News Update
June 24, 2011

Sign Up Today for Foundation Golf Tournament in Harrisburg

Player sign-up ends June 24 for those interested in teeing up for the Angus Foundation July 12 at the Felicita Golf Course and Resort in Harrisburg, Pa. Angus enthusiasts of all ages will take a break from the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS) and to hit the greens for the 11th Annual Angus Foundation Golf Tournament. The tournament combines fun and Angus friendship to help support the Foundation’s education, youth and research initiatives.

Player entry forms, due June 24, cost $100 per adult and $75 for junior Angus members. Registrations received after June 24 will cost an additional $10.

Entry forms are available at

— Adapted from release by the Angus Foundation.

Ag Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Lead U.S. Delegation to 37th FAO Ministerial Conference in Rome

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will lead the U.S. delegation to the ministerial conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy, June 25-July 2. The delegation will include Melanne Verveer, U.S. Department of State Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture; and Jonathan Shrier, U.S. Department of State Acting Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy, Feed the Future.

FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger, improve ag productivity and promote rural development. In addition to addressing issues surrounding rising world food prices, delegates will elect a new director-general to succeed Jacques Diouf, who has served in that position since 1993.

The conference, which is the highest governing body of the FAO, meets every two years to set policies and approve the FAO budget and program of work. Attendees include delegates from FAO member countries, as well as observers from non-member nations, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.

— Release by USDA.

USDA Designates 25 Counties in Kansas as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 25 counties in Kansas as primary natural disaster areas due to losses of wheat and forage crops caused by drought, excessive heat and high winds that occurred from Jan. 1, 2011, and continuing. Those counties are: Barber, Barton, Butler, Clark, Comanche, Cowley, Edwards, Ellis, Ford, Graham, Gray, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Kingman, Lincoln, Norton, Phillips, Reno, Rice, Russell, Sedgwick, Stafford, Sumner and Trego.

“Assistance at this point [in] time is critically important for Kansas producers, especially in helping them keep their farmland healthy for the remainder of the year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I realize that during this time of disaster, federal assistance will be needed until conditions improve as farmers strive to recover their losses.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Kansas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Chase, Chautauqua, Decatur, Elk, Ellsworth, Finney, Gove, Greenwood, Haskell, Kiowa, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Ness, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pratt, Rooks, Rush, Saline and Smith.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Nebraska and Oklahoma also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Franklin, Furnas and Harlan in Nebraska; Alfalfa, Beaver, Grant, Harper, Kay, Osage and Woods in Oklahoma.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 23, 2011, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

FSA news releases are available on FSA’s website at via the “News and Events” link.

— Release by USDA.

Financial Incentives Available to Qualifying Plum Creek Watershed Landowners

With the prolonged drought conditions throughout Texas, residents of the Plum Creek Watershed area who own livestock would be well-advised to plan and implement alternative watering facilities that meet water quality management plan criteria, said area water conservation professionals.

An alternative watering facility is a permanent or portable off-stream water supply that can be a trough, pond or similar system providing an adequate quantity and quality of drinking water for livestock and/or wildlife. Some alternative water facilities may require drilling a well and/or the use of an electrical or solar pump or windmill to bring water to the surface.

According to B.J. Westmoreland, district technician for the Caldwell-Travis Soil and Water Conservation District, residents of the Plum Creek Watershed can apply for financial assistance through the district to defray much of the cost for approved water quality protection practices such as alternative watering facilities.

“We’re hoping to further encourage water conservation in Plum Creek by making residents aware of the availability of financial incentives to implement some water quality management practices, especially alternative livestock watering facilities, which are vital given the prolonged drought,” he said.

Westmoreland said the Caldwell-Travis Soil and Water Conservation District, Hays County Soil and Water Conservation District and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board have partnered to provide technical assistance and financial incentives to ranchers and farmers that will help reduce bacteria and nutrient levels in Plum Creek through the implementation of best management practices on agricultural lands.

“The financial assistance portion of approved water conservation practices typically covers 60% of implementation costs and can apply for approved practices costing up to $15,000,” he said. “Plum Creek area landowners can request, free of charge, a water quality management plan for their property through their local soil and water conservation district. This plan would include water conservation practices eligible for financial assistance, including alternative watering facilities.”

Costs differ based on the type and quality of materials used for alternative water facilities, Westmoreland said. He will be available to answer landowners’ questions, help provide cost estimates and identify the best opportunities to get financial assistance with a project.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service estimates, a watering trough can cost $450 to $7,600, depending on size and materials. An electric water pump can cost $2,000 to $4,000, depending on size, and a solar water pump $5,700 to $12,000, depending on well depth.

Additionally, the agency estimates the cost of a windmill at between $8,200 and $17,800, depending on fan diameter.

“Nonpoint source pollution is a major problem in many Texas watersheds and reducing the time that livestock spend near creeks, streams and other water sources can significantly reduce the amount of sediment, nutrients and bacteria, especially E. coli, entering the water body,” said Nikki Dictson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and Plum Creek Watershed Partnership watershed coordinator.

Dictson said studies have shown that bacteria levels can be reduced by 50% to 85% when an off-stream watering facility is made available to livestock. She also noted that recent studies have shown cattle spend 43% to 57% less time in streams when given an alternative watering source.

Results from other research have shown:

1) that cattle provided alternative water sources spend more time drinking from troughs than streams;
2) calves gain more weight from cows that drink trough water; and
3) off-stream water supplies can increase the annual grazing capacity of cattle.

Westmoreland said another benefit of a watering facility may be a reduction in foot disease and physical injury among livestock as a result of mud and unstable footing around riparian areas.

“The water quality management plan program can greatly reduce the material and labor costs of implementing water conservation practices,” Westmoreland said. “And improving water quality in Plum Creek is in the long-term best interests of all landowners and citizens in the watershed.”

Additional practices eligible for financial incentives include cross fencing, rangeland planting, riparian herbaceous and forest buffers, pasture and hayland planting, grassed waterways, field borders and filter strips. Technical assistance and financial incentives are available through a Clean Water Act 319(h) nonpoint source grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For general information on watering facilities and available financial assistance programs, contact the NRCS office at the local USDA Service Center.

For information on the approved watering facilities and conservation practices eligible for financial incentives in the Plum Creek Watershed area, contact Westmoreland at 512-398-2121, Ext. 3 or

For more information on water quality and conservation efforts in the Plum Creek Watershed, go to or contact Dictson at 979-458-3478 or

— Release by Paul Schattenberg, TAMU AgriLife Communications.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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