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News Update

August 30, 2012

Vilsack Extends Emergency Grazing

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a two-month extension for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, freeing up forage and feed for ranchers as they look to recover from this challenging time. This flexibility for ranchers marks the latest action by the USDA to provide assistance to producers impacted by the drought, which has included opening CRP and other conservation acres to emergency haying and grazing, lowering the interest rate for emergency loans, and working with crop insurance companies to provide flexibility to farmers.

Vilsack also designated 147 additional counties in 14 states as natural disaster areas — 128 counties in nine states due to drought. In the past seven weeks, USDA has designated 1,892 unduplicated counties in 38 states as disaster areas — 1,820 due to drought — while USDA officials have fanned out to more than a dozen drought-affected states as part of a total U.S. government effort to offer support and assistance to those in need.

To assist producers, USDA is permitting farmers and ranchers in drought-stricken states that have been approved for emergency grazing to extend grazing on CRP land through Nov. 30, 2012, without incurring an additional CRP rental payment reduction. The period normally allowed for emergency grazing lasts through Sept. 30. The extension applies to general CRP practices and producers must submit a request to their Farm Service Agency county office indicating the acreage to be grazed. USDA's continuing efforts to add feed to the marketplace benefits all livestock producers, including dairy, during this drought. Expanded haying and grazing on CRP acres, along with usage of cover crops as outlined last week by the Secretary, has begun providing much needed feed to benefit all livestock, including dairy.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Farm Bureau Photo Contest Kicks Off Sept. 1

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in conjunction with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture are announcing the 2012 Farm Bureau Photo Contest. The competition is open to all state and county Farm Bureau members and employees above 18 years of age at the time of entry, including professional photographers.

Submitted photos will be used to accurately portray today's agriculture and safe practices of farmers and ranchers, and also for future use in AFBF, and related companies, publications and promotions. The competition guidelines state all photo submissions must exemplify safe practices on the farm or ranch.

The competition is broken down into five categories: Safety and Health; My Scenic Farm/Ranch; At Work on the Farm or Ranch; At Home on the Farm or Ranch; and Consumer Outreach. The contest will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, 2012, with monetary prizes being awarded to the top three placing photos in each category. First-place winners will be awarded $200, second-place $150 and third-place $100. Competition winners will be announced at the AFBF Annual Meeting in January 2013 in Nashville, Tenn.

For more information on how to register and to view the contest's rules and regulations, click here. Please contact with questions about the competition.

Animal Ag Alliance Welcomes New Board Members

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is excited to announce additions to its board of directors and executive committee.

Mark Etienne (Potash Corp.), Billy Frey (Alltech), Scott Oler (Vance Publishing Corp.), Paul Matzat (Genus/PIC), and Kathy Simmons [National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA)] recently joined the full list of 27 board members, who each serve a term of three years. Jeff Cannon (Diamond V) and Jamie Jonker (National Milk Producers Federation) were added to the board's Executive Committee.

Current chairman Chris Ashworth (Elanco Animal Health) also welcomed Paul Pressley (U.S. Poultry & Egg Association) as the Alliance's new chair-elect and Sherrie Niekamp (National Pork Board) as treasurer.

All major sectors of animal agriculture are represented on the Alliance's board of directors, making the organization truly unique. The Alliance's legacy of leadership makes it the key organization for building meaningful coalitions across diverse industries to strategically address issues critical to the future of animal agriculture.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Livestock Producers Affected by Disasters Urged to Keep Good Records

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan Garcia urged livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Isaac to keep thorough records of their livestock and feed losses, including additional expenses for such things as feed purchases because of lost supplies.

"There are extraordinary circumstances caused by a variety of disasters from fires in the west, floods in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf region, storms in the Mid-Atlantic, and drought and heat affecting the heartland," Garcia said. "Each of these events is causing economic consequences for ranchers and producers including cattle, sheep and dairy operations, bee keepers and farm-raised fish, and poultry producers."

FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses; dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts; costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures; and feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Conservation Grant Deadline is Sept. 26

Organizations interested in applying for a grant to help fund projects that restore, enhance or protect Minnesota's prairies, forests and wetlands have until Wednesday, Sept. 26, to do so.

The 2013 Conservation Partners Legacy Grant program offers a total of $4.6 million dollars to qualified projects. Applications and complete details are available online.

Smaller projects ranging from $5,000-$50,000 submitted under the new Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) program are not subject to the deadline. These requests must use commonly accepted and practiced restoration and enhancement activities. ECP applications will be accepted and awarded continuously through May 15, 2013.

During the first three years of the program, 140 grants totaling $10.3 million have been awarded for conservation projects.

The CPL program is funded through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008.

Restaurants Are Not Meeting Ethnic Food Demand

Chain restaurants aren't meeting current consumer demand for new ethnic foods and flavors, according to new data from the food industry research firm Technomic.

Only a quarter of consumers polled for a recent Technomic survey say they are satisfied with the availability of ethnic offerings at limited-service (23%) and full-service (28%) chains, which translates into opportunities for operators to differentiate their menus and gain market share with globally inspired offerings.

"Authenticity is crucial to the ethnic food and beverage purchasing decision," says Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "Sixty-five percent of consumers say food that tastes authentic is one of the most important factors in deciding which establishment to visit for ethnic foods and beverages. … Consumers also say that dishes prepared by someone from that region are given greater credibility as authentic."

For the full release, click here.


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