Farm News for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Note: Some stories are written in broadcast style
US poultry production up 6 percent in July
WASHINGTON, DC - USDA reports domestic poultry production for July 2014 was up 6% on the year at 3.74 billion pounds.
The preliminary live weight was also up 6% at 4.95 billion pounds, with young chickens accounting for 4.26 billion pounds of the total. All chickens were 4.33 billion pounds, 7% larger, with turkeys at 606.24 million pounds, a 2% rise.
Young chickens averaged 5.99 pounds per bird, 2% heavier than in July 2014, while mature chickens averaged 5.71 pounds, 2% lighter. Turkeys averaged 30.09 pounds per bird, slightly less than a year ago.
Ante-mortem condemnations of 10.984 million pounds were 0.22% of the inspected live weight and post-mortem condemnations of 35.87 million pounds were 0.95% of total production.
For January to July 2014, U.S. poultry production is 21.98 billion pounds, a little more than this time last year.
House bills address farm concerns with EPA ‘waters’ proposal
WASHINGTON — Two bills that have bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives address serious concerns voiced by the American Farm Bureau Federation about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
Issued earlier this year, the rule would give the EPA broad jurisdiction over dry land features and farming practices that historically has been relegated to individual states under the Clean Water Act.
H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014, was introduced by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., and has been approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a rule that broadens the scope of the Clean Water Act and would effectively block the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
A second bill addresses concerns about common farm practices that have been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation but could lose that status under the proposed rule.
In March the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued an interpretive rule to clarify how “Waters of the U.S.” would affect normal farming, ranching and forestry exemptions. AFBF analysis determined that the interpretive rule narrows the list of existing exemptions and would require compliance with otherwise voluntary U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service standards. The proposal puts the USDA in the unprecedented position of enforcing Clean Water Act compliance.
Reps. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.; Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Reid Ribble, R-Wis.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., have introduced H.R. 5071, The Agricultural Conservation Flexibility Act. The bill clarifies that existing Clean Water Act exemptions for normal farming, ranching and forestry apply to all conservation activities without regard to the interpretive rule.
The bill further states that no soil and water conservation practices will be treated as new uses of areas of navigable waters, impairments of the flow of navigable waters or reductions in the reach of those waters under recapture provisions in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The bill also clarifies that normal farming, ranching and forestry activities will be treated as such without regard to their date of commencement.
The AFBF has assembled articles and analysis relevant to the proposed rule at ditchtherule.fb.org. The organization asserts that the EPA proposal exposes U.S. farmers and ranchers to potential fines and penalties for ordinary farming activities.
AFBF President Bob Stallman called the rule “an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court. … If more people knew how regulators could use the proposed rule to require permits for common activities on dry land or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged.”
West Virginia expands forest insect program
CHARLESTON - WV Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Program has expanded to include all counties currently infested with HWA.
“Additional counties were found to be infested this year so our Plant Industries Division Staff expanded our HWA program so landowners in those counties would be allowed to participate” said Commissioner Helmick.
The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, is a non-native invasive pest that is quickly decimating hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis and T. caroliniana) in the eastern United States” said Quentin “Butch” Sayers, Assistant Director of PID with WVDA.
“Without long-term control of HWA, eastern and Carolina hemlock will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, throughout its natural range.” “HWA causes damage to hemlocks by depleting the hemlock’s starch reserves, which in turn reduces the trees’ ability to grow and produce new shoots” said Sayers. “All ages and size classes of hemlock are susceptible to HWA infestations.”
WVDA is now accepting applications from landowners who wish to sign up and participate in the WVDA HWA Program to help protect their hemlock trees.
Landowners who want to participate in the HWA Cooperative Program must complete an application and submit it with a $100 deposit that will be applied to your treatment costs. The application can be received by calling the WVDA Charleston Office at (304) 558-2212 or downloading at: http://www.wvagriculture.org/images/Plant_Industries/About_Us.html.
Landowners must apply for the program by September 30th, 2014, provide WVDA with a map of their property, and allow WVDA to evaluate their site to ensure it meets the project qualifications:
-Only private lands within the project area are eligible.
-More than 50 percent canopy cover of hemlocks.
-A woodlot with a minimum of five acres. Adjacent and otherwise eligible landowners may cooperate to meet the minimum acreage requirement.
-Landowners with less than five acres may qualify if the proposed treatment area is adjacent to land being managed for HWA.
-Trees must have more than 50 percent foliage.
-Trees may not have been treated within the last four years.
-Treatment must not pose a safety risk to WVDA field personnel.
-Pesticides used in treatments must be purchased directly by WVDA.
-Treatments usually protect trees four-to-five years.
Cost share monies are available, however landowners accepted for the program must pay for a portion of the treatments. Applying for the program does not obligate landowners to participate – they may back out if they feel their portion of the costs is too high.
Farm Credit celebrates 98 years of service to American agriculture
Nearly 100 years after the U.S. Congress established Farm Credit to serve as a reliable source of credit for the nation's farmers and ranchers, the network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations remains a sound and vital resource for rural America. The organization recently marked it's 98th anniversary.
"For 98 years, the Farm Credit System has served agriculture and rural America as a dedicated, reliable, competitive, customer-owned source of credit," said Mary Fritz, owner and operator of Quarter Circle JF Ranch, Inc., a dry land grain and cow-calf operation in Chester, Montana, and chair of the Farm Credit Council board of directors. "America's agricultural producers and rural communities have benefited greatly from the vision and foresight that went into establishing the Farm Credit System."
Today, about 40 percent of the dollar volume of outstanding loans to U.S. farmers and ranchers comes from Farm Credit. The federally chartered network is comprised of 82 privately owned institutions, including four wholesale banks and 78 direct lending associations that operate in every county in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
These local Farm Credit System institutions specialize in providing credit and related services to farmers, ranchers, timber harvesters and aquatic producers. In addition, the Farm Credit System provides financing for the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, as well as to rural homeowners, certain farm-related businesses, and agricultural and public utility cooperatives.
In support of their mission of service, Farm Credit System institutions also have programs specifically focused on meeting the needs of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers. In 2013, more than 40 percent of new loans made by Farm Credit were to small producers, those with annual gross agricultural sales of $250,000 or less.
"Our cooperative model is designed specifically to ensure that our lending and related financial services are driven by the needs of our borrower-owners," Fritz said. "Our focus remains on the success of our owners rather than on achieving quarterly returns to impress stockholders."
Farm Credit's commitment to its borrower-owners is demonstrated further by the fact that associations share profits directly with borrowers through patronage dividends. In 2013, the Farm Credit System distributed more than $1 billion in cash patronage, allowing borrower-owners to reinvest in their own operations and to further support rural communities through local spending.
"Today, Farm Credit celebrates its heritage as it continues to fulfill its mission to serve U.S. agriculture and rural America," Fritz said. "Farm Credit was established as a permanent system of credit that is to be responsive to the needs of our nation's agricultural sector, and we look forward to continued success and a bright future."
Christmas in summer? Virginia tree growers preparing now
ELK CREEK—It may be summertime, but Virginia Christmas tree growers are preparing now for their holiday sales season.
“People think we only work one month out of the year, but that’s not the case,” said Carlos Taylor, who co-operates Severt’s Tree Farm in Grayson County with his wife, Sherrie.
Taylor and his employees are now trimming the firs that they grow, along with Norway and Scotch pines and a few blue spruces. The trees that will be cut and sold this year are being trimmed on top, and those that will continue growing are being sheared into the desired conical shape.
Taylor said his staff starts tending to the trees in April and continues working on them through Dec. 15. He has one crew of H-2A workers who arrive in April and another who come for the harvest season, which starts in September.
This year has been a good growth year for Virginia Christmas trees, Taylor said.
“Last year we had too much rain, which doesn’t seem right because rain is good. But too much water can be as bad for tree growth as drought.”
Taylor sells trees to wholesalers in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and New York and to some retailers in Virginia. He said people are “finally starting to realize that Virginia grows good trees” and credited the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Virginia Grown program with helping to promote the industry.
Christmas trees will be promoted at this year’s State Fair of Virginia, which will be held Sept. 26 through Oct. 5 at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. The Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association will provide fresh-cut, 6-foot trees for a new Christmas tree decorating competition. The decorated trees will be displayed in the horticulture tent throughout the fair.
The top three winners of the competition will be asked to decorate trees that will be displayed during the Illuminate Light Show, which will run Nov. 14 through Jan. 3, 2015, at The Meadow. The competition theme is “Virginia’s Bounty,” and the use of natural materials is encouraged.
An entry form and guidelines are available at www.StateFairVa.org/Competitions/General_Youth_Competitions.
Virginia is ranked 16th in the United States for sales of cut Christmas trees, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The state has more than 500 Christmas tree farms.
“There are plenty of locations across the state that sell Virginia-grown Christmas trees,” said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “If you want to pick or cut your own trees, there are plenty of tree farms across the state as well, and the outing can become a treasured family tradition.”
The VCTGA and VDACS publish an annual directory of choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. Information also is available at www.virginiagrown.com.
Penn State: Scout for Palmer Amaranth now in soybeans, before it’s too late
Identifying and containing new infestations is a critical first step in managing this new threat. That is according to officials with PA Cooperative Extension who say hopefully, most of the full season soybean crop has been managed for weeds by this time of the summer and some growers have planted or are still considering double-crop.
An excerpt from a recent newsletter written by William Curran, Professor of Weed Science and Dwight Lingenfelter, Program Development Specialist states:
There is still time to ensure your soybean weed control programs worked by scouting those full season soybeans for escapes and by selecting effective herbicides to control weeds in double-crop soybeans. In particular, be on the look out for Palmer amaranth. We have talked a great deal about this weed over the last year, and most of our PA Palmer amaranth infestations last fall were discovered in soybeans (both full season and double crop). Containing new infestations and preventing the spread is a critical first step to managing this new threat. Seeds collected from southeastern PA fields last fall were tested in a greenhouse assay this winter and showed that all five populations were resistant to glyphosate and four of five were resistant to both glyphosate and the ALS inhibitors. In soybean fields, it should become quite obvious when resistant plants appear above the soybean canopy, but you have to scout those fields to find these escapes.
As stated in the Take Action Herbicide-Resistance Management Fact Sheet titled Palmer Amaranth Management in Soybeans, proper timing is everything for effective control. In full season soybeans, Palmer amaranth is already likely too big for traditional control measures, as effective postemergence soybean herbicides should be applied before Palmer amaranth is 3 inches tall for best control. But, better late than never and over the next week or so will be optimal for control in double-crop. The Group 14 (Flexstar/Reflex, Cobra/Phoenix, or Ultra Blazer) herbicides are some of the most effective. If you are fortunate enough to have LibertyLink soybeans, use a minimum rate of 29 fl. oz./A. of Liberty. Spray coverage is essential with any of these herbicides, so a minimum of 15 gal/A. of spray solution should be used. Once Palmer amaranth plants exceed 3 inches tall, control with any of these postemergence herbicides is substantially reduced.
So, scout those soybean fields now and do what it takes to control Palmer amaranth. Some attention now will ensure you’re not forced to attempt some last chance rescue (or field destruction) in September when Palmer amaranth is six feet tall or more and flowering or worse yet has already produced seed.
New livestock pavilion ready for use during State Fair of Virginia
DOSWELL—The brand-new 40,000-square-foot First Bank & Trust Pavilion is ready to house cattle during this year’s State Fair of Virginia, which will open Sept. 26 and run through Oct. 5.
Located in the Equine and Livestock Complex of The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, the building will provide a covered area during the fair. At other times it can be used for horse shows, rodeos, canine agility competitions and other events.
“This is a much-needed addition to this beautiful 330-acre property,” said Glenn Martin, State Fair livestock and equine events manager. “It will enhance our facilities and give livestock a permanent home during the State Fair.”
State-level 4-H and FFA livestock shows are held at the State Fair each year, and winning youth receive more than $70,000 in scholarship money. Other livestock events are held during the fair as well.
Registration for the competitions is open through Aug. 15. Youth participating in the dairy cattle, dairy goat and poultry competitions can register at www.StateFairVa.org/Competitions/Livestock_Competitions.aspx. Youth entering the beef cattle, meat goat, sheep and swine competitions should register at www.4-h.ext.vt.edu/programs/anscience/livestock.
First Bank & Trust Co. has secured naming rights for the building over the next decade.
“Construction of the new First Bank & Trust Pavilion represents continued commitment to the State Fair of Virginia by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation,” which owns both the fair and The Meadow, said State Fair President Jeff Dillon. “The pavilion will improve the fair experience for both exhibitors and fair patrons alike.”
The livestock pavilion complements existing buildings at The Meadow and is similar in style to the historic horse stall barns on the property.
Tobacco growers approve "checkoff" assessment
RALEIGH — North Carolina growers of flue-cured tobacco have approved an assessment that will support the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina’s efforts to promote the interests of its farmers.
The assessment was approved on 88 percent of ballots in a mail-in referendum. A two-thirds majority was needed for approval.
Growers approved an assessment of up to 15 cents per hundred pounds of flue-cured tobacco sold in North Carolina. However, the initial assessment will be 10 cents per hundred pounds. It takes effect this year and will be collected when farmers sell their tobacco.
Tobacco buyers will submit collected funds to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for distribution to the association.
“Until now, tobacco was one of the few commodities in our state that didn’t have a checkoff program to support its work,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
TGANC President Tim Yarbrough of Caswell County said, “The margin of support for this effort indicates the level of priority our farmers place on having a strong and organized voice to advocate on important issues.”
The General Assembly passed a bill last year authorizing the association to conduct the referendum.
This assessment joins existing checkoff programs supporting tobacco research and export promotion.
Crop acreage published for West Virginia
CHARLESTON - Winter wheat planted in West Virginia for 2014 is estimated at 10,000 acres, up 1,000 acres from 2013. The projected harvest for grain is 7,000 acres, unchanged from 2013.
Corn planted is estimated at 53,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Growers expect to harvest 37,000 acres for grain, up 1,000 acres from last year.
Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 24,000 acres, up 2,000 acres from 2013. Harvested acreage is projected at 23,000 acres, up 2,000 acres from 2013.
All hay harvested is forecast at 570,000 acres, down 20,000 acres from last year. Alfalfa hay harvested is expected to total 20,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Other hay harvested is expected to be 550,000 acres, down 20,000 acres from last year.
These estimates were based on results from the June 1, 2014, Agricultural Survey.
Fair livestock exhibitors face new rules in Maryland
ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture will begin enforcing new animal identification requirements for those entering animals into fairs, show and exhibits this season. The move will bring the state’s exhibitors into full compliance with the USDA’s Animal Disease Traceability regulations that were adopted last February and phased in over the last year.
During shows and exhibits, large numbers of animals – such as cows, pigs and sheep – are gathered closely together. If one is sick, the possibility of the disease spreading to other animals and even humans is significantly higher at fairs and shows than on the farm. Animal illnesses can impact animal industries and some illness can be spread from animals to humans. The new rules – which generally impact swine, cattle, sheep and goats — help ensure that all animals are clearly identified and their movements traceable in an animal health, public health or food safety event.
The new rules require all animals (except rabbits) to have an official MDA or USDA identification tag before entering exhibitions. The tag must identify which farm or premise the animal came from.
Brands or tattoos on cattle and recognized breed ear notches or tattoos on swine are no longer acceptable as official identification in Maryland exhibitions. All sheep and goats must be officially scrapie-identified with USDA-approved ear tags, tattoos or microchips.
The new exhibition rules impact animals moving within the boundaries of the state and animals being moved into or out of Maryland.
Official identification tags may be requested from MDA by calling 410-841-5810 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pennsylvania announces pilot program to distribute milk through local food banks
Harrisburg – Agriculture Secretary George Greig recently announced Pennsylvanians will be able to access milk at food banks in 27 counties through an innovative milk distribution pilot program.
Greig joined partners from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Harrisburg Dairies and representatives from the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence at the food bank, which will distribute the milk to its affiliates across the state. This program will help 55,000 people served by the food bank.
“Pennsylvania now has a way to serve milk to our citizens who otherwise wouldn’t have access to nature’s perfect beverage,” said Greig. “This opens a new market for our state’s high-quality milk and is the first step to ensuring all Pennsylvanians have access to it.”
Through the public-private partnership, milk will be shipped to Harrisburg Dairies by Pennsylvania dairy farmers to be processed for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. The department will work to ensure that milk is provided at a discounted price to the food bank to better serve Pennsylvanians who use the food bank’s services.
“Milk is one of the most highly-desired and needed food items for our hungry Pennsylvania neighbors”, said Executive Director Joe Arthur. “But milk historically has presented great challenges to food banks and our community partners.
“However, as a result of our great success in ramping up fresh produce sharing, we now have enormous capacity to handle, transport and distribute refrigerated food like milk. This milk program will help us leverage our capacity to greatly expand the amount of fresh milk available to people seeking our help,” said Arthur.
The food bank’s system distributes food to more than 800 soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries in 27 central Pennsylvania counties, serving about 20,000 households weekly. Ninety-five percent of food banks nationwide report they don’t receive enough milk to meet clients’ needs.
“This is a great opportunity for Pennsylvania’s dairy industry,” said Dauphin County dairy farmer Adam Kopp. “We know the power of milk as a nutritious beverage for children and adults. We’re looking forward to supplying this new market and helping Pennsylvanians.”
Honey bee population decline getting federal focus
RICHMOND—Big money is being invested in saving the declining U.S. honey bee population. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it is providing $8 million to help increase the important pollinators’ population.
And in a White House memorandum titled New Steps to Protect Pollinators, Critical Contributors to Our Nation’s Economy, President Obama has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA to co-chair a new Pollinator Health Task Force to identify ways to protect and restore pollinators, including honey bees.
According to the memorandum, “the number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million colonies in 1947 to just 2.5 million today.” Pollinators, including honey bees, contribute more than $24 billion in pollination of crops, wildflowers, forests and gardens, including one-third of American’s food. The President’s 2015 budget allocated about $50 million for research to increase pollinator habitat and for increased funding to survey the impacts of pollinator losses.
“There are a host of issues believed to impact honey bee health,” said Tony Banks, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “Virginia farmers rely heavily on honey bee pollination, so it’s encouraging that additional funding is being made available to research pollinator health.”
The USDA is offering Conservation Reserve Program incentives in five states with the largest commercially managed honey bee operations. The money will help farmers and ranchers establish new habitats for bee populations.
The new CRP pollinator incentive is designed to enhance current CRP land by allowing it to provide better access to pollinator forage. It allows farmers to replace cover crops with high-nutrition seed mixes that support blooming cycles of plants that benefit pollinators. That means honey bees, the pollinator workhorses of U.S. fruit and vegetable agriculture, will have more blooms from which to collect nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.
According to the USDA, more than $15 billion worth of agricultural production depends on the health and well-being of honey bees.
“USDA’s effort to install wildflowers and other blooming plants on CRP land should enhance foraging opportunities for pollinators,” Banks said. “If commercial beekeepers can place their hives in close proximity to the new plantings, it could increase the honey bees’ ability to rest as well as feed and help condition the bees for overwintering.
“This could create a unique research opportunity to study foraging impacts on bee health, the results of which could have application in Virginia and across the country.”
New breeds, historical demonstration highlight Ag Progress Days horse events
UNIVERSITY PARK - A variety of new and returning events will delight horse lovers of all ages who make the trip to Penn State's Ag Progress Days this year, according to organizers in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
The event's Equine Experience, Aug. 12-14, will offer a full schedule of training and breed clinics according to Ann Macrina, senior instructor in the college's Department of Animal Science.
"Dave Rohrbach, of Bee Tree Trail, is returning this year to thrill the crowd with unusual hitch configurations," said Macrina, who coordinates the Equine Experience events. "He and his team will perform once each day, in addition to a special performance during the Wednesday Evening Extravaganza."
On Aug. 12, Cheryl Keller, of New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, will show how retired racehorses transition to new careers when their racing days are finished. Ponies also will make a splash on Tuesday as Sharon Jodon, of Jodon's Stables, demonstrates how children and ponies can make good riding partners.
Miniature horses will be back this year with an all-new performance by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Youth Ambassadors. This group has performed at Horse World Expo and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Highlights on Aug. 13 include a Fjord Horse demonstration by Gina DiSantis, of Let's Dance Dressage. "This breed is gaining in popularity, and Gina DiSantis will show that they can do more than you thought," Macrina said. "Also Wednesday, Rick Shaffer, national-level competitor and judge, will be on hand with his spectacular Paso Finos."
The Wednesday evening program will open with a Salute to America by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Youth Ambassadors, followed by Suzanne Myers, of Next Level Horsemanship.
On Aug. 14, another breed making its first appearance at Ag Progress Days is the Australian Cattle Horse. Erin Smoyer, of the Keystone Australian Stock Horse Stud, will demonstrate this breed's unique contributions.
Other featured events will include drill-team performances and horseback racing games, and the Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Patrol will demonstrate crowd control using horses.
Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 12; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 14. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Facebook users can find the event at http://www.facebook.com/AgProgressDays.
Sandy Adams selected as Commissioner of Agriculture in Virginia
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently appointed Sandra J. “Sandy” Adams Commissioner of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Adams most recently served as acting commissioner of that agency. She succeeds former commissioner Matt Lohr, who resigned in late 2013, and she previously served for three-and-a-half years as VDACS deputy commissioner.
“Virginia’s agribusiness community will be well served with Sandy Adams as Commissioner," said Katie Frazier, President of the Virginia Agribusiness Council. "In her previous roles at VDACS, she has proven herself to be a capable leader and a strong advocate for Virginia’s farmers and agribusinesses."
Adams grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia’s leading agricultural region.
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor welcomed Adams’ appointment. “We look forward to working with Commissioner Adams,” Pryor said. “She’s thoroughly versed in VDACS’ mission and the important services it provides Virginians on farms and from many walks of life.”
Prior to serving as deputy VDACS commissioner, Adams served for 10 years as the agency’s director of administrative and financial services and for three years as its financial director. She also has held positions in the Virginia Department of Taxation.
USDA pledges financial support for Chesapeake Bay riparian buffers
WASHINGTON - USDA Under Secretaries Robert Bonnie and Michael Scuse pledged up to $5 million to state and local partnerships in six states for accelerating tree planting along the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The pledge was made at a summit in Washington, D.C. attended by leaders of Chesapeake Bay water quality restoration efforts.
"Improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay is a top priority of the Obama Administration, and USDA programs can help," said Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Under Secretary Scuse. "We're identifying creative approaches using our existing programs, so that USDA's partnerships with Chesapeake leaders can enhance our mutual goal of preventing soil erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat in this region. That's good not only for future generations, but today's generation."
"Voluntary conservation practices made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill enable us to work with farmers who are interested in taking steps to ensure their practices help conserve the Chesapeake Bay Watershed," said Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. "These conservation efforts help to clean our soil and water, boost outdoor recreation and provides agriculture with the tools needed to remain productive in the years to come."
The conference marks the start of an accelerated strategy of the Chesapeake Riparian Forest Buffer Initiative to promote the establishment of more forested areas, known as "riparian forest buffers," along streams and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, providing natural barriers that can filter sediment, chemicals, and other contaminants from entering into the waterway.
The USDA financial assistance will provide more incentives to private landowners interested in participating in the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) voluntary Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Each Chesapeake Bay state has a CREP in place, which collectively cover the entire watershed. To date, about $500 million in USDA financial assistance has been provided or obligated to farmers enrolling land in the six CREPs.
Farm Credit presents study results at National Value Added Agriculture Conference
BALTIMORE - MidAtlantic Farm Credit partnered with Temple University to conduct a study into the traits and habits of the New Generation farmer. The results were presented at the National Value Added Agriculture Conference, held in Baltimore, Maryland.
Bill Kitsch, sales manager located in MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s Lancaster, Pennsylvania office, and Angel Adams, the association’s marketing manager, presented “The New Generation Farmer: A Market Overview” to a group attending the conference. The abstract outlined common values farmers in the New Generation movement share.
“Our interest in conducting a study like this stems from our desire to serve the new generation farmer,” says Kitsch. “In order to serve this segment of the agricultural community, we have to look at our own business model and exercise some flexibility within our own processes.”
The study found new generation farmers are values-driven and strongly tied to their local community. Organic farming is very common among this agricultural segment and they value sustainable farming practices. “They are good neighbors with a respect for the environment, and a keen focus on their quality of life,” says Kitsch. This segment tends to have strong marketing and creative skills, allowing them think of innovative ways of creating awareness of their product. In addition, new generation farmers have the ability to distribute their products through multiple channels, often selling directly to the customer.
The results of this study have helped MidAtlantic Farm Credit better serve this customer base. “Our Farm Fresh Financing program offers the new generation farmer financing and credit options that are tailored to fit their unique business,” says Bob Frazee, CEO of MidAtlantic Farm Credit. “Farm Credit understands the new generation farmer’s wants and needs, which is why this program and our experience in agricultural lending make us excellent partners.”
The National Value Added Agriculture Conference is held each year in a different city around the country. Presenters discuss ways to enhance food security with innovative practices and opportunities.
Designer crops cropping up on seed websites, in catalogs
RICHMOND - It’s chic to have a backyard garden full of fancy new produce, and nurseries and seed companies are competing to bring gardeners the most colorful and flavorful designer edibles possible.
“People have always sought out new colors and plants for the flower garden, so it’s only natural that the gardener’s pursuit of unusual, rare or new plant varieties would extend to the vegetable garden and orchard,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
“This isn’t a new phenomenon, but with today’s renewed interest in vegetable gardening and greater access to gardening information and seed sources, there is a demand for these so-called designer crops. The attraction of many of these plants is their unusual colors. Color sells, so plant breeders and seed companies are offering a great selection of colors such as yellow and boldly striped tomatoes, purple and yellow radishes, pink pumpkins and more.”
NPR’s blog The Salt recently published an article naming the top new designer crops for 2014.
The pineberry, or pineapple strawberry, has a dramatic color contrast and notes of pineapple flavor. It first appeared in the 1750s in Europe as a cross between an American wild strawberry and a Chilean strawberry. It was a poor producer until 2003, when a Dutch strawberry breeder stepped in to transform it into a stronger plant. Pineberries are now available for the first time in the United States.
Glass Gem corn has translucent rainbow kernels that look more like Swarovski crystals than food. It is a flint corn, not a sweet corn, so it cannot be eaten fresh, but it can be dried and popped for popcorn or ground for polenta or cornbread.
The Indigo Rose tomato was developed with genetic material from wild tomatoes from Chile and the Galapagos Islands. It gets its pigmentation from anthocyanin, the compound that gives blueberries and eggplants their hue.
Oca is a stubby tuber native to Bolivia and Peru that comes in a rainbow of colors from bright pink to dark red to light yellow. When eaten raw, the different varieties taste similar to celery, chestnut or apple. They also can be boiled or fried.
Wasabi is a green-colored root with heart-shaped leaves. It comes from the same family as cabbage, radishes and broccoli and often is enjoyed alongside sushi as a dollop of green paste. That paste, however, often contains more horseradish and green dye than actual wasabi root. Researchers with Washington State University’s extension service worked with 20 different cultivars of wasabi to find one that is suitable for backyard gardening.
Turkey production down, chicken production up in West Virginia
CHARLESTON - The combined value of production and value of sales from broilers, turkeys, eggs, and the value of sales from chickens in West Virginia in 2013 was $336.2 million, up 14 percent from 2012. Of the combined total, 70 percent was from broilers, 16 percent from turkeys, 14 percent from eggs and less than 1 percent from sales of other chickens.
There were 96.8 million broilers produced in West Virginia during 2013, up 3 percent from the number of 94.0 million broilers produced in 2012. Total live weight was 387.2 million pounds, up from 376.0 million pounds in 2012. Value of production totaled $234.6 million, up 25 percent from the 2012 value of $188.0 million. The average live weight equivalent price of 60.6 cents per pound is up from the 2012 average live weight equivalent price of 50.0 cents per pound. Equivalent price is for the commercial producer, not contractees.
Turkeys raised in West Virginia totaled 3.1 million, down 6 percent from the 2012 total of 3.3 million head. Total live weight was 80.6 million pounds, down 10 percent from 89.1 million pounds in 2012. Value of production totaled $53.6 million, down 17 percent from the 2012 value of production of $64.2 million. The average live weight equivalent price was 66.5 cents per pound, down 5.6 cents per pound from the 2012 price of 72.1 cents.
Exports of poultry from Virginia to China will resume
RICHMOND - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced that a seven-year ban on exports of poultry from Virginia to China has been lifted by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and that country’s Ministry of Agriculture.
“This is outstanding news for Virginia’s poultry industry and the many related businesses that work to move product from our family farms into the global marketplace,” McAuliffe said, noting that poultry is the largest individual sector of the state’s agriculture industry. “Increased exports will help support farm-, processing- and transportation-related jobs in the commonwealth. This will also bring enormous business benefits to the Port of Virginia at a critical time for that entity.”
Robert Mills, a Pittsylvania County poultry grower and chairman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Poultry Advisory Committee, agreed. “I think it’s very significant, with the amount of poultry we have in Virginia. Not only does it open up more opportunities for more product to be exported, but it also opens up opportunities for cuts of poultry that we typically don’t use here in the United States as much as they do in China.”
Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, said such products “can be an important income generator for poultry processors. Chicken feet and wing tips may be worth a few cents per pound in the domestic market but can sell for many times this amount in China.”
With the ban rescinded, “we believe that Virginia stands to gain $20 million or more in export sales each year,” Haymore said.
China instituted the ban in 2007 following an isolated case of low pathogenic avian influenza reported on a single Virginia farm. It applied to all poultry produced in Virginia, as well as to all poultry transiting through Virginia or exported from any port in Virginia. State officials have long contended that the ban was not justified by scientific data, as the avian influenza occurrence did not pose a food safety or poultry health risk.
China is one of the top foreign markets for U.S. poultry, purchasing more than $416 million in 2013, with Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina as leading suppliers. It also is Virginia’s top market for agricultural and forestry exports other than poultry.
Virginia’s work to resolve the ban with federal and Chinese officials began in late 2007 under then-Gov. Tim Kaine and has included efforts by numerous state and federal officials and members of Virginia’s Congressional delegation, along with the Virginia Poultry Federation and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
TN introduces new Mobile App for farms, farmers' markets
NASHVILLE - A “Pick Tennessee” mobile app is now available which can find and then map the way to locally grown farm products, farms and farmers markets. The free app, downloadable from both iTunes for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices, is the latest advancement of Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products promotion.
“I’m proud to introduce this new face of an old friend,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Pick Tennessee Products has thrived for 28 years not only by providing real and valuable services, but also by having the flexibility to adapt to change—changing cultures, consumer demands, and technology."
“Our government services must anticipate needs not just for the current year, but for 15 years down the road. With the new Pick Tennessee mobile app, we now reach consumers where they already expect to find us—on their phones and other digital devices.”
The Pick Tennessee mobile app allows users to search by item, like “apples,” by region of the state, or season. The mobile app then provides directions to the chosen location through direct GPS mapping.
“Every Tennessee farmer or farm product producer who sells directly to the public can visit the Pick Tennessee Products website and apply to become part of this extraordinary free service,” Johnson said. “If a farm is listed on Pick Tennessee Products, that farm is automatically available on the new Pick Tennessee mobile app for GPS mapping.”
The Pick Tennessee mobile app can keep track of favorites and provides links to seasonal recipes, handy tips and fun facts, as well as the full Pick Tennessee Products website. Farm direct and local items on the app include options as varied as local fruits and vegetables, wineries, greenhouses and plant nurseries, Christmas tree farms, and local honey. The items can be searched by the farm where they’re produced, or the markets where they’re sold.
Weekly crop progress reports
Which was the most recent U.S. President to be a
member of the FFA?
a. Barack Obama
b. George Bush
c. Jimmy Carter
d. Bill Clinton
Answer: There has been only one - President Jimmy Carter was a member of the White Plains FFA Chapter in Georgia.
Previous Question: The average American eats 8 pounds of cantaloupe each year. What is the cantaloupe named after?
a. A river in Denmark
b. The third Pope of the 18th century
c. A color
d. A castle in Italy
Answer - d. The cantaloupe was supposedly named for the summer vacation estate (castle) Cantalou, a former Papal garden near Rome, where the variety was developed.
Previous Question: North Carolina farmers grow a lot of apples and peaches. But neither of these crops is the Official State Fruit of North Carolina. What is the Official State Fruit of North Carolina?
c. Scuppernong grape
Answer: c. North Carolina designated the Scuppernong grape as the official state fruit in 2001. A scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine (a type of grape native to southeastern U.S.). The grape was named after the Scuppernong River of North Carolina, where it was first discovered. The word Scuppernong is from the Algonquian Indian word ascopo which means "sweet bay tree."
North Carolina State Farmers
Market to host Watermelon Day July 31
Corn production estimate
Cargill to remove
growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys
Source: Cargill News Release
Hydroponic lettuce takes root in
Cover crops demonstration plot
to be featured at Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania
Maryland issues Buy Local
N.C. peach season on tap to be a
successful in WV
NC farmers, gardeners urged to
submit soil sample information online
Pennsylvania corn growers warned
of possible cutworm increase
N.C. peach growers approve
Pennsylvania adds 28 farms,
nearly 2,800 acres to preservation program
Potato trials underway in WV;
Spuds seen as part of "$6 billion opportunity" for farmers
Some Pennsylvania counties see surge in agricultural economy
HARRISBURG - Several counties in the Keystone State saw big increases in livestock and crop production between 2007 and 2012.
Pennsylvania’s total market value of
livestock and animal products sold increased 17 percent to
$4.62 billion dollars in 2012 compared to 2007. The recent
USDA Census of agriculture shows the Pennsylvania counties
with the largest market value of sales of livestock and
animal products were:
Cover crops and soil health awareness gaining
popularity in South Carolina
Agribusiness management degree
now available through Penn State Online
Virginia poultry industry to be focus of "showcase facility" at Rockingham County Fairgrounds
HARRISONBURG – The Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg is renovating and expanding poultry facilities on the Fairgrounds this spring. The goal is to showcase the historic and economic importance of the Virginia poultry industry as well as to provide new and expanded space for exhibitor show birds during the annual County Fair. The Rockingham County Fair has been recognized on numerous occasions as one of the top agricultural Fairs in North America and is dedicating 2014 as “The Year of the Farm Family.”
“This project has been a long time in the making,” says Jeff Ishee, GM for the Rockingham County Fair Association. The current poultry exhibit building was transported to its present-day site in 1980 after being used for numerous years at the old Kratzer Road site of the County Fair. “It’s time for a make-over,” emphasized Ishee, who added the renovated building and another, poultry-related new-construction building are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2014 County Fair. Attendance at the 2013 Fair set a new record at 88,885 people.
The Fair Association and various poultry companies with operations in Rockingham County developed a plan several months ago to recognize the historic and economic importance of the Shenandoah Valley poultry industry. Construction of the new showcase building began in late March.
“This is a big story and it needs to be told,” remarked poultry industry pioneer Charles Wampler, Jr. of Dayton. “I am pleased more people will learn about the significance of chicken and turkey production and the farm families involved.” The Wampler family was an integral part of the reason Rockingham County has become known around the world as the “Turkey Capital.” Wampler was also the 1st President of the Rockingham County Fair Association in 1949.
The old poultry building used for more than 3 decades is undergoing a complete, top-to-bottom makeover and will contain interactive displays, historic artifacts, and educational exhibits. Two prominent statues (one chicken and one turkey) will welcome visitors at the main entrance. Another building for exhibiting live birds during the County Fair will be new construction from the ground up. It will be used to host other Fairgrounds events throughout the year.
Funding is being provided by private donors, poultry companies and agriculture-related interests. The Fair Association is also being considered for a grant from the Rural Rehabilitation Trust Fund administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The project has received endorsements from Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as well as the encouragement of local elected officials.
“Our mission statement requires us to
promote agriculture and be a leader in the presentation and
promotion of farm life and food production,” says Fair
Association President Don Liskey of Cross Keys. “This is a
win-win situation for the Fair and the poultry industry.
Visitors to the Fair will learn all about the importance of
chicken and turkey production here in the Shenandoah