Wednesday, January 13, 2021

USDA Invests $11.65 Million to Control Destructive Feral Swine

 WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $11.65 million in 14 projects to help agricultural producers and private landowners trap and control feral swine as part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. This investment expands the pilot program to new projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

This pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This second round of funding is for partners to carry out activities as part of the identified pilot projects in select states.

“These awards enable landowners to address the threat that feral swine pose to natural resources and agriculture,” NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton said. “The projects we have identified will be key to addressing the feral swine problem.”

Similar to the first round, NRCS will provide funding to partners who will provide financial assistance, education, outreach and trapping assistance to participating landowners in pilot project areas. All partner work will be closely coordinated with the APHIS operations in the pilot project areas. Between the first and second round of funding, there will be a total of 34 active projects across 12 states for the life of the 2018 Farm Bill. Each project is unique, and additional information about the expectations for individual projects can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov/FSCP.

These new pilot projects and areas were selected in coordination with NRCS state conservationists, APHIS state directors and state technical committees to address feral swine issues and damage in areas with high densities. Pilot projects consist broadly of three coordinated components: 1) feral swine removal by APHIS; 2) restoration efforts supported by NRCS; and 3) assistance to producers for feral swine control provided through partnership agreements with non-federal partners. Projects are planned to conclude at the end of September 2023.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with NRCS, Farm Service Agency or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue working with our producers by phone and email and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus offsite link image    .


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2021’s Best States to Start a Farm or Ranch

 

The time couldn’t be more ripe to start a new farm or ranch. Local food producers have been in demand during the pandemic, as locavore activity has soared.

But which states are better if you want to start a Green Acres life or to be at Home on the Range where the cattle and horses roam? 

LawnStarter, America’s leading outdoor services provider, compared the 50 states across 44 key metrics to rank the Best States to Start a Farm or Ranch. We looked into the infrastructure, prevalence, environmental factors, cost, and potential returns of farming and ranching in each state.

How did the states fare? Here are the top 5 and bottom 5 performers, followed by some highlights and lowlights from the findings.

Best States to Start a Farm or Ranch
 
RankState
1Kentucky
2Oklahoma
3North Dakota
4Texas
5Montana
Worst States to Start a Farm or Ranch
 
RankState
46Hawaii
47Rhode Island
48Connecticut
49Maine
50Alaska

Highlights and Lowlights:

  • Home on the Range: Nine of the top 10 states are fully or partially within the central Great Plains. It’s easy to see why this broad, sweeping landscape dominates the top of our ranking. States such as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas boast cheap land, an excellent growing climate, and a highly developed infrastructure for farmers and rural residents. Move to the Great Plains, and you’ll be chasing cattle in no time.
     

  • Down and Out in the South: While the Deep South is known as an agricultural destination, many states, such as Louisiana and Alabama, rank middle to low on our list. Both states fare well in cost and return-on-investment categories, as do other southern states like Mississippi. But the South’s achilles heel appears to be both infrastructure and prevalence. Louisiana ranked lower than any other state in the number of new farms in the last year, showing a marked decrease. All three mentioned states rank in the bottom five on Community Supported Agriculture, as well. The Deep South has many charming qualities, but new farm-friendliness is not among them.

  • Leaving the West Behind: California performs surprisingly poorly in our study. While the No. 1 agricultural state when it comes to return on investment, the Golden State also ranks as the worst state for cost metrics, having the highest average per-farm production expenses of any state. It may also prove more difficult to establish a new small ranch or farm in an already crowded corporate field: California ties with a few other states for the lowest share of family-owned farms. California may be an excellent place to grow food, but it’s far from the best state for your growing agribusiness.

  • Sweet Kentucky Bourbon: The No. 1 state on our list is a bit unexpected: Kentucky. Yes, it’s a largely rural state with plenty of fertile land, but why is it the best? While ranking high in prevalence categories such as farms per state area and the share of family-owned farms, the Bluegrass State wins with a more well-rounded approach, ranking in at least the top 20 in every metric category. Many other states have competing metrics that cancel each other out: high populations and crop yields can lead to equally high land prices and less available land. Kentucky — much like it’s bourbon — sits right in that middle sweet spot to be the best state for new farmers and ranchers. 

     

Our full ranking and analysis can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-states-to-start-a-farm/ 

More from LawnStarter: 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

USDA Announces Increase to Certain Incentive Payments for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program

 

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is increasing incentive payments for practices installed on land enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is upping the Practice Incentive Payment for installing practices, from 5 percent to 20 percent. Additionally, producers will receive a 10 percent incentive payment for water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP’s continuous signup. FSA administers CRP on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation.

“The Conservation Reserve Program provides agricultural producers and landowners with a tool to conserve natural resources on their land that is less suitable for farming,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We offer a number of CRP initiatives, including continuous CRP, which greatly benefits natural resources like water. Increasing the incentive payment gives farmers even more reason to participate in continuous CRP, one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors.”

Under continuous CRP, producers can enroll environmentally sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices with signup available at any time. FSA automatically accepts offers provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements and the enrollment levels do not exceed the number of acres FSA is allowed to enroll in CRP, which was set by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended primarily to control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. The program marks its 35-year anniversary this month. Program successes include:

  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95% and 85%, respectively;
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, which is enough to go around the world seven times; and
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

The successes of CRP contribute to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda and its goal of reducing the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture by half by 2050. Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands.

For more information on CRP, visit fsa.usda.gov, or contact your  local FSA county office. 

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue to work with our producers by phone, email, and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reward climbs to $6,000 in case of missing goats

 

The missing Angora goats are worth more than $46,000.

307 Angora goats taken from Crockett County, Texas, ranch

 

Ozona, Texas — Information about the theft of hundreds of goats just got a lot more valuable.

 

Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Marty Baker said rancher Ed Mayfield has added $5,000 of his own money to the $1,000 reward offered by the association. The reward will be paid to an individual or divided between individuals who provide information leading to the arrest or indictment of the responsible party. 

 

Baker said all information is kept confidential, and tips may be provided anonymously by calling 817-916-1775. Anyone with information may alternately contact Special Ranger Marty Baker at 512-468-5552 or Special Ranger Howard Brittain at 325-340-2268.

 

The Angora goats, worth more than $46,000, were taken from the Mayfield Ranch, located 30 miles south of Ozona in Crockett County, sometime between April 7 and September 23. Baker said it is unknown if all 307 head were stolen at once or over time. The missing goats are branded with a “Z” on the right ear and had ear tags inscribed with the word “Mayfield” and a phone number. Their left ears are cropped, and most of the goats have tipped horns.

 

“Any theft, but especially one of this magnitude, can just be devastating to a rancher,” Baker said. “If you know something about this crime, please come forward so we can help him recover those animals.”

  

 

###

 

Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association’s special rangers are an elite group of law enforcement officers who have extensive knowledge of the cattle industry. While they primarily investigate cattle theft and other agricultural crimes, they are well-trained in all facets of law enforcement. In all, the association has 30 special rangers stationed throughout Texas and Oklahoma who are commissioned through the Texas Department of Public Safety or Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

 

The special rangers also oversee more than 80 market inspectors who collect data, such as brands and other identifying marks on about 5 million cattle sold at 100 Texas livestock markets each year. That information is entered into the association’s recording and retrieval system, which is a vital tool for law enforcement when investigating theft cases.

 

 

Friday, November 13, 2020

USDA to Open Signup for the Conservation Reserve Program and CRP Grasslands in Early 2021

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the signup periods for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the CRP Grasslands in 2021. Signup for general CRP will be open from Jan. 4, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2021, and signup for CRP Grasslands runs from March 15, 2021 to April 23, 2021. Both programs are competitive and provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

“The Conservation Reserve Program and the many focused programs that come under it, like CRP Grasslands, are some of our most critical tools we have to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources,” said Richard Fordyce, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency. “As one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors, CRP has proved to protect our valuable resources, and next year’s signup gives our farmers and ranchers an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term.”

Enrollment Options

CRP―General Signup

Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to the nation’s environment and economy. CRP general signup is held annually. The competitive general signup includes increased opportunities for enrollment of wildlife habitat through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.

Grasslands Signup

CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and improves environmental quality. A separate CRP Grasslands signup is offered each year following general signup.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. The program marks its 35-year anniversary this December. Program successes include:

  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent, respectively;
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, which is enough to go around the world seven times; and
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

The successes of CRP contribute to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda and its goal of reducing the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture by half by 2050. Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the department-wide initiative to align resources, programs and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands.

For more information on CRP, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local FSA county office.

                                                              #

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Welcome to the Agrihood Wins Two Book Awards


 

 

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2020 - The latest book by nationally recognized housing expert Anna DeSimone, Welcome to the Agrihood – Housing, Shopping, and Gardening for a Farm-to-Table Lifestyle, released in April, has garnered rave reviews and earned two book awards.

Welcome to the Agrihood takes readers on a virtual tour of agrihoods—residential communities centered around a working farm. With amenities such as charter schools, boating, golf, horseback riding, swimming, walking, hiking, and biking trails, it’s no wonder that agrihoods are winning awards across the nation for “best places to live.”

Serving as the nation’s first published directory, the author provides a directory of 90 communities throughout the U.S., with housing characteristics for owners, renters, over-55, and mixed-use communities in both urban and suburban locations. 

“Since agrihoods are a fairly new concept, homes are sustainably built with energy-efficient features—and in settings that support a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages,” says DeSimone.

But you don’t have to move to an agrihood to enjoy the farm-to-table lifestyle. Welcome to the Agrihood also shows readers how to grow their own organic food on their porches, balconies, or backyards with helpful tips, planting guides, illustrations, and valuable resources about sustainable, chemical-free, environmentally friendly growing methods. It also teaches the basics of organic certification, food safety, biodiversity, beekeeping, soil testing, composting, and local laws.

Shop from the Farmer You Know is a strong theme throughout the book, which includes a 50-state resource directory of more than 2,200 farms with full-service markets, food hubs, and farms offering CSA (community-supported agriculture) programs.

“There is knowledge for every gardener, homeowner, and newcomer to learn in any environment–from urban agriculture to backyard farming.” ~Washington Gardener

“You don’t have to live in the country to enjoy farm-to-table dining every day if you plan your eating habits accordingly. Anna DeSimone lights the way in her book, Welcome to the Agrihood, a practical guide for how to indulge in farm-to-table living.” ~ The Environmental Magazine

Author: Anna DeSimone is author of Housing Finance 2020, which received the Axiom Business Awards Silver Medal in Personal Finance, Retirement Planning, and Investing. A nationally recognized expert in housing finance, she has authored more than 40 books and hundreds of articles on the topic of fair and responsible home financing. She is retired founder of Bankers Advisory, an audit and consulting firm based in Boston, Massachusetts, acquired by Clifton Larson Allen LLP in 2014.

Welcome to the Agrihood – Housing, Shopping, and Gardening for a Farm-to-Table Lifestyle by Anna DeSimone; Housing 2020 Publishing; nonfiction; Home and Garden/ Sustainable Living/Gardening; Paperback $15.99 978-0-578-561-5; eBook $2.99 ASIN   B087GBQFYP; Availability: Amazon.comBN.comBookBaby.com, Apple iBooks, Google Books, Books-A-Million, IndieBoundAnnaDeSimone.net

 

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

How to Hold Over Show Animals the Low-Stress Way

By Shelia Grobosky

Public Relations Coordinator

BioZyme® Inc.

 

(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo., Sept. 23, 2020) Summer shows may be coming to a slow down, but in another 60 to 90 days fall shows will be ramping up. Just 45 to 60 more days winter majors start. Have you thought about holding over one of your animals that wasn’t quite dialed in this summer for one of those fall or winter shows? Perhaps you have; but there is a lot to consider: the animal’s body type, genetic makeup and their current weight should all be taken into account to make sure that animal can be carried over and fed properly with the least amount of stress involved.

According to Blaine Rodgers, Show Livestock Business Development for BioZyme® Inc., not every animal is built to carry to a later endpoint. Exhibitors and feeders need to evaluate their animals’ body types, condition and growth patterns before knowing if their animal is a candidate for a later show. 

“If you have a tall, big framed animal that is fast growing, chances are you are not going to have success holding it over. However, one that is boxy, moderate, good proportioned, gets fat pretty quick and has a lot of good muscle shape, you can hold those forever,” Rodgers said. “You surely can hold livestock for a long period of time if you understand nutritionally how to do it, but the biggest thing is to understand which ones are the kind you can do that with.”

Regardless if you’re talking lambs, steers or even pigs, the more moderately sized animals that don’t grow fast and put on fat easily are better to hold because you can feed them slower. Their growth curve and maturity pattern factor in to how long you can hold one. 

Use Supplements Correctly

Rodgers suggests that it is preferable to put animals on a base ration when they are young. Let them be livestock and grow, using their given genetic potential. Then, use the targeted supplements needed, usually fat and protein, toward the last one-third or one-quarter before their final show

“Supplements become very important in holding livestock because they contain a very potent nutritional value of whatever you’re trying to do,” Rodgers said. He explains.

The total volume of your animal’s diet can be reduced by adding a concentrated supplement; therefore, instead of feeding a full amount, it can be reduced by half by using smaller amounts of supplements to maintain fat and protein levels. 

“When you hold an animal, you want to increase the fat and protein levels so their muscle doesn’t deteriorate, and so they have enough energy to meet the requirement so they are not starving and burning all the fat off their body, and you do this with high concentrated supplements and a low volume of feed,” he said.

Buy Time 

One way to make sure your project animal reaches its desired endpoint, is to count the days you have until that show. Then, calculate the pounds you have to work with before that show, so you know how much time you need to buy. 

Rodgers suggests evaluating the last third of your feeding time before your endpoint. For example, if you have a pig that only has 30 pounds of wiggle room, and there are 30 days until the show, and you know that pigs typically gain two pounds per day, he’d be 30 pounds over your endpoint. You would need to hold your pig for a small portion of time to buy some time and push it at the end to make sure it is freshest when it needs to be.

He said one of the common mistakes feeders make is holding the animals too soon. Then it fills up early and takes off. When it is time to get dialed in for that later show, the animal just won’t be ready to eat again. 

Know your Weight and Evaluate

With any livestock project, it is important to get a regular, consistent weight on your animals. This means weighing them on the same scale, at the same time and at the same degree of fullness. For instance, you might decide to weigh every Sunday evening before chores or Saturday mornings after feeding. Whichever time you decide, stay consistent and weigh the same time each week. Weighing full one week and empty the next can really skew your records. 

Record your weights. Find a spiral notebook or a white board that hangs in the barn to record the dates and weights. A spiral notebook works as a good resource that you can record any feed changes or vaccinations in, too.

Another thing that Rodgers suggests is to have someone you trust in the industry come in periodically and evaluate your animals for changes. It is imperative to look for differences and see these changes – both positive and negative – like an increase or deterioration in muscle or condition. Sometimes it is hard to look at our stock that we see day after day, so it is important to have a neighbor or colleague that you trust to come into your barn for an honest evaluation.

“I have relationships with outside people that can come check on them. I rely on guys to come look at our stuff, because I see our livestock all the time, and it is harder to see the changes, but when you see them once every other week or so, you can really see the changes,” Rodgers said.

Final Advice

It is critical to keep the rumen working in the cattle, lambs and goats, so be sure to include hay in their daily diets. Another way to keep their digestive tract in check is by feeding a supplement with Amaferm®, such a product from the Sure Champ®or Vita Charge® lines. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic that impacts intake, digestion and absorption, for optimum health and performance.

Sure Champ is line a of livestock show supplements that proactively work to assist with the challenges created by the show environment. Vita Charge is a fast-acting, multi-specie livestock supplement for use during stressful times when livestock need protection or assistance in recovery. The Vita Charge product line offers versatility in many forms making application easy depending on what is best for your animal.

All animals should continue to exercise during their hold over time. This is especially important for sheep, which are predominately evaluated on muscle shape and handle.

Let the animal realize its genetic potential. 

“Don’t buy animals that are excessively large and try to hold them right out of the gate. Because at a young age you need to establish muscle shape and you need to establish bone and skeletal growth. Keep livestock on full feed. It’s toward finishing stage that you want to hold them,” Rodgers reminds.

Holding a livestock project over is a science and an art. Make sure you’re working with an animal that has the potential to last an additional 30 to 90 days. Use your supplements correctly, rely on a set of outside eyes to help you evaluate progress and buy as much time as you can. Don’t forget the Sure Champ with the Amaferm advantage to help your animals #preptowin every step of the way. To learn more, visit www.surechamp.com.