Agribusiness
USDA Officially Announces Sign-Up Date for Farmer and Rancher Disaster Assistance Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 08:43
Sign-Up Begins April 15 for Livestock, Honeybee, Fruit Grower Programs

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Quick implementation of the programs has been a top priority for USDA.

"These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I prioritized the implementation of these disaster assistance programs now that the Farm Bill has restored and strengthened them."

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

  • LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary.
  • LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land. An eligible livestock producer must own, cash lease, or be a contract grower of eligible livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of the qualifying drought or fire in a county that is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D2, D3, or D4.
  • ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
  • TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees have worked exceptionally hard over the past two months to ensure eligible farmers and ranchers would be able to enroll to receive disaster relief on April 15.

To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the enrollment in these disaster assistance programs. Information on the types of records necessary can be provided by local FSA county offices. Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

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Clean Line Informational Presentation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 07 April 2014 09:48

Residents wanting information about agreements for Clean Line easements are offered an online video from The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation.  “View it at your convenience if you are interested in the topic,” said Becky Bray, Scott County Extension Director. “We’re heading into a busy season for lots of rural people and we hope that they can view and possibly review this information as needed.”

The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) has produced a video presentation of the legal issues associated with Clean Line Easement Agreements.  The presentation by CALT Director Roger McEowen and CALT Staff Attorney Kristine Tidgren addresses key issues facing landowners.  The presentation breaks down a standard easement agreement and puts particular emphasis on clause language that landowners may want to attempt to negotiate.  General topics addressed include the nature of the easement, the rights granted in the agreement, the structure of compensation, damages, landowner usage, cancellation rights, the ability to assign the agreement, termination events and eminent domain.  The session concludes with some common questions that have been raised about clean line easement agreements.

The presentation can be found at the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T08RjbbnRME

 

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 07 April 2014 07:38
Significant Action Taken on All Bill Titles in First Eight Weeks Since Enactment

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014— Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy.

“We are making tremendous progress implementing the new Farm Bill,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This law is critically important to America’s farmers and ranchers and to our nation’s economy. Every USDA agency is working diligently to implement the Farm Bill’s new provisions quickly and effectively.”

With 12 titles and over 450 provisions, the Farm Bill drives food, farm, conservation, trade, research, energy policies and more. Implementing such a large piece of legislation within the mandated timeline requires a coordinated effort across all areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Immediately after enactment, USDA established a farm bill implementation team composed of key sub-cabinet officials and experts from every mission area of the Department to put new programs in place and make mandated reforms to existing programs.

USDA also launched a website that provides details on Farm Bill implementation in one convenient location and the Economic Research Service launched a website highlighting some of the economic implications of the new programs and provisions.

In the weeks since enactment, USDA held 12 outreach and listening sessions to share information and hear from stakeholders on the 2014 Farm Bill implementation process.

Important progress has been made on every title of the Farm Bill including updates to risk management tools, modifications to farm loan programs, announcements regarding available funds for agricultural research and much more.

USDA has made providing long-awaited disaster relief to farmers and ranchers a top priority and quick implementation on relief programs is within sight. Beginning April 15, producers will be able to enroll in the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

USDA is also highly focused on providing timely educational materials on new risk management programs to farmers so they can make informed business decisions.  Announcements on new agriculture research partnerships, conservation and nutrition programs, and other Farm Bill provisions will continue to be made in the coming weeks and months.

To stay up-to-date on USDA’s Farm Bill implementation progress, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

See below for more detailed information on Farm Bill implementation accomplishments to date.

TITLE I – Commodity Programs

  • Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Assistance: USDA will publish a final rule to implement the disaster assistance provisions and begin sign-up by April 15, 2014.
  • County and Regional Loan Rates: USDA issued a press release on March 28, 2014 announcing county and regional loan rates.
  • Extension of Programs: On March 28, 2014, FSA published on the Federal Register notices for the extension of the following programs:  (1) Marketing Assistance Loans; (2) Milk Income Loss Contract; (3) Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; (4) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; and (5) Sugar.
  • Dairy Forward Pricing Program: Final rule published on March 21, 2014, that re-established the Dairy Forward Pricing Program. 

TITLE II – Conservation

  • Conservation Programs: Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program. 

TITLE III – Trade

  • Market Access Program (MAP): During the week of April 7, 2014, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will announce 2014 MAP funding.
    Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD): During the week of April 7, 2014, FAS will announce 2014 FMD funding.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs

  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Payments: On March 5, 2014, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released an Implementation Memorandum to States on the elimination of standard utility allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for LIHEAP payments less than $20. 
  • SNAP-related Provisions: On March 21, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States communicating major SNAP related provisions of the Act.
    Community Food Projects: On February 27, 2014, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, with $5 million available. 
    Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): On March 10, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States on phasing out the eligibility of women, infants and children.
    Multiagency Taskforce on Commodity Programs: On March 14, 2014, the Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services issued a memorandum to solicit names for a multiagency task force to provide coordination and direction for commodity programs.  

TITLE V – Credit

  • Farm Loan Programs/Direct Farm Ownership: On February 7, 2014, FSA implemented changes in the interest rate on Direct Farm Ownership loans that are made in conjunction with other lenders.
  • Modifications to Farm Loan Programs: On March 24, 2014, FSA issued a news release in announcing changes to Farm Loan Programs as part of the Farm Bill.
  • Microloans: On March 26, 2014, FSA issued an agency directive implementing non-discretionary microloan provisions.

 

TITLE VI – Rural Development

  • Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG): On March 25, 2014, Rural Development published a notice in the Federal Register extending the application period for Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 funding for VAPG, with up to $25.5 million available for these grants.
  • Definition of Rural Housing: On March 13, 2014, Rural Development issued guidance to State Directors, field staff and stakeholders on implementing new eligibility requirements regarding the definition of rural housing.

 

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters

  • Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative: On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, with $20 million available in FY 2014. 
    Specialty Crop Research Initiative: On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, with $76.8 million available in FY 2014. 
    Citrus Disease Subcommittee: A subcommittee has been formally established within the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, under the Specialty Crop Committee, and solicitation letters for nominations were issued March 17, 2014. 
    Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR): Letters soliciting nominations to the FFAR Board were mailed to interested parties and a Federal Register notice was submitted for publication on March 31, 2014.
    Budget Submission and Funding: On March 10, 2014, REE submitted its first Budget Submission and Funding report to Congress.

TITLE VIII – Forestry

  • Insect and Disease Infestation: On March 19, 2014, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell sent a letter to all state governors notifying them of the opportunity to submit requests for designating their priority insect and disease areas for treatment.

TITLE X – Horticulture

  • Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention: On April 3, 2014, USDA announced $48.1 million in funding for 383 projects to help prevent the introduction or spread of plan pests and diseases.
    National Clean Plant Network: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on March 24, 2014 for the National Clean Plant Network, with $5 million available.
    Bulk Shipments of Apples to Canada: On April 3, 2014, AMS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register amending regulations under the Export Apple Act to allow bulk containers to be shipped to Canada without U.S. inspection.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance

  • Premium Amounts for Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT): During the first week of April, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) will issue documents to revise the premium rates charged for CAT coverage to be based on the average historical “loss ratio” plus a reasonable reserve.


TITLE XII – Miscellaneous

  • Catfish Inspection: On March 14, 2014, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted the first status report to Congress on the development of the final rule establishing a catfish inspection program.

 
USDA Provides Farm Bill Funding for Pest and Disease Management Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 04 April 2014 15:39

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the allocation of $48.1 million, provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), to projects across the country that will help to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy and the environment. The economic stakes for stopping invasive species are high, with scientists estimating the total economic cost of all invasive species to be approximately $120 billion annually.

"Invasive pests cause billions of dollars in damage each year and endanger our nation's food security," said Vilsack. "The funds USDA is making available today will help partners and stakeholders develop strategies, products and treatments to safeguard our farms and natural resources from invasive threats."

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sought project suggestions from states and U.S. territories, universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations that would provide a direct impact in managing pests and diseases, as well as disaster prevention. APHIS is funding 383 projects in 49 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. The projects approved for allocation will help states and other partners continue providing and strengthening protections against agricultural threats and could also allow the reallocation of resources to other critical programs.

A list of selected projects and the FY 2014 funding plan are posted at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2014/04/pdf/fy14_farm_bill_spending_plan.pdf

Funded initiatives include:

  • $2 million for protection against exotic fruit flies in California;
  • $270,907 to survey and analyze adult honey bee samples collected from apiaries across multiple U.S states and Puerto Rico for pests and diseases, such as the Varroa virus;
  • $290,000 to the Nez Perce Tribe Bio-control Project involving noxious/invasive weed survey and control activities;
  • $224,894 for the National Plant Board to develop a harmonized national systems approach to nursery certification that enhances existing state programs to reduce the risk of plant pests in nursery stock;
  • $227,808 to North Carolina for enhancing exotic plant pest management by creating New Pest Response Guidelines with university collaboration; and
  • $2.4 million for supporting response to the recently detected coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation in Hawaii.

Prospective projects were evaluated by teams comprised of USDA experts and industry representatives and were selected based on criteria that supported six goals -- enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. The teams also evaluated submissions based on expected impacts of the project, the technical approach, and how submissions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other previously funded projects funded under the 2008 Farm Bill (Section 10201).

The 2008 Farm Bill has provided funding for more than 1500 projects over the last five years and has played a significant role in protecting American agriculture and educating the public about the threat of invasive species.

The public can help protect America's agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause. APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these "hungry pests" behind. Visitwww.Hungrypests.com during April, which APHIS has proclaimed Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, to learn more about invasive plant pest and diseases impacting your area and how you can help. And, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the HungryPests Facebook page.

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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)


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U.S., South American Soybean Farmers Unite in China PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 13:41

U.S. soy family works to continue to build U.S. soy’s relationship with China

ST. LOUIS (April 1, 2014) – Farmers representing countries that produce 90 percent of the world’s soybeans recently met with the customers who buy 25 percent of the world’s soybeans. As part of the International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA), leaders from the soy checkoff, American Soybean Association (ASA), and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) met with customers and government officials in China to discuss the farmers’ commitment to providing a safe and abundant supply of soybeans and the importance of eliminating trade barriers.

“China is without a doubt the largest importer of U.S. and South American soy, so it’s really powerful when we can stand side-by-side with farmers we usually consider competitors to deliver a message,” says Jared Hagert, soybean farmer from Emerado, N.D., and United Soybean Board (USB) treasurer. “Our common goal is to build on these partnerships and strengthen trade relations so we can remain the premier supplier of soy for China.”

One trade barrier that concerns soybean farmers is the approval of soybeans improved through the use of biotechnology. While in China, the ISGA delegation will highlight the importance of timely, transparent approval processes of new biotech soybeans to help keep trade moving smoothly.

“There’s really no way to overstate just how important the Chinese market is for soybean farmers, not only here in the U.S., but in South America as well,” added Ray Gaesser, ASA president and soybean farmer from Corning, Iowa. “The cooperation and coordination of our three organizations – ASA, USB and USSEC – makes our partnership with our South American counterparts possible, and the more we’re able to stand together as the world’s primary producers of soy, the stronger we can make this trading partnership and the more each of our countries stands to benefit. That’s why we’re all here, together, in interest of farmers, consumers and stakeholders in each country.”

ISGA brings together soybean farmers from South America and the United States to address common issues. Its members include Argentine, Brazilian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan and U.S. soybean farmers.

The 70 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.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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