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Articles from 2010 In February

New General CRP Signup Announced

New General CRP Signup Announced

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack received a standing ovation Saturday at Pheasant Fest in Des Moines, Iowa, when he announced a new Conservation Reserve Program general signup will occur in late spring or early summer. "I can guarantee you we will have a general signup for the first time since 2006," he declared. "No program is as important as CRP (in controlling wind and water soil erosion)."


Secretary Vilsack also noted "the CRP is the largest carbon sequestration program in the country."


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Pheasants Forever national president Howard Vincent prepare to shake hands after signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

Vilsack said the new signup will be designed to do a better job of targeting acres -- focusing on lower productive lands. He said a targeted CRP will give "more bang for the buck for taxpayers." The Secretary admitted rental payments "will be a challenge. But crop prices are moderating, which will make it easier to be competitive."


The new signup arrives in time to address the 4.4 million acres of CRP expiring in September this year. An additional 14.2 million acres are slated to expire between 2011 and 2013.


Vilsack also announced 300,000 acres will be added to the continuous CRP program. "Fifty thousand acres will be allocated to The "Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative", 100,000 acres for the "Upland Bird Habitat Buffers" initiative targeting quail and 150,000 acres for the "Safe Acres For Wildlife Enhancement" program," explained Vilsack. These are new acreage caps.


Memorandum of Understanding


The Secretary also signed a first-ever MOU between the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Pheasants Forever. The MOU establishes the framework for the three groups to work together in partnership toward common goals -- the implementation of farm bill conservation programs.


The MOU facilitates the free flow of information among the groups and provides a foundation for Pheasants Forever to deliver conservation technical assistance to farmers and landowners. Pheasants Forever, along with other state wildlife partners, currently employ 50 farm bill and partner biologists in eight states.

Herbicide Resistance: If It's Not Broken, Now Is the Time to 'Fix' It!

Herbicide Resistance:  If It's Not Broken, Now Is the Time to 'Fix' It!

Given that herbicide resistant weeds are a historic problem and glyphosate resistant weeds are now problematic in Iowa, the well-known old adage of not fixing something until it is broken must be reworded to indicate that the problem of evolved herbicide resistant weeds, specifically evolved resistance to glyphosate, should be "fixed" before you identify the problem. 

"While this may seem curious, the ecological characteristics of weeds, notably the incredibly high seed production and dormancy resulting in long-lived soil seedbanks, reinforce the wisdom of proactive weed management decisions," says Owen. "Unfortunately, the low price of glyphosate makes it difficult to understand how you can save money by spending money." Thus, he points out that there are two general points that must be considered:

* Evolved herbicide resistance in weeds, specifically resistance to glyphosate, is an inevitable consequence of using glyphosate, and the cost of resolving the problem after it evolves will be considerably more than proactively managing (providing stewardship regarding) the problem before it exists.

* Proactively managing the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds is not the major economic concern facing Iowa soybean producers, but rather using glyphosate and other herbicides to protect soybeans from the early season weed competition that results in considerable loss of potential yield (otherwise known as profit!) is a much more important near-term reason to manage weeds proactively with a more diverse set of tactics than is currently seen in Iowa soybean production.

You should apply a residual herbicide either early preplant or preemerge

The basic plan for proactive stewardship to protect from the evolution of glyphosate resistant weeds AND the loss of soybean yield potential starts with the application of a residual herbicide to control the weeds that germinate first in the spring and those that have demonstrated the potential to evolve resistance to glyphosate, says Owen. The best application strategy is to apply the herbicide treatment prior to planting (early preplant); the early preplant application mitigates most of the risk incurred when a postemergence application program is planned and also provides better risk management than planning to apply the residual herbicide treatment preemergence. 

Remember, the prediction of when weeds will begin to compete with soybean yield is impossible and in general, postemergence herbicide applications to Iowa soybean fields are too late.  Furthermore, if "simple and convenient" herbicide programs are used, the likelihood of weeds evolving resistance to the herbicide is 100%, he emphasizes. Thus, it is important to use a diversity of tactics to best manage herbicide resistance and protect soybean yields. 

Need to change how you manage weeds in glyphosate-resistant crops

What does Owen tell farmers who don't want to apply an early preplant or premergence herbicide treatment? "Using a soil-applied early preplant treatment can really improve profitability for growers despite their concern they don't want to pay for that extra herbicide," he says. "Fact is, they'll get better weed control and earlier control, which enhances their odds of getting a better yield."

Farmers wanting to skip the preemergence or early preplant application is a concern, says Owen. "Myself, and other weed control specialsts have this concern because of a recent reduction in the price of glyphosate," says Owen. "Companies have cut prices significantly."

He adds, "We fear growers will go back to thinking, 'Glyphosate is cheap; that's all I'm going to use.' If that's the choice you make, opting for convenience and simplicity, it's inevitable you'll have problems with glyphosate-resistant weeds and likely lose yield potential as well." For more information, go to

Drake University Convenes National Discussion On America’s New Farmers

Drake University Convenes National Discussion On America’s New Farmers

How to help create America's next generation of farmers is the topic of a two-day forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Drake University's Agricultural Law Center. "The Drake Forum on America's New Farmers: Policy Innovations and Opportunities," will be held Thursday, March 4, and Friday, March 5, at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. To view a full agenda or to register, visit the Web site.

"Drake is thrilled to convene a national discussion among stakeholders on new and beginning farmer policy issues," says Professor Neil Hamilton, director of Drake Law School's Agricultural Law Center. "The increasing age of America's farm population and the concentration of land with older landowners makes the question of how to create new farm operations one of the most critical in the future of our food and farming system."

Increasing age of farmers and concentration of land are critical topics

"We hope the ideas and conversations at the forum will generate an agenda to increase the commitment needed to develop the programs and public support for a national initiative to sow in the next generation of American farmers," says Hamilton.

The forum will include panel discussions on obstacles facing new farmers, the challenge of access to land, the availability of finance and credit, creating new markets and implementing the 2008 Farm Bill.  In attendance will be nearly 180 participants representing 30 states and more than 50 presenters and keynote speakers, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who will discuss "America’s New Generation of Farmers." 

One goal for the forum is to address inadequacies in policies and programs for new and beginning farmers. In a pre-forum survey conducted by Drake's Agricultural Law Center, 94 percent of participants indicate that existing programs are inadequate to meet the need.

Forty students will be sponsored by the Iowa school to attend this event

Hamilton and Matt Russell, food policy project coordinator at Drake's Agricultural Law Center, who was last year appointed to the Iowa Farm Services Agency’s State Committee by President Obama, will bring eight Drake Law students to the forum. The students are among over 40 attendees who received scholarships from Drake to attend.

"We are very pleased to bring so many Drake law students to Washington, D.C., to be involved in discussions with others from around the nation on this critical issue," Hamilton said. "The new farmers our nation needs will be the community members these young lawyers will serve once they graduate."

Drake students -- Rachel Dettman, Emily Zerkel, Michael Traxinger; Kale Van Bruggen, Timothy Reilly, Beth Dooley, Brooke Miller and Allie Condra -- will join other forum attendees including:

  • Congressional and USDA staff
  • Recipients of USDA beginning farmer development grants
  • Representatives from farm credit, banking and financial services
  • State agricultural officials and farm transition networks
  • Representatives of farming and commodity organizations
  • Educators, trainers and students from colleges and universities
In addition, several recent Drake law graduates will speak at the forum, including Bill Even, the secretary of agriculture for South Dakota. 

The conference is made possible by support from the USDA Risk Management Agency; Farm Credit; the National Center for Agricultural Law Research; the Center for Applied Sustainability at the Walton School of Business; University of Arkansas; the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University; and the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust. 

Dump Hunger Program Provides Food for Local Communities

Dump Hunger Program Provides Food for Local Communities

Western States Equipment's Dump Hunger food drive nearly quadrupled its goal of gathering 150,000 pounds of food for local food banks, ultimately raising a total of 587,861 pounds.

Western States Equipment, headquartered in Meridian, Idaho, is a major Caterpillar dealer, with outlets in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Dump Hunger is a six-week post-holiday food drive that partners 13 Western State's branches with local food banks in their communities.

The post-holiday timing of the program is critical for food banks as January and February historically mark the lowest levels of food donations.

The food raised this year will provide more than 752,400 meals.

"Western States is extremely excited and humbled by the impressive results of the Dump Hunger campaign," says company president Tom Harris. "The success of this campaign rests on the shoulders of our dedicated and caring employees, customers and partners. Each branch and community made it their mission to help our local food banks.

"From a children's classroom project, to trap shoots, to community partners, to bake sales and door-to-door canvassing, Dump Hunger has benefited from the dedication and unique ideas of many employees and customers."

This year Western States found a key partner in Albertsons food stores which helped raise awareness of the campaign.  For nine days in January, customer donations were accepted at participating stores. Additionally, Albertsons contributed $25,000 in food items to the food bank partners for a total gift of 239,525 pounds.

Western States also gave a corporate contribution of $21,176 as part of the campaign. This amount, coupled with the 242,455 pounds of food collected through the company and the Albertsons contribution, delivered a grand total of 587,861 pounds of food.

USDA Says Recovery Funds Helped Ohio Farmers

USDA Says Recovery Funds Helped Ohio Farmers

Ohio farmers enjoyed a significant increase in disaster recovery funding as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law one year ago, according to Jonathan Coppess, USDA Farm Service Agency administrator.  The ARRA modified provisions of the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program that was part of the 2008 Farm Bill.  As a result, many farmers eligible for SURE received increased disaster recovery payments.

"The Farm Bill's SURE provisions provided Ohio with $4,860,719 for disaster recovery from 2008 crop losses," says Coppess. "The ARRA added $2,051,356 more to the SURE funds, which enabled FSA to provide greater support to eligible farmers who suffered crop losses during the 2008 crop year.  That helped stimulate the state's economy and gave those farmers added financial support for their recovering operations."

The agency cited one Hardin County farmer who was surprised by the benefits he received.  His SURE payment increased by nearly 20%. The drought in 2008 caused his crop yields to falter by half of what they normally run.  The SURE program, especially with the supplement from ARRA, enabled him to mitigate his losses and reduce debt.

"It makes you able to plan on doing the things you hope to do," he is quoted as saying.  Asked what those plans included, he said, "Upgrade machinery.  Add a new grain dryer.  Dump it (SURE payment) right back into the community.

"It's truly going to be a new stimulus to our economy. It wasn't going to happen without that," USDA says the Hardin County farmer said.

SURE was an important part of the 2008 Farm Bill, because it enables FSA to offer disaster recovery funding through a prescribed formula without the need for ad hoc legislation.  SURE is a continual program to assist farmers when major disasters affect crop production or planting.  It replaces the need for Congress to pass specific ad hoc legislation after major events severely affect farm operations.

So far, ARRA has added $6,469,582 to the SURE funds, increasing the total SURE funding available nationwide from $21,102,677 to $27,572,259.  Ohio was one of the states with a significant increase because of ARRA.

Other key USDA programs to which ARRA funds have been added include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is allocated on a mandatory basis each month. USDA has announced the vast majority of its remaining $7.9 billion to support more than 90,000 grants, loans, and other job-creating projects.

To learn more about ARRA, SURE and the 2008 Farm Bill, please contact your local county Farm Service Agency office or

Pesticide Applicator Training During ANR Week

Pesticide Applicator Training During ANR Week

Michigan certified pesticide applicators have a chance to earn up to 13 recertification credits March 9–11 during classes set for Agriculture and Natural Resources Week at Michigan State University.

On March 9, applicators can attend a day-long comprehensive core course at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. This session offers eight Michigan Department of Agriculture commercial or private recertification credits. The comprehensive core class is the only class the MDA has approved for eight credits in one day, and commercial applicators who complete it will earn all the core credits they need for the three-year recertification period.

Private applicators who attend this class can earn eight of the 12 credits they need to become recertified within three years. Previously uncertified applicators can take the comprehensive core class in preparation for taking the initial certification exam.

On March 10, a four-hour Private and Commercial Sprayer Calibration class will be held in the Crop and Soil Sciences Research Building. It will offer three credits toward private or commercial core recertification or in commercial categories 1A Field Crops, 1B Vegetable Crops, 1C Fruit Crops, 2 Forestry, 3A Turfgrass, 3B Ornamental or 6 Right-of-Way.

This hands-on class covers calibration of various types of spray application equipment, from boom sprayers to small backpack sprayers. Pesticide applicator record-keeping requirements and other relevant topics are also covered during the course.

On March 11, applicators who work with turf and ornamentals can earn two credits in categories 3A Turfgrass and 3B Ornamental in a program that will also be held in the Crop and Soil Sciences Research Lab. It will include information on managing turf and ornamental pests, including use of integrated pest management and proper pesticide application practices.

Multiple session discounts are available: $140 for two sessions (comprehensive core plus calibration class or 3A/3B class) and $170 for all three sessions. Registration materials are due March 1.

For registration information, visit or contact Larry Olsen by phone at 517-353-5147.

Conferences Focus on the New Landlady

Conferences Focus on the New Landlady

Women from across Missouri are invited to the second Women in Boots and Blue Jeans Ag Risk Management Conference to be held at five locations, beginning March 6 in Columbia.

Mary Sobba, University of Missouri Extension agriculture business specialist, notes that women from across the state have expressed a need for such conferences. "This is another great forum for women in agriculture to get together to learn about the business of farming and network with others in like situations," says Sobba, who is one of the conference planners.

The topic for this year's conferences is "Issues of Owning and Renting Agricultural Land." Featured speakers are Karla Diaz and Joe Koenen. Diaz, an attorney who grew up on a family farm in Missouri, will talk about reducing farm liability risks. Koenen, an MU Extension agriculture business specialist, will speak on boundary issues and Missouri fence laws.

Conference dates and locations are:

 - March 6, Columbia

 - March 19, Kirksville

 - April 3, Savannah

 - May 1, Mt. Vernon

 - Aug. 24, Carrollton

The $35 registration fee covers lunch, breaks and conference materials. A complete program agenda and printable registration form are available at For more information, call the Audrain County MU Extension Center at 573-581-3231.

Source: MU Cooperative Media Group

Apply for Livestock Cost-Share Funds

Apply for Livestock Cost-Share Funds

On behalf of the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture is reminding Nebraskans of cost-share funds to promote U.S. livestock exports.

USLGE received funds which will be available to private livestock breeders, companies, or cooperatives interested in promoting livestock, semen, or embryo sales in international markets through Dec. 31, 2010. These funds are available through the Market Access Program of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"This program has the potential to greatly improve the scope that Nebraskans can have in the international marketplace," says Stan Garbacz, the agricultural trade representative for NDA. "This cost-share program will assist our Nebraska producers begin or increase their international presence."

The MAP branded program provides for partial reimbursement (up to 50%) of approved activities such as international advertising, the development, translation and distribution of promotional materials, and participation in foreign trade shows and exhibitions. Funds cannot be used for travel or personnel reimbursement. An administrative fee is charged to participate in the program.

For more information about the program, contact Stan Garbacz at 402-471-2341, or the USLGE at 618-548-9154.

IDOA Calls for Specialty Crop Mini-Grant Proposals

IDOA Calls for Specialty Crop Mini-Grant Proposals

Next year, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will receive an additional $209,000 in federal block grant funds to improve the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry.

IDOA intends to use the funds to award "mini-grants" that expand markets for fresh produce grown in Illinois and is encouraging specialty crop growers to submit a proposal before the April 30 application deadline. More than $640,000 is available.   

"I thank USDA for recognizing the importance of expanding access to nutritious, locally-grown foods and providing this funding increase," IDOA director Tom Jennings says. "The grants will raise awareness about the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available here and help consumers make food choices that improve not only their health, but also the health of their local economy."

Proposed projects should accomplish one or more of the following industry objectives:

  • Increase child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
  • Ensure industry participation at meetings of international standard-setting bodies in which the U.S. government participates.
  • Improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems.
  • Assist all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing "Good Agricultural Practices," "Good Handling Practices," "Good Manufacturing Practices," and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors.
  • Invest in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes.
  • Enhance food safety.
  • Develop new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops.
  • Improve pest and disease control.
  • Promote organic and sustainable production practices.

IDOA will accept grant applications until 4 p.m. on April 30. Funds will be awarded early next year. Application forms and instructions can be obtained on the department's website at or by calling (217) 524-9129.

The number of farmers markets in Illinois has nearly tripled, increasing from 97 in 1999 to nearly 300 today. Nationally, Illinois ranks first for its pumpkin production, and in the top ten in the production of many other specialty crops, such as asparagus, cauliflower, peas and lima beans.