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Increased ethanol blends, bioengineered food disclosure, farm tours and more

• May 16, 2018 at 9:53 AM

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


May 3, 2018

USDA’s Proposed Rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

ST. LOUIS — “The proposed rule published today by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is a critical step towards establishing a National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard by the July 29, 2018 deadline. We want to sincerely thank Secretary Perdue, Under Secretary Ibach, and the Agriculture Marketing Service team for their diligence to get this critically important proposed rule published. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food remains committed to a standard that gives consumers access to information about the food they purchase; ensures that farmers continue to have the tools they need to feed a growing world population; and provides certainty to food manufacturers, retailers and others in the supply chain.

“Over 1,100 national, state, and local organizations representing the food and agriculture value chain supported enactment of the Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, because it prevented a state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws, that would have cost U.S. consumers, farmers and manufacturers billions of dollars.

“Given the importance of ensuring the final rule is in place by the statutory deadline, the Coalition will be analyzing the proposed rule and developing coordinated food and agricultural industry comments over the next 60 days. The Coalition looks forward to providing the Department with input that reflects the needs of consumers, farmers and the rest of the food value chain.”

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May 6, 2018

Soy Growers Call on President to Support RFS, Rural America

WASHINGTON — The American Soybean Association (ASA), along with other agriculture groups, this week sent a letter to President Donald Trump encouraging support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and in turn, rural America.

The letter praises the President’s April 12 comments on addressing regulatory barriers that prevent year-round sales of higher ethanol blends and also requests that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commit to the statutory level for advanced biofuels for 2019 and provide significant growth for biomass-based diesel in 2020 to address lost gallons on advanced biofuels.

“We urge you to follow through on the needed regulatory fix for higher blends and ensuring the volumes of renewable fuel as the solution to address farmer and refiner concerns without further undercutting the RFS, such as imposing a RIN cap, and causing additional harm to the farm economy,” the letter states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects 2018 net farm income will decline by $4.3 billion, resulting in the lowest net farm income, in nominal dollars, since 2006. RFS creates new markets for farmers and new jobs in rural America, and as such, farmers depend on the President’s continued support.

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May 11, 2018

Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer focused mission area.”

Richard Fordyce most recently served as State Executive Director for FSA in Missouri. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, Fordyce was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He and his wife, Renee, have two children and grow soybeans, corn and beef cattle on the family farm.

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May 9, 2018

Ohio Pork Chop Golf Outing

Join us on June 15, 2018 at 9 a.m., for the Ohio Pork Chop Golf Outing! The annual event will be held at the Windy Knoll Golf Club in Springfield, Ohio.

Proceeds from the event will fund various collegiate scholarships and support the Friends of Pork, the Ohio Pork Council's PAC fund. This event provides a unique experience for famers, allied industry representatives and supporters to network with others in the various facets of the pork industry.

The outing is $110 per individual or $400 per four some, which includes greens fees, cart, pork lunch, prizes and refreshments.

To register, contact the Ohio Pork Council at [email protected], or 614-882-5887.

Registration is due May 25.

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Buy your tickets for Pork-a-Palooza!

The Ohio Pork Council's Pork-a-Palooza, featuring: bacon, BBQ and beer, will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

Join us for an afternoon of delicious pork products from your favorite local restaurants and food trucks. Dance the afternoon away with live music from Big Daddy Blue, or take part in family-friendly activities.

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Volunteers, Cashiers needed for the 2018 Ohio State Fair

The 2018 Ohio State Fair is right around the corner, and we need your help! From July 25- August 5, OPC will be educating visitors at the Land and Living display in the Ag and Hort building. Volunteers will be provided admission to the fair and a voucher for a meal.

Interested in being an active participant at OPC's food stands? Sign up as a cashier today! Along with taking and calling orders, the cashiers help with other food stand responsibilities; such as, restocking supplies and cleaning the stations. All employees will be offered breaks and a free pork meal.

If you are interested, please contact us at [email protected] or 614-882-5887.

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Check out the Ohio Show Pig Symposium!

On August 25, 2018, The Ohio State University- College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences will be holding the Ohio Show Pig Producer Symposium at the Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City, Ohio. The program will cover a variety of topics, such as effect of influenza A in swine, understanding parturition, and creating healthy environments for your swine. Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the program concluding at 2:30 p.m.

If you are interested in attending, the cost is $10 per person. For more information on the event or to register, contact OSU Extension/Putnam County at (419) 523-6294.

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Summer interns welcomed

This summer, Allison Price and Mary Jenkins have joined the OPC team. Allison Price just completed her junior year at The Ohio State University studying animal sciences and agricultural communication. Originally from Tiffin, Ohio, Allie grew up on a swine farm showing pigs and enjoys photography. Mary is originally from Saint Paris, Ohio in Champaign County. This fall, she will be a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communication with a minor in Spanish. The interns will be in our office over the summer, working on communication projects and events over the next few months, including the Ohio State Fair.

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May 10, 2018

Secretary Perdue Announces Fourth “Back to Our Roots” Tour

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will embark on his fourth “Back to Our Roots” tour Monday, May 14th to hear ideas and concerns from local farmers, ranchers, producers, foresters, agriculture students, business owners, community leaders, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees. The tour will last through Thursday and include stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. During different segments of the tour, Secretary Perdue will be joined by Governor Susana Martinez (NM), Governor John Hickenlooper (CO) Governor Pete Ricketts (NE), Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte (NM), Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown (CO), Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto (WY), Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman (NE), and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall.

“This tour is another great chance to escape Washington and meet face-to-face with America’s farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters,” Secretary Perdue said. “We want to take our message directly to the American people and give them an opportunity to express their ideas and concerns. As Congress and the Administration continue their work on important issues like rural infrastructure, trade, and the Farm Bill, USDA stands ready to give the agriculture community a voice.”

This is Secretary Perdue’s fourth “Back to Our Roots” tour since taking office just over a year ago. On his first tour in August of 2017, Secretary Perdue toured Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. In September of 2017, Secretary Perdue traveled on his second tour to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Most recently, Secretary Perdue visited Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky during his third tour in early April.

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May 9, 2018

United States Issues First-Ever WTO Counter Notification Against India’s Market Price Support

WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the United States submitted a counter notification in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Agriculture (COA) on India’s market price support (MPS) for wheat and rice. Filed on May 4, 2018, this is the first ever COA notification under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture regarding another country’s measures.

“The United States expects our trading partners to comply with the reporting requirements they agreed to when joining the WTO,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “Accurate reporting and improved transparency of these programs is an important step in ensuring that our trading partners are living up to their WTO commitments and helps achieve more market-based outcomes through the multilateral trading system.”

“American farmers are the most productive and competitive in the world, and with free and fair trade, they always do well in the international marketplace,” Secretary Perdue said. “India represents a massive market, and we want greater access for U.S. products, but India must be transparent about their practices. For trade to be free and fair, all parties must abide by their WTO commitments.”

Based on U.S. calculations, it appears that India has substantially underreported its market price support for wheat and rice. When calculated according to WTO Agreement on Agriculture methodology, India’s market price support for wheat and rice far exceeded its allowable levels of trade distorting domestic support. The United States expects a robust discussion on how India implements and notifies its policies at the next COA meeting, which is scheduled for June 2018.

On May 4, 2018, the United States submitted a counter notification in the WTO Committee on Agriculture on India’s market price support for wheat and rice – based on publicly available information. The United States has identified several areas of potential concern with India’s notification of its market price support for rice and wheat. These include issues with the quantity of production used in market price support calculations, the exclusion of state-level bonuses from calculations of applied administered prices, exclusion from India’s notifications of information on the total value of production (VoP) of wheat and rice (information necessary to assess compliance with WTO commitments), and issues with currency conversions.

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May 8, 2018

NCGA Statement on RFS White House Meeting

WASHINGTON — The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on the outcome of today’s White House meeting regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“President Trump today reaffirmed his commitment to our nation’s farmers by approving year-round sales of E15 without a RIN cap. This is a positive step because we know a RIN price cap would have been damaging to farmers.

“We have numerous questions, however, about a potential plan now being developed by USDA Secretary Perdue and EPA Administrator Pruitt to address small refiner waivers by potentially offering biofuels credits on ethanol exports, an idea that would harm our ethanol export success.

“NCGA has opposed RIN credits on exports, an idea that EPA stated last fall that it would not pursue. Offering RIN credits, which are supposed to be derived from a domestic renewable fuel use, for ethanol exports would threaten trade markets and impact corn farmers’ economic livelihoods. Pursuing a path that includes RIN credits on export gallons would violate the letter and spirit of the RFS, serving the interests of oil refiners who have already benefitted from Administrator Pruitt’s unprecedented RFS volume waivers at the further expense of America’s farmers.

“We appreciate the agreement on eliminating the outdated regulation on higher blends such as E15, a barrier that has long needed removal, and thank Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley for their tireless efforts on behalf of agriculture. However, many questions remain unanswered as Secretary Perdue and Administrator Pruitt determine next steps and provide more details. Moving forward, NCGA will continue to advocate for policies that protect our farmer members.”

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May 8, 2018

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Members Visit Capitol Hill, Urge Congress to Fund Key Farm Bill Programs

WASHINGTON — Members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), a national coalition of more than 120 specialty crop organizations, will take their message to Congress on May 9, advocating for investment in specialty crops in the 2018 Farm Bill.

During visits on Capitol Hill, the SCFBA members will outline their priorities, making the case for stronger investment in research, technical assistance for producers, programs that combat invasive pests and diseases, healthy eating options for low-income families, block grants that improve agriculture production for growers, and improved access for producers to foreign markets and growth.

“Although we are encouraged by the initial investment included in the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill, there is more work to be done if we are to bolster the specialty crop industry. We have a real opportunity to show leadership on Capitol Hill the value of these vital programs. Our goal is to make significant progress for the entire industry,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of United Fresh Produce Association.

Specialty crop production, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery and greenhouse commodities, contributes significantly to the U.S economy, accounting for $66 billion in farm gate value and 33 percent of farm cash receipts for crops.

Enhance funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) – The SCRI was established in 2008 to address the critical research needs of the specialty crop industry. Since then, 288 research projects for specialty crops have been funded, enhancing the industry’s competitive prominence in the domestic and international marketplace. SCRI is one of the most oversubscribed research programs; current funding allows for only 10 percent of the requested projects to be funded. SCFBA urges the House Agriculture Committee to dedicate $105 million annually for the SCRI program.

Continue the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program at a full $9 million annually. Authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, TASC addresses technological barriers that prohibit or threaten the exports of U.S. specialty crops. TASC has been responsible for more than 275 grants to address these barriers even though it has only been funded at $9 million. A new ruling by the Office of Management and Budget means all new programs will lose their baseline funding by Sept. 30. SCFBA urges the House Agriculture Committee to ensure full funding in a reauthorized farm bill or if the current farm bill is extended.

Increase funding to combat invasive pests and diseases. The specialty crop industry strongly supports efforts to protect the domestic market from the increasing threat of harmful plant pests and diseases entering the United States. The farm bill has provided funding and direction for innovative initiatives that help identify and mitigate offshore threats and improve pest detection and rapid response. More than 1,700 projects have been funded since this program’s inception in the 2008 Farm Bill. SCFBA urges the House Agriculture Committee to continue supporting these programs at $75 million annually, with the goal of enhancing its funding in five years by a modest $7.5 million to fund the National Clean Plant Network.

Ensure healthy eating in low-income families. The farm bill has funded the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, which will reach more than 4 million low-income elementary students nationwide this year. SCFBA urges the House Agriculture Committee to maintain the intent of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program while clarifying all forms of fruits and vegetables are permissible only when there are hardships preventing access to fresh.

In addition, the SCFBA supports continued funding for the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), focused on retailers that operate year-round and have more accessible hours to maximize the opportunity for healthy food purchases. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) grant program focuses on SNAP families who spend 80 percent of their benefits with participating retailers. The SCFBA believes this program should only include fruits and vegetables. SCFBA supports the House Agriculture Committees efforts to increase FINI funding levels.

Continue strong funding of Specialty Crop Block Grants. One of the key aspects of the last two farm bills was the extension of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program through fiscal year 2018. The program is a much-needed effort to help specialty crop producer’s balance the challenges and uncertainties of agriculture production with improvements to their products and the access consumers have to those products.

Increase access to foreign markets. Specialty crop growers face significant obstacles in the development of export markets and unique challenges because of the perishable nature of their products. The Market Access Program (MAP) assists producers in their efforts to create, expand and maintain access to foreign markets. The Alliance strongly supports continuing key programs that address sanitary, phytosanitary and marketing barriers to the export of U.S. specialty crops. SCFBA encourages the House Agriculture Committee to increase funding for the MAP program in the next Farm Bill.

The SCFBA was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. It is co-chaired by the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, the National Potato Council, United Fresh and Western Growers Association.

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May 7, 2018

NCGA Calls on President to Allow for Increased Ethanol Blends

WASHINGTON — The National Corn Growers Association today urged President Trump to follow through on the necessary steps to implement year-round sales of higher ethanol blends, such as E15, ahead of a planned Tuesday White House meeting regarding biofuels issues.

“Year-round sale of higher ethanol blends, like E15, would replace outdated policy and provide benefits not only for farmers but also for consumers and the environment,” said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. “Corn farmers have made huge strides in increasing productivity but, at the same time, are facing a fifth consecutive year of declining corn crop receipts. A firm commitment to the RFS would help provide the stability farmers need during difficult times.”

NCGA was joined by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, American Soybean Association and National Association of Wheat Growers in a letter to the President thanking him for his recent comments in support of higher blends and urging that he begin the necessary regulatory fixes to move forward with implementation.


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May 3, 2018

2018 Farm Tour and Workshop Series Gives Public Opportunity to Experience Life on the Farm

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite you to stroll through organic fields, learn about pastured livestock production and forest farming, consider a career in farming, discover how to grow and prepare nutrient-dense food, learn how to scale up vegetable production and improve marketing strategies, or take advantage of other learning opportunities during the 2018 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA's 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events, five urban agriculture-focused farm tours, presented by Central State University Extension, will showcase ideas for how to farm in the city and address community food security.

"This series allows farmers and gardeners to share production know-how with each other, build connections among our farming community, and strengthen our food system," said Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator at OEFFA. "It also helps the public learn how sustainably produced food is grown from farmers ready to share their knowledge."

Tour guests can experience sustainable agriculture up close during these OEFFA farm tours:

Thursday, June 7: Cultivation and Weed Control in Organic Systems Field Day—University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm, Kentucky

Wednesday, June 13: Mechanical Weed Control Farm Tour—Venture Heritage Farm, Wayne Co.

Saturday, June 16: Poultry Processing Tour—King and Sons Poultry Services, Darke Co.

Sunday, July 22: Diversified Direct Marketing Farm Tour—Thistle Rock Farm, Indiana

Friday, August 3: Organic Cash Grain Farm Tour—Kauffman Farms, Madison Co.

Saturday, August 11: Transitional Orchard Farm Tour—Honey Blossom Orchard, Henry Co.

Tuesday, August 14: Pastured Beef, Hay, and Grain Farm Tour—Mound View Farms, Adams Co.

Saturday, August 25: Pastured Beef and Conservation Easement Farm Tour—Marshy Meadows Farm, Ashtabula Co.

Thursday, August 30: Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour—Sonlight Acres/Morning Sun Farm, Preble Co.

Saturday, September 22: Native Medicinal Plant Conservation Forest Farming Tour—United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, Meigs Co.

The public can tour urban agriculture projects during these Central State University Extension farm tours:

Saturday, July 7: Non-Profit Urban Educational Farm Tour—Project Aquastar at St. Stephens Community House, Franklin Co.

Saturday, July 21: Value-Added Urban Production Farm Tour—Hooper Farm, Cuyahoga Co.

Saturday, August 18: Changing the Landscape of Urban Agriculture Tour—Urban Agriculture Alliance at Jackson Industries, Lucas Co.

Saturday, August 25: Urban Farm Collective Farm Tour—Urban Earth Farms, Hamilton Co.

Sunday, September 23: Regenerative, Year-Round Urban Market Farm Tour—Dayton Urban Grown Training Farm/Mission of Mary Farm, Montgomery Co.

Attendees can develop their production and marketing skills, explore a dream to farm, learn how to select farmland, and more during these OEFFA workshops:

Saturday, June 23: Listening to the Land: Tools and Strategies for Land Assessment Workshop—Agraria, Greene Co.

Sunday, July 22: Growing and Preparing Nutrient-Dense Food for Better Health and Resilient Communities Workshop—Wyatt Run Farm and Ecology Center, Athens Co.

Sunday, August 5: Farm Vision Workshop—OEFFA, Franklin Co.

Saturdays, October 13-February 2: Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course—OEFFA, Franklin Co.

Friday, November 30-Saturday, December 1: Scale Your Farm Production and Marketing Strategies So You Can Grow Profits Workshop—Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square, Summit Co.

Other opportunities include these OEFFA member open houses and special events:

Saturday, June 9: Snowville Creamery Open House, Meigs Co.

Sunday, July 15: Foraged & Sown Open House, Franklin Co.

Sunday, August 19: 4th Annual Dinner Celebration at Maplestar Farm—Maplestar Farm, Geauga Co.

Sunday, September 9: Carriage House Farm Open House, Hamilton Co.

Saturday, October 27: Pastured Providence Farmstead Open House, Ross Co.

"OEFFA has offered annual farm tours for nearly four decades; farmers sharing knowledge with other farmers has always been at the core of our work. This series provides unique on-farm opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable agriculture and local foods from growers and producers with years of practical experience," Pawlowski said.

This series, which features 31 total events, is also promoted in cooperation with the Clintonville Farmers' Market and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, who are sponsoring additional tours.

All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise indicated in the series brochure.

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