Tag Archives: USDA

 Food waste is a problem everyone can tackle, including our nation’s youth. As part of Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is launching Ace the Waste! A student competition for food waste reduction ideas. This first-ever competition calls on students to come up with creative solutions to reduce food loss and waste in the United States.

The problem of food waste affects everyone. More than one third of food in the U.S. is lost or wasted. This amounts to 133 billion pounds, or $161 billion worth of food each year. Food is the single largest type of waste in landfills. Students age 11 to 18 are encouraged to submit proposals on reducing food loss and waste anywhere along the supply chain, from the farm to the dinner table and beyond. Topic ideas for the proposal include:

  • Preventing food waste – such as ideas to prolong the storage life of food; improve efficiencies in the processing of food and its distribution; and create new products from unharvested or unsold crops (like so-called “ugly fruit and vegetables”) or from food processing by-products.
  • Recovering wholesome, excess food to feed people – such as innovative approaches for getting excess food to people who need it and measuring the value of food donations.
  • Recycling food scraps to keep them out of landfills – such as ideas to connect food waste generators with recyclers and to create animal feed, compost, and energy.
  • Raising awareness – such as ideas about how to make students more aware about the amount of food being wasted and let them know how to reduce it.

Students may submit 1-2 page proposals or 1-2 minute videos. Proposals will be judged on impact potential; originality and creativity; clarity of expression; and adherence/appropriateness to theme. Judges will include representatives from USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One winner will be selected from each of two categories – ages 11-14 and ages 15-18. The winner of the challenge will be honored with recognition on USDA’s social media accounts and website, receive a certificate of appreciation, and will have the opportunity to discuss their proposals with USDA leadership.

The deadline for proposals is 5 p.m. EDT, Friday, May 24, 2019. Submit your ideas to the Ace the Waste! competition (PDF, 238 KB) today.

Nebraska:  Milk production in Nebraska during the January-March 2019 quarter totaled 357 million pounds, down 2 percent from the January-March quarter last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 59,000 head, 1,000 head less than the same period last year.

Kansas:  Milk production in Kansas during March 2019 totaled 328 million pounds, up 3 percent from March 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 164,000 head, 7,000 head more than March 2018. Milk production per cow averaged 2,000 pounds.

Access the National publication for this release at:

https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/h989r321c

Find agricultural statistics for your county, State, and the Nation at www.nass.usda.gov

The USDA has released their latest crop progress report and unfortunately there were no big surprises that  are likely to change grain traders minds.

In corn planting nationally 6 percent of the 2019 corn crop has been planted. That is 1 percent ahead of where planting was a year ago, but is still more than 50 percent behind the five year average. For Nebraska, corn planting jumped 2 percent last week making it exactly where it was a year ago.  With today’s larger equipment if the weather can continue to hold corn planting could quickly advance on it’s gap to the five year average.

Winter wheat conditions did little to help the market as the crop continues to improve. Nationally Winter wheat conditions rank 62 percent good to excellent. Gaining 2 percent from the previous week and 31 percent from the previous year. In Nebraska winter wheat is 69 percent good to excellent and in Kansas winter wheat is 57 percent good to excellent.

For spring wheat preventative planting is still somewhat a possibility. Nationally the spring wheat crop is 5 percent planted 17 percent behind the five year average. It is also 2 percent ahead of where spring wheat planting was a year ago.

The moisture profile is looking strong across much of the nation. Topsoil moisture is rated at 98 percent adequate to surplus in Nebraska and 90 adequate to surplus in Kansas. Iowa is 99 percent adequate to surplus for their topsoil moisture profile. Subsoil moisture looks very similar with Nebraska at 98% adequate to surplus. Kansas stands at 96 percent adequate to surplus. While Iowa subsoil moisture is strong at 100% adequate to surplus.

Clay Patton has more on the report here: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/crop-progress-report-4-22-corn-and-spring-wheat-planting-6548.html

To see the whole report please visit: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/8336h188j/7s75dm69z/2514nt82s/prog1719.pdf

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon and Walmart on Thursday kicked off a two-year government pilot program allowing low-income shoppers on government food assistance in New York to shop and pay for their groceries online for the first time.

ShopRite will join the two retailers on the program early next week, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The USDA has long required customers using electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, pay for their purchases at the actual time and place of sale. So the move marks the first time SNAP customers can pay for their groceries online.

ShopRite and Amazon are providing the service to the New York City area, and Walmart is providing the service online in upstate New York locations. The agency said the pilot will eventually expand to other areas of New York as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

The pilot program will test both online ordering and payment. SNAP participants will be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible food items but will not be able to use SNAP to pay for service or delivery charges, the agency said.

“People who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food — by ordering and paying for groceries online,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients.”

Perdue said he will be monitoring how the pilot program increases food access and customer service, specifically for those who have trouble visiting physical stores.

Roughly 38 million individuals receive food stamps in the U.S., according to the USDA. Nearly $52 billion, or 82% of all food stamp dollars, were spent at big box stores and grocery chains in 2017, according to the most recent USDA data.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot program for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The USDA says the move was intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely.

Seattle-based Amazon said those who qualify don’t need to be Prime members to buy groceries with their benefits. They’ll get free access to its AmazonFresh service, which delivers meat, dairy and fresh produce to shoppers’ doorsteps. And they’ll also be able to use Prime Pantry, which delivers packaged goods like cereal and canned food.

However, they’ll need to spend over a certain amount to qualify for free shipping: $50 at AmazonFresh and $25 at Amazon.com. The online shopping giant launched a website, amazon.com/snap , where people can check if they qualify. Amazon said it’s working with the USDA to expand service to other parts of New York state.

Amazon.com Inc. was on the initial list for the government pilot program, and Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. made the list later. The world’s largest retailer, however, in late 2017 had started allowing customers in limited locations to order items through its online grocery pickup service and then pay for it in person at the stores.

“Access to convenience and to quality, fresh groceries shouldn’t be dictated by how you pay,” Walmart said. “This pilot program is a great step forward, and we are eager to expand this to customers in other states where we already have a great online grocery.”

Walmart said that nearly 300 locations with grocery pickup in the states will be part of the USDA government program.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Trade Organization handed the United States a win Thursday in a trade dispute with China, ruling that Beijing did not fairly administer quotas on U.S. wheat, rice and corn.

The WTO, the Geneva organization that oversees the rules of global trade, found that China had not been transparent, predictable or fair in managing so-called tariff rate quotas on U.S. grain exports. The import tax, or tariff, is higher on U.S. grain shipments that exceed the quota.

The case, started by the Obama administration, is not directly related to a larger U.S.-China trade standoff: President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports in a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive drive to challenge U.S. technological dominance; China has retaliated by targeting $110 billion in U.S. products. The two countries are in talks to settle their differences.

The decision Thursday was the second U.S. victory over China this year in a trade dispute over agriculture. In February, the WTO ruled that China unfairly subsidized its grain producers.

“This second important victory for the United States further demonstrates that President Trump will take all steps necessary to enforce trade rules and to ensure free and fair trade for U.S. farmers,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “The Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”

China can appeal Thursday’s decision.

MANHATTAN, Kan – Kansas’s number of farms and ranches increased during 2018, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 58,900, was up 300 farms from 2017.

Numbers of farms and ranches in Kansas with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales increased 200 farms from a year earlier while operations with more than $100,000 in agricultural sales increased 100 farms.

Land in farms and ranches in Kansas totaled 45.8 million acres, unchanged from 2017. The average size of operation, at 778 acres, was down 4 acres from a year earlier.

Nebraska’s number of farms and ranches declined during 2018, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 45,900, was down 400 farms from 2017. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms from a year earlier while operations with more than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 45.0 million acres, unchanged from 2017. The average size of operation, at 980 acres, was up 8 acres from a year earlier.

Access the National publication for this release at:
https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/5712m6524

Find agricultural statistics for your county, State, and the Nation at www.nass.usda.gov

A bipartisan group of Senators is seeking a USDA-wide National Water Quality Initiative to prioritize conservation measures in the 2018 Farm Bill to address water quality.

In a letter, the Senators point out that the 2018 Farm Bill made “historic investments” in voluntary conservation efforts to address water quality challenges. Specifically, the bill reformed and improved all major conservation programs in order to provide new tools to assist farmers, ranchers, and landowners in addressing water quality concerns.

The group of Senators, led by Senate Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow, urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to implement the provisions through the department-wide approach, which would build off the existing initiative housed at the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The letter was also signed by Senate Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Braun of Indiana, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Carper of Delaware, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

U.S. corn planting slipped behind the five-year average pace and spring wheat planting fell further behind average last week, according to USDA NASS’ weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

For the week ended Sunday, April 14, 3% of the nation’s corn crop was planted, equal to last year at the same time but 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 5%. In last Monday’s report, corn planting was reported as equal to the five-year average.

Most corn-planting activity was still only taking place in the Southern states, such as Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, noted DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman.

Spring wheat planting also further behind the average last week. NASS reported that only 2% of spring wheat had been planted as of Sunday, up only 1 percentage point from the previous week, behind 3% at the same time last year and significantly behind the five-year average of 13%.

There was no spring wheat planting progress reported yet in the Dakotas or Minnesota, and only 1% of the crop was planted in Montana.

Progress of the winter wheat crop also slowed last week. Nationwide, 6% of winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, behind 8% at the same time last year and also behind the five-year average of 9%.

The condition of the winter wheat crop, on the other hand, remained steady at 60% good to excellent, the highest good-to-excellent rating at this time of year in seven years. Fifty-nine percent of winter wheat in top-producing Kansas was rated good to excellent.

Sorghum was 16% planted, compared to 20% last year and a 19% five-year average. Cotton planting was 7% complete, compared to 8% last year and a 7% average. Rice was 26% planted, compared to 30% last year and a 35% average. Thirteen percent of rice was emerged, compared to 14% last year and an average of 15%.

Oats were 30% planted as of April 14, compared to 29% last year and a 40% average. Emergence was at 26%, compared to 26% last year and a 28% average.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/…. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Planted 3 2 3 5
Winter Wheat Headed 6 3 8 9
Spring Wheat Planted 2 1 3 13
Cotton Planted 7 6 8 7
Sorghum Planted 16 14 20 19
Barley Planted 8 2 7 19
Oats Planted 30 27 29 40
Oats Emerged 26 25 26 28
Rice Planted 26 19 30 35
Rice Emerged 13 7 14 15

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Winter Wheat 2 7 31 48 12 2 7 31 48 12 15 22 32 26 5

 

Listen to Clay Patton with the report here: http://bit.ly/2Df3o4y

WASHINGTON (DTN) — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said Tuesday he sees the need to help farmers with losses in grain bins from Midwest floods. But he said the notion $3 billion is needed for Midwest disaster aid is “baloney.”

Peterson, D-Minn., met Tuesday with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists and spoke about several topics. On disaster aid, Peterson said inserting Midwest aid into a current disaster bill in the Senate could potentially hold up needed aid for Southern farmers whose farms were hit hard by hurricanes last year.

“The Southerners need this,” Peterson said. “They have a lot of crops that don’t traditionally get into crop insurance that were damaged during a tough time in the cycle. Pecan trees and peaches and so forth that are not in the normal farm-program disaster deal. So they need this $3 billion deal they have been working on for the South.”

Now, the Midwest flooding has come into play. “That’s getting tangled up with this because people are playing politics with it and making it sound like the government’s got to come in with a big disaster deal and save people,” Peterson said.

The states of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri were hit by a powerful storm in mid-March that caused rapid flooding of several rivers that are tributaries to the Missouri River. Dozens of communities were flooded in those states, causing extensive damage to roads, bridges and levees. Both livestock and grain farmers suffered major financial losses.

Now a similar storm, dubbed “bomb cyclones,” is expected to again develop in the Rockies and turn into a blizzard and heavy rains across Plains states and the Midwest. The storm will bring snow, rain and high winds across several states. Beyond hitting those areas already hit by floods, the latest cycle of storms will likely further delay fieldwork and spring planting.

Midwest lawmakers have pushed to include disaster aid for floods into legislation in the U.S. Senate.

For farmers hit by those storms and floods, Peterson said the 2018 farm bill deals with most of their needs already.

“The truth is, for farmers, everything that was damaged was covered in the farm bill,” Peterson said. “Ninety-eight percent of those people have crop insurance. We have the Livestock Indemnity Program. We have the Livestock Forage Program. We have all of these other programs that kick in now that we didn’t used to have.”

The congressman did note that farmers who lost crops in grain bins should be eligible for an indemnity payment and Congress should work to make that happen.

“The only thing that’s not covered is this grain that was damaged,” Peterson said. “And we have more grain being stored now than we’ve ever had because of these low prices and these tariffs.”

Peterson added, “I think we can do a one-time thing to try to help people with that. But one thing that should come in here is you could have bought insurance. So this is something that is going to come up, but you could have bought insurance.”

But Peterson said of the notion of spending $3 billion in disaster aid for the Midwest, “That’s a bunch of baloney.”

Nebraska and Iowa officials have pegged disaster losses from infrastructure and agriculture at around $1.5 billion in each state. Missouri officials have not detailed the total losses.

Peterson added that farmers who lost grain in bins likely could have bought a property and casualty insurance policy for stored grain, though he noted it would likely have been expensive to purchase. Farmers who lost crops have repeatedly also expressed worry that they will have to rely on prevented planting insurance on their fields, and prevented planting indemnities may only cover a small portion of their lost income from 2019.

Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, told reporters Monday that Congress is looking at a disaster bill to allow some coverage for those grain losses, though it’s unclear just how that disaster coverage will look.

“We don’t have anything in our programs now,” Northey said.

To help with the Midwest disaster, the Emergency Conservation Program and programs like it probably need more funding, Peterson said. “The rest of it is in the farm bill, and that’s something a lot of people don’t understand.”

In the South, Peterson said, hurricanes hit right before the pecan harvest, and there are farmers who lost 70% to 80% of their trees. Those farmers will take years to reestablish their orchards, he said.

“Now you have got people saying, ‘Well, unless we do something for Iowa, we can’t do anything for these other people.’ In the South, you have got a lot of people who are going to go out of business because there’s no help for them and they are supposed to be planting right now. You are going to see a lot of these farmers go out of business.”

Peterson suggested Congress should finish legislation with Southern disaster aid separately, then work on a program for stored grain losses in the Midwest.

“I’m for it, but I don’t want to hold up the Southern disaster aid for three months while we’re fighting over this Midwest thing,” he said. “And some of it is not even real. Some people are making it seem like we’re not doing anything for Midwest farmers. Everything is covered except for this grain bin thing. The rest of it is covered by the farm bill.”

In the Red River Valley, where Peterson noted there is often flooding, he got the Natural Resources Conservation Service director in 2009 to fund ring dikes around farms in the valley. “So we don’t flood anymore and the grain bins are protected, along with the house,” Peterson said.

It’s common that anytime there is a disaster bill, another disaster strikes, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Anytime you do a disaster program and you try to address the problems of each state or each crop or each region, then you have another disaster or area that has been affected, as well, and there are hard feelings in terms of ‘Wait a minute, we’re not being covered by that bill,'” Roberts said.

Before the Midwest floods hit, the disaster package moving through Congress primarily was meant to help farmers and businesses in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico that were hit by hurricanes, as well as funding for recovery from wildfires in California. The disaster package got held up in the Senate because Democrats still want more aid for Puerto Rico and Senate Republicans are resisting that funding.

Roberts added, “Time is of the essence, and we have to get it done.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is holding meetings this week about flood risks in major communities along the Missouri River, including meetings in Fort Pierre, South Dakota; and Sioux City, Iowa; on Wednesday, as well as Smithville, Missouri; and Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Thursday. For more information about the meetings, visit http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/….

State officials have said they want more control over flood protection along the Missouri River. The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is planning to hold a field hearing from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, April 17, in Glenwood, Iowa. The hearing will focus on Missouri River management and the current flooding situation in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — An insurance program to help hard-pressed dairy farmers is expected to be ready for enrollment in June, the U.S. Farm Service Agency says, but farmers say it won’t tackle the underlying challenges they face.

Dairy farmers are in their fifth year of low milk prices that have driven thousands out of business.

“I’ve been in this for over 40 years and this is as bad as it’s ever gotten,” said Vermont dairy farmer Jacques Parent on Tuesday.

Describing the dairy farmers’ situation as urgent, 38 U.S. senators signed a letter late last month urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the insurance program quickly and work to educate farmers about their options.

The improved insurance program in the 2018 farm bill — called Dairy Margin Coverage — expands the coverage levels for farmers. They pay premiums and receive payments when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reach a certain level. The program was delayed by the 35-day partial government shutdown. Payments will be retroactive to January.

“USDA is working diligently to implement the DMC program and other programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce wrote in an email on Monday.

Still, the more time that passes, the harder it is for farmers.

“I think it’s frustrating, very frustrating because we’ve gone through this four-year drought in revenue and each month it gets put off the more disheartened producers become,” said Michigan dairy farmer Ken Nobis.

Consumer demand in some segments and unresolved trade issues that are harming exports and boosting surpluses are other issues challenging the dairy industry, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation has said.

For many years, dairy farmers went through a three-year cycle of a good year, a bad year and a mediocre year, Nobis said.

“Now we’re in our fifth year of below profitable levels of milk production, that’s pretty hard for anyone to withstand,” he said.

Higher tier coverage is available for smaller operations. Nobis, whose farm milks 1,000 cows, and Parent with 700 cows, would cap out early.

“It’s appreciated but it’s only a little Band Aid,” said Parent.

The bottom line is farmers don’t want a check from the government, said Nobis. “What we want is a viable market and that viable market … has been damaged dramatically by the trade issues that we didn’t ask for, frankly.”