Tag Archives: USDA

LINCOLN – From dry beans to honey, specialty crops are an important part of Nebraska agriculture. Several organizations in Nebraska recently received nearly $675,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) to fund projects designed to strengthen the specialty crop industry in the state.

 

The funding comes from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) which provides grant monies to the departments of agriculture in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. NDA administers the state’s SCBG program that funds research, agricultural extension activities and marketing to increase demand for specialty crops in Nebraska.

 

“Specialty crops add value and variety to Nebraska’s agricultural industry which helps grow our economy,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The SCBGP projects receiving funding will benefit Nebraska specialty crop producers for years to come.”

 

USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and some turf and ornamental crops. A full list of specialty crops is available on USDA’s website at ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/specialty-crop.

 

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) received grants for 10 of the 13 projects that were approved for funding this year. Below is a brief description of each of the 10 projects that will allow UNL to:

·         improve pea seed protein quantity and quality in western Nebraska by evaluating fertilizer management strategies;

·         study the genetics of bacterial wilt resistance in dry beans;

·         develop unique hop flavor profiles as hops are influenced by their growing environment;

·         distribute hybrid hazelnuts in Nebraska and other states for testing;

·         develop a dry bean gene editing system to improve the productivity and availability of dry beans;

·         provide resources to help Nebraska farmers improve yields and performance to grow  broccoli, bell peppers and cucumbers;

·         create a pest management program to more effectively control Western Bean Cutworm;

·         teach youth about specialty crops and expand the availability of the crops;

·         provide information to producers about crop and water management practices to enhance productivity and increase economic return; and

·         study vineyard production in order to produce the best quality wine at the most profitable crop load.

 

In another funded specialty crop project, Southeast Community College will increase awareness, access and use of certain Nebraska specialty crops by creating and incorporating specialty crop curriculum for students in SCC’s Culinary Program.

 

The Nebraska Center for Rural Affairs will receive grant funding to test the effectiveness and production of alternative hive structure for honey production and honey bee health, in another specialty crop project.

 

In the last specialty crop project approved for funding this year, the Papio Valley Nursery will use their greenhouses to create year-round production of fresh strawberries. 

 

All of the projects receiving SCBGP funding this year must be completed by Sept. 29, 2022. For more information about this year’s grant awards, go to USDA’s website at ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/awards and click on “FY2019 pdf.” NDA uses a portion of the USDA-awarded funding to monitor and administer Nebraska’s SCBG program.

 

NDA administered a two-phase competitive grant application process for these SCBGP funds. Phase I involved the submission of concept proposals, which allowed applicants to explain the main points of their project. The concept proposals were independently and competitively scored by a field review panel. Projects with the highest combined scores were asked to complete Phase II of the application process and include a more in-depth description of the project.

More than 22,000 dairy farmers enrolled in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, paying out more than $300 million this year.

The National Milk Producers Federation says none of the assistance would have occurred under the old Margin Protection Program. The DMC program replaced MPP in the 2018 farm bill. Monthly milk price/feed cost margins so far in 2019 have been above the $8 per hundredweight coverage cutoff that existed under MPP, but below the new $9.50 per hundredweight coverage limit under DMC.

An analysis of the program found that under the old MPP rules, the total paid out under the entire program so far this year would have been $75,000, about $3 per farmer and a net loss after premium costs. Wisconsin signed up the largest number of farmers, while California enrolled the highest production volume of any state.

NMPF CEO Jim Mulhern says, “The Dairy Margin Coverage program has proven its worth.” Enrollment into the program for 2020 begins Monday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Sept. 26, producers who are currently participating in the federal crop insurance program are in line for some extra help.

Farmers who had a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding, excess moisture, or causes other than drought will automatically receive a “top-up” payment. Producers will get that payment from their Approved Insurance Providers starting in mid-October. Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Option will get a 10 percent top-up payment. Producers with Revenue Protection will receive a 15 percent top-up.

There is no need to sign up to get the payments as all producers with a 2019 prevented planting indemnity will receive the top-up.

“It was a challenging season for many of our farmers,” said USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that producers get the help they need.”

The crop insurance industry will deliver the payments as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. After the initial payment, additional payments will be made in the middle of each month as more prevented planting claims get processed.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2019 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is investing $144 million to improve rural water infrastructure in 25 states (PDF, 163 KB).
“Modern and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure systems are foundational to economic growth and quality of life in rural communities,” LaVoy said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to investing in this critical infrastructure, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
USDA is investing in 45 projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Eligible applicants include rural cities and towns, and water districts. They can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
Below are examples of projects announced today:
  • The town of Winfield, W.Va., is receiving an $8.8 million loan to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. The town will build a new headworks structure; improve mechanical systems; and improve grading, piping, storm drainage, sidewalks and fencing. This investment will benefit 1,055 residential users and 64 businesses.
  • Tuscarawas County, Ohio, is receiving a $2.2 million loan and a $1.4 million grant to modernize the Wilkshire Hills water treatment facility, first constructed in the late 1970s. A third supply well will be added, and new pressure filtration equipment and master meters will be installed. These improvements will support current operations and accommodate future growth, including a planned expansion into the neighboring village of Bolivar.
  • Maine’s Paris Utility District is receiving a $189,000 loan to repair sewer lines along the Billings Bridge in South Paris. Replacing the 46-year-old, 12-inch lines will provide more reliable wastewater service to the system’s 1,216 users.
USDA is announcing investments today in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
USDA had $2.9 billion available for Water and Environmental Program loans and grants at the beginning of fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.
View the interactive RD Apply tool or contact one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices for application or eligibility information.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

Federal officials have approved turning loose a non-native insect to feed on an invasive thistle that sprouts in everything from rangelands to vineyards to wilderness areas, mainly in the U.S. West.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it will permit use of the weevil native to Europe and western Asia to control yellow starthistle, which is from the same areas.

“Its flowers have inch-long spines that deter feeding by and cause injury to grazing animals and lower the utility of recreational lands,” the agency said.

There is little to no risk of the insect attacking native plants, the agency said.

The weevils will initially be let loose in California, with additional releases in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and possibly Nevada. The agency said Wednesday it is accepting permit applications to process this fall so weevils could be released in the spring.

“We’re really excited about the release of this weevil,” said Jeremey Varley of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. Yellow starthistle “is not good to eat, and it’s toxic to horses.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department said yellow starthistle entered California before 1860 and is now one of the state’s worst pests. Idaho, Oregon and Washington also have heavy infestations of the thistle that’s been found in 41 states.

The plant is concentrated in southwestern Idaho with more plants found along the west side of the state, Varley said.

Before Idaho could release weevils, he said, the state will have to grow enough of them to have a large enough population to put into the wild. How long that might take isn’t clear. The University of Idaho, which has an agricultural college, would likely play a role in that effort.

Experts say the weevil can reduce the spread of yellow starthistle where other methods, such as pesticides and physical removal of the plant, have failed. Yellow starthistle is an annual with a taproot. It spreads with seeds blown by the wind.

The insect’s larvae feed on the upper part of the plant’s root for about two months before going into the pupa stage inside the plant. They emerge as adults in June and feed on the yellow starthistle leaves for several days before, experts believe, becoming dormant.

The following spring, females feed for several weeks, then lay a few eggs on starthistle plants each day for several months before dying.

The federal agency has released an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact to releasing the weevils. In 2009, it released a draft environmental assessment and spent the next decade testing to make sure releasing the weevils wouldn’t have unintended consequences.

WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline to September 27 for dairy producers to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for 2019. The deadline had been September 20.

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), the program offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

“More than 21,200 dairy operations have already signed up for DMC, but we’re providing an additional week to help ensure interested producers have time to come into the office,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “With smaller margins and increased feed costs, DMC has resulted in almost $230 million in payments disbursed. I know that some farmers may still be cautious given their experiences with former dairy support programs, but producers who have not signed up yet should come into a local office to learn how much money the program can put into their pockets.”

Almost half of the producers who have signed up so far are taking advantage of the 25 percent premium discount by locking in for five years of margin protection coverage. FSA has launched a new web visualization of the DMC data, which is available here.

Margin payments have triggered for each month from January through July. Dairy producers who elect higher coverage levels could be eligible for payments for all seven months. Under certain levels, the amount paid to dairy farmers will exceed the cost of the premium.

For example, a dairy operation that chooses to enroll for 2019 with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) and elects the $9.50 coverage level on 95 percent of production will pay $4,275 in total premium payments for all of 2019 and receive $15,437.50 in DMC payments for all margin payments announced to date. Additional payments will be made if calculated margins remain below the $9.50/cwt. level for any remaining months of 2019.

“My message to those dairy producers who are hurting out there: Don’t leave this kind of financial assistance on the table,” said Northey, who announced the deadline extension today as part of a hearing in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. “Producers across the country have told us that DMC is a great risk management tool that works well, and it can work for you, too.”

More Information

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation.

For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies – today applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Included in this legislation is language from Sen. Moran that fully-funds the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan and provides the necessary resources for the USDA’s planned relocation of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to Kansas City.

“From farmers and ranchers to researchers and veterinarians, this appropriations bill includes a number of measures to support agriculture across our state during an extremely tough time for the ag community,” said Sen. Moran. “I’m proud to have many Kansas priorities included in this legislation on issues relating to NBAF, USDA’s relocation of agencies to Kansas City, rural broadband and veterans in agriculture. I appreciate the Senate coming together in a bipartisan fashion to show our care, appreciation and support for our nation’s producers and all those who support this noble work.”

This appropriations bill supports NBAF, the USDA’s relocation of ERS and NIFA, 2018 Farm Bill implementation, rural broadband deployment, agricultural research, conservation programs and food and drug safety. It also creates incentives for military veterans to enter careers in agriculture.

Included in this legislation are several Sen. Moran-supported provisions:

NBAF – Champions the completion of and fully-funds the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan and supports the workforce needs of this state-of-the-art facility with the inclusion of $3 million for workforce development, training and education.

Relocation of ERS & NIFA – Provides the necessary resources for USDA’s planned relocation of the ERS and NIFA to the Kansas City region, a move that was announced in June.

Agricultural Research – Increases investments in key agricultural research priorities important to Kansas farmers and ranchers, including research focused on wheat, sorghum and alfalfa.

Farmer Mental Health – Includes funds for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to provide grants to extension services and nonprofit organizations that offer mental health and stress assistance programs to farmers, ranchers and others involved in agriculture.

 

Rural Broadband – Continues investments in broadband to support deployment of this critical digital infrastructure across rural and underserved areas. Includes measures to ensure the coordination between the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in their work to expand broadband and prevent overbuilding. This bill also requires USDA to review the administration of its new pilot ReConnect broadband loan and grant program to ensure these significant federal investments are maximized and put to use in rural communities that need it most.

International Food Assistance – Maintains the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, erected by former U.S. Senators Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and George McGovern (D-S.D.). This legislation also prioritizes Food for Peace initiatives which support the delivery of American-grown food to foreign countries experiencing chronic hunger crises.

Veterans in Agriculture – Includes $5 million for a grant program established by Sen. Moran to help veterans transition into farming, ranching and other careers in agriculture.

 

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released 2017 Census of Agriculture data tabulated by zip code. The zip code tabulations are available through Quick Stats, NASS’ online data query tool.

 

“Used by producers, community leaders, researchers, and many others in support of agriculture, the zip code tabulation provides yet another entry point to the vast amount of Census data,” said Agricultural Statistics Board Chair Joseph Parsons.

 

Data summaries are also available at the national, state, county, congressional district, watershed, and American Indian reservation level at www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. Still to be released are the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Profiles on October 1.

 

Other products to expect this summer and fall include state-specific Census blogs showcased on www.usda.gov and additional Census Highlights publications found on the NASS website. Notifications of when these products are available are announced @USDA__NASS on Twitter. In addition to these products, special tabulations of data may be requested on the NASS website, if needed.

 

Already preparing for the 2022 Census of Agriculture, NASS is asking for content change suggestions and for new producers who did not receive a 2017 Census of Agriculture form last year to sign up to be counted in future censuses and surveys. Both forms can be found at www.nass.usda.gov.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final rule to modernize swine slaughter inspection and bring it into the 21st century. For the first time in more than five decades, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is modernizing inspection at market hog slaughter establishments with a goal of protecting public health while allowing for food safety innovations.
“This regulatory change allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules and allowing for companies to innovate,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “The final rule is the culmination of a science-based and data-driven rule making process which builds on the food safety improvements made in 1997, when USDA introduced a system of preventive controls for industry. With this rule, FSIS will finally begin full implementation of that program in swine establishments.”
Background:
The final rule has new requirements for microbial testing that apply to all swine slaughterhouses to demonstrate that they are controlling for pathogens throughout the slaughter system. Additionally, FSIS is amending its meat inspection regulations to establish a new inspection system for market hog establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS).
In the final rule, FSIS amends the regulations to require all swine slaughter establishments to develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to monitor process control for enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. The final rule also allows market hog establishments to choose if they will operate under NSIS or continue to operate under traditional inspection.
FSIS will continue to conduct 100% inspection of animals before slaughter and 100% carcass-by-carcass inspection, as mandated by Congress. FSIS inspectors will also retain the authority to stop or slow the line as necessary to ensure that food safety and inspection are achieved. Under the NSIS, FSIS offline inspectors will conduct more food safety and humane handling verification tasks to protect the food supply and animal welfare.
To view the final rule, visit the FSIS website at: go.usa.gov/xVPVK

WASHINGTON– Hy-Vee Fresh Commissary, an Ankeny, Iowa establishment, is recalling approximately 6,233 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) beef and chicken products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The products contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The RTE beef and chicken products were produced on Sept. 7-8, 2019. The following products are subject to recall: [View labels (PDF only)]

  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime MONGOLIAN-STYLE BEEF” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with a Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.
  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime BEEF WITH BROCCOLI” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with a Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.
  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime CASHEW CHICKEN” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with a Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.
  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime SWEET ORANGE CHICKEN” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with a Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.
  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime GENERAL CHICKEN” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.
  • 20-oz. plastic packages of “HyVee. mealtime SESAME CHICKEN” bearing lot code 19250 with a Best If Used By date of 09/14/19 and lot code 19251 with Best If Used By date of 09/15/19.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 51558” or “P-51558” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The problem was discovered during FSIS in-plant verification activities.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be stored in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms are notifying their customers of the recall and that actions are being taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution lists will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions can contact Hy-Vee Customer Care Representatives at (800) 722-4098. Media with questions about the recall can contact Tina Potthoff, senior vice president of communications, Hy-Vee Fresh Commissary, at (515) 975-9211.