Chavez Monument Offers Inspiration for Farmworker Advocates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Ayrianne Parks   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 07:32
AFOP Commends the Dedication of the César E. Chávez National Monument and Reflects on the Path Forward

Washington, D.C.—Yesterday afternoon, President Barack Obama established the César E. Chávez National Monument recognizing the legacy of the workers’ rights champion. The dedication of the monument honoring the farmworker advocate and civil rights leader marks the first time in living memory that a Mexican American has been officially honored.

“As a former farmworker, I found it to be an inspirational event honoring a great civil rights leader and his hard work to protect the farmworkers who harvest our nation’s food,” said Jesús Gamboa, president of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and Proteus, Inc. Chief Operations Officer.

The historic occasion took place at La Paz in Keene, California, where the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) is headquartered and Chávez lived. It was attended by President Obama; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, an ardent defender of farmworkers; Paul Chávez, the son of the César Chávez; and thousands more, including many notable Latino advocates, farmworkers, and school children, who came to pay homage to the man who made so many sacrifices to ensure safer and more humane working conditions for workers.

Some in the advocacy community have questioned the administration’s actions yesterday, however, given its withdrawal earlier this year of updates Secretary Solis proposed to the safety rules for children employed in agriculture.

“We commend the Obama Administration for establishing this monument, but are still profoundly disappointed in its action in April to pull the updates to the Hazardous Orders for children employed in agriculture. Without those updates, farmworker children’s lives continue to be put in jeopardy harvesting America’s food,” said Norma Flores López, director of AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign and chair of the domestic issues committee for the Child Labor Coalition. “It was a missed opportunity to follow in the footsteps of César Chávez who advocated so persuasively for the protection of the nation’s farmworkers.”

Those rules, which have not been updated in more than 40 years, came after changes were made to the Hazardous Orders for children employed in non-agricultural occupations; those proposed changes were implemented with little fanfare or difficulty.

“While some things have improved for farmworkers over the years, AFOP knows much remains to be done, and I was encouraged to hear the President underscore that point during his speech yesterday,” said Gamboa. “This historic step provides us with motivation for the path forward. In the words of César Chávez, ‘¡Si se puede!’”

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Secretary Vilsack to Participate in the Kickoff of Four Regional Workshops on Drought Response PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:22
Meetings Highlight National and Local Efforts to Identify Solutions for Intermediate and Long-Term Drought Relief

OMAHA, Neb., Oct 9, 2012—Speaking at the opening session of the first of four regional workshops to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the lack of a new five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill has the potential to delay and stifle the federal response.

"USDA is doing all we can, but key programs traditionally made available in times of disaster are in limbo because Congress has allowed our authority to deliver them to expire," said Vilsack. "As I travel the country, it is clear to me that farmers and ranchers are aware of the gravity of the situation, and the need for Congress to act."

Vilsack indicated that President Obama had directed federal agencies to take every possible step to help farmers and ranchers, businesses, and rural communities recover as a result of one of the country's worst droughts in decades. USDA is partnering with local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops, working closely with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate these meetings.

"The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, with its decades of experience helping regions stricken by natural disasters, will play an important role in this multiagency Obama administration effort to partner with the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and rural areas that have been impacted by the droughts to help get them on a path to economic recovery," said Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. "The regional drought recovery meetings are timely and offer a great opportunity to provide detailed information on existing federal resources to support local initiatives and identify strategies for long-term solutions."

Today's workshop was sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, the National Association of Counties, and the Mayor of Omaha. Among the federal officials joining Secretary Vilsack at the session was Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the Economic Development Administration.

The next meeting will be at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo on October 15th to be followed by meetings in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on October 17th and in Ohio during the week of October 22nd.

At the direction of the President, Secretary Vilsack is helping coordinate an Administration-wide response that has included: the National Credit Union Administration's increased capacity for lending to customers including farmers; the U.S. Department of Transportation's emergency waivers for federal truck weight regulations and hours of service requirements to get help to drought-stricken communities; increased outreach and emergency lending by the Small Business Administration; and more.

(You can view a White House fact sheet outlining efforts by non-USDA Federal agencies here.)

As of Oct. 2, 2012, USDA has designated all or parts of 39 states as natural disaster areas this year. USDA continues to encourage any farmer or rancher with questions to contact a USDA Service Center office, because even with limited legal authority, USDA has worked hard to offer tools to help.

The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers. A strong farm safety net is important to sustain the success of American agriculture. USDA's crop insurance program currently insures 264 million acres, 1.14 million policies, and $110 billion worth of liability on about 500,000 farms. In response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping struggling farmers refinance loans. Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


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).


President Obama sends letter to Ag Groups PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Obama for America   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:19

On Friday, President Obama sent a letter (attached) to farm groups about the drought and his disappointment that Mitt Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is leading the House blockage of a bipartisan farm bill.

The President wrote about the need to strengthen the farm safety net, extend disaster assistance and expand crop insurance.  It was sent to the Wheat Growers, American Soybean Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Corn Growers, National Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union.

Since June, the Obama campaign has been working with the Rural Iowans for Obama Council to talk about the President’s plans for keeping rural America and U.S. agriculture moving forward and the need to hold Mitt Romney accountable in rural communities across the state.  Please see below and learn more at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack Announces the Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee

DES MOINES – Today, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack announced the members of the Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee.  Two members of the Rural Steering Committee, Bruce Rohwer, a corn farmer from Northwest Iowa and member of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Cathy Lafrenz a small business owner, who runs Miss Effie’s Country Flowers from rural Scott County joined Mr. Vilsack on the call.

The Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee is a groundbreaking organizing operation in rural communities. The campaign will have the largest presence and largest ground game in rural Iowa that any President candidate has ever had in the state of Iowa.

This group will work to promote the President’s strong record of supporting rural America and our nation’s small businesses, farmers, working families and students by creating rural economies built to last and rewarding small town values like hard work and fairness. This group will also draw a contrast between the President’s strong record supporting rural communities and Mitt Romney’s out of touch view of the issues that matter most to rural communities.

"Iowa's rural towns represent the value of family and community," Vilsack said.  "Iowa is a place that--with hard work and determination--can provide a bright future for you, and a brighter one for your children."  He continued, "I'm proud to join my fellow Iowans in supporting President Obama and his vision for rural America.  I know he and Vice President Biden will always support the promise and value of rural America."

Obama for America Iowa also announced the Iowa Grown tour highlighting the strength of our rural communities and President Obama’s plans to continue to support growing our small town economies.  Rural Steering Committee members will hold roundtables with rural Iowans over the next few months.  The first roundtables will be held next week in Carroll, Fort Dodge, Adel and Indianola.

“I am proud to join the Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee because under this President, Iowa farmers are seeing unprecedented prosperity,” said Rohwer. “Under President Obama, Iowa farmers are seeing record farm income, record agricultural exports and the growth of renewable energy industries for wind and biofuels that are revitalizing small towns across Iowa.”

The Steering Committee is comprised of a diverse group of men and women, both young and old, with experience in a range of fields from farming and business, to education and health care.

“Today, not all Iowans are farmers or live in rural America, but Iowans identify with the values our small towns and rural communities. That’s why today we’re excited to launch Rural Iowans for Obama,” said Lafrenz. “I am a small business owner who chose to start a business in rural Iowa. We have seen tremendous growth and we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary in business. Small businesses are a vital part of revitalizing Iowa’s rural communities.”

The members of the Rural Steering Committee include:

·         Aaron Lehman, Polk City: Sixth generation farmer with a corn, soybean, and hay operation.

·         Bill Gannon, Mingo: Former Iowa legislator and corn and soybean farmer from Jasper County.

·         Bruce Rohwer, Paullina: Corn farmer from Northwest Iowa and a member of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

·         Cathy Lafrenz, Donahue: Small business owner in rural Scott County, running Miss Effie’s Country Flowers.

·         Chris Petersen, Clear Lake: President of the Iowa Farmers Union and runs a family farm operation near Clear Lake.

·         Dillon Thiner, Graettinger: Student at Simpson College and past member of Future Farmers of America. 

·         Gary Lamb, Chelsea: Long-time diversified farmer in Tama County.

·         Helen Miller, Ft. Dodge: Representative Miller has served in the Iowa House since 2003 and is the Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Committee.

·         Jack Kibbie, Emmetsburg: Retiring President of the Iowa Senate and cattleman from Palo Alto County.

·         Jake Krapfl, New Vienna: Grew up on a farm, Iraq War veteran and writing instructor at Northeast Iowa Community College.

·         Jennifer Herrington, Clarinda: Mental health professional, Page County Democrat Chair and Neighborhood Team Leader for OFA-Iowa.

·         Jennifer Steffen, Birmingham: Corn, cattle, and soybean farmer in Southeastern Iowa and has served on the State Soil Conversation Committee.

·         Kevin Middleswart, Indianola: Former Warren County Supervisor and an Iowa Farm Bureau member who operates a diversified farm producing corn, soybeans, cattle, and timber.

·         Matt Russell, Lacona: State food policy project coordinator at Drake University Law School and raises sustainably-grown foods on the 110-acre Coyote Run Farm in Warren County.

·         Morgan Hoenig, Mt. Pleasant: Young entrepreneur operating MoGo Organic, which produces fresh produce in Henry County.

·         Neil Hamilton, Waukee: Directs the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University Law School.

·         Dr. Neil E. Harl, Ames: Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Emeritus Professor of Economics at Iowa State University.

·         Patty Judge, Des Moines: Former Lt. Governor and Iowa's first woman Secretary of Agriculture, ran a cow-calf operation in Albia

·         Rob Hach, Alta: CEO of Anemometry, a wind turbine installation company headquartered in Alta. The company was selected as SBA's Iowa 2010 Small Business Persons of the Year Award winner.

·         Sharon Ambrose, Walnut: Teaches at Atlantic Elementary School and is a rural Neighborhood Team Leader for OFA-Iowa.

·         Warren Woods, Creston: Serving as Mayor of Creston since 2008.

ISU Extension Calendar Oct 17 thru Nov 27, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:05

The Scott County Extension Celebrates 100 Years of Service PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:02

The Scott County Extension Council was presented recently with a certificate celebrating 100 years of service to Scott County citizens. The first county agent in Scott County was hired in 1912. Extension programs offer research based, unbiased education for citizens in the areas of horticulture, youth, parenting, nutrition, money concerns, manufacturing assistance, and community building.

Council 100 Years pic.jpg

Picture: back, left to right - Bob Owen, Regional Director, Council members Mary Schwarz, Jane Weber, John Maxwell, Jodi Blake, Chuck Buel and Assistant to the ISU Vice-President of Extension and Outreach, Sherry Glenn. Front, left to right, Council members Michael Ryan and Susy VenHorst and Scott County Extension Director, Becky Bray. Not pictured: Council members Roger Fuerstenberg and Bonnie Beechum.

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