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« November 2010 | Main | January 2011 »

28 posts from December 2010

Texas FSA state office employees sponsored six families from Snook, TX. Food, toys and clothing were donated to make the holidays better for these families.


The Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) shared their holiday spirit by making Christmas special for six struggling families in Snook, a small, rural city in Texas.


Each year, the FSA holiday committee organizes a charitable activity in which state office employees can voluntarily participate. Last year employees donated toys and food to local organizations. This year the committee decided to sponsor six families and provide them with food and toys.

Continue reading "Texas FSA Brings Holiday Cheer to Six Needy Families" »

A report by USDA indicates an increase in no-till farming. In 2009, about 35.5 percent of cropland in the U.S. used to plant eight major crops — barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat —   relied on the no-till method, according to the study. That indicates a steady 1.5 percent increase since 2000. No-till farming reduces the use and cost of machinery, fuel and labor, and helps prevent soil erosion and runoff. Review the report.

USDA is offering up to $20,000 for organic producers and those transitioning to organic production to implement resource conservation practices on their land. Farmers certified through USDA’s National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification due to limited gross annual organic sales are eligible to apply. Fiscal year 2011 is the third year for the USDA Organic Initiative. About $50 million is available this year to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. Producers must visit the local Natural Resources Conservation Service center in order to apply by the March 4 deadline. Learn more.  

An emergency order lifting weight restrictions on trucks carrying crops threatened by the Florida freeze has been extended. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist originally lifted the order on Dec. 10 to help farmers harvest most of their crops before they were damaged by the freeze. Farmers are trying to pick citrus crops and get them to market before they hit the ground and can no longer be salvaged. The extension was granted through Dec. 31. (Bloomberg) Read more.

USDA released an environmental impact statement yesterday that evaluates the effects of deregulating genetically engineered alfalfa resistant to broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup. The statement lists two preferred options that take into consideration plant pest issues and how genetically engineered, non-genetically engineered and organic alfalfa production can coexist. The environmental impact statement will be available for at least 30 days before USDA publishes a decision on how it will proceed. Read the statement or review the press release.

For Florida farmer Tom Perryman, risking sleep and resources to protect his 130 acres of sweet corn from record-low freezing temperatures is part of the gamble farmers take. Perryman slept one hour out of 26 to light Tiki torches and prepare helicopters that will fly across the field to push warm air down. Each acre produces 360 crates of corn. One helicopter costs $1,000 to fly for about one hour. “You have to know when to cut your losses,” said Perryman. (The Palm Beach Post) Read more.

Sweet orange scab A fungus has attacked the citrus industry in Texas, creating a possible hardship for growers and distributors. Sweet orange scab is a fungus originally thought not to be in the U.S. It was spotted earlier this year in the eastern part of Texas and in several limes from Mexico. Although it may not cause harm if ingested, it makes the fruit look bad, which impacts sales. ( Read more.

Sign-up for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program opens next month for farmers and ranchers who suffered losses caused by natural disasters during the 2009 crop year. “This program provides a tremendous amount of assistance to producers who have suffered from natural disasters and is part of the ‘safety net’ designed to assist farmers and ranchers who feed America and the world,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Eligible farmers can begin signing up for SURE on Jan. 10, 2011. Learn more or visit the SURE website.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of an historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement, which was signed Dec. 15, 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, allowed USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.

"The partnership between USDA and U.S. dairy producers to increase sustainability has achieved remarkable results over the past year," said Vilsack. "USDA has awarded funding to establish 30 anaerobic digesters, and we are assisting farmers with digester feasibility studies and energy audits to help producers reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing on-farm income,” said Vilsack. Read more.

Speakers have been announced for the 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The annual event — held Feb. 24-25 in Arlington, Va. — will feature a six-person plenary panel along with experts in 25 breakout sessions who will discuss a broad range of topics, including renewable energy, foreign trade and domestic markets, and conservation. Review the list of speakers or register today.

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