12-05-17 USDA Promises New SNAP Flexibilities to Promote Self-Sufficiency

USDA Promises New SNAP Flexibilities to Promote Self-Sufficiency

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is promising increased cooperation with states in the operation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to promote self-sufficiency, integrity in the program, and better customer service.  To make these improvements, USDA intends to offer state agencies greater local control over SNAP, the safety net program that serves millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. Specifics on such flexibilities will be communicated to state agencies in the coming weeks.

“SNAP was created to provide people with the help they need to feed themselves and their families, but it was not intended to be a permanent lifestyle,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “As a former Governor, I know first-hand how important it is for states to be given flexibility to achieve the desired goal of self-sufficiency for people. We want to provide the nutrition people need, but we also want to help them transition from government programs, back to work, and into lives of independence.” Continue reading

12-05-17 Beef Checkoff News: Cattle Production & Modern Technology

Drone beef footageBeef Checkoff News: Cattle Production & Modern Technology…

The beef checkoff is using its beef-promoting #RethinkTheRanch campaign to help consumers gain a better understanding of how cattle producers are using advanced technology to benefit their businesses and the environment.

A perfect example of how technology is being used can be found at the Bear Valley Ranch, located near Parkville, California. The Kester family put down roots and started ranching there 150 years ago in 1867. Back then, no one could have predicted how technology would be used to manage cattle and operate ranches and farms.

“Every time there is a new technology, we try to take advantage of it,” says Kevin Kester. “Most recently, we purchased a commercial drone that we use to gather cattle, look at our water troughs, and make sure everything is functioning correctly.”

Continue reading

12-05-17 FFAR Awards $9.4 Million to Spur Next Leap in Agriculture: Improved Soil Health to Optimize Economic and Environmental Results for U.S. Farmers

FFAR Awards $9.4 Million to Spur Next Leap in Agriculture: Improved Soil Health to Optimize Economic and Environmental Results for U.S. Farmers

Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to Collaborate on Research, Benefiting Environment, Farmers and Communities 

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established through bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill, today announced a $9.4 million grant to the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to improve soil health and, ultimately, support positive economic and environmental outcomes for American farmers. The grant will be matched by General Mills, the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and individual donors for a total investment of nearly $20 million. Continue reading

12-05-17 USDA Secretary Perdue Announces Sorghum Checkoff Board Appointments

USDA Secretary Perdue Announces Sorghum Checkoff Board Appointments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on December 1 the appointments of five members to serve on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program board of directors. Members will serve three-year terms.

According to the USDA press release, the growers appointed to the board are: Continue reading

12-05-17 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Finds Endangered Species Act Protection Not Warranted for White-Tailed Prairie Dogs

White-tailed prairie dog stand on lookout on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Finds Endangered Species Act Protection Not Warranted for White-Tailed Prairie Dogs

DENVER – After a thorough review of the best-available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that the white-tailed prairie dog is not currently in danger of extinction and is not likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. Consequently, the Service has released a 12-month finding stating that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at this time.  Continue reading

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 5th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 5th

Korea Submitting Plan to Renegotiate KORUS

South Korea trade officials announced Monday the government will submit a plan to renegotiate the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement to the nations National Assembly government body. South Korea’s Trade Minister met with officials from 20 ministries and government regarding KORUS, and the plans to renegotiate the trade agreement. A senior trade official told the Korea Herald newspaper: “We hope to submit the plan to lawmakers possibly within this month.” Submitting a plan would effectively wrap up the domestic procedures needed for opening talks with Washington. However, agriculture in both countries appears concerned to reopening the trade agreement. South Korean farmers and stockbreeders have opposed any additional market opening to the U.S., claiming they suffered substantial damage over the past five years. Meanwhile, South Korea is the third largest importer of U.S. corn, and Korea is currently the fifth largest U.S. agricultural export market, overall.

Senate Tax Bill Doesn’t Include Section 199 Deductions

The Senate tax bill passed over the weekend does not include a deduction that farm cooperatives lobbied to keep in the tax reform package. The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives says the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, also known as the Section 199 deduction, means farmers may end up paying more taxes. Chuck Conner, NCFC CEO, previously said that Section 199 allows farmer cooperatives to pass nearly $2 billion nationally directly back to farmers across rural America, and farmers can then deduct their share of the Section 199 benefit on their farms’ tax forms. Farmer co-ops support tax reform, but not the elimination of the Section 199 deduction. More than 180 agriculture groups signed a letter last month to House and Senate leadership expressing the importance of the deduction to agriculture.

Midwest Farmers Concerned With Sluggish Farm Economy

A survey of farmers in Illinois shows many feel the overall financial health of their farms will remain the same next year, as it has this year. The survey of Illinois Farm Bureau members found that 59 percent say they expect financial health to remain the same as in 2017, while 33 percent say they expect the overall financial health of their farms to decline in 2018. Combined, 92 percent of respondents say financial health of their farms will decline or merely remain the same. Illinois Farm Bureau senior economist Mike Doherty says commodity prices, input costs and the overall farm economy are all factors that have been deteriorating farm income, adding that “farm income is unlikely to improve.” Meanwhile, 52 percent of the 275 respondents expect 2018 farm expenses to be higher than they were in 2017, while 48 percent expect them to be lower. In response to the farm economy, 85 percent of the farmers plan to delay equipment purchases, and 26 percent plan to reduce hired labor costs, negotiate lower cash rents and buy less expensive seed.

Trump to Meet with Cruz, Oil Industry, Regarding RFS

Senator Ted Cruz will get his meeting with President Donald Trump regarding biofuels. Reuters reports that Trump has agreed to meet with Cruz and representatives from the oil refining industry to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard. The White House says the discussion could set the stage for negotiations over possible legislation to overhaul the RFS. Cruz has blocked the confirmation vote of Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s nomination to a top Department of Agriculture post, demanding a meeting with the President and others. The meeting is likely to be scheduled for next week. Cruz and eight other senators from states with oil refineries had requested the meeting with Trump in a letter in October. In the letter, the senators asked that the meeting include Midwest lawmakers, biofuels representatives and relevant administration officials, so all sides could “discuss a pathway forward toward a mutually agreeable solution.”

U.S. Rice Production Down, Prices Up

Rice production in the United States is down 20 percent compared to last year, while futures prices for the commodity are up 30 percent from a year ago. Online source World-Grain reports the drastic reduction largely was the result of reduced planted and harvested area as rice lost acreage mainly to soybeans and cotton. Rice prices were dropping in March when soybean prices were rising influencing growers to choose soybeans over rice. U.S. rice carryout for 2017 at the time was projected to reach a 30-year high. Some rice acreage losses also resulted from heavy rains and flooding related to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. For 2018, USDA is predicting another reversal, projecting 2018 U.S. rice planted area at 2.9 million acr es, up 17 percent from 2017. Unlike wheat, corn and soybeans, the United States is not a major producer of rice on the global stage. Still, the United States exports about 55 percent of its rice.

USDA Delays the Puerto Rico Census of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced it would delay the Puerto Rico Census of Agriculture until December 2018. Conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA says it will delay the Puerto Rico census due to conditions caused by Hurricane Maria. NASS had planned to collect data in Puerto Rico along with the rest of the United States beginning this month. However, USDA says the delay is necessary to allow for continued focus on hurricane recovery and to assure Puerto Rico’s agriculture can be accurately represented with quality data. NASS is mailing the 2017 Census of Agriculture to three million U.S. producers, except those in Puerto Rico, in phases through December. Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service