Pressure mounting for farm bill implementation

Pressure is growing on the USDA to step up its implementation of the 2014 farm bill.  Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says farmers will need some time to study their options when it comes to new crop commodity programs.

“When will farmers go in and sign up? What tools will they have to be able to evaluate the commodity title in the farm programs?  There are lots of decisions to be made and USDA is about 20 percent of the way through discovering what these new decisions should look like—so we’ve got a ways to go there,” Hill says.

“But by next year, hopefully, farmers will be signed up and know the rules of the game in farm programs.”

At a recent Congressional hearing, Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson criticized USDA for not doing enough to educate dairy farmers about the new Margin Protection Plan. Lawmakers also expressed concerns over implementation of the farm bill’s crop insurance and conservation compliance provisions.

For its part, USDA says it has made “significant progress” on farm bill implementation.

AUDIO: Craig Hill-interview at Iowa Farm Bureau’s economic summit (5:40 MP3)

Young farmer concerned with water rule

The EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule dominated the discussion on the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers National Affairs Trip to Washington, D.C.

One of the participants, Dustin Fairley, wonders if the EPA hasn’t already set the wheels in motion.

“I serve on our local FSA board and just since the first of the year we’ve had six new rulings on wetland classifications,” Fairley says. “We haven’t had six in the last six years.  So all of a sudden to have six in one year, it kind of makes you a little nervous about how EPA is going about this.

“They have this new proposed ruling, but I kind of think they’re already starting to push that ruling through other routes.”

Fairley says over-regulation of agriculture and regulatory uncertainty are major concerns.

“As a young farmer, these rules will impact everything we do in the future of ag,” he says.

Fairley farms near Fairbury.  He also has a custom farming business.

AUDIO: Dustin Fairley (8:59 MP3)

Meat stocks decline

USDA reports red meat and poultry supplies at the end of June were sharply below last year’s levels.

On June 30, 2014, red meat totaled 929.972 million pounds, down 5% from May 31, 2014 and 13% less than on June 30, 2013, mainly thanks to strong beef demand. Beef stocks were pegged at 357.759 million pounds, a decrease of 5% from last month and 26% from last year, and well below the five year average of 438 million pounds. Pork came out at 537.717 million pounds, 7% less than a month ago and 5% lower than a year ago, but above the five year average of 529 million pounds.

Poultry totaled 1.019 billion pounds, down 2% on the month and 18% on the year, with chicken at 556.830 million pounds, 18% lower than last year, and turkey at 460.414 million pounds, a 19% year to year decline.

USDA’s livestock and poultry slaughter numbers are out on Thursday.

EPA official working to educating farmers on rule

The debate over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the US rule isn’t letting up.  Ellen Gilinsky, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Administrator for water at the EPA says there are no special requirements for farmers in the rule and it serves a clarification of the definition.

However, she tells Brownfield there has been confusion over what EPA calls its “interpretive rule”.  “We worked with USDA and NRCS on it,” she says.  “What it says is that we are guaranteeing that certain conservation practices will not require a permit and they can continue to do them.  There are no additional requirements.”

Gilinsky says she’s been all over the country clarifying the Waters of the US rule to farmers.  “We just try to keep sticking to the facts and hope they listen to them rather than the misinformation that’s swirling around,” she says.  “We’re not regulating raindrops, we’re not regulating puddles, we’re not regulating rain gardens in people’s yards.”

She says the rule will allow farmers to continue to do business as usual – but with cleaner water.

AUDIO: Ellen Galinsky, EPA (3:40mp3)

Indiana Senator says EPA should follow farmers lead

The debate over the Waters of the US rule isn’t over yet.  And the agriculture industry continues to voice its concern about potential overreaching regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly says EPA needs to follow the agriculture industry’s lead.  “That’s opposed to dictating from down on high down to us,” he says.  “Because in my lifetime our waters have never been cleaner and they have never been better.”

Donnelly tells Brownfield farmers want to take care of the land and the water – but it is also a matter of economics.  “Inputs are so expensive now – we need to keep them on the land,” he says.  “By keeping them there, farmers make more profit, land is in better shape, and water is in better shape.  So the EPA needs to understand we can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Donnelly spoke to the National Association of Conservation Districts Soil Health Forum in Indianapolis on Monday.

AUDIO: Senator Joe Donnelly, NACD (2:00mp3)

South Dakota winter wheat harvest running behind

There was very little rainfall and below normal temperatures this past week in South Dakota. Topsoil moisture is 82 percent adequate to surplus.

Winter wheat is 74 percent good to excellent, with 55 percent mature and only 4 percent harvested, well behind the 32 percent average.

Oats are 85 percent good to excellent with only 15 percent of the crop mature and 4 percent harvested.

South Dakota’s corn crop is 80 percent good to excellent and 30 percent silking.

Soybeans are 72 percent good to excellent and 70 percent in the bloom.

Alfalfa is 79 percent good to excellent with the first cutting 91 percent complete. The second cutting is 38 percent complete.

Indiana wheat harvest wrapping up

Cool dry weather last week provided farmers the opportunity to get fieldwork finished.  Farmers spent much of the week harvesting wheat, making hay and spraying crops.  According to the latest crop and weather report, 92 percent of the state’s wheat crop has been harvested.

The corn crop is advancing as 69 percent of the crop has silked and 76 percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.  Seventy percent of the beans are blooming and 32 percent are setting pods; 72 percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.

In other crops around the state, the second cutting of hay is beginning to wrap up as 79 percent is now complete and 66 percent of range and pastures are rated good to excellent.

Crop ratings slip slightly in Ohio

Even with a week of weather that allow wheat harvest and hay making to make significant progress, the condition ratings for both Ohio corn and soybeans slipped slightly.

As of Sunday, July 20, 51 percent of the Ohio corn crop was silking, three points behind the 5-year average. 72 percent of the crop is in fair-to-good condition, down from 74 percent last week.

51 percent of the soybeans are blooming and eight percent of the crop is setting pods. 82 percent of the soybean crop is in fair-to good condition.

Wheat harvest is 89 percent complete, still six points behind the average pace.

74 percent of the oat crop is turning color, 25 percent of the oat harvest is complete.

Second cutting alfalfa is 66 percent complete. The condition of pastures called 83 percent fair-to-good.

The Ohio field office of the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) reports topsoil moisture is 82 percent adequate to surplus, 17 percent is called short.

Disaster Assistance for fruit tree crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcing Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) assistance is available for losses to bush or tree fruit crops due to frost or freeze during the 2012 crop year. The program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides supplemental NAP payment to eligible producers.

 

Farmers who did not have access to crop insurance and are in primary and adjacent counties that received a Secretarial disaster designation because of frost or freeze in 2012 are eligible for NAP assistance. Losses due to weather damage or other adverse natural occurrences may also qualify for program assistance.

 

NAP enrollment begins July 22, 2014. Applications must be submitted to FSA county offices by September 22, 2014.

 

To expedite applications, producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the sign-up in this program. Producers also are encouraged to contact their FSA county office to schedule an appointment. Limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and beginning producers are eligible for premium reductions and also may be eligible for fee reductions.

 

Interested producers can view the 2012 NAP Coverage for Frost, Freeze or Weather Related Fruit Losses Fact Sheet at http://go.usa.gov/5kSQ, or visit a local FSA office.

To find out if land is located in an eligible frost/freeze county, visit http://go.usa.gov/53rz.

Nebraska’s winter wheat harvest advances amid cool, dry weather

Nebraska was cool and mostly dry this past week bringing wheat harvest to more than half done.  It also resulted in producers starting to irrigate row crops. Topsoil moisture is 94 percent short to adequate.

In addition to being half harvested, winter wheat is 52 percent good to excellent.

Corn is 76 percent good to excellent, with 8 percent in the dough stage.

Soybeans are 74 percent good to excellent with 32 percent setting pods.

Sorghum is 62 percent good to excellent and development is well ahead of normal at 23 percent headed.

Nebraska’s oat harvest is 31 percent complete, which is behind.

Alfalfa is 62 percent good to excellent with 71 percent of the second cutting complete.  Pasture and range is 54 percent good to excellent.