in the ceremony.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to be inspired to commit their lives to agriculture and the fight against global hunger," said Vilsack. "USDA thanks the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute as well as the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship programs for their efforts to create opportunities for young people pursuing careers in agriculture and related fields. These students truly are the best and brightest, and they will discover-much like I did-that USDA is a dynamic agency that positively impacts people's lives every day."

Every year, over 1,000 students across the country participate in the World Food Prize youth programs, through which they research a global food security issue, write a paper, and present their solutions. The top 150 students and their teachers travel to Des Moines to participate in an exchange of ideas with the world's foremost leaders at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute. From there, they can also apply for the World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Internships at research centers around the globe.

Going forward, the USDA and the World Food Prize Foundation will annually choose the top students from across the country to participate in a one-week orientation at USDA headquarters in Washington before fanning out to assume internships with various USDA agencies and offices across the country. Students compete for the internships through the USDA Pathways Programs, a mechanism to recruit, hire, and retain current students and recent graduates, with oversight from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Besides strengthening the menu of USDA internship programs, the Wallace-Carver Internship helps attract and retain the best and brightest young people in careers in American agriculture.

The Wallace-Carver Internship helps to honor the legacies of George Washington Carver and Henry A. Wallace, two great American agricultural leaders of the 20th century. The internship offers students the opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned scientists and policymakers through paid internships at leading USDA research centers and offices.

USDA Virtual University ensures that all Wallace-Carver Interns have an Individual Development Plan, a mentor, and receive consistent training. For information on the Wallace-Carver Internship Program, click here. For information on other USDA internships, click here.

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Farmers weigh options as 2008 Farm Bill extended for one year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Dr. Joe Outlaw   
Thursday, 21 February 2013 08:51

WACO – Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist, predicts cuts will be forthcoming to federal farm programs in the future. But until then, farmers will operate under the 2008 Farm Bill this year receiving a direct payment on eligible crops.

The 2008 Farm Bill was extended by Congress in January, said Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University in College Station. He told producers at the recent Blackland Income Growth Conference the current farm programs could be altered or possibly go away and be replaced by insurance programs.

Though no specific farm bill discussion is alive among Congressional lawmakers, Outlaw said possible drafts exist in both the House and Senate.

The 2008 Farm Bill was extended by Congress in January. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

Farmers have an opportunity to sign up for the direct and countercyclical payment, known as DCP, or the Average Crop Revenue Election, or ACRE, program beginning Feb. 19, Outlaw said. The sign-up for ACRE ends June 3, and DCP sign-up ends Aug. 2.

Future farm programs and the safety nets will likely “shift to more insurance tools,” Outlaw said. To be considered for direct payments, farmers must sign up by the deadline.

“After that, there’s less likely subsequent impact” on what farmers could receive with regards to price support payments, Outlaw said. The farm bill extension passed in January prevented milk prices from skyrocketing. There were several programs part of the 2008 Farm Bill that did not receive extensions, including bioenergy and beginning farmer and rancher programs. Outlaw said farmers will need to study both the ACRE program and DCP to see how they compare.

“We have had a lot of questions,” he said. “We have a lot of questions about how it will work this time.”

He said farmers should look at the lower level of payment with ACRE and evaluate the advantages. For cotton, with a support price of about 71 cents a pound, farmers need to consider the 20 percent loss of the direct payment with ACRE and ask if the ACRE benefits can make that up.

“We can help farmers determine the best option,” Outlaw said.

To assist farmers, the Agricultural and Food Policy Center has tools available at http://afpc.tamu.edu/. Staff is also available to answer questions and help farmers evaluate alternatives, Outlaw said.

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In Iowa's Interest: Continuing the Progress for Working Families PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 15 February 2013 11:34
By Senator Tom Harkin

On February 5th, our country marked the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – a groundbreaking law that provides American workers with 12 weeks of protected — albeit unpaid — leave to recover from a serious illness or care for a new child or seriously ill family member. A recent update provides 26 weeks of family leave to families of injured service members and recent veterans.

The FMLA changed the landscape for hardworking Americans.  While we celebrate this progress, we realize there is still work to be done when it comes to helping working families, and that includes guaranteeing paid sick time to individuals that work hard, earn it, and deserve it.

In the coming weeks, I will introduce the Healthy Families Act, a bill that would allow workers to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick time per year.  Workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Employers that already provide paid sick time will not have to change their current policies, as long as their existing time can be used for the same purposes. Employers can also require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.

The United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid sick days to its workers, and our economy and productivity suffer as a result. Contrary to popular belief, not absenteeism, but “presenteeism”— when a sick employee shows up to the workplace, infects other employees or customers, and is unproductive because they are not feeling well — is the greatest cause of lost productivity due to illness. One study found that a lack of paid sick days — and thus the inability to distance oneself from co-workers — contributed to an additional 5 million cases of the H1N1 flu during the 2009 outbreak.

Seventy percent of low-wage workers — those least likely to be able to afford a lost paycheck or lost job — have no paid sick days. This group is largely workers in jobs that have frequent contact with members of the public, including food service, hospitality, nursing home care, and child care. Their lack of paid sick leave poses a public health threat to all of us and our loved ones. Shockingly, nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers have reported cooking or serving food while sick. Workers’ rights should matter to everyone, but they matter even more when you consider that your next turkey sandwich might be served with a side of the flu.

But perhaps most important, under the Healthy Families Act, workers would have the security of knowing that when illness strikes — as it undoubtedly will — they will be able to tend to their families and themselves without losing their jobs or their income. This bill will provide health, peace of mind and security for America’s workers and their families — and that’s something that everyone deserves.

For more information, please visit http://www.harkin.senate.gov/ or follow Senator Harkin on Facebook and Twitter.

A PDF version of this article is available by clicking here.

 

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Statement by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on 2013 Farm Income Forecast PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Thursday, 14 February 2013 16:28

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2013 – United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement about the 2013 farm income forecast from USDA's Economic Research Service:

 

"Today's forecast for the strongest net farm income in four decades is another positive testament to the resilience and productivity of U.S. farmers and ranchers. American agriculture continues to endure an historic drought with tremendous resolve, and last year was an important reminder of the need for a strong safety net. The commitment of American producers to embrace innovation and adapt to new challenges has helped fuel growth for American agriculture over the past five years. I am also heartened that our farmers’ keen business sense is continuing the recent trend of strong farm finances, with farm equity set to reach another record high in 2013.  In the past year, President Obama and I have ensured that USDA carried out every possible measure to support farmers and ranchers in a tough, uncertain time. We know that today’s positive economic forecast is no signal to let up, especially with regard to providing smart and defensible assistance for America’s dairy and livestock producers who today do not have access to a viable safety net. To help all farmers and ranchers continue their efforts in the years ahead, and to ensure the certainty of a strong safety net, it is critical that Congress act on a multiyear, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible."

 

Highlights from the 2013 Farm Income Forecast are available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-sector-income-finances/highlights-from-the-2013-farm-income-forecast.aspx

 

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Corn Stover Harvest Meetings Scheduled for Eastern and Central Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 08 February 2013 15:46
There are new opportunities to harvest corn stover in two regions of Iowa – near Nevada in central Iowa and near Dubuque in eastern Iowa. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host two meetings, one in each part of the state, to address emerging opportunities related to stover harvesting for the biomass feedstock needs of local industries.

The central Iowa meeting will be held Feb. 28 at the Iowa Arboretum near Madrid, Iowa. This meeting is in collaboration with DuPont and will look at the use of corn stover in cellulosic ethanol production. The eastern Iowa meeting will be held on March 6 at the 4-H Building at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds, Dubuque, Iowa. The eastern Iowa meeting is in collaboration with JELD-WEN Fiber of Iowa to discuss use of corn stover as a fiber material. Both meetings start at 12:45 p.m.

Stover harvesting can impact economic, agronomic and water quality production factors. The meetings will address many of the positives and negatives of stover harvesting and discuss how stover harvesting can be managed within corn production. Crop producers, land owners, crop consultants, agronomists, service providers and others with an interest in stover harvest and its
removal from farm fields are encouraged to attend.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach meeting speakers include: John Sawyer and Antonio Mallarino, soil fertility specialists; Mahdi Al-Kaisi, soil management specialist; Chad Hart and William Edwards, agricultural marketing specialists; Matt Helmers and Kapil Arora, agricultural engineering specialists; Mark Licht and Virgil Schmitt, field agronomists; and Kelvin Leibold, farm management specialist. Industry speakers on the agenda include: Dr. David Ertl, technology commercialization manager, Iowa Corn Growers Association; Dennis Penland, DuPont business development manager; Andy Heggenstaller, agronomy research manager, DuPont; and Gardner Lance, general manager, JELD-WEN Fiber of Iowa.

A noon lunch will be sponsored by industry partners prior to the start of the meeting at no cost to the participants, however pre-registration is required. Industry representatives will be available to meet with participants during lunch and at the close of the meeting.

Registration forms for the Feb. 28 Boone County meeting are available from the Boone County Extension Office by calling 515-432-3882, or online at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/boone/. Registration for the March 6 Dubuque meeting are available from the Dubuque County Extension and Outreach Office by calling 563 583-6496, or online at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/dubuque/.

There is no fee to attend this meeting. Registration is required for correct meal and handout counts. Walk-in registration the day of the meeting will only be accepted if space is available.

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