Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thursday June 13 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Applauds New Law Allowing Property Tax Relief for Disaster Victims

Nebraska Farm Bureau is encouraging Nebraskans who’ve suffered damage to real property as a result of flooding or other natural disasters to be aware of a recent change in state law that will allow them to seek a reduction in the value of damaged real property for tax purposes. Nebraskans whose real property was destroyed on or after January 1 and before July 1 can file a “Report of Destroyed Real Property – Form 425” with the county assessor and county clerk to apply for reassessment. Property owners must file the report by July 15.

“We applaud the Legislature’s passage and Gov. Ricketts signing of LB 512. We know many Nebraskans are still working through catastrophic losses caused by this spring’s floods. This is good legislation and a positive step in the right direction to help those in need today, but also to help those in the future who suffer from disaster related circumstances well beyond their control,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The “Report of Destroyed Real Property – Form 425” application can be accessed on the Nebraska Department of Revenue Property Assessment Division website or through the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at Separate Form 425 applications for damaged property are required to be filed for each parcel of damaged property.

Under the new law, real property damage must have occurred as the result of a disastrous event, including, but not limited to, fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, or other natural event which significantly affects the assessed value of real property.

Destroyed real property means real property that suffers significant property damage resulting from the above events on or after January 1, 2019 and before July 1 of the current assessment year. Destroyed real property does not include property damage caused by the owner of the property or an occupant of leased property.

Significant property damage means:
-    Damage to an improvement exceeding 20 percent of the improvement’s assessed value in the current tax year as determined by the assessor;
-    Damage to the land exceeding 20 percent of a parcel’s assessed land value in the current tax year as determined by the county assessor; or
-    Damage exceeding 20 percent of the property’s assessed value in the current tax year as determined by the county assessor if:
      +  The property is in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the governor, and
      +  A housing inspector or health inspector has determined the property is uninhabitable or unlivable.

The county board of equalization will consider the report to determine any adjustments to the assessed value of the destroyed real property for the current year.

The county board of equalization must act upon this report on or after June 1 and on or before July 25, or on or before August 10 if the board has adopted a resolution to extend the deadline to hear protests under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1502, and must send a notice of the reassessment value for the destroyed real property to the property owner.

“It’s important Nebraskans are aware of this new law and we hope those who meet the qualifications now, and in the future, will be able to utilize it in their recovery efforts,” said Nelson. “We thank Sen. Steve Erdman for his work to bring this measure to the Legislature and Sen. Lou Ann Linehan for helping push this bill across the finish line.” 

Lindsay's Hassinger Appointed to USDA's Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee

Lindsay Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology today announced that Lindsay Corporation President & CEO Tim Hassinger has accepted an appointment by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade.

As a member of the committee, Hassinger will advise, consult with and make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative concerning U.S. trade policy and matters arising in the administration of such policy.

The committee also will provide information and advice regarding the following:
-    Negotiation objectives and bargaining positions of the U.S. before it enters into trade agreements;
-    the operation of any trade agreement once entered into; and
-    matters arising in connection with the administration of U.S. trade policy.

Hassinger looks forward to serving on the committee, leveraging his more than three decades of agricultural industry experience to guide trade policy along with fellow committee members.

"Serving on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is a tremendous opportunity to provide counsel on the advancement and future of U.S. agriculture and trade policy," said Hassinger. "I look forward to the committee's collaboration and important dialogue that will positively impact U.S. trade policies."

Hassinger will serve on the committee until June 15, 2023.

Sleep Wins 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship

Russele Sleep of Bedford, Iowa was named the 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion (WLAC) at the 56th annual competition held at Tulare Sales Yard, Tulare, Calif. and presented by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA).

“It was a dream come true,” Sleep says. “I started coming to the WLAC competitions in 2009, and it goes to show hard work, dedication and a love for the livestock auction business pays off in the end.”

The competition, which was held on June 8, is composed of two parts: an interview and a live auction. During the live sale, contestants sell eight drafts of cattle to bidders in the seats. Each contestant is scored by five judges on presentation, auction chant, execution of the sale and how likely the judge would be to hire the auctioneer. During the interview round, contestants are asked questions pertaining to the marketing industry and their role as an auctioneer.

Sleep, a nine-time top ten qualifier of the WLAC and 2016 Reserve Champion Auctioneer, earned his spot to this year’s competition by winning the LMA’s Midwest Qualifying Event. Twenty-nine other semi-finalists also qualified through three regional qualifying events. The additional semi-finalist was the 2019 International Auctioneer Champion, which is given an automatic “bye” to compete.

Chuck Bradley from Rockford, Ala., earned Reserve Champion honors, and Will Epperly from Dunlap, Iowa, was named Runner-Up Champion.

Other top ten finalists were Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alberta; Steven Goedert, Dillion, Mont.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Sask; Ryan Konynenbelt, Ft. Macleod, Alberta; Wade Leist, Boyne City, Mich.; Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tenn.

Additional semi-finalists were Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Colton Brantley, Modesto, Calif.; Darren Carter, Ninety Six, S.C.; Dakota Davis, Caldwell, Kan.; Brandon Frey, Creston, Iowa; Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Shane Hatch, Kirtland, N.M.; Jim Hertzog, Butler, Mo.; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Lynn Langvardt, Chapman, Kan.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jeremy Miller, Fairland, Okla.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Christopher Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Dustin Smith, Jay, Okla.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.; Vern Yoder, Dundee, Ohio and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho.

Kristen Parman, LMA VP of Membership Services, says, “LMA is proud to sponsor an event that brings together North America’s top livestock auctioneers in a competition that showcases professionalism and promotes the auction method of selling livestock.”

As a part of the champion’s role, Sleep will spend the next year traveling the country, sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock auction markets and acting as a spokesperson on behalf of the livestock marketing industry and the LMA.

“The auctioneer championship showcases the importance of the local livestock markets and the role the auctioneer plays in true-price discovery and I’m looking forward to promoting that this year,” Sleep says.

Sleep, a Missouri Auction School graduate, works as a contract auctioneer for Knoxville Regional Livestock Market, Fort Scott Livestock Market, Inc., Southeast Kansas Stockyards LLC, Clarinda Livestock Auction, Inc., Russell Livestock Market and Green City Livestock Marketing LLC. He lives in Bedford, Iowa with his wife Lacey and three children.

A one-hour highlight show from the 2019 competition will air on RFD-TV June 24 beginning at 7 p.m. (CST). WLAC fans can mark their calendars for the 2020 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, which will be held next June 3–6 at the Dickson Regional Livestock Center, in Dickson, Tenn.

Register now for the Stockmanship and Stewardship event in Ames

In just a few short weeks, industry leaders from all over the country will be coming to Ames for the Upper Midwest Stockmanship and Stewardship event. Here’s all the information you need to know so you can attend the cattle workshop of the summer!

What is Stockmanship and Stewardship?

Stockmanship and Stewardship is a regional event coordinated in conjunction with the producer education team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff, who selected Ames as one of five locations across the country to host the event this year. The workshop brings together industry experts, stakeholders and producers for an educational experience unlike any other.

This event aims to address the current state of the beef industry, consumer concerns regarding beef sustainability and livestock welfare, impacts of those concerns on the industry, and the role that producer education and Beef Quality Assurance play in the conversation.

Throughout the workshop, producers will participate in expert panel discussions, keynote speakers, live cattle handling demonstrations and hands-on breakout sessions, and have the opportunity to get certified in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and BQA Transportation.

When and where is this event?

The workshop will be June 28-29 at the Jeff and Deb Hansen Ag Learning Center (2508 Mortensen Road) in Ames, IA.

Who is speaking?

Several presenters from across the country will be part of the educational experience. Keynote speakers and cattle handling experts include:
-        Nationally renowned clinicians Curt Pate, professional cattle handling trainer and educator, and Ron Gill, Professor and Extension Livestock Specialist at Texas A&M University.
-        Keynote speakers Sara Place, NCBA Senior Director of Sustainable Beef Production Research, and Alison Wedig, Culvers Marketing Specialist.

Industry leaders in both stockmanship and stewardship techniques will discuss the latest science and management strategies to improve profitability and consumer confidence. Also, Allison Rivera, NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs, and ISU faculty members will hold educational breakout sessions to bring together the material discussed in the workshop and bring the event to a close.

Why should I attend?

This event brings industry experts and the latest science directly to producers and provides them with the tools and education to help make their operations more profitable. Producers can network with fellow producers and industry stakeholders, and also learn about cutting edge operation techniques and best management practices in a hands-on and interactive environment. Attendees also will be able to become BQA and BQAT certified, opening up market opportunities and helping to ensure consumer confidence in beef.


To register for the event, visit For any questions, email Katy Lippolis at

Perdue Announces New Dairy Margin Coverage Signup Begins June 17

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announces that signup begins June 17 for the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, the cornerstone program of the dairy safety net that helps dairy producers manage the volatility of milk and feed prices, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The 2018 Farm Bill allowed USDA to construct the new DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). This new program offers 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.

“In February I committed to opening signup of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program by June 17, I am proud to say that our FSA staff worked hard to meet that challenge as one of the Department’s top Farm Bill implementation priorities since President Trump signed it last December.” said Secretary Perdue. “With an environment of low milk prices, high economic stress, and a new safety net program with higher coverage levels and lower premiums, it is the right time for dairy producers to seriously consider enrolling when signup opens. For many smaller dairies, the choice is probably a no-brainer as the retroactive coverage through January has already assured them that the 2019 payments will exceed the required premiums.”

The program provides coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment. At the time of signup, dairy producers can choose between the $4.00 to $9.50 coverage levels.

The Farm Bill also allows producers who participated in MPP-Dairy from 2014-2017 to receive a repayment or credit for part of the premiums paid into the program. FSA has been providing premium reimbursements to producers since last month and those that elect the 75 percent credit option will now have that credit applied toward 2019 DMC premiums.

The Department has built in a 50 percent blend of premium and supreme alfalfa hay prices with the alfalfa hay price used under the prior dairy program to provide a total feed cost that more closely aligns with hay rations used by many producers. At a milk margin minus feed cost of $9.50 or less, payments are possible. With the 50 percent hay blend, FSA’s revised April 2019 income over feed cost margin is $8.82 per hundredweight (cwt). The revised margins for January, February and March are, respectively, $7.71, $7.91 and $8.66 – triggering DMC payments for each month.

DMC payments will be reduced by 6.2 percent in 2019 because of a sequester order required by Congress and issued in accordance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

DMC offers catastrophic coverage at no cost to the producer, other than an annual $100 administrative fee. Producers can opt for greater coverage levels for a premium in addition to the administrative fee. Operations owned by limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers may be eligible for a waiver on administrative fees. Producers have the choice to lock in coverage levels until 2023 and receive a 25-percent discount on their DMC premiums.

To assist producers in making coverage elections, USDA partnered with the University of Wisconsin to develop a DMC decision support tool, which can be used to evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through DMC.

More Information

All dairy operations in the United States are eligible for the DMC program. An operation can be run either by a single producer or multiple producers who commercially produce and market cows’ milk.

Eligible dairy operations must have a production history determined by FSA. For most operations, production history is based on the highest milk production in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Newer dairy operations have other options for determining production history. Producers may contact their local FSA office to get their verified production history.

Dairy producers also are reminded that 2018 Farm Bill provisions allow for dairy operation to participate in both FSA’s DMC program and the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin (LGM-Dairy) program. There are also no restrictions from participating in DMC in conjunction with any other RMA insurance products.

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. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.

For more information, visit DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

NMPF Thanks USDA, Urges Farmers to Sign Up for Dairy-Friendly DMC Program

The National Milk Producers Federation welcomed USDA’s announcement that signup for the long-awaited Dairy Margin Coverage Program will begin June 17, applauding the department’s inclusion of the cost of high-quality alfalfa feed in payment calculations, a boon for dairy farmers facing a fifth year of low prices.

“The DMC provides a stronger safety net for America’s dairy producers, one sorely needed as low prices, trade disturbances and chaotic weather patterns combine to create hardships,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “We have advocated for months that margin calculations must consider the higher feed costs dairy producers pay to properly nourish their livestock. USDA’s decision to include premium and supreme quality alfalfa feed is appropriate and is another win for dairy farmers that will provide additional, crucial aid.”

The 2018 Farm Bill created the new DMC program, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. The program protects dairy producers when the difference between the milk prices and feed costs (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount coverage selected by the producer.

Producers may cover up to their first 5 million pounds of annual milk production (equivalent to the production of a 200-cow dairy farm) at a margin of up to $9.50 per hundredweight. Payments under the program will be retroactive to Jan. 1. Calculations already made for the first four months of the year show that producers signing up at the $9.50 level would receive payments for each of the year’s first four months, with total payments well over the already-set annual premium. All producers will be able to access this affordable coverage regardless of size, and larger producers will have access to significantly more affordable $5.00 catastrophic-type coverage.

“We very much appreciate USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue sticking with the department’s pledge to make dairy a priority in Farm Bill implementation,” Mulhern said.  “And we again want to express our appreciation to Congressional agriculture leaders who worked together on a bi-partisan basis to deliver these program improvements,” he said.

Mulhern thanked Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), as well as Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the chairmen and ranking members of congress’s agriculture committees, for their work on creating the DMC. In addition, this spring, Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Stabenow each spearheaded bipartisan letters, co-led by Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), urging USDA to prioritize implementation of the DMC program in a farmer-friendly manner.


The National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board has elected John Linder to become the organization's first vice president for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

“I am honored my fellow Corn Board volunteers placed their trust in me and granted me the distinct privilege of becoming a part of the organization’s leadership,” said Linder. “Today’s American corn farmers face an ever-changing landscape with numerous challenges, as well as opportunities, on the horizon. It is imperative that we work with our partners in government, in industry and in the public to grow markets at home and abroad. I sincerely look forward to working with our grower leadership to find innovative, impactful ways to grow the markets and the future for U.S. corn farmers.”

Linder, along with his brother, Mike, and wife, Cheryl, run a fifth-generation farm raising corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat and soybeans for seed in central Ohio. In addition to traditional row crop farming, he also has livestock experience.

“The farmers who have stepped forward and volunteered to lead the National Corn Growers Association have built this organization’s strong history of success. As a Corn Board, we believe that John will continue this fine tradition,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “Our Corn Board appreciates the keen insight he brings to our discussions and the dedication he continually demonstrates to benefit all farmers. We are confident that he will continue working tirelessly on their behalf.”

On the national level, Linder serves as the Corn Board liaison to the Market Access Action Team and chairs the Finance Committee. Additionally, he represents NCGA at the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research.

Previously, he served as chair and vice chair of the Engaging Members Committee. Prior to his election to the Corn Board, Linder chaired the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team.

“John has been a tireless advocate representing corn farmers in Ohio and I am pleased that he will continue to share his experience and expertise as an advocate for corn growers across the country,” said Jon Miller, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.

On Oct. 1, Chrisp, of Nebraska, becomes chairman and the current first vice president, Kevin Ross of Iowa, becomes NCGA president. In October 2020, Ross becomes chairman and Linder becomes president.

USGC Joins USDA Agricultural Trade Mission To Colombia

The ATM allowed USGC leadership to speak directly to the largest U.S. corn importers in Colombia, thank them for their business and answer questions regarding the current crop and future planting intentions.

U.S. Grains Council (USGC) leadership recently met with market players in the Colombia feed, poultry and livestock sectors - including industry associations and agricultural ministry officials - to express support for one of the top markets for U.S. coarse grains and related products.

The meetings took place as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Trade Mission (ATM) to Bogota, Colombia, June 4 to 7. Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney led the mission, which included one of the largest ATM delegations ever organized by the USDA to develop stronger ties with one of the top U.S. agricultural trading partners in the Western Hemisphere.

“Since the United States entered into a free trade agreement with Colombia in 2012, agricultural export growth has been robust,” said USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein. “During ATM discussions, the Council emphasized our willingness to maintain this important Colombian market for corn and co-products.”

Thirty-five different U.S. organizations participated in the mission. The Council’s delegation included Stitzlein; Ryan LeGrand, incoming USGC president and chief executive officer; Greg Hibner, agribusiness sector director of the USGC Board of Directors; Marri Tejada, USGC regional director for the Western Hemisphere; Ana Maria Ballesteros, USGC regional marketing director; and Juan Diaz, USGC regional consultant for ethanol.

“The ATM was a good opportunity for USGC leadership to speak directly to the largest U.S. corn importers in Colombia, thank them for their business and answer questions regarding the current crop and future planting intentions,” Stitzlein said. “Hearing from the incoming CEO was a clear sign to our Colombian customers of how important their market is for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses.”

Colombian purchases of U.S. coarse grains and grain-related products have continued a steady upward trend since the U.S.–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement went into effect in 2012. Setting a new record for the fifth year in a row, Colombian purchases of U.S. corn continued upward in 2017/2018 to 5.08 million metric tons (200 million bushels), a 7.4 percent increase year-over-year. Thus far in the 2018/2019 marketing year (September 2018-April 2019), Colombia ranks as the third largest market for U.S. corn, purchasing 3.72 million tons (nearly 147 million bushels).

Colombia also currently ranks as the seventh largest market for U.S. ethanol, purchasing 37 million gallons (13.1 million bushels in corn equivalent) so far this marketing year, up 56 percent year-over-year and approaching the 2017/2018 year-end total of 37.5 million gallons (13.3 million bushels in corn equivalent).

During the ATM, the Council provided Undersecretary McKinney with briefings on ethanol opportunities and details on disagreements between the two countries to further convey during his meetings with the Colombian ministries of commerce and agriculture.

“Our message is simple, we want to get back to business as usual," Tejada said. "Yes, there is a current trade dispute on U.S. ethanol, but we are hopeful to resolve the issue without creating demand destruction.

"The United States is an excellent supply stabilizer for when domestic ethanol production cannot meet the demand. We see Colombia as a strategic ally and have been actively working on demand development in the country for more than 30 years. And this is an exciting time to be engaged in the Colombian market, especially as we see significant potential for growth in both the animal and energy sectors.”

Perdue Announces Kansas City Region as Location for ERS and NIFA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to the Kansas City Region.

“Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win – maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees,” said Secretary Perdue. “The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland. There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve. This agriculture talent pool, in addition to multiple land-grant and research universities within driving distance, provides access to a stable labor force for the future. The Kansas City Region will allow ERS and NIFA to increase efficiencies and effectiveness and bring important resources and manpower closer to all of our customers.”

USDA conducted a Cost Benefit Analysis and conservative estimates show a savings of nearly $300 million nominally over a 15-year lease term on employment costs and rent or about $20 million per year, which will allow more funding for research of critical needs like rural prosperity and agricultural competitiveness, and for programs and employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets. On top of that, state and local governments offered generous relocation incentives packages totaling more than $26 million. Finally, this relocation will give USDA the opportunity to attract a diverse staff with training and interest in agriculture. You may click HERE to view USDA’s Cost Benefit Analysis.

“We did not undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to enhance long-term sustainability and success of these agencies. The considerable taxpayer savings will allow us to be more efficient and improve our ability to retain more employees in the long run. We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C. In addition, we are increasing the probability of attracting highly-qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities. We look forward to this new chapter as we seek to fulfill our motto at USDA, which is to ‘do right and feed everyone,’” added Secretary Perdue.

Secretary Perdue sent this letter to all USDA employees this morning and will be holding an all hands meeting with ERS and NIFA employees today to discuss the decision, the process, and next steps.

In addition, USDA announced in August the realignment of ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist. While we believe there is considerable synergies and benefits to a realignment, after hearing feedback from stakeholders and Members of Congress, USDA will not move forward with the realignment plans. The agency of ERS will remain under the Research, Education, and Economics mission area.

USDA announced in August it would undertake the relocations for three main reasons:

1.To improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities. USDA has experienced significant turnover in these positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, D.C. area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes.

2. To place these important USDA resources closer to many of our stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, D.C. area.

3. To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.

As part of the rigorous site selection process, USDA narrowed the 136 Expressions of Interest received using a set of established criteria defined by USDA, NIFA, and ERS leadership. The criteria included:
    Quality of Life: Subcategory examples include Diversity Index, Residential Housing Costs, Access to Healthcare, and Home and Community Safety Ranking.
    Costs (Capital and Operating): Subcategory examples include Commercial Real Estate Costs, CPI Index, and Wage Costs.
    Workforce: Subcategory examples include Labor Force Growth Rate, Unemployment Rate, and the Labor Force Population.
    Logistics / IT Infrastructure: Subcategory examples include Lodging Availability, Proximity to Customers, and Airport Accessibility.

The top Expressions of Interest were reviewed in detail, and USDA selected a short list of locations offering existing buildings with sufficient space to meet ERS and NIFA requirements.

While 90% of USDA employees are located outside of the D.C. area, ERS and NIFA are the only USDA agencies that don’t have representation outside of the national Capital Region (NCR). Upon the relocation announcement, USDA proposed that sufficient staff levels would remain in the NCR to complete mission critical activities that require physical presence in or near Washington, D.C. at the recommendation of customers and stakeholders. In both the cases of ERS and NIFA, leadership reviewed the critical functions and staffing needs within and outside the NCR. Senior ERS and NIFA staff, with input from partner agencies and stakeholders, recommended to Secretary Perdue the critical functions to be retained within the NCR.

Out of NIFA’s 315 positions, 294 will relocate while 21 will stay in the NCR. Of the 329 ERS positions, 253 will relocate while 76 will stay in the Washington, D.C. area.

As a result of this move, no ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before, and the locality pay for the new location.

USDA will be working with the General Services Administration to secure a permanent lease space through a competitive process in the Kansas City Region. USDA will continue to keep ERS and NIFA employees apprised as updates occur.

Ricketts Applauds Decision to Move USDA Programs from Washington to the Heartland

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following an announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would move two key programs from Washington, D.C. to the Kansas City area.  The programs are the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“The decision by Secretary Perdue to move these programs from Washington to the Heartland sends an important message to the people served by the USDA,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Agriculture is the backbone of our country.  When these programs are closer to their customers, the USDA will be able to better serve the farmers and ranchers who feed the world.

“I urge the USDA and all federal agencies to look for opportunities to move programs out of the Washington Beltway and closer to the people they serve across the country.”

USDA Announces Kansas City Region as New NIFA, ERS Site

Ten months after introducing a plan to relocate and reorganize two major agricultural research agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it will move the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) to the Kansas City region.

National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 200,000 family farmer and rancher members depend on objective, publicly funded science to make critical business decisions. Due to concerns about how the proposal could both undermine the integrity of NIFA and ERS’s research as well as diminish the role of science in policymaking, NFU has urged the USDA and Congress to suspend the move. In response to USDA’s announcement and apparent disregard for widespread opposition to its plan, NFU President Roger Johnson restated the organization’s dissent and again called on Congress to prevent the process from moving forward.

“Family farmers and ranchers wear dozens of hats – in addition to growing food, they are also business owners, scientists, marketers, and technicians. Mastering all these drastically different skills requires access to objective, science-based solutions – and it requires evidence-based policies that support those solutions. Moving NIFA and ERS farther away from our nation’s capital, as the USDA intends to do, could negatively impact the ability of these agencies to produce and fund high-quality research and communicate with legislators, which could, in turn, make it that much more difficult to be a farmer.

“We are extremely frustrated that our serious concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Even in light of all of these possible repercussions, USDA is barreling forward with this ill-conceived plan. Their slapdash approach has already disrupted operations and eroded morale at both NIFA and ERS. Before additional damage is done, we strongly urge Congress to act swiftly to put an end to this destructive relocation and reorganization.”

NFU, FFA Cement Partnership at MOU Signing Ceremony

As the average age of the American farmer approaches 60, National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National FFA Organization are working together to cultivate the next generation of American agricultural professionals.

At a ceremony in Minneapolis, Minnesota, NFU President Roger Johnson and National FFA Organization CEO Mark Poeschl formalized their joint commitment to agricultural education and cemented the two organizations’ longstanding partnership by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU summarizes the ways in which NFU and FFA will continue to encourage youth engagement and leadership, share resources, and elevate each other’s roles within farming communities.

“Many generations of young Farmers Union members have grown up in their local FFA chapters,” said Johnson. “This MOU is a logical next step in what has long been a mutually beneficial friendship between our two organizations.”

NFU and FFA both have long histories of supporting youth in agriculture, though the two address the issue in different ways. FFA, which is primarily an intracurricular student organization, helps prepare thousands of young people for more than 240 careers in agriculture, including farming, education, science, and business. Although Farmers Union, a grassroots organization representing family farmers and ranchers, offers youth scholarship and leadership programs as well, the organization also advocates local, state, and federal policies that strengthen rural and agricultural education and help more young Americans successfully enter the field of agriculture.

“It’s clear that NFU and FFA have similar goals and values when it comes to youth education,” said Poeschl. “We are excited to be working hand in hand with NFU as we both continue to foster youth engagement and leadership in agriculture.”

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