Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Highlight How Agriculture and Rural America is Strengthening the Nation’s Economy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 14:09

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 – TOMORROW, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver remarks on the importance of agriculture and rural America to our economic recovery and the strength of the nation. Vilsack will discuss how agriculture is a formula for what is working in the economy, as farmers have reduced their debt, adopted innovative farming techniques, and are producing products that the rest of the world wants and needs.  He will also highlight the Administration’s accomplishments for American agriculture over the past three years including developing new markets at home and abroad, maintaining a strong safety net, commitment to conservation and research, and efforts to help the next generation get started in farming.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

1 p.m. CDT


WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will highlight the importance of agriculture and rural America to our economic recovery and the strength of the nation.


WHERE: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation

324 3rd Street SE

Cedar Rapids, IA



Conserving Lands, Creating Jobs in Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:27

By John Crabtree, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

In coming weeks, farm state Senators will review and revise the Farm Bill working draft put together by Senator Debbie Stabenow. The Michigan Senator, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently stated that conservation programs are more essential now than ever for creating rural jobs and protecting rural America’s vital natural resources. She also pointed to the importance of ensuring that the nation’s 1.3 billion agricultural acres produce healthy soil, water and wildlife habitat in addition to food and fiber.

With the farm bill debate moving forward in the Senate, this is a crucial time for everyone who cares about protecting our natural resources to speak up. Your voice - letter, phone call or email - and your influence with your Senator, together with the same from thousands of others across the nation, will help keep the Conservation Stewardship Program strong and make sure conservation remains a priority in the new Farm Bill.

According to USDA, farm, ranch and related employment includes about 24 million jobs. The American Forest & Paper Association estimates that forestry industries produce about $175 billion in products annually, and employ nearly 900,000 people. A study by US Fish and Wildlife Service found that hunting, angling and wildlife recreation contribute $122 Billion annually for our national economy. Much of this activity is located in rural areas and is vital to local economies.

Will you contact Senator Harkin (202.224.3254) and Senator Grassley (202.224.3744) and join me in standing up for conservation in the Farm Bill?

Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference: Meals from the Heartland PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Steven Brockshus   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:24


On April 23-24, more than 5,000 Iowa FFA members and guests will attend the 84th Iowa FFA Leadership Conference in Ames, Iowa to celebrate the accomplishments of FFA members and agricultural education. During this event, members will compete in Career Development Events and be recognized for accomplishments in their communities and local chapters.

Service is a key part of FFA and thanks to a partnership with the Iowa FFA Foundation, Iowa Food and Family Project, and Cargill; more than 250,000 meals will be packaged by progressive agriculturalists, united by the cause of helping the devastated citizens of Haiti. During this “Meals from the Heartland” service project, agricultural students, farmers, adults, and others will join together for the greater means of fighting world hunger. Please join us in Hilton Coliseum in Ames on the evening of April 22 and morning of April 24 this event makes state history.

FFA is an integral part of agricultural education. Agricultural instructors encourage students to take the knowledge and skills they have acquired in class and apply to FFA event, such as the career development events, which help students explore a career  interest in agriculture. Members of the State FFA Officer Team are ambassadors for agriculture and the FFA for one year. They are elected in April and spend the year promoting FFA and agriculture education throughout the state. Each officer is elected at the state FFA convention by Iowa FFA members.

The Iowa FFA Association is comprised of more than 220 local chapters preparing more than 12,500 students for careers in agriculture. FFA activities and award programs complement instruction in agriculture education by giving students practical experience in the application of agricultural skills and knowledge gained in classes. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:19

“Will Today’s Agriculture Boom be Tomorrow’s Bust: Are You Prepared?”

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – April 17, 2012 – As Iowa farmers head to the fields to plant what could be one of the largest corn crops on record, the state’s largest grassroots farm organization is bringing a line-up of heavy hitters to Iowa, to make sure today’s boom, doesn’t turn into tomorrow’s ‘bust.’  The summit will take place July 23-24 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building on the ISU campus.

“The Farm Crisis of the 80’s taught farmers that no industry is invincible to a downturn, and with Iowa’s thriving farm sector insulating much of our state from the worst hits of the recession, we have to look towards new expertise, new risk management tools, to make sure farming doesn’t go the way of the auto industry,” says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Hill.

“There are commonalities and differences in place today that we also saw prior to the 1980’s Farm Crisis; then and now, we’ve seen land prices and commodity prices double or triple in a relatively short period of time,” says IFBF Director of Research and Commodity Services David Miller.  “Although most of today’s farmers have better cash flow and less debt because of low interest rates, there are other risks which threaten Iowa’s agricultural prosperity, which center around unprecedented federal debt and the very real possibilities of farm program cuts, which affect the sustainability of many types of farming.  Today, our market strength is more tightly connected to global markets, global weather disasters, global trade and those are the things that bring new vulnerabilities to the business of farming,” says Miller.

National experts ranging from economist Danny Klinefelter of Texas A&M University and Jeff Plagge, president-elect of the American Bankers Association, to Iowa State University weather expert Elwynn Taylor, a panel of D.C. experts from the Senate and House Ag Committees and Daniel Mitchell of the D.C. ‘think tank,’ the CATO Institute, are among the nationally-recognized monetary, policy, trade and economic experts tapped for the July IFBF economic summit.

The price of the two-day summit is $50 for Iowa Farm Bureau members and $150 for non-members.  Information about the summit, lodging, on-line registration forms and a complete listing of the panelists and schedule can be found at  Registration deadline for the IFBF economic summit is July 17.

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Take the Leap into Organic PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 14:55

By John Crabtree,, Center for Rural Affairs

The steady growth of organic farming and ranching across rural America and the economic impacts of organics on rural communities cannot be ignored. In 2012, the USDA is again investing $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the estimated cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify - 90% for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic as well as established organic producers have another opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative funding to assist their organic efforts. Friday, June 1st is the third and final 2012 deadline to file an application through your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

Fifty million dollars in national funding available this year provides farmers and ranchers a tremendous opportunity to take the leap into organic. Rural cities and towns as well as local food systems will reap rewards as well.

The Center for Rural Affairs’ long history of helping family farmers and ranchers access new conservation programs offers opportunities. We’ve created an Organic Initiative fact sheet available at - We also operate a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call (402) 687-2100, ask for the helpline and receive assistance in accessing EQIP Organic funding and other related initiatives, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, Value Added Producer Grants and a host of beginning farmer and rancher programs.

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