Plump Pumpkin Pummels Competition at State Fair PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Lori Chappell   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:07

DES MOINES, IA (08/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The giant pumpkin grown by David Miller of Riverside tipped the scales at 933 pounds to claim the top spot and a $1,300 prize in the Big Pumpkin Contest judged Friday at the 2012 Iowa State Fair.

Marc Petersen of Clinton took second place and $750 with a pumpkin weighing in at 928 pounds. Dan Boelman of Pella captured third place and $550 with a pumpkin weighing 903 pounds. Fourth place and $350 were won by Don Young of Des Moines for his 880 pound pumpkin.

Complete results below:

1) David Miller, 933 lbs., Riverside

2) Marc Petersen, 928 lbs., Clinton

3) Dan Boelman, 903 lbs., Pella

4) Don Young, 880 lbs., Des Moines

5) John Shepherd, 852 lbs., Charlotte

6) Chris Schultz, 848 lbs., Decorah

7) Joe Cristoforo, 832 lbs., Mount Pleasant

8) Martin Schnicker, 611 lbs., Mount Pleasant

9) Michael Otto, 565 lbs., Newton

"Nothing Compares" to the 2012 Iowa State Fair, August 9-19. The Fairgrounds are located at East 30th and East University Avenue, just 10 minutes east of downtown Des Moines, and are open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. each day of the Fair. Exhibit hours may vary. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding for Projects to Boost Renewable Energy Production, Reduce Energy Consumption PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:43

DES MOINES, IOWA, August 14, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 106 projects in 29 states, Guam and Puerto Rico have been selected for funding to produce renewable energy and make energy efficiency improvements. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

"The Obama Administration is helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners across the country reduce their energy costs and consumption," Vilsack said. "This is part of the President's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, which involves expanding support for traditional as well as alternative energy sources. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America."

For example, in Washington County, Iowa, Andrew McCall is receiving a guaranteed loan to construct a 50 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine at his agricultural business. The turbine is expected to generate approximately 103,200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to meet the annual requirements of nine homes. In Adair, Iowa, Meadow Ridge Wind Energy, LLC is receiving a guaranteed loan that will be used to purchase and install a 1.5 million kW wind turbine. The turbine is expected to generate 5.77 million kWh of electricity annually, enough to meet the annual electricity requirements of more than 500 homes.

In Calumet, Wis., WTE-Dallmann LLC is receiving a REAP grant to help fund the installation of an anaerobic digester that will generate more than 4.8 million kWh of electricity, enough to power 420 homes annually. The power will be sold to the local electric utility.

Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. Anaerobic digesters are in concert with an agreement Secretary Vilsack signed with U.S. dairy producers in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 to accelerate the adoption of innovative manure-to-energy projects on American dairy farms.

REAP provides grants and loan guarantees for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. For a complete listing of recipients announced today, click here:

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


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).


US Grains Council Commentary of USDA’s August WASDE Repor PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Marri Carrow   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:04

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUGUST 13, 2012 -- In its monthly agricultural supply/demand update the U.S. Department of Agriculture on August 10 again lowered the outlook for U.S. corn production, reflecting the continued deterioration of this year's crop due to the once-in-a-lifetime drought that affects most of the U.S. corn belt.

The latest USDA projection lowers U.S. corn production to 274 million metric tons (10.8 billion bushels), down almost 40 million tons (1.6 billion bushels) from last year, and the lowest since 2006. World corn production is estimated at 849 million tons (33.4 billion bushels), down 27 million tons (1.1 billion bushels) from last year, but 19 million tons (748 million bushels) higher than 2010/2011 due to higher production from China, Brazil and Argentina.

With this large reduction in U.S. corn supplies, higher prices are expected to ration demand during the coming year. USDA projects that total world corn use will decline about 7 million tons (275.6 million bushels) from last year, while U.S. total use will drop 25 million tons (984.2 million bushels) — feed use down 12 million tons (472.4 million bushels), corn use for ethanol down 12.7 million tons (500 million bushels), and exports down 6.3 million tons (248 million bushels). USDA expects world corn imports to decline by almost 7 million tons (275.6 million bushels), while non-U.S. feed use will continue to grow, up 13 million tons (511.8 million bushels) from last year to 405 million tons (15.9 billion bushels).

From a broader perspective, world coarse grain feed use (including mainly corn, sorghum and barley) will be essentially unchanged from last year at 660 million tons, compared with 658.5 million tons in 2011/12.

Countries will respond to the tight corn supplies and higher prices in the coming year in different ways according the USDA estimate. For example, Japan and South Korea imports are projected be unchanged from 2011 to 2012. China's corn imports likely will decrease by 3 million tons (118.1 million bushels) due partly to a record domestic corn harvest of 200 million tons (7.9 million bushels), which is up 7 million tons (275.6 million bushels) from last year.

Globally, all corn users will face the challenge of higher prices and the need for increased efficiency, careful risk management and creative marketing strategies during the coming year. As the projections for U.S. corn use demonstrate, the high prices will ration demand in all markets and in all sectors (feed, food and fuel). Also, the relatively smaller decline in U.S. exports compared to domestic use reflects the resilience of global feed demand.

Despite the decreases projected for U.S. corn production, the United States remains open to trade. In the coming year it will be vital that all exporting countries follow the U.S. example: Open markets, transparent market information and careful planning can help us all work through the coming year.

Agricultural production depends each year on weather factors beyond the control of governments or farmers. But agriculture and food production are basically optimistic lines of work. Each year U.S. farmers plant with hope, and do their best with what nature provides at harvest. U.S. farmers use the best genetics, technology and management practices to grow grains for the world market. As they prepare to harvest this year's disappointing crop, they look forward to normal weather and a record harvest in 2013.

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The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit partnership of farmers and agribusinesses committed to building and expanding international markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has nine international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support from our private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the USDA resulting in a combined program value of more than $28.3 million.

The U.S. Grains Council does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities, who require alternative means for communication of program information, should contact the U.S. Grains Council

Durant's Keppy Snags Double Honors in FFA Market Swine Competition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Lori Chappell   
Monday, 13 August 2012 14:34

DES MOINES, IA (08/13/2012)(readMedia)-- Jake Keppy of Durant captured the Grand Champion Market in the FFA Market Swine Show judged Thursday and Friday at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. Keppy's hog first won the Champion Purebred Market Pig banner on the drive to the championship.

Earning the Reserve Grand Champion title this year was Chelsea Schminke of Van Horne.

Alexis Delaney of DeWitt claimed the Reserve Champion Purebred Market Swine award.

The judge had his hands full selecting champions out of 547 hogs brought by 266 exhibitors vying for the Grand Champion banner.

Division winners in the FFA Market Swine Show included:

Light Weight Barrow Champion: Jacklyn Keninger, Ackley

Light Weight Barrow Reserve Champion: Kole Wilson, Newton

Medium Weight Barrow Champion: Austin Lane, Spragueville

Medium Weight Barrow Reserve Champion: Ben Jacobsen, Dows

Heavy Weight Barrow Champion: Chelsea Schminke, Van Horne

Heavy Weight Barrow Reserve Champion: Jacklyn Keninger, Ackley

Light Weight Gilt Champion: Callie Greiner, Keota

Light Weight Gilt Reserve Champion: Kolton Greiner, Keota

Medium Weight Gilt Champion: Ryan Schneider, Riverside

Medium Weight Gilt Reserve Champion: Chelsea Keninger, Ackley

Heavy Weight Gilt Champion: Jacklyn Keninger, Ackley

Heavy Weight Gilt Reserve Champion: Amanda Anderson, Algona

Bershire Champion: Brandon Reedy, Ottumwa

Bershire Reserve Champion: Austin Lane, Spragueville

Chester White Champion: Brandon Reed, Ottumwa

Chester White Reserve Champion: Brandon Reed, Ottumwa

Duroc Champion: Samuel Bair, Elkhart

Duroc Reserve Champion: Maggie Miller, Ames

Hampshire Champion: Kelsey Brecht, Marengo

Hampshire Reserve Champion: Kelsey Brecht, Marengo

Spotted Poland China Champion: Alex Umbaugh, Adair

Spotted Poland China Reserve Champion: Clara Goddard, Letts

Yorkshire Champion: Jake Keppy, Durant

Yorkshire Reserve Champion: Alexis Delaney, DeWitt

All Other Breeds Champion: Zach Caslavka, Muscatine

All Other Breeds Reserve Champion: Ashley Olson, Atkins

Keppy's and Schminke's title holders, as well as 12 other livestock champions, will be auctioned in the prestigious Sale of Champions on Saturday, August 18, at 2 p.m. in the Penningroth Media Center of the Cattle Barn. The event is sponsored by the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement, a non-profit organization established to encourage the pursuit of agriculture-related careers by Iowa's youth.

"Nothing Compares" to the 2012 Iowa State Fair, August 9-19. The Fairgrounds are located at East 30th and East University Avenue, just 10 minutes east of downtown Des Moines, and are open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. each day of the Fair. Exhibit hours may vary. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit

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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).


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