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Truck raffle fundraiser, Trump selection, e-Connectivity grant and more

• May 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Here is a roundup of recent agriculture-related news releases:


New Field Managers Join Soil Health Partnership Team in Iowa and Wisconsin


ST. LOUIS — The Soil Health Partnership welcomed two new field managers to the staff, supporting farmers on the ground in the growing soil health effort. Lisa Kubik, and Tricia Verville joined the SHP in April to assist with the growing number of farmers in the program in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“Recent staff promotions within our organization and our growing presence in 12 states drives this latest staff expansion,” said acting SHP Director and National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Production and Sustainability Nick Goeser. ”We welcome Lisa and Tricia to the partnership and look forward to their expertise and enthusiasm.”

SHP field managers help new farmers get started in the program with test plots, and assist along the way with soil sampling, monitoring and answering questions about the farming techniques implemented on a particular site. They help organize, attend and offer presentations at field days. Most importantly, the field managers’ expertise and training are critical to the success of the research gained from the field for the long-term data project.

Kubik will work in eastern Iowa, taking over for Elyssa McFarland who has been recently promoted to Key Relationships Director for the Soil Health Partnership. Verville will work in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

A Certified Crop Advisor, Kubik comes to the Soil Health Partnership after five years with WinField United, a Land O’Lakes Company. She is a 2014 graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural business and a minor in agronomy and animal science. She grew up on a farm in Lake Mills, Iowa.

“I most look forward to working with farmers, building those relationships and helping them make sustainable practices work economically on their farms,” Kubik said. “Farmers are interested in practices like no-till and cover crops, but they want to make sure it works for them economically. I’m excited to be part of that.”

Verville comes to the organization after a year working on shoreland, floodplain and zoning regulations for Winnebago County, Wisconsin. Prior to that, she spent three years as a Crop Specialist for Insight FS in Wautoma, Wisconsin, providing agronomy support and sales to local growers. A Certified Crop Advisor and certified crop specialist, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point, majoring in soil and land management with a minor in environmental law enforcement.

“Everything starts with the soil and depends on the soil,” Verville said. “Even though my family didn’t farm, I have always been interested in plants and science, and soil health is critical. I am excited to be a resource for farmers.”

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint.

The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health, benefiting both farmer profitability and the environment. With more than 100 working farms enrolled in more than 10 states the SHP tests, measures and advances progressive farm management practices that will enhance sustainability and farm economics for generations to come. SHP brings together diverse partners to work towards common goals.

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Ag Community Relief announces truck raffle fundraiser

Fresh on the heels of several long-distant road-trips this past month delivering desperately needed hay, feed and fencing supplies to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers impacted by a 350,000 acre wildfire, the Ag Community Relief organization is renewing its fundraising focus for the next natural disaster and scholarships.

The Michigan-based volunteer organization is partnering with Milnes Auto Group with locations in Imlay City, Mich. and Lapeer, Mich., for a truck raffle, according to Ag Community Relief President, Matt Schaller.

“The grand prize for one lucky winner is a new 2018 3/4 ton diesel, 4 door, 4x4, short box truck,” Schaller said. “Better yet, thanks to the Milnes Auto Group, the winner will be also be able to choose between a Ford, Chevy or Dodge.”

According to Schaller, ticket sales for the truck raffle will be limited to the first 1,000 sold at a price of $100 each, and will include a second-place prize of $2,500 in cash, and a third-place prize of $1,500 in cash. Proceeds will go to benefit the Ag Community Relief Fund and their Scholarship program.

The winning ticket will be drawn on September 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm at the Woods-N-Water Expo in Imlay City, MI. Visit the Ag Community Relief’s online store or call 517-668-2676 to purchase tickets.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older to enter, have a valid driver’s license as required by state law. All applicable state and federal taxes, license, registration fees, insurance, dealer preparation charges, and other expenses not listed herein are the winner’s responsibility and must be paid when prize is claimed.

Prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash. Winner need not be present at the Grand Prize drawing to win, but must present personal identification with his or her photograph, name and address and complete affidavit of eligibility and release and take delivery of the Grand Prize vehicle from Milnes Auto Group within 90 days of the drawing.

Prize cannot be substituted except by the sponsor who reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if the advertised prize is not available. Void where prohibited by law. For official contest rules and additional details, visit https://www.agcommunityrelief.com/truck-raffle.

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Secretary Perdue Applauds President Trump’s Selection for USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 4 applauded President Donald J. Trump’s selection of Dr. Mindy Brashears to be the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Food Safety. After the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“Food safety is at the core of USDA’s mission, because it directly affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans every day. President Trump has made an excellent choice in Dr. Mindy Brashears, and I am excited to have her join the team. Dr. Brashears has spent decades finding ways to improve food safety standards through innovation, invention, and leadership on research missions across the globe. I look forward to her bringing that wealth of expertise and track record of results here to USDA.

“In the meantime, we still have qualified people in addition to Dr. Brashears awaiting confirmation to fill key roles at USDA. I urge the Senate take up all of our nominations as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Brashears is a Professor of Food Safety and Public Health and the Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Dr. Brashears’ research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her highly acclaimed work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-Chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.

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Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative Executive Order

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 3 praised President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order establishing the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative within the Office of the President.

The Executive Order, which coincided with the National Day of Prayer, requires consultation with faith and community leaders to address such issues as poverty alleviation, religious liberty, strengthening marriage and family, education, solutions for substance abuse and addiction, crime prevention and reduction, prisoner reentry, and health and humanitarian services. It recognizes the tremendous ability of these organizations to serve individuals, families, and communities.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“On this National Day of Prayer, I am gratified to join with President Trump to elevate the importance of our faith community in meeting the challenges facing our great nation. These community leaders are in touch with their citizens and are often best equipped to offer insights on how to provide support and improve lives. At the Department of Agriculture, we are already engaged with faith leaders on many fronts, including efforts to battle the growing opioid crisis in rural America. I commend the President for his support of the important work of the faith community and the recognition that government alone cannot solve every problem we face.”

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Secretary Perdue Announces e-Connectivity Grant for Rural Alabama

BRILLIANT, Ala. — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 3 announced USDA is awarding a $2.9 million grant to the Tombigbee Electric Cooperative to bring e-Connectivity to rural Marion County, Alabama.

“In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of rural electrification and what it meant to people in those communities. FDR said it was ‘a modern necessity of life, not a luxury. That necessity ought to be found in every village, in every house, and on every farm in every part of the United States.’ Though he was talking about electricity, the same can be said for broadband Internet access today. To compete in today’s global marketplace, we must remove the infrastructure gaps in rural communities,” Secretary Perdue said. “This grant is in keeping with President Trump’s directive that we use all available tools to increase prosperity in rural America. As we pursue economic expansion, we recognize that broadband e-Connectivity is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.”

Tombigbee Electric Cooperative will use a USDA Community Connect Grant to deploy a Fiber-to-the-Premises network in the community of Brilliant and in surrounding areas of Marion County, Ala. This project will connect nearly 500 households to high-speed broadband as well as businesses and essential community services in the area. In addition, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative will establish a community center within the service area where residents can access the internet free of charge.

USDA’s Community Connect Grant Program provides grants to bring high-speed e-Connectivity to rural communities where there is not yet a business case for private providers to deliver service.

USDA is accepting applications through May 14 in the longstanding Community Connect program that has been in existence since 2002. Grants from $100,000 to $3 million are available to state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and for-profit corporations.

The funds must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum bandwidth of 25 megabits downstream and three megabits upstream, which are the benchmark speeds the Federal Communications Commission has adopted for broadband connectivity. Awardees must offer free broadband service to all critical community facilities in their proposed service areas for two years and provide a community center with free broadband service for two years.

For more details on this grant opportunity, see page 11494 of the March 15 Federal Register.

Modern infrastructure is a necessity – not an amenity – for any community to thrive. Infrastructure is a foundation to provide a high quality of life and economic opportunities. USDA is proud to partner with local rural communities to help address their infrastructure needs.

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. These findings 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 view 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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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