USDA Unveils New Aggressive Tactics to Counter Fraud and Enhance SNAP Program Integrity PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 10 August 2012 08:15
Strengthened Measures Target Bad Actors in Nation's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2012— Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced a broad range of additional strategies to further improve program integrity in USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and hold those misusing benefits accountable. The measures include tougher financial sanctions for the small number of retailers that defraud the program and new requirements and tools for States to ensure benefits go solely to eligible individuals.

"USDA has a zero tolerance policy for SNAP fraud," said Concannon. "These additional measures reaffirm our ongoing commitment to ensuring these dollars are spent as intended–helping millions of people in need get back on solid economic footing."

The retailer sanctions proposal allows USDA to not only permanently disqualify a retailer who traffics, but also assess a monetary penalty in addition to the disqualification. Financial penalties would be proportional to the amount of SNAP business the store is conducting, which will help ensure that the financial punishment more closely fits the crime. Currently, when a retailer is found guilty of fraud or abuse, USDA can either disqualify the retailer from participating in SNAP, or issue a financial penalty, but not both.

Today's announcement includes new requirements for States to take specific actions that would catch fraud and abuse on the front end and ensure that ineligible people do not participate in the program. The new standards strengthen integrity by giving States an additional tool to identify cases that may require further investigation and review when an applicant or recipient is found in a Federal database.

"These requirements will make us better at identifying potential fraud and abuse before it occurs, as well as help us hold bad actors even more accountable than in the past and discourage them from abusing the public's trust," said Concannon.

Concannon also today released third quarter, fiscal year 2012 results of USDA work in fighting fraudulent activity in SNAP retail stores, tallying final actions to sanction or disqualify retailers violating program rules. In that quarter, USDA staff took final actions to:

  • Impose sanctions, through fines or temporary disqualifications, on more than 574 stores found violating program rules; and
  • Permanently disqualify 1,016 stores for trafficking SNAP benefits (i.e. exchanging SNAP benefits for cash) or falsifying an application.

These announcements are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing Campaign to Cut Waste designed to fight fraud and abuse in Federal programs. For more information about USDA efforts to combat fraud, visit the Stop SNAP fraud website at

USDA continues to work with local, state and federal partners to root out fraud, waste and abuse in SNAP and ensure the integrity of our nation's most important food assistance program. Recent actions include:

  • Sending letters to the CEOs of Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook and Twitter to reiterate the need to help prevent the illegal sale or purchase of SNAP benefits online;
  • Proposing a rule to provide States the option to require recipients to make contact with the state when there have been an excessive number of requests for EBT card replacements;
  • Increasing documentation required for high-risk stores applying to redeem SNAP benefits;
  • Continuing to notify state social service agencies and federal agency partners about violators to better protect our public programs. This includes information on program recipients with suspicious transactions at stores that have been sanctioned for trafficking so that the recipients can be further investigated by States.

Reducing childhood obesity and improving the nutrition of all Americans are vital to achieve a healthy future for America. That's why the Obama administration and USDA are committed to promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles and to ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals.

SNAP–the nation's first line of defense against hunger–helps put food on the table for millions of low income families and individuals every month. The largest of USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs, it has never been more urgently needed than it is today. SNAP is a vital supplement to the monthly food budget of more than 46 million low-income individuals. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children and more than 40 percent of recipients live in households with earnings.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including school meals programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.


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).


Use Biodiesel and Improve the Air Quality on Your Farm PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Friday, 10 August 2012 07:55

By Jim Willers, United Soybean Board director and a soybean farmer from Beaver Creek, Minn.

I know how much time I spend around diesel-powered vehicles, equipment and machinery, and I’d bet that most farmers around the United States spend similar amounts. That’s why I’m so alarmed at the recent news from the World Health Organization and its International Agency for Research on Cancer, which now considers diesel fuel exhaust to be a carcinogen as dangerous as secondhand smoke.

Farmers and ranchers make up the third-largest category of diesel fuel users behind truck drivers and heating oil users.

Thankfully, recent clean-diesel technology has cleaned up our emissions immensely, including significantly reducing some of the elements of diesel exhaust that prove to be so damaging to our health.

For example, in 2007, engine manufacturers began adding filters to trap soot. They added technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions starting in 2010.

You can reduce these harmful emissions even more by using biodiesel.

Petroleum diesel exhaust contains toxic fumes that you don’t get from biodiesel. Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning fuel that’s made from U.S.-grown, renewable and biodegradable sources, and doesn’t have those toxins.

Soybean oil remains the primary feedstock for U.S. biodiesel production and our soy checkoff continues to support the U.S. biodiesel industry. For example, the checkoff funds research into biodiesel’s performance, environmental and health benefits.

According to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, using 100 percent biodiesel significantly reduces some of the emissions that prove harmful to our health, including:

  • A 67 percent drop in hydrocarbon emissions.
  • A 48 percent decrease in poisonous carbon monoxide.
  • A 47 percent reduction in particulate matter.

Additionally, the National Renewable Energy Lab says a B20 blend of biodiesel (20 percent biodiesel mixed with 80 percent petroleum diesel) drops particulate matter emissions by 25 percent in engines without clean-diesel technology and by 67 percent in engines with the new cleaner-burning attributes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes biodiesel’s clean-air qualities in its regulation that requires the use of at least 1 billion gallons of biodiesel this year. Under this regulation, biodiesel remains the only commercially available fuel that qualifies as an Advanced Biofuel. It earned that distinction from the EPA because it reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

That regulation continues to improve biodiesel availability, which could make it easier for U.S. farmers to find and use the fuel.

To find biodiesel distributors or retailers in your area, visit To learn more about the soy checkoff’s efforts to promote biodiesel as a way of increasing demand for U.S. soybean oil, click here.


Drought Webinar Looks at Grain Quality and Marketing Options PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 10 August 2012 07:47
AMES, Iowa – Iowa crop and livestock producers are invited to attend an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach webinar Tuesday, Aug. 21 from 1 to 3 pm to learn about grain quality issues and marketing options related to drought. There is no charge to attend the webinar.

“As we near harvest, the attention has shifted to grain quality issues,” said Virgil Schmitt, Extension Field Agronomist. “ISU Extension and Outreach specialists will talk about the quality issues farmers can expect, their marketing options, and how crop insurance will address reduced value. Just as important, livestock producers should be prepared for potential feeding challenges
of off-quality grain.”

In addition, ISU Extension and Outreach specialists will look to the future and provide the outlook for crop and livestock prices. They also will discuss planning for the 2013 crop, including land lease considerations and the impact of drought on fall fertility decisions for the 2013 crop, Schmitt said.

Farm safety considerations during drought also will be discussed.

County extension offices around the state are hosting the webinar. In east central Iowa, the webinar can be viewed at the Durant Community Center, 606 5th Ave., Durant. Extension Field Agronomist, Virgil Schmitt will be facilitating the meeting along with Bob Owen, Regional Director for east central Iowa. The meeting is being sponsored by the Cedar, Clinton, Muscatine and Scott County Extension offices, and Kent Feeds.

Extension agriculture program specialists will facilitate the program at each site. Time has been allowed for questions and answers following the presentations. The webinar will be recorded and made available on the ISU Extension and Outreach website

To find other hosting sites, contact your County extension office or go to the web site indicated above.


Loebsack to Tour Drought Stricken County PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joe Hand   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:45

Will see firsthand affects of recent drought

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack will tour a Muscatine County farm TOMORROW, August 9th to see firsthand the affects of the recent drought.  He will be joined by local FSA officials and meet with farmers, community members and representatives from Farm Bureau.  Loebsack has been leading the fight in Congress to ensure Iowa’s farmers have the resources they need to deal with the impact of the drought.  Media is invited to attend.  Details are below.

Tour of Drought Stricken Farm

Larry and Pam Schnittjer’s Farm

1021 West Highway 6

West Liberty



Iowa farmers support rural organizations through America’s Farmers Grow Communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Taylor Lutkewitte   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 09:00

Drought disaster areas receive additional funding

ST. LOUIS (August 8, 2012) – Farmers across the country work hard to build their businesses that help fuel their rural communities. For the third consecutive year, America’s Farmers Grow Communities SM, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, will give farmers the opportunity to win a $2,500 donation for their favorite local nonprofit organization. This year, the program expands to 26 new counties and will provide an online platform to aid community involvement.                  
James Nahkunst, Grow Communities winner from Fremont County, Iowa, understands firsthand how $2,500 can impact a nonprofit organization.
“I think this is a very commendable program for the Monsanto Fund to be doing,” Nahkunst said. “I’ve signed up for it every year since its beginning. It felt great to win and have a part in seeing those dollars reach out into communities and the non-profits serving them.”
With more than 90 percent of the U.S. corn and soy production currently impacted by the drought, a farmer’s ability to invest in his or her community is affected. To help, the Monsanto Fund will provide additional financial support. Winning farmers from counties that have been declared natural disaster areas by the USDA will have an opportunity to direct an additional $2,500 donation to a local non-profit to address community needs that have surfaced due to the drought. To date, nearly 700
counties have been declared disasters areas within the 1,271 eligible Grow Communities counties.
“We are committed to supporting farmers and the rural communities in which they live and work,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto Fund president. “Through Grow Communities and the additional disaster relief funding, we hope to positively impact the people and places that are affected by this devastating drought.”

Communities Can Plant Their Ideas with Farmers 
Since the inception of America’s Farmers Grow Communities, thousands of farmers have nominated their favorite local nonprofit groups, such as FFA chapters, schools, fire departments, local food pantries or other civic groups.  This year, rural community members can suggest an idea or initiative that needs funding in their local community. Eligible farmers may review the ideas and consider them in their application. Community members who wish to plant an idea and encourage farmers to support their cause can do so at
Now through November 30, 2012, eligible farmers can apply online, and rural community members can submit their ideas at or by calling 1-877-267-3332. The Monsanto Fund will select one winner at random from each of the eligible counties and announce winning farmers and recipient nonprofits in January 2013.        
All 99 counties in Iowa are eligible in Grow Communities.                   
America’s Farmers Grow Communities is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make everyday to our society and to help them positively impact their communities. This program is part of the Monsanto Fund’s overall effort to support rural America. Another program that is part of this effort is America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, giving farmers the opportunity to nominate their local public school district to apply for a grant up to $25,000. Winners of the first annual Grow Rural Education program will be announced on August 28.
For more information about these programs and to view the official rules, visit

About the Monsanto Fund
The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at

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