Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Monday July 25 Crop Progress Report + Ag News


For the week ending July 24, 2022, there were 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 26% very short, 42% short, 31% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 29% very short, 37% short, 34% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 8% very poor, 10% poor, 25% fair, 43% good, and 14% excellent. Corn silking was 68%, behind 80% last year and 75% for the five-year average. Dough was 8%, behind 13% last year and 15% average.

Soybean condition rated 4% very poor, 9% poor, 27% fair, 47% good, and 13% excellent. Soybeans blooming was 67%, behind 83% last year and 77% average. Setting pods was 31%, behind 49% last year and 37% average.

Winter wheat harvested was 84%, equal to last year, and ahead of 79% average.

Sorghum condition rated 6% very poor, 21% poor, 34% fair, 32% good, and 7% excellent. Sorghum headed was 20%, near 18% last year, but behind 26% average.

Oats condition rated 15% very poor, 22% poor, 28% fair, 32% good, and 3% excellent. Oats harvested was 58%, behind 64% last year and 65% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 24% fair, 56% good, and 12% excellent. Dry edible beans blooming was 51%, near 54% last year. Setting pods was 1%, behind 13% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 24% very poor, 26% poor, 30% fair, 18% good, and 2% excellent.


Limited rain over much of Iowa resulted in 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending July 24, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork included cutting hay as well as insecticide and fungicide applications.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 12 percent very short, 26 percent short, 61 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 11 percent very short, 25 percent short, 63 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

Corn silking or beyond was 66 percent, 4 days behind last year and 3 days behind the 5-year average. Eight percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, 5 days behind last year and 2 days behind average. Corn condition rating was 80 percent good to excellent.

Seventy-two percent of soybeans were blooming, 1 week behind last year and 2 days behind average. Thirty-two percent of the soybean crop was setting pods, 5 days behind last year and 1 day behind the 5-year average. Iowa’s soybean condition rating was 75 percent good to excellent.

Eighty-two percent of oats were turning color or beyond, 1 week behind last year. Oats harvested for grain reached 38 percent, 2 days behind last year. Iowa’s oat condition was 78 percent good to excellent.

Seventy-seven percent of the State’s second cutting of alfalfa hay was complete, with the third cutting under way at 3 percent. All hay condition rated 66 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 50 percent good to excellent. Some producers already had to begin supplementing with hay. Flies and above average heat and humidity were stressing livestock with cattle still struggling with pinkeye.

USDA Crop Progress Report: Corn, Soybean Conditions Fall Week Ended July 24

Heat and a lack of moisture in much of the country took a toll on U.S. crop conditions last week, with good-to-excellent condition ratings for corn, soybeans and spring wheat falling, USDA NASS reported in its weekly Crop Progress on Monday.

However, some relief is likely on the way for much of the country this week -- at least temporarily -- according to DTN meteorologists.


-- Crop development: 62% of corn was silking as of Sunday, July 24, according to NASS. That is 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 70%. Corn in the dough stage was estimated at 13%, 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 15%.
-- Crop condition: 61% of corn was rated in good-to-excellent condition, down 3 percentage points from 64% previous week and 3 percentage points below last year's rating at this time.


-- Crop development: 64% of soybeans were blooming, 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 69%. Twenty-six percent of soybeans were setting pods, 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 34%.
-- Crop condition: 59% of soybeans were rated in good-to-excellent condition, down 2 percentage points from 61% the previous week but up slightly from 58% a year ago at this time.


-- Harvest progress: 77% of the crop was harvested as of Sunday, 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 80%.


-- Crop development: 86% of the crop was headed, 10 percentage points behind the five-year average of 96%.
-- Crop condition: 68% of the crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, down 3 percentage points from 71% the previous week but far above last year's rating of 9%.



The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has selected four finalists in its search for dean of the Agricultural Research Division and director of the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station. The candidates will visit Nebraska and participate in public presentations and forums between Aug. 8 and Aug. 19.

The finalists, listed by public presentation date, follow. A complete bio of each candidate, along with details about their public presentations as locations are finalized, will be available at https://ianr.unl.edu/agricultural-research-division-dean.

> Manjit Misra, director of the Seed Science Center, founding director of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Products, endowed chair of seed science, technology and systems, and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University

Appointed as the chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Genetic Resources Advisory Council for two terms by the secretary of agriculture, Misra has served on more than 60 local, national and international boards and committees. These include the steering committee for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Conference on Biotechnology, the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Seed Research Foundation and the board of directors of the Iowa Seed Association. He has also received numerous leadership awards, including Distinguished Service Awards from the American Seed Trade Association.
> Public presentation: Aug. 8, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
> Forum: Collaboration and Partnerships: Aug. 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
> Forum: Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Aug. 9, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
> Forum: Culture, Climate and Inclusive Excellence: Aug. 9, 2 to 3:30 p.m.

> Mindy Brashears, associate vice president of research, Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor in Food Safety and Public Health and director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University

Brashears is a well-published researcher whose work focuses on mitigation strategies in pre-harvest production and post-harvest processing environments to improve food safety and public health. She also studies the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in food and animal systems. Her interests are primarily in meat, poultry and vegetable products. She also has a passion for food security and leads international research teams to South and Central America and the Caribbean to improve food safety and security in those sectors and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in developing areas.
> Public presentation: Aug. 11, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
> Forum: Collaboration and Partnerships: Aug. 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
> Forum: Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Aug. 12, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
> Forum: Culture, Climate and Inclusive Excellence: Aug. 12, 2 to 3:30 p.m.

> Tala Awada, associate dean and director, Agricultural Research Division and professor, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Awada provides leadership and supports the strategic and operational mission of the Agricultural Research Division. In her role, she also oversees the division’s global research mission and supports team building and mentoring activities across IANR’s academic units and centers, as well as the research, extension and education centers across Nebraska.
Awada is also a professor of plant ecophysiology in the School of Natural Resources and co-leads with the Agricultural Research Service of USDA the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research network site in Nebraska, one of 18 ARS-USDA sites in the nation. She is a fellow of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, and the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska.
> Public presentation: Aug. 16, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
> Forum: Collaboration and Partnerships: Aug. 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
> Forum: Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Aug. 17, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
> Forum: Culture, Climate and Inclusive Excellence: Aug. 17, 2 to 3:30 p.m.

> Derek McLean, senior science adviser, Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health
McLean is an experienced scientist and leader in academic, industry and government settings. He is currently a senior science adviser in the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health. His role is to guide and confirm research funding aligns to the priority areas established by NIH. In this role, he supports research that impacts the health and well-being of people and enhances efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Prior to NIH, McLean was the senior director of collaborative research for Phibro Animal Health Corporation, in which he led a global research program to develop and demonstrate the value of products that improve animal health.
> Public presentation: Aug. 18, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
> Forum: Collaboration and Partnerships: Aug. 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
> Forum: Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Aug. 19, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
> Forum: Culture, Climate and Inclusive Excellence: Aug. 19, 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The Agricultural Research Division is the major research agency for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The division’s scientists work to improve the quality of life for Nebraskans and others across the country and world, making important contributions to agriculture, food industries, environment, community development and human well-being. Research occurs in fields, feedlots, the natural environment, homes, yards, gardens, cities and towns.

The candidate selected as the next dean will replace Archie Clutter, who will retire at the end of 2022 after holding the position for more than 10 years. Under Clutter’s leadership, both research awards and expenditures have grown steadily, culminating in fiscal year 2021, when the division received a record $64 million in externally sponsored awards. At the same time, the division has seen the construction of state-of-the-art research facilities and the development of interdisciplinary research teams created to more holistically address complex issues related to food, water, climate and the environment. For more information on the Agricultural Research Division, visit https://ard.unl.edu.

Students Gather to Ensure the Future of Agriculture

This week, 45 FFA members will gather in Iowa to discuss how agriculture will play a pivotal role in their future. It’s all part of the New Century Farmer conference – an opportunity for FFA members who plan to remain in production agriculture to work on their secession plans for success.

“This program helps us continue to grow the next generation of leaders who will not only change the world but continue to provide food, fiber and resources for future generations,” said Allie Ellis, associate director of the National FFA Alumni & Supporters. “We’re excited to offer this opportunity to learn and grow together while expanding their networking pool.”

During the week, participants will visit with producers around the state, learn from industry leaders, see innovative agricultural technology and network with others who also plan to stay in production agriculture.

Those attending the conference this year include:

Arizona - Lina Darden
California - Delaney Amarel, Kandyce Johnston, Kelly Owen
Illinois - Jacob Laning, Micah Mohr, Ethan Robson
Indiana - Kaitlyn Hofmann
Maryland - Hannah Hartness
Massachusetts - Clayre Ames
Michigan - Ashley Carr, Faith Scheffler
Missouri - Koy Harris
Minnesota - Wesley Siira
North Carolina - Zannah Tyndall, Shade Wilbanks
North Dakota - Stetson Urlacher
Nebraska - Danie Brandl, Levi Schiller, Jacob Snyder, Brock Vetick

New Jersey - Talia Priore
North Carolina - Jordan Dunn
Ohio - Tylar Bailey, Isaac Kinney, Taylor Lutz, Emily Bookless, Ryanna Tietje
Oklahoma - Jared Stone, Jett Berry
South Carolina - Cooper Brown
South Dakota - Emily Rogers, Andrew Streff, Aaron Linke
Tennessee - Sarah Dodd, Savannah Scott, Alana Hester
Texas - Sydney Garland, Daniel Pickard
Virginia - Parker Epperley, Andrew Seibel, Hannah Craun
Washington - Brandt Ochoa
Wisconsin - Marissa Lung, Grace Zeidler

New Century Farmer is sponsored by Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, Farm Credit, John Deere, Nutrien Ag Solutions, and our media partner, Successful Farming.

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 735,000 student members as part of 8,817 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator
Many areas of Nebraska and surrounding states are experiencing drought and lack of water for irrigation. What are the alternatives and considerations when corn grain harvest won’t be a viable option?
First, before any actions are taken, file an insurance claim or discuss the options with your crop insurance agent on what is permitted as well as what strips need to be left.
Another important item is to check the labels of any chemicals applied to the corn and look for any grazing, haying, or harvesting restrictions if it is to be used for livestock feed.
If deciding what method to create feed, remember that typical dry haying does not reduce the nitrate level. However, silage, or any ensiling process such as baleage, can reduce the level of nitrates 20-50%. The lower portion of the plant contains the highest concentration of nitrates. Do NOT harvest for at least 3 days following rain that “breaks” drought conditions. The rain causes an uptake of nitrogen from the soil which is translocated into the plant. When feeding forages with higher nitrates, be sure to dilute with other feeds to reach safe feeding levels.
For hay, dry matter content needs to be about 85%. Baleage dry matter content should be 45-55% while a typical packed silage should be 30-35%.
When cutting for hay, baleage, or silage, leave 6-8 inches of stalk above the ground surface to avoid including the highest nitrate concentrations. Corn should be heavily crimped if at all possible. Baleage will likely need to be wilted for several hours to reach the correct and safe moisture content.
The use of an inoculant is a good risk management tool to ensure a higher quality silage and lack of spoilage.
If grazing drought-stressed corn, strip graze to limit access from both a grain and nitrate risk standpoint. Adapt cattle to grain and turn cattle out that are full with plenty of fresh water.

Silage Webinar Series to Focus on Efficiency

Those who feed and harvest corn silage can get an update on the latest trends and technology during an upcoming webinar series with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The series begins Aug. 2 with a focus on silage processing, followed by cover crop forages on Aug. 9, forage storage Aug. 16 and forage feeding Aug. 23.

With feed prices rising, forages are expected to play an important role in livestock rations. Specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach, farmers and industry professionals will explain how to improve corn silage efficiency and quality.

“Almost everything is more expensive this year and feed prices are trending higher,” said Gail Carpenter, assistant professor in dairy extension and dairy specialist at Iowa State. “We are really trying to focus on helping people to manage their feed inventory and especially their forage feed inventory more efficiently, because the less waste we have, the higher income over feed cost producers can expect.”

Each session begins at 7 p.m. with an introduction from the speaker, followed by a discussion-based presentation that will allow farmers and anyone else on the webinar to ask questions.

The dates, topics and speakers are as follows:
    Aug. 2 – Silage processing (featuring Bill Mahanna, Lyndon Luckasson and another person to be determined).
    Aug. 9 – Cover crops (Rebecca Vittetoe, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and Daniel Olson, of Forage Innovations).
    Aug. 16 – Forage storage (Luis Ferraretto, of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, and Ron and Connie Kuber, of Connor Agriscience).
    Aug. 23 – Forage feeding (Dave Wise and another person to be determined).

Participants should register online, to receive the Zoom meeting link for the series https://iastate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJModu6vrDMtGNb6gnZysKRrOp0xZK8z4dt9. The series is free and participants can watch as many sessions as they like.  The webinar series is funded by a grant from the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center.  For more information, Carpenter can be reached at 515-294-9085 or ajcarpen@iastate.edu


When EPA announced its June 30 proposed rule on atrazine, farmers took immediate notice of EPA’s ultra-low level for atrazine. After examining the extensive documentation posted to the docket, the scenario has gone from bad to worse for growers of corn, grain sorghum, sugar cane, fruits, vegetables, and other crops that rely on atrazine. If adopted, the proposal would place severe restrictions on most farmers who have safely used the popular herbicide for more than 60 years.

In a published decision that concluded the registration review of atrazine in 2020, EPA set the aquatic level of concern (CE-LOC) at 15 parts per billion (ppb). If the proposed rule is adopted, over 72 percent of U.S. corn acres would be out of compliance based on a model used to predict which areas would exceed the new strict atrazine limits. According to agency documents, 23 percent of acres would exceed the ultra-low 3.4 ppb aquatic CE-LOC, and an astounding 49 percent of corn acres would be over 9.8 ppb. Areas predicted to exceed the limit would then be required to implement and document one or more mitigation practices from a “picklist” and use a lower rate of atrazine.

“It’s bad enough EPA is playing politics by reopening the finalized reregistration for atrazine with proposed levels not supported by credible science. Now we learn the agency would enforce restrictions using an unbelievable modeling system that would put 72 percent of all U.S. corn acres out of compliance,” said Greg Krissek, Triazine Network co-chairman and Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO. “This is clearly a case of agency overreach.”

Even in flat areas with little or no runoff, EPA’s radical prediction model would require growers to use mitigation practices like adding buffer strips and terraces. Meanwhile, with no input from USDA, other viable options like split applications were not included on the proposed picklist.

“Farmers were mad a few weeks ago when they saw the ridiculous proposed level,” said Triazine Network Co-Chairman Gary Marshall of Missouri. “But when you look at all the details, you realize EPA is determined to eliminate the effective use of atrazine. That’s going to cause all kinds of problems, from loss of no-till acres to herbicide resistance in weeds. It will also be a big hit when input costs are already at an all-time high and a major loss for sustainable farming.”

Additionally, EPA is proposing label changes that reduce atrazine application rates by 20 percent, ban application within 48 hours of a predicted rain event that could produce runoff, and also aerial applications.

“What is frustrating is that none of this is based on credible science. In fact, EPA is ignoring new studies and using discredited studies that were thrown out by its own Scientific Advisory Panels,” Krissek said. “EPA has committed to farmers and members of the media that it will convene a formal Scientific Advisory Panel to review the data with full transparency. But that is not reflected in the agency’s official documents. Growers deserve written confirmation from EPA that the agency will follow the law and base all decisions on credible research as determined by an unbiased scientific panel. Anything less is unacceptable.”

The Triazine Network is a coalition of agricultural organizations and their growers concerned with regulatory actions relating to triazine herbicides, including atrazine.

Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting Begins Today in Reno

More than 600 cattle industry leaders are attending the Summer Business Meeting in Reno this week to provide direction for important industry programs. The event includes meetings of cattlemen and women representing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB), American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

“These meetings give us the opportunity to engage with one another, hear about challenges in different parts of the country, and to find things we all have in common,” said NCBA President Don Schiefelbein. “I appreciate the time and effort producers commit to coming together and strengthening our industry.”

Producers attending policy and Beef Checkoff committee meetings discuss current developments, work on initiatives developed at Convention and make plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Regional meetings give producers the opportunity to discuss regional issues impacting their operations.

In addition to business meetings, the General Session on Tuesday will feature two Sam’s Club executives sharing their experiences and knowledge working on the consumer-facing side of the beef industry. Later in the day, the always popular Checkoff Highlights Session will showcase the Checkoff-funded programs that are driving consumer beef demand.

On Tuesday evening, the 2021 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) national winner will be announced, and regional winners will be recognized. ESAP, one of the most prestigious awards in the beef cattle industry, recognizes cattle producers across the nation who use innovative practices to protect and enhance natural resources while maintaining or increasing the profitability of their businesses.

On Wednesday there will be a Cattle Industry Policy, Trends & Trade Outlook session with experts and policy makers providing information about what to expect in the second half of 2022 to help operations prepare for the future. The event concludes Wednesday evening with CBB and NCBA board meetings.

The next time cattle producers gather to conduct business will be at the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, February 1-3, in New Orleans. For more information about Summer Business Meeting and the annual convention, visit www.ncba.org.  

 USGC Members Gather In Sacramento For 62nd Annual Board Of Delegates Meeting

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) brought members together on Monday for its 62nd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Sacramento, California.

USGC Chairman Chad Willis began the meeting by welcoming attendees and sharing a preview of the conference before establishing the focus of the day’s meeting:

“My theme for this year, Together in Trade, reflects both the opportunities and challenges of the current environment,” Willis said. “At this meeting, we gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand for feed grains, DDGS and ethanol around the world. Today, our focus will be on current events and trade policy, what the near future may look like and how trade may be affected.”

After a welcome from Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, the nearly 250 attendees listened to Dr. Yuval Weber of the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare at Marine Corps University present the background of the Russia-Ukraine war, its long-term implications and what this means for USGC members.

Angela Hofmann the vice president of international trade and supply chain resiliency and member of Sandler, Travis and Rosenberg firm shared what the situation in the Black Sea means for trade policy and how it impacts the developing of grain markets.

“Fourteen percent of the world's grain exports come from Ukraine,” Hofmann said. “Eight to 13 million people could be affected by food insecurities caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

Hofmann was followed by Dr. Antonia Broyaka, who shared her research on potential global food shortages as a product of the conflict as well as her insight on what it could mean globally and what some potential solutions could be.

In the afternoon, attendees spent time in one or more of seven Advisory Team (A-Team) meetings. Each A-Team has a specific focus: Asia, ethanol, innovation and sustainability, Middle East/Africa/South Asia, trade policy, value-added and Western Hemisphere. These meetings allowed members to offer input and set priorities to determine the Council’s course of action over the coming year.

On Tuesday, Council programming will focus on selected markets around the world, celebrate the success of the Council’s global missions and discuss the Farm Bill outlook.

The meeting will conclude on Wednesday with the Council’s Board of Delegates meeting, appointment of new A-Team leaders and election of members to the 2022/2023 Board of Directors.

More from the meeting is available on social media using the hashtag #Grains22 or through the website www.grains.org/event/sacramento.

Growth Energy and EPA Reach Agreement on Delayed 2023 Biofuel Requirements

Last week, Growth Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted a consent decree agreement to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires EPA to propose the 2023 renewable fuel volume requirements no later than November 16, 2022, and to finalize those requirements no later than June 14, 2023. The court is expected to approve the agreement in the coming weeks.

"Yesterday’s agreement with EPA on a deadline for the 2023 renewable fuel volume requirements is an important milestone in setting the pace for growth as we usher in a new era of the RFS,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Growth Energy has led the charge in holding EPA accountable, including our April 2022 lawsuit against EPA for missing its statutorily mandatory deadlines. This recent agreement, one that is bound by court order and that avoids the uncertainty of continued litigation, ensures the certainty of the 2023 RFS requirements and further underscores Growth Energy’s steadfast commitment to keeping the RFS on sound footing now and into the future.

“Growth Energy will continue to lead engagement with EPA as it develops its proposal, while advocating for volumes that accelerate the move toward lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel in our transportation system.”

The consent decree follows Growth Energy’s notice of intent to sue and filing of a complaint in federal district court in response to the agency’s violation of the statutory deadlines to issue renewable fuel volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

For 2023 and beyond under the RFS, EPA, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is required to set renewable fuel volume requirements through rulemaking, taking into consideration six statutory factors, including environmental, economic, and energy security. EPA is required to set the 2023 volume requirements at least 14 months prior to the calendar year in which they are to take effect. For 2023, EPA was required to finalize the 2023 renewable fuel volume requirements by November 1, 2021.   

Australia Finds Traces of FMD in Products Imported From China

Viral fragments of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and African swine fever have been detected in imported meat, as Australia's government introduces new measures to wash shoes at international airports.

Both diseases have spread through Asia and a widespread outbreak of either livestock disease in Australia could cost the economy billions of dollars.

Announcing the introduction of citric foot mats at airports Australia's Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said biosecurity authorities had recently discovered viral fragments of FMD and African swine fever in pork products using "routine retail surveillance" exercises.

It is not the first time that fragments of African swine fever and FMD have been found in imported meat products in Australia, but it's the first time that meat products have been seized from a supermarket or retail outlet following detection of FMD or African swine fever fragments.

USDA Awards over $70 Million in Grants, Increases Access to Local, Healthy Foods for Kids

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is awarding more than $10 million in Farm to School Grants to 123 projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, the department is empowering states with $60 million in non-competitive grants to develop stronger and sustainable Farm to School programs over the next four years. Both actions will help more kids nationwide eat healthy, homegrown foods.

Farm to School increases the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs, while also educating children about how their foods are harvested and made. Various child nutrition operators can participate in farm to school, from states and tribal nations to schools and community organizations.

“The expansion of Farm to School is more important than ever for our kids,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “When schools and local producers work together, children benefit from higher-quality foods on their plates and program operators have stable sources for the products they need.” Vilsack added farm to school is an investment in the next generation and one of many ways the department is advancing nutrition security – the consistent, equitable access to healthy and affordable foods that promote well-being.

The 123 projects funded by the fiscal year 2022 competitive grants will serve more than 3 million children at more than 5,000 schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Further, USDA acknowledges that many people have been historically underserved and marginalized through unfair food systems. The projects selected by the department reflect its commitment to transforming food systems to be more equitable through Farm to School:
    An estimated 62% of students served by these projects are eligible for free and reduced-priced school meals.
    40% of projects serve rural areas or economically disadvantaged areas.
    Nearly 30% of organizations are led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, with projects serving those same communities.
    Seven projects are tribal nations serving Native American communities.

Since the USDA Farm to School Program’s inception in 2013, the department has awarded nearly $75 million in Farm to School Grants, funding more than 1,000 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These projects have reached over 25 million students in nearly 60,000 schools. For more information on how your community can get involved with Farm to School activities, please visit the FNS website.

Additionally, as announced last month, the department’s $60 million non-competitive grants for states will allow them to better assist program operators in purchasing and using more local foods in meals for kids between Fiscal Years 2023-2026. The resources will also expand agricultural education for children. More information about the distribution of funds is coming soon.

“States and school districts with strong Farm to School programs have been more resilient in the face of recent supply chain disruptions, compared to operators lacking relationships with local producers,” said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “The Farm to School program deserves to be at the forefront of long-term solutions that operators can lean on to ensure nutritious, local products are always within reach.”

When schools source foods locally, it supports American farmers and strengthens the economy. USDA surveyed school food authorities nationwide in the 2019 Farm to School Census. According to the findings, in school year 2018-2019, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables, and other foods, totaling approximately 20% of all school food purchases.

House Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Listening Session in Minnesota

Today, the House Agriculture Committee held the fourth in a series of listening sessions entitled “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Perspectives from the Field” at Far-Gaze Farms in Northfield, Minnesota.

Two Members of Congress participated with approximately 130 members of the public participating in person and over 1,000 streaming online. Audience members discussed topics including crop insurance, dairy policy, new and underrepresented farmers, and mental health.

In Minnesota, 67,400 farms cover more than half of the state across 25,400,000 acres of land. Corn and soybeans are the top two commodities and Minnesota leads the nation in production of red kidney beans, sugar beets, and turkeys raised. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota ranks 5th in the nation in value of crops and 5th in the nation in total agricultural production.

Members of the House Agriculture Committee issued the following statements following today’s event.

“Thank you to House Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos of Illinois for again chairing one of our farm bill listening sessions. I would also like to thank Congresswoman Angie Craig of Minnesota for hosting this event in her home state,” said Chairman David Scott. “These sessions are important opportunities for people across this country and I am grateful to these Members for making it happen and to the members of the public who participated.”

“Family farmers are the driving force behind so much of what makes our country strong and unique. Each new farm bill gives us an opportunity to address the emerging issues facing our producers and ensure that our government is giving them the resources they need to build prosperous lives in rural America,” said Representative Craig. “When we put together each farm bill, it’s absolutely critical that the voices of our local farmers are heard – and that their input is valued. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to welcome my fellow House Agriculture Committee members to Minnesota – and to discuss what more we can do to create a Farm Bill that works for every farmer across our country.”

Risk Management Programs Critical to Dairy’s Future, Farmers Tell Congress

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today commended farmers from member cooperatives who are speaking up for dairy’s needs at farm bill listening sessions held by members of Congress.

“From sustainability and trade to providing an adequate safety net to producers of all sizes, dairy farmer voices are critical to crafting federal farm programs that serve the entire nation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We commend the farmers who own our member cooperatives for sharing their insights. We also thank Congress for making sure that dairy is heard as the next Farm Bill begins taking shape.”

A session in Minnesota was held today, following an event in Washington state last week. Both are part of a series of sessions being held to prepare for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Farm bill safety net and risk management programs are critical to the economic viability of American dairy producers, farmers told members of the House Agriculture Committee during the sessions. Farmers representing NMPF member cooperatives Associated Milk Producers Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Northwest Dairy Association shared their perspectives on the upcoming farm bill during the events hosted by Rep. Angie Craig, D-MN, and Rep. Kim Schrier, D-WA.

During today’s listening session held in Northfield, MN, Steve Schlangen, chairman of Associated Milk Producers Inc. and an NMPF executive committee member, emphasized the value of the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. Created in the 2018 Farm Bill at NMPF’s urging, DMC is designed to ensure that dairy farmers can protect themselves against financial catastrophe and market fluctuations.

Schlangen urged the committee to strengthen the program by carrying the Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage update over into the next Farm Bill to compensate farmers for modest increases in production since the program formula was created in 2014. He was joined by Charles Krause, a Dairy Farmers of America farmer from Buffalo, MN, and KC Graner, a Land O’Lakes ag retail member-owner from Truman, MN, who among other topics supported the Dairy Donation Program to connect dairy products to food insecure families and additional funding and policies to encourage and scale climate-smart ag practices.

The House Agriculture Committee also held a listening session last Friday in Carnation, WA. Dairy farmers and Northwest Dairy Association member-owners Jeremy Visser of Stanwood, WA and Jim Werkhoven of Monroe, WA in their remarks urged committee members to ensure that risk management tools work effectively for farmers of all sizes, and to provide robust funding for trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program

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