USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

New Community Assessment Tool Empowers Rural Leaders to Make Data-Driven Decisions to Build Resilient Communities

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural America in addressing this monumental challenge,” Hazlett said. “Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The opioid misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level.

The Community Assessment Tool is free and available to the public. It can be accessed on USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse Webpageor at opioidmisusetool.norc.org.

USDA’s launch of the Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017; 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. The severity of the current opioid misuse crisis requires immediate action.

Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business and policy decisions. Today, government, corporate and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including health care quality and public health systems.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity 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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

 

Source: USDA

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame announces 2018 inductions

Today the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF & WHC) announced the eleventh class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The inductees were chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana.

“Our volunteer trustees around Montana vote on nominations that come from the district in which they reside,” said Bill Galt, MCHF & WHC President. “This process gives the local communities a strong voice in who will represent them in the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations.”

The MCHF & WHC board of directors has designated 12 trustee districts across the state from which up to 20 trustees may be appointed. Nomination criteria established by the board for the Class of 2018 inductions allowed the election of one Living Inductee and one Legacy Inductee from each of the 12 districts.

The 2018 inductees into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame are:

  • District 1 (Daniels, Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan, & Valley Counties): Living Award – Raymond & Echo Garberg, Whitetail. Legacy Award – Scobey Saddle Club, Scobey.
  • District 2 (Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Prairie, Richland, & Wibaux Counties): Living Award – Michael Earl “Mike” Pierson, Brusett. Legacy Award – Harvey L. Rattey, Glendive.
  • District 3 (Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, & Treasure Counties): Living Award – Wade Wayne Berry, Miles City. Legacy Award – Paul T. Ringling, Miles City.
  • District 4 (Blaine, Chouteau, Hill, & Liberty Counties): Living Award – Joseph Louis “Joey” Malsam, Chinook. Legacy Award – Marion Laureen (Kearful) Vercruyssen, Chinook.
  • District 5 (Cascade, Glacier, Pondera, Teton, & Toole Counties): Living Award – Clarence Allan & Mary Ann Pursley, Great Falls. Legacy Award – Francis X. Guardipee (Ah koo in slak mi) Big Lodge Pole, Browning.
  • District 6 (Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Musselshell, Petroleum, & Wheatland Counties): Living Award – Jordan Family of Missouri River Breaks Country, Roy. Legacy Award – Ann (McNally) “Annie” Fergus, Geyser.
  • District 7 (Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, & Yellowstone Counties): Living Award – Walter Lee “Walt” Secrest, Hardin. Legacy Award – Ignatius Daniel “I.D.” O’Donnell, Billings.
  • District 8 (Broadwater, Jefferson, & Lewis and Clark Counties): Living Award – Rodger & Sheila (Johnson) Nordahl, Helena. Legacy Award – John R. Quigley – Frontier Town, Helena.
  • District 9 (Gallatin, Meagher, & Park Counties): Living Award – Lester “Bud” Griffith, Gallatin Gateway. Legacy Award – Jack & Louise Galt, Martinsdale.
  • District 10 (Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, & Sanders Counties): Living Award – Carl V. Moss, Polson. Legacy Award – Asa Clayton “A.C.” Brooks, Saint Ignatius.
  • District 11 (Mineral, Missoula, & Ravalli Counties): Living Award – Louis Woodrow “Louie” Vero, Greenough. Legacy Award – Major John Owen, Stevensville.
  • District 12 (Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Granite, Madison, & Powell Counties): Living Award – Earl Ben Stucky, Avon. Legacy Award – John Raphael Quigley, Sr., Elliston.

The MCHF & WHC will honor these inductees during the annual Circle the Wagons gathering February 8-9, 2019, in Great Falls at the Best Western Heritage Inn. More information on this event will come later in the year.

Full biographies for past inductees are available on the MCHF & WHC’s website, http://www.montanacowboyfame.org. This year’s inductees will be added to the website soon.

NRCS Sets Program Funding Application Cutoff for October 19

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set a Oct. 19, 2018, application cutoff for agricultural operators to be considered for 2019 conservation program funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

NRCS provides funding and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations. Conservation program participation is voluntary and helps private landowners and operators defray the costs of installing conservation practices.

NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for 2019 funding consideration must be submitted by Oct. 19, 2018. Applications made after the Oct. 19 cutoff will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov under the Programs tab or you can contact your local NRCS service center.

Source: NRCS Press Release

USDA Details Trade Damage Estimate Calculations

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week released a detailed accounting of how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculated estimated damage from trade disruptions.  USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist developed an estimate of gross trade damages for commodities with assessed retaliatory tariffs by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico, and Turkey to set commodity payment rates and purchase levels in the trade mitigation package announced by USDA on September 4, 2018.  USDA employed the same approach often used in adjudicating World Trade Organization trade dispute cases.

“We have pledged to be transparent about this process and how our economists arrived at the numbers they did,” Perdue said.  “Our farmers and ranchers work hard to feed the United States and the world, and they need to know that USDA was thorough, methodical, and as accurate as possible in making these estimates.  It was a large and important task, and I thank Chief Economist Robert Johansson and his staff for their hard work.”

The full description of the Trade Damage Estimation for the Market Facilitation Program and Food Purchase and Distribution Program is available on the website of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist.

 

Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Dates Announced

The Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Dates have been announced.

The very first seminar of The Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series is next week, Wednesday, September 19th.  Vince Smith will give two seminars, a research/technical seminar at Noon in ABB 134 and a Community Talk at 6:00 pm in ABB 134.

There will be a reception starting at 5:30 pm in the Atrium before the Community Talk, everyone is invited.  Please share with anyone you think might like to attend.

If you have any questions please contact Carl Yeoman (carl.yeoman@montana.edu) or Lance McNew (lance.mcnew@montana.edu).

Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series – Fall Semester 2018

Wednesday, September 19:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Vince Smith, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University

“Food Aid Cargo Preference:  Costs, Benefits and Implications for US Humanitarian Aid Efforts”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Vince Smith, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University

“US Agricultural Policy:  Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?”

 

 

Wednesday, October 3:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Kevin Ellison, Grasslands Ecologist, Northern Great Plains, World Wildlife Fund

“Landscape Scale Interactions between Birds and Agriculture”

 

 

Wednesday, October 17:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Amilton de Mello, Ph.D., Nevada Meat Science Lab, University of Nevada – Reno

“Beef Industry in the U.S. – Challenges and Perspectives”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Amilton de Mello, Ph.D., Nevada Meat Science Lab, University of Nevada – Reno

“Beef Industry in the U.S. – Challenges and Perspectives”

 

 

Wednesday, October 31:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Matthew Cronin, Scientist with Northwest Biology Company

“Population Genetics of Wildlife and Livestock”

 

 

Wednesday, November 14:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Matthew Spangler, Professor, Beef Genetics Specialist, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“Genetic Selection of Livestock:  Why it Matters to You”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Matthew Spangler, Professor, Beef Genetics Specialist, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“Genetic Selection of Livestock:  Why it Matters to You”

 

Judge extends order blocking grizzly hunt

By Rob Chaney for the Missoulian

A federal judge has blocked the start of grizzly bear hunting seasons for another two weeks while he finishes a ruling on the legality of ending Endangered Species Act protection for bears around Yellowstone National Park.

“There remain serious questions regarding whether FWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) complied with the Administrative Procedure Act and the Endangered Species Act in delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population,” U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen wrote on Thursday. “If the court does not extend the temporary restraining order, as many as 23 bears may be killed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Their death would cause irreparable injury to the plaintiffs.”

The order blocked the first half of Wyoming’s first grizzly hunt in four decades, which was to begin on Sept. 1. A second phase of the hunting season in areas close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks was set to start on Saturday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared grizzly bears in the 9,209-square-mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho recovered in 2017. That passed management of those grizzlies to state wildlife agencies. Idaho and Wyoming officials set grizzly hunting seasons for this fall. Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission anticipated legal challenges and opted to delay a hunt decision.

A coalition of environmentalists, conservation groups and Indian tribes sued the federal government, arguing it had failed in many ways to prove the estimated 750 bears in the GYE could persist under state agency management or to show the delisting wouldn’t damage survival prospects for grizzlies in five other recovery zones.

Lawyers for the federal government, states and several hunting organizations countered that the Greater Yellowstone population had met all the recovery requirements in the law, and hunting seasons were needed to reassure local residents that they would be kept safe from predatory bears.

Christensen wrote that his restraining order was different from a temporary or permanent injunction on the delisting. “The present extension will provide the court the time it needs to fully consider and respond to the parties’ arguments,” he wrote. Temporary extensions typically aren’t argued by both sides and cannot be appealed.

“Even temporary measures like a two-week restraining order protect these bears from the immediate threats of the hunting season,” Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director Mike Garrity wrote in an email after the order was published. “But the grizzly is still facing long-term threats that the government hasn’t yet meaningfully addressed.”

The order has no effect on a separate effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist grizzlies in Montana’s Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. The 16,000-square mile NCDE includes Glacier National Park, the Mission Mountain and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas and parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian reservations, and holds about 1,050 grizzlies. FWS has proposed delisting those bears by the end of 2018.

The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in northwestern Montana and the Selkirk Ecosystem along the northern Idaho-Washington border each have an estimated 50 grizzlies. The Selway-Bitterroot Ecosystem and North Cascades Ecosystem have no resident grizzlies, yet have official recovery plans in place.

Source: Missoulian

MSGA issues support for Secretary Zinke’s “Sue and Settle” Order

Today the Montana Stockgrowers Association issued support of the Department of Interior’s September 7, Secretarial Order 3368, regarding “sue and settle”.

“Ranchers in Montana are often subjected to unnecessary and relentless litigation brought by extreme environmental groups,” said Bryan Mussard, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “These actions waste taxpayer dollars; funds that should be utilized for wildfire prevention and improving the management of public lands are instead diverted to forced settlements. Under Secretary Zinke’s leadership, we have seen action to engage the BLM to manage the public land according to its original purpose and not be stifled by the fear of litigation.”

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

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today 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.

USDA Launches Trade Mitigation Programs

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue yesterday launched the trade mitigation package aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.  Producers of certain commodities can now sign up for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), while USDA will also begin to purchase identified commodities under a food purchase and distribution program.  Additionally, USDA has begun accepting proposals for the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), which will help American farmers find and access new markets for their products.  In total, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with World Trade Organization obligations.

Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.  President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets, in the long run, to help American farmers compete globally.  These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet some of the costs of disrupted markets.

“These programs will allow President Trump time to strike long-term trade deals to benefit our entire economy, including the agricultural sector, in the long run,” Perdue said.  “Farmers will tell you that they would always prefer to sell a good crop at a fair price, rather than receive government aid, and that’s what long-term trade deals will accomplish.  But in the meantime, President Trump has promised that he will not allow American agriculture to bear the brunt of the unjustified retaliation from foreign nations.  Today we are putting the President’s promise into action.”

USDA provided details in August of the programs to be employed:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs.
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.

Note: USDA is currently working to determine how to address market disruptions for producers of almonds and sweet cherries.

Market Facilitation Program

The sign-up period for MFP is now open and runs through January 15, 2019, with information and instructions provided at www.farmers.gov/mfp.  The MFP provides payments to cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of traditional exports.  The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation CCC Charter Act and is under the administration of USDA’s FSA. Eligible producers should apply after harvest is complete, as payments will only be issued once production is reported.

A payment will be issued on 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for a specific commodity.  A second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by the USDA.

Market Facilitation Program

Commodity

Initial Payment Rate

Est. Initial Payment**

(in $1,000s)

Cotton

$0.06 / lb.

$276,900

Corn

$0.01 / bu.

$96,000

Dairy (milk)

$0.12 / cwt.

$127,400

Pork (hogs)

$8.00 / head

$290,300

Soybeans

$1.65 / bu.

$3,629,700

Sorghum

$0.86 / bu.

$156,800

Wheat

$0.14 / bu.

$119,200

Total

$4,696,300

** Initial payment rate on 50% of production

MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat capped per person or legal entity.  MFP payments are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers. Applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

For more further information or to locate and contact local FSA offices, interested producers can visit www.farmers.gov.

Food Purchase and Distribution Program

Beginning this week, USDA’s AMS will issue pre-solicitation notices through GovDelivery for targeted commodities.  These notices will outline products USDA intends to purchase and will continue over the next several weeks. AMS will purchase products over four quarters in the new Federal fiscal year, which starts on October 1, 2018.  The materials purchased may be adjusted between quarters to accommodate changes due to growing conditions, product availability, market conditions, trade negotiation status, and program capacity, among other factors.

To expedite first quarter purchases, AMS will focus on products currently purchased for nutrition assistance programs given the existence of qualified USDA suppliers and specifications for these products. Examples include various forms and varieties of apples, pork, beef, dairy, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, pears, cranberries, plums/prunes, walnuts, potatoes, rice, kidney and navy beans.  By purchasing known commodities first, AMS can procure commodities that have been sourced in the past with maximum speed and impact.

Food Purchases

Commodity

 Target Amount (in $1,000s)

Apples

$93,400

Apricots

$200

Beef

$14,800

Blueberries

$1,700

Cranberries

$32,800

Dairy

$84,900

Figs

$15

Grapefruit

$700

Grapes

$48,200

Hazelnuts

$2,100

Kidney Beans

$14,200

Lemons/Limes

$3,400

Lentils

$1,800

Macadamia

$7,700

Navy Beans

$18,000

Oranges (Fresh)

$55,600

Orange Juice

$24,000

Peanut Butter

$12,300

Pears

$1,400

Peas

$11,800

Pecans

$16,000

Pistachios

$85,200

Plums/Prunes

$18,700

Pork

$558,800

Potatoes

$44,500

Rice

$48,100

Strawberries

$1,500

Sweet Corn

$2,400

Walnuts

$34,600

Total

$1,238,800

Agricultural Trade Promotion Program

Applicants may now submit proposals for the FAS $200 million ATP Program.  FAS will accept applications on a rolling basis until November 2, 2018. Details regarding ATP and how to apply are available at https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/agricultural-trade-promotion-program.

The aim of the program is to assist American agricultural exporters in identifying and accessing new markets and to help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.  ATP is meant to help all sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, mainly through partnerships with non-profit national and regional organizations.

Source: USDA Press Release