Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday July 9 Ag News

A-FAN Offers Input Lowering Workshop

Farmers and producers that are looking to lower their input costs and increase their production of crops are encouraged to take part in a FREE workshop about manure. The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, or AFAN, is partnering with the University of Nebraska Extension Service in hosting these workshops.

The main focus of these events is to showcase the ability for producers to diversify their nutrient portfolio with manure. AFAN, is working to promote the nutrient-rich product and help producers better understand the strides they can make when they use manure. Nebraska leads the country in overall red meat production and offers producers to take advantage of the by-products of this growing industry.

The events will be held as follows in the following locations from 11:30 - 1:30PM.
    August 3rd - Madison - Extension Building
    August 6th - Beatrice - Extension Building
    August 10th - Fremont - Extension Building
    August 18th - York - Fairground's 4-H Building

Producers will be able to engage with a myriad of industry professionals and answer their questions about manure application. Dr. Amy Schmidt of UNL's Extension will head off the sessions in talking about the general idea and benefits of manure.

A free lunch will be served to everyone in attendance. Local and supporting businesses will be on hand to help answer questions and illustrate the importance of this powerful crop nutrient resources.

AFAN was started in 2007 through the cooperative efforts of state commodity and agriculture awareness groups. AFAN's mission is to strengthen Nebraska by securing the public's essentials. Through feeding you, your family, creating jobs, and generating economic activity while responsibly caring for the land and livestock, AFAN accomplishes this goal.

If you are interested please contact your local extension agent or Emily Skillett - AFAN Livestock Coordinator - 402.421.4416 or to RSVP.


Experts will discuss topics related to grazing animals and stewardship of grazing lands during the 15th annual Nebraska Grazing Conference at the Kearney Ramada Inn, 301 2nd Ave., Aug. 11-12.

Presenters from agricultural production, universities and government agencies will cover a dozen topics ranging from use of annual forages and cultivated crops in grazing systems to grassland response to fire.

"The conference planning committee always strives for a program that balances livestock grazing nuts and bolts with environmental factors in grassland management," said Pam Murray, administrative coordinator of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Grassland Studies and the conference coordinator. The committee consists of farmers, ranchers, educators, researchers and consultants in the public and private sectors.

       "Every year the annual evaluation forms we collect at the end of the conference make it clear that agricultural producers like hearing from other producers," Murray said. “But they also like knowing the latest research that will help them not only increase profits, but better manage the land for long-term ecological health."

Richard Knight, Colorado State University professor emeritus, will give two presentations. On Aug. 11, the wildlife biologist/ecologist will address poisonous native range plants. On Aug. 12, Knight will discuss livestock poisoning associated with cultivated crops.

The effect of fire on grasslands is another topic that will be addressed by multiple speakers.
For a complete list of speakers and information on how to register, visit

Full registration is $80 if paid by Aug. 1 and $95 afterward. Reduced registration fees apply to full-time high school and college students. One-day registrations are also available.

        The event is sponsored by several public and private organizations, including the conference underwriters: Farm Credit Services of America, Merial, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition and the UNL Center for Grassland Studies.

Current National Drought Summary

A strong frontal system passed through the eastern half of the country at the beginning of the Drought Monitor period, with another system toward the end. Much of the southern Midwest and into the Tennessee Valley received significant rains from these two events, bringing with them drought relief. The Pacific Northwest remained very warm and dry all the way into areas of western Montana. Scattered convective precipitation was observed over much of the southeast and central plains and into New England.

Great Plains

Mixed precipitation patterns, which are common for this time of year, brought good precipitation to portions of South Dakota and northern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, most of Oklahoma and into the panhandle of Texas. These areas were 1-3 inches above normal for precipitation for the week. Areas of North Dakota, central and western Kansas, and central and south Texas were below normal for precipitation this week. Temperatures were below normal for most of the southern plains, while most of northern areas, especially along the western high plains, had above-normal temperatures, with departures of up to 2 degrees above normal. In response to the rains this week and a wetter pattern over the last several weeks, a full category improvement was made to the D0 and D1 conditions in South Dakota and Nebraska this week, leaving behind a small area of D0. No other changes were made, but it was noted that parts of central to western Kansas were drying out; those areas are in need of some precipitation or the drought status will need to show the worsening conditions.


Precipitation was mixed this week over the region, with Kentucky, Missouri, southern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin recording the greatest precipitation. For the month of June, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio had their wettest Junes ever (in 121 years of records). Temperatures for the week were well below normal, and many parts of the region recorded temperatures 4-6 degrees below normal. With the rains during this week and along with the generally wet pattern over the last several months, improvements were made in Kentucky, where all the remaining D0 was removed this week. The D0 conditions in Minnesota and Wisconsin were eliminated as well, with the recent wet pattern given more consideration compared to some of the lingering long-term issues that have plagued the area. The consensus is that conditions warrant the removal of D0 at this time.

Middle Niobrara NRD takes action to protect water uses

The Middle Niobrara NRD Board has taken action to protect existing and future water users in the district.  The Board of Directors has initiated a voluntary district-wide Integrated Management Plan (IMP) process with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) to protect the economy and water uses in the basin.  The district has also joined the four other NRDs in the Niobrara Basin to pro-actively develop a basin-wide plan to protect the economy and water uses in the entire Niobrara River basin. 

“The IMP process with NDNR will initiate conversations with local residents to develop a plan for the water supply and demand in the basin so existing uses are protected, the economy is protected, and to gain more data about water supplies in the basin so sound decisions can be made for future uses,” said Mike Murphy, MNNRD Manager.

Some of the key points of this decision include:

 ·    A six month moratorium in expansion of irrigated acres from groundwater wells.  The NDNR has also imposed a moratorium on new surface water rights.  This will allow time for the MNNRD and NDNR to develop rules to allow for managed future development in parts or all of the district.

 ·    Well replacements and transfers of certified irrigated acres will be allowed during this period within the existing MNNRD Groundwater Management Plan rules.

 ·    In the near future, public meetings will be held to gain input from residents in the district to assist the MNNRD and NDNR in decision making about future water uses and economic opportunities.

 ·    Additional water data collection will continue over the next six months to enhance the data available for making decisions on water supplies in the basin. For example, recently the MNNRD conducted a high capacity aquifer pump test south of Johnstown to simulate impacts to both groundwater and surface water and how the entire system responded.

 ·    A working group will assist in developing goals and objectives of the voluntary IMP.

 ·    The MNNRD is working directly with municipalities to track yearly water use.

Over the last four years, the landowners in the district have worked with the MNNRD to certify all groundwater irrigated acres.  The MNNRD also voluntarily requested certification of surface water irrigated acres, which are permitted and regulated by NDNR.  The MNNRD has 110,000 certified groundwater irrigated acres which includes less than 10,000 new irrigated acres added over the past four years under the controlled growth plan of the district.   There are 40,000 surface water irrigated acres in the district, which brings the total to 150,000 irrigated acres. 

The 150,000 irrigated acres amounts to 5% of the 3 million acres in the MNNRD.  This is also about 10,000 less irrigated acres than estimated by NDNR in 2008 when they made a preliminary determination that the basin was fully appropriated.  That preliminary determination was later reversed.

Over the past several years, the MNNRD has implemented more water monitoring efforts by requiring meters on all new wells and added more static water monitoring sites.  In addition, the district provides cost share for water saving technologies including soil moisture probes and conversions to more efficient irrigation equipment to conserve water use.  These improvements save water for the basin and reduce labor expenses for landowners. 

Using existing data, the MNNRD identified a few small areas that had declines slightly greater than five feet.  The district has imposed rules to not allow new high capacity development in those areas.  The water saving technologies and improvements to irrigation efficiency assist landowners to reverse declines.   Additional data collection will also assist the district with future decisions on managing expanded uses.

The MNNRD is also working jointly on a voluntary Basin-Wide Plan with our neighboring four NRD's and NDNR.  Each of the NRDs are also developing their local voluntary IMPs.  The purpose for the Basin-Wide Plan is to share data and coordinate water management activities to protect all exiting water users in the basin, protect the economy of the basin, and protect the basin water supply for future uses.

The voluntary IMPs are not required by law, but the plan allows the NRDs and the NDNR to work together proactively to protect water supplies and the economy of the state.  The MNNRD is taking this step as one more way the district works to protect lives, property and the future of the area.  The district looks forward to gaining input from the residents on the voluntary IMP.

NeFU Asks Consumers to Tell EPA to Support the RFS

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) announced it will host an information booth at the Neil Young concert at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln Saturday to help consumers send written or electronic comments to EPA in support of the original RFS production targets through their public comment process.  The EPA public comment deadline is July 27th.

“We are pleased that our long-time friend Neil Young is coming back to Lincoln.  Neil has been a long-time advocate for home-grown renewable energy, including ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind, solar, and biodiesel,” said John Hansen, President of Nebraska Farmers Union. “NeFU was pleased to welcome Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp and their friends Steppenwolf, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, and John Denver along with the Grateful Dead via satellite to Lincoln for their third Farm Aid concert September 19, 1987, and we are pleased to welcome Neil Young back to Lincoln and Nebraska.    

NeFU will have postcards from the Nebraska Corn Board for public comments to EPA in support of the original production targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  NeFU will also have information on how to go to the Growth Energy website to send in comments to EPA electronically.

The Growth Energy website has a user friendly link that makes it easy and simple for the public to send their comments to EPA in support of the RFS.  That link is:

NeFU has been a pioneering state leader in the development of home-grown renewable energy, including ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind energy, solar energy, biodiesel, biomass, and landfill gas through public education and legislative efforts.  “Renewable energy reduces carbon emissions, improves air quality, provides new tax bases, new jobs, new value added profitable markets for farm commodities, and represents a responsible and sustainable future,” said John Hansen.

NeFU praised and thanked Neil Young and Farm Aid’s long-standing support of the Nebraska Farm Crisis Hotline, the longest continuously operating farm crisis hotline in America.  NeFU, along with members of the faith community and other farm organizations through the sponsorship of Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska formed the Nebraska Farm Crisis Hotline in 1984. Through the (800) 464-0258 Hotline number, rural people in crisis can access trained professional counselors who help them get the services they need, including emergency food assistance, legal assistance, financial counseling, mediation services, and mental health vouchers used to access the statewide system of ag knowledgeable professional mental health counselors.  “A friend in need is a friend indeed, and Neil Young and Farm Aid have been a friend to thousands of Nebraska family farmers and ranchers in their time of need for the past 31 years,” concluded John Hansen, a 25 year Board of Director of the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline.

Presidential Disaster Declaration Denied for Iowa HPAI

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following regarding President Obama denying Gov. Terry Branstad’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration to assist with the response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Iowa.  Iowa has had seventy-seven sites, containing over 32 million birds that have been impacted by the disease.

“The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has worked hand-in-hand with the USDA throughout this outbreak.  It is disappointing that the Obama Administration denied the Governor’s request that would allow much needed federal resources to come into the state to assist farmers and others who have been impacted.  Our Department will continue to work close with the farmers impacted, local officials, other state agencies and our federal partners as farms continue to the cleaning and disinfection process and move towards repopulation of these facilities.”

Meet a FY16 NCGA Corn Board Candidate: Roger Zylstra

Roger Zylstra has dedicated his time and efforts in service of his fellow farmers at both the state and national level for many years. Now, he hopes to continue to do so in a new capacity as a member of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Board.

Zylstra believes Corn Board members should be knowledgable on a broad range of issues, articulately and willingly engaging on relevant issues whenever appropriate. If elected, he would work to support and defend the RFS and ethanol while also finding new uses for corn. He would also place a high priority on working with the government to find solutions to regulatory and infrastructure issues. At the same time, he places a strong emphasis on the need to promote consumer acceptance of biotechnology while simultaneously working to gain approval for new products at home and abroad.

"A capable and respected organization, NCGA truly represents the corn farmers of the United States," he explained. "Through my prior service, I have learned so much from NCGA members. Together, I am confident that we can build a better future for America's corn farmers."

Currently, Zylstra serves as the chairman of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, as a member of NCGA's Grower Services Action Team, and chairs the Sully Rural Fire Board. A graduate of NCGA's Leadership At Its Best and Advanced Leadership programs, he previously vice chaired NCGA's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and served on the Production and Stewardship and Public Policy Action Teams.

"We can accomplish much more working together than we can working individually" said Zylstra. "I believe in the stewardship of our time and our resources so I have joined the Soil Health Partnership. Doing this, I can help find ways we can be better stewards of our land and our resources. I am committed to working for our future. It is opportunities for the next generations that are really important to me."

Zylstra raises corn and soybeans using both no-till and conservation tillage, and manure as the primary nutrient resource on his farm in central Iowa. Along with a son and a neighbor, he runs a contract hog feeding operation that finishes 11,000 head per year.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today reminded Iowa farmers that funds are available to help install practices focused on protecting water quality.  Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.

The cost share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre, no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.

First-time users that apply by July 24 will be the first applications funded.  First-time users that apply after July 24 will still receive priority consideration, but funds will also be made available to farmers that have used cover crops in the past for cost share assistance at $15 per acre.

“We already have $1.6 million in applications from more than 700 farmers interested in doing more on their farm to protect water quality. This includes first-time uses of cover crops as well as farmers who have tried them before and are willing to do even more,” Northey said.  “Fortunately, as a result of the significant increase in funding for water quality, we have addition funds available. I hope interested farmers will contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District soon to learn more about the assistance that is available.”

Farmers are also encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.

The cost share assistance was announced on May 12.  Since then, the Governor has signed into law $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, which is an increase of $5.2 million from the $4.4 million provided last year.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also received $6.75 million for conservation cost share, a portion of which can be used on management practices such as cover crops.

In the last 2 years this program has been available, over 1,400 farmers put in new nutrient reduction practices on over 144,000 acres.  The state provided about $3.4 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $3.4 million to support these water quality practices.

NACAA 100th Annual Meeting Begins Sunday in Sioux Falls

The National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) will celebrate 100 years of professional development and recognition at its Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM-PIC) July 12-16 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

"Our centennial annual meeting will focus on looking at ways that agricultural extension and the land grant university system can continue to be that catalyst for change in rural America," said NACAA President Mike Hogan.

NACAA will commemorate its 100-year milestone with a birthday cake celebration July 12, allowing each state the opportunity to decorate its own cake. Representatives from 43 states will be present for the opening day. South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch will give opening remarks Sunday evening to kick off the 2015 AM-PIC. The conference will also feature performances throughout the week from the Brule music group, the South Dakota 4-H Performing Arts Troupe, Dustin Evans and capstone speaker Manny Scott.

Hogan believes a major highlight of the conference will be the centennial keynote address delivered by influential university presidents Dr. E. Gordon Gee of West Virginia and Waded Cruzado of Montana State.

"The keynote speakers will look at how extension has made a difference in rural America in the first 100 years and look to the future at how extension is viable to the modern Land Grant University in the United States," Hogan said.

As a venue for educational development, the AM-PIC will feature special seminars on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use, ag economics and climate impacts on agriculture. Extension professionals will also have the opportunity to present applied research and extension programming efforts to their peers via 122 posters and 118 presentations. An annual awards banquet will recognize the achievements of extension personnel from across the nation.

The AM-PIC will wrap up its 100th meeting with a day devoted to professional improvement tours throughout the Midwest on July 16. Tours will showcase modern agricultural operations and conservation practices as well as South Dakota culture.

House Committee Fully Funds Programs to Expand Foreign Ag Markets for U.S. Soy

The House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 agriculture appropriations bill on Wednesday, providing for full-funding ($34.5 million) of the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP) at ($200 million).

The FMD program helps to develop, maintain and expand long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Soybean farmers benefit from the FMD program because it aids in building and expanding foreign market share for American soybeans, which represent the nation’s leading agricultural export.

The MAP program is in its 30th year and has proven itself to be a successful partnership between the federal government and private industry. MAP helps us to promote our products overseas through promotions, market research and trade servicing.

Both MAP and FMD are cost share programs, and require investment and partnership from farmers. In short, we have skin in the game, and as partners, we’ve helped to build an additional $6.1 billion in farm exports since 2002, and increased cash receipts on American farms by $4.4 billion.

At this time there are no indications when the bill will go before the full House. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to markup its FY ‘16 agriculture appropriations bill next Tuesday, July 14.

House Appropriations Committee Advances FY 2016 Ag Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee considered and approved its version of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill on Wednesday, July 8. The bill contains about $143.9 billion in both discretionary and mandatory spending, which is $3.2 billion below the President’s budget request. Within that spending is about $20.65 billion in discretionary spending, which is about $175 million below the FY 2015 enacted level. The bill was approved by voice vote.

As the Appropriations Committee began the process to prepare FY 2016 Appropriations bills, NAWG submitted a request to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which included a request to fully fund the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. The bill included report language recognizing that fusarium head blight is a major threat to agriculture and indicating the Committee’s support for the research carried out through the Initiative.

The bill includes reductions to Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation programs, decreasing funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program by $300 million and decreasing the annual enrollment of new acres into the Conservation Stewardship Program by 2.259 million acres. A policy provision delaying the enforcement of the Conservation Compliance link to crop insurance for the 2016 reinsurance year was also included in the bill.

During Committee consideration of the legislation, the Committee rejected several amendments that could have affected farm programs and the crop insurance program. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) offered an amendment that would’ve required that payments under the commodity certificate program, which would be reactivated under the bill, be subject to the overall $125,000 payment limitation included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) offered an amendment to prohibit crop insurance premium support for producers with more than $750,000 in Adjusted Gross Income. And Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) offered an amendment that would have removed the prohibition on the disclosure of recipients of crop insurance premium support. Each of these amendments were rejected by voice vote.

Peterson Receives Friend of Farm Credit Award

The AgriBank District Farm Credit Council (ADFCC) presented its 2015 Friend of Farm Credit Award to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

Peterson received the award for his long history as a leader in U.S. American agriculture policy. ADFCC members were in Washington to talk to members of Congress about issues important to agriculture and rural communities in the AgriBank District.

“When it comes to having an effective advocate in Washington, farmers, ranchers and rural communities can always rely on Congressman Peterson," said Stan Claussen, a farmer from Montevideo, Minnesota, and chairman of the AgriBank District Farm Credit Council. “As ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Representative Peterson has an impact on everything that touches rural communities and agriculture. He has a rare ability to reach across the aisle and was a leader in the marathon efforts to pass the 2014 Farm Bill, which supports rural communities and agriculture across the AgriBank District and the nation.”

Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable and consistent credit today and tomorrow. The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions with the singular mission of providing a reliable source of credit for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Farm Credit provides more than one-third of the credit needed by those who live and work in rural America — more than $217 billion in loans, leases and related services.

The AgriBank District Farm Credit Council represents Farm Credit farmers and ranchers in a 15-state area from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas. About half the nation's cropland is located within the AgriBank District.

NFU Commends Appropriations Committee for not Including GIPSA Defunding Rider

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today commended the U.S. House Appropriations Committee for passing a spending bill that did not include a rider prohibiting funding for implementation of regulations ensuring fairness in marketing for the nation’s family farmers and ranchers.

“It’s wonderful that after all of these years, key regulations overseen by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) will finally be funded,” said Johnson. 

Johnson’s comments were made after the House Appropriations Committee passed an agriculture appropriations bill that - for the first time in years - did not include a rider precluding funding for key changes to GIPSA regulations adopted in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Funding these protections will ensure adequate notice of termination of contract and recourse from retaliation and are essential to ensuring farmers and growers have fair and equitable conditions in a marketplace characterized by increased concentration,” said Johnson.

Johnson also extended his sincere thanks to popular singer Willie Nelson and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who, prior to today’s proceedings, highlighted the unfairness in contracts faced by poultry growers in yesterday’s Washington Post.

“They are both to be commended as true friends of family farmers and ranchers and real crusaders for fairness and respect in the workplace,” said Johnson. 

United States and Switzerland Streamline Organic Trade

The United States and Switzerland announced today that beginning July 10, 2015, organic products certified in the United States or Switzerland may be sold as organic in either country. The organic equivalency arrangement between the two nations will streamline organic trade, strengthen organic agriculture and support jobs and businesses on a global scale.

"The U.S. organic industry has made significant progress under this Administration," said U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. "This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture, providing new economic opportunities for American producers, choices for consumers, and jobs in rural communities across the country."

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that today encompasses over 19,000 organic businesses in the United States and accounts for $39 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the United State has signed five organic equivalency arrangements. Through our arrangements with Canada, the European Union, Japan, and Korea, U.S. organic farmers and businesses have streamlined access to over $35 billion international organic markets. When combined with the $39 billion U.S. organic market, these arrangements have doubled the organic market access for U.S. organic farmers and businesses.

"This arrangement is an important step in strengthening our economic relationship with Switzerland, in one of the fastest-growing segments of the agriculture economy. The opportunities provided by the arrangement will build on this trend and yield important benefits for producers and consumers alike," said United States Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Darci Vetter.

Leading up to today's announcement, technical experts from the United States and Switzerland conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labeling practices were compatible. The United States and Switzerland will review each other's programs periodically to verify that the terms of the arrangement are being met.

"This new partnership reflects the integrity of the National Organic Program and USDA's rigorous organic standards," said Anne Alonzo, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator, which oversees the National Organic Program. "We look forward to providing Swiss consumers with more U.S. organic products and being able to enjoy organic Swiss products."

Formal letters establishing the arrangement were signed on July 9, 2015, at the Agriculture Department in Washington, DC, by Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor, Switzerland; Krysta Harden, Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

Bayer CropScience and Ernst Conservation Seeds Partner to Create Pollinator Habitat

As part of its ongoing commitment to honey bee health, Bayer CropScience has partnered with Ernst Conservation Seeds to provide bulk seed to individuals and organizations that have pledged to become Feed a Bee partners and dedicate land to the establishment of pollinator habitat. Feed a Bee partners will receive a pollinator seed mix from Ernst Seeds that includes wildflowers that bloom from spring to fall, providing important nutrients for pollinators all season long. Some of the most popular pollinator attractant plants in the mix include slender mountainmint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). The seed should be planted according to USDA Pollinator Program guidelines at a rate of four pounds per acre.

“The collaboration with Ernst Seeds is an integral part of our Feed a Bee initiative,” said Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, manager of the North American Bee Care Program. “Their participation in the campaign will help contribute to acres of bee forage that we’re aiming to help establish across the U.S. this year."

Bayer’s initiative with Ernst Seeds is the most recent in a series of collaborations that Bayer is forging as part of its recently launched Feed a Bee campaign ( that has a goal of growing 50 million flowers and providing additional forage acreage for bees in 2015. One-third of all food eaten by humans is dependent on pollination. Reduced bee habitat has decreased bees’ food options, at a time when a growing world population is putting increased pressure on agriculture. Feed a Bee collaborations will help ensure bees have access to the diverse pollen and nectar sources they need, especially during times when the fruit, nut and vegetable crops they help to pollinate are not in bloom.

Founded in 1964, Ernst Seeds is the largest native seed producer and supplier in the eastern United States. The company sells over 400 species of native and naturalized seeds and live plant materials. Its production operations include more than 8,000 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania, additional farmland in Florida and cooperative growing relationships in Maryland, North Carolina and Oregon.

“We’re proud to partner with Bayer CropScience in the Feed a Bee program,” states Andy Ernst, vice president of Ernst Conservation Seeds. “This ambitious initiative has already seen a remarkable response from groups and individuals who want to improve and increase native habitat for pollinators. With the program still in its early stages, we believe it has tremendous potential to benefit pollinators on a large scale nationwide.”

For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit:

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