Agribusiness
USDA and USTR Name New Members to Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 27 June 2014 10:28

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2014 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today announced the appointment of 19 additional members to six agricultural trade advisory committees.

"The agricultural trade advisory committees provide great insight into trade issues for the United States. Hearing from such a wide variety of agricultural experts helps us formulate our trade strategy and keep American exports growing to record numbers," Vilsack said. "Agricultural trade plays a vital role in the health of our economy, and the new members of the committees will bring welcome new perspectives."

Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) jointly manage the committees.

"A primary objective of President Obama's trade agenda is to unlock economic opportunity for American farmers and ranchers," said Froman. "As we fight to open markets across the world to more U.S. exports, direct insight from the American agricultural community is essential. I welcome these well-qualified individuals, and look forward to hearing their advice. I also look forward to continued engagement with the public with regard to U.S. agricultural trade policy and how it can continue to benefit American families."

Since 2009, nearly one-third of U.S. economic growth has been due to exports. In 2013, American exports were a record $2.28 trillion. Agricultural exports alone reached a record $140.9 billion and supported nearly one million jobs in the last fiscal year. The past five years represent the strongest period for U.S. exports in the history of the United States.

The committees provide advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on negotiating objectives and positions, and other matters related to the development and administration of U.S. agricultural trade policy.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of senior representatives from across the agricultural community and provides advice on general trade policy matters. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees offer technical advice and information on specific product sectors.

The new appointments became effective June 15, 2014. Nominations for committee members are accepted at any time and appointments are made periodically, usually for a period of four years. More information is available at www.fas.usda.gov/topics/trade-policy/trade-advisory-committees. Questions may be directed to USDA Trade Advisory Committee staff at 202-720-6219 or via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Vilsack Announces Farm Bill Funding for Bioenergy Research, Converting to Biomass Fuel Systems PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 16 June 2014 08:55

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced up to $14.5 million in funding for two USDA bioenergy programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA's Rural Development (RD) announced it is accepting applications from companies seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems, while USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $2.5 million in grants to enhance national energy security through the development of bio-based transportation fuels, biopower, and new bio-based products.

USDA today also announced a valuable aid to those in, or interested in, starting a bio-energy business, the Bioeconomy Tool Shed. The Tool Shed is a portal offering users access to a complement of web-based tools and information, statistical data and other resources related to the sustainable production and conversion of biomass into products and fuel, a process often referred to as the bioeconomy.

"These USDA investments are part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, and they benefit our economy as well as the environment," Vilsack said. "USDA's support for bio-based technologies is good for the climate, and enhances rural economic development while it decreases our dependence on foreign sources of oil." He concluded, "These and other USDA efforts will create new products out of homegrown agriculture from this and future generations of American farmers and foresters."

USDA plans to make up to $12 million in payments for eligible biorefineries through RD's Repowering Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Biorefineries in existence on or before June 18, 2008 are eligible for payments to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power with renewable biomass. Since President Obama took office, USDA has provided $6.9 million to help biorefineries transition from fossil fuels to renewable biomass systems. Applications, deadlines and details will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 16, 2014.

USDA is also seeking applications for NIFA's Sun Grants program that encourages bioenergy and biomass research collaboration between government agencies, land-grant colleges and universities, and the private sector. Congress authorized the Sun Grant program in the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized the program in 2014. The program provides grants to five grant centers and one subcenter, which then will make competitive grants to projects that contribute to research, education and outreach for the regional production and sustainability of possible biobased feedstocks. The project period will not exceed five years.

The newest addition to the USDA Energy Web, the Tool Shed can help those interested in bio-energy business ventures by providing access to the data and information necessary to evaluate potential opportunities across the entire supply chain: from feedstock production, to bioenergy production, bioenergy use, and linkages between feedstock production, bioenergy production and use. The tool is designed to assist in evaluating the feasibility and opportunities for locating a new biorefinery. It provides the stakeholder access to information on demographics, land use, biomass, feedstock, economics, and financial management.

Today's announcements were made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)


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USDA Announces New Farm Bill Funds Available for Research to Fight Citrus Greening PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 13 June 2014 15:02
$31.5 Million Being Allocated to Test Various Ways to Combat Disease Threatening U.S. Citrus Industry

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2014 – United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $25 million in funding for research and Cooperative Extension Service projects to combat huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease. The funding comes from the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA allocated another $6.5 million, for a total of $31.5 million, to several other projects through its Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group (HLB MAC).

"USDA is committed to the fight against citrus greening, including making major research investments to counter this destructive disease," said Vilsack. "The citrus industry and the thousands of jobs it supports are depending on groundbreaking research to neutralize this threat."

Today's announcement provides funding to the Citrus Disease Research and Education Program (CDRE) and is a supplement of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The 2014 Farm Bill provides $25 million per year for a total of $125 million of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative funding toward citrus health research over the next five years.

Because there are wide differences in the occurrence and progression of HLB among the states, there are regional as well as national priorities for CDRE. These priorities fall within four categories: 1) priorities that deal with the pathogen; 2) those that deal with the insect vector; 3) those that deal with citrus orchard production systems; and 4) those that deal with non-agricultural citrus tree owners. Priority will be given to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary and include clearly defined mechanisms to communicate results to producers. Successful applicants will be expected to engage stakeholders to insure solutions are commercially feasible. Projects should also include an economic analysis of the costs associated with proposed solutions. A letter of intent to apply is due to NIFA by June 27, 2014. Full applications, to be invited based on relevancy review, are due September 29, 2014.

Also today, USDA's Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group (HLB MAC) announced funding allocations for three new projects to combat HLB. The first project will commit approximately $2 million to field test antimicrobials that have shown promise in combating HLB in laboratory and greenhouse studies. The second HLB MAC project, also funded for up to $2 million, will support the deployment of large-scale thermotherapy since studies have shown heating a tree to 120 degrees for approximately 48 hours can kill the HLB bacterium in the upper part of the tree, allowing the tree to regain productivity. This funding will address the challenge of identifying a quick and practical way for growers to use the technology on a large scale. For the third project, the MAC Group is providing about $2.5 million to establish several model groves in cooperation with Florida Citrus Health Management Areas. A model grove would use best management practices—including systematic surveys, timely chemical treatments, new planting strategies, and the removal of dead and abandoned groves – so growers can produce healthy citrus crops even in the presence of HLB.

Secretary Vilsack created the HLB MAC Group last December to foster greater coordination among federal and state agencies in responding to citrus greening. The Group includes representatives from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), as well as State departments of agriculture and the citrus industry. The HLB MAC Group serves to coordinate and prioritize Federal research with industry's efforts to complement and fill research gaps, reduce unnecessary duplication, speed progress, and more quickly provide practical tools for citrus growers to use. Additional information on the activities of the HLB MAC Group, including regular updates on activities, can be found here.

The Farm Bill, which provided funding for today's investment in HLB research, builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which administers the Citrus Disease Research and Education Program, 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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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)


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“See for Yourself” Participants to See Soy Checkoff in Action PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Friday, 13 June 2014 15:01
Ten U.S. soybean farmers to visit domestic, international soy markets

ST. LOUIS (June 12, 2014) – Unloading soybeans at the elevator after harvest may seem like the end of the season for farmers, but it’s really just the beginning of the journey. From there, the soybeans travel to various markets domestically and abroad. How are they used? Ten U.S. soybean farmers are about to see for themselves.

The United Soybean Board (USB) recently selected participants for this year’s See for Yourself program, which will be held Aug. 14-22 in St. Louis, Panama and Ecuador. The annual program will give the following farmers a firsthand look at some of the many uses for their soybeans around the world:

  • Kyle Bridgeforth – Tanner, Alabama
  • James Caudle – Peachland, North Carolina
  • Kate Danner – Aledo, Illinois
  • Brennan Gilkison – Winchester, Kentucky
  • Matt Hinderer – Chelsea, Michigan
  • Don Holbert – Dandridge, Tennessee
  • Darin LaBar – Union City, Michigan
  • Kevin McGrain – Hornick, Iowa
  • Wade Walters – Shickley, Nebraska
  • LaVell Winsor – Grantville, Kansas
“The See for Yourself program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says David Hartke, a soybean farmer from Teutopolis, Illinois, and chair of the USB’s Audit and Evaluation Committee, which sponsors See for Yourself. “Not only do farmers see the checkoff in action firsthand, but they have the chance to provide feedback directly to me and other farmer-leaders on the checkoff programs they learn about.”

These farmer-participants will learn about their domestic and international customers’ needs for soybean meal and oil. That includes animal agriculture, which uses nearly 97 percent of U.S. soybean meal, and the food industry, which uses two-thirds of U.S. soybean oil.

The 70 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.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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USDA Announces Funding Availability for Turning Biomass Material into Energy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 15:28

Farm Bill Implementation Continues as Energy Facilities Can Now Apply for Renewed Biomass Crop Assistance Program

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands. This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock.

“Removing dead or diseased trees from forests to use for biomass production creates clean energy while reducing the threat of forest fires and the spread of harmful insects and disease,” said Vilsack. “Increasing our country’s production of biomass energy also helps grow our economy. Food is made in rural America, but fuel is made in rural America, too. This program is yet another USDA investment in expanding markets for agricultural products made in rural places across the country.”

With the 2014 Farm Bill requiring several regulatory updates to BCAP, the resumption of payments for starting and maintaining new sources of biomass (Project Areas) has been deferred until a later date when the regulatory updates occur.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities beginning June 16, 2014, through July 14, 2014.  Information on funding availability can be found in the Federal Register notice at http://go.usa.gov/8FSH. For more details on applications and deadlines on BCAP, visit a local FSA county office or go online to www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

BCAP was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

 

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