Summer Fairs Go Green with Soy-Based Products PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:50
Soy checkoff partners with city, county and state fairsST. LOUIS (March 27, 2012) – With soy biodiesel powering trams and carnival rides, soy-based paint freshening up show barns and soy-based cleaning products getting the fairgrounds ready, 13 fairs will be a little greener this year with the help of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soy checkoff.

“U.S. soy feeds the animals that provide the meat we eat, but soy does a lot more than that,” says Geno Lowe, a soybean farmer from Hebron, Md., and USB farmer-director. “U.S. soy is increasingly popular as a ‘green’ ingredient in everything from biofuel to paint to cleaning products and more.”

Lowe and his fellow USB farmer-directors selected the 13 fairs as part of a competitive application process. Through the Green Ribbon Fairs reimbursement program, now in its second year, the checkoff works with fairs across the country to promote the use of soy-based products such as biodiesel, paint, cleaners, hand sanitizers and more. The following fairs will use soy-based products and help educate fairgoers by participating in the 2012 Green Ribbon Fair Reimbursement Program:

•    Barton County Fair (Kan.)
•    Delaware County Fair (Iowa)
•    Dutchess County Fair (N.Y.)
•    Dyer County Fair (Tenn.)
•    Houghton County Fair (Mich.)
•    Indiana State Fair
•    Minnesota Fairs
•    North Carolina State Fair
•    Ohio State Fair
•    Saunders County Fair (Neb.)
•    South Dakota State Fair
•    State Fair of West Virginia
•    St. Mary’s County Fair (Md.)

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

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Collaboration on forest restoration projects key to sustainability PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Forest Service Press Office   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:45

Agency Chief testifies before House Committee on Agriculture

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2012 – In testimony on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing restoration projects on national forests and grasslands.

“The aim of these efforts is to move beyond the conflicts which have characterized forest policy in the past and toward a shared vision that allows environmentalists, forest industry, local communities, and other stakeholders to work collaboratively toward healthier forests and watersheds, safer communities and more vibrant local economies,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell emphasized that such collaboration not only results in better projects, but will also create jobs.

His remarks were made before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry.

“The Forest Service recognizes the need for a strong forest industry to help accomplish forest restoration work,” Tidwell remarked.  “Forest industry involvement also lowers the cost of restoration to the taxpayer by providing markets for forest products.”

Tidwell presented a list of programs already in place at the Forest Service that will enhance the restoration and management efforts on the nation’s forests and grasslands:

- Implementation of the new forest Planning Rule that emphasizes restoration, public involvement, and sustainable management to provide benefits and services both today and for future generations.

- Investing in restoration projects with partners though the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. These projects have demonstrated that collaboration among stakeholders can facilitate large landscape scale restoration, thereby improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk, restoring fire-adapted ecosystems, and increasing timber and biomass production from the national forests.

- The Watershed Condition Framework which provides a consistent and comprehensive approach for classifying the condition of the 15,000 watersheds that comprise the National Forests and Grasslands and for prioritizing restoration needs.

- Integrated Resource Restoration which allows the agency to align its budgeting to focus on landscape scale restoration projects across resource areas and, with partners, combine the restorative focus of several line items into a single item.

- The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy which is a collaborative process with active involvement of all levels of government, non-governmental organizations and the public working for an all-lands solution to wildland fire management issues.

- The Forest Service bark beetle strategy which focuses management efforts on priority treatment areas to ensure human health and safety and to reduce hazardous fuel conditions on more than 17 million acres of National Forest System lands impacted by bark beetles.

- Use of stewardship contracting which allows the Forest Service to offset the value of the services received with the value of forest products removed. This authority is crucial to collaboratively restore landscapes at a reduced cost to the government.

- Expanding markets for forest products through the development of new markets for woody biomass utilization and green building materials by providing a reliable and predictable supply of biomass for potential investors. 

- Research using new technologies and cutting-edge science to help better understand impacts of forest disturbance on natural and cultural resources. 

- Use of a new objections process prior to a decision, rather than using an appeals process after a decision. The process tends to increase direct dialogue between the agency and stakeholders and often results in resolution of concerns before a decision is made.

- Improved efficiency of the National Environmental Policy Act process by learning from and sharing the lessons of successful implementation of streamlined NEPA analyses.

“Today, people understand that forests provide a broad range of values and benefits, including biodiversity, recreation, clean air and water, forest products, erosion control and soil renewal, and more. Our goal is to sustain and restore ecosystems that can deliver all the benefits that Americans want and need,” Tidwell concluded.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.



Time is Now for Farm Payment Limits Reform PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:35

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

On March 22nd, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) introduced legislation to tighten payment limits on federal farm programs and close loopholes mega-farms use to evade payment limits. This is the most important step Congress can take to strengthen family farms.

The Grassley-Johnson bill has a hard cap on marketing loan gains of $75,000 ($150,000 for a couple). The remainder of the payment limit would cap the total amount a farmer can receive in safety-net payments generally. For instance, if the Congress were to adopt a shallow loss program, the Grassley-Johnson bill would set a limit of $50,000 ($100,000 for a couple) that an individual could receive.

Moreover, the bill would limit payments to active farmers who work the land and their landlords. It sets a measurable standard for someone to qualify as actively engaged in farming by providing true management for the operation. Weaker current law allows investors who participate in one or two conference calls to be considered active farmers, allowing mega-farms to get around payment limitations by claiming uninvolved investors as active partners.

Americans, rural and urban, want to support family farmers. However, Congress has allowed rhetoric to take the place of reform, allowing the nation’s largest farms to receive virtually unlimited subsidies, drive up land costs and drive their smaller neighbors off the land.  During tight budgetary times, there is no excuse for not saving taxpayer dollars and protecting small and mid-sized family farms by enacting the Grassley-Johnson farm payment limits.

Midwest Ag Producers Make Case for an Effective Safety Net at Illinois Field Hearing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:37

Galesburg, Illinois – This morning in Galesburg, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (OK-03) continued the House Agriculture Committee's field hearing series in the district represented by Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17). It was the second of four hearings to be held across the country throughout March and April to gather input in advance of writing the 2012 Farm Bill.


Members took testimony from Midwest producers of corn, rice, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, specialty crops and beef.  Witnesses expressed the importance of developing policy that appreciates and recognizes the risks involved with growing food and fiber.  They stressed the need for an effective safety net and a choice of risk management tools so farmers can continue to produce a stable food supply and compete in the global marketplace.


"The field hearings give Members of this Committee a chance to hear how programs are working for our agricultural producers. There’s no better way to accomplish this than to visit with folks in the countryside. It's important to understand how we can write policy that works for all of agriculture," said Chairman Lucas.


“The Midwest – particularly Illinois’ 17th District – is an agricultural powerhouse, blessed with some of the most fruitful farmland on Earth, and produces high-quality, affordable food.  This field hearing is a wonderful opportunity for our area’s farmers to lay out their priorities for the next Farm Bill to my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and me.  I’d like to extend my thanks to Chairman Lucas and his staff for recognizing the invaluable contributions of our area to America’s food supply, and for including the 17th Congressional District as one of the settings for Farm Bill discussions,” said Rep. Schilling.


Attending today's hearing were a number of elected officials or their representatives, including staff with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's (R-IL) Agriculture Advisory Board, Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza, representatives of Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Robert Flider, Adams County Circuit Clerk Randy Frese, and more. 

"I want to thank everyone who took the time to join us in today's discussion on farm policy," said Rep. Schilling. "The Farm Bill is a topic that doesn't seem to get much attention in Washington or in the media, but I can't overstate how important it is to communities like ours.  We have our work cut out for us in crafting the next Farm Bill, but the Ag Committee is a truly bipartisan committee.  We will work together to produce a farm bill that works for America, and continues to allow producers like those who testified today to do what they do best."

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.


Witness List:


Panel I


Mr. David C. Erickson, corn and soybean producer, Altona, Illinois


Mrs. Deborah L. Moore, corn, soybean, and beef producer, Roseville, Illinois


Mr. John Mages, corn and soybean producer, Belgrade, Minnesota


Mr. Blake Gerard, rice, soybean, wheat, and corn producer, McClure, Illinois


Mr. Craig Adams, corn, soybean, wheat, hay, and beef producer, Leesburg, Ohio


Panel II


Mr. John Williams, sorghum, corn, wheat, and soybean producer, McLeansboro, Illinois


Mr. Gary Asay, pork, corn, and soybean producer, Osco, Illinois


Mr. Terry Davis, corn and soybean producer, Roseville, Illinois


Mr. David W. Howell, corn, soybean, pumpkin, and tomato producer, Middletown, Indiana


Ms. Jane A. Weber, specialty crop producer, Bettendorf, Iowa

Schilling and the Ag. Committee also invite feedback from members of the public on the future of farm policy to be considered as part of the Committee’s Farm Bill field hearing record.  The Committee's feedback form can be found by clicking here.

# # #

USDA publishes final rule to restore the nation’s forests through science and collaboration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:30

Secretary Vilsack announces publication of the final land management planning rule


WASHINGTON, March 23, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final Planning Rule for America’s 193-million acre National Forest System that includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities.

This final rule – which follows USDA’s Feb. 3 publication of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement – replaces the 1982 rule procedures currently in use, and provides a new framework to be used for all individual management plans for 155 national forests and grasslands across the country. Over half of Forest Service units are currently operating with plans that are more than 15 years old.

“This new rule provides the framework we need to restore and manage our forests and watersheds while getting work done on the ground and providing jobs,” said Vilsack.  “The collaboration that drove this rulemaking effort exemplifies the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to foster conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people.”

The USDA and the Forest Service carefully considered over a quarter million comments received on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement issued in February to develop today’s final rule, which emphasizes collaboration, sound science and protections for land, water and wildlife.

The final rule strengthens the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process. It also requires the use of the best available scientific information to inform decisions.

“We are ready to start a new era of planning that takes less time, costs less money, and provides stronger protections for our lands and water”, said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.  “This new rule will bring 21st century thinking to a process that is sorely needed to protect and preserve our 193 million acres of amazing forests and grasslands.”

Land management plans under the final rule will include:

  • Mandatory components to restore and maintain forests and grasslands.
  • Requirements to provide habitat for plant and animal diversity and species conservation. The requirements are intended to keep common native species common, contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and protect species of conservation concern.
  • Requirements to maintain or restore watersheds, water resources, water quality including clean drinking water, and the ecological integrity of riparian areas.
  • Requirements for multiple uses, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish.
  • Requirements to provide opportunities for sustainable recreation, and to take into account opportunities to connect people with nature.
  • Opportunities for public involvement and collaboration throughout all stages of the planning process. The final rule provides opportunities for Tribal consultation and coordination with state and local governments and other federal agencies, and includes requirements for outreach to traditionally underrepresented communities.
  • Requirements for the use of the best available scientific information to inform the planning process and documentation of how science was used in the plan.
  • A more efficient and adaptive process for land management planning, allowing the Forest Service to respond to changing conditions.

Continuing the strong emphasis that has been placed on public engagement throughout this rule-making effort, USDA is forming a Federal Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary and the Chief on implementation of the final rule. The nomination period closed on February 21, 2012 with committee members to be announced this spring.

The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests in Idaho, the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico, El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico and California’s Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests will begin revising their plans using the final rule this spring. These eight national forests were selected because of their urgent need for plan revisions, the importance of the benefits they provide, and the strong collaborative networks already in place.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

USDA works with state, local and Tribal governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nation’s natural resources – helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water.  President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors initiative in 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people.  During the past two years, USDA’s conservation agencies— the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Service Agency—have delivered technical assistance and implemented restoration practices on public and private lands.  We are working to better target conservation investments: embracing locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation.


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