Agribusiness
Food Deserts and Farmers Markets PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 11:45

In the United States 803 counties are classified as "food deserts,” where the average resident of the county lives 10 or more miles from a full-service grocery store. The Great Plains has the highest concentration of "food desert" counties, with 418, and 98 percent of those counties are rural.

Fortunately, USDA has made addressing the food desert challenge a priority for the 2011 Farmers Market Promotion Program. Proposals are due July 1, 2011, which is a tight timeline, but priority will be granted to projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts.

Moreover, $10 million in funding is available nationally for Farmers Market Promotion grants, which provide an excellent opportunity for market farmers, market gardeners and rural communities to recoup some of the costs of establishing a local farmers market, promoting an existing market or other direct-to-consumer food marketing as well as satisfying the need for fresh, nutritious food in places where people hunger for that access the most.

The Center for Rural Affairs has always tried to assist rural communities with this application process because farmers markets are good for rural communities.  They bring farmers and consumers together to create a stronger local economy, opportunities for farmers and ranchers and they provide consumers with fresh, nutritious, affordable local food. We have been disappointed in the past because too few rural communities have applied for these grants and too few have been awarded grants. However, we are hopeful that prioritization of food deserts will shift that trend.

For more information and how to apply visit -http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP - or contact John Crabtree at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 402-687-2100. The Food Desert Finder athttp://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert/fooddesert.html will help you find food desert locations across the country.

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Senators Grassley, Johnson propose New Limits for Federal Farm Payments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 13 June 2011 12:03

Center for Rural Affairs applauds introduction of crucial farm program reform 

 

Lyons, Nebraska - Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) introduced the Rural American Preservation Act of 2011, a bill designed to lower the cap on farm commodity program payments and limit subsidies to the nation’s largest farms, while also simplifying eligibility and ensuring that payments flow to working farmers.

“This legislation represents the most important step congress can take to strengthen family farms - limit the subsidies that mega farms use to drive smaller operations out of business,” said Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “The Act includes measures to close the loopholes in farm payment limitations that others in Washington know how to close but won't, because of the political clout of mega farms.”

“There’s no problem with a farmer growing his operation, but the taxpayer should not have to subsidize it. There comes a point where some farms reach levels that allow them to weather the tough financial times on their own.  Smaller farms do not have the same luxury, but they play a pivotal role in producing this nation’s food,” said Senator Grassley in his statement on the Senate floor.

Senator Johnson concurred in his statement, saying, “Farm payments need to be targeted to those who need it, the small and mid-size family farmers in South Dakota and across the nation.”

“The original intent of the federal farm programs was not to help the big get bigger.  But, the safety net has veered sharply off course,” added Grassley.

According to Hassebrook, 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.  It also closes loopholes that people are using to maximize their take from the federal government. The bill improves the standard which the Department of Agriculture would use to determine that program recipients are actually farmers who are actively engaged in their operations.

"The bill would tighten rules that are supposed to limit payments to active farmers who work the land and their landlords. Current law is weak. Investors who participate in one or two conference calls are considered active farmers, allowing mega-farms to get around payment limitations by claiming uninvolved investors as partners," explained Hassebrook.

The legislation would save the federal treasury more than $1 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, current law requires a contribution of 1,000 hours of labor on the farm or involvement in its management to receive payments.  However, the vague, unenforceable regulatory standard for “actively managing” farm operations has foiled lawmakers’ attempts to target payments to working farmers.  This bill would clarify the definition of management to require ongoing and direct involvement in farm activities to stop the current evasion of payment limits.  Closing the current management loophole is widely viewed by experts as the linchpin to any attempt to stop abusive practices that allow mega farms to receive millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

Senator Grassley has previously championed similar legislation, co-sponsored for many years by former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and in the last Congress by former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI).  The bill received strong bipartisan support in the Senate, winning the votes of a majority of Senators in 2002 and again in 2007.  It did not, however, become law...

The bill text can be found here:

http://grassley.senate.gov/iowa/upload/Agriculture-06-09-11-Payment-Limits-Bill-Text.pdf

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Iowa Learning Farms and Key Cooperative Co-host June 21 Strip-till Field Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:58
AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms and Key Cooperative will co-sponsor a strip-tillage field day at the Mike Hermanson farm and at Key Co-op S14 Office strip-till plots in northern Story County on Tuesday, June 21, beginning at 10 a.m. The field day will include a complimentary lunch and information about the conservation strip-tillage practice. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Strip-tillage marries the best aspects of conventional tillage with the benefits of no-till. Before planting (fall post-harvest or spring pre-plant), a strip-tillage implement creates strips of tilled soil. Surface residue is left undisturbed between the tilled strips. In the spring, corn or soybeans are planted into the tilled soil strips, which warm and dry faster than the rest of the field, making this system ideal for some Iowa soil types. Landowners and farmers should see better water infiltration, improved soil structure and potential for reduced fuel, machinery and other crop input costs with the implementation of strip-tillage.

Mike Hermanson completed his strip-tillage last fall and will have strip-till implements at the field day site. The field day will begin at Hermanson’s strip-tilled field, located one and one-half miles west of Roland on county road E-18 on the north side of the road, just west of the turkey buildings. The field day will then move to the Key Co-op strip-tilled plots. These are located two miles east of Roland on E-18 and then one-half mile south on county road S14 (620th St). Lunchwill be at the Key Co-op site, sponsored by Monsanto.

Iowa Learning Farms are building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residuemanagement and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF staff are working together to encourage farmers to implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable.

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Crop Management Clinic Features More Than 20 Management Topics PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:56
AMES, Iowa -- Registration is now under way for the 2011 Crop Management Clinic to be held July 13-14 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) near Ames. The Crop Management Clinic is an intensive two-day training program that focuses on the latest developments in crop production and protection.

Attendees can select from 20 different topics to develop a course agenda that fits their specific interests and needs. ISU Extension specialists will be discussing the impacts of common crop problems, how to avoid them and methods to improve productivity. The curriculum is divided into four primary areas: crop management, pest management, nutrient management, and soil, water and tillage. A detailed listing of scheduled topics is available at the clinic web page http://www.aep.iastate.edu/feel/cmc.html.

Sessions are taught by faculty and staff from the departments of agronomy, entomology, plant pathology, and agricultural and biosystems engineering, in addition to guest instructors from surrounding states. Each small-group session includes hands-on training in FEEL demonstration plots to provide instructor-student interaction.

The Crop Management Clinic is approved for up to 12 Certified Crop Adviser CEUs. Credits in each CEU category are dependent on sessions selected by the student.
Registration is required for this program and space is limited. Registration is $250 and includes lunches, breaks and course references. To register for this program, or for more details on the course, visit the FEEL website. For program questions please contact the Field Extension Education Laboratory at (515) 432-9548 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Field Diagnostic Clinic Is a Return to the Basics PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:52

AMES, Iowa -- The 2011 Field Diagnostic Clinic will be held July 11-12 at the Field Extension EducationLaboratory (FEEL) near Ames. This program focuses on the fundamentals of crop plant diagnostics. Sessions focus on insect, weed and crop disease identification, herbicide injury, nutrient deficiency symptoms, and understanding crop growth and development.

For those new to field diagnostics, the clinic offers fundamental training to making accurate diagnosis of crop and pest problems. The program will also challenge experienced agronomists to identify new pests and crop problems and refresh skills needed on a daily basis to provide sound agronomic advice.

Sessions are taught by ISU Extension faculty from the departments of agronomy, entomology and plant pathology. Each small-group session includes intensive hands-on training in FEEL demonstration plots, providing a setting for instructor-student interaction.

The Field Diagnostic Clinic is approved for Certified Crop Adviser CEUs: 5.0 crop management, 6.5 pest management and 1.5 nutrient management.
Registration is required for this program and space is limited. Registration is $250 and includes all meals, breaks and course references. To register for this program, or for more details on the course, visit the FEEL website at www.aep.iastate.edu/feel. For program questions please contact the Field Extension Education Laboratory at (515) 432-9548 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) is a 43-acre teaching and demonstration facility that has been training crop production professionals since 1987. FEEL is coordinated by the Iowa State University Cornand Soybean Initiative. For a full listing of educational programs available, visit www.aep.iastate.edu.

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