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In Brief:
 

•Producers are reminded of deadlines to report acreage or prevented acreage.

•Peterson says Farm Bill will contain fundamental changes in farm programs.

•USDA to upgrade, modernize computer systems.

•EQIP money available for farm energy audits and energy conservation planning.

•USDA announces grant opportunities for small, socially disadvantaged producers and cooperatives in rural areas for economic development.

•NPB taking applications for Carver Award until June 14.

•APC wins global award for response to salmonella crisis.

•APC and UGA to sponsor HCCAP-based food safety program for nut processors.

•Groups urge Congress to link farms to schools for better nutrition.

   

Program Deadlines Approaching

USDA’s Farm Service Agency reminds producers to submit their annual report of acreage to the local FSA office by the deadline in your state.

FSA Administrator Jonathan Coppess said that producers must file accurately and timely reports for all crops and land used, including prevented and failed acreage, to ensure they receive the maximum FSA program benefits possible.

For peanuts, accurate acreage reports are necessary to determine and maintain eligibility for programs such as the direct and counter-cyclical programs, Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) and Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE).
Producers are reminded that the deadline to enroll in the 2010 Direct and Counter-Cyclical program is June 1. Prevented acreage must be reported within 15 calendar days after the final planting date. Failed acreage must be reported before the disposition of the crop.

For specific deadlines in your area, contact your county FSA office.


Chairman Talks Farm Bill Changes

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said recently that he expects fundamental changes in U.S. farm policy this time, and there will be “little room for the status quo in the 2012 bill.”

To achieve that, he thinks it will be important to “get all this stuff out there, get it all on the table so everyone understands what’s what. Let’s have an honest discussion … and work together to come up with a rational risk-management type of system we can live with.”

Chairman Peterson says that the current programs overlap each other, such as the crop insurance programs, and suggested there will be “no money available to increase the subsidy rates under existing programs as some commodity groups want.”

As a result, he is looking to make fundamental changes in the way corn and other crops are subsidized when Congress writes the next Farm Bill in 2012. One idea is to link subsidies more to swings in farm revenue rather than commodity prices.

“Let’s come up with the best risk management system that we can;...this might lead to integrating the current subsidies with crop insurance,” he says.

He added that, in a couple of decades, crop insurance likely will be the single way that the government subsidizes farmers, in part because an insurance program is easier to sell to urban voters than the conventional subsidy programs.


USDA To Get Computer Upgrade

What began in 2004, but went unfunded for many years, will finally take place in 2010 as USDA will get an upgrade to their computer systems.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency recently launched a major upgrade to the agency’s direct loan system computer application. It will improve the delivery of supervised credit to the agency’s 70,000 farm borrowers.

The system now provides Internet-based technology for all loan-making and loan-servicing processes.

This modernization facilitates greater information sharing between various agency software applications to improve program delivery, enhance consistency throughout the Farm Service Agency and provide increased oversight.

Farm loan managers in any of the agency’s 2,249 offices nationwide will be able to use the system to interact with loan applicants and existing borrowers to gather data, provide information and to more effectively manage the customer relationship.


On-Farm Energy Audits

Under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA has announced an initiative designed to help producers transition to more energy efficient operations.

About $2 million is available in fiscal year 2010 to audit about 1,000 on-farm operations and evaluate an energy conservation plan. EQIP can pay up to 75 percent of the estimated costs of practice implementation.

Participating states include: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia in the peanut belt. Large peanut-drying operations on the farm may qualify, so check with the NRCS in the county the farm is located.


USDA Announces Grant Opportunities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is accepting grant applications to assist small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers and cooperatives in rural areas.

Approximately $3.5 million in grants are available with funding being awarded through USDA Rural Development’s Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant Program, which was authorized by Congress in the the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. It is part of the department’s ongoing effort to expand outreach to rural residents to ensure that all communities have equal access to USDA programs and services.

Funding is available to cooperatives or associations of cooperatives where at least 75 percent of the governing board or membership has annual gross agricultural product sales of $250,000 or less in the last three years. Grants can be used for product improvements, business plan development or economic development activities.

For example, in 2009, Piedmont Farmers Marketing Cooperative, Inc. in Greenwood, S.C., used a $43,600 grant to complete workshops on animal husbandry, vaccination requirements and techniques on breeding and proper raising of offspring. The grant also will allow co-op members to visit a livestock operation that uses livestock waste for renewable energy, reducing the operation’s energy costs.

Applications are due July 27. Application materials may be obtained at www.rurdev.usda.gov or by contacting your USDA Rural Development State Office.


Low Levels Of TSWV In 2009

To say that peanut producers in the Southeast have all benefitted from the disease risk index, now known as Peanut Rx, developed by researchers and Extension specialists in the tri-state region, is nearly an understatement. Had it not been for the development of the risk index and varieties with some level of resistance to TSWV, the industry would surely have greatly declined.

Extension personnel report that losses to TSWV in 2009 were estimated at 0.5 percent across the Southeastern U.S., the lowest level recorded since 1990.

For 2010, only minor changes in the peanut variety section of the index were made. Some changes were as follows: Georgia Greener was added for having some resistance to CBR; Tifguard was removed from the CBR resistance list; AT-215 was increased to 30 points for leaf spot and white mold resistance; Georgia 06G was increased to 25 points for leaf spot and white mold; Florida Fancy was set at 20 points for leaf spot and white mold; Georgia Green dropped white mold risk points from 25 to 20.

The Peanut Rx is available at www.ugapeanuts.com under 2010 Peanut Update.


Carver Award Deadline Approaches

The National Peanut Board (NPB) is taking applications for the ninth annual Dr. George Washington Carver Award until June 14, 2010. The award is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and the winner receives a $1,000 prize, with a matching amount awarded to the winner’s college for peanut research.

Application forms are available at www.nationalpeanutboard.org.

Once completed, entries should be mailed to the National Peanut Board Dr. Carver Award, 2839 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30339.

This year’s Carver Award winner will be presented with their check and a plaque at the 2010 American Peanut Research and Education Society’s Annual Conference in Clearwater, Fla., July 13-16.


APC Wins Global Award For Crisis Response

On April 20, 2010, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) recognized the American Peanut Council’s 2009 salmonella crisis communications program with the highest international award for issues and crisis management – the Gold Quill Award of Excellence.

The APC is proud to recognize its public relations firm, Argyle Communications, in collaboration with Argyle’s Washington-based partner, Ogilvy PR, for the program that earned this prestigious global award.

This year’s awards program attracted nearly 900 entries from 28 countries, including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.K. and the U.S.

“The Gold Quill Awards provide an unrivaled opportunity for communication professionals to have their work recognized on the world stage. It is one of the few programs in the world that recognizes the many facets of the business communication profession and that provides global opportunities for recognition of best practice,” said Melissa Dark, vice-chair of the 2010 Gold Quill Awards. “Winning a Gold Quill Award is a fantastic achievement and one that all our 2010 winners can be justly proud of.”

The Gold Quill Award entries went through two rounds of judging by top senior communicators from around the world. The final selection was made by the Gold Quill Awards Blue Ribbon Panel of judges at the IABC world headquarters in San Francisco in March. This year’s Blue Ribbon Panel included 37 communication experts from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, South Africa, Denmark, China, Russia, India and Argentina.

All Gold Quill Awards winners will be honored at the Gold Quill Awards gala dinner on June 7, 2010, at the IABC 2010 World Conference in Toronto. Additionally, winners will be featured in an upcoming issue of IABC’s Communication World magazine, mentioned on the IABC Web site and considered for publication in IABC’s resource materials.


HACCP-Based Course Announced

The American Peanut Council and The University of Georgia Food Science Extension Outreach Program are sponsoring a two-and-one-half-day, HACCP-based food safety program specifically designed for the nut industry on July 13-15, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

Prepaid registration for the course is required by July 2, 2010. Register by June 12 and the fee is $800. The registration fee between June 12 and July 2 is $850.

Lodging, breakfast and evening meals are not included in the registration fee. However, a block of rooms will be held until June 12, 2010, at the Foundry Park Inn, 295 East Dougherty Street, in downtown Athens. Call 706-549-7020 or toll-free at 866-928-4367 and request “UG0712” to get the special rate of $94 per night (2 double or 1 king, plus tax).

For online and credit card registration, go to the calendar at www.EFSonline.uga.edu and click on the link to the secure registration Web site.

For more information and registration details, contact the APC at cstickles@peanutsusa.com.


Congress Urged To Link Farms, Schools

Forty-one national organizations, including many health and nutrition organizations and agriculture sustainability groups, delivered a letter to House and Senate Congressional leaders recently urging them to include $50 million in mandatory funding for programs linking farmers with local schools as part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.

According to the letter, farm to school programs have a proven track record of increasing farmers’ incomes while also improving the nutrition and food literacy of school children.

The organizations say farm to school programs have been shown to improve nutrition for children who participate in the school lunch program and to lead to significant changes in their eating habits, which is particularly important at a time when the country faces an epidemic of childhood obesity.

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed their version of the Child Nutrition bill on March 24, including $40 million for Farm to School. Mark-up in the House Education and Labor Committee is expected later.

The House has yet to take up consideration of child nutrition reauthorization but Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has said that he will not agree to cuts in Farm Bill programs, including cuts to EQIP, to pay for any funding increases.

Discussions of funding mechanisms continue, with attention increasingly focused on the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee. Closing tax loopholes was used to pay for improved food stamp benefits during the 2008 Farm Bill negotiations, and many observers have suggested a similar maneuver could be used to pay for improved school meals.

The full Senate and House are expected to take action on the bill sometime this year.

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