USDA Adds New Tools, Resources to Farmers.gov to Aid Producers

Agricultural producers have new resources available to them to prepare for and recover from impacts of natural disasters on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new website, farmers.gov. The site has updated tools and information to help agricultural producers identify the right programs and make decisions for their operations.

“Agriculture is a risky business,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “At USDA, we’re here to help you prepare, recover, and build long-term resilience to natural disasters. Whether you want to visit your local USDA service center or visit our new farmers.gov, we want to help you get the help you need.”

New additions to the site – being built for farmers, by farmers – include a farmers.gov portal for secure business transactions and a disaster assistance discovery tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. The farmers.gov portal is the first edition of a secure dashboard for producers to manage program applications and other USDA documents.

These resources are in addition to other currently available through Farmers.gov, including:

  • Our mobile-friendly Service center locator, connecting users with USDA assistance at the location nearest them,
  • Information about the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program, which provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes and wildfires during 2017,
  • Routinely updated farmers.gov blog where producers can read stories about other farmers across the nation containing insight into how other producers address challenges in running successful agricultural operations,
  • A soil health webpage, where producers can read about the soil health management practices offered by USDA, and
  • An online playbook, where people can track the latest developments of the site.farmersgovweblogo

To watch a message from Secretary Perdue regarding Farmers.gov, you may click the above image or view Secretary Perdue’s message.

“USDA’s vision for farmers.gov is to provide farmers, ranchers and foresters with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities and business tools,” Perdue said. “Our goal is to provide you, America’s farmers, with the best customer service, and this website is one of many ways we’re working to do so.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency are collaborating with partners in the government and private sector to build farmers.gov. Work began in fall 2017, and the site launched in 2018.

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Deadline Approaches for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

USDAFarm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminded producers recently that the deadline to sign up for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.

“Any agricultural producer that has eligible land should review the benefits of this program,” said Fordyce.  “It removes from production marginal, erodible land and, in doing so, improves water quality, increases wildlife habitat and provides more opportunities for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.”

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less.

CRP Grasslands

Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied (prior to the current sign-up period) will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria.

About CRP

In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants that remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers, ranchers and private landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species.

The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners.

Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit https://www.farmers.gov. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

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July/August 2018 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The July/August 2018 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

julyaugsepf2018_cvrThis issue features:

  • APRES celebrates 50 years
  • Harvest Guidebook
  • Georgia Peanut Tour set for September
  • Industry awards at USA Peanut Congress
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Georgia Peanut Tour set for September

gpt_logo_flatThe thirty-second annual Georgia Peanut Tour will be held September 18-20, 2018, in Savannah, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The tour brings the latest information on peanuts while giving a first-hand view of industry infrastructure from production and handling to processing and utilization. Tour stops will be made in several peanut producing counties including Bulloch, Burke, Candler and Screven County.

Attendees can expect to see first-hand nearly every aspect of peanut production in the state. This year’s tour hosts many exciting stops including on-farm harvest demonstrations and clinics, research at the University of Georgia Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center and a tour of the Georgia Port Authority in Savannah.

The tour kicks off this year with the Hot Topics Seminar on Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at Crosswinds Golf Club, Savannah, Georgia. The seminar topics include an update on the 2018 Georgia peanut crop and a special focus on the export market.

The Georgia Peanut Commission, University of Georgia-Tifton Campus and Griffin Campus, Southwest Research & Education Center, Attapulgus Research & Education Center, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Peanut Research Lab coordinate the tour.

Hotel accommodations can be made at the Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Airport in Savannah, Georgia by calling 912-964-5550. Rooms are available at the rate of $129 plus tax for a standard room. Be sure to ask for the Georgia Peanut Tour room block. The room block deadline is Aug. 19, 2018.

Visit georgiapeanuttour.com to register and view tour schedule. The  early bird registration rate is $75 prior to Aug. 10, 2018. For more information, contact Hannah Jones at 229-386-3470 or via email at hannah@gapeanuts.com.

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USDA announces one week left to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture

Census17_Phase3_Button_300x250The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) ends all data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture on July 31. Anyone who received the Census questionnaire is required by law to respond by that date, and they can complete the form online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 424-7828.

“The Census of Agriculture, conducted once every five years, provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Your information helps ensure that future decisions about U.S. agriculture represent you, your industry, and your community.”

“Every response matters, even the ones that tell us you are not, or are no longer, a farm,” continued Hamer. “If you received a 2017 Census of Agriculture, we need to hear from you by July 31.”

The same law that requires response – Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113 – also requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish data in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture is planned to be released in February 2019.

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UGA crop geneticists awarded $935,000 to breed softer cotton and more resilient peanuts

PeanutsOnPlantSMALLThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) plant breeders almost $1 million in grants this fiscal year to produce improved cotton and peanut varieties.

These plant breeders have been tapped to make Georgia’s most profitable row crops more sustainable and productive.

Searching for softer cotton

Regents’ Professor Andrew Paterson, director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and member of the CAES Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Franklin College departments of Plant Biology and Genetics, and Peng Chee, his fellow crop and soil sciences professor, are pinpointing cotton genes that affect the length of cotton fibers.

Longer fibers lead to softer cotton fabrics and a higher per-pound price for farmers.

Paterson and Chee will focus on upland cotton, which is a common name for the cotton species most widely grown in the U.S. Georgia farmers grew more than 1 million acres and $967 million worth of upland cotton in 2016.

Upland cotton typically produces cotton with short or medium fibers, and those fibers can be even shorter if the cotton plant is stressed. However, mutations of upland cotton created by the researchers produce longer fibers.

Supported by a $490,000 NIFA grant, Paterson and Chee will map genes connected to superior fiber qualities in this mutated upland cotton. Eventually, they will incorporate those genes into cotton varieties known for their hardiness, productivity and efficiency.

“The long-term goal of the proposed project is to enrich genetic diversity and accelerate the breeding progress in the elite gene pool of one the most economically important and genetically vulnerable major U.S. crops: cotton,” Paterson said.

For more information on Paterson and Chee’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/uplandcotton.

Looking to the peanut’s roots

The average American eats about 6 pounds of peanuts a year. To meet that demand, farmers in Georgia grow more than 700,000 acres of the state’s signature legume.

For each of those acres, farmers invest between $500 and $770 into seeds, pesticides, irrigation and herbicides. Tapping into the resilience of the peanut’s wild ancestors should substantially bring down that per-acre price, said Soraya Leal-Bertioli, UGA senior research scientist.

Bertioli, who worked with the international team of scientists that traced the evolution of the modern peanut to its wild ancestors in the Andes Mountains in 2016, received a $445,000 grant from NIFA to find the genetic traits that protected ancient peanuts from fungal and insect problems as well as other diseases.

“In the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, hundreds of wild peanut populations were collected from the wild and deposited in the USDA seed bank,” she said. “Several studies show that these species carry resistance to pests and diseases that affect the peanut crop.”

Most of these species have never been bred with modern varieties. By using modern techniques, Bertioli hopes to introduce these ancient, naturally-occurring resistance traits into modern lines of productive peanuts.

Breeding peanut varieties with the resistance of their wild relatives that can keep up with modern production levels will allow farmers to produce peanuts with fewer chemicals at a lower cost.

For more information on Bertioli’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/sustainablepeanuts.

By Merritt Melancon

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Roberts, Stabenow Prepared for Farm Bill Conference

senate farm bill logoU.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to proceed to a Farm Bill conference.

“We are pleased to see the House move ahead on the Farm Bill,” said Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. “In order to be successful in passing a final bill, the conference committee must put politics aside and focus on the needs of our farmers, families, and rural communities. We are eager to go to conference, so we can move quickly to provide certainty for American farmers and families. Rural America is counting on us to get this right.”

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill on a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote – the most votes a Senate Farm Bill has ever received. The bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The Senate bill has the support of more than 500 groups representing thousands of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, forestry, conservation, rural, business, faith-based, research, and academic interests.

Click here to read the legislation, summaries, and amendments.

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House Moves to Send Farm Bill to Conference Committee, Appoints Conferees

house fb-quadToday, the House of Representatives moved to send the 2018 Farm Bill to conference committee. Following the vote, Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-1) named the House conferees, or members who will seek to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ bills. House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following statement on the House’s action:

“Today, we move one step closer to delivering a strong, new farm bill to the president’s desk on time as he has called on Congress to do. America’s farmers and ranchers and rural America are struggling right now and they deserve the certainty of a strong farm bill to see them through to better times. The House has pulled together a solid team of conferees from across the country who are committed to working with our Senate colleagues to reach a final product that helps millions of low-income Americans climb the economic ladder while standing by the hard-working farm and ranch families who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs.”

HOUSE REPUBLICAN CONFEREES

House Agriculture Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-11)
2. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05)
3. Bob Goodlatte (VA-06)
4. Frank Lucas (OK-03)
5. Mike Rogers (AL-03)
6. Austin Scott (GA-08)
7. Rick Crawford (AR-01)
8. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
9. Rodney Davis (IL-13)
10. Ted Yoho (FL-03)
11. David Rouzer (NC-07)
12. Roger Marshall (KS-01)
13. Jodey Arrington (TX-19)

House Education and the Workforce Committee Conferees:
1. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC)
2. Rick Allen (GA-12)

House Energy and Commerce Committee Conferees:
1. John Shimkus (IL-15)
2. Kevin Cramer (ND-AL)

House Financial Services Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05)
2. Sean Duffy (WI-07)

House Foreign Affairs Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39)
2. Steve Chabot (OH-01)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Conferees:
1. Mark Walker (NC-06)
2. James Comer (KY-01)

House Natural Resources Committee Conferees:
1. Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01)
2. Bruce Westerman (AR-04)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Conferees:
1. Ralph Abraham (LA-05)
2. Neal Dunn (FL-02)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Conferees:
1. Jeff Denham (CA-10)
2. Bob Gibbs (OH-07)

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Roberts, Stabenow Announce Bipartisan Farm Bill Passes Senate on 86-11 Vote

senate farm bill logoOne large step closer to delivering on promised certainty, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today announce the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote.

“Today marks an important day for farm country. We are one step closer to providing farmers and ranchers a Farm Bill with the certainty and predictability they deserve,” said Chairman Roberts. “I thank my partner in this journey, Ranking Member Stabenow, as well as many of our Senate colleagues who offered leadership and expertise. I am proud we have a strong, budget neutral Farm Bill with broad support.”

“The 2018 Senate Farm Bill proves that bipartisanship is a tried and true approach to getting things done,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “By working across the aisle, we crafted a Farm Bill that strengthens our diverse agricultural economy and all the jobs it supports in Michigan and across the county. I want to thank Chairman Roberts for his leadership and partnership, along with our Senate colleagues who contributed their ideas for improving American agriculture.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee favorably reported out the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, on June 13, 2018. The bipartisan 5-year legislation encompasses a broad array of agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. Click here to watch the meeting. Click here to watch other Committee hearings in preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill. Click here to read the legislation, summaries, and amendments.

The legislation has the support of more than 500 groups representing thousands of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, forestry, conservation, rural, business, faith-based, research, and academic interests.

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KMC plans to build new repair parts warehouse

IMG_4620Kelley Manufacturing Co. recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new parts department building on June 21, 2018, in Tifton, Georgia. The new 40,800 square foot warehouse is estimated to cost $2.2 million and provide thirty plus construction jobs. The new building will employ 6 to 7 fulltime warehouse employees and 7 field service employees.

“The company is 100 percent employee owned. There are 200 plus jobs here but they are not just normal jobs,” says Bennie Branch, KMC president. “The employees have a stake in the company as well. It is a source of pride for me as well.”

KMC is expanding the parts department to meet the increased volume of parts for the 73 different implements produced. KMC has been making farm equipment for the   farmers of the world since 1966 and their peanut harvest  equipment is available in 22 countries around the world.

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