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Farm News for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Note: Some stories are written in broadcast style

Farm Credit of the Virginias reports 2nd Quarter Earnings

Staunton - Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative, reported second quarter 2014 net income of $7.5 million. This brings the net income of the cooperative for the first six months to $16 million. “We are pleased with our second quarter and year-to-date financial results, which reflect positive trends across most areas of our operations,” said David Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of Farm Credit of the Virginias. “We experienced increased loan demand across our markets, which resulted in the strongest quarterly loan growth we have experienced in several years.”

“We are also pleased to pay out our 2013 patronage dividend totaling $21 million in cash to our customer-owners during the second quarter. This demonstrates how the cooperative model works by having our customer-owners share in the cooperative’s earnings,” said Mr. Lawrence.

Farm Credit of the Virginias’ loan portfolio increased $34 million during the second quarter and totaled over $1.528 billion at June 30, 2014. Credit quality of the loan portfolio remained strong, with 95% of the loans classified as acceptable. Improved profitability in the livestock, poultry and dairy industries and a strengthening of the general economy has helped the cooperative maintain the credit performance of its loan portfolio.

Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.5 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending, expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center. For more information, visit www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

Penn State's Great Insect Fair celebrates pollinators

UNIVERSITY PARK - Why are pollinators so important to our daily lives? Find out at Penn State's Great Insect Fair, taking place Sept. 13, at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus.

The theme of this year's fair is "PollenNation," according to fair coordinator Steve Jacobs, senior extension associate in entomology.

"Insects pollinate approximately 75 percent of the food we eat, but there have been dramatic drops in pollinator populations worldwide," Jacobs said.

Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences' Entomology Department, the fair will provide information on what is killing bees and other pollinators and how to create and protect pollinator habitat. Related activities and displays will feature honey tasting, pollinator diversity and nesting habitat, bee observation hives, a pollinated-food table, and "pollinator theater."

Penn State Master Gardeners will be on hand with resources for pollinator-friendly home gardens. Attendees also can receive a "Pollinator Passport Book" and have it filled by visiting all of the event's pollinator booths.

The fair also will include other events designed to be fun and interactive:

--Butterfly tents
--Build-A-Bug Contest -- Kids can bring their homemade insects for judging and a chance to win prizes (for rules and guidelines, visit the contest Web page)
--Cockroach races
--Carnival games
--Arts and crafts at the Insect Construction Company
--Insect zoo
--Insect collections
--Face painting
--Insect vendors, featuring insect pets, art, crafts, books and t-shirts
--The Bug Doctor Is In -- Get answers to your insect questions

Parking and admission for the Great Insect Fair are free, although donations will be accepted to help defray costs. Entrance to the fair is through the Founders Entrance on the east side of the Bryce Jordan Center.

Information on the Bryce Jordan Center's bag policy is available on the BJC website. All Bryce Jordan Center parking lots will be available for parking during the event.

To learn more, call the Department of Entomology at 814-865-1895 or visit the Great Insect Fair Web page.

North Carolina to offer new price reports for local farm products

RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services’ State and Federal Market News Service is launching a series of new reports focusing on locally produced agricultural products.

Reports for the state-operated farmers markets in Raleigh and Asheville, which list current wholesale prices, are now online, as is Farm to School information, which provides total produce sales delivered plus unit prices. In addition to these reports, Market News plans to develop reports for direct-to-consumer sales, which will capture the prices of commodities that farmers market to consumers. Reports on grass-fed beef are expected to be available starting in September.

The new reports will provide users with information that can assist them with making informed business decisions, said Sherry Barefoot, Market News manager. The information can assist producers with their financial planning, assist insurance companies with settling insurance claims and benefit other members of the industry, she said.

“Interest in, and demand for, locally grown foods has increased significantly in the past 10 years,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This has been a win-win for farmers and the economy, as consumers are enjoying more foods straight from the farm, creating new markets and supporting the local economy.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, the number of North Carolina farms selling agricultural products directly to consumers in 2012 was 4,475. That is up from 3,712 in 2007 and 3,054 in 2002. The total market value of direct sales in 2012 was $31.8 million.

The new reports can be found on the Market News website at www.ncagr.gov/markets/mktnews/local.htm.

U.S. farm production expenditures and farmland values rise

WASHINGTON — American farmers spent $367.3 billion to run their businesses in 2013, according to a farm production expenditure report published recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That figure tops 2012 expenditures by 2 percent.

Overall, crop farm expenditures in 2013 increased to $206.7 billion, up 0.9 percent, while livestock farm expenditures increased to $160.6 billion, up 3.4 percent.

The average per-farm expenditure was $175,270, up from $171,309 in 2012. The average crop farm expenditure was $211,659, compared to $143,521 for livestock farms.

“Per-farm expenditures can differ in various parts of the country due to the diversity of agriculture and the varied expenses that come with that,” said Jonah Bowles, senior agricultural market analyst with Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Cotton is not grown in Michigan, and sugar beets are not grown in Alabama. Sandy soils in the East will have a different set of production costs than those with 10-foot topsoil in the Midwest.”

Farmland values also have increased, according to the NASS 2014 Land Values report.

The report noted that in 2014 U.S. farm real estate value averaged $2,950 per acre, up 8.1 percent from 2013. Regional changes in the average value ranged from a 16.3 percent increase in the Northern Plains region to a 1.1 percent increase in the Southeast region. In the report’s Appalachian region, which includes Virginia, the average farm real estate value was $4,320 per acre, an increase of 0.2 percent.

Pasture value in the United States increased to an average of $1,300 per acre, or 11.1 percent above 2013. At the state level, the average value of 2014 pasture land ranged from $360 per acre in New Mexico to $13,500 in New Jersey. In Virginia, the average was $3,930 per acre.

“Land values are a function of productivity and competition for other uses,” Bowles explained. He noted that $13,500-per-acre land in New Jersey would not be profitable in hay and that the value comes from potential development demand. “Conversely, New Mexico land is valued at $350 because there is little production per acre and demand associated with urban sprawl is slight.”

The two reports are available at www.nass.usda.gov.

Hay production down 20 percent in WV

Yields of hay for farmers in the Mountain State are not anywhere near 2013 levels. A recent report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service office of the USDA indicates all other hay production (excluding alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures) is forecast at 880,000 tons, down 203,000 tons from 2013. The area harvested is expected to total 550,000 acres, down 20,000 acres from the previous year. Average yield per acre is forecast at 1.6 tons, down 0.3 tons from 2013.

Tree fruits are expected to be down from last year as well. Based on August 1 conditions, apple production in West Virginia is forecast at 86 million pounds, down 9 million pounds from 2013. Based on August 1 conditions, peach production is forecast at 5,500 tons (11.0 million pounds). The forecast is down 200 tons (0.4 million pounds) from the 2013 crop season.

US tractor sales up 6 percent in July

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. for July 2014, were up 6% compared to the same month last year.

For the seven months in 2014, a total of 125,296 tractors were sold which compares to 121,763 sold thru July 2014, representing a 3% increase year to date.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 7% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 8%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 2%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 14%.

For the seven months, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 7% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are up 4%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 9%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 11%.

Combine sales were down 26% for the month. Sales of combines for the first seven months totaled 4,782, a decrease of 15% over the same period in 2013.

Large U.S. apple crop expected

RICHMOND—The nation’s fall apple crop is expected to be a big one, with a potential record crop in Washington offsetting lighter crops in the two other main apple-producing states, New York and Michigan.

Early estimates from the Premier Apple Cooperative in New York and the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association indicate the national fresh and processing apple crop could reach 260 million 40-pound boxes, the third-largest crop on record.

There could be an oversupply of apples nationally, but a huge national crop is more manageable now than in previous years. That’s due to a better varietal mix and quality and to fast food restaurants using more apple slices.

While Virginia production is a long way, volume-wise, from that of Washington, the commonwealth is the nation’s sixth-largest producer of apples in both volume and acreage. Virginia orchards produced 4.6 million bushels of apples in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. More than half of last year’s crop was sold for processing into products like apple juice and applesauce.

“Right now our crop here in Virginia appears to be fair,” said Spencer Neale, director of commodity marketing for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “There have been reports of damaging hail in some orchards, too much moisture in some and not enough in others. It very much depends on the region. The next few weeks will be critical to finishing the crop, and then we will begin to see exactly what we have.”

Maryland awards $1 Million for Innovative Manure Management Technologies

POCOMOKE - The Maryland Department of Agriculture recently awarded more than $1 million in grants for three animal waste management technology projects. Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance, Maryland Energy Administration Director Abigail Ross Hopper, along with other state and local officials, joined together for a check presentation ceremony to Planet Found Energy Development and Green Mountain Technologies for implementation of their demonstration projects. The event was held at Millennium Farms in Worcester County.

“By working to reach our sustainability goals, we’ll grow our renewable energy portfolio and reduce the amount of run-off going into our precious Bay. This program is a win-win for our State,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Investing in Maryland’s in-state renewable energy boosts our economy, ensures that we have abundant energy resources well into the future and creates more jobs and opportunity for more Marylanders.”

The O’Malley/Brown Administration’s investment in innovation led to the revitalization of the Animal Waste Technology Fund. The Fund provides incentives to companies that demonstrate new technologies on farms and provide alternative strategies for managing animal manure. These technologies generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products. MDA plans to award a total of $2 million of the $2.5 million available in FY2014. Funds not awarded during FY2014 will be added to a new round of requests for proposals to demonstrate innovative manure management technologies, totaling $3 million in FY2015.

“These projects will help farmers address challenges in managing manure under new nutrient management requirements,” said Secretary Hance. “Projects funded have the potential to increase energy independence, enhance animal waste management, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gases – all of which will result in advanced Chesapeake Bay restoration and help farms become sustainable.”

National Corn Growers Assn. comments on "massive crop"

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reports:

With the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimating a record corn supply of 15.2 billion bushels this coming year, the National Corn Growers Association is keeping a close eye on prices and pushing back against efforts that will reduce demand for the bountiful supply.

"Now is not the time for our federal policymakers to be cutting into the ethanol standard, imposing undue regulations or going slow on trade agreements," said NCGA President Martin Barbre.

"Our farmers are doing their part, working hard and smart on their farms to bring in a good crop. It's time Washington removed obstacles and cleared a path so we can sell America's biggest and most versatile crop at a good and fair price."

In its crop production and supply-and-demand reports released today, USDA estimated a record average national corn yield of 167.4 bushels per acre. Factoring in 83.8 million acres expected to be harvested brings the 2014 crop at 14.0 billion bushels and the overall supply at 15.2 billion bushels.

Due to the increased production, the average farm price was lowered a dime from its July estimate, to a range of $3.55 to $4.25 per bushel.

When it comes to corn prices and the cost of growing corn, Barbre cited three areas NCGA is watching in particular that affect its grower members. First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting by 10 percent the amount of corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, a step that means future years also may see reductions.

At the same time, EPA has proposed new regulations regarding the Clean Water Act and the definition of which waters will be covered. Farmers need clarity and the proposed rule regarding "Waters of the U.S." needs to be fixed. Farmers cannot afford more regulatory uncertainty that drives up costs, Barbre said.

Finally, to help exports of corn and corn products, NCGA is pushing for modernized Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation as provided in the bi-partisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. This would improve our nation's ability to advance trade agreements that open markets for U.S. farmers.

Turkey industry pleased with USDA action

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Turkey Federation praised USDA for moving forward with its Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule.

USDA recently released the final version of the rule, which will allow poultry plants nationwide the option to implement an enhanced inspection program that focuses even greater attention on the prevention of microbiological hazards.

This enhanced program was previously was limited to 25 pilot plants, but now that the rule has been finalized, NTF said it expects many turkey plants to adopt the new system.

"USDA is to be commended for standing up for food safety in the face of significant pressure," said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. "Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection provides additional tools to plants and federal inspectors to verify that plant food-safety programs are protecting against foodborne illness.

"By allowing plant employees to conduct some preliminary sorting duties, federal inspectors will be freed to further verify testing on the spot, examine sanitation standards and enforcing safeguards throughout a processing plant."

NTF and its members view this as the most significant step forward in food safety since the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulation of 1996. That regulation was a turning point on changing meat inspection from one that was largely visual to one that included testing for microbiological hazards.

"HACCP has enhanced food safety considerably, and this expands on the concepts of that rule. It's the next logical step in the evolution of food safety," Brandenberger said.

NTF will continue to work with those members who opt to utilize the system and with USDA to ensure smooth implementation.

NC State professor wins award for work in animal nutrition

Jack Odle, Ph.D., an animal scientist at North Carolina State University, was recently presented with the New Frontiers in Animal Nutrition Award Sunday as part of the Nutrition Research Awards. The award is sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association and the Federation of Animal Science Societies.

This is the 67th year AFIA has presented the Nutrition Research Awards, and the 11th consecutive year the organization has sponsored the FASS award. The purpose of the New Frontiers in Animal Nutrition Award is to stimulate, acknowledge and reward pioneering and innovative research relevant to animal nutrition.

The award recipient must demonstrate outstanding and innovative contributions to nutrition research concerning animals that benefit mankind and/or the nutritional value of food from animals. Odle manages a research program focused on "Nutritional Biochemistry of the Neonate."

"His research has relevance to both agriculture and to medicine in that his laboratory uses piglets as a model for neonatal nutrition and metabolism," said Richard Sellers, AFIA senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. "His research, focused on lipid metabolism and on intestinal health, has previously received recognition by the society as he was awarded a Young Researcher Award, the Non-ruminant Nutrition Award and the Animal Growth & Development Award."

Odle has received $8 million for research, published 367 papers, abstracts and technical reports, and has trained 50 graduate students, post doctorates and visiting scientists.

Odle received his bachelor's degree with highest honors in animal science from Purdue University and his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a concentration in nutritional biochemistry.

After five years as Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, he joined the Department of Animal Science at North Carolina State University in 1995 and was named William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in 2005.

Peanut farming has its roots in Southeast Virginia

WAVERLY — Virginia’s peanut-farming roots are plenty deep. The first commercial crop of peanuts in the United States was actually produced in 1842 in Southeast Virginia.

The Virginia-type peanut is known for its large kernels compared to the other three types grown in the United States, said Dell Cotton, executive secretary of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association. The majority of Virginia-type peanut production in the United States takes place in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“The larger Virginia kernels support various prominent industries. The in-shell peanut is sold in grocery stores and at sporting events. The shelled extra-large kernels are used as cocktail peanuts. The super-extra-large kernels are used by gourmet processors to cook and package, usually in tins, for distribution,” Cotton said.

Virginia-grown peanuts are produced in about eight localities in the southeastern part of the state, where sandy soils are conducive to their growth. They typically are planted in May and harvested at the end of September or first part of October.

Kevin Monahan in Sussex County has grown peanuts on his multi-generational farm for 31 years. He used to farm with his uncle and grandfather, and now he farms with his sons, Drew and Brad. The family still grows peanuts on a farm that belonged to Monahan’s great-great-grandfather.

This summer he is growing 135 acres of Virginia-type peanuts—100 acres for seed and another 35 acres that will be sold as an in-shell product.

“Peanuts take a lot of work to grow,” Monahan said. “You have to scout the plants for diseases and keep them sprayed to prevent disease.”

Monahan used to grow as many as 350 acres of peanuts when the federal quota system was in place. Passage of the 2002 Farm Bill ended the 70-year-old federal system of production and price controls, and it was replaced with a more market-oriented approach.

“With the quota system we knew we could get a certain amount of money per ton of peanuts, and we planned our peanut acreage based on the average yield from the previous year,” Monahan said. He and other farmers now plant peanut acreage based on contracts with peanut processing companies, called shellers.

“I found I do a better job managing the peanuts since I reduced the number of acres we grow,” Monahan said. “It used to take a month in the fall to get all of those peanuts in, and now if we have good harvest conditions, it takes about 8 to 10 days.”

West Virginia expands forest insect program

CHARLESTON - WV Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Program has expanded to include all counties currently infested with HWA.

“Additional counties were found to be infested this year so our Plant Industries Division Staff expanded our HWA program so landowners in those counties would be allowed to participate” said Commissioner Helmick.

The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, is a non-native invasive pest that is quickly decimating hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis and T. caroliniana) in the eastern United States” said Quentin “Butch” Sayers, Assistant Director of PID with WVDA.

“Without long-term control of HWA, eastern and Carolina hemlock will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, throughout its natural range.” “HWA causes damage to hemlocks by depleting the hemlock’s starch reserves, which in turn reduces the trees’ ability to grow and produce new shoots” said Sayers. “All ages and size classes of hemlock are susceptible to HWA infestations.”

WVDA is now accepting applications from landowners who wish to sign up and participate in the WVDA HWA Program to help protect their hemlock trees.

Landowners who want to participate in the HWA Cooperative Program must complete an application and submit it with a $100 deposit that will be applied to your treatment costs. The application can be received by calling the WVDA Charleston Office at (304) 558-2212 or downloading at: http://www.wvagriculture.org/images/Plant_Industries/About_Us.html.

Landowners must apply for the program by September 30th, 2014, provide WVDA with a map of their property, and allow WVDA to evaluate their site to ensure it meets the project qualifications:

-Only private lands within the project area are eligible.
-More than 50 percent canopy cover of hemlocks.
-A woodlot with a minimum of five acres. Adjacent and otherwise eligible landowners may cooperate to meet the minimum acreage requirement.
-Landowners with less than five acres may qualify if the proposed treatment area is adjacent to land being managed for HWA.
-Trees must have more than 50 percent foliage.
-Trees may not have been treated within the last four years.
-Treatment must not pose a safety risk to WVDA field personnel.
-Pesticides used in treatments must be purchased directly by WVDA.
-Treatments usually protect trees four-to-five years.

Cost share monies are available, however landowners accepted for the program must pay for a portion of the treatments. Applying for the program does not obligate landowners to participate – they may back out if they feel their portion of the costs is too high.

Farm Credit celebrates 98 years of service to American agriculture

Nearly 100 years after the U.S. Congress established Farm Credit to serve as a reliable source of credit for the nation's farmers and ranchers, the network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations remains a sound and vital resource for rural America. The organization recently marked it's 98th anniversary.

"For 98 years, the Farm Credit System has served agriculture and rural America as a dedicated, reliable, competitive, customer-owned source of credit," said Mary Fritz, owner and operator of Quarter Circle JF Ranch, Inc., a dry land grain and cow-calf operation in Chester, Montana, and chair of the Farm Credit Council board of directors. "America's agricultural producers and rural communities have benefited greatly from the vision and foresight that went into establishing the Farm Credit System."

Today, about 40 percent of the dollar volume of outstanding loans to U.S. farmers and ranchers comes from Farm Credit. The federally chartered network is comprised of 82 privately owned institutions, including four wholesale banks and 78 direct lending associations that operate in every county in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

These local Farm Credit System institutions specialize in providing credit and related services to farmers, ranchers, timber harvesters and aquatic producers. In addition, the Farm Credit System provides financing for the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, as well as to rural homeowners, certain farm-related businesses, and agricultural and public utility cooperatives.

In support of their mission of service, Farm Credit System institutions also have programs specifically focused on meeting the needs of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers. In 2013, more than 40 percent of new loans made by Farm Credit were to small producers, those with annual gross agricultural sales of $250,000 or less.

"Our cooperative model is designed specifically to ensure that our lending and related financial services are driven by the needs of our borrower-owners," Fritz said. "Our focus remains on the success of our owners rather than on achieving quarterly returns to impress stockholders."

Farm Credit's commitment to its borrower-owners is demonstrated further by the fact that associations share profits directly with borrowers through patronage dividends. In 2013, the Farm Credit System distributed more than $1 billion in cash patronage, allowing borrower-owners to reinvest in their own operations and to further support rural communities through local spending.

"Today, Farm Credit celebrates its heritage as it continues to fulfill its mission to serve U.S. agriculture and rural America," Fritz said. "Farm Credit was established as a permanent system of credit that is to be responsive to the needs of our nation's agricultural sector, and we look forward to continued success and a bright future."

Weekly crop progress reports

North Carolina Maryland
Pennsylvania South Carolina
Tennessee Virginia
West Virginia  
Trivia Question: The top three buyers of U.S. beef are:

a. Canada, China, and Australia
b. England, Mexico, and Russia
c. Russia, China, and India
d. Canada, Japan, and Mexico

Answer: d. The top 5 export markets are (in order): Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Previous Question -
True or false - Pigs are native to North America.

a. True
b. False

Answer: b Hernando de Soto, the famous Spanish explorer, brought the first pig to North America in 1539. (Cows didn’t get here until 1611 with the Pilgrims).


Military vets, farmers invited to free ag business plan seminar

CHARLESTON - Knowing how to grow things is only half the battle when it comes to making money from farming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the median farm income for 2014 will be negative $1,626, and over 90 percent of all farm households will rely on multiple sources of income. So farmers also need to know how to “put the pencil” to their operations to ensure they are maximizing profits.

To help them do that, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will sponsor a “Farm Business Planning Short Course” to help “West Virginia Veterans to Agriculture” participants and the rest of the farm community develop business plans that can steer them toward the black side of the ledger sheet.

The free seminar will be held at Milton Pumpkin Park Saturday, Sept. 20 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Participants will explore the components of a business plan and work with a three-page template they can customize. The focus of the course will be beekeeping and specialty crops, common products for West Virginia’s small farmers.

While there is no cost for the program, pre-registration is required. Contact Beth Ann Earl at bethann.earl@gmail.com or WVDA’s Marketing &Development Division at 304-558-2210.

“Not every farmer is concerned with making money. Some just farm to have fresh meat and produce for their own families,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick. “However, there is a huge opportunity for West Virginia farmers to make money. We consume over $7 billion in food each year, yet we produce less than $1 billion. That’s a gap we need to close for the good our state’s economy.”

The instructor will be Doolarie Singh-Knights, Ph.D, WVU Extension Assistant Professor.

“Research has shown that the most useful and relevant business plans for profitable small businesses are those that clearly focus on three critical factors to success, namely production, marketing and finances. The three-page business plan will simplify the business planning process by helping ‘agripreneurs’ develop or refine practical action plans,” said Dr. Singh-Knights.

The Veterans to Agriculture project was started by WVDA to help veterans find meaningful and therapeutic occupations in agriculture by providing them with training, resources and materials to develop their own farm-related businesses.




Record Cover Crop Enrollment observed in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS - Governor Martin O’Malley and other state officials recently announced record cover crop program enrollment by Maryland farmers.

For the 2014/2015 Cover Crop Program, 1,849 Maryland farmers requested funding to plant a record 641,400 acres of winter grains. Maryland farmers exceeded the Phase I and II Watershed Implementation Plan milestone for cover crops in 2011 and 2013 and are on track to exceed it again next year with this new record enrollment acreage.

Officials say cover crops are one of the most cost-effective means of helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

“The future of agriculture and our environment is bright. Today’s record cover crop announcement is great news for our farmers who continue to voluntarily take strong conservation actions on their farms, diversify their operations and use new technologies as they become available,” said Governor O’Malley. “Their dedication, along with the commitment of thousands of volunteers around our State, will not only to help us meet our goals to move our State forward; it will help more Maryland farmers sustain their family businesses.”

Farmers plant cover crops in the fall, following the harvest of summer crops such as corn, soybeans and vegetables. Rye, wheat, barley and certain other crops are planted as cover crops because they recycle unused plant nutrients remaining in the soil from the previous summer crop, protect fields against wind and water erosion, and help improve the soil for the next year’s crop. Maryland’s Cover Crop Program provides farmers with grants to plant cover crops on their fields immediately following the summer crop harvest.

“With an $8.25 billion annual impact on our state, our agricultural community is a critical part of our effort to grow our economy, create jobs, and build a brighter future for the next generation of Marylanders,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “We remain committed to working in partnership with both our farmers and our volunteers to build strong, sustainable communities throughout our state.”

Top counties ranked by most cover crop acres enrolled:

Queen Anne’s – 65,716
Kent – 64,851
Talbot – 60,150
Caroline – 55,094
Dorchester – 49,149




North Carolina approves fees for woodland plans

RALEIGH – The N.C. Board of Agriculture recently approved fees for woodland management plans, following a directive from the state General Assembly.

The state budget approved by the General Assembly directed the N.C. Forest Service to start charging for woodland plans, commonly referred to as forest management plans. The budget bill also allowed the Board of Agriculture to review and approve the fees.

“The North Carolina Forest Service has been helping protect, manage and promote North Carolina’s forests for nearly 100 years,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “They have a lot of experience assisting woodland owners with valuable and tax-saving management advice. I believe the Board of Agriculture approved reasonable fees that will allow the N.C. Forest Service to continue delivering the professional services its customers have come to expect.”

Woodland plans will have a base fee of $45. In addition, there will be a fee of $3 per acre for forest management plans and forest stewardship plans, both of which are comprehensive plans. Practice plans, which are simpler plans that usually address just one management practice, will cost $2 per acre in addition to the base fee.

The NCFS offers a variety of forestry programs and services that are still free of charge.

There are financial and environmental benefits to having a woodland plan, said Sean Brogan, director of forest management and development for the NCFS. Certain types of plans can qualify a landowner for participation in the state’s Forestry Present Use Valuation Program, resulting in significant property tax reductions. The tax savings realized in the first year alone are usually more than enough to cover the cost of a woodland plan, Brogan said. Woodland plan preparation fees can also be considered a deductible management expense for annual tax purposes.

Landowners interested in state or federal cost-share programs typically need an approved woodland plan. Participation in many of these programs results in a cost savings of 40 percent or more, depending on the program. Cost-share payments help to reduce the initial capital investment needed for many forestry projects, which leads to higher overall financial returns to the woodland owner.

Landowners interested in forestry advice and a woodland plan should contact their local county ranger for more details.



Safe Food classes offered in Mountain State

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will offer a Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices (GHP/GAP) class Sept. 12 in Charleston, to help West Virginia food producers protect consumers from food-borne illnesses.

The class will be held at the Guthrie Agricultural Center in Building 2, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Cost of the class is $25 and includes several handout materials. The class prepares producers for a GHP/GAP audit.

While neither the classes, nor the audits, are required by the state, some wholesalers and institutions require suppliers to have GHP/GAP certification. Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick says the program also gives participants an advantage over producers that don’t have GHP/GAP certification.

“A key component to “growing growers” in the state of West Virginia is to increase the marketability of our products. GHP/GAP certification is the first step in taking agriculture in our state to the next level,” said Commissioner Helmick. “Although currently voluntary, certification would be extremely beneficial to any grower who would like to enter the wholesale/larger retail market. It is our goal to see West Virginia grown products not only in all our local homes, restaurants and institutions, but across the United States and beyond. GHP/GAP certification can help us achieve that goal.”

For more registration information, contact Melissa Beller at 304-558-2210 or mbeller@wvda.us. For more information on the GHP-GAP process, contact Cindy Bailey at 304-558-3200 or cbailey@wvda.us.



Pennsylvania August crop forecast published

HARRISBURG - Based on August 1, 2014 forecasts for yield and production, the Keystone State's farmers expect to have a record-breaking year for soybean production, according to the Northeastern Regional Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean acreage for harvest is set at 600,000 acres, up 65,000 acres from last year. The expected yield, based on August 1 conditions, is 49 bushels per acre, unchanged from the final yield for 2013. Total production, at 29.4 million bushels, is up 12 percent from 2013. If realized, this would be a record production for Pennsylvania.

Winter wheat acres harvested totaled 165,000, which is 5,000 acres more than last year. The winter wheat yield as of August 1 is estimated at 65 bushels per acre. The resulting winter wheat production of 10.725 million bushels is 1 percent lower than last year.

Barley acreage for harvest, at 55,000, is 5,000 acres less than 2013. Barley yield is forecast at 68 bushels per acre, unchanged from the July 1 forecast and unchanged from the final yield for 2013. Barley production is expected to be 3.74 million bushels, 8 percent below last year's production.

Corn acreage to be harvested for grain at 1,000,000 acres, is 90,000 acres less than 2013. Based on crop conditions as of August 1, corn yield is forecast at 149 bushels per acre, which is 2 bushels per acre more than last year's final yield. The current forecast of corn for grain production, at 149.0 million bushels is down 7 percent from last year.



Virginia poultry industry is focus of new "showcase facility" at Rockingham County Fairgrounds

HARRISONBURG – The Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg expanded it's poultry facilities on the Fairgrounds this summer. The goal is to showcase the historic and economic importance of the Virginia poultry industry as well as to provide new and expanded space for exhibitor show birds during the annual County Fair. The Rockingham County Fair has been recognized on numerous occasions as one of the top agricultural Fairs in North America and is dedicating 2014 as “The Year of the Farm Family.”

“This project has been a long time in the making,” says Jeff Ishee, GM for the Rockingham County Fair Association. The current poultry exhibit building was transported to its present-day site in 1980 after being used for numerous years at the old Kratzer Road site of the County Fair. “It was time for a make-over,” emphasized Ishee, who added the renovated building and another, poultry-related new-construction building have been completed in time for the 2014 County Fair. Attendance at the 2013 Fair set a new record at 88,885 people.

The Fair Association and various poultry companies with operations in Rockingham County developed a plan several months ago to recognize the historic and economic importance of the Virginia poultry industry. Construction of the new showcase building began in late March.

“This is a big story and it needs to be told,” remarked poultry industry pioneer Charles Wampler, Jr. of Dayton. “I am pleased more people will learn about the significance of chicken and turkey production and the farm families involved.” The Wampler family was an integral part of the reason Rockingham County has become known around the world as the “Turkey Capital.” Wampler was also the 1st President of the Rockingham County Fair Association in 1949.

The old poultry building used for more than 3 decades underwent a complete, top-to-bottom makeover and now contains interactive displays, historic artifacts, and educational exhibits. Two prominent statues (one chicken and one turkey) welcome visitors at the main entrance. Another building for exhibiting live birds during the County Fair will be used to host other Fairgrounds events throughout the year.

Funding was provided by private donors, poultry companies and agriculture-related interests. The Fair Association also received a grant from the Rural Rehabilitation Trust Fund administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The project has received endorsements from Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as well as the encouragement of local elected officials.

“Our mission statement requires us to promote agriculture and be a leader in the presentation and promotion of farm life and food production,” says Fair Association President Don Liskey of Cross Keys. “This is a win-win situation for the Fair and the poultry industry. Visitors to the Fair will learn all about the importance of chicken and turkey production here in Virginia.”



TN introduces new Mobile App for farms, farmers' markets

NASHVILLE - A “Pick Tennessee” mobile app is now available which can find and then map the way to locally grown farm products, farms and farmers markets. The free app, downloadable from both iTunes for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices, is the latest advancement of Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products promotion.

“I’m proud to introduce this new face of an old friend,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Pick Tennessee Products has thrived for 28 years not only by providing real and valuable services, but also by having the flexibility to adapt to change—changing cultures, consumer demands, and technology."

“Our government services must anticipate needs not just for the current year, but for 15 years down the road. With the new Pick Tennessee mobile app, we now reach consumers where they already expect to find us—on their phones and other digital devices.”

The Pick Tennessee mobile app allows users to search by item, like “apples,” by region of the state, or season. The mobile app then provides directions to the chosen location through direct GPS mapping.

“Every Tennessee farmer or farm product producer who sells directly to the public can visit the Pick Tennessee Products website and apply to become part of this extraordinary free service,” Johnson said. “If a farm is listed on Pick Tennessee Products, that farm is automatically available on the new Pick Tennessee mobile app for GPS mapping.”

The Pick Tennessee mobile app can keep track of favorites and provides links to seasonal recipes, handy tips and fun facts, as well as the full Pick Tennessee Products website. Farm direct and local items on the app include options as varied as local fruits and vegetables, wineries, greenhouses and plant nurseries, Christmas tree farms, and local honey. The items can be searched by the farm where they’re produced, or the markets where they’re sold.



Cargill to remove growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys

Cargill's Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms are now the first major turkey brands to remove growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys across the independent farms they work with, without charging a premium price. Based on consumer research and feedback, these brands are pioneering efforts to provide families with new, affordable, turkey choices.

Cargill worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a three-part verification process for turkey production that exceeds all current government and industry standards:

• All turkeys are raised by independent farmers
• Producers are trained on proper animal handling practices
• No antibiotics are used for growth promotion (antibiotics only used for treatment of illness and disease prevention)

"Consumer research tells us people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and how it is produced," said Ruth Kimmelshue, president of the Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats business.

"We believe ending the use of antibiotics to promote growth in turkeys is an important step that provides consumers with nutritious and affordable options. Working with our broad network of independent farmers, Cargill has the experience, resources and capabilities to successfully make this change and meet the needs of our customers and consumers."

Cargill's initiative to remove growth-promoting antibiotics was reinforced last December when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a three-year plan to phase out the use of antibiotics that are medically important in human health and are also used to improve growth or feed efficiency in livestock and poultry.

"Fresh, whole turkeys raised without growth-promoting antibiotics will be available this Thanksgiving under Cargill's signature brand labels, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms," Kimmelshue said. "All Cargill turkey flocks will be free of growth-promoting antibiotics by the end of 2015."

Consumer concerns over responsible use of antibiotics in animal production has made many people more curious about how their food is produced, but only slightly more than half read nutrition labels or ingredient lists. However, 62 percent of consumers would be very, or extremely, interested in purchasing turkey that has not received growth stimulants.

Cargill is proud to work with independent farms to raise turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics. The company's farmer partners have been trained on industry leading animal handling practices established by the National Turkey Federation, which enables handlers to provide the best care for the animals.

The health and wellness of animals is of utmost importance to Cargill, and antibiotics will still be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian to treat and prevent disease.

Source: Cargill News Release



Farm-to-School program successful in WV

Greenbrier County, WV is no stranger to agriculture. It boasts the third highest number of farms in the Mountain State at 819. It also has one of the state’s largest FFA programs. Perhaps this is why the county’s Farm To School program has enjoyed such success at both the middle and high school level.

FFA member Alex Hanna of Renick says he has been growing crops for as long as he can remember. This past year, with the help of his family, advisors, and fellow ag students, Alex raised sweet corn to be sold in Kanawha County schools. When all was said and done, Alex sold several thousand ears of fresh sweet corn to 15 different schools in Kanawha County.

The sweet corn sale, which was also a part of Alex’s SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project, was a huge step for the fairly young Farm To Schools program in Greenbrier County.

“We are starting to get more [involvement] and we have several students in Ag that have provided different varieties of crops. Hopefully the program gets even stronger, and of course I plan to continue to be involved in that and sell produce to local schools in Greenbrier and neighboring counties,” he said.

“We got all positive feedback. They were happy and I felt good exposing the kids to fresh and healthy food. It was hard work, but it was worth it in the end.”

The Farm To Schools program in Greenbrier County has also brought local and student grown products to the county’s own school cafeterias. Eastern Greenbrier Middle School and Western Greenbrier Middle School have seen the development of a cafeteria “garden bars” composed of fresh vegetables and fruits produced by students and local small farms.

The gardening program at the Greenbrier middle schools has also opened the gate for agricultural enrichment programs and summer school sessions, where students can get more hands-on experience in the school gardens.

Officials credit AmeriCorps worker Emily Landseidel for her work in the county’s two middle schools. Working through the County Child Nutrition office, Landseidel has acted as the Farm to School Coordinator for Greenbrier County, helping to integrate fresh foods into the cafeteria and agricultural awareness in the classrooms of Greenbrier County’s two middle schools.

Landseidel smiles in her pink Farm To School t-shirt, a measure of pride in her expression. “Does it engage them and get them involved in actively learning about their surroundings and how different things function on this planet?” She laughs. “Yes. Definitely.”