Thursday, September 13, 2018

USDA Prepared to Respond to Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses potentially impacted by Hurricane Florence of programs to provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, State and county offices stand ready and eager to help. Additionally, USDA’s Operations Center will function around the clock.

“Our farmers and ranchers take financial risks every year to help feed and clothe the U.S. and the world, and a hurricane makes their situations even more perilous,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “At USDA, it’s our job to be there for them when they need help. All of our relevant agencies are ready to assist when natural disasters strike.”

USDA has important roles in both response to hurricanes and recovery efforts. USDA also is staffing the Regional Response Coordination Center in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region IV, which covers eight states including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. USDA is providing 24-hour staffing to the FEMA National Response Coordination Center, and has personnel supporting the North Carolina and South Carolina State Emergency Operations Centers.
USDA also is supporting FEMA Region II Regional Response Coordination Center in New Jersey to assist response efforts for Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Florence. Additionally, personnel from the U.S. Forest Service and USDA Office of the Inspector General are pre-staging in Charlotte, North Carolina to assist with public safety and security efforts.

USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster.

In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA also partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.

USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact USDA offices which meet their individual needs.

Food Safety and Food Assistance

Severe weather forecasts often present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends consumers take necessary steps before, during, and after a power outage to reduce food waste and minimize the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS offers tips for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe and A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes brochure that can be downloaded and printed for reference at home. Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at, or 24/7 online at:

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) coordinates with state, local and voluntary organizations to provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites. Under certain circumstances, states also may request to operate a disaster household distribution program to distribute USDA Foods directly to households in need. As disaster response moves into the recovery phase, FNS may approve a state's request to implement a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when the President declares a major disaster for individual assistance under the Stafford Act in areas affected by a disaster. State agencies also may request a number of disaster-related waivers to help provide temporary assistance to impacted households already receiving SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster, and to provide flexibilities in administering school meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and other programs. Resources for disaster feeding partners as well as available FNS disaster nutrition assistance can be found on the FNS Disaster Assistance website.

Crop and Livestock Loss

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish ProgramEmergency Forest Restoration Program (PDF, 257 KB) and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.

Producers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Community Recovery Resources

For declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. NRCS had made available nearly $2 million in advance funding under the Emergency Watershed Protection program to help local communities immediately begin relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods and is coordinating with state partners to complete damage assessments in preparation for sponsor assistance requests. NRCS also can help producers with damaged agricultural lands caused by natural disasters, such as floods.

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion that can result from high rainfall events and flooding. Conservation practices supported through EQIP protect the land and aid in recovery, can build the natural resource base, and might help mitigate loss in future events.

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides support for disaster education through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). EDEN is a collaborative multi-state effort with land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension Services across the country, using research-based education and resources to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters. EDEN's goal is to improve the nation's ability to mitigate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters. EDEN equips county-based Extension educators to share research-based resources in local disaster management and recovery efforts. The EDEN website offers a searchable database of Extension professionals, resources, member universities and disaster agency websites, education materials to help people deal with a wide range of hazards, and food and agricultural defense educational resources.

Many of USDA Rural Development programs can help provide financial relief to rural communities hit by natural disasters by offering low-interest loans to rural community facilities, rural businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities. More information can be found on the Rural Development website, located at

For complete details and eligibility requirements regarding USDA's disaster assistance programs, contact a local USDA Service Center. More information about USDA disaster assistance, as well as other disaster resources, is available on the USDA Disaster Resource Center website, located at

Monday, September 10, 2018

Deadline near for college students to enter agriculture scholarship competition

September 10, 2018 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance launched its 10th annual College Aggies Online scholarship competition today in which students will compete for more than $25,000 in scholarships while advocating for agriculture. Undergraduate students, graduate students and collegiate clubs can sign up through September 21 at

Students are guaranteed to become more confident communicators as they learn the fundamentals of agriculture communication from industry mentors throughout the nine-week competition. Students and collegiate clubs invite their peers to have a conversation about agriculture both online and in person while learning the dos and don’ts of social media and how to host a successful event, such as a farm tour, school visit and campus booth.

Each week CAO mentors will offer their advice and expertise. This year’s mentors include:
  • Amber Pankonin, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, 
  • Anna Leigh Peek, communications specialist, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association 
  • Casey Kinler, communications manager, Animal Agriculture Alliance
  • Charmayne Hefley, social media specialist, Pilgrim’s Pride
  • Chloe Carson, manager of digital communications, National Pork Producers Council
  • Codi Coulter, communications coordinator, American Feed Industry Association 
  • Don Schindler, senior vice president of digital innovations, Dairy Management Inc.
  • Tim Hammerich, agribusiness recruiter and founder, Ag Grad, LLC
  • Wanda Patsche, farmer and blogger, Minnesota Farm Living

Since 2009, the Alliance has awarded more than $85,000 in scholarships. “This is a tremendous opportunity for college students to expand their portfolios and skillsets,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We are eager to support future agriculture leaders as they learn the ropes about communicating effectively online and in person.”

CAO would not be possible without the generous support of our 2018 program sponsors including: Dairy Management Inc., Seaboard Foundation, National Pork Industry Foundation, Cooper Family Foundation, Diamond V, Bayer, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Board, Alltech, Vivayic, Ohio Poultry Association, Domino’s Pizza Inc., National Chicken Council and Pennsylvania Beef Council.

To become a sponsor of this year’s program, contact Allyson Jones-Brimmer, director of industry relations at

About the Alliance:The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. Weengage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. Find the Alliance on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

USDA and FDA tackle regulations for test-tube meats

USDA and FDA Announce Joint Public Meeting on Use of Animal Cell Culture Technology to Develop Products Derived from Livestock and Poultry

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, DVM and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. today announced a joint public meeting to be held on Oct. 23-24, 2018 to discuss the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry.

The joint public meeting, hosted by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the FDA, will focus on the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labeling of cell cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry.

Cellular agriculture refers to the production of agricultural products from cell cultures. Through cellular agriculture, meat, poultry, and fish can be produced ex vivo, or grown outside the animal. The finished product replicates the characteristics of muscle harvested from food-producing animals.  
Cellular agriculture has drawn investments from Tyson Foods, Cargill, and Merck’s M Ventures—among others—helping cell-based meat start-ups to reduce cost and scale up production.1 Cell-based meat could hit American supermarket shelves as early as 2021. Before that happens, an appropriately tailored regulatory approach must be developed.  
“This is an important opportunity to hear from the agricultural industry and consumers as we consider the regulatory framework for these new products,” said Secretary Perdue. “American farmers and ranchers feed the world, but as technology advances, we must consider how to inspect and regulate to ensure food safety, regardless of the production method.”

“The FDA knows just how vital it is to ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply and the critical role science-based, modern regulatory frameworks are to fostering innovation. Recent advances in animal cell cultured food products present many important and timely technical and regulatory considerations for the FDA and our partners at USDA,” said Commissioner Gottlieb. “We look forward to the opportunity to hold a meeting with our USDA colleagues as part of an open public dialogue regarding these products.”

The first day of the meeting will focus primarily on the potential hazards that need to be controlled for the safe production of animal cell cultured food products and oversight considerations by regulatory agencies. The second day of the meeting will focus on labeling considerations.
Representatives of industry, consumer groups and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the meeting. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register to attend the meeting. Pre-registration is available at the Meetings and Events page on the FSIS website. 

The meeting will be held on Oct. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Oct. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the U.S. Department of Agriculture South Building, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC, 20250.

Anyone who wishes to submit written comments prior to the public meeting or after the meeting may do so by submitting comments on regulations.govby Nov. 26, 2018. Comments previously submitted to FDA in regard to the July 12, 2018 public meetingwill also be considered.
For further information on the joint public meeting and to register to attend the meeting, please visit the Meetings and Events page on the FSIS website. Attendance is free.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Help needed to keep Ky. goat grading system


In 2019, the KY Graded Sale system is going to incur changes. The current Kentucky Department of Agriculture Small Ruminant Marketing Specialist, Tess Caudill is retiring. This means we have to convince the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to refill that position. To do so, we need producers to provide their input!

Providing your input on the importance of the KY Graded Sale system is very easy!

Simply complete the 9 question survey at the link below.

If you are unfamiliar with the KY Graded Sale system, it was started in 2002 by Tess Caudill as an effort to give small ruminant producers a stable and viable marketing outlet. The graded sales essentially allow buyers to purchase large groups of sheep and goats that are similar in size and weight. The buyers pay more per pound because they are getting uniform lots of animals.

By creating an environment of higher prices, Kentucky producers do not have to,
  • settle for low prices,
  • haul their livestock hundreds of miles to a market,
  • coordinate the trucking of their livestock to others markets, or
  • create individual relationships with specific buyers in order to sell their animals. 

The survey will be available until September 14th! 

Please help us keep the KY Graded Sale System!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ranchers plan meeting Sept. 13 in Uvalde, Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) will host a ranch gathering Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, at the Uvalde County Fairplex in Uvalde, Texas. The event will provide an opportunity for local cattle producers to learn about TSCRA’s recent activities, discuss issues facing cattle raisers and connect with other cattle producers in the area. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a complimentary beef dinner.

TSCRA Special Ranger Robin Clark is slated to provide an update on recent law enforcement activities in the area and discuss strategies to keep livestock and equipment safe and secure. Attendees will also receive updates on other topics of interest to cattle raisers and the community, including a briefing on recent governmental activities that impact Texas ranchers and landowners. 

The event is open to the public and free of charge. 

If planning to attend, TSCRA asks that you register at or (800) 242-7820, ext. 192.

The Uvalde County Fairplex is located at 215 Veterans Ln., Uvalde, TX 78801.

TSCRA would like to thank Elanco, Capital Farm Credit and Nutrition Plus for sponsoring the event.


TSCRA is a 141-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 17,500 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 55,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas, Oklahoma and throughout the Southwest.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Missouri ranchers dealing with drought and aftermath

GALENA, Mo. — The drought of 2018 in Missouri really began in the fall of 2017 according to Tim Schnakenberg, field specialist in agronomy with University of Missouri Extension.

"It was an exceptionally dry fall and winter for some, then we had a cold April, the hottest May on Missouri record followed by an exceptionally early drought that continued well throughout summer," said Schnakenberg.

As a result, exasperated livestock producers are throwing up their hands wondering how they will have enough pasture and hay for winter.

"After our experiences in the past year, producers should take some time to think about how they should handle similar future cyclical weather patterns for the long-term. Decisions about forage for next year should begin late summer when the opportunity for establishing cool-season grasses is at its prime," said Schnakenberg.

Most of the tall fescue stands in southwest Missouri should recover following the drought, assuming the weather will be conducive for it this fall. If producers are seeing fields that are not producing or do not have adequate levels of desirable species, now is an opportune time to make future decisions regarding renovation and take their forage program to the next level.

One option would be to make strides to reduce the overall endophyte level on a livestock operation by converting some fields to a novel endophyte fescue. This "friendly," non-toxic fescue conversion will require at least two sprays of glyphosate in the coming months and an intermediate crop to break away from the old Kentucky 31 fescue crowns that may still exist.

A recent University of Arkansas study has found that converting to even just 25 percent novel fescue in our fescue pastures, can significantly increase calving rates. This was especially true if pregnant cows were exposed to novel fescue 30 days in advance of calving.

Another great option for conversion would be to plan to establish a warm season grass in pastures, hayfields, or in both areas of the farm. Warm season grasses like bermudagrass, big bluestem, Indiangrass, Caucasian bluestem and crabgrass can also have a positive effect on reducing endophyte effects in cattle. They can also lead to more productive and higher quality hay sources from the farm.
"University research has found that native grasses like big bluestem and Indiangrass can be much more efficient in fertilizer requirements compared to other hay sources," said Schnakenberg.

For more information, contact any of these MU Extension agronomy specialists in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, (417) 357-6812; Jill Scheidt in Barton County, (417) 682-3579 and Sarah Kenyon in Howell County, (417) 256-2391.

Strategies After Drought Sept. 14 near Humansville;
Preregistration required by Sept. 13th

STOCKTON, Mo. - University of Missouri Extension along with United Producers Inc. Sale Barn of Humansville, are working together to present a workshop titled, "Fall and Winter Livestock and Pasture Management Strategies Following a Drought."

The workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at United Producers Inc. Sale Barn. The sale barn is located about four mile south of Collins, Mo. or about three miles north of the Highway N (Humansville, Mo.) on Mo. Highway 13 on the east side of the road.

Speakers and topics include the following University of Missouri Extension specialists.
Pat Miller, MU Extension agronomy field specialist from Nevada will present on fall and winter pasture management strategies to improve limited forage resources until spring.

Patrick Davis, MU Extension livestock field specialist from Stockton, will give a workshop on feeding and management strategies of cattle through the winter on limited forage resources.

Wesley Tucker, MU Extension ag business field specialist from Bolivar and Raysha Tate, MU Extension CES in Agriculture and Environment from Osceola, will give a presentation on the economics of management and feeding cattle though the winter on limited forage resources.

United Producers Inc. Sale Barn of Humansville, Mo., will provide refreshments.

The workshop is free to the public. However; preregistration is required by Sept. 13. To register or for more information on the workshop, contact the Cedar County MU Extension Center at 417-276-3313 or Patrick Davis by email at