CRP Enrollment Deadline Friday, August 17, 2018.

Friday, August 17th is the last day to enroll in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This program is for eligible producers who agree to take sensitive land out of production. In return, the producer will receive an annual rental payment and cost-share assistance for installing practices from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Land must be eligible and suitable for certain conservation practices which include, but not limited to, riparian buffer, wetland restoration on flood plain, filter strips, and grass waterways. Contracts for this program can last 10-15 years and payments will reflect the updated soil rental rates. For more information, please visit the CRP Continuous Enrollment Period. Or contact your local Farm Service Agency Office.

If you have any questions regarding various programs available from the Farm Service Agency, please send them to us.

Last Chance to Fill out Ag Census!

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is ending is collection of responses to the 2017 Census of Agriculture on July 31, 2018. NASS send the census around every five years to gather data on the state of agriculture across the US. The census is used to get a snapshot of ag in the US to help inform future decision making. All responses are confidential. Access the survey here or call 866-294-8560.

If you have general questions regarding the Census of Agriculture, please contact us.

South Dakota Farm and Ranch Succession and USDA Program Workshops

Two separate free workshops will be offered to farmers and ranchers in western South Dakota. The workshops are from 9am-12pm. These workshops are not limited to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers and are open to the public. To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

Wednesday, July 11th 2018

Sturgis, South Dakota

Sturgis Community Center

1401 Lazelle Street

Thursday, July 12th 2018

Belle Fourche, South Dakota

First Interstate Bank

41 5th Street

Each workshop will address farm and ranch estate and succession planning, including transfer tools (wills, titling & trusts), incapacity planning, taxes, co-ownership of assets, direct and indirect forms of ownership, legal tools for balancing the interests of on-farm and off-farm heirs, asset protection, and examples of planning.  The workshops will also cover USDA/Farm Service Agency loan programs for beginning and established farmers and ranchers, including direct and guaranteed loans, beginning farmer loans, microloans, and storage facility loans.

These workshops are made available through The Nebraska Network for Beginning Ranchers and Farmers, which includes services in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, and the Farm Law Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Presenters:  Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law Attorney with Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha, Nebraska. Amy Swoboda, Farm and Food Attorney with Legal Aid of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.

USDA Partners with Texas A&M to Help Veterans Seeking Agriculture Loans and Careers

The United State Department of Agriculture is partnering with Texas A&M. This pilot project will focus on making it easier for veterans to start farming. Here are some highlights of the program:

  • Goal of Program is to make it easier for veterans to meet requirements for loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA);
  • 15 to 18 veterans will be selected to go through this project;
  • Focus on:
    • Business Planning,
    • Introductory workshops, and
    • Production education;

Veterans interested in this program should gather information and plan to apply. Applications will be open from June 15 and July 20, 2018.

Application are available here.

Full press release if available here.

2018 Veteran Stakeholder Conference in Kansas City, MO, Scholarships Available

The Farmer Veteran Coalition is hosting their 2018 Stakeholder Conference in Kansas City, MO. The conference will be from Wednesday, November 14 to Saturday, November 17 at the Intercontinental Kansas City. Find out more information here.

Scholarships are also available to Farmer veterans interested in attending the conference. The scholarships are available for travel and lodging. Applications are due September 1, 2018. Applications are available here.

This conference will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about resources available and also to network with other veterans interested in farming. Contact the Farmer Veteran Coalition for more information.

USDA Decides Not to Impose Additional Regulatory Requirements for Organic Producers and Handlers

Date:
Monday, March 12, 2018 – 11:45am
Contact Info:

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the Department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.

“The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. “The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”

According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by seven percent and globally by 11 percent. Industry estimates show that organic sales in the United States reached almost $47 billion in 2016, reflecting an increase of almost $3.7 billion since 2015.

The Department carefully considered public comments and the relative costs and benefits for both producers and consumers of imposing the proposed additional regulations.

More information on the OLPP final rule is available in the March 12, 2018, Federal Register, and on the USDA National Organic Program web page.

“A Visit to Slow Foods Nation, Denver 2017” Webinar available through SARE

A webinar is scheduled for Friday, March 16th at 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. as part of the Nebraska SARE Webinar Series. The webinar title is, “A Visit to Slow Foods Nation, Denver 2017”. This past summer Jerry and Renee Cornett of Prairie Plate Restaurant near Waverly, NE received a SARE Travel Scholarship to participate in this event. This event focuses on a number of food issues and there are several opportunities to participate in different discussions and programs. More than 10,000 chefs, policymakers, farmers and food lovers from all over the world will be talking about food justice, sustainability and management. There was discussion over agricultural issues and all kinds of food were there as well. Jerry and Renee will talk about their experience at this event during the webinar. The link to the webinar is:  https://unl.zoom.us/j/193166489. This webinar will be recorded if you are unable to participate at this time.  If you have questions, contact Gary Lesoing at (402) 274-4755.

Michelle Soll of the Farm and Ranch Program spoke at the Women in Ag Conference about available assistance

Michelle-SollThis past weekend, Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Michelle Soll from the Farm and Ranch Project, spoke at the Women in Ag conference in Kearney, NE. She spoke to the attendees over Saturday brunch, highlighting the struggles she is witnessing with her work. While there, she was interviewed by the Kearney Hub about the importance of her work with the Rural Response Hotline and the Farm and Ranch Program. Find the article titled, Michelle Soll there to provide assistance, advice for Nebraska Rural Response Hotline, here.

If you need assistance or would like more information, please call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

 

Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

LINCOLN, Jan. 19, 2018 – Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.

While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like nutrient and pest management, cover crops and tree plantings– all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:

  • Improved cattle gains per acre;
  • Increased crop yields;
  • Decreased inputs;
  • Wildlife population improvements; and
  • Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Farmer Veteran Coalition Fellowship Fund 2018

The Farmer Veteran Coalition will be opening up applications for their eighth annual fellowship fund on February 1, 2018. The application will be open until March 1st at 5 p.m. pacific time.

The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a program that provides assistance to veterans who are beginning farmers and/or ranchers. The money does not go directly to the farmer, but instead goes to a third party or toward items that the veteran has indicated will help them with their farming.

Since the start of the fellowship fund, it has awarded over $1.5 million to veterans! Breeding of livestock, fencing, all-terrain vehicles and tractors are the most popular items that have been given.

For more information on eligibility and requirements for the fellowship fund, click here. The application, once open, will be posted there as well.