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Agriculture News

Those Sickening Midwestern Floods

DTN | Posted on March 27, 2019

I won't mince words: Those photos of the floods in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa make me sick. The images bring to life what the flood's statistics, though impressive, leave abstract. It's one thing to be told that $400 million of cattle and other livestock have been killed, that agriculture losses are approaching $1 billion, that 13 bridges have been washed away and 200 miles of highway will need repair in Nebraska alone. But statistics can be mind-numbing. Seeing is believing. Having lived in Omaha for nine years, I am shaken to see places I used to frequent now underwater, to see the road I used to drive to DTN's offices on ripped up. I'm distressed to get an email from friends who farm outside Omaha saying they are trapped in the farmhouse because the roads are impassable and the bridge gone. My heart aches for the many whose lives have been shattered, all the more because I know some of them.

New website showcases impact of agriculture in US economy

Oklahoma Farm Report | Posted on March 27, 2019

A new study shows that agriculture plays a big role in the success of the overall U.S. economy. More than one-fourth of the nation’s job total and more than one-fifth of the nation’s economy are tied, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors. A coalition of 23 agriculture groups commissioned the economic impact study that came out last week. It’s the foundation of a new website called Feeding the Economy. Among some of the bigger report highlights, it shows that the total number of food and ag job come in at 45.5 million. The total wages amount to $2.06 trillion, with total taxes on the income at just over $913 billion. Agriculture exports total $154.4 trillion. The total food and industry economic impact is $7.06 trillion. On the website, there is an interactive map that helps you pull up data for states and congressional districts.

Colorado, Western states finalize landmark drought plan to voluntarily use less Colorado River water

Denver Post | Posted on March 27, 2019

Faced with reservoirs less than half full along the Colorado River, federal authorities and negotiators for Colorado and six other Western states finalized a landmark plan to share the burden of voluntarily using less water as growing cities and warming temperatures deplete the supply for 40 million people. This “drought contingency” plan completed by the seven Western states to meet an extended federal deadline is “meant to avoid a crisis on the river,” said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.After 2026, the feds will look at flows in what scientists project will be a more diminished Colorado River and, working with states, “we will negotiate our next step,” Burman said.This complex water plan hashed out since 2017 depends on all residents of the West using less water to deal with a 19-year shift toward aridity. Negotiators tinkered with fundamentals of the 1922 law that divvies up shares of Colorado River water for each state — an improvisation to try to address one of the planet’s toughest water problems caused by chronic overuse and climate change.

What to do before, during and after an FDA inspection

Watt Ag Net (free registration required) | Posted on March 27, 2019

Always be prepared. The FDA has the authority to come in unannounced, as long as the facility is open for business. Be thoroughly familiar with the regulations, what you are required to do and what FDA can do.Decide who is the designated employee(s) to accompany the inspector.Be familiar with your company policies regarding what documents can be signed, what can be shown to an inspector, photography and document copying. Always be professional, honest, cooperative, respectful and calm, but also be on guard.Receive an FDA Form 482 - Notice of Inspection.Be aware that you should not be expected to interrupt production.If an investigator collects a sample, you should collect two duplicate samples and ask for an FDA Form 484 - Receipt of Samples.

Farm income in Minnesota fell 8 percent last year, worst year since early 1980s

Minneapolis Star Tribune | Posted on March 26, 2019

Median farm income in 2018 was $26,055, down 8 percent from 2017, capping off a half-decade run of poor years for farming after the boom of the early 2010s, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota Extension.

Seven USDA programs that can help with flood recovery

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 26, 2019

Emergency Loan Program: These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster or quarantine area. For production losses, a 30-percent reduction in a primary crop in a designated or contiguous county is required. Losses to quality, such as receiving a reduced price for flood damaged crops, may be eligible for assistance, too. Livestock Indemnity Program: Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under this program through the Farm Service Agency. Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program: NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program: ELAP provides payments to these producers to help compensate for losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), and adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and flooding, that are not covered by certain other disaster programs. Environmental Quality Incentives Program: Farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forestland owners can apply for resource assistance through EQIP.Emergency Watershed Protection Program: The EWP program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities such as cities, counties and towns relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences that impair a watershed. Rural Development: From housing to safe drinking water systems, RD offers technical assistance, loans, grants, and loan guarantees to rural communities and individuals to assist with the construction or rehabilitation of utility infrastructure including water and wastewater systems, and community infrastructure.

High waters remain; rains later this week could exacerbate flooding

DTN | Posted on March 26, 2019

Farmers who lost grain in their bins during historic floods won't see any kind of indemnity unless Congress includes it in a disaster package. Recovery efforts could be hindered, though, because of expected rainfall, according to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. "The weather pattern is looking pretty wet for the Midwest from Interstate 80 south over the next week. Rainfall from Thursday through Saturday will total over one inch, and locally heavier. "This kind of rain will keep soils wet and could lead to renewed flooding. There is another storm system mid-to-late next week that could bring similar totals. Flood damage has resulted in significant grain losses for farmers with corn or soybeans in storage. Just in Fremont County, Iowa, alone farmers estimate they lost more than 390,000 bushels of just soybeans with total crop losses of roughly $7.3 million, according to the Iowa Soybean Association.Private disaster aid continues to pour into all three states in various ways, including farmers sending hay and feed to help producers with stranded livestock. The Nebraska National Guard has been air dropping bales of hay to livestock in parts of the state.

2018 FSMA inspections: Lessons learned

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 26, 2019

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 622 current good manufacturing practice inspections related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Those inspections were conducted in 47 states, Puerto Rico and four foreign countries – Canada, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that do business in the U.S. and therefore must be in compliance with FSMA. Fifty-eight percent of the inspections took place at feed integrators, 11 percent at pet food facilities, 24 percent at ingredient/rendering facilities, 6 percent at warehouses and 1 percent at food/beverage facilities or other type of facility.Davis said that, as a result of these inspections, 28 Form 483s were issued. According to the FDA, “Form 483 is issued to management at the conclusion of an inspection when an investigator has observed any conditions that, in their judgment, may constitute violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and related acts.”

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May

NOAA | Posted on March 26, 2019

Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk. Portions of the United States – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa – have already experienced record flooding this year. This early flooding was caused by rapid snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. In some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding. Offices across the National Weather Service have been working with local communities, providing decision-support services and special briefings to emergency managers and other leaders in local, state and federal government to ensure the highest level of readiness before the flooding began.Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern U.S. As this excess water flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread.

Maine says sludge must be tested for ‘forever chemicals’ before

Portland Press Herald | Posted on March 26, 2019

State environmental regulators announced Friday that all sludge will have to be tested for the presence of an industrial chemical before being used as fertilizer or applied to land. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced the new testing requirement in response to growing concerns about contamination from PFAS, a group of chemicals widely used to create non-stick coatings on cookware, food packaging and fabrics, as well as in firefighting foam. An Arundel dairy farmer has blamed PFAS contamination on his farm on the treated municipal sludge he used to fertilize his hay fields for years.The per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals collectively known as PFAS degrade slowly and linger in the environment for long periods, leading critics to dub them “forever chemicals.” The subject of increasing scrutiny, some PFAS have been linked to cancer, liver damage, low birth weight and other health concerns.