Only a Few Days Left to Register for the Census of Agriculture 2017!

If you are a new farmer or rancher, or have not been contacted by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), then you have until the end of June to register for the Census of Agriculture.

To qualify to be counted in the Census, you only need to have a place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products have been produced and sold, or would have been produced and sold under normal circumstances in a particular year (here 2017).

So, if you are a farmer or rancher, please make sure that you are counted for the Census!

At 177 years old, the Census of Agriculture tells the story of U.S. agriculture. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. The data are valuable to those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, even farmers and ranchers themselves. Census results help shape farm programs and boost services for communities and the industry. The Census of Agriculture is a farmer or rancher’s voice, future, and opportunity. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.



The Equal Justice Corps Heads to the Market!

The Equal Justice Corps is a joint venture between Legal Aid of Nebraska and Nebraskans for Civic Reform to provide college students with experiences in communities across Nebraska both promoting Legal Aid services and identifying the obstacles and challenges faced by communities in the state.

What follows is a guest post from an Equal Justice Corps member following a visit to a farmer’s market in Lincoln:

Here at Legal Aid of Nebraska it is our mission to make equal justice happen. While equal justice is unique to every individual, we aim to empower those in poverty and provide legal remedies to ensure that those low-income individuals maintain a sustainable lifestyle. One of the toughest hurdles to clear when overcoming poverty is access to healthy, reliable food sources. As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. Frequent causes of food deserts are “a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”

Despite being one of the United States’ leaders in agricultural production, there are large portions of Nebraska that lay within a food desert. Check out the USDA’s food desert tracker to see if you or anyone you know fall within one! Some of the more notable food deserts within the state fall in lower income neighborhoods of Lincoln and Omaha. In addition to the food shortages that occur within these neighborhoods, the food that is purchased is commonly cheap, and unhealthy. As a result, obesity rises and lifespan shortens. Therefore, in our effort to make equal justice happen, there are several ways to help remedy food deserts.

Our Equal Justice Corps has been travelling across the state attending farmers’ markets and other local events helping to spread the word about the threat of food deserts and other issues affecting low-income individuals. While attending farmers’ markets is not always possible, it is at farmers’ markets that low-income individuals can receive fresh produce and other goods, while at the same time supporting local farmers. At a recent stop at a local farmers’ market in Lincoln, our Equal Justice Corps counted over 150 stalls of locally made goods and products!

In addition to farmers’ markets, there are several other measures individuals and neighborhoods can take to combat food deserts.

  • Community Gardens are a great way to grow your own healthy, sustainable food sources. Get together with your neighbors and plant your own tomatoes, onions, basil, etc.! Not only is it a great way to help combat hunger and unhealthy foods, it is also a great way to establish relationships within your neighborhood and maintain a strong community!
  • Educating yourself, your children, your friends, and others within your community about healthy food choices is another way to make equal justice happen in regards to food deserts. If you and your community know what making healthy food choices look like, the incentive to shop in a healthy manner only rises. Host healthy dinner parties, share healthy recipes with your friends and neighbors, go to farmers’ markets with your family, and make healthy and reliable alternatives fun!
  • Speak to your local representatives about the threat of food deserts and how they affect you and your family. Let your voice be heard and make equal justice happen for you and your community!


If you have any questions about Legal Aid’s Farm and Food Project, please call (800) 742-7555.

New Funding to Help Deal With Erosion

New funding is available to help farmers control erosion from ephemeral gullies.

Recipients of USDA program benefits are required to control erosion on their lands that are determined to be highly erodible. Special funding from the Ephemeral Gully Control Initiative can help farmers fulfill that requirement.

With the adoption of modern equipment and herbicidal weed controls, grassed waterways have been on the decrease, which has led to an increase in erosion and ephemeral gully development. This increased erosion can negatively impact farmers by causing lower crop yields, but can also cause non-compliance with USDA requirements.

For more information, please visit NRCS in your local USDA Service Center and apply by July 21.



FSA Disaster and Loan Programs- Grand Island- FREE WORKSHOP

Date- Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Time- 10:00am- noon

Location– Hall County Extension Office, Grand Island

The workshop will cover Farm Service Agency livestock disaster programs, direct and guaranteed loan programs, and NextGen (Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program). It is intended to be useful for established farm and ranch owners, their successors, and for beginners.

To register or for questions, call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.
Topics include:
  • FSA livestock disaster programs
    • Livestock Forage Program (LFP)
    • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)
    • Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP)
  • FSA loan programs
    • both direct and guaranteed operating and ownership loans including those programs targeted at beginning farmers and ranchers\
    • micro loan program
    • the recently expanded farm storage facility loan program
  • Will address some issues that arise under these programs when farm and ranches use limited liability entities as part of their business and/or succession planning
  • Benefits and requirements of NextGen (Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program), including requirements for use by family members.
  • Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law Attorney, Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha
  • Amy Swoboda, Food & Farm Attorney, Beginning Farmer Project, Legal Aid of Nebraska
These workshops are made possible through the Nebraska Network for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers and the Beginning Farmer Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska under an outreach grant from the Farm Service Agency, USDA.

NOP New Proposed Rule on Organic Certification

For certified organic producers and those who are seeking to become organic certified, there is a new final rule coming down the pipeline that will likely affect your operations. Among the changes are new rules regarding animal welfare, living conditions centered on outdoor access for both poultry and mammals, as well as transport and slaughter. As of May 10, 2017, the rule has been postponed to allow for a 30-day period for the public to comment on what action should be taken regarding the new rule. If you would like to comment on the course of action for the new rule, please visit:

If you believe that you may be affected by this new final rule, please take a look at the rule itself. Also, if your certifier has not reached out to you, make sure you contact them to discuss in detail all the proposed changes required for your specific operation. The final rule may be found here: Following is not a comprehensive list of changes, but some key highlights of the new rule.

The first set of major changes has to do with the definitions of certain terms. Notably, any areas that are roofed, but allow the animals to freely move from cover to the outside, may now be counted as ‘outdoor space’. The final rule will now prohibit some types of physical alterations to livestock. Therefore, eight terms have been defined in the rule to account for any local differences in the naming of certain alterations. The definition of stocking density has also been changed to be expressed in terms of pounds of bird per square foot, instead of individual birds per square foot.

Livestock Healthcare practices also see some significant changes as well. Needle teeth clipping and tail docking in pigs may no longer be performed routinely, under the new rule they may only be performed in response to a documented welfare reason, and other alternatives must have failed. For poultry, the new rule prohibits the following practices: de-beaking, de-snooding, caponization, dubbing, toe-clipping of chickens, toe-clipping of turkeys (unless with infra-red at hatchery), and beak clipping after 10 days of age. Forced molting has also been prohibited.

Survey for Farm/Ranch Seekers and Owners

This short 5 minute survey aims to learn how farm/ranch owners are thinking about future opportunities for their land, and how that compares to people who are looking for a farm/ranch of their own. The data collected will be publicly made available through NextGen and other programs. All responses are anonymous and confidential.

This survey is part of a United States Department of Agriculture study led by the Kansas Rural Center and Indiana University. For questions about the survey contact Julia Valliant at or 812-855-3155.

Please access survey here.

March Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

March Clinics:

Norfolk clinic – Friday, March 3rd

Norfolk clinic – Thursday, March 16th

Fairbury clinic – Monday, March 27th

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

Farm mediation                  Legal Aid of Nebraska

USDA is making it easier to transfer land to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

Key points from the USDA’s announcement concerning the early termination of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts.

  • The goal is to make it easier for the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members, to acquire land.
  • USDA technical teams will determine which acres are ready to be productive with minimal impact on overall conservation efforts.
  • If land is determined to be ready a landowner can terminate their CRP contract early without being required to repay all previous payments plus interest.
  • This policy waives repayment requirements if the land is being transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through sale or lease with the option to buy.
  • By clearing some of these CRP acres from the programs 24 million acre cap the USDA will be able to enroll other land with a higher conservation value.

For more information and details on this early termination opportunity visit or read the complete announcement at

New Video Highlight the Benefits of Farming for Veterans

A new video, titled “The Next Mission: Breaking Down Barriers for Veterans in Agriculture” was released by the National AgrAbility Project based out of Purdue University. This video highlights the benefits of farming for service members and Veterans. Farming has been shown to help in the transition to civilian life. This video contains interviews with Veterans who have found this benefit in farming. It is available through the AgrAbility YouTube Channel for viewing by individuals. Check it out!



USDA Designates Kearney County as a Primary Natural Disaster Area

Highlights from Nebraska Farm Services Agency concerning the recent disaster declaration news release:

  • The US Department of Agriculture recently designated Kearney County as a primary natural disaster area due to the recent drought.
  • Adams, Buffalo, Franklin, Harlan, Phelps and Webster are contiguous and therefore qualify for natural disaster assistance.
  • Farm or ranch operators that meet eligibility requirements are eligible for low interest emergency loans from FSA.
  • The deadline is eight (8) months from September 29, 2016, to apply for loans to help cover part of actual losses.
  • FSA considers each application on its own merits, taking into account:
    • extent of losses;
    • security available; and
    • repayment ability.
  • There are other programs available to help eligible farmers to recover from adversity.

For further information on the designation or other disaster resources available, contact your local FSA offices or go to

For the full original new release, please go to