Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Monday January 10 Ag News

 State Leaders Announce Proposals to Strengthen Water Resources

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and State leaders introduced proposals to strengthen Nebraska’s water resources.

Governor Ricketts announced that Nebraska intends to take action to protect its entitlements of South Platte River water by constructing a major canal in parts of Colorado and southwest Nebraska.  The project, authorized under the South Platte River Compact, will support multiple uses including irrigation, power production, and municipal water supplies.  The Governor highlighted the emerging need to protect Nebraska’s South Platte River water supplies, which are being threatened by planned developments in Colorado.  Funding for the project will be included in the Governor’s proposed budget that he will share with the Legislature later this week.

Attorney General (AG) Doug Peterson joined the Governor to discuss the important rights Nebraska enjoys under the South Platte River Compact.  Signed in 1923, the Compact divides the waters of the South Platte River, ensuring certain flows will be delivered to Nebraska at the state line near Julesburg, Colorado.  Construction of the canal and storage system (colloquially known as the “Perkins County Canal” at the time the Compact was signed) along the Nebraska-Colorado border will preserve Nebraska’s sovereign right to its share of the South Platte River water into the future.

Additionally, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers proposed a number of water projects developed over the past six months by the Legislature’s Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Special Committee.  The committee is unanimously recommending them for approval by the Unicameral.  Their proposal includes plans to enhance Nebraska’s existing water assets and create new water resources for Nebraskans to enjoy.

Among other projects, the STAR WARS Committee proposal calls for:
    Construction of a new marina and related amenities at Lake McConaughy, along with additional road improvements to alleviate congestion and improve public safety
    Replacement of a boat access facility along the Niobrara River in Knox County to provide access to the world-class hunting and fishing in the area
    Construction of an event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park
    A major marina expansion at Lewis and Clark Lake
    Flood control measures along the lower Platte River near Schuyler and in the Wahoo Creek watershed
    Creation of a 4,000-acre reservoir between Lincoln and Omaha

The proposals presented today are contingent on legislative approval and will be discussed by Senators during the Unicameral’s current session.

Mid-winter Cornstalk Grazing

– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension

Here in mid-winter, cornstalks remain a great forage resource for livestock producers.  Snow cover on the cornstalks is generally not a problem for cattle as they are adept at digging their way through to get at the leaves, husks, and remaining corn that they are seeking.  However, if an icy crust develops on the snow, this will limit grazing and supplemental feed may need to be provided.  

Another important consideration is the stocking rate and how long they have been in a particular field.  Nutritional value of cornstalk residue is greatest at the beginning of a grazing period and declines with time as the most nutritious plant parts are grazed.  A general stalk grazing rule is there is about 30 cow days per 100 bushels of corn that the field produced.

Over the fall and winter, weathering can also play a role in reducing cornstalk quality.   Rain or melting snow soaks into dry corn stalk residue and leaches out some of the soluble nutrients.  Most serious is the loss of sugars and other energy-dense nutrients, which lowers the TDN or energy value of the stalks.

Another factor that affects cornstalk grazing is wind.  We have had our share of excessively high winds which easily blow corn leaves and husks off the field.  This of course, can impact the amount of feed, and after grain, those leaves and husks contain the highest nutritional quality.

Cornstalks are still a great and economical winter feed source.  Just be sure to closely monitor cow and field conditions while adjusting your supplementation program accordingly.

Nebraska Soybean Board seeks soybean farmers interested in United Soybean Board nominations

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling two of Nebraska’s four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

“This is a great opportunity to get involved with your soy checkoff and work toward the common goal of increasing return on investment for all U.S. soybean farmers,” said Scott Ritzman, NSB Executive Director. “With the vision to deliver sustainable soy solutions to every life, every day, USB farmer-leaders are setting a clear path for research, education and promotion investments for the future.”

USB is made up of 78 volunteer farmer-leaders who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of meal, oil and sustainability, focusing on programs and partnerships that drive demand and preference for U.S. soy. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

All checkoff paying soybean producers in Nebraska are eligible to apply.

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 17, 2022, deadline. To obtain this form, contact Scott Ritzman at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at 402-432-5720.

The Nebraska Soybean Board members will submit a “first preferred choice nominee” and “second preferred choice alternate” for the open positions to USDA for consideration. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on USDA boards and committees is open to all individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and martial or family status. The chosen individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org

College Scholarships offered by Midwest Dairy - Nebraska Division

Midwest Dairy is invested in creating dairy advocates as well as developing the next generation of dairy. Therefore, the Nebraska Division is offering six college scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500. New this year is the expansion of offering the scholarships to graduate students.

Scholarship levels include:
    Full-time undergraduate and graduate students with minimum second year enrollment at an accredited college. Preference will be given to those pursuing a career within and/or supporting the dairy industry. Scholarship levels include one (1) $1,500 and two (2) $1,000 awards. When answering the essay question on future career plans, please describe how your education will be used to support the dairy industry.
    Full-time undergraduate and graduate students at an accredited college. Scholarship level includes three (3) $500 awards.

Additional scholarship eligibility includes:
    Applicant must contribute to Midwest Dairy checkoff as of January 1 of the current calendar year by one of the following:
        Applicant, or applicant’s parents/guardians/grandparents/sibling, must own a dairy farm located in the state of Nebraska.
        Applicant must be employed on a dairy farm located in the state of Nebraska and be recommended by the producer employer.
    Former recipients of the scholarship may re-apply in subsequent years, providing they remain eligible.

ONLINE scholarship applications are DUE MARCH 1, 2022. Applicants will be evaluated on contribution to and involvement in the dairy industry, leadership, career plans, and academic standing. For online application and more information, go to:  https://www.midwestdairy.com/young-dairy-leaders/dairy-scholarships/nebraska-scholarships/.

Grain Weevil Corporation Wins Ag Innovation Challenge

The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, now in its eighth year, provides opportunities for Farm Bureau members to showcase business innovations being developed for agriculture. Grain Weevil Corporation is the winner of this year’s competition. The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention.

The Grain Weevil is a grain bin management robot that improves quality and eliminates the need for farmers to enter grain bins. Grain Weevil Corporation received a total of $50,000 in prize money to help grow the business. Ben Johnson, a Nebraska Farm Bureau member, is team lead for the company.

Birds Eye Robotics was named runner-up in the contest and received a total of $20,000. Scott Niewohner, a Nebraska Farm Bureau member, is team lead for the company. Birds Eye is an autonomous robot that helps maintain poultry houses and improves animal welfare by encouraging bird activity.

Caravan Tech LLC, a top 10 semi-finalist, won the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by public vote, and received $5,000 in additional prize money. Richy Naisbett, an Alabama Farmers Federation member, is team lead for the company, which provides real-time remote management solutions for ranchers and cattle breeders.

Two other finalist teams also competed in the final four round of the competition: Marble Technologies and StemPunk.

The final four teams were selected on Friday from 10 semi-finalist business owners who presented to a panel of four industry judges: Will Hileman, president & CEO, Farm Bureau Bank; Gary Matteson, vice president, beginning farmer programs and outreach, Farm Credit Council; Ben Fogle, partner, Midwest Growth Partners; and Taya Spelhaug, TechSpark manager, Microsoft.

Each of the 10 semi-finalist teams was awarded $10,000; the final four teams were awarded a total of $15,000 each.

“Start-up companies like those we’re honoring today are helping to shape the future of agriculture,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s a pleasure to recognize these entrepreneurs for the innovative solutions they’ve developed that will help farmers, ranchers and rural communities thrive.”

The Ag Innovation Challenge winner was selected by a three-person judging panel: Gregg Warren, managing director, Corporate Banking Group, American AgCredit; Jenn Smith, program director, Grow-NY, Cornell University; and Lydia Turkié, director, Creative Destruction Lab, Georgia Tech.

Farm Bureau is proud to recognize these innovative businesses, in partnership with sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank and Microsoft.

2023 Ag Innovation Challenge

Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge. Learn more at fb.org/challenge.

American Farm Bureau Honors Young Farmers and Ranchers

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced at the American Farm Bureau’s 103rd Convention. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge, achievement and commitment to promoting agriculture.

Excellence in Agriculture Award
Brady Revels of Nebraska won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. He will receive a new Ford vehicle, courtesy of Ford. In addition, he will receive paid registration to the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference, which will be held Feb. 25-28 in Louisville, Kentucky, also courtesy of Ford.

The runner-up in the Excellence in Agriculture contest is Loren King of Michigan. He will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH. Kayla Griffith of Maryland won third place, receiving a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 Investing in Your Future cash prize, courtesy of American Ag. In addition, she will take home $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker. Fourth-place finalist Jessica Lance of Georgia receives a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Achievement Award
Jacob and Jill Smoker of Indiana won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of a new Ford vehicle, courtesy of Ford. In addition, they will receive paid registration to the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference, which will be held Feb. 25-28 in Louisville, Kentucky, also courtesy of Ford.

The runner-up in the Achievement Award contest is Ryan MacKay of Massachusetts. He will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH. Roger and Amanda Scott of Virginia won third place, receiving a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 Investing in Your Future cash prize, courtesy of American Ag. In addition, they will take home $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker. Fourth-place finalist Chad Bell of Illinois receives a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.
Malarie Thompson, Discussion Meet winner; AFBF President Zippy Duvall; YF&R Committee Chair Jon Iverson; and Melissa Bufford, account supervisor, Ford.  

Discussion Meet
Malarie Thompson of North Carolina won the Discussion Meet. She is the winner of a new Ford vehicle, courtesy of Ford. In addition, she will receive paid registration to the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference, which will be held Feb. 25-28 in Louisville, Kentucky, also courtesy of Ford.

The runner-up in the Discussion Meet contest is Nowell Moore of Illinois. He will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH. Julie Wadzinski of Wisconsin won third place, receiving a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 Investing in Your Future cash prize, courtesy of American Ag. In addition, she will take home $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker. Fourth-place finalist Emily Nave of Tennessee receives a Case IH 40” Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

2021 W.D. Farr Scholarship Recipients Announced Graduate Students Committed to Advancing Beef Industry

Kiera Leddy, Drake University Law School, and Maci Mueller, University of California (UC) Davis, have each been awarded a $15,000 W.D. Farr Scholarship by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF). The annual W.D. Farr Scholarship program, established by NCF in 2007, recognizes outstanding graduate students who plan to pursue careers furthering the beef industry.

Leddy and Mueller were selected from 32 applicants based on their academic achievements, leadership and commitment to the advancement of the beef industry. They will be recognized during the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, Feb. 1-3, in Houston, Texas.

Leddy graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and is pursuing a Juris Doctorate at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. Originally from Stockholm, S.D., she is a fifth-generation rancher helping her family raise Charolais cattle.

Upon graduation, Leddy will return home to South Dakota to help farmers and ranchers navigate the regulatory and statutory framework surrounding wetlands, permits, zoning, and land use as well as estate and business planning. Her personal experience growing up on a multi-generational farm guided Leddy toward a career in law and communications. She plans to give producers a voice and help ensure their farmland remains in the family for generations to come.

Mueller has been an integral part of the growth and success of her family’s first-generation seedstock operation, Lienetics Angus Ranch, in Princeton, Neb. She received her bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and also earned a master’s degree in animal breeding and genetics from UC Davis. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in animal breeding and genetics at UC Davis. Her first-hand production experience was instrumental in developing her career goal to become a beef cattle geneticist.

Mueller is passionate about providing research and education to make the latest advancements in genetics and reproduction applicable to beef cattle producers. Her ultimate career goal is to use her knowledge and skills to enhance beef production efficiency through genetics.

The scholarship honors the successful career of the late W.D. Farr. Farr, a third-generation Coloradan, pioneer rancher, statesman and banker was known for his extraordinary vision. His dedication to improving agriculture, livestock and water development resulted in significant changes in farming methods that have influenced the practices of ranchers and farmers throughout the nation. Farr was the first president of the NCF and served as president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association, which later became the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Farr died at age 97 in August 2007.

The NCF advances the future of the beef industry by assisting in the education of the next generation of beef industry professionals. For more information about NCF and the W.D. Farr Scholarship, visit www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org.

“Tools for the Future” Crop Fair at Missouri Valley

In the tradition of providing farmers the latest industry insights, the Iowa Corn District 4 Committee along with the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) will host “Tools for the Future” crop fair in Missouri Valley, Iowa on Thursday, January 20 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Rand Center.

“Crop fairs give ICGA members access to information they might not get elsewhere,” explained Adam Bierbaum, an ICGA Director and Chair of the Grassroots Network, Membership & Checkoff (GNMC) Committee. “Each crop fair is customized to include topics to fit each region of the state, with opportunities for farmer-to-farmer learning and a chance to interact with subject area experts on a variety of topics including legislative policy, conservation, market development and risk management.”

Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. and lunch will be provided at noon to attendees.
9 a.m.  “Waters of the United States” Update - Jeff Robichaud, EPA Region 7 Water Division Director, via Zoom
10 a.m. Port of Blencoe - Mark Walter, Grain Manager, New Cooperative
11 a.m. New Uses for Corn; Chemicals & Plastics - Alex Buck, PhD, Innovative Manager, Iowa Corn

RSVPs are appreciated by Monday, January 17 to Janelle Kracht by calling 515-229-9980 or email jkracht@iowacorn.org.

Crop fair sponsors include Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Corn District 4 Committee, Performance Ag, Midstates Bank, and Missouri Valley Insurance.

ICGA Releases Top State and Federal Policy Priorities for 2022

The Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA), one of the most effective, longest-standing agricultural associations in the country, released today its final list of state and federal policy priorities for the upcoming year.

“Each year, ICGA members set a list of legislative priorities on both the state and federal levels by completing a policy survey, having discussions at roundtables, and adopting policy at the Grassroots Summit,” said ICGA President Lance Lillibridge, a farmer from Benton County. “It’s very important for our farmer members to get engaged and voice their opinion on different issues to direct ICGA on policy priorities for this new year.”  

2022 ICGA Priorities – State (Alphabetical)
    Conservation/Water Quality – Maintain legislative funding stream for Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
    Ethanol – Obtain and increase funding for infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP) and support an Iowa Biofuels Standard
    Livestock – Support existing regulatory framework for the livestock industry
    Taxes - Protect critical tax credits (Section 179 and biofuels)

2022 ICGA Priorities – Federal (Alphabetical)
    Ethanol – Retain the RFS, reallocation of unjustified SREs, reduce regulatory barriers for higher blends, and support low carbon high octane fuel (including the Next Generation Fuels Act)
    Carbon - Support carbon credit sequestration programs
    Trade – Expand new and protect existing bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and protect/expand funding for Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) as part of the Farm Bill
    Transportation Infrastructure – Maintain and upgrade our inland waterways system

“I encourage you to join, renew, or get involved in ICGA. Together we can strengthen our 7,000-member strong voice. Your engagement and voice matter in determining the success and future of our organization,” stated Lillibridge.

The complete 2022 ICGA policy book is available at www.iowacorn.org/policy or in hard copy for free upon request by emailing corninfo@iowacorn.org or calling 515-225-9242.

IRFA Calls for Midwest Solution for Year-Round E15 Following Supreme Court Appeal Denial

 Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not take up Growth Energy’s appeal of the D.C. Circuit Court decision that struck down EPA’s year-round E15 rule. In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:
“Coupled with inaction by Congress to pursue a legislative fix, today’s decision by the Supreme Court to not review the E15 decision, while disappointing, underlines the need for states like Iowa to act to ensure E15 can be sold all year. It is now clear that no timely federal solution is coming. Therefore, it is time for a Midwest solution for year-round E15. We appreciated that eight Midwest governors, led by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, have already reached out to EPA to inquire about taking action at the state level. IRFA will do all we can to support the governors in taking the next steps to implement a Midwest solution so that consumers continue to have access to cleaner-burning E15 all year.”

ISU Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator Course to be Offered

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Iowa Central Community College are offering a four-day workshop that will prepare attendees to become certified as Commercial Pesticide Applicators.

This course will focus on materials needed to take the Iowa Core Manual Exam and Categories 1A (Ag Weed Control), 1B (Ag Insect Control) and 1C (Ag Disease Control). In addition, this material will cover local context and real-life application of insect, weed and disease management. Course information will be presented by ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists.  

The workshop will take place from March 7 through March 10, 2022, at the Greene County Career Academy in Jefferson, Iowa from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day.  

“Agribusiness retail outlets are in need of a certified workforce to meet the seasonal demands of pesticide applications,” said Aaron Saeugling, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “This course will help develop that workforce for future employment.”

The curriculum and supporting materials are offered in the form of PowerPoints, worksheets, demonstrations and activities. Participant engagement will provide a variety of learning opportunities through activities, hands-on demonstrations and real-life scenarios.

Tuition for the class is $499 and includes the Core, 1A, 1B and 1C manuals. Tuition assistance is available through Iowa Central Community College. For more information, to register or to learn about tuition assistance, contact Raeann Dischler at dischler@iowacentral.edu or 515-574-1292.

IDALS Expands Online Pesticide Applicator Testing Options

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Pesticide Bureau has expanded the option for online testing to all commercial and private pesticide applicator category exams. The Department also strongly encourages pesticide applicators to apply for certification using the online self-service portal to avoid delays in the spring.

“The online testing platform gives commercial and private pesticide applicators the flexibility to take the exam from their homes or offices at a time that works for them,” said Secretary Naig. “The expansion of online testing options, along with the Department’s new online pesticide self-service portal, are examples of our continued focus on customer service across the Department. We encourage applicators to take advantage of these online options as they work to get certified for the upcoming growing season.”

Online Commercial Pesticide Applicator Testing

All commercial pesticide category exams are now available online. Commercial pesticide applicators can create an account to take the online exam at data.iowaagriculture.gov/pest_signup/#online. The online exams are monitored, recorded and reviewed by a third-party proctoring service. A web camera, high-speed internet connection and government-issued photo ID card are required for online testing. There is a $25 fee for each commercial pesticide applicator test completed online, payable directly to the third-party online testing service.

Commercial pesticide applicators will receive a preliminary pass/fail test result as soon as they complete the online exam; these preliminary results cannot be used to apply for pesticide applicator certification. The third-party proctoring service will certify the test results and send the final scores to the email address used to register for the exam. Feedback on test results is only available at in-person testing sites and will not be provided for online exams.

For information about the commercial pesticide applicator online exam, visit data.iowaagriculture.gov/pest_signup/#online.

Online Private Pesticide Applicator Testing

Private pesticide applicators who want to obtain or renew their certifications can register to take the private certification exam online. To register for the online exam, visit iowaagriculture.force.com/pesticideapplicator/s/login/.

In-Person Testing

The Department is also partnering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to host in-person applicator testing sessions. In-person testing sites are located in Black Hawk, Cerro Gordo, Dallas, Dubuque, Humboldt, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Scott and Woodbury counties. In-person commercial and private applicator testing is free. Pre-registration is required. Applicators can visit iowaagriculture.gov/pesticide-bureau/guidance-person-pesticide-exam-sites to reserve a spot.

Apply for Pesticide Applicator Licenses Online

Once applicators pass the online or in-person exam, they should use their certification number to log-in to the Department’s pesticide self-service portal to submit their application, test results and payment. Once the application, payment, training and testing information are received and processed by the Pesticide Bureau, the licenses and certifications will be sent directly to the applicants.

For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Pesticide Bureau at (515) 281-8591 or pesticides@iowaagriculture.gov.

American Agri-Women Honors Noem with the Champion of Agriculture Award

The American Agri-Women (AAW) proudly presented South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem with the “Champion of Agriculture Award” at their recent convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

The AAW “Champion of Agriculture Award” was initiated in 2010 to recognize members of Congress who have displayed exemplary courage in presenting and supporting legislation that promotes American agriculture, rural American lifestyles, and the United States Constitution.

“Governor Noem was an easy choice to be recognized with our Champion of Agriculture Award,” said AAW President Karolyn Zurn, “She works tirelessly each and every day to protect personal property rights and promote and advance agriculture and agricultural markets.”

Agriculture is the number one industry in South Dakota, and Governor Kristi Noem understands the business and challenges as a lifelong farmer and rancher. She promotes smart policy and works to protect the tradition of agriculture for our future.

Governor Noem was nominated for the “Champion of Agriculture Award” by the Black Hills Women in Timber.

Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Tai Announce New Agreement to Allow U.S. Pork, Products into India for First Time

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced that the government of India has agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork and pork products into India, removing a longstanding barrier to U.S. agricultural trade. This news follows the successful revitalization of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum held in New Delhi in November 2021, during which Ambassador Tai raised the importance of access for U.S. pork with Indian Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal.

“This new opportunity marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work to gain market access for U.S. pork to India – and it signals positive movement in U.S.-India trade relations,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We will continue working with the Indian government to ensure that the U.S. pork industry can begin shipping its high-quality products to consumers as soon as possible.”

“India’s agreement to allow U.S. pork imports for the first time is great news and a significant development for U.S. producers and for Indian consumers,” said Ambassador Tai. “We will continue working to strengthen the U.S.-India trade relationship and I appreciate Minister Goyal’s efforts to facilitate this important development.”

In 2020, the United States was the world’s third-largest pork producer and second-largest exporter, with global sales of pork and pork products valued at $7.7 billion. In fiscal year 2021, the United States exported more than $1.6 billion of agricultural products to India.

More details on requirements for exporting to India are available from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library at: www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products/export-library-requirements-by-country/India.

India to Open Market for U.S. Pork

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) today applauded the U.S. and Indian government’s announcement to allow imports of U.S. pork and pork products into India, the world’s second-most populous nation.

“After decades of work, a market that had been closed to U.S. pork is being opened,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “NPPC thanks the Biden administration for reaching an agreement with India on market access for our products. We look forward to the new access, which will allow us to provide affordable, wholesome and nutritious U.S. pork products to consumers in India.”

India, which had a de facto ban on U.S. pork, has a population of 1.26 billion, meaning the potential market opportunity is significant. The agreement with the United States sets the stage for larger trade discussions.

In June 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative terminated India’s participation in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which provides developing countries beneficial access to the U.S. market. USTR took that action because India did not provide equitable and reasonable U.S. access to its markets, including for U.S. pork.
Getting access to the Indian market has been one of NPPC’s top trade priorities, which also include: elimination of China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, which are 37% while competitors’ are only 12%; broader market access in Southeast Asia, including through permanent reduction of tariffs in Vietnam and the Philippines; and unfettered market access for U.S. pork in Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Jamaica, South Africa and Thailand, markets that are completely closed or only partially open to U.S. pork exports.

USMEF Statement on India Opening to U.S. Pork

Today the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that U.S. pork is now eligible for export to India. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued the following statement:

USMEF greatly appreciates the efforts of USTR and USDA to secure access to India for U.S. pork. This breakthrough comes after lengthy negotiations, and we thank both agencies for their steadfast work on this issue.

USMEF's international staff conducted market research in India in recent years and the industry contacts developed at that time are excited for the opportunity to import U.S. pork and pork products. While the volumes of imported pork currently entering India are quite small, USMEF sees long-term potential in the retail, processing and foodservice sectors, as well as emerging opportunities in e-commerce.

USDA Offers Expanded Conservation Program Opportunities to Support Climate Smart Agriculture in 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing several new and expanded opportunities for climate smart agriculture in 2022. Updates include nationwide availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts option, a new and streamlined EQIP Cover Crop Initiative, and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). These improvements to NRCS’ working lands conservation programs, combined with continued program opportunities in all states, are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader effort to support climate-smart agriculture.

“Climate change is happening, and America’s agricultural communities are on the frontlines,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We have to continue to support and expand the adoption of conservation approaches to support producers in their work to address the climate crisis and build more resilient operations. We are continuously working to improve our programs to ensure we’re giving farmers and ranchers the best tools to conserve natural resources.”

New Partnership Announced

NRCS is announcing a new partnership with Farmers For Soil Health, an initiative of the United Soybean Board, National Corn Growers Association and National Pork Board. Farmers For Soil Health works to advance use of soil health practices – especially cover crops – on corn and soybean farms. The initiative has a goal of doubling the number of corn and soybean acres using cover crops to 30 million acres by 2030.

“We are pleased to see NRCS announce this new incentive program for cover crops,” said John Johnson, coordinator of Farmers for Soil Health. “Cover crops have great potential to improve soil health, improve water quality, sequester carbon, and make our farms more resilient to severe climate events. We look forward to our partnership with NRCS, working to expand adoption of cover crop practices to help our farmers meet our sustainability goals.”

Other partners include the National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil Health Institute, and The Sustainability Consortium.

EQIP Cover Crop Initiative

To complement the new partnership, NRCS is investing $38 million through the new targeted Cover Crop Initiative in 11 states to help agricultural producers mitigate climate change through the widespread adoption of cover crops. States include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. States were selected for this initial pilot based on their demonstrated demand for additional support for the cover crop practice.

Sign-up dates will be determined at the state-level, and applications will be selected for funding by Feb. 11, 2022.

The initiative is aimed at improving soil health through a targeted, rapid, and streamlined application and contract approval process. NRCS will continue to build on this framework and streamlined application process to support farmers and ranchers across the country.

Cover crops offer agricultural producers a natural and inexpensive climate solution through their ability to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide into soils. Cover crops can provide an accelerated, positive impact on natural resource concerns. In fiscal 2021, NRCS provided technical and financial assistance to help producers plant 2.3 million acres of cover crops through EQIP.

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts

Conservation Incentive Contracts address priority resource concerns, including sequestering carbon and improving soil health in high-priority areas. Through these contracts, works with producers to strengthen the quality and condition of natural resources on their operations using management practices, such as irrigation water management, drainage water management, feed management and residue and tillage management that target resource concerns, including degraded soil and water quality, available water and soil erosion.

Conservation Incentive Contracts offer producers annual incentive payments to implement management practices as well as conservation evaluation and monitoring activities to help manage, maintain and improve priority natural resource concerns within state high-priority areas and build on existing conservation efforts. Download our “Conservation Incentive Contracts” fact sheet for a list of practices.

Conservation Incentive Contracts last five years. The 2018 Farm Bill created the new Conservation Incentive Contract option, and it was piloted in 2021 in four states.

CSP Re-Enrollment Option

NRCS updated CSP to allow an agricultural producer to immediately re-enroll in the program following an unfunded application to renew an existing contract. Previously, if a CSP participant did not re-enroll the year their contract expired, they were ineligible for the program for two years.

This ineligibility was imposed on CSP participants even if their failure to sign a renewal contract was due to the unavailability of funds, which is beyond their control. USDA is now waiving this two-year ineligibility restriction for all CSP applications.

This year, producers renewed 2,600 CSP contracts covering 3.4 million acres. Applicants with unfunded fiscal 2022 CSP renewals will receive letters this month, notifying them they are automatically eligible to apply for future CSP funding opportunities, rather than needing to wait two years to reapply.

How to Apply

NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs – including EQIP and CSP – year-round, however producers and landowners should apply by state-specific, signup dates to be considered for each year’s funding. To apply, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Center for Rural Affairs pleased with USDA’s plan to invest in climate-smart agriculture

The Center for Rural Affairs is applauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its dedication to climate-smart agriculture following the agency’s announcement Monday that it plans to invest $38 million in a new program aimed at increasing cover crop acres. In addition, a key change to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) was announced.  

“Investments of this size are important for building climate resiliency in agriculture,” said Kayla Bergman, senior policy associate for the Center. “We know that producers are eager to implement conservation measures to improve their on-farm financial and natural resources; and often look to USDA to support those efforts.”

In outlining the USDA’s plan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the goal is to increase the cover crop acres in the U.S. to 30 million by 2030, which is double the current amount. To assist in achieving the goal, a new cover crop initiative was announced as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This program is focused in 11 states, including Iowa and South Dakota.

According to state-level agency representatives, the program will be focused on areas within each state that have high volumes of applications for the existing cover crop financial assistance programs.

“Cover crops are an important tool to address numerous economic and natural resource concerns, including building soil health over the long term and improving water quality,” Bergman said. “In order for producers to offset the initial cost of implementing this practice and reap the long-term economic and natural resource benefits, it is important they have financial assistance programs like this one to lean on.”

Bergman commends the added flexibility for producers wanting to re-enroll in CSP, one of the flagship working lands conservation programs at USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

Up to this point, if a producer did not apply to renew their CSP contract the same year their existing contract expired, they would have to wait two years before applying to re-enroll. This ineligibility was regardless of whether a renewal application was rejected due to lack of funding on USDA-NRCS’s part.

“We know that only 47% of CSP renewal applications were funded in 2020 alone,” Bergman said. “This removal of the two-year waiting period for producers wanting to re-enroll will eliminate a gap in financial assistance for many.”

Agriculture and Green Industry Groups Reaffirm Glyphosate Safety & Public Benefits Following Court Oral Arguments

Groups representing agricultural growers, retailers, landscaping, and golf course professionals responded with strong support for continued access to glyphosate following Monday’s oral arguments in litigation regarding the registration of glyphosate. The 10 groups, cited below, are all parties in the case supporting glyphosate’s continued registration. Glyphosate remains one of the safest, most effective tools growers, landscapers, golf course professionals and other users have to manage economically-damaging weeds and maintain important conservation practices.

The groups remind the Court that nearly every pesticide regulatory body in the world that has studied glyphosate—including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency itself—has found that the herbicide is non-carcinogenic and can be used safely. As one of the most widely-studied chemistries in the world, the body of scientific literature on glyphosate is robust and in strong consensus regarding its safety. The groups strongly agree with EPA’s finding that, when used according to the label, glyphosate does not pose a risk of concern to human health.

Glyphosate is an essential tool for agricultural, landscaping, recreational, and other professionals around the world that must contend with weeds. In agriculture, weeds left unchecked can rob up to half of a farmer’s crop yield. In landscaping and recreational purposes, weeds can destroy important infrastructure and ruin greenspaces. Further, many important conservation practices are supported by glyphosate, such as reductions in field tillage, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions, conserves water, and improves soil health. In addition, creating wildlife habitat and watershed buffers can be enhanced by having access to safe and effective herbicides like glyphosate. The groups look forward to continuing their support for continued access to glyphosate as the case progresses.

Signing onto this statement in support of continued, safe use of glyphosate as a land management tool are:
    American Soybean Association

    Agricultural Retailers Association
    American Farm Bureau Federation

    American Sugarbeet Growers Association
    Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
    National Association of Landscape Professionals
    National Association of Wheat Growers
    National Corn Growers Association

    National Cotton Council
    National Sorghum Producers

Hot Off the Press - “Alfalfa Bermudagrass Management Guide”

Alfalfa production in the South is not a new idea. In fact, many years ago, alfalfa was once the dominant perennial legume species used in the region. However, harsh environmental conditions and cheap nitrogen fertilizer soon eliminated many productive alfalfa stands. In recent years, there has been an increase in educational efforts, plantings, and adoption of alfalfa in the South, a trend that is expected to continue as researchers investigate the variety of applications of alfalfa in the region. University research, as well as farmer experience, has determined interseeding alfalfa into warm-season perennial grass sods provides great potential for extending the growing season, improved forage quality, and easily fits into current livestock-forage systems with minimal management adjustments.

While regional materials have been developed in various formats, a centralized reference guide that focused specifically on alfalfa-bermudagrass mixtures was needed. To address this need the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance (NAFA), in cooperation with lead author Jennifer Tucker of the University of Georgia, has recently released the Alfalfa Bermudagrass Management Guide and Alfalfa Bermudagrass Mixture Management Calendar as quick and handy dashboard resources for livestock and forage farmers in the South interested in this unique mixture.

The 25-page guide, with a supplemental 11”x17” management calendar, provides important information regarding establishment, management and use, integrated pest management (weeds, insects, and plant diseases), and economics of alfalfa-bermudagrass systems across the “Bermudagrass Belt,” a region that spans from coast to coast encompassing the entire southern portion of the United States and much of the transition zone.

“Alfalfa is a high quality, highly valuable forage crop with variable applications across the nation and world,” said Beth Nelson, NAFA President. “This publication emphasizes the important contributions alfalfa makes to the pasture system and reinforces the idea that alfalfa can, in fact, be grown and utilized in mixtures successfully in the South.”

The publication, designed to be an easily handled, convenient, “dashboard pub,” is intended for livestock and forage farmers, Extension, industry personnel, and anyone interested in alfalfa bermudagrass systems and expanding alfalfa utilization in the South.

Watch for copies of these publications at upcoming national conferences, Extension trainings, meetings, field days, and events throughout 2022. Copies can also be downloaded free of charge or ordered for $2/copy on the Publications page of NAFA’s website at alfalfa.org/publications.php. Get your copy today!

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