Posted: May 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm
By News Editor
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $19.5 million to support research, education and Extension activities associated with climate solutions in agriculture aimed at the impacts of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle.
The University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison, Wisconsin, received $9.9 million over five years to study the environmental impact of various dairy production systems and develop best management practices for producers to implement at the farm level. The project’s ultimate goal is to increase the resiliency of dairy production systems while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The team will also develop an agricultural education curriculum with an urban foods focus at Vincent High School in Milwaukee in an effort to educate future leaders and consumers about the contributions of the dairy industry to economic and environmental sustainability. Curricula at the high school and college levels will be developed related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change and agricultural sustainability.
The University of Wisconsin is partnering in the project with the University of Arkansas, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, North Carolina A&T University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Washington, along with four USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy and the industry-sponsored Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, received $9.6 million over five years to better understand vulnerability and resilience of Southern Great Plains beef in an environment of increased climate variability, dynamic land-use and fluctuating markets. The team’s goal is to safeguard regional beef production while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. The project also includes education and Extension components to train the next generation of producers and researchers in addressing the impact of climate on beef cattle. Using a community- and citizen-science approach, the project will train young students and citizens to use GPS-enabled digital cameras and smartphones and web data portals to participate in field data collection. The geospatial data will be integrated into a portal for community-based analysis and inventory and used to educate the general public on climate change related to range-based beef production.
The team is comprised of 32 scientists from OSU, Kansas State University, University of Oklahoma, Tarleton State University, the Samuel R. Noble Foundation, and two ARS laboratories.
Posted: May 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $19.5 million to support research, education and Extension activities associated with climate solutions in agriculture aimed at the impacts of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
The University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison, Wisconsin, received $9.9 million over five years to study the environmental impact of various dairy production systems and develop best management practices for producers to implement at the farm level. The University of Wisconsin is partnering in the project with the University of Arkansas, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, North Carolina A&T University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Washington, along with four USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy and the industry-sponsored Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, received $9.6 million over five years to better understand vulnerability and resilience of Southern Great Plains beef in an environment of increased climate variability, dynamic land-use and fluctuating markets.
Posted: April 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm
By News Editor
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking dairy producer and importer organizations to nominate candidates to serve on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. Nominations must be submitted by May 30, 2013.
The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint 14 individuals to serve on the board. The appointees will replace 12 board members whose terms expire Oct. 31, 2013, and fill two currently vacant positions.
USDA will accept dairy producer nominations from the following regions: Region 2 (California and Hawaii); Region 3 (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming); Region 4 (Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas); Region 6 (Wisconsin); Region 9 (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia); Region 10 (Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia); Region 11 (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania); and Region 12 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont). The Secretary will appoint five members for Region 2, two for Region 9, and one for each of the remaining regions and the dairy importer position
Twelve dairy producer nominees will be appointed to serve 3 year terms beginning Nov. 1, 2013, and ending Oct. 31, 2016. One dairy producer nominee will be appointed to fill a shortened term, for Region 9, beginning immediately and ending Oct. 31, 2015. The dairy importer nomination will be for a 3-year term beginning Nov. 1, 2013, and ending Oct. 31, 2016.
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Posted: April 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
“Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations,” Vilsack said. “This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”
The Secretary signed the agreement this afternoon at the White House and was joined by representatives of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management, including Thomas P. Gallagher, CEO of the center. One objective of the MOU is to increase the construction of anaerobic digesters and explore innovative ways to use products previously considered waste streams from dairy production, processing and handling.
USDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.
The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.
Listen to that call here: USDA/Dairy MOU press call
Posted: February 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm
By News Editor
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is seeking applications for the latest round of USDA’s Farm to School grants. These grants help eligible schools improve the health and well-being of their students and connect with local agricultural producers.
“USDA’s Farm to School grants connect schools with their local farmers, ranchers and food businesses, providing new economic opportunities to food producers and bringing healthy, local offerings into school cafeterias,” said Merrigan. “USDA continues to make improvements to the nutrition of food offered in schools, and investing in farm to school programs is yet another important opportunity to encourage our nation’s kids to make lifelong healthy eating choices.”
This year, three different kinds of grants will be available. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities, while implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts. Additionally, eligible non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers may apply for support service grants in order to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities. Proposals are due at midnight EST, April 24, 2013.
To assist eligible entities in preparing proposals, USDA will host a series of webinars related to the application process:
March 5, 2013, 1:00 EST – Planning Grants
March 6, 2013, 1:00 EST – Implementation Grants
March 7, 2013, 1:00 EST – Support Service Grants
Posted: February 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm
By News Editor
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the appointment of a dairy importer member to the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (Dairy Board).
Susan M. Troy was newly appointed as a member to fill a vacancy. Her term is effective immediately and will expire on Oct. 31, 2013.
The Dairy Board was established under the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, as amended, to develop and administer a coordinated program of promotion, research, and nutrition education. The 38-member Dairy Board is authorized to design programs to strengthen the dairy industry’s position in domestic and foreign markets. The program is financed by a mandatory 15-cent per hundredweight assessment on all milk marketed commercially and a 7.5-cent per hundredweight assessment, or equivalent thereof, on milk and dairy products imported into the United States.
The Secretary selected the appointee from nominations submitted by individual importers of dairy products or by organizations representing dairy importers. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service monitors the operations of the Dairy Board.
Posted: November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am
By John Davis
This year was a pretty tumultuous one for many dairy producers across the country, especially with the way the drought impacted many operations. The USDA needs to get more information so it knows what’s happening on America’s farms. That’s why the 2012 Census of Agriculture forms will be hitting producers’ mailboxes very soon.
“The Census of Agriculture will be dropped in the mail December 14th, so farmers should expect it in their mailboxes by the end of the year,” says Renee Picanso, Director of the USDA’s Census and Survey Division, asking that those surveyed return their census by Feb. 4, 2013. During an interview at Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, she added that they’ll be asking some new questions this year, including some on agriforestry and renewable energy. Also new this year will be the opportunity to fill out the survey over the internet, something they believe will help response rates. “I hope so, because it leads you through the questions, and if you go on the internet, it will skip through the questions [not relevant to your operation].”
Picanso stresses that it’s very important for producers to respond because the survey helps USDA determine policy, as well as how it helps rural communities and agribusinesses. Results should be released in February 2014.
Listen to Cindy’s interview with Renee here: Interview with Renee Picanso, Director of the USDA's Census and Survey Division
Posted: November 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm
By John Davis
It’s been quite a volatile year in the ag sector, especially for dairy producers in many areas hit hard by the drought and subsequent price spikes for feed. To get a handle on what happened and how it affected production (and thus, those depending on row crops), the USDA will soon send out its end-of-year surveys. Cindy caught up with Bob Bass, the Director of National Operations for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) during Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, and he said the country’s farms and ranches have seen a wide range of conditions this year.
“It’s very important that we get a handle on the final production, and that includes the actual harvested acres and final yield,” as well at what stocks are in storage out there, Bass said. About 73,000 scientifically selected farms and ranches will be surveyed, representing the 2.2 million operations nationwide. “That’s why it is so important that we get an accurate and timely response from everyone of those selected samples.”
Bass added that NASS will be changing when they release some of their reports, with the monthly crop reports moving from 8:30 a.m. EST to Noon EST after the first of the year. “That’s at the request of data users across the country and the world… it’s a global economy now.” Livestock reports will remain at 3 p.m. EST.
Listen to Cindy’s interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Bass, NASS
Posted: October 31, 2012 at 7:07 am
By John Davis
It’s regulations and legislation on the minds of dairy farmers. Producers are worried about whether they will be able to get a waiver from the federal Food and Drug Administration for corn hit by aflatoxin because of the drought, as well the lack of a new farm bill, which means the loss of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program, reverting back to the original 1949 pricing policy.
In this edition of the Milking Parlor, we hear from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as he tackled these issues during the recent World Dairy Expo … and even a peak at what his future might be should President Obama get re-elected.
Listen to the Milking Parlor here: Milking Parlor Podcast with Secretary Vilsack
To subscribe to the Milking Parlor podcast, click here.
Posted: October 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm
By News Editor
Nominations for the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board are being sought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint seven individuals from those nominated to succeed members whose terms expire June 30, 2013. Appointed members will serve three-year terms from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016.
USDA will accept nominations for board representation in five geographic regions and two at-large positions. Nominees for the five regional positions must be active owners or employees of a fluid milk processor. At least one at-large position must be a fluid milk processor. The other at-large position may be either a fluid milk processor or a member from the general public. The geographic regions are: Region 1 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont); Region 4 (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina); Region 7 (Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin); Region 10 (Texas); and Region 13 (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming).
Fluid milk processors and interested parties may submit nominations for regions in which they are located or market fluid milk and for at-large members. To nominate an individual, please submit a copy of the nomination form and a signed background form for each nominee by Nov. 23, 2012 to: Whitney Rick, Director, Promotion, Research and Planning Division, Dairy Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Stop 0233, Room 2958-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-0233 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To obtain forms or additional information, call (202) 720-6909. Blank forms are available on the Dairy Promotion and Research Branch’s website.
Posted: October 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm
By News Editor
Congratulations to the five new appointees to the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board! All appointees’ terms will begin Nov. 1 and end Oct. 31, 2015.
Newly appointed members are: Lawrence A. Hancock, Texas; Lanette M. Harsdorf, Wis.; Edward J. Jasurda, Wis.; David Veenhouwer, Idaho; and Marilyn K. Hershey, Pa.
Reappointed to serve second terms were: George Marsh, Ore.; Ray S. Prock, Jr., Calif.; Arlene J. Vander Eyk, Calif.; Paul A. Fritsche, Minn.; Mark E. Erdman, Ill.; Susan D.K. Troyer, Ind.; and Ronald R. McCormick, N.Y.
The board was established under the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, as amended, to develop and administer a coordinated program of promotion, research and nutrition education. The 38-member board is authorized to design programs that strengthen the dairy industry’s position in the marketplace.
The Secretary of Agriculture selected the appointees from nominations submitted by eligible producer organizations, general farm organizations, and qualified dairy products promotion, research or nutrition education programs.
Posted: October 2, 2012 at 10:54 am
We had a great town hall meeting today with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. He spent an hour and a half taking questions after making some opening remarks.
I’ve uploaded the whole session for your listening pleasure. He really hammered Congress for not passing a farm/food/jobs bill and addressed a number of other topics as the audience asked questions.
You can listen to Secretary Vilsack’s Town Hall at World Dairy Expo or download here: Sec. Vilsack Town Hall
After the town hall meeting the Secretary visited with the press. I got a couple questions in on that session. He was asked if he’d stay on as Secretary if President Obama wins re-election but kind of dodged it, calling it a complicated question. He says he has the best job in the world.
You can listen to and download his presser right after the session here: Sec. Vilsack with Press
2012 World Dairy Expo Photo Album
Posted: October 2, 2012 at 10:10 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
October is National Cooperative Month and 2012 is the the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives, so it is extra special to celebrate record farm cooperative income in 2011 and dairy co-ops did very well indeed.
USDA released the latest statistics today, showing that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales of $213 billion and $5.4 billion in net income, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion while besting the old income record by $500 million.
“These new cooperative sales and income records for 2011 underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives, and the vital role they play in the nation’s economy,” said Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for Rural Development. “Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up.” Tonsager also noted that co-op employment levels remained strong, with cooperatives employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.
USDA’s annual list of the nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives, also released today, shows that they also had record sales and income in 2011. The 100 largest ag co-ops reported revenue of $148 billion in 2011, an increase of almost 30 percent over 2010, when revenue totaled $113 billion. Net income for the 100 top co-ops was $3.17 billion, up from $2.35 billion in 2010. The previous top 100 co-op records were $130 billion for sales and $2.42 billion for income, both marks set in 2008.
The top ten agricultural cooperatives include four dairy cooperatives. Dairy Farmers of America of Kansas City with $12.9 billion in revenue was number two on the list again, topping 2010 revenue by 20%. Ranking 6th on the list was California Dairies with $3.66 billion, up 20% from 2010. The 9th and 10th largest cooperatives were Northwest Dairy Association of Seattle and Associated Milk Producers of Minnesota, both with approximately $2 billion in revenue, up 30% and 20% respectively from 2010.
Listen to or download Tonsager’s press conference here: USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager
Posted: October 2, 2012 at 9:14 am
World Dairy Expo has a special visitor today.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is holding an open town hall meeting. Here he is being welcomed by Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Ben Brancel.
I’ll post audio from the session here on World Dairy Diary as soon as I can after the meeting is over. It is an hour and a half meeting and then the media will have a chance to visit with him.
The Secretary’s will also be doing a walk through of Expo today as well.
2012 World Dairy Expo Photo Album
Posted: October 1, 2012 at 8:48 am
Many of Idaho’s dairy cows wade through copper sulfate baths like this to help prevent foot infections. Photo by Ernest Hovingh, Penn State University.
Getting a head start on stopping soil copper buildup will now be a bit easier, thanks to studies by USDA scientists. This research could help Pacific Northwest farmers develop long-term irrigation management strategies to protect crops from potentially dangerous soil copper levels.
Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a laboratory investigation to assess how copper levels in wastewater used for irrigation affected crop performance and soil microbial activities.
Copper sulfate baths are used to prevent foot infections in dairy cattle, and the discarded foot bath is often recycled to irrigate corn and alfalfa crops. The scientists surveyed alfalfa growth and development in soils containing different levels of total copper. Copper sulfate at soil levels of up to 250 parts per million (ppm) had no effect on alfalfa growth, but alfalfa growth stopped when soil copper sulfate levels exceeded 500 ppm.
The team also discovered that beneficial soil bacterial activity declined when test soils accumulated available soil copper levels above 50 ppm. Further analysis indicated that soil levels above 63 ppm of plant-available copper resulted in alfalfa copper concentrations that could potentially harm grazing livestock
Read more about this research here.
Posted: September 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm
By John Davis
Congress left town with a little unfinished business… in this case, without passing a new farm bill! The old one expired at the end of September, and for dairy, that means the expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract … or MILC … Program. And that means that program reverts back to the original 1949 policy.
In this edition of the Milking Parlor, we hear from American Farm Bureau Farm Policy Specialist Dale Moore, National Milk Producers Federation spokesman Chris Galen, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, as they talk about the implications on dairy by the lack of a farm bill at this point and what it could mean for the future.
Listen to the Milking Parlor here: Milking Parlor Podcast on RFS Waiver Request
To subscribe to the Milking Parlor podcast, click here.
Posted: September 26, 2012 at 9:34 am
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Have high fuel prices had an impact on your farm/business?”
Our poll results: Sixty-four percent said Yes, big impact on our budget; fourteen percent said Yes, minimal impact on our budget; twelve percent said No, not yet; and ten percent said No, don’t expect any.
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What grade would you give the new student lunch program? Tell us why with a comment.” New government nutrition standards, which went into effect this year in a bid to combat childhood obesity, require schools to serve more variety and larger portions of fruits and vegetables. What do you think – are these new lunches a good thing or will students just toss more food in the trash can?
ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.
Posted: September 24, 2012 at 8:51 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
No new farm bill means dairy producers will be left holding an empty bucket at the end of this month.
“With expiration of the farm bill, dairy farmers will lose what little safety net they have,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) who led a failed attempt last week have the House consider the Senate-passed farm bill prior to adjourning until after the November election.
While expiration of the MILC program in and of itself will not have a significant short term impact on dairy producers, not having a new farm bill now is “a huge hit to dairy at a time when dairy is really struggling,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Secretary Vilsack is frustrated and disappointed that House leadership failed to allow a vote on the bill passed by the agriculture committee, and he thinks they have ulterior motives. “I don’t think it’s simply issues involving nutrition assistance,” he said. “I think the House leadership also has plans to significantly cut and reduce support for farm programs – conservation programs, commodity title, as well as the crop insurance title.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters last week before Congress called it quits that they would deal with a farm bill after the election because he did not believe there were 218 votes to pass either an extension or new legislation. “The current situation that we face is that we’ve got people who believe there’s not enough reform in the farm bill that came out of committee, and others who believe there’s too much reform in the bill that came out of committee,” Boehner said. “But when we get back, we will deal with the issue of the farm bill.”
Democratic leaders in Congress, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) have vowed to oppose an extension of the current farm bill in the lame duck session and get a new bill passed that would include a new dairy program. “I’m absolutely committed to doing everything humanly possible to complete the farm bill in November or December,” Stabenow said.
Posted: September 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm
By News Editor
The U. S. Department of Agriculture has announced a final rule which amends the Pool Plant definition of the Mideast milk marketing order.
This decision is based on testimony and evidence given at a public hearing held in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 4-5, 2011.
This amendment will more adequately identify the plants that service the fluid milk needs of the marketing order. Specifically, the amendment will regulate fluid milk plants physically located within the Mideast marketing area that have a Class I utilization of at least 30 percent and whose combined Class I route disposition and transfers into Federal milk marketing areas is greater than 50 percent.
This amendment was originally proposed in a recommended decision issued on Feb. 24, 2012. The program received only four comments all in support of the recommended decision. Producers whose milk is pooled on the Mideast milk marketing order approved these amendments. The order, as amended, will become effective Oct. 1, 2012.
Posted: August 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm
By John Davis
Livestock producers hit by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Isaac, are being urged by the USDA to keep thorough records of their livestock and feed losses, including additional expenses like feed purchases because of lost supplies:
“There are extraordinary circumstances caused by a variety of disasters from fires in the west, floods in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf region, storms in the Mid-Atlantic and drought and heat affecting the heartland,” [USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia] said. “Each of these events is causing economic consequences for ranchers and producers including cattle, sheep and dairy operations, bee keepers and farm-raised fish, and poultry producers.”
The agency is also urging producers to document their losses through photos and videos, keep track of birth recordings or purchase receipts, and record the costs of transporting and feeding livestock under disaster conditions.
The USDA also points out that the five disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2011, including SURE; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).