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Articles from 2008 In August

Are you SURE on farm bill disaster program?

For the full article, click on the headline above.

Farmers who don't insure small acreage crop may want the protection this year, especially if you're considering participating in a new 2008 Farm Bill production disaster program. The new Supplemental Revenue Assistance program, known as SURE, is designed to help protect against crop losses resulting from adverse weather, such as flooding or drought. To qualify a farmer must buy insurance for ALL insurable crops grown on the farm and pay the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (NAP) fee for all noninsurable crops and practices on the farm. NAP includes hay and pasture.

The deadline for purchasing wheat insurance for 2009 is Sept. 30 and farmers who don't normally insure their wheat have a decision to make if they want to qualify for SURE for crops planted during the 2008-2009 crop year, explained Carl Zulauf, OhioStateUniversity agricultural economist.

"A lot of Ohio farmers grow some wheat, but they normally don't purchase insurance for it because it's a small acreage crop," Zulauf said. "However, if you buy insurance for corn and soybeans, but not for wheat, and you have a bad year for corn and soybeans, you are ineligible to receive SURE payments if you didn't purchase insurance for wheat.

"We want farmers to be aware of SURE, that it's a new program with a new set of conditions, and that they have a decision to make regarding crop insurance and NAP if they want to be eligible for SURE in the event of a weather-related disaster."

Farmers also have a buy-in opportunity to become eligible for SURE for the current 2007-2008 crop year if they did not buy crop insurance or NAP for crops on the farm. For more information about the buy-in opportunity, contact a local Farm Service Agency office.

Here's what farmers need to know about SURE:

  • SURE is a whole-farm program, meaning it encompasses the entire farming operation -- all acres in all counties on the farm. In order to qualify, a farmer must have purchased crop insurance and NAP for all crops grown on the farm.
  • Eligibility for a payment from SURE also requires that a farm be in a county declared a disaster area or contiguous to such county, or the farm has experienced a 50% reduction in production due to adverse weather.
  • With SURE, eligible farms increase their coverage by 15% for crops with insurance and by 20% for crops with NAP. There is a 90% coverage cap.
  • SURE has no fee. The financial requirement is the purchase of crop insurance and NAP.

Zulauf said that details of the SURE program might seem a bit complex, especially since it is a new program. Additionally, program details will depend on how the rules for SURE are written. To learn more about the SURE provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, refer to the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance in Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 at .

"While weather-related disasters historically are not as common in Ohio as in other parts of the country, farmers should ask themselves whether a weather disaster could potentially put the farm in jeopardy of bankruptcy," Zulauf said. "Is the potential for SURE to help you get through a natural disaster worth the additional cost to bring all of your crops under insurance and NAP? These are some things that farmers need to think about."

A publication from Kansas State University states SURE favors farmers with a single enterprise with all production in a single county and in counties with high production risk. 

The Missouri Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and other State FSA offices have posted a SURE calculator to estimate the SURE payments under the new disaster program. It is important to note that this calculator only addresses yield based crops and does not address value loss crops or those plans of insurance that are revenue based, including but not limited to, AGR or AGR Lite.

Colorado Ag Commission Approves Emergency Livestock Rule

The Colorado Agricultural Commission has given the go-ahead for an emergency rule to protect the state's livestock while allowing cattle feeders access to sufficient supplies of feeder stock.

The Colorado Import Approved Feedlot program sets entry processes for cattle transported from states with downgraded disease status, including feedyard perimeter requirements, on-site feedyard inspections and record keeping requirements.

"The primary purpose of the emergency rule is to protect Colorado's breeding herds and allow our cattle feeders to remain competitive with other states," says Keith Roehr, assistant Colorado state veterinarian.

Currently, six states have lost or may lose their disease-free status for brucellosis and tuberculosis. Colorado cattle feeders and ranchers rely on those states for cattle to feed to harvest weights.

Feedyard operators must apply to be come approved import feedlot companies, and all cattle within that feedyard must go to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected processing facility, other slaughter plants approved by the state veterinarian's office, or to another Colorado Import Approved Feedlot.

A feedlot will not be registered under the CIAF until the Colorado Department of Agriculture has approved the application. Onsite inspections are used to insure that the feedlot meets the requirements and proves it can comply with the individual animal identification and approved feedlot facility record-keeping requirements.

Such feedlot registration expires within a year unless the facility fails to comply with the regulations during that period. However, a feedlot may apply for re-registration prior to such termination.

Feedlot requirements call for an inventory of all livestock confined on the registered business. A record through brand inspection of all cattle exiting the facility for slaughter is also required.

Records must be readily available to state veterinarians each year as requested.

For more information, as well as application forms, visit www.colorado/ and click on "Colorado Import Approved Feedlots."

Ragweed Blooms in Worm Gardens

Scientists have discovered that "underground gardening" by earthworms is contributing to the spread of giant ragweed and other weed species. Giant ragweed can cause severe losses in infested fields and it also produces sneezes, sniffles and general irritation to those who are allergic to it.

"Earthworms help ragweed thrive by systematically collecting and burying its seeds in their burrows," says Emilie Regnier, weed ecologist at Ohio State University. "In fact, we've found that more than two-thirds of all giant ragweed seedlings emerge from earthworm burrows."

Though giant ragweed is best known for the prolific blanket of pollen it produces to plague hay fever sufferers, it also takes a costly toll on crops. Throughout the Midwest, the weed is especially a problem in corn and soybeans, causing yield losses of 50% to 75% when left unchecked.

Scientists have long been mystified by the rapid spread of giant ragweed since it produces relatively few seeds. Now research shows the lowly earthworm is one of the culprits.
In a study funded by the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, Regnier and her fellow scientists examined the impact of earthworms on giant ragweed. The study focused on Lumbricus terrestris worms – commonly known as nightcrawlers.
Until now, nightcrawlers have had a stellar reputation among growers since their burrows promote water filtration and their eating habits help make nutrients more available to crops. The worms feed on plant litter they collect from the soil surface and store inside their narrow, underground homes. As the litter softens and decays, it improves the availability of nutrients in the soil. Now, though, it appears there is also a dark side to the earthworm's work.

"Our study shows that nightcrawlers are some of nature's most effective weed farmers," Regnier said. "They actively forage for weed seeds, pull them into their burrows and then 'plant' them under up to several inches of soil."

In fact, researchers found that worms collected and buried more than two-thirds of the seeds dispersed by a stand of giant ragweed. Each burrow examined in the study contained an average of 127 ragweed seeds, or 450 seeds per square foot.

While nightcrawlers collect seeds from other plants as well, giant ragweed is definitely on their preferred list.

"We found the worms collect and bury 10 types of seeds in the same size range," Regnier says. "But they have three special favorites – giant ragweed, bur cucumber and sunflower."

N.D. Corn Still Behind

Dale Siebert, NDSU Extension agent/cropping system, reported Friday that in southeast North Dakota corn is still 171 growing degrees days behind the five-year average at the Wyndmere, N.D., weather station.

"We have been one GDD per day less than the average for the season," Siebert says. "If this trend continues in September we would end up with about 2,150 GDD for the season at Wyndmere."

Early-maturing corn (95-days or less) would reach maturity by the end of September, but 95- to 100-day hybrids require 2,300 GGD or more.

Corn that reaches maturity - which is 35% moisture - still has to dry down.

Last year, it took another 200 GGD to dry corn from 35% to 20% moisture, when harvest normally begins, Siebert says.

Top Winter Wheats for S.D.

Top-performing varieties of winter wheat in SDSU's West River trials this year were Overland, NuDakota (white), Smoky Hill, Wendy (white), Expedition, and Hawken

Top-performing varieties East River were Smoky Hill, Overland, NuDakota (white), Wendy (white), Expedition, and Fuller.

Details are available in South Dakota State University Extension Extra 8136, "2008 Winter Wheat Variety Yield Results and Planting Tips." Find it online at

Wanted: Bred Heifers for Cornell's Fall Sale

Beef cow-calf producers have a golden opportunity to diversify their market for bred commercial or purebred heifers. Cornell University's annual bred heifer sale normally includes heifer graduates from the Empire Heifer Development Program.

This year's sale, set for Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Beef Teaching and Research Center, Dryden, N.Y., is being expanded to include farm-raised heifers, say Mike Baker, Cornell Extension beef specialist. "Enlisting in this sale is a new way to get the best bang from your marketing dollar," he says.

Ultrasound data will be collected on heifers at the center, and made available for the sale. And there are requirements to assure buyers that the risk of calving difficulty has been minimized and that performance has been optimized. Those requirements include:

  • A veterinarian-confirmed pregnancy
  • Known calving ease EPD on service sire
  • Pelvic measurement
  • Body condition score of greater than 5.0
  • Negative BVD and TB tests
  • Vaccination schedule

For more details on this sale or enrolling heifers in the next round of the heifer development program, contact Baker at 607 255-5923. Or e-mail him at

Don't Forget Oct. 1 Cost-Share Program Cutoff

Oct. 1 is the cutoff date for applications for several USDA soil and water cost-share programs. The primary program involved is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Steve Chick, NRCS state conservationist, says that last year more than $25 million were committed in more than 1,200 contracts for natural resource improvements in EQIP. "Even though the newest farm bill passed in June, and program rules are still being written, we are expecting similar funding in fiscal year 2009 which starts Oct. 1," he says.

Other programs with the Oct. 1 cutoff are the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. Last year, over $1.2 million dollars were committed in 75 contracts for wildlife habitat improvements. In the WRP last year, 40 offers were extended to landowners to restore 5,000 acres of wetlands with $4.5 million dollars.

"These are the federal dollars for natural resources improvement and do not include the dollar investment by the landowner," says Chick.

Chick explains that NRCS will continue to accept applications after Oct. 1 for these programs and will commit funds as long as they are available. Applications received by the cutoff date, however, will begin the ranking process right away.

In EQIP, some of the proposed changes may allow cost-share funds for organic farming practices, forest management and fuels management.

The WHIP has been extended for use on non-agricultural land, state, county or local government-owned land that previously was not eligible

The WRP changes that went into effect last June include prohibiting the enrollment of land where ownership has changed in the last 7 years for the purposes of enrolling in the program. Other changes include the process on the determination of easement payments for land being enrolled in WRP. "This change should benefit landowners and reduce about 2-3 months from the enrollment process," says Chick.

The important action for farmers and ranchers to remember is Oct. 1 is the cutoff for NRCS to rank applications on hand, according to Chick. Landowners can get help at any NRCS office in their USDA Service Center.

Rain Doesn't Slow Down Farm Progress Show

This year marked the first Farm Progress Show at the permanent location in Boone, Iowa.

By all accounts, the 2008 show was a success. Jeff Smith, Farm Progress regional sales manager, assisted the show staff in a variety of tasks. On opening day, he reported the 90-acre parking lot was completely packed with visitors.

With steady rain showers for much of Wednesday, show staff, attendees and more than 500 exhibitors found out how nice the permanent location is.

Permanent streets made a world of difference when rain hit the Farm Progress Show on Wednesday.

Among the show staff, there was a lot of talk about how rain would have completely ruined the streets, had the show been held in a corn field with no improvements. Instead, underground drainage and semi-paved roads routed water off the main walkways. Thus, when the rain let up, it was possible to walk without sinking to the knees.

Next year, the show comes back to Progress City, in Decatur. The site features permanent asphalt roadways and bathrooms with running water. Plus, the Conservation Expo came to Progress City this year. Contractors installed drainage tiles in the parking lot, improved drainage ways on the back end of the property, and upgraded the existing water detention ponds.

Rain or shine, Progress City will be ready to host the latest and greatest for farmers.

Members Sought for New Star Lakes Program

Members of lake or river associations and other organizations that promote water quality are being sought to serve as board members for Minnesota's new Star Lakes program.

New legislation passed in 2008 established the Star Lakes program, an effort to promote stewardship of Minnesota's lakes and rivers. The Legislature and staff in several state agencies are in the process of making appointments to the Star Lakes board, which will be charged with developing specific program guidelines and selecting recipients.

The makeup of the 15-member Star Lakes board will be:

-3 members appointed by the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives (1 representing county governments, 1 representing city governments, and 1 representing an organization that promotes clean lakes and rivers)
-3 members appointed by the Minnesota State Senate Subcommittee on Committees of the Committee on Rules and Administration (same breakdown as the three House appointees)
-1 member appointed by the state DNR Commissioner
-1 member appointed by the state Pollution Control Agency Commissioner
-1 member appointed by the Chair of the Board of Water and Soil Resources
-1 member appointed by the Indian Affairs Council
-5 members appointed by all other board members (These 5 will represent a variety of types of lakes and rivers within the state, who are from lake associations representing designated star lakes or rivers, or until July 1, 2011, are eligible to achieve star lake or river designation)

The Star Lakes board is scheduled to have its first meeting in early October, which will be facilitated by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Julie Klocker, BWSR Assistant Director, said 10 of the 15 Star Lakes board members will be in place, and one of their first orders of business will be to appoint the remaining five board members.

"Lake association members who have a strong desire to promote stewardship of lakes and rivers in Minnesota should take advantage of this opportunity to apply for a seat on the Star Lakes board," said Klocker. "Having a strong group of people with leadership skills and innovative ideas will be a key to the success of this program."

Some program guidelines were established in the new law. Applications to receive the designation as a Star Lake or Star River must come from lake or river associations, such as a lake improvement district. The association must maintain a membership of at least 50 percent of the private shoreland owners. Also, the association must participate in a water quality monitoring program that meets Pollution Control Agency standards, and it must have successfully implemented a Star Lake or Star River management plan. This management plan should achieve specific outcomes, like increasing and managing native vegetation, eliminating aquatic invasive species, or maintaining a healthy fishery.

For more information or to apply to be appointed to the Star Lakes board, please go to the BWSR website,

ACRES Is Focus of Breimyer Seminar

By Duane Dailey

The 2008 farm bill presents a few new wrinkles to Missouri farmers. So, economists at the University of Missouri Columbia figured it deserved a day to decipher the impact on the state's agriculture. "Unpacking the 2008 Farm Bill" is the subtitle on a Breimyer Seminar, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3.

"By that time we will have some hot new stuff," says Brent Carpenter of University of Missouri Food and Agricultural policy Research Institute.

Major analysis will be given by FAPRI economists Pat Westhoff on the crops side and Scott Brown on livestock and dairy. Panels will react. With soaring prices on commodities and inputs, the economists will run an updated 10-year baseline to use in their analysis. This is needed, particularly in looking at the new ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election) program, which provides an alternative safety net for crop farmers.

Speakers will give latest tips for farmers to use in deciding whether to stick with the old farm program, or switch to the new, more complicated ACRES formula. The seminar will review major provisions from all titles of the farm bill; give the FAPRI analysis, and give inside background from Washington, D.C., on how the long-delayed legislation was written.

Reservation fee is $25, which includes lunch. Contact Joyce White at or 573-882-6533. View program details at