Thursday, January 26, 2023

Registration opens for the Ag Women Engage Conference


                                                Photo courtesy of Freepik

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The 2023 Ag Women Engage Conference (formerly known as the Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference) begins on Feb. 22 at the new Terre Haute Convention Center. The conference includes two days of guest speakers, networking opportunities and breakout sessions addressing personal, family and farm issues affecting women, families and farm businesses.

Brenda Mack, a fourth-generation small crop producer and associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Bemidji State University, will present a keynote session on building and strengthening resiliency for those in agriculture.

Educational sessions throughout the two days will cover farm succession planning, marketing, new technologies, financial strategies, mental health resources, home food vendor guidelines and more.

“The Ag Women Engage Conference continues the networking and professional development tradition set by the Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference. It’s a new name, but the same fantastic education and conversations will be taking place,” said Elysia Rodgers, Purdue Extension – Dekalb County director, agriculture and natural resources educator, and conference organizer.

Youth in grades eight through 12 and undergraduates are invited to attend the Young Ladies in Agriculture Forum, taking place in tandem with the AWE Conference on Feb. 22 from 1-8 p.m. ET. Topics include financial strategies, building a strong resume and networking in the agriculture industry.

A pre-conference session, “Becoming the Employer of Choice,” is scheduled for Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. The human resource management curriculum is geared for farm managers and owners looking to improve their human resource management skills.

The cost for the pre-conference session is $50. Conference registration is $125. Register by February 10 online. The Young Ladies in Agriculture Forum cost is $20, with registration online. For accommodation or more information, contact Rodgers at 260-925-2562 or

Thursday, January 19, 2023

2023 Indiana Small Farm Conference March 2 and 3


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Registration is now open for the 2023 Indiana Small Farm Conference, the premier annual event for the state’s farming community. The 11th annual conference and trade show will take place March 2 and 3 at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville.

One of the featured keynote speakers is Hunter Smith, former Indianapolis Colts punter and co-owner of Wonder Tree Regenerative Farm in Zionsville, Indiana.

“At WonderTree we hope to prove, once again, the viability and sustainability of decentralized, local farms serving communities as primary sources of food, experiences and culture,” Smith said.

Since 2013 the conference has featured comprehensive, instructive and enjoyable programming about diversified farming and local food systems, bringing together novice and experienced small-scale farmers. For more information and registration, visit

“I grew up on a small family farm where nothing was ever wasted, and food was simple and delicious,” said Sara Frey, owner of Frey Farms and a 2023 conference keynote speaker. “Every growing season yielded different crops, and we’re proud to bring that produce to market today. Some of my fondest memories are of trying to figure what to do with the imperfect or ‘ugly fruit,’ which led to my vision of using all of what we grow and creating farm-fresh beverages for families.”

This year’s conference offers 12 tracks, allowing attendees to choose sessions that best align with their farming operations and goals. Among the topics are:

  • Urban agriculture
  • Vegetable production
  • Farm stress
  • Marketing
  • Technology on small farms
  • Livestock
  • Equity in the food system
  • Value-added products
  • Fruit production

“The Indiana Small Farm Conference is a great way to learn what’s next in production, marketing and other areas to make the most of your efforts in 2023 and for years to come,” said Amy Thompson, Purdue Extension’s beginning farmers coordinator and a conference organizer.

Follow the conference on Twitter and Instagram at @SmallFarmPurdue or on Facebook at @PurdueExtensionSmallFarms, with the hashtag #PurdueSmallFarms.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

US hay stocks fall to lowest level since ’74


Drought and high fertilizer prices took a significant bite out of hay production across the U.S. Extension Economist James Mitchell expects farmers will pay more for hay in the current marketing year. (U of A System Division of Agriculture file photo by Lauren Husband)

Nationwide, other hay production totaled 64.84 million tons in 2022, down 9 percent from the prior year.

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • U.S. hay production down 9 percent
  • U.S.’s largest producer, Texas, saw 40 percent decline

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — High fertilizer prices and drought in 2022 handed hay production in the United States its biggest decline in 11 years with stocks at their lowest level since data collection began, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The stats were part of the Jan. 12 Crop Production Summary from NASS, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report includes information about all U.S. crops, their production, acreage, and yield. NASS places hay in two categories, alfalfa and “other hay,” the latter being relevant to the Southeastern U.S. 

According to the summary, May 1 hay stocks were tight, totaling 16.77 million tons or 7 percent lower year over year.

“May 1 stocks, combined with lower 2022 hay production, put hay supplies at the lowest level on record since the data began in 1974,” said James Mitchell, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “The previous record low in hay supplies was in 2021.”

Production declines
Nationwide, other hay production totaled 64.84 million tons in 2022, down 9 percent from the prior year, with Arkansas seeing a 16 percent decline. Texas, the nation’s largest hay-producing state, produced 6.15 million tons, a 40 percent decline compared to 2021.

“Most Southern Plains and Southeast states had double-digit hay production declines,” said Mitchell said.

Mississippi saw a 16 percent decline, Tennessee a 13 percent decline, and Kentucky, a 20 percent decline. Florida bucked the trend, seeing a 7 percent increase in hay production. 

“USDA’s estimate for Arkansas is much better than what I would have predicted last summer,” Mitchell said. Based on conversations with producers last year, he said “I was expecting a decline closer to 25 percent.

“It was hard to predict whether we would get late-season rain last summer,” Mitchell said. “It was even hard to predict whether a late-season rain would help us make up for the severe production losses we had in July. Conditions improved enough in September for us to make up for some of that loss.”

Yields down
“Expensive fertilizer and poor precipitation impacted yields,” he said. “U.S. hay yields averaged 1.87 tons per acre or 6 percent lower year over year. Yields dropped 9 percent in Arkansas to two tons per acre. Neighboring Oklahoma and Texas saw yields averaging 1.25 tons per acre and 1.50 tons per acre, respectively.”

Overall, other hay acreage fell 2 percent to 34.63 acres. Arkansas’ hay acres declined by 5 percent, while Texas saw a 25 percent reduction in hay acres in 2022.

Mitchell said that “declining cattle inventories, expensive inputs, and high crop prices all likely contributed to the decline in 2022 hay acreage.”

Higher prices
Mitchell said farmer would likely be paying more for hay.

“Like other commodities, price comparisons are based on the marketing year,” he said. The hay marketing year begins in May and ends in April.

“For the May 2021-April 2022 marketing year, prices averaged $147 per ton,” Mitchell said. “For the May 2022-April 2023 marketing year, we forecast prices to average $170 per ton.”

National forage and grazing experts to speak at annual conference


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Heart of America Grazing Conference will take place Feb. 20 and 21 at the Ferdinand Community Center in Ferdinand, Indiana. Hosted by the Indiana Forage Council (IFC) in collaboration with Purdue Extension, the annual event will feature forage and grazing experts from across the nation.

 “Attending the Heart of America Grazing Conference is an invaluable opportunity to network with forage-livestock input providers at the trade show, and networking with participants that have an interest in pasture improvement has value, too,” said Keith Johnson, a professor of agronomy in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture.

Highlighted speakers will lead discussions on cutting-edge research in grazing, soil science and grazing options with cattle and small ruminants, among other key topics.

Jason Tower, superintendent of the Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center, and Ronald Boehm of Boehm Farms are featured speakers.

 “The 2023 conference will be an excellent opportunity for producers and educators to expand their knowledge of grazing and soil management. Improving these skill sets can have a positive impact not only on livestock performance but also on the environment,” Tower said.

Boehm said, “The timing of the conference works well for the attendees to take their newly gained knowledge back home and begin to plan for implementation as they strive to refine their operations toward their goals of livestock husbandry, financial success and environmental stewardship.”

Additional speakers include Greg Halich, University of Kentucky; Alan Franzluebbers, USDA-ARS North Carolina; and Johnny Rogers, coordinator of the Amazing Grazing Project and North Carolina State University.

Registration information and event details can be found on the IFC website and Facebook page.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Texas A&M launches largest ag scholarship campaign

 Dean’s Excellence Scholarships campaign begins in 2023

The most aggressive scholarship campaign in the history of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences began today with an announcement by Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences, of the Dean’s Excellence Scholarships.

A group of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students stand outside in a garden atmosphere listening to a class.
Students will be attracted to the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with the newly announced Dean’s Excellence Scholarship campaign. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Sam Craft)

The campaign will create a series of $100,000 endowments as part of a large initiative for the College to recruit and support undergraduate students. These endowments will create numerous four-year scholarships of $4,000 or more per year.

To kick off the campaign and immediately begin supporting students in the fall of 2023, Savell has pledged the College to fund 60 scholarships for 2023 and 2024 entering freshman, 30 scholarships for each year.

Focused on finding high-achieving students in Texas and beyond, the Dean’s Excellence Scholarships will support students who excel holistically and are pursuing bachelor’s degrees within the College.

The campaign’s first goal is to create at least 30 scholarship endowments by the end of 2023, Savell said.  

“It’s an utmost priority for me to recruit the best and brightest students to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Savell said. “We want to make sure our students are set up for success as they graduate and begin their careers or go on to professional or graduate school.”

Beginning a new legacy of student support

This announcement marks the first set of Dean’s scholarships for the College, and Savell said the endowments create a legacy for all future deans to continue the support of student excellence.

“Four-year scholarships allow us to reciprocate the commitment that students are making to us when they enroll to Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Savell noted. “This lets students and the College begin an educational journey together based on mutual responsibility and support. A four-year scholarship can be life-changing for some.”

A man in military dress shakes hands on a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences graduation stage with others behind him
The Corp of Cadets will be a focus of the newly announced Dean’s Excellence Scholarship campaign. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

While the Dean’s Excellence Scholarships are meant to support all areas of study and are open to all incoming students, the first year will have an additional focus on future Corps of Cadets members and first-generation students. Both these groups are emphasized in Texas A&M University’s recruitment mission.

“We’re looking for the best students,” Savell explained. “We’ve included Corps of Cadets as a focus area because of our long and close relationship with the Corps, and in support of President Banks’ March to 3,000 initiative to increase the Corps membership to 3,000 members.”

“About one-fourth of our students today are first generation,” Savell said. “We have a responsibility to help plant the seed for generations to come. These investments will change family trees and improve society by advancing all areas of agriculture and life sciences. As a first-generation student myself, I feel this deeply.”  

A growing population of potential students

As the Texas population nears 30 million residents, Savell explained that he is working to increase the number of students enrolled at the College. In his “State of AgriLife” address given to Texas A&M AgriLife employees today, he highlighted the comprehensive nature of the College, mentioning that the fields of study within agriculture and life sciences impact every part of Texans’ lives. The College’s 15 departments range from traditional production agriculture to biophysics, biological engineering, forensics, nutrition, ecology, conservation, hospitality, tourism and beyond.

For more information on the endowed Dean’s Excellence Scholarship program please contact Jennifer Ann Scasta, senior director of development, at or 979-845-7594.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

USDA Reminds Producers of Continuous Certification Option for Perennial Forage


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers with perennial forage crops of an option to report their acreage once, without having to report that acreage in subsequent years, as long as there are no applicable changes on the farm. Interested producers can select the continuous certification option after USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) certifies their acreage report.  

“FSA’s continuous certification option simplifies future acreage reporting of perennial crops, and it can also help streamline the application process for many of our farm programs, including disaster assistance programs,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “For example, when persistent drought conditions over the past year affected livestock producers in the West and Great Plains, producers who had previously filed a continuous acreage report were able to benefit from a streamlined application process for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.”  

An acreage report documents a crop grown on a farm or ranch and its intended uses, including perennial crops like mixed forage, birdsfoot trefoil, chicory/radicchio, kochia (prostrata), lespedeza, perennial peanuts and perennial grass varieties. To access many USDA programs, producers must file an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage and prevented planting acreage.  

The perennial crop continuous certification process requires a producer to initially complete an acreage report certifying the perennial crop acreage. The producer may select the continuous certification option any time after the crop is certified.  Once the continuous certification option is selected, the certified acreage will roll forward annually and does not require additional action on the producer’s part in subsequent years unless the acreage report changes.  

Once a producer selects continuous certification, then continuous certification is applicable to all fields on the farm for the specific crop, crop type and intended use. If continuous certification is selected by any producers sharing in the crop, then the continuous certification is applicable to fields in which the producer has a share for the specific crop, crop type and intended use.

“Currently less than half of the 336.5 million acres of perennial forage is being reported using the continuous certification process,” Ducheneaux said. “Producers can help streamline the reporting process by selecting continuous certification after filing their crop acreage report.” 

Producers can opt out of continuous certification at any time. The continuous certification will terminate automatically if a change in the farming operation occurs.  

How to File a Report   

To file a crop acreage report, producers need to provide:   

  • Crop and crop type or variety.   
  • Intended use of the crop.   
  • Number of acres of the crop.   
  • Map with approximate boundaries for the crop.   
  • Planting date(s).   
  • Planting pattern, when applicable.   
  • Producer shares.   
  • Irrigation practice(s).   
  • Acreage prevented from planting, when applicable.    
  • Other information as required.   

More Information  

Producers can contact their local FSA office to see if their crops are eligible for continuous certification or to make an appointment. Producers can make an appointment to report acres by contacting their local USDA Service Center.    

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.g