e-mail: info@onthefarmradio.com

Farm News for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Note: Some stories are written in broadcast style

Large U.S. apple crop expected

RICHMOND—The nation’s fall apple crop is expected to be a big one, with a potential record crop in Washington offsetting lighter crops in the two other main apple-producing states, New York and Michigan.

Early estimates from the Premier Apple Cooperative in New York and the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association indicate the national fresh and processing apple crop could reach 260 million 40-pound boxes, the third-largest crop on record.

There could be an oversupply of apples nationally, but a huge national crop is more manageable now than in previous years. That’s due to a better varietal mix and quality and to fast food restaurants using more apple slices.

While Virginia production is a long way, volume-wise, from that of Washington, the commonwealth is the nation’s sixth-largest producer of apples in both volume and acreage. Virginia orchards produced 4.6 million bushels of apples in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. More than half of last year’s crop was sold for processing into products like apple juice and applesauce.

“Right now our crop here in Virginia appears to be fair,” said Spencer Neale, director of commodity marketing for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “There have been reports of damaging hail in some orchards, too much moisture in some and not enough in others. It very much depends on the region. The next few weeks will be critical to finishing the crop, and then we will begin to see exactly what we have.”

Maryland awards $1 Million for Innovative Manure Management Technologies

POCOMOKE - The Maryland Department of Agriculture recently awarded more than $1 million in grants for three animal waste management technology projects. Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance, Maryland Energy Administration Director Abigail Ross Hopper, along with other state and local officials, joined together for a check presentation ceremony to Planet Found Energy Development and Green Mountain Technologies for implementation of their demonstration projects. The event was held at Millennium Farms in Worcester County.

“By working to reach our sustainability goals, we’ll grow our renewable energy portfolio and reduce the amount of run-off going into our precious Bay. This program is a win-win for our State,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Investing in Maryland’s in-state renewable energy boosts our economy, ensures that we have abundant energy resources well into the future and creates more jobs and opportunity for more Marylanders.”

The O’Malley/Brown Administration’s investment in innovation led to the revitalization of the Animal Waste Technology Fund. The Fund provides incentives to companies that demonstrate new technologies on farms and provide alternative strategies for managing animal manure. These technologies generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products. MDA plans to award a total of $2 million of the $2.5 million available in FY2014. Funds not awarded during FY2014 will be added to a new round of requests for proposals to demonstrate innovative manure management technologies, totaling $3 million in FY2015.

“These projects will help farmers address challenges in managing manure under new nutrient management requirements,” said Secretary Hance. “Projects funded have the potential to increase energy independence, enhance animal waste management, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gases – all of which will result in advanced Chesapeake Bay restoration and help farms become sustainable.”

National Corn Growers Assn. comments on "massive crop"

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reports:

With the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimating a record corn supply of 15.2 billion bushels this coming year, the National Corn Growers Association is keeping a close eye on prices and pushing back against efforts that will reduce demand for the bountiful supply.

"Now is not the time for our federal policymakers to be cutting into the ethanol standard, imposing undue regulations or going slow on trade agreements," said NCGA President Martin Barbre.

"Our farmers are doing their part, working hard and smart on their farms to bring in a good crop. It's time Washington removed obstacles and cleared a path so we can sell America's biggest and most versatile crop at a good and fair price."

In its crop production and supply-and-demand reports released today, USDA estimated a record average national corn yield of 167.4 bushels per acre. Factoring in 83.8 million acres expected to be harvested brings the 2014 crop at 14.0 billion bushels and the overall supply at 15.2 billion bushels.

Due to the increased production, the average farm price was lowered a dime from its July estimate, to a range of $3.55 to $4.25 per bushel.

When it comes to corn prices and the cost of growing corn, Barbre cited three areas NCGA is watching in particular that affect its grower members. First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting by 10 percent the amount of corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, a step that means future years also may see reductions.

At the same time, EPA has proposed new regulations regarding the Clean Water Act and the definition of which waters will be covered. Farmers need clarity and the proposed rule regarding "Waters of the U.S." needs to be fixed. Farmers cannot afford more regulatory uncertainty that drives up costs, Barbre said.

Finally, to help exports of corn and corn products, NCGA is pushing for modernized Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation as provided in the bi-partisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. This would improve our nation's ability to advance trade agreements that open markets for U.S. farmers.

Turkey industry pleased with USDA action

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Turkey Federation praised USDA for moving forward with its Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule.

USDA recently released the final version of the rule, which will allow poultry plants nationwide the option to implement an enhanced inspection program that focuses even greater attention on the prevention of microbiological hazards.

This enhanced program was previously was limited to 25 pilot plants, but now that the rule has been finalized, NTF said it expects many turkey plants to adopt the new system.

"USDA is to be commended for standing up for food safety in the face of significant pressure," said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. "Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection provides additional tools to plants and federal inspectors to verify that plant food-safety programs are protecting against foodborne illness.

"By allowing plant employees to conduct some preliminary sorting duties, federal inspectors will be freed to further verify testing on the spot, examine sanitation standards and enforcing safeguards throughout a processing plant."

NTF and its members view this as the most significant step forward in food safety since the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulation of 1996. That regulation was a turning point on changing meat inspection from one that was largely visual to one that included testing for microbiological hazards.

"HACCP has enhanced food safety considerably, and this expands on the concepts of that rule. It's the next logical step in the evolution of food safety," Brandenberger said.

NTF will continue to work with those members who opt to utilize the system and with USDA to ensure smooth implementation.

NC State professor wins award for work in animal nutrition

Jack Odle, Ph.D., an animal scientist at North Carolina State University, was recently presented with the New Frontiers in Animal Nutrition Award Sunday as part of the Nutrition Research Awards. The award is sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association and the Federation of Animal Science Societies.

This is the 67th year AFIA has presented the Nutrition Research Awards, and the 11th consecutive year the organization has sponsored the FASS award. The purpose of the New Frontiers in Animal Nutrition Award is to stimulate, acknowledge and reward pioneering and innovative research relevant to animal nutrition.

The award recipient must demonstrate outstanding and innovative contributions to nutrition research concerning animals that benefit mankind and/or the nutritional value of food from animals. Odle manages a research program focused on "Nutritional Biochemistry of the Neonate."

"His research has relevance to both agriculture and to medicine in that his laboratory uses piglets as a model for neonatal nutrition and metabolism," said Richard Sellers, AFIA senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. "His research, focused on lipid metabolism and on intestinal health, has previously received recognition by the society as he was awarded a Young Researcher Award, the Non-ruminant Nutrition Award and the Animal Growth & Development Award."

Odle has received $8 million for research, published 367 papers, abstracts and technical reports, and has trained 50 graduate students, post doctorates and visiting scientists.

Odle received his bachelor's degree with highest honors in animal science from Purdue University and his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a concentration in nutritional biochemistry.

After five years as Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, he joined the Department of Animal Science at North Carolina State University in 1995 and was named William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in 2005.

Peanut farming has its roots in Southeast Virginia

WAVERLY — Virginia’s peanut-farming roots are plenty deep. The first commercial crop of peanuts in the United States was actually produced in 1842 in Southeast Virginia.

The Virginia-type peanut is known for its large kernels compared to the other three types grown in the United States, said Dell Cotton, executive secretary of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association. The majority of Virginia-type peanut production in the United States takes place in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“The larger Virginia kernels support various prominent industries. The in-shell peanut is sold in grocery stores and at sporting events. The shelled extra-large kernels are used as cocktail peanuts. The super-extra-large kernels are used by gourmet processors to cook and package, usually in tins, for distribution,” Cotton said.

Virginia-grown peanuts are produced in about eight localities in the southeastern part of the state, where sandy soils are conducive to their growth. They typically are planted in May and harvested at the end of September or first part of October.

Kevin Monahan in Sussex County has grown peanuts on his multi-generational farm for 31 years. He used to farm with his uncle and grandfather, and now he farms with his sons, Drew and Brad. The family still grows peanuts on a farm that belonged to Monahan’s great-great-grandfather.

This summer he is growing 135 acres of Virginia-type peanuts—100 acres for seed and another 35 acres that will be sold as an in-shell product.

“Peanuts take a lot of work to grow,” Monahan said. “You have to scout the plants for diseases and keep them sprayed to prevent disease.”

Monahan used to grow as many as 350 acres of peanuts when the federal quota system was in place. Passage of the 2002 Farm Bill ended the 70-year-old federal system of production and price controls, and it was replaced with a more market-oriented approach.

“With the quota system we knew we could get a certain amount of money per ton of peanuts, and we planned our peanut acreage based on the average yield from the previous year,” Monahan said. He and other farmers now plant peanut acreage based on contracts with peanut processing companies, called shellers.

“I found I do a better job managing the peanuts since I reduced the number of acres we grow,” Monahan said. “It used to take a month in the fall to get all of those peanuts in, and now if we have good harvest conditions, it takes about 8 to 10 days.”

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."

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.

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 animal.disease.traceability@maryland.gov.

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.”

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.

Weekly crop progress reports

North Carolina Maryland
Pennsylvania South Carolina
Tennessee Virginia
West Virginia  

Trivia Question:
True or false - Pigs are native to North America.

a. True
b. False

Answer: b Hernando de Soto, the famous Spanish explorer, brought the first pig to North America in 1539. (Cows didn’t get here until 1611 with the Pilgrims).

Previous Question -
Which nation produces the most lamb?

a. China
b. New Zealand
c. Turkey
d. United States

Answer: a. China. World sheep and lamb numbers are similar to those that existed in the 1960s. However, productivity increases have caused total world production to climb from 11 billion pounds in 1965 to 18 billion pounds last year. China is the largest producer with 4.4 billion pounds followed by the European Union (1.9 billion pounds), Australia (1.4 billion pounds), and New Zealand (1 billion pounds). Although world production has increased, demand has increased more than supply and resulted in record prices over the past few years.

Previous Question:
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.



Safe Food classes offered in Mountain State

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will offer a Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices (GHP/GAP) class Sept. 12 in Charleston, to help West Virginia food producers protect consumers from food-borne illnesses.

The class will be held at the Guthrie Agricultural Center in Building 2, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Cost of the class is $25 and includes several handout materials. The class prepares producers for a GHP/GAP audit.

While neither the classes, nor the audits, are required by the state, some wholesalers and institutions require suppliers to have GHP/GAP certification. Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick says the program also gives participants an advantage over producers that don’t have GHP/GAP certification.

“A key component to “growing growers” in the state of West Virginia is to increase the marketability of our products. GHP/GAP certification is the first step in taking agriculture in our state to the next level,” said Commissioner Helmick. “Although currently voluntary, certification would be extremely beneficial to any grower who would like to enter the wholesale/larger retail market. It is our goal to see West Virginia grown products not only in all our local homes, restaurants and institutions, but across the United States and beyond. GHP/GAP certification can help us achieve that goal.”

For more registration information, contact Melissa Beller at 304-558-2210 or mbeller@wvda.us. For more information on the GHP-GAP process, contact Cindy Bailey at 304-558-3200 or cbailey@wvda.us.



Pennsylvania August crop forecast published

HARRISBURG - Based on August 1, 2014 forecasts for yield and production, the Keystone State's farmers expect to have a record-breaking year for soybean production, according to the Northeastern Regional Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean acreage for harvest is set at 600,000 acres, up 65,000 acres from last year. The expected yield, based on August 1 conditions, is 49 bushels per acre, unchanged from the final yield for 2013. Total production, at 29.4 million bushels, is up 12 percent from 2013. If realized, this would be a record production for Pennsylvania.

Winter wheat acres harvested totaled 165,000, which is 5,000 acres more than last year. The winter wheat yield as of August 1 is estimated at 65 bushels per acre. The resulting winter wheat production of 10.725 million bushels is 1 percent lower than last year.

Barley acreage for harvest, at 55,000, is 5,000 acres less than 2013. Barley yield is forecast at 68 bushels per acre, unchanged from the July 1 forecast and unchanged from the final yield for 2013. Barley production is expected to be 3.74 million bushels, 8 percent below last year's production.

Corn acreage to be harvested for grain at 1,000,000 acres, is 90,000 acres less than 2013. Based on crop conditions as of August 1, corn yield is forecast at 149 bushels per acre, which is 2 bushels per acre more than last year's final yield. The current forecast of corn for grain production, at 149.0 million bushels is down 7 percent from last year.



Virginia poultry industry is focus of new "showcase facility" at Rockingham County Fairgrounds

HARRISONBURG – The Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg expanded it's poultry facilities on the Fairgrounds this summer. 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 was time for a make-over,” emphasized Ishee, who added the renovated building and another, poultry-related new-construction building have been 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 Virginia 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 underwent a complete, top-to-bottom makeover and now contains interactive displays, historic artifacts, and educational exhibits. Two prominent statues (one chicken and one turkey) welcome visitors at the main entrance. Another building for exhibiting live birds during the County Fair will be used to host other Fairgrounds events throughout the year.

Funding was provided by private donors, poultry companies and agriculture-related interests. The Fair Association also received 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 Virginia.”




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.



Cargill to remove growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys

Cargill's Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms are now the first major turkey brands to remove growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys across the independent farms they work with, without charging a premium price. Based on consumer research and feedback, these brands are pioneering efforts to provide families with new, affordable, turkey choices.

Cargill worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a three-part verification process for turkey production that exceeds all current government and industry standards:

• All turkeys are raised by independent farmers
• Producers are trained on proper animal handling practices
• No antibiotics are used for growth promotion (antibiotics only used for treatment of illness and disease prevention)

"Consumer research tells us people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and how it is produced," said Ruth Kimmelshue, president of the Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats business.

"We believe ending the use of antibiotics to promote growth in turkeys is an important step that provides consumers with nutritious and affordable options. Working with our broad network of independent farmers, Cargill has the experience, resources and capabilities to successfully make this change and meet the needs of our customers and consumers."

Cargill's initiative to remove growth-promoting antibiotics was reinforced last December when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a three-year plan to phase out the use of antibiotics that are medically important in human health and are also used to improve growth or feed efficiency in livestock and poultry.

"Fresh, whole turkeys raised without growth-promoting antibiotics will be available this Thanksgiving under Cargill's signature brand labels, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms," Kimmelshue said. "All Cargill turkey flocks will be free of growth-promoting antibiotics by the end of 2015."

Consumer concerns over responsible use of antibiotics in animal production has made many people more curious about how their food is produced, but only slightly more than half read nutrition labels or ingredient lists. However, 62 percent of consumers would be very, or extremely, interested in purchasing turkey that has not received growth stimulants.

Cargill is proud to work with independent farms to raise turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics. The company's farmer partners have been trained on industry leading animal handling practices established by the National Turkey Federation, which enables handlers to provide the best care for the animals.

The health and wellness of animals is of utmost importance to Cargill, and antibiotics will still be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian to treat and prevent disease.

Source: Cargill News Release



Hydroponic lettuce takes root in eastern NC

AYDEN — Jedd Koehn is a young and innovative agricultural entrepreneur. Raised on an organic row-crop farm in western Kansas, he moved to North Carolina about nine years ago, wanting to live “where it was green.”

Last November, his Pitt County company, Coastal Plains Produce, harvested its first crop of hydroponic lettuce. Now he finds himself surrounded by lots of green: 13 kinds of lettuce, plus watercress, arugula and dandelion greens.

Hydroponic lettuce offers several advantages over field-grown lettuce. First of all, it can be grown and harvested all year. Secondly, it is cleaner — no soil on the roots or in the leaves, no worries about contamination with E. coli. The greenhouse environment provides more control over temperature fluctuations and cuts down on pest problems. Heads of lettuce with roots still attached stay fresher longer as they go to market protected individually in clamshells.

Still, there are challenges involved with hydroponic production. The plants grow in water that has to be constantly monitored. Is there enough water in the float beds? Is the pH within an acceptable range? Are optimal amounts of nutrients being provided?

To get a handle on these issues, Koehn has been sending samples of his well water and float-bed nutrient solution to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for solution analysis. This test, which costs $5 per sample, provides useful information on the properties and nutrient content of water used for specific agricultural purposes. It is useful in evaluating the suitability of source water, irrigation water and nutrient solutions.

“I found that my well water has a naturally high pH of about 7.3,” Koehn said, “and the float-bed water was low in micronutrients.”

Fortunately, solution reports provide recommendations for alleviating any problems detected. They also provide contact information so growers who desire more specific advice can consult with experts. Koehn has been consulting closely with department agronomists Aaron Pettit and Chris Jernigan.

Pettit, an agronomist at the Agronomic Services Division’s laboratory in Raleigh, explained how high pH in a float-bed solution could reduce availability of micronutrients to the crop. He provided instructions for correcting the situation by adding sulfuric acid to the float beds. Pettit also suggested that Koehn contact regional agronomist Chris Jernigan, who covers Pitt County and could work more closely with him.

Frequent sampling is beneficial

Photo of lettuceKoehn started out collecting solution samples about once a month, but now he sees the benefit of sampling more often. Summer heat, which causes evaporation, and the addition of acid to lower pH make it necessary to keep close tabs on float-bed solution quality. Since it only takes about five-and-a-half weeks to produce a crop of lettuce in the summer, as opposed to eight weeks in the winter, he must check the nutrient solution more frequently to ensure optimal production.

“When I receive a solution report, I usually spend a day adjusting fertility based on the report data and recommendations,” Koehn said. “I’m particularly interested in pH and EC.”

EC, or electrical conductivity, is one of the measurements provided on the solution report. It is a general indicator of the amount of fertilizer dissolved in solution. When it is above the range indicated as acceptable on the report, then too much fertilizer is present and plants may become dehydrated or show salt injury.

“Jedd is very much on the right track,” Jernigan said. “He’s battling some new situations this summer, but he’s staying on top of it. He’ll call me and say ‘I’ve calculated my fertilizer rate to be this. Will you check behind me?’ He’s determined to get it right. He’s not taking chances.”

Because Koehn is relatively new to hydroponic production, the agronomic advice has been important. “I’m learning all the time,” he said, “and these guys (Jernigan and Pettit) are helping me along. They’ve helped me with the sampling and with getting my nutrients right. They’ve been a lifesaver.”

Koehn sells lettuce through wholesaler Blue Sky Farms in Wendell. The Chef and The Farmer restaurant in Kinston also features “Jedd’s lettuce” on its menu. Koehn hopes the quality of his lettuce will make it compete successfully with field-grown lettuce throughout summer.

The Agronomic Services Division has a staff of regional agronomists who can make on-site visits and help growers solve nutrient-related problems. Contact information is available online at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/rahome.htm.



Farm-to-School program successful in WV

Greenbrier County, WV is no stranger to agriculture. It boasts the third highest number of farms in the Mountain State at 819. It also has one of the state’s largest FFA programs. Perhaps this is why the county’s Farm To School program has enjoyed such success at both the middle and high school level.

FFA member Alex Hanna of Renick says he has been growing crops for as long as he can remember. This past year, with the help of his family, advisors, and fellow ag students, Alex raised sweet corn to be sold in Kanawha County schools. When all was said and done, Alex sold several thousand ears of fresh sweet corn to 15 different schools in Kanawha County.

The sweet corn sale, which was also a part of Alex’s SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project, was a huge step for the fairly young Farm To Schools program in Greenbrier County.

“We are starting to get more [involvement] and we have several students in Ag that have provided different varieties of crops. Hopefully the program gets even stronger, and of course I plan to continue to be involved in that and sell produce to local schools in Greenbrier and neighboring counties,” he said.

“We got all positive feedback. They were happy and I felt good exposing the kids to fresh and healthy food. It was hard work, but it was worth it in the end.”

The Farm To Schools program in Greenbrier County has also brought local and student grown products to the county’s own school cafeterias. Eastern Greenbrier Middle School and Western Greenbrier Middle School have seen the development of a cafeteria “garden bars” composed of fresh vegetables and fruits produced by students and local small farms.

The gardening program at the Greenbrier middle schools has also opened the gate for agricultural enrichment programs and summer school sessions, where students can get more hands-on experience in the school gardens.

Officials credit AmeriCorps worker Emily Landseidel for her work in the county’s two middle schools. Working through the County Child Nutrition office, Landseidel has acted as the Farm to School Coordinator for Greenbrier County, helping to integrate fresh foods into the cafeteria and agricultural awareness in the classrooms of Greenbrier County’s two middle schools.

Landseidel smiles in her pink Farm To School t-shirt, a measure of pride in her expression. “Does it engage them and get them involved in actively learning about their surroundings and how different things function on this planet?” She laughs. “Yes. Definitely.”



NC farmers, gardeners urged to submit soil sample information online

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is reminding growers and gardeners to get a head start on their planting projects by submitting soil samples now. There is no fee currently, and reports are available in one to two weeks. Also, sample information forms can now be completed and submitted online for more accurate and efficient processing.

“As the weather warms up, homeowners start focusing more on yard and garden maintenance and landscaping projects, which could benefit from soil sampling and agronomic advice,” said Jagathi Kamalakanthan, NCDA&CS soil testing agronomist. “Submitting samples during the off-peak times ensures faster turnaround times and no fees for this service. Plus, you will have the information in plenty of time to put fall gardening plans and yard or pasture renovations in place.”

The peak season for submitting soil samples is December through March, when a $4 fee is charged per sample. Off-season times are April through November, when no fees are charged.

Many home gardeners drop off their soil samples along with a hand-written sample information form at the nearest county Cooperative Extension office. The new online procedure requires a little forethought but is worth the effort. Before going to the extension office, clients should visit the Agronomic Services Division’s Public-Access Laboratory Information Management System website at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/pals, create a user account, and respond to a verification email. Then, they can fill out and submit their sample information form online. A copy of the electronic form should be sent along with the samples to the soil lab as usual.

There are several good reasons to establish a PALS account. It is a great way for the grower or home owner to take charge of the accuracy of their information. Clients can directly enter, update and correct their name, address and other details. This procedure reduces errors and duplications that invariably occur when staff must key in data from handwritten forms.

“Once an account is created, online submission is also a great time saver,” Kamalakanthan said. “For all future submissions, the client’s information is automatically filled in.”

Another advantage of having a PALS account is that clients are always notified by email when their report is completed and posted online. Every account is associated with a verified email address.

Although the agency prefers that clients set up an account, having one is not necessary to search for reports online or to submit samples with a hand-written form. However, if clients do not put a valid email address on the sample information form, they will not receive notification when their report becomes available online. The division does not routinely mail soil test reports.

Step-by-step instructions on how to create a PALS account, submit soil sample information online, and search for reports are available online at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/.



N.C. peach growers approve assessment

RALEIGH — North Carolina peach growers approved an assessment that will fund research and marketing efforts. The assessment received a necessary two-thirds majority vote from eligible peach growers during a mail-in referendum in April.

The annual assessment will be based on the total number of peach trees per commercial orchard. Those who grow between 100 and 500 trees will be assessed $100. Growers with 501 to 2,500 trees will be assessed $250. Those who grow more than 2,500 trees will be assessed $350.

The assessment goes into effect January 2015 and remains in effect through December 2020. Funds will be collected by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and distributed to the N.C. Peach Growers Society. The society will determine how to allocate the money to improve peach research and marketing efforts in the state.

North Carolina is the 13th-largest peach producer in the nation. In 2012, the state grew 5,300 tons of peaches. The majority of the state’s peaches are sold directly to consumers at farmers markets and roadside stands.

More information about North Carolina’s peach industry is available on the N.C. Peach Growers Society’s website at www.ncpeachgrowers.com.



Pennsylvania adds 28 farms, nearly 2,800 acres to preservation program

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board recently safeguarded 2,778 additional acres on 28 farms in 13 counties through the state’s nationally renowned farmland preservation program.

The board preserved far​ms in Bedford, Bucks, Center, Chester, Cumberland, Erie, Lancaster, Mercer, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.

Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.2 billion to preserve 489,409 acres on 4,586 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.

“The best agriculture land is often the best land for development, but our farmland preservation program ensures prime soils stay in farming,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “I thank the producers who want to preserve their land and the people behind the scenes who make it happen. Together, we’re preserving agriculture, the cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s economy.”

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.

In some cases, the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program provides additional assistance. Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania received $4.2 million in federal reimbursements.




Potato trials underway in WV; Spuds seen as part of "$6 billion opportunity" for farmers

CHARLESTON - West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick recently announced that a potato-testing project is being conducted during the 2014 growing season on tracts of WVDA property located adjacent to the Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County and the Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County.

Helmick said that up to 14 different varietals have been planted at both sites and the results generated from the two projects will be utilized to determine which types of potatoes will provide the most productive yields in those two regions of the state.

The testing will also help to detail a framework for future potato planting on both state-owned and private farmland to help meet the growing demand for this crop both inside and outside of West Virginia.

“As I’ve been saying since taking office last year, we have a $6 billion opportunity here in West Virginia and what it really amounts to is being able to grow fresh products in West Virginia for West Virginians to consume,” Commissioner Helmick said. “This potato project at Lakin and Huttonsville will establish a solid baseline for which varietals will perform the best in those regions of the state and we will use that to begin boosting potato production in West Virginia so that we don’t have to import them from other states.

“It will also help us to continue in our efforts to attract large scale potato buyers to do business with us,” Commissioner Helmick added. “We’ve been working diligently to establish some aggregation sites in various locations across the state so we can assist farmers in establishing a reliable market and distribution network for our West Virginia grown products.

“This testing project is the next step in the process.”



Cover crops and soil health awareness gaining popularity in South Carolina

Nearly 100 farmers recently gathered in Dillon County, S.C. to see why some farmers are raving about the benefits of cover crops. A few groups hosted a field day to illustrate first-year findings resulting from demonstrations made possible through a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded the three-year grant to the soil and water conservation districts in Richland, Dillon and Marlboro counties and the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute at the University of South Carolina (USC).

The project involves five farmers in three counties across South Carolina who agreed to plant multispecies cover crops each fall, vary the amount of nitrogen they apply each spring and record their cash crop yields.

The nutrient benefit that the cover crops provide can be measured by looking at soil respiration, or 24-hour carbon dioxide production, using a special test called the Haney-Brinton test.

Science shows that soil respiration is closely related to the amount of nitrogen that will be released for plant growth. In the study, the participating farmers will apply the traditional recommended rate of commercial nitrogen to one half of the test field, and based on the Haney-Brinton quantification, a lesser amount to the other half.

“We expect to see little to no difference in yield between the regular nitrogen and lower nitrogen applications,” said Buz Kloot, a USC professor.

Kloot says as the costs of inputs rise, farmers are becoming more interested in the idea that increased soil health can provide real benefits that include increased soil moisture, better crop yields, lower weed pressure, reduced inputs and lower costs.

“It was really gratifying to see a room full of growers seriously interested in soil health and in the outcomes of our field demonstrations,” said Chanda Cooper, the education coordinator for the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District.

Cooper said the next step of the project is conducting spring soil respiration tests, which will be used to make recommendations for commercial nitrogen reduction.

“The five farmers participating in this project are innovators and spokesmen for soil health and conservation,” she said. “Their enthusiasm and commitment to the work, and their testimony to their peers, is more meaningful than any set of results that a test can generate.”