USDA Discusses WV Joining Strikeforce Program

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Net Farm Income Forecast to Fall in 2014

The net farm income is forecast to be $95.8 billion in 2014, according to an updated report released this week by the USDA Economic Research Service. That’s down 26.6 percent from 2013’s forecast of $130.5 billion. If realized, it would be the lowest since 2010. The value of crop production is expected to decline substantially in 2014, falling back to pre-2011 levels.  Commensurate with this drop is an expected decline in both crop cash receipts and the value of crop inventory adjustment. Large anticipated declines in the 2014 price of corn are impacting farm operator decisions regarding a number of their major crops. Review the 2014 Farm Income Sector Forecast.

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FSA Economists Awarded for Conservation Analysis Efforts

2014 EconomistsEmployees from the FSA Economic and Policy Analysis Staff were honored last week by the USDA Economists Group for their role in providing a strong basis for implementing USDA programs and policies. (Pictured l to r) Karis Gutter, Economist Skip Hyberg, Economist Alex Barbarika, Economist Cathie Feather and Economist Rich Iovanna and Skip Hyberg accepted the John E. Lee Award for Sustained Excellence in Group Economic Analysis. For a decade, these individuals formed a cohesive team that demonstrated an outstanding level of sustained excellence and dedication in providing the best possible conservation analysis to policy makers in various agencies as well as on Capitol Hill.

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USDA Provides $3 Million to Improve Honey Bee Health

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $3 million in technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees. Funding will be provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. The funding will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Bees play an important role in crop production; however, recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing about 30 percent of their colonies each year, up from historic norms of 10-15 percent. Interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Applications are due by March 14. Learn more or contact your local USDA Service Center.

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Funding Available to Help With Agricultural Water Challenges

In an effort to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate the impacts of drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $6 million in grants available this year and up to $30 million over the next five years to develop management practices, technologies and tools to improve water resource quantity and quality. “Cutting edge research holds the key to tackling the complex challenges posed by prolonged drought and ensuring the future food security of our nation,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These grants will help arm America’s farmers and ranchers with the tools and strategies they need to adapt and succeed, and build on ongoing, cross-governmental efforts to provide relief to those impacted by severe drought.” Research areas will  focus on ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and educing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation’s water supply. Learn more.

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Farm Sector’s Financial Health Dependent on Land

Real estate assets play a major role in the farm sector’s financial health, according to an updated report from the USDA Economic Research Service. Real estate has accounted for the majority of the total value of farm sector assets and is expected to comprise 82 percent of total farm assets in 2014. When combined with generally lower annual increases in farm sector debt, the increasing value of farm real estate has helped the farm sector attain record low debt-to-asset ratios in recent years, a trend expected to continue into 2014. Learn more.

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Unlimited Potential in Rural America

By Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
This week, USDA released preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture that provides a snapshot of a rural America that remains stable in the face of difficult economic times. While the data do not paint a perfect picture, they do tell a story of the unlimited potential and growing opportunity in modern rural America. Census data indicate that the loss of farmland has slowed significantly since 2007, which means that while at total of 72 million acres of farmland have been lost since the 1982 Census, we have begun to stem the tide. Read more (USDA blog).

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USDA Releases Pesticide Data; Results Prove No Safety Concern

Overall pesticide chemical residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency and do not pose a safety concern, according to the latest data from the 2012 USDA Pesticide Data Program. Based on the data, 99 percent of products sampled through Pesticide Data Program had residues below the EPA tolerances, while residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.53 percent of the samples tested. Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2012, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, wheat, butter, and water. Learn more or review the report.

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FSA Part of Team Helping Beginning Farmers Secure Land

Caleb and Lauren Langworthy positioned themselves to get as much farming education as possible. Several internships and knowledge of both farming and business took them from renting land to a path of farm ownership. After investors took an interest in their organic operation, the couple moved from renting land to buying a 153-acre former dairy farm. Investors footed half of the risk of purchasing the farm while the Langworthy’s went to the Farm Service Agency, where they obtained a beginning farmer loan to help spread the risk. The couple now grows a variety of vegetables, launched a Community Supported Agriculture operation and started an elderberry enterprise. They also have a sheep operation with 50 ewes. Read more (AgriNews).

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Nominations Sought for National Honey Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations for the National Honey Board. The board is composed of 10 members who serve a three-year term. All nominations must be made by qualified national organizations within the honey industry and include a completed application. All eligible women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to seek nomination for a seat on the National Honey Board. Inquiries must be made by April 15. Learn more about submitting a nomination.

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