Agriculture Week of 8/26/19

Staff Writer

FFA using grant to study bees

The Oregon Clay Future Farmers of America chapter has been awarded $2,580 as part of the Grants for Growing program.
The nationwide program, sponsored by Tractor Supply Company, provides grant funds to local FFA chapters to support the development or improvement of agricultural education projects that enhance the classroom experiences for students.
The Clay FFA chapter is purchasing a Beepod to utilize as a classroom beehive in the community.
Meredith Wolfe, agricultural education instructor at Clay High School, said students will learn beehive management, record keeping and sustainability.
Students will also have the opportunity to learn ecology first hand and make management decisions regarding the hive, she said.
The program provided approximately $907,000 to FFA chapters in 49 states. Funding is provided through consumer donations made during checkout at a Tractor Supply Company store by purchasing a $1 FFA Paper Emblem.
The fundraising period is held during National FFA Week in February.

FSA expanding payment options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency is expanding its payment options to now accept debit cards and Automated Clearing House debit.
The paperless payment options enable FSA customers to pay farm loan payments, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayments and administrative service fees, as well as to purchase aerial maps.
Previously, only cash, checks, money orders and wires were accepted. By using debit cards and ACH debit, transactions are processed from the customer’s financial institution through, the U.S. Treasury’s online payment hub.
While traditional collection methods like cash and paper checks will continue, offering the new alternatives will improve effectiveness and convenience to customers while being more cost effective. In 2017, the average cost to manually process checks, a process that included navigating multiple systems, cost USDA more than $4.6 million. The expanded payment options will cut the time employees take processing payments by 75 percent.
The announcement marks the beginning of a multi-phased roll-out of new payment options for USDA customers. Ultimately, payment option flexibility will be extended to allow farmers and producers to use debit cards and ACH debit payments to make payments for all FSA programs, including farm storage facility loan repayments, farm loan facility fees, marketing assistance loan repayments, Dairy Margin Coverage administrative fees and premiums and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program fees.

Nearly 20 million unplanted acres, USDA reports

Farmers were not able to plant crops on more than 19.4 million acres in 2019, according to a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA’s Farm Service Agency began compiling the report in 2007 and 17.49 million more unplanted million acres than reported at this time last year.
Of the prevented planting acres, more than 73 percent were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding this year has prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat.
“Agricultural producers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches,” USDA under secretary for farm production and conservation Bill Northey said. “We know these are challenging times for farmers, and we have worked to improve flexibility of our programs to assist producers prevented from planting.”

Cover crops
USDA supported the use of cover crops on fields where farmers were not able to plant, because of their benefits in preventing soil erosion, protecting water quality and boosting soil health.
The report shows producers planted 2.71 million acres of cover crops so far in 2019, compared with 2.14 million acres at this time in 2018 and 1.88 million at this time in 2017.
To help make cover crops a more viable option, USDA’s Risk Management Agency adjusted the haying and grazing date of cover crops, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service held signups in select states that offered producers assistance in planting cover crops.
This data report aggregates information from crop acreage reports as of August 1, 2019, which producers file with FSA to maintain program eligibility and to calculate losses for various disaster assistance programs.
The acreage data report outlines the number of acres planted, prevented from planting, and failed by crop, county and state.
The FSA will make subsequent data reports available in September, October, November, December and January.
To receive FSA program benefits, producers are required to submit crop acreage reports annually regarding all cropland uses on their farm. This report includes data for producers who had already filed for all deadlines in 2019, including the mid-July deadlines, which are for spring-seeded crops in many locations.


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