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Soy growers to promote monarch habitat growth on farmland via online awareness campaign

• Sep 10, 2018 at 8:00 AM

While trade issues remain top priority for the soy industry, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is taking a moment this fall to illuminate the importance of monarch habitat in its overall conservation efforts, which include soil and water quality, and pollinator preservation.

From now through Oct. 5, ASA’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds will be aflutter with monarch messaging designed to shine a spotlight on monarch habitat importance. Outreach will include quick facts, links and suggestions to easily get involved, and a photo contest for farmers and other ASA friends and followers to upload snapshots of their efforts to plant milkweed and protect the pretty, beneficial butterflies.

Three randomly-selected participants who post their unique monarch or monarch habitat pics on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #Beans4Monarchs during the contest period will be selected to each win one $100 gift card, to be awarded in October. Photos can be posted directly to ASA social media platforms or on the participants’ feeds, so long as they include the #Beans4Monarchs hashtag and comply with the contest rules. ASA will cross-promote the contest throughout the month with interested and likeminded organizations to widen the social media circle cast on this issue and bring more awareness to why butterflies are important and how soy growers are making a difference in monarch habitats.

Monarch habitat promotes biodiversity and sustainability near farmlands, including attracting pollinators, improving soil health and water quality, housing natural enemies of crop pests, and increasing wildlife diversity. Yet, the monarch population has been alarmingly on the decline since the 1990s. The goal of ASA’s #Beans4Monarchs program is to help turn around those declining numbers and promote fit farmlands through healthy monarch habitat.

Here is a roundup of other recent agriculture-related news items:

Applications Still Being Accepted for the ASA Conservation Legacy Awards

ST. LOUIS — Share the story of how conservation is part of your farm operation and you could be recognized with a Conservation Legacy Award. The application deadline has been extended to Friday, Sept. 14. The awards recognize farm management practices of U.S. soybean farmers that are both environmentally friendly and profitable.

Are you using a reduced tillage practice on your farm? Do you grow cover crops? Have you taken steps to improve energy efficiency or water quality? These are just a few conservation practices used on some farms today that can help produce sustainable U.S. soybeans. Different regions of the country have their own unique challenges and ways to approach conservation and sustainability. We want to hear your farm’s conservation story!

All U.S. soybean farmers are eligible to enter to win a Conservation Legacy Award. Entries are judged on soil management, water management, input management, conservation, environmental management and sustainability.

A new region has been added to this year’s program in order to recognize the conservation accomplishments of more U.S. soybean farmers. The four regions included are, the Midwest, Upper Midwest, the Northeast and the South. One farmer from each of these regions will be recognized at the 2019 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla., and one of these farmers will be named the National Conservation Legacy Award recipient.

Award Winners Receive:

• An expense paid trip for two to Commodity Classic, Feb. 28 – March 2, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

• Recognition at the ASA Awards Banquet at Commodity Classic.

• A feature story in Corn & Soybean Digest and a video featuring the award winner’s farm and conservation practices.

• Potential opportunity for the national winner to join other farmer-leaders on an international trip to visit U.S. soy customers overseas.

More information on past winners of the award and how to submit your application is available in the “Awards” section of the ASA website. All applications must be submitted by Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

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Soybean Growers from 11 States to Lead Trade Development Through ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health in 2018-19

ST. LOUIS — American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer confirmed 14 fellow soybean growers from across the nation to lead the ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Program Committee in 2018-19.

“Service on the ASA/WISHH Program Committee benefits all U.S. soybean growers by connecting trade and development in countries that have some of the fastest-growing populations in the world,” Heisdorffer said. “WISHH is creating customers for U.S. soy in livestock feeds and human foods in developing markets in Asia, Africa and Central America where the demand for soy protein is on the rise.”

2018-19 officers are: Chairman Daryl Cates (IL), Vice Chair Gerry Hayden (KY)), Treasurer Jim Wilson (MI), and Secretary Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare (IL). New WISHH Committee Members include: Craig Converse (SD), David Lueck (MO), and Craig Williams (IN).

Tim Bardole (IA), Daryl Cates (IL), Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare (IL), Kurt Maurath (KS) and Dawn Scheier (SD) are returning for additional terms on the WISHH Committee. They join existing Members: Gerry Hayden (ASA-KY), Bill Wykes (IL), Jim Wilson (MI) Matt Gast (ND), George Goblish (MN), and Jeff Magyar (OH). David Williams (USB-MI) and Ed Beaman (U.S. Soybean Export Council) serve as ex-officio representatives to ASA/WISHH.

Heisdorffer also praised the leadership of outgoing Committee Members Stan Born (IL) Ryan Cahoon (NC), Levi Huffman (IN), and Thomas Kentner (IL), Steve Reinhard (OH) and Jeff Lynn (IL).

ASA/WISHH connects trade and development. As a trailblazer for trade, WISHH grows markets for U.S. soy farmers, and at the same time, improves lives and economic opportunities in developing countries. WISHH works with international companies and organizations that purchase U.S. soy. These buyers invest thousands of their own dollars to research and promote soy-based foods and feeds made with U.S. soy in emerging markets. Over the last five years, WISHH leveraged soybean farmer checkoff investments by a ratio of more than 6-1.

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NCGA Statement on Farm Bill Conference Public Meeting

WASHINGTON — – The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on the public meeting of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee.

“With the House and Senate back in session, it is encouraging to see farm bill conferees come together and work toward a new farm bill that can be signed into law by the end of the month.

“With declining farm incomes, trade uncertainty, and ethanol market disruptions, the corn industry is struggling amid continued uncertainty. Delivering a 2018 Farm Bill on time would be welcome news for rural America. NCGA looks forward to continuing our conversations with Conferees to reach this goal.”

Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents nearly 40,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide and the interests of more than 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 49 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for corn growers. For more information, visit www.ncga.com.

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USDA to Implement Regulatory Reforms to Increase Access to Capital in Rural Areas

WASHINGTON – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett on Sept. 5 announced that USDA is hosting listening sessions to solicit feedback on a plan to increase access to capital in rural areas by streamlining regulations for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs.

“At USDA, we know that for many rural communities the regulations that govern our programs can be outdated and difficult to navigate,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to simplifying our regulations and streamlining our program resources so we can be a better partner to rural leaders in building prosperity.”

The changes will simplify the application process for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs that provide funding to start, improve and expand businesses and build critical infrastructure. They also will incorporate modern lending practices, accelerate the loan approval processes and increase the amount of capital available in rural communities. The programs are the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, the Water and Waste Disposal Guaranteed Loan Program, the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Energy for America Program.

The Rural Development Innovation Center is hosting listening sessions this month to solicit comments on the reforms.

Listening sessions will be held:

Sept. 10 in Denver from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MDT at the Denver Federal Center. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

Sept. 10 in Lexington, Ky., from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT at the USDA Rural Development State Office. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

Sept. 12 in Lake Ozark, Mo., from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT at the Lodge of Four Seasons. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

Sept. 14 in East Stroudsburg, Pa., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at East Stroudsburg University. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

Sept. 19 (virtually only, focus on Tribal areas) from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. To attend, visit: Attend virtually.

Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at USDA Whitten Building, Room 107-A. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

For more information, please see page 45091 of the Sept. 5 Federal Register.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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Secretary Perdue Names Senior Policy Advisor of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has named Pamilyn “Pam” Miller to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Senior Associate Administrator for Policy. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“I’m pleased to welcome Pam to our USDA family as a part of the FNS team. With nearly two decades of experience on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, focusing almost entirely on the appropriation of funds for USDA, Pam will bring a unique perspective and expertise to this role. I have no doubt Pam will help us continue the work of USDA to do right and feed everyone.”

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USDA Removes Roadblock to Mineral Exploration in Rainy River Watershed

WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has removed a major obstacle to mineral leasing in Minnesota, through the cancellation of an application which has blocked mineral exploration in the Rainy River Watershed. Interested companies now may soon be able to lease minerals in the watershed in the Superior National Forest. Over the last 15 months the Forest Service conducted a thorough review on this issue and listened to thousands of citizens. Based on this review the USDA Forest Service cancelled the application for the Rainy River Watershed Withdrawal.

“It’s our duty as responsible stewards of our environment to maintain and protect our natural resources. At the same time, we must put our national forests to work for the taxpayers to support local economies and create jobs,” Perdue said. “We can do these two things at once: protect the integrity of the watershed and contribute to economic growth and stronger communities.”

In 2016, the Forest Service segregated approximately 234,000 acres from the federal mineral estate and conducted an extensive review of environmental information related to the proposed mineral activities. The review included a mineral resources report, a biological and economic impact assessment, and potential impacts to water resources, wilderness areas, and cultural resources. The agency solicited public feedback at numerous public engagements. The analysis did not reveal new scientific information.

The Rainy River watershed landscape, which includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is known for its mineral development potential. The Superior National Forest has been mined for decades and is known as the “Iron Range” due to its numerous iron mines. Minerals produced from lands managed by the Forest Service are important to a variety of applications and other forms of technology, from medical and infrastructure applications to household appliances, smart phones, computers, and cars. Additionally, Boundary Waters is well known for high-quality fishing, wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities. The decision balances USDA’s commitment to both economic opportunity and conservation.

Interested companies may seek to lease minerals in the watershed. The land management plan for the Superior National Forest includes environmental standards, including water quality standards, that guide the mineral leasing process. Further, the Secretary of the Interior must have the consent of the Forest Service before issuing such leases and retains discretion to deny the lease applications even assuming that the Forest Service does consent. In cases where leases are issued the Forest Service will have the right to include lease stipulations to protect the integrity of National Forest System lands. Additionally, the Forest Service at least will have an opportunity to review the lessee’s mining plan of operations for mineral development, and to recommend specific operating requirements. While with respect to some National Forest System lands the Forest Service must consent to any mining plan of operations for mineral development that the lessee submits and may develop specific operating requirements that the lessee must meet during the mineral development.

For more information about USDA Forest Service, visit http://www.fs.fed.us.

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USDA Partners with HHS to Support Rural Communities Combating Opioid Misuse

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that a group of Cooperative Extension partners will have the opportunity to apply for grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help communities combat opioid use disorders. HHS intends to build on successful 2017 and 2018 National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Rural Health and Safety Education projects that focus on opioid abuse.

“With the impact opioid misuse is having on rural America, we cannot build strong, prosperous communities without addressing this crisis,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “USDA is committed to working hand-in-hand with rural leaders and fellow mission-driven organizations – including other members of the federal family – to be a strong partner in this battle.”

HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is engaging with the Cooperative Extension System (CES) to bring opioid prevention, treatment and recovery activities to rural America more efficiently. CES is a federal, state and local partnership. It operates out of the nation’s land-grant universities, empowering communities of all sizes to address challenges they face, from nutrition and food safety to responding to emergencies.

SAMHSA is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2018. Eligible applicants are existing NIFA Cooperative Extension grantees that focus on opioid issues affecting rural communities.

The grants HHS is offering through the Rural Opioid Technical Assistance (ROTA) program must be used to develop and implement robust collaborations with the CES system to improve the health and vitality of rural communities across the nation. ROTA will help communities develop and disseminate training and technical assistance to address opioid use disorder.

There is $8,250,000 in available funding for the ROTA program. Proposed projects cannot exceed $550,000 in total costs (direct and indirect). The application deadline is Sept. 20, 2018. Please see the SAMHSA funding opportunity announcement for details.

At the direction of President Trump, USDA has been keenly focused on addressing the opioid crisis in rural communities. So far, the Department has convened regional roundtables to hear firsthand accounts of the impact of the crisis and effective strategies for response in rural communities; launched an interactive webpage on opioid misuse in rural America, featuring resources for rural communities and individuals facing the crisis; and prioritized investments in two key grant programs to address the crisis in rural places. For more information about these efforts, visit the USDA rural opioid misuse webpage at www.usda.gov/opioids.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA’s integrated research, education and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.

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USDA Extends Deadline for Expressions of Interest for New ERS & NIFA Headquarters

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced an extension of the deadline for interested parties to submit an expression of interest to house the headquarters of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The original deadline of September 14, 2018 has been moved back 30 days to October 15, 2018. The extension is in response to stakeholder requests for more time to prepare and submit proposals for hosting ERS and NIFA. A notice of the extension will appear in the Federal Register in the coming days.

“There has been considerable interest in housing the headquarters of NIFA and ERS, expressed by universities and localities from around the country,” Perdue said. “Some stakeholders have relayed concerns about staff summer vacation schedules interfering with the preparation of proposals, and some have asked for more time to have their plans approved by boards of regents, city councils, or other governing bodies. An extra 30 days will give everyone time to get organized and will not interfere with our timeline.”

In August, Perdue announced that ERS and NIFA would be moving to outside the National Capital Region by the end of 2019 and invited interested parties to submit proposals. It is possible that ERS and NIFA will be co-located when their new homes are found and a contingent of the agencies will remain in the National Capital Region. As part of the change, ERS will again be aligned with the Office of the Chief Economist under the Office of the Secretary.

USDA is undertaking the relocations for three main reasons:

• To improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities. USDA has experienced significant turnover in some positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, DC area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes.

• To place these important USDA resources closer to many of stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, DC area.

• To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.

Under the plan, no ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before, and the locality pay for the new location. For those who are interested, USDA is seeking approval from the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget for both Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments.

Perdue also noted that 91 percent of USDA’s approximately 108,000 employees currently work outside of the Washington, D.C. region.

“Not very much agriculture goes on in Washington, D.C., so it makes sense that most of our people work in settings outside our capital city,” Perdue said. “From the day I arrived at USDA, I have stressed that we aim to be the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government. In some cases, that means changing the way we do business and interact with our customers and stakeholders.”

Perdue previously announced other significant changes at USDA. In May 2017, USDA created the first-ever Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and reconstituted and renamed the new Farm Production and Conservation mission area, among other realignments. In addition, in September 2017, Perdue realigned a number of offices to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. Those actions involved innovation, consolidation, and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures.

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Ohio Soybean Council Technology Named 2018 R&D 100 Awards Finalist

WORTHINGTON — Light Curable Coatings, a bio-preferred floor coating that was developed through funding from the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and Ohio soybean farmers’ checkoff, has been designated as a finalist for the 2018 R&D 100 Awards. Winners will be announced in November at the fourth annual R&D 100 conference. The R&D 100 Awards program honors the 100 most innovative technologies of the past year. Finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields. More information about the awards can be found here.

The coating is a UV-cured, high-performance, bio-preferred floor coating with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The clean, green soy-acylate-based product delivers exceptionally low cure times and meets or exceeds industry targets for appearance, hardness, adhesion, solvent resistance, and application temperature.

“As Ohio soybean farmers, we can be proud that our checkoff dollars are being used to make products that are worthy of prestigious recognition,” said Nathan Eckel, OSC Research Committee chair and soybean farmer from Wood County. “This kind of honor just goes to show how versatile soybeans can be.”

If Light Curable Coatings wins in November, it will be the ninth R&D 100 Award presented to OSC since 2002.

For more information about Light Curable Coatings, OSC’s role in its development, or licensing, please contact Barry McGraw, OSC’s Director of Product Development & Commercialization, at [email protected] or 614-476-3100.

Headquartered in Worthington, the Ohio Soybean Council is governed by a volunteer farmer board, which directs the Soybean Promotion and Research Program. The program’s primary goal is to improve soybean profitability by targeting research and development projects through the investment of farmer-contributed funds (checkoff).

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