News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:44

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – July 20, 2012 – Like many Iowa parents and homeowners, Ben Albright of Lytton set up the sprinkler on the Fourth of July. But it wasn’t for the enjoyment of his young son or for the sake of his scorched grass, it was for the comfort of his cattle. As temperatures climbed into the triple digits (again), Albright spent most of his time making sure his herd had access to shade and water.

“Even on hot holidays, farmers are taking care of their livestock,” said Albright. “It’s a 365-day, 24/7 type of job.”

This summer’s heat has caused near-drought conditions for much of Iowa; taking its toll on the crops and pastures. Livestock producers depend on both: grain for feed and pastures for grazing. Farmers are watching crop prices increase and seeing pastures dry up, so it takes extra effort to make the most of their water sources, pastures and buildings. According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (, only 1 percent of Iowa’s pasture conditions are rated excellent, with 26 percent rated very poor. Farmers are concerned about providing enough forage for their livestock and protecting the soil and environment, as well.

Randy Dreher, a cattle farmer near Audubon, carefully manages his herd’s grazing systems, rotating the cattle among his pastures to allow the cattle to find sufficient forage and keep the areas growing and sustainable.

“I’ve worked closely with my Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) representative, setting up a system that provides many environmental benefits including increased water infiltration, reduced soil moisture evaporation and better manure distribution,” said Dreher.

Daily, Dreher measures how much forage the cattle eat, how much his pastures can supply and preparing himself to offer hay as a supplement.  Because of his close attention to managing his natural resources, he says he’s able to feed more cattle per acre than if he didn’t use such a system.

Over in Prairieburg in Linn County, Jason Russell is tending to his livestock, too, but he’s dealing with a different species and using different farming methods.

Russell raises hogs indoors, which means while the mercury climbs to the triple-digits outside, his animals have shade, water and food in comfortable surroundings. The barn is equipped with a 12-stage heating and cooling control system, sprinklers, fans and side curtains that can be raised and lowered.

“Raising hogs indoors is the right system for my family,” said Russell. “It allows us to successfully manage our resources and keep a close eye on our animals. The building is cool and comfortable in the summer and warm and dry in the winter time. It’s good for us and our animals’ health.”

Healthy animals mean healthy food. And that’s good for everyone when they go to the store to buy their favorite summer meals, including burgers and brats.



Drought-Ravaged Crops, $8 Corn, Food Cost Fallout, Global Ag Market Swings: What's Next? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by K. Firebaugh   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:43

Today's leading national economists, climatologists and market analysts bring these answers and their expertise to Ames July 23-24 for the Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit.

Among the featured speakers at the two-day event:

  • U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Jason Henderson
  • Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute
  • Danny Klinefelter, Texas A&M economist
  • Elwynn Taylor, ISU Professor of Ag Meteorology

More than 400 farmers are also going to be in attendance to gather the latest market and drought-recovery insights from these nationally-recognized economic and ag market business leaders.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit will be held at the Scheman Center at Iowa State University and is free to media.

For a complete look at the agenda, click here:

For more information or to confirm registration or arrange media interviews, please contact Laurie Johns now at 515-225-5414 or by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Media Advisory: USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Host #ASKUSDA Virtual Office Hours on Local Food PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:07

Focus on 2.0 version of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2012—On Tuesday, July 24, at 1:30 pm EDT, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will host a live Twitter chat focusing on the Department’s support for local and regional food systems and the recent release of the 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. Deputy Secretary Merrigan will answer your questions about the Department’s work related to local food and ways the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass can assist your community.

This Twitter chat is a follow-up to last week’s Google+ Hangout hosted by the White House and USDA on the same topic.

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources that support of regional food production. Originally released in February 2012, the 2.0 version of the Compass guide contains new case studies of successful regional food projects, while the interactive map feature now includes data on food hubs, farmers markets, meat processing facilities and more, as well as data on USDA-supported projects in all fifty states. The map is also searchable by key word and zip code, enabling users to zero in on the topics or regions that interest them most and see how USDA can help.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 

1:30 p.m. EDT 

WHAT: USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan will answer questions about USDA’s suppor for local and regional food systems and the 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass.

Follow the @USDA Twitter account. Use hashtags #askUSDA and #KYF2 to submit questions in advance and during the live Twitter chat

USDA Virtual Office Hours, a monthly live question and answer series, allows stakeholders to directly engage with USDA leadership and subject matter experts through Twitter. Sessions are focused on a specific mission, issue or program as aligned with the Department’s strategic goals and based on stakeholder interests.


Schilling Co-Leads Bipartisan Push for Farmers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:00

Joins Reps. Noem, Welch, and 59 others in pushing for consideration of the Farm Bill

Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) this week joined a bipartisan group of members including Congresswoman Kristi Noem (SD-At Large) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) in spearheading a letter to House leadership urging them to bring H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, to a vote before August.  The Farm Bill passed the House Agriculture Committee last week by a strong bipartisan vote of 35-11.

In the letter, which has so far been signed by 38 Republicans and 24 Democrats, Noem, Welch, Schilling and their colleagues push Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer for floor time to consider the Farm Bill so it can be debated, conferenced, and ultimately passed into law before the current Farm Bill expires on September 30.

“The 17th Congressional District of Illinois is blessed with some of the most fruitful and productive soil in the world,” Schilling said. “In fact, when it comes to the value of sales of corn and soybeans, we rank 14th out of 435 Congressional Districts.  We host the Farm Progress Show every other year, are home to Ag manufacturers John Deere and Caterpillar, and are among the leading districts for livestock in the country.  I truly do believe we are an agricultural powerhouse.

“It was this Congress that passed three Free Trade Agreements, repealed the health care reform law’s onerous 1099 tax reporting requirement, passed the VOW to Hire Heroes veterans’ jobs bill, passed the STOCK ACT, passed a four-year FAA reauthorization, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, passed a multi-year transportation reauthorization, and passed a defense bill that will promote workload and jobs at the Rock Island Arsenal, all on a bipartisan basis.  It’s crucial that we work together to pass a Farm Bill, and continue to allow producers to do what they do best – feed our country.”

In their letter, the Members write, “The message from our constituents and rural America is clear: we need a farm bill now. We ask that you bring a farm bill up before the August District Work Period so that the House will have the opportunity to work its will. We ask that you make this legislation a priority of the House as it is critically important to rural and urban Americans alike.”

The full letter is copied below. Signers include Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Robert Schilling (R-Ill.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), David Loebsack (D-Iowa), Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Rick Berg (R-N.D.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Sam Graves (R-Ga.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Jeff Landry (R-La.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.), Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Tom Latham (R-Iowa), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La), Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), Candice Miller (R-Mich).

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Democratic Leader Pelosi and Democratic Whip Hoyer:

Many current farm bill policies expire on September 30, 2012. The House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, or the 2012 Farm Bill, on July 12th with a strong bipartisan vote of 35-11. While by no means perfect, this farm bill is needed for producers and those who rely on sound agriculture policy and nutrition programs during difficult economic times.

The House Agriculture Committee has done its work and we now ask that you make time on the floor of the House to consider this legislation, so that it can be debated, conferenced, and ultimately passed into law, before the current bill expires. We need to continue to tell the American success story of agriculture and work to ensure we have strong policies in place so that producers can continue to provide an abundant, affordable and safe food supply.

We all share the goal of giving small businesses certainty in these challenging economic times. Agriculture supports nearly 16 million jobs nationwide and over 45 million people are helped each year by the nutrition programs in the farm bill. We have a tremendous opportunity to set the course of farm and nutrition policy for another five years while continuing to maintain and support these jobs nationwide.

The message from our constituents and rural America is clear: we need a farm bill now. We ask that you bring a farm bill up before the August District Work Period so that the House will have the opportunity to work its will. We ask that you make this legislation a priority of the House as it is critically important to rural and urban Americans alike.

We appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you to advance the FARRM Act.


# # #

To send Congressman Schilling an e-mail, click here

USDA Drought Response - Digital Resources: 7/19/12 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 20 July 2012 13:56

Visit the USDA Drought webpage for the latest information and resources


President Barack Obama is briefed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Administration’s efforts to respond to the historic drought conditions being felt across the country, during a meeting in the Oval Office, July 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Press Releases:

USDA Designates an Additional 39 Counties in 8 States as Primary Natural Disaster Areas Due to Worsening Drought


USDA Officials Stand with Farmers and Ranchers Affected by Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters


USDA Announces Streamlined Disaster Designation Process with Lower Emergency Loan Rates and Greater CRP Flexibility in Disaster Areas


Flickr Collections- Drought


TV Actuality:

Drought and food prices

User name: usdanews

Password: Newscontent1

USDA Radio:

Vilsack Calls For Help From Congress To Help Drought Area Farmers


The nation's top agricultural official says he needs help from Congress if he's going to be able to do much to help drought stricken producers, especially livestock producers. (Gary Crawford and Secy' Tom Vilsack)


Actuality: Vilsack's Overall Description Of The Drought


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a White House news briefing, giving reporters a general description of the drought.

Crop Insurance Ready For Drought Related Claims


A USDA official says crop insurance companies are prepared for potential claims related to this year's drought conditions. (Rod Bain and Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy)

USDA Officials Travelling To Fire And Drought Areas


USDA officials continue to visit and evaluate areas plagued by ongoing and potential disasters such as drought and wildfire. (Rod Bain and Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy)


How Will The Heat And Drought Affect Food Prices?


When, if ever, will consumers see higher food prices as a result of this summer's drought? (Gary Crawford and Joe Glauber)

Web Information Resources:

Emergency Preparedness and Response Page

USDA's Drought Page


Agricultural Weather Updates


ERS Website

For retail food price information and other factors.

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