Take time to take precautions

Marshfield Clinic says they found an estimated 12 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, among 607 people screened at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days last week.

National Farm Medicine Center director Dr. Matthew Keifer says, “Of all the cancers farmers are at risk for, skin cancer is the No. 1 cancer that can be diagnosed quickly and cured.”  The problem is farmers often don’t take the needed precautions and don’t take the time to be screened.

Nationwide, an estimated 76,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year and an estimated 9,700 people will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Rural Development Value-Added Grants

The USDA has issued a total of $25 million in Rural Development Value Added Grants to 247 businesses in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia.  Stan Gruszynski is USDA Rural Development Director in Wisconsin, he says the purpose of the grants is to create jobs in rural America.  The idea is instead of shipping raw commodities to another state or country for processing, they do it at home.  Grant recipients are as diverse as agriculture itself, everything from specialty cheese to wood products and even pheasants.

The grants are presented every year; Gruszynski encourages people to visit the USDA website and search keywords “value added grant program” to learn more and even apply.  Grant recipients are eligible to apply again if they have a new idea or plan.

Gruszynski talks about the grants 6:24 mp3

Read more from USDA here:


Organic labeling rules tightened

USDA’s National Organic Program has tightened the requirements for the use of brand or company names that contain the word “organic” or its variants on the labeling of packaged food products.

The new instruction does not allow a brand or company name with the word “organic” in it to be on the front of the package (Principal Display Panel) if the product falls below the 95% organic level.  In other words, only products bearing the USDA Organic seal may display a brand or company name using the term “organic” on the front of the package.

However, products certified at the “made with organic” level (70%) or containing organic ingredients may display the brand name containing the word “organic” on the back of the package, the “Information panel.”

The policy clarification is intended to provide fairness and equity in label use throughout the organic industry and to satisfy consumer expectations for organic products.

Previously the NOP had reviewed use of the term “organic” in brand or company names on a case-by-case basis because they did not think the use inherently constituted a false or misleading claim of organic status.

CME leader says youth critical to ag’s future

Terry Duffy, CME Group President and CEO, 2014 Illinois State Fair

Terry Duffy, CME Group President and CEO, 2014 Illinois State Fair

The chairman and president of the CME Group in Chicago came to the Illinois State Fair last week to show his support of county and state fairs and ag youth.  Terry Duffy said, “I’m very passionate about agriculture and the future of it because I don’t see too many businesses out there that have the growth potential that agriculture does.”

Duffy says people take agriculture for granted and that’s troubling to him, “When you look at the average age of a farmer, at 55.9 years of age, and where this industry could be going – it scares me. So, I have 11-year-old twin boys and I want to see them be able to prosper in this great country. And, I think people have kind of lost their way and it’s not their fault or anyone else’s fault about what really is America.”

Duffy says he wants to see more young people get involved in not only production agriculture but in ag financial services.  The CME group donates to 4-H and sponsors the Commodity Carnival at fairs across the country as an ag education tool for young people.

AUDIO: Interview with Terry Duffy thanks to Steve Bridge – WFMB Radio (7:30 mp3)

New conservation funding is a start

Steve Davis, NRCS Watershed specialist in Northwest Ohio describes the $2 million dollars available for farmers to seed cover crops this fall in the Western Lake Erie Basin as a start.

“It’s a small part of what we’re eventually going to need long term, we’re not saying this is the end of it, it’s a start, and it’s a down payment,” Davis said. “It’s a way to get some farmers who haven’t used some of these conservation practices in the door and hopefully segment to additional practices in the years to come.”

One of the challenges Davis says will be getting the cover crops seeded in a timely manner yet this fall.

“It its soybeans, those probably need to be flown on, if a fellow has early beans that come off early you can actually drill them in and get them seeded in time,” said the Watershed specialist. “In standing corn, we do have some farmers in the Northwest part of the State that have built some specialized equipment.”

For those needing information or assistance in signing up for the available funding Davis suggests visiting a local NRCS office.

Steve Davis on the conservation funding (3 Minutes, 6 Seconds, MP3)

Senate Bill 150 rule making

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) hopes to have rules called for in the recently passed Senate Bill 150 filed by the end of the month.

Director Dave Daniels says once those rules are in place, ODA and OSU Extension will be rolling out educational programs.

“The educational components are to help them understand the technologies that’s out there today,” said Daniels.

SB-150 will require anyone who applies commercial fertilizer to 50 acres or more to be certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“The certification supports responsible ag practices and helps promote the 4-R programs, while allowing Ohio to continue to grow its vital agricultural industry,” Director Daniels said. “The 4-R Nutrient Stewardship concept encourages applicators to use the Right fertilizer source, the Right rate, the Right time and the Right place.”

Ohio Agriculture Women of the Year

Nominations for the 2014 Ohio Agriculture Women of the Year Awards are being accepted. The award program is administered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Office of the First Lady.

“Strong women have helped make the food and agriculture industry what it is today,” said Mrs. Kasich. “I am honored to be part of this program that highlights the achievements of several noteworthy, amazing Ohio women.”

In its third year, the award honors women who have made outstanding contributions to Ohio agriculture, through leadership, and advocacy in the agricultural community.

The deadline to submit nominations is September 26.

Nomination information is available here.

Indiana Farm Bureau delegate session

Indiana Farm Bureau (IFB) will hold their annual delegate session on Saturday, August 23.

Delegates from across the state will be in Indianapolis to vote on policy will guide the organization in the coming year.

Likely to come up during the session will be property taxes, local government reorganization and regulations regarding water.

The delegate session will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Wyndham Hotel near the old Indianapolis airport.

EPA stands firm on WOTUS

Despite the EPA’s outreach efforts on its Waters of the U.S. rule, and numerous efforts by ag organizations to convey their concerns, the impasse over the proposed rule appears to be as wide as ever.

Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Water at EPA, says they do not see the rule having any significant impact on the agricultural community.

“We believe that the proposed rule would cover fewer waters than what the current rule covers,” Kopocis says. “So we do not believe we’re expanding jurisdiction.”

Kopocis says the EPA hears the ag industry’s concerns.  “We’ve probably spent more time with representatives of the agricultural community than any other single sector,” he says  “(They) have been very clear that they do see some potential impacts and that’s why we want to have the dialogue–that’s why we want to hear from them in the comment period–to make sure what we say we are intending to do matches up with how it’s perceived, not only by the regulated community, but by regulators going forward as well.”

Kopocis was asked if the EPA has a trust issue within the ag community.

“I don’t know whether there’s a trust issue.  I won’t speak on behalf of that,” Kopocis says.  “I do know that we have not had the best relations with the agricultural community and both this office and the administrator in particular are very interested in trying to address that.”

Ag groups see the proposal as a power grab by the EPA, which would expand the agency’s regulatory power to nearly all waters on farms and ranches.

The Nebraska Rural Network contributed to this story.

Cellulosic ethanol arrives, but challenges remain

Photo courtesy of POET

Photo courtesy of POET

For many years we’ve been hearing that cellulosic ethanol is “just five years away”.  Now, with three cellulosic plants preparing to come online in 2014, it appears cellulosic ethanol has finally arrived.

However, according to John Hay, a University of Nebraska Extension educator specializing in energy and biofuels, there are still some questions about the economic viability of cellulosic ethanol production.

“The question is, can it be done cheap enough—and that really depends on a lot of things,” Hay says. “Can they get the feedstock at the price they want?  Is the price of oil where they can raise it and make it cheap enough?”

Hay says the boom in U.S. oil production has clouded the outlook for alternative fuels.

“The reality is that through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the oil industry in the United States has really gone on an upswing—and that has kept the prices relatively low,” he says, “and that’s good, maybe, for us as consumers—but maybe not as good for that bioenergy market to climb very fast.

“So I think it’s going to be a very slow incline into some alternative fuels.”

Hay made those comments in an interview with Brownfield at a Switchgrass Bioenergy Feedstock field day near Beaver Crossing, Nebraska.

AUDIO: John Hay (7:38 MP3)