Tag Archives: USDA

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday extended sign-up deadlines for the Dairy Margin Coverage program to December 20. USDA officials cited the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events this year for moving the deadline beyond its original date of Friday, December 13.

USDA announced it is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20, 2019. Bill Northey, USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation, says some farmers are still in the field, adding, “we hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.”

The DMC program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. The Market Facilitation Program is part of a relief strategy to support farmers while the administration continues to work on trade agreements. Another round of payments could come next month.

The National Milk Producers Federation announced a settlement agreement that would end a class-action lawsuit concerning the Herd Retirement Program that ended back in 2010.

The program was administered through the federation’s Cooperatives Working Together initiative. The settlement will safeguard ongoing efforts to aid U.S. dairy producers, lift a cloud over the industry that’s lasted years, and it allows NMPF member cooperatives and the current CWT program to move forward with more certainty.

The plaintiffs consisted of larger retailers and companies who directly buy butter and cheese from CWT member cooperatives. The settlement amount is $220 million in exchange for a release of all claims. Neither the NMPF nor any of its member cooperatives admit any wrongdoing as a result of the settlement. “There is no way to sugarcoat a settlement of this size, especially given that the Herd Retirement Program was a well-publicized effort designed to serve dairy producers in difficult times,” says Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the NMPF. “It was praised by two Secretaries of Agriculture and a number of the leading members of Congress.”

The plaintiffs sought damages relating to the Herd Retirement Program, which offered dairy farmers financial incentives to market their milking herds for beef. It operated between 2003 and 2010.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that signup for the Conservation Reserve Program will begin on December ninth. The signup period ends on February 28th for general CRP, while the signup for continuous CRP is ongoing.

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP get a yearly payment for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species like approved grasses or trees that help control erosion. The practices also improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. “The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation efforts and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while they conserve natural resources,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

CRP currently has 22 million acres enrolled in the program. However, the 2018 Farm Bill lifts the cap on acres up to 27 million. That means many farmers and ranchers have the chance to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term. CRP was first signed into law in 1985 and is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. The program has evolved over the years and provides a variety of conservation and economic benefits across the country.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, today released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s (USDA) rule, which would make harmful changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):


“This rule could cause one million people to lose their food assistance, while doing nothing to help them find jobs. This Administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours. Seasonal holiday workers, workers in Northern Michigan’s tourism industry, and workers with unreliable hours like waiters and waitresses are the kinds of workers hurt by this proposal. There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill and instead focused on bipartisan job training opportunities that actually help families find good paying jobs.”


Congress considered and chose not to include similar changes to SNAP in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill. In fact, an amendment to SNAP was rejected by the House of Representatives by a vote of 83-330 in 2018. A similar amendment proposed in the Senate was rejected by a bipartisan vote of 68-30. After the rule was proposed, 47 Senators from both parties urged the Administration to withdrawal the rule.

USDA’s NASS Crop Progress report would have typically ended last week however given the slow pace of harvest USDA did a special harvest crop progress and will do another next week for December 9th.

The latest report showed U.S. farmers made little headway on the 2019 row-crop harvest last week.  Two major winter storm systems hit wide swaths of the country last week delaying not only holiday travel, but combines as well.

Nationwide, the corn harvest inched ahead only 5 percentage points last week to reach 89% complete as of Sunday, Dec. 1, 9 percentage points behind the five-year average of 98%. Nebraska inched within 3% of their five year average at 96% and Kansas met it’s five year average at 99%.

Northern states like North Dakota continue to be historically behind at only 36% harvested. Michigan moved from 56% to 66%, Wisconsin rose from 57% to 66% and South Dakota went from 68% to 80% harvested. Iowa is 92% harvested, and Illinois is 93% harvested.

Soybean harvest also slowed to a near standstill last week, moving ahead only 2 percentage points to reach 96% as of Sunday and remaining 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 99%. Nebraska soybean harvest is believed to be 100% complete. Kansas sits just 1% behind their five year average at 97% complete.

Cotton harvest was estimated at 83% completed, just slightly ahead of the average pace of 81%.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/….

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Harvested 89 84 97 98
Soybeans Harvested 96 94 97 99
Cotton Harvested 83 78 74 81

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) today announced fellowship opportunities to connect USDA resources with faculty and staff at Hispanic Serving Institutions, 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities, and 1890 Land-Grant Universities.


“We are excited to build upon the more than 20 years of success of the E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program to offer additional opportunities to empower faculty and staff from our partner institutions to holistically develop the next generation of agriculture,” said OPPE Director Mike Beatty.


The purpose of these fellowships is to connect participants to USDA and other federal resources while focusing on student development. Fellows will receive access to long-term collaboration opportunities, and then share what they learned with students and colleagues at their home institutions.


The E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program is designed for faculty or staff at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) or Hispanic-Serving School District. HSIs are accredited colleges and universities with at least 25 percent Hispanic student enrollment. Currently, there are more than 500 HSIs in 21 states and Puerto Rico, serving more than 2 million students. See the 2020 the E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program application (PDF, 1.2 MB) for details.


The Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship is designed for faculty and staff from 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Secondary Education Superintendents, Principals, Agricultural and/or District Level Teachers working for Bureau of Indian Education designated high schools. See the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship application (PDF, 257 KB) for details.


The Booker T. Washington Fellowship is aimed at faculty and staff at an accredited 1890 Land-Grant University and Secondary Education Superintendents, Principals, Agricultural and/or District Level Teachers working for an 1890 Land-Grant University feeder high school. See the 2020 Booker T. Washington Fellowship application (PDF, 349 KB) for details.


Each program offers opportunities for Education Fellows and Science Fellows. Education Fellows participate in a week-long program in Washington, D.C. scheduled to start June 15 and end on June 19, 2020. Science Fellows participate in a two-week program, consisting of one week in Washington, D.C. and a second week at a USDA research location, ending on June 26, 2020.


The application deadline for all fellowship opportunities is 11:59 p.m. on February 12, 2020.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it’s made changes to crop insurance for sugar beets in 2020. The Risk Management Agency made changes that will start in 2020 for some policies and 2021 for others.

The agency says the changes will better protect sugar beet producers who may get a bumper crop in future years, as well as provide other flexibility. “We continually listen to producers and stakeholders in developing our crop insurance policies,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “We also make adjustments to the policies when necessary to better support sugar beet producers and ensure the early harvest adjustment more accurately matches their current year production.”

Key changes include revising the maximum early harvest adjustment to better reflect a unit’s production capabilities, especially in the case of a bumper crop. They’re also adding procedures to allow third-party testing of sugar beets for raw sugar content. Changes are further outlined in a final rule, now available at regulations.gov. Interested parties can comment on the final rule for 60 days.

PARSONS, Kansas – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matthew Lohr announced USDA has invested $5.2 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for rural households and farms in Kansas. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s Reconnect Pilot Program investments.


“I’m excited about the tremendous benefits broadband will have for farmers here in rural Kansas,” Lohr said. “Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity.”


Wave Wireless, LLC will use ReConnect Program funding to deploy a Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) broadband network capable of simultaneous transmission rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater. The funded service areas include 1,390 households, 16 businesses, and 23 farms. The project will facilitate more access to services and information for local residents, and it will improve the overall quality of life for people in the community.



In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.


These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient Internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.


In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local, and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force. To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please see the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).


USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.


Wheat bulls, Chinese politics, and USDA formulas are all topics of discussion to start the week off on the Fontanelle Final Bell. Darrin Fessler, Lakefront Futures, looks at the wheat market at possible momentum and technical trading to the upside. Fessler notes that it’s unusual to see the Minneapolis wheat futures at a discount to Chicago wheat futures.

Following the weekend election results in Hong Kong Bejing may be feeling political pressure to get a Phase One Trade deal signed with the US.

Finally Fessler looks at how the USDA is currently formulating feed use in the US and if the latest cattle on feed report will have an impact on that formula.

Hong Kong, Bill in the Senate…how does that effect China Trade. Talks 3 b corn is still in the field, South American weather helping the crops.  USDA to continue crop progress reports into the near future.  Spread of ASF continues in China & beyond.  The need for food to feed those in China