New Survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) conducted a survey named National Young Farmer Survey in 2017. They surveyed 3,517 current, former, and aspiring U.S. farmers under the age of 40. A few interesting findings from the responses were: 60% of the respondents were women, 75% of the respondents did not grow up on a farm, and 69% were highly educated, having degrees past high school. The highest percentage of respondents (30.48%) were in the Northeast part of the United States. The average age of the respondents was 29 and more than 10% of the respondents were farmers of color or indigenous farmers.

For the survey, the NYFC gathered information pertaining to the top challenges that beginning farmers face. They found that the top challenges were access to land, student loan debt, finding labor help, and health insurance. Money seems to be a big factor when it comes to young and beginning farmers. A lot do not have the current means to obtain land, whether it be because they have significant loan debt or do not have enough credit to apply or receive loans to launch their farms. Since farming can be a dangerous career, health insurance is a must. Health insurance also costs money, but respondents say the Affordable Care Act is the most helpful insurance policy for them.

The survey also discusses how lawmakers can help young farmers start their farms despite the obstacles. Lawmakers can help young farmers by addressing land access and affordability, helping them manage their student debt, increase the skilled agriculture workforce, protect affordable health care, enable farmers to invent on-farm conservation, improve finances, and address racial inequality. If lawmakers helped with the above, young and beginning farmers would not face as many challenges of beginning a farming career.

Although beginning farming comes with challenges and risks, this generation has the skills to power through the ups and downs of starting a farming business. The NYFC survey results indicate that the young farmers of this generation are more diverse than those who have been farming for several years. Young farmers now are interested in operating smaller farms, committed to sustainable farming, and are optimistic about the future. The responses surely show that there isn’t one just type of farmer and that you don’t need to have farming history or past experience to want to be in the farming business.

If you are interested in reading the entire NYFC survey report, you can view it here.

 

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act H.R. 4316

On November 8, 2017, Representatives Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), introduced The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316). This legislation supports the next generation of farmers and ranchers through changes to pertinent programs and issues including credit, technical skill development, crop insurance, and conservation. The farm and ranch community is aging; the average national age of a farmer is 58.  Millions of agricultural land acres will be changing hands in the next decade. This legislation focuses on breaking down some of those barriers that keep beginning farmers and ranchers from succeeding. For example, limitations on the number of acres enrolled in the Conservation Resources Program (CRP) will be removed, along with increasing the flexibility of CRP landowners to contract with socially disadvantage or veteran farmers in the last 3 years of their CRP contract. Additionally, this legislation prioritizes skill development for beginning farmers and ranchers by supporting service providers in their states to increase training and information gathering. Limits on lending by FSA for Direct Farm Ownership Loan will be increased to $500,000 to help purchase a farm or ranch. To learn more about The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, please visit this Sectional Outline or the Full Text of the legislation.

Farm transition and succession is the main focus of Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. We work daily with established farmers and ranchers on transitioning their farm. Additionally, we work closely with beginning farmers and ranchers with their legal needs, along with financial guidance, to ensure their enterprises are sustainable and successful. If you have any questions about farm and ranch transitions please call the Rural Response Hotline 1-800-464-0258.

SARE Webinar Series November 7 at 10 am

You are invited to join a free webinar on Tuesday, November 7th at 10 am. Ashley Conway, PhD student in Animal Science under the direction of Dr. Mary Drewnoski received a SARE Graduate Student Grant.  Ashley will discuss the project and results of the first year of the study.  The title and a description of the webinar are below:

“Cattle management and performance in an integrated crop-livestock system”

Integrated crop-livestock systems offer tremendous potential for backgrounding cattle. Incorporating cereal rye as a winter cover crop and then grazing in the spring is one potential strategy to capture added value to an agricultural system. Year one of a two-year study designed to investigate the impact of cattle and residue management in this type of system specifically looks at the use of ionophore supplementation of cattle grazing cereal rye in the spring.”

The link to the webinar is: https://nebraskaextension.zoom.us/j/800634168  . If you are unable to participate during the live webinar, it will be recorded for future viewing. Please pass this information on to others who you think may be interested.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Gary Lesoing at glesoing2@unl.edu  or (402) 274-4755.

Crop Insurance Survey by NCAT

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (www.ncat.org) is conducting this survey of attitudes and opinions about crop insurance. The survey is open to anyone who is farming or ranching commercially in the United States. Results will be used to plan educational efforts and make recommendations to the USDA.

The survey takes an average of 20-30 minutes to complete. Your answers will remain anonymous. We do not collect your e-mail or IP address, and you are not required to provide any personally-identifiable information.

As a small gesture of appreciation for your time, we are happy to offer you a $20 check as a “thank you” for  completing the survey.

Please share the link to this survey with others who may be interested: www.ncat.org/cropinsurance.

We welcome your comments and feedback at cropinsurance@ncat.org.

Funding for this survey was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award #2014-51300-22224.

South Dakota Workshops Ranch/Farm Succession Planning & USDA Loan Programs and FSA Disaster and Drought Programs

Two separate free workshops will be offered to farmers and ranchers in Belle Fourche, South Dakota at the Branding Iron Café with a light lunch provided.  These workshops are not limited to Beginning Farmers and are open to the public. To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

The first workshop is from 9 am to 12:00 pm on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, it will address both farm and ranch succession planning, and USDA loan programs, including those loan programs intended to support beginning farmers and ranchers.  The succession planning portion will cover basic estate and transitioning planning issues and tools, including federal transfer taxes, incapacity planning, transfer tools (wills, titling and trusts), balancing the interests of on-farm and off-farm heirs (access to land and operational assets, contribution & compensation, management and control, asset protection, leases, tools for co-ownership), and decision making steps in the transition planning process.  The USDA loan segment will cover Farm Service Agency loan programs, including direct and guaranteed loans, beginning farmer loans, microloans, and storage facility loans.

The second workshop is from 9 am to 12:00 pm on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, it will address Farm Service Agency disaster programs, including the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).   We will discuss program benefits and coverage and eligibility criteria.

There will also be an opportunity to engage in one-on-one discussions with the presenters by signing up for free ½ hours sessions after the workshop.

These workshops and clinics 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 Allows for Emergency Grazing and Haying in Drought-stricken Areas

On July 20, 2017, the USDA authorized the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency haying and grazing in drought-stricken areas in Montana and the Dakotas that have reached D2, or severe drought level or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This also includes counties with any part of their border that is within 150 miles of authorized counties in the three states may also be eligible for emergency grazing. This includes areas in Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa.

All emergency grazing must end by September 30, while all emergency haying must end by August 31. Any landowners who are interested should contact their local Farm Service Agency office and meet their local Natural Resources Conservations Service staff to get a modified conservation plan in place.

 

For more information, please visit: www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze

To view the press release, please visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Nebraska/news-releases/2017/stnr_ne_20170720_rel_06

Have You Enrolled in ARC/PLC for 2017?

Today the Nebraska FSA Acting State Executive Director Mike Sander issued a statement reminding farmers and ranchers that the deadline for enrollment in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year is August 1st, 2017

Agriculture Risk Coverage provides loss coverage at the county level when actual county crop revenue is less than the guarantee.

Price Loss Coverage provides coverage when the effective price of a crop is less than the respective reference price.

A wide range of crops may be covered under these programs, including: barley, corn, oats, rice, soybeans, and wheat.

If you have not yet enrolled, please call or visit your local FSA office. Find your local office at: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app

 

For more information, please visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/arcplc_program/index

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 www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.

 

Source: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Newsroom/2017/06_22_2017.php

NOP Proposed New Rule on Organic Certification, Pt. 3

Happy Friday all! We close out this week with more on the NOP proposed new rules on Organic Certification. Today’s post deals with one of the biggest changes to the program – Avian living conditions – and a couple notes about transport and slaughter facilities. Again, 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: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/10/2017-09410/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices-second-proposed-rule

The proposed final rule may be found in its entirety here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00888/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices.

AVIAN LIVING CONDITIONS

Avian living condition rules have been changed as well. The requirement for birds to have indoor space has been removed, but shelter must still be provided. Should you choose to provide indoor space for your birds, then you must comply with the requirements for indoor space. Indoor space must be large enough so that the birds may engage in natural behaviors and move freely.

Ammonia must be monitored monthly. When ammonia levels exceed 10ppm, remediation and additional monitoring must take place. Ammonia levels are not allowed to exceed 25ppm.

Natural lighting in the indoor space must be sufficient so that an inspector is able to read and write on sunny days while any artificial lights are turned off. Artificial lights may be used to augment natural light up to a 16-hour period per day. Artificial lights must be lowered gradually to encourage birds to settle in for the night.

Space requirements are given a significant overhaul with this new rule. 6 inches of perch per laying bird is required, although the lighting rail may count towards this requirement. For indoor exits, the requirement was removed that all birds must be able to exit within one hour. The new indoor density requirements for layers must not exceed (live bird weight): (i) Mobile housing: 4.5 pounds per square foot; (ii) Aviary housing: 4.5 pounds per square foot; (iii) Slatted/mesh floor housing: 3.75 pounds per square foot; (iv) Floor litter housing: 3.0 pounds per square foot; (v) Other housing: 2.25 pounds per square foot. The indoor density for pullets must not exceed 3.0 pounds of bird per square foot. For broilers, indoor stocking density must not exceed 5.0 pounds of bird per square foot.

Outdoor space has also been given new density requirements. For layers, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 2.25 pounds of bird in the flock. For pullets, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 3.0 pounds of bird in the flock. For broilers, outdoor space must be provided at a rate of no less than one square foot for every 5.0 pounds of bird in the flock. The outdoor space must be at least 50% soil with “maximal vegetative cover”. As above, work with your certifier to ensure compliance with this requirement.

Temporary confinement for birds is also allowed in certain circumstances, such as inclement weather, certain stages of life, health and safety risks, reseeding of soil, sorting for shipping, and nest box training, among others. All temporary confinements must be recorded.

TRANSPORT AND SLAUGHTER

New guidelines about transport and slaughter have been established in the rule. Foremost is that organic animals must be identified as such during transport. Trailers must provide season-appropriate protection from heat and cold, and must have bedding provided for anything other than poultry crates. Organic feed and clean water must be provided every 12 hours during transport, regardless of whether the trailer is moving or not. Operations that transport organic livestock must also develop an emergency plan to address reasonably foreseeable issues during transport, such as feeding, escapees, and euthanization of injured animals during transport.

Organic certified slaughter facilities must be in compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978. Certified facilities must also provide any documentation of FSIS noncompliance and corrective action records to certifying agents upon request.

 

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” – Augustine “Og” Mandino

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: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/10/2017-09410/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices-second-proposed-rule

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: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00888/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices. 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.