USDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Work to Boost Access to Farm Programs in Indian Country PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:42

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2012—Officials from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have signed two memorandums of understanding (MOU) designed to foster improved access to USDA and BIA programs by tribes and tribal members. The memorandums apply to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development at USDA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior (DOI). The MOUs will further improve the important government-to-government relationships and also the services offered between USDA, BIA and the tribal governments and the communities they serve.

"This agreement between USDA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will help us increase efficiency, reduce redundancy and improve communications and services between our agencies and the tribes," said Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. "These improvements will help to spur economic development, strengthen the communities and improve the lives of the people of Indian country."

"We look forward to working closely with USDA to serve Indian Country. American Indian farmers are a vital part of Tribal economies and the nation's agricultural industry. Agriculture is the backbone of the nation," BIA Director Mike Black said. "With these MOUs in place, we will be able to work with USDA and its programs as partners in helping American Indian farmers maintain their farms, strengthen the local tribal economies, and bring their produce to market for the benefit of all Americans, and the world."

"This partnership shows the important role tribal lands play in conservation stewardship in America," NRCS Chief Dave White said. "Landowners across the U.S., including those on tribal lands, contribute to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better homes for wildlife. This memorandum is one effort of many in which NRCS, BIA and Indian landowners and land users can join together to nurture a better landscape."

"The Farm Service Agency is eager to implement this agreement," said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia. "We respect and honor the centuries of stewardship that the Indian tribes participating in our conservation and farm programs have shown for the land we all share. We are pleased to solidify our partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve the soil, care for our water and air, and help the tribe's maximize their agricultural production."

The MOUs set up a framework for consultation, training, coordination, and the provision of technical assistance which will increase the amount of Indian land enrolled under USDA conservation and farm loan programs and improve service delivery on those lands. Farming and animal management, grazing, ranching and related food and agricultural operations will be supported through improved interdepartmental coordination. The MOUs, which are in place for five years, also support establishment of Native rural businesses, renewable energy development, and job creation. Additionally, the BIA will work with Rural Development to increase homeownership, home repair, and rehabilitation opportunities, and improve energy efficiency of homes on Indian lands through improved coordination of program delivery. Finally, the MOUs will complement the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) work with BIA to implement and administer the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) provision of the 2008 Farm Bill to increase affordability and availability of RUS-supported infrastructure on Indian lands.

The MOUs also help further the objectives of the Keepseagle settlement agreement, which resolved a lawsuit regarding past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers concerning its farm loan program.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Rural Council is working to break down silos of information and to find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in administering government programs and to work closer with local tribal and non-tribal governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support to enhance the services offered to rural beneficiaries. The MOUs are also an important step in implementing the administration's Administrative Flexibility Initiative in Indian Country, that has as its goal to provide greater efficiency and more effective program delivery to Indian Country across the federal government.


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Senator Harkin and Congressman Boswell to Hold Media Conference Call on Failure of Republicans to Pass a Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 24 September 2012 14:20

DES MOINES – Today, OFA Iowa, Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Leonard Boswell will hold a media conference call about Mitt Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan  and Congressional Republican’s failure to move the farm bill and their opposition to the Wind Production Tax Credit, which are so vital to Iowa’s economy.  Last week, Congressional Republicans gave Americans a preview of the future Iowa would see under a Romney-Ryan Administration.  House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner and Paul Ryan, left town without extending the wind production tax credit or reauthorizing the farm bill, allowing it to expire and leaving Iowans without the necessary reforms to give rural communities long-term certainty.

Since day one, President Obama has worked to build stronger and more diverse rural economies through investments in renewable energy, manufacturing, education and agriculture. Today, he is standing by farmers during the drought, advocating for a strong safety net and urging Congress to pass the farm bill so that U.S. agriculture continues to experience one of its most productive periods in American history.

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Failure to Pass Food, Farm and Jobs Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 24 September 2012 13:41

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2012–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today about Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs legislation before the current law expires on Sept. 30, 2012:

"In a year that has brought its share of challenges to America's farmers and ranchers, the House Republicans have added new uncertainty for rural America. Unfortunately, House Republicans left Washington without passing comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs legislation, leaving thousands of farming families exposed. U.S. agriculture is fighting to maintain the tremendous momentum it has built over the past three years, but with natural disasters and other external forces threatening livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers, certainty is more important than ever. Americans deserve a food, farm and jobs bill that reforms the safety net for producers in times of need, promotes the bio-based economy, conserves our natural resources, strengthens rural communities, promotes job growth in rural America, and supports food assistance to low-income families. Without the certainty of a multi-year bill, rural communities are being asked to shoulder undue burdens."

News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal, Iowa Farm Bureau   
Friday, 21 September 2012 14:16


2012 Drought Brings Yield Extremes, Continues to Stress Iowa Livestock Farmers


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Sept. 20, 2012 – Iowa farmers, who are in the fields early this year because of an oppressive drought, are seeing yields ‘all over the board’ as they bring in the 2012 crop, say Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) information aggregators, agronomists and research experts.

“Every year, we work with Iowa farmers in every corner of the state who volunteer to give us crop updates. It’s been tough this year. We hear about their concerns about crops suffering, the wild range of yields they’re getting now at harvest and their worries about finding feed for cattle on dry pastures this winter. The bottom line is they’re seeing extremes even in a single field. Farmers say yields range from zero to 170 bushels per acre, often in the same field,” says IFBF Spokesman Editor Dirck Steimel.

“In the past four years, we’ve seen every extreme that my grandpa saw in 60 years of farming. We don’t know what normal is anymore,” says Sioux County crop and livestock farmer Matt Schuiteman. “I looked at information for our farm from 1988, during our last drought. A field closest to our home farm got 63 bushels an acre. This year, it’s 175 bushels an acre. Even with improved conservation and technology, our soil is so variable that our yields range from zero to 270 bushels an acre; where in years past, it would range between 170 to 210 bushels an acre.”

Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services agrees. “The dominant word on yield this year is variability. We see incredible ranges of yields within a field, from row to row, from farm to farm and, sometimes, just from one side of the fence to the other,” says Miller, who has also farmed for 40 years. He says while there may be unseen things impacting yields, the use of  more sophisticated yield monitoring equipment in today’s combines allows farmers to identify such variables faster.

“Could it be soil compaction in one spot with 170 yields suddenly dropping to zero in one side of the field? Or could two days planting difference have made the difference?  The question is what you do with that information?” questions Miller.

Miller says risk management and careful planting strategies are vital for farmers.

“Agronomic sleuthing must go on to help each farmer make plans for next year. We’re learning that, while this drought is bad from historical reference, it has been worse and it could be again. Those who’ve been farming long enough can appreciate the great strides technology has brought because new seed genetics that make the crop hardier for drought, new conservation measures, planting strategies and fertilizer monitoring means at least we’ve got a crop this year,” says Miller. “The 1934 drought still stands as the worst drought of the last century; but, because of technology, many farmers are seeing some fields with yields this year that are much better than they would have expected under severe drought conditions.”

Steimel adds that livestock farmers are also feeling the stress from drought.

“It’s not just crop farmers who are on edge as the harvest comes in. Iowa livestock farmers are coming to grips with what the hot, dry summer will mean for their animals as the long winter approaches,” says Steimel. “Their pastures and ponds have dried up and feed supplies are tight. Many farmers are hauling water to livestock and that’s not a cost-effective option when margins are so thin.”

What’s more, Miller says the harvest yields and livestock numbers will directly impact consumers at the grocery store. “Food price adjustment will be gradual, but we’ll feel impacts of this drought for the next few years on most pork, beef and poultry products.”


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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online Newsroom page at

Scott County Extension Calendar October 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 20 September 2012 08:32

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