Agribusiness
Lt. Governor Simon announces winners of USDA farmers market grant PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:58

Funding will help expand local food access in Illinois

 

CARBONDALE – October 19, 2011. An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that four grants from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) have been awarded to organizations in Illinois.

“This funding will help local food producers grow their operations and provide greater access to local foods,” said Simon, the only constitutional officer from Southern Illinois. “Expanding local foods in Illinois is good for the health of our citizens and our economy.”

The FMPP provides grants to projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Priority was given to projects that expanded healthy food choices in food deserts.

Simon chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC), which is working to eliminate barriers to local food production in Illinois. The Lt. Governor will host GRAC’s quarterly meeting today from 2 to 4 p.m. at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

Simon promoted the availability of FMPP funding and wrote a letter of support on behalf of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, helping secure $81,058 to establish a Farmers Market Association that will provide professional development, resources and support for farmers, markets, and communities. This will include development of a farmers market manager training manual and a statewide database to connect farmers to markets.

“Southern Illinois University applauds Lt. Governor Simon for her work and encouragement of the growth and expansion of home grown food markets,” SIU President Glenn Poshard said. “These venues provide nutritional and affordable sources of food and serve as a novel and innovative way to strengthen our rural economies.

Another Southern Illinois organization, Food Works of Carbondale, was awarded $89,648 to conduct a comprehensive training and mentoring program for 60 new farmers and ranchers in Southern Illinois so that they can establish farmers markets, roadside stands and other direct-marketing venues. Food Works is scheduled to present its plans for the grant at today’s GRAC meeting.

Other winners include:

  • Growing Home Inc., of Chicago, received $79,300 to establish a new farm stand for the sale of vegetables from its urban farm, purchase refrigeration equipment and other marketing supplies, and conduct educational programs.
  • Faith in Place, of Chicago, got $39,270 to help grow its 15 Chicago-area winter farmers markets and support the development of a congregational-supported Community Supported Agriculture program in Champaign.

The FMPP made an investment of over $9.2 million this year and gave out 149 awards in 42 states across the country.

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Grassley, Johnson Press for Farm Payment Limits to be Included in Deficit Reduction Talks PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 24 October 2011 15:27
WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley and Tim Johnson have requested that the deficit reduction committee save more than $1.5 billion by including their legislation that places a hard cap on farm payments at $250,000 per married couple ($125,000 per individual).

 

“Our bill maintains the much needed safety net for farmers so we are assured that the American people will have a safe, abundant and inexpensive food supply.  It also closes loopholes that have reduced urban support for the farm bill,” Grassley said.  “This is an easy way to save some additional funds in what’s a very difficult task for the committee.”

 

“Particularly given the budget environment we’re in, it’s important that our farm programs are effectively targeted to those who need the assistance the most: the small and medium-sized family farmers.  I hope that our bill can be incorporated into any recommendations made by the deficit reduction committee,” said Johnson.

 

Grassley and Johnson introduced the legislation on June 9, 2011.  The legislation would set a limit of $250,000 for married couples for farm payments in an attempt to better target farm program payments to family farmers.  Specifically, the bill caps direct payments at $40,000; counter-cyclical payments at $60,000; and marketing loan gains (including forfeitures), loan deficiency payments, and commodity certificates at $150,000.  The bill also improves the standard which the Department of Agriculture uses to determine farmers who are actively engaged in their operations.

 

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.  A signed copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.

 

 

October 14, 2011

 

The Honorable Patty Murray                         The Honorable Jeb Hensarling

Co-Chair                       Co-Chair

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction            Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Capitol                        The Capitol

Washington, D.C.                           Washington, D.C.

 

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:

 

We are truly in uncharted territory with the debt reduction process now before us.  We are hard pressed to recall any process quite as unique as this one during our careers here in Congress.  You and the rest of the Joint Select Committee have a big task in front of you, and surely there will be some difficult decisions made in the coming weeks.

 

With all the hard decisions before you, we are providing a proposal that should be a common sense change to agriculture policy.  It is time for us to finally set hard payment limits on all commodity farm programs, as well as close the loopholes in current payment limitation law.

 

The specific changes we are proposing to the Joint Select Committee are contained in the bill we introduced, the Rural America Preservation Act of 2011 (S.1161).  That bill would do the following:

 

  • It would establish caps of $20,000 on direct (fixed) payments, $30,000 on counter cyclical payments, and $75,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains.

 

  • The combined limit for married couples would be $250,000.  These limits would be reduced by varying amounts depending on the farmer’s participation in ACRE, essentially setting the payment limitations at the effective caps, less the reductions in direct payments and marketing loan gains.

 

  • The amendment improves the “measurable standard” by which USDA determines who should and should not receive farm payments.  It requires that management be personally provided on a regular, substantial, and continuous basis through direct supervision and direction of farming activities and labor and on-site services.

 

  • It would provide savings of approximately $1.5 billion.

 

While we support commodity programs that provide a needed safety-net for farmers, the programs should not help big farmers get even bigger.  There’s no problem with a farmer growing his operation, but the taxpayer should not have to subsidize it.  Under current law, nearly 70 percent of commodity farm payments go to the largest 10 percent of farmers.  There comes a point where some farms reach levels that allow them to weather the tough times on their own. Smaller farms do not have the same luxury.  In addition, setting a measurable standard for management of a farming operation will help prevent abuse of farm programs that is present under current law.

 

These proposed changes to payment limitations will help us target farm payments to those who really need them, the small- and medium-sized farmers who need a safety-net to help them get through rough patches as they produce this nation’s food.

 

We understand there may be proposals submitted to the Joint Select Committee that would fundamentally change the commodity farm programs.  If one of these proposals is adopted by the Joint Select Committee, the language of our bill also would need to be revised to set a meaningful payment limitation for commodity programs.  Whatever the result, our main point is that setting a meaningful payment limitation and closing current loopholes in the law will provide savings and add integrity to the farm programs.  No matter what decision the Joint Select Committee makes regarding commodity programs, we urge you to ensure payment limitations and closing of loopholes plays a meaningful part.

 

We request the Joint Select Committee consider the policy reforms set out above, and if you have any questions, please contact us.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Charles E. Grassley                       Tim Johnson

United States Senator

United States Senator

 
USDA Invests in America's Specialty Crops with Research and Extension Activities in 19 States PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Friday, 14 October 2011 11:58

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011–Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced 29 grants across 19 states to develop and share science-based tools to address the needs of America's specialty crop industry. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding the grants, totaling $46 million, through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).

"Over the last 60 years, agriculture, including horticulture, has become increasingly reliant on science and technology to maintain profitable production," Merrigan said. "Specialty crop producers in the United States—as with all of American agriculture—are seeing sales surge both domestically and abroad as consumers search for high quality, 'Grown in America' fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. These projects will help provide specialty crop producers with the information and tools they need to successfully grow, process and market safe and high quality products, supporting jobs and opportunities for Americans working in specialty crops. From herbs to apples, from walnuts to grapes, specialty crops are central to the richness of American agriculture."

SCRI supports the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined in law as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture." Funded projects address five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety.

SCRI gives priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional or trans-disciplinary; and include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public. Each of the focus areas received at least 10 percent of the available funds. The majority of funded projects addresses two or more focus areas, and includes many collaborating institutions in addition to the awardee.

The projects funded address research and extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production, from researching plant genetics to improving crop characteristics; identifying and addressing threats from pests and diseases; improving production and profitability; developing new production innovations and technologies; and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards.

Projects were funded in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Most of the grant recipients are universities and colleges. Grant highlights include:

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst will study pollination security for fruit and vegetable crops;
  • Michigan State University will develop a system to deliver resource-efficient, ecologically sustainable fruit production systems for apple and cherry producers
  • The University of Wisconsin system will study improved breeding and variety evaluation methods to increase quality in processed potato products
  • The University of Georgia Research Foundation will help to improve the long-term competitiveness of U.S. pecans based on their nutritional and health-promoting components
  • Washington State University will help U.S. raspberry producers find new tools for breeding and reaching markets

A full list of awardees can be found online at: www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/scri_awards.html.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

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Family Farmers disappointed by approval of trade deals PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Katherine Ozer   
Friday, 14 October 2011 11:49
The National Family Farm Coalition expressed its deep disappointment at the news of Congressional approval of the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Board president Ben Burkett stated, “The U.S. alone has lost 300,000 family farmers since NAFTA was implemented, and we don’t expect the lowered tariffs for beef and oranges to offset those numbers in the next 15 years.”

Wisconsin farmer John Kinsman, who met with President Obama, USDA Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at the White House Rural Forum in Podesta, Iowa, was particularly disheartened. “We outlined our concerns about the trade agreements to the President and Secretary Vilsack, but they chose to ignore them. This Administration has, unfortunately, caved to the notion that any trade is good trade. They abandoned their campaign pledge to revisit our nation’s trade policies, despite the continued loss of family-scale producers and the rural communities behind them.”

The Coalition was one of 57 farm, fishing, food, faith, and social justice organizations who signed a September 14 letter to members of Congress urging opposition to all three trade agreements, demanding ‘fair trade, not free trade.’

NFFC board vice president Dena Hoff noted, “The Korean Peasants League calculated that South Korea will lose nearly half of its agricultural production and its farmers, so their rural communities will decline just as those in the U.S. have. Instead of supporting localized food production and food sovereignty, the plan is to export highly processed foods that simply add to the pockets of transnational corporations.”

Additional concerns included Colombia’s human rights abuses and Panama’s tax-haven status. Added Hoff, “This is morally wrong.”

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ISU Scott County Extension Calendar and News Releases PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy L Venhorst   
Friday, 14 October 2011 09:56
October 25:  Scott County Extension Council Meeting at the Extension Office - 7pm

October 27:  Mosquito & Public Health Pest Management CIC, $35 if registered by 10/20/11, after that $45.  At the Scott County Extension Office, 9am-11:30am

November 4:  Pesticide Applicator Testing, 10am-2pm at the Extension Office

November 9:  Ornamental & Turf Applicators CIC, $35 if registered by 11/2/11, after that $45.  At the Scott County Extension Office, 1:30pm-4pm

November 16:  Commercial Ag Weed, Insect, and Plant Disease Management CIC, $35 if registered by 11/9/11, after that $45, at the Scott County Extension Office, 9am-11:30am.

November 29:  Fumigation CIC, $35 if registered by 11/22/11, after that $45, at the Scott County Extension Office, 9am-11:30am

November 29:  Scott County Extension Council Meeting at the Extension Office 7pm

December 2:  Pesticide Applicator Testing 10am-2pm at the Extension Office

December 7:  Pest Control Operators CIC, $35 if registered by 11/30/11, after that $45, at the Scott County Extension Office, 9am-11:30am

December 13:  Scott County Extension Council Meeting at the Extension Office 7pm



 
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