USDA Extends Comment Period for Ag Conservation Easement

USDA_logoThe USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that the deadline for public comment on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) interim rule has been extended to May 28, 2015.  Comments should go to Public Comments, Docket Number NRCS-2014-0011, Regulatory & Policy Team, USDA NRCS, 5601 Sunnyside Building, 1-1112D, Beltsville, MD 20705 or electronically via regulations.gov.

Crop Insurance Self Certification Due June 1

USDA_logoAgricultural producers seeking Federal Crop Insurance subsidies in 2015 must verify that they are controlling erosion on vulnerable fields and protecting wetlands. This also applies to orchards and vineyards. Form AD-1026 must be on file with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA): http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/eForms/AD1026.PDF

Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadline Extended

USDA_logoOn December 4, one day before the original deadline, USDA announced that the application deadline for the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) will be extended until December 19, 2014.  Established by the 2014 Farm Bill, the program protects participating dairy producers when the margin -difference between price of milk and feed costs – falls below the level of protection selected by the applicant.  USDA also urged agricultural producers to utilize an Internet resource, www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, to calculate the best levels of coverage applicable to their dairy operation.  PA Secretary of Agriculture George Grieg noted that producers should see that the cost is only a  $100 administrative fee in order to have a $4 margin that covers 90% of the farm’s annual production.  In addition to the Farm Services Agency (www.fsa.usda.gov ), PDA‘s risk management specialist, Jordan Stasyszyn may be reached at 717/705-9511 or jstasyszyn@pa.gov.

2015: International Year of Soils

SoilsOn December 5, USDA announced that it was promoting the United Nations’ designation of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, an effort to promote the importance of soils in everyday life.

According to the media release, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization spearheaded the international effort because the “year of awareness aims to increase understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.”  Details: www.nrcs.usda.gov/.

There may be some state specific observances of the International Year of Soils organized by the PA Association of Professional Soil Scientists, details pending.

Crop Insurance Initiatives from USDA

USDA logo crop insuranceWASHINGTON, D.C. – Crop Insurance Initiatives from USDA were advanced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a September 25 media release.  Two new programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are meant to provide farmers with an alternative to direct payment programs eliminated by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Both of these new programs offer protection when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices and/or revenues.  USDA also announced a farmer resource to help calculate what each program could mean to them.  (www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-pic)

September 29 marks the first date when farmers may visit their local Farm Service Agency office if they wish to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres — the first step before choosing which program is best suited to meeting their specific risk management needs.  NOTE:  Although not referenced in the USDA release, farmers should also be contacting their Crop Insurance agent on a regular basis to keep aware of developments in the new ARC and PLC programs. Agent locator: www.rma.usda.gov.

Ag Progress Days

Ag progress Days Crowd and Tents_0ROCK SPRINGS – The 2014 Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences AG PROGRESS Days August 12-14 in Rock Springs features a wide variety of programs, several of which are listed below.  (Complete listing at http://agsci.psu.edu/apd/events)

  •  Marcellus Shale: August 12 includes no fewer than five programs including Post-Leasing Issues for Landowners and Negotiating Natural Gas Pipeline Easements in Agricultural Land.  In addition, DEP will present a program on how Marcellus Shale natural gas resources are regulated as well as describing proposed revisions currently under consideration.
  • Public Policy: Farm Bill Dairy Margin Protection; Public Forum on 2014 Farm Bill and State of PA Agriculture; House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee Public Hearing.  These are all on August 13.
  • Conservation/Environment: USDA Agricultural Research Service is presenting a program August 14 on Riparian conservation for managed grazing lands.  It ties conservation objectives (habitat, nutrients, sediments) to agricultural production objectives (watering source, maximizing land productivity) with management options (moveable fence, flash grazing).ROCK SPRINGS

Feral Hogs Seen as Emerging Issue

feral hogsOne topic discussed at the June 16 Council meeting was the threat to PA Agriculture and to the environment by feral hogs. The meeting updated attendees on the issue and paved the way for a more detailed program on the subject September 22 at the Council’s next meeting. Following is a link to USDA’s web site providing background on the feral hog issue. http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/wildboar.shtml

USDA Lists Farm Bill Food Project Opportunities

farm-bill-smUSDA May 8 announced that $78 million in Farm Bill resources for local and regional food systems including farmers markets, processing facilities, distribution services and other local food business enterprises is available.

This funding comes from Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program (B&I) and the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program. AMS’ deadline is June 20, 2014.

B&I: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_gar.html

AMS: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/AMSgrants