Agribusiness
*Harkin Column* In Iowa`s Interest: Iowans Will Benefit From the New Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:29
By Senator Tom Harkin
On June 21st, the U.S. Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act, the 2012 farm bill.  This is an important piece of legislation for our nation, and for the state of Iowa, where agriculture generates about one of every five jobs and is about a fourth of our state’s economic output.  This legislation is a balanced, and bipartisan bill crafted under budget conditions that have necessitated difficult compromises.
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, and its chairman during the writing of the 2002 and 2008 farm bills, I am encouraged that this new farm bill continues vital food, agriculture, and rural programs and adopts important reforms.  A major change is ending the direct commodity payments and replacing them with a revenue protection program similar to the revenue program I worked to include in the current bill.  I have long advocated replacing the direct payments with a more effective and justifiable farm income protection system, and I am very pleased to see this change adopted in this bill.
The bill also continues a strong conservation title to assist farmers who adopt and maintain sound practices to protect soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources.  I succeeded in increasing conservation investments in previous farm bills and am especially proud of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  The new bill continues and funds highly effective conservation assistance, with reforms and streamlining.
The 2012 farm bill also continues the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and related programs, including increased assistance to food banks that help low-income families put food on their tables.  Children, seniors, and people with disabilities make up more than 60 percent of the recipients of SNAP benefits, with some 400,000 Iowans currently being helped by SNAP.  Although there were changes that limited eligibility and SNAP benefits, these budget cuts were, fortunately, held to much lower levels than were proposed.
Building upon energy titles I worked successfully to craft, this new legislation continues funding to a number of initiatives in energy and biobased products.  Targeted grants and loans promote energy efficiency on farms and in rural businesses and spur expanded research, development, and marketing of renewable energy and biobased products.  I am especially pleased the bill extends and strengthens a requirement I authored requiring federal departments and agencies to give a preference to biobased products in procurement decisions.
The bill also continues and strengthens a number of initiatives begun in earlier farm bills to assist and promote opportunities for farmers and good nutrition for consumers through farmer’s markets and increased local production and marketing of food.  These include, competitively awarded USDA grants to improve and expand farmer’s markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture marketing and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing.  Grants are also included for community food projects and other efforts to improve nutrition and increase fruit and vegetable sales and consumption.
If you would like more information on the farm bill, please visit my website at harkin.senate.gov, view videos I have recorded on the bill, or contact any of my offices in Iowa or in Washington.
A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here

 
Good, Bad and Ugly - Senate passes Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:36

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

The Farm Bill, which helps set the nation’s food, farm and rural policy, passed the U.S. Senate on June 22nd.

Some eleventh hour victories were won for rural communities in the Senate debate. The Senate bill made modest but significant commitments to funding beginning farmer and rancher training, rural small business assistance, help for small town water and sewer systems and value-added enterprise grants for family farmers and ranchers, thanks to passage of an amendment offered by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). These are vitally important steps forward for rural America.

The bill’s greatest weakness, however, is that there is no limit on crop insurance premium subsidies doled out to the nation’s largest farms. More than 10,000 large farms received over $100,000 in premium subsidies just last year - a year of record income.

While the Senate bill does close loopholes in the cap on traditional farm program payments to large farms, requires recipients of crop insurance subsidies to practice some conservation and denies premium subsidies on native grasslands broken out for crops, it will continue over-subsidizing crop insurance premiums for mega-farms, helping them drive out small, mid-sized and beginning farmers.

As the debate moves to the House of Representatives, those of us who are concerned about the future of rural America must stand up for the modest, hard-fought victories won on the Senate floor. Likewise, we must join the call for a much-needed cap on crop insurance premium subsidies to the nation’s largest farms.


For more information visit www.cfra.org.

 
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 Communications   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:08
Additional Assistance for Renewable Energy Feasibility Studies Awarded

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina, June 25, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects nationwide, including 31 in North Carolina, that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

"The Obama Administration and USDA are helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners reduce their energy costs and consumption – and by doing so is helping to create jobs, preserve our natural resources, protect the environment and strengthen the bottom line for businesses." said Vilsack. "This is part of the Administration's "all of the above" energy strategy. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America."

Secretary Vilsack made the announcement while touring Metrolina Greenhouses, a family-owned plant and services company in Huntersville, NC, that has received a REAP guaranteed loan and three grants totaling over $1 million since 2007. In 2009, Metrolina received a combined REAP guaranteed loan and grant to construct a wood boiler heating system to supplement and replace the natural gas and fuel it uses at the 120-acre facility. In addition to heating Metrolina's greenhouses, using wood chips in the boiler provides an additional market for local lumber mills and logging operations.

Tennessee small business owner Rick Alexander is using a REAP grant and investing another $325,000 to create the first solar powered business in Maury County. Electricity is the largest expense for the climate controlled storage facility he built as a creative re-use of a former furniture building in the downtown business district. The 260 panel, 60 kW solar photovoltaic system is expected to generate more than 71,000 kWh, enough electricity to meet over half of the energy needs of his business for the next two decades. By also participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority's Generation Partners program through Columbia Power and Water, Alexander earns a premium on each clean kW produced, more than enough to cover the average monthly cost of electricity for his businesses.

In Mount Hope, Wis., located in the Southwest corner of the State, Maurice Nichols was selected to receive a grant to purchase efficient grain dryer for his farm, saving over 42 percent in annual energy usage. Whispering Pines Poultry in Centre, Ala., was selected to receive a grant to replace four propane heaters with renewable biomass wood pellet heaters to improve heating efficiency of the poultry houses. It is anticipated that the change will result in a yearly energy savings of over $3,000 per barn.

Today's announcement includes $412,304 in grant funding to 20 agricultural producers and rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. For example, in Washington, the Port Angles Hardwood, LLC., has been selected to receive a grant to study the feasibility of installing a woody biomass co-generation system. If the project is feasible, all biomass mill residuals are estimated to be consumed, and no biomass will have to be sent to a landfill. In South Londonberry, Vermont Woodchips, Inc. has been selected to receive a grant to help determine feasibility of installing a 4 megawatt combined cycle biomass gasifier power plant.

REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for businesses. In all, USDA announced nearly $7.4 million in energy grants today.

Today's announcement is an example of investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow the rural economy. For a complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program grant recipients announced today, please click here.

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 Council is working to break down silos, find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs, and work closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development 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 to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


#

 
U.S. Senate passes Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 25 June 2012 08:57

Center for Rural Affairs voices mixed reaction to Senate Farm Bill

Lyons, NE - Today the United States Senate passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill by a vote of 64-35.

“The farm bill that passed the Senate today funds beginning farmer and rancher training, small business loans and assistance, grants and loans for small town water and sewer systems and value-added enterprise grants for family farmers and ranchers,“ said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “These are vitally important steps forward for rural America.”

But the Center for Rural Affairs also found real flaws in the Senate’s Farm Bill. According to Hassebrook, the bill’s greatest weakness is that there is no limit on crop insurance premium subsidies doled out to the nation’s largest farms.

“More than 10,000 large farms received over $100,000 in premium subsidies last year - a year of record income. This bill will continue over-subsidizing crop insurance premiums for wealthy and powerful agribusiness interests, helping them drive out small, mid-sized and beginning farmers,” explained Hassebrook.

“However, the bill does close loopholes in the cap on traditional farm program payments to large farms, requires recipients of crop insurance premium subsidies to practice some conservation and denies premium subsidies on native grasslands broken out for crops,” concluded Hassebrook.

 
<< Start < Prev 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 Next > End >>

Page 116 of 180