Agribusiness
Grassley asks Asst. Secretary for Civil Rights about handling of discrimination cases at USDA PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 24 June 2011 12:18

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Agriculture Committee
Farm Bill Accountability:  The Importance of Measuring Performance,
While Eliminating Duplication and Waste
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Madam Chairwoman, the focus of today’s hearing is timely as we consider what policies to set in the next farm bill.  We have to make sure farm bill programs are being implemented the way we intended. 

And if they are not being properly administered, then we need to fix the problems.  I want to thank the undersecretaries and assistant secretary for coming today.  I am eager to hear their testimony on a variety of issues.

I know many farmers are probably eager to hear the department’s comments regarding crop insurance.  Most farmers tell me crop insurance is crucial to their operations. 

But as we know, the crop insurance program has had a reduction in funds.  So it’s more important than ever that we hear what the department is doing to minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the crop insurance program.  We have to make sure those dollars go to those who really need it.

I am also eager to hear from the department about what they are doing to ensure individuals applying for farm program payments are truly actively engaged in farming.

I am also particularly pleased Assistant Secretary Leonard is here today.  Thank you Madam Chairwoman for requesting his presence on today’s panel.  As you know Madam Chairwoman, I made a request back in March for a full committee hearing on the activities of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Civil Rights. 

I will note I also made the same request to the past two chairs of the Agriculture Committee as well. 

While I’m glad Mr. Leonard is here today, I still believe the civil rights and discrimination issues facing the department are a big enough concern that this committee needs to take up the issue in a separate hearing. 

I do hope you will consider conducting a separate hearing on civil rights and discrimination issues at the Department of Agriculture in the near future.

As for today’s hearing Mr. Leonard, I hope you will shed some light on how the department is handling some of the problems that have plagued it over the years.

Specifically, I would like you to speak on what the department is doing to address complaints made by employees.   I continue to hear from Agriculture Department employees that they have to wait a long time to have their complaints heard and processed. 

I have also received reports about retaliatory behavior by managers after complaints are made.  What is being done to address these concerns? 

I am not passing judgment on the validity of any employee’s particular claim.  My concern is that their claims be considered in a timely and appropriate manner, because that is what they deserve.

I hope the department will provide us with some idea of how it is making sure that happens.

Thank you Madam Chairwoman.

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FARMER-LEADERS TO SET THE COURSE FOR SOYBEAN INDUSTRY PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:52

The farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board (USB) will set the course for the soybean industry for the next five years when they gather in Milwaukee for their annual summer meeting. There, the farmer-leaders are scheduled to evaluate, review and vote on a proposed long-range strategic plan that will define their top objectives as they work to expand the profit potential of U.S. soybean farmers.

The board will also reach decisions on the direction of the 2012 fiscal year, with specific program areas evaluating recommendations on 2012 action plans for each program area, including Communications, Domestic Marketing, International Marketing, Production Research and New Uses Development.
USB is made up of 69 U.S. soybean farmers who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.

Dates: June 29- July1st
Location: Hyatt Regency Milwaukee 333 West Kilbourn Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53203
Interview Opportunities: Marc Curtis, USB Chairman and soybean farmer from Leland, Miss.
On-Site Contact: Erin Hamm with USB Communications, 314-412-6982.

 
New Checklists Help Ensure Self-Inspection for Worker Protection Standard Compliance PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:32

AMES, Iowa -- Agricultural workers and pesticide handlers in both greenhouse/nursery and agricultural applications now have four self-inspection checklists available to measure Worker Protection Standard (WPS) compliance. The Pest Management and the Environment Program (PME) at Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) say the series is now available. “This set of four self-inspection checklists will assist agricultural employers, pesticide dealers and growers to ensure compliance with WPS,” said Betsy Buffington, ISU Extension PME program specialist.

The checklists now available to download from the ISU Extension Online Store are:

Self-Inspection Checklist: WPS Handler Requirements for Agricultural Applications (PAT 0051)
Self-Inspection Checklist: WPS Handler Requirements for Greenhouse/Nursery Applications (PAT0052)
Self-Inspection Checklist: WPS Worker Requirements for Agricultural Applications (PAT 0053)
Self-Inspection Checklist: WPS Worker Requirements for Greenhouse/Nursery Applications (PAT0054)

Buffington said agricultural establishments can use the checklists to conduct a walk-through and self-audit their operation. “Each checklist provides a brief overview of basic WPS requirements and refers to more detailed information in the Environmental Protection Agency’s manual, ” she said. The agency manual, “How to Comply with the Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides –What Employers Need to Know,” is also available for download from the ISU Extension online store.

The WPS is a federal regulation designed to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides. The Worker Protection Standard offers protections to approximately 2.5 million agricultural workers (people involved in the productionof agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load or apply pesticides) who work at more than 600,000 agricultural establishments.

The WPS checklists were developed by Iowa State University Extension with funding support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

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Upcoming Workshop Spotlights Beneficial Insects PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:31

AMES, Iowa – Farmers, researchers and native plant aficionados are invited to a one-day workshop exploring how to enhance the ecosystem services provided by beneficial insects. Iowa State University’s Departments of Entomology and Natural Resource Ecology and Management, with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will host the workshop on Aug. 4.

Beneficial insects provide services like pollination and the suppression of pests. Farmers and gardeners can encourage these insects by creating a refuge that supplies them a source of pollenand nectar. At the workshop, participants will learn how to identify helpful insects and the native plants that attract them. Experts will discuss how to create resilient landscapes that provide multiple services, and federal and state programs that help support this form of conservation.

Participants will have a chance to examine insect specimens and visit the Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL), where researchers are testing the ability of native plants to attract helpful species, like bees and lady beetles.

Speakers include Iowa State’s Lisa Schulte and Mary Harris, natural resource ecology and management, Kelly Seman and Matt O’Neal, entomology, Meghann Jarchow, agronomy and Practical Farmers of Iowa representative, Sarah Carlson.

The workshop will take place at FEEL, five miles west of Ames. Register by July 15 at www.aep.iastate.edu/ent. Reduced hotel rates are available for out-of-town visitors through the ISU Memorial Union. Lunch will be provided.

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Upcoming Workshop Spotlights Beneficial Insects PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:31

AMES, Iowa – Farmers, researchers and native plant aficionados are invited to a one-day workshop exploring how to enhance the ecosystem services provided by beneficial insects. Iowa State University’s Departments of Entomology and Natural Resource Ecology and Management, with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will host the workshop on Aug. 4.

Beneficial insects provide services like pollination and the suppression of pests. Farmers and gardeners can encourage these insects by creating a refuge that supplies them a source of pollenand nectar. At the workshop, participants will learn how to identify helpful insects and the native plants that attract them. Experts will discuss how to create resilient landscapes that provide multiple services, and federal and state programs that help support this form of conservation.

Participants will have a chance to examine insect specimens and visit the Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL), where researchers are testing the ability of native plants to attract helpful species, like bees and lady beetles.

Speakers include Iowa State’s Lisa Schulte and Mary Harris, natural resource ecology and management, Kelly Seman and Matt O’Neal, entomology, Meghann Jarchow, agronomy and Practical Farmers of Iowa representative, Sarah Carlson.

The workshop will take place at FEEL, five miles west of Ames. Register by July 15 at www.aep.iastate.edu/ent. Reduced hotel rates are available for out-of-town visitors through the ISU Memorial Union. Lunch will be provided.

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