MSU Extension offers farm management workshops

BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension will offer farm management workshops in five communities, including Lewiston, Ronan, Choteau, Great Falls and Glasgow, from January to March 2018.

MSU Extension will offer farm management workshops in five communities, including Lewiston, Ronan, Choteau, Great Falls and Glasgow, from January to March 2018.

Extension economists George Haynes, Kate Fuller and Joel Schumacher will lead the workshops. Other contributing faculty members will include Anton Bekkerman, Joseph Janzen, Gary Brester and Eric Belasco, agricultural economists; Marsha Goetting, family economist; Mary Burrows, plant pathologist; Kent McVay, cropping systems specialist; and Rachel Endecott, beef cattle specialist.

Workshops are scheduled for two days. Topics will include financial analysis and enterprise budgeting, risk management, marketing of grain and cattle, disaster assistance and tax considerations, agricultural policy issues, estate planning and crop and livestock production.

An optional pre-workshop course, introduction to Quicken, will be offered from noon to 5 p.m. the day before the farm management workshop in all locations. The number of participants is limited to 12 individuals for each of the introduction to Quicken courses.

The 2018 farm management workshop locations and dates are as follows:

Lewistown, Jan. 4-5, Yogo Inn, Snowy Room, 211 NE Main St.

Ronan, Feb. 8-9, Ronan Community Center, 300 3rd Ave.

Choteau, Feb. 13-14, Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. N.

Great Falls, Feb. 21-22, Cascade County Extension Office, 3300 3rd Street NE, #9

Glasgow, March 8-9, Cottonwood Inn and Suites, 54250 US Highway 2

Participation in this workshop will satisfy the requirements for Farm Service Agency production and financial management training.

There is no cost for the workshop or pre-workshop, but registration is required.

To register, contact Keri Hayes at 406-994-3511 or khayes@montana.edu, or George Haynes at 406-994-5012 or haynes@montana.edu.

Sec. Perdue: U.S. Farm Exports Hit 3rd Highest Level on Record

Climb Eight Percent in FY 2017 to $140.5 Billion

U.S. agricultural exports totaled $140.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017, climbing nearly $10.9 billion from the previous year to the third-highest level on record, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today. As it has done for well over 50 years, the U.S. agricultural sector once again posted an annual trade surplus, which reached $21.3 billion, up almost 30 percent from last year’s $16.6 billion.

“U.S. agriculture depends on trade. It is great to see an increase in exports and we hope to open additional markets to build on this success,” Perdue said.  “I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy.  If American agricultural producers keep growing it, USDA will keep helping to sell it around the world.”

China finished the fiscal year as the United States’ largest export customer, with shipments valued at $22 billion, followed closely by Canada at $20.4 billion. U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico reached $18.6 billion, a six-percent gain from last year, while exports to Japan grew 12 percent, to $11.8 billion. Rounding out the top 10 markets were the European Union ($11.6 billion), South Korea ($6.9 billion), Hong Kong ($4 billion), Taiwan ($3.4 billion), Indonesia ($3 billion) and the Philippines ($2.6 billion).

U.S. bulk commodity exports set a volume record at 159 million metric tons, up 11 percent from FY 2016, while their value rose 16 percent to $51.4 billion. The surge was led by soybean exports, which reached a record 60 million metric tons, valued at $24 billion. Exports of corn, wheat and cotton all grew as well, with the value of cotton exports climbing 70 percent, to $5.9 billion, wheat exports up 21 percent, to $6.2 billion, and corn exports up six percent, to $9.7 billion.

A number of other products saw significant export increases as well. U.S. dairy exports grew 17 percent to $5.3 billion, beef exports were up 16 percent to $7.1 billion, and pork exports rose 14 percent to $6.4 billion. Overall, horticultural product exports increased three percent to nearly $33.9 billion, largely driven by an eight-percent increase in exports of tree nuts, which reached $8.1 billion, the second-highest total on record. Processed food and beverage exports rose two percent to $39.2 billion.

Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs both on and off the farm. USDA continues to work to boost export opportunities for U.S. agricultural products by opening new markets, pursuing new trade agreements, enforcing existing agreements, and breaking down barriers to trade.

Complete FY 2017 (Oct. 2016-Sept. 2017) agricultural export data are available from the Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database: https://apps.fas.usda.gov/gats/.

Cattlemen Respond to National Monument Reductions

“Egregious Example of Federal Overreach Corrected in Win for Rural Communities”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council applauded the White House’s plan to reduce the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The decision – which follows an extensive review of monument designations by the Department of Interior – is a clear win for rural communities who have suffered the consequences of egregious federal overreach.

“Previous administrations abused the power of the Antiquities Act, designating huge swaths of land as national monuments without any public input or review,” said Dave Eliason, president of the Public Lands Council. “Rural communities in Utah and across the West have paid the price. Sweeping designations locked up millions of acres of land with the stroke of a pen, undermining local knowledge and decimating rural economies.”

The President’s decision means that traditional uses of the land, including livestock grazing, will be restored on public land in Utah.

“We are grateful that today’s action will allow ranchers to resume their role as responsible stewards of the land and drivers of rural economies,” said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Going forward, it is critical that we reform the Antiquities Act to ensure that those whose livelihoods and communities depend on the land have a voice in federal land management decisions.”

Ranchers who hold grazing permits on public land do vital work that benefits public land including the improvement of water sources, conservation of wildlife habitat, and maintenance of the open space that Americans enjoy. Limitless power to make massive designations under the Antiquities Act poses a serious threat to that noble mission and rich heritage.

###

Background and Video Footage

NCBA and PLC have released broadcast-quality video footage of Bears Ears National Monument for media and public use. Click here to download the footage.

USDA Publishes School Meals Rule, Expands Options, Eases Challenges

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today provided local food service professionals the flexibility they need to serve wholesome, nutritious, and tasty meals in schools across the nation. The new School Meal Flexibility Rule, published today, makes targeted changes to standards for meals provided under USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and asks customers to share their thoughts on those changes with the Department.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the rule reflects USDA’s commitment, made in a May proclamation (PDF, 123 KB), to work with program operators, school nutrition professionals, industry, and other stakeholders to develop forward-thinking strategies to ensure school nutrition standards are both healthful and practical.

“Schools need flexibility in menu planning so they can serve nutritious and appealing meals,” Perdue said. “Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from students, schools, and food service professionals in local schools across America, it’s clear that many still face challenges incorporating some of the meal pattern requirements. Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can. These flexibilities give schools the local control they need to provide nutritious meals that school children find appetizing.”

This action reflects a key initiative of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to the President’s Executive Order to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. Other USDA initiatives of this kind will be reflected in the forthcoming Fall 2017 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.

The interim final rule published today gives schools the option to serve low-fat (1 percent) flavored milk. Currently, schools are permitted to serve low-fat and non-fat unflavored milk as well as non-fat flavored milk. The rule also would provide this milk flexibility to the Special Milk Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program operators serving children ages 6 and older. States will also be allowed to grant exemptions to schools experiencing hardship in obtaining whole grain-rich products acceptable to students during School Year (SY) 2018-2019.

Schools and industry also need more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals, Perdue said. So instead of further restricting sodium levels for SY 2018-2019, schools that meet the current – “Target 1” – limit will be considered compliant with USDA’s sodium requirements. Perdue again lauded the efforts of school food professionals in serving healthful, appealing meals and underscored USDA’s commitment to helping them overcome remaining challenges they face in meeting the nutrition standards.

“We salute the efforts of America’s school food professionals,” Perdue said. “And we will continue to support them as they work to run successful school meals programs and feed our nation’s children.”

This rule will be in effect for SY 2018-2019. USDA will accept public comments on these flexibilities via www.regulations.govto inform the development of a final rule, which will address the availability of these three flexibilities in the long term.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that include the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Summer Food Service Program. Together, these programs comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.

Source: USDA

USDA Helps Rural Communities Restore Water Systems Damaged by Disasters

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2017 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the award of two grants to help rural water and sewer utilities recover from recent and future natural disasters.

“USDA is a strong partner in the long-term recovery of rural communities after a season of devastating hurricanes,” Perdue said. “These grants will provide resources rural communities need to assess damage, develop rebuilding plans and get access to technical assistance and clean water. USDA is standing with these affected communities every step of the way.”

USDA is awarding the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) and the Rural Communities Assistance Partnership (RCAP) each a $500,000 grant. The funding is being provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Technical Assistance and Training Grant program in USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Programs (WEP).

NRWA and RCAP will use the grants to provide training and technical assistance, onsite repairs, and utility management advice for rural water and sewer utilities impacted by disasters. These utilities serve communities that have 10,000 people or less. Many of them have very limited capacity after a catastrophic event to access immediate assistance for assessment and restoration. USDA’s assistance helps these small utilities recover faster and enables first responders, rural citizens and businesses to have access to clean water.

The grants also will be used to help rural utilities apply for Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) disaster programs, file insurance recovery claims, and strengthen operations and continuity of service plans in times of emergencies. Technical assistance will include assisting new and returning Rural Development WEP funding recipients to prepare applications for water and waste disposal loans and grants and other financing options to supplement their needs.

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, visitwww.rd.usda.gov.

U.S. Farm Exports Hit 3rd Highest Level on Record

Climb Eight Percent in FY 2017 to $140.5 Billion

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2017 – U.S. agricultural exports totaled $140.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017, climbing nearly $10.9 billion from the previous year to the third-highest level on record, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today. As it has done for well over 50 years, the U.S. agricultural sector once again posted an annual trade surplus, which reached $21.3 billion, up almost 30 percent from last year’s $16.6 billion.

“U.S. agriculture depends on trade. It is great to see an increase in exports and we hope to open additional markets to build on this success,” Perdue said.  “I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy.  If American agricultural producers keep growing it, USDA will keep helping to sell it around the world.”

China finished the fiscal year as the United States’ largest export customer, with shipments valued at $22 billion, followed closely by Canada at $20.4 billion. U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico reached $18.6 billion, a six-percent gain from last year, while exports to Japan grew 12 percent, to $11.8 billion. Rounding out the top 10 markets were the European Union ($11.6 billion), South Korea ($6.9 billion), Hong Kong ($4 billion), Taiwan ($3.4 billion), Indonesia ($3 billion) and the Philippines ($2.6 billion).

U.S. bulk commodity exports set a volume record at 159 million metric tons, up 11 percent from FY 2016, while their value rose 16 percent to $51.4 billion. The surge was led by soybean exports, which reached a record 60 million metric tons, valued at $24 billion. Exports of corn, wheat, and cotton all grew as well, with the value of cotton exports climbing 70 percent, to $5.9 billion, wheat exports up 21 percent, to $6.2 billion, and corn exports up six percent, to $9.7 billion.

A number of other products saw significant export increases as well. U.S. dairy exports grew 17 percent to $5.3 billion, beef exports were up 16 percent to $7.1 billion, and pork exports rose 14 percent to $6.4 billion. Overall, horticultural product exports increased three percent to nearly $33.9 billion, largely driven by an eight-percent increase in exports of tree nuts, which reached $8.1 billion, the second-highest total on record. Processed food and beverage exports rose two percent to $39.2 billion.

Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs both on and off the farm. USDA continues to work to boost export opportunities for U.S. agricultural products by opening new markets, pursuing new trade agreements, enforcing existing agreements, and breaking down barriers to trade.

Complete FY 2017 (Oct. 2016-Sept. 2017) agricultural export data are available from the Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database: https://apps.fas.usda.gov/gats/.

 

Source: USDA

Cattlemen: House-Passed Tax Bill “Step in the Right Direction”

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and fourth-generation Nebraska cattle producer, today released the following statement in response to U.S. House approval of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

“House approval of this comprehensive tax-reform legislation is a step in the right direction, but we will continue to work hard to make sure that final legislation doesn’t include provisions that would create undue and unfair burdens for certain segments of our industry.

“Specifically, this bill would immediately double the death-tax exemption and put the tax on the path to extinction in five years. That’s a major victory for family ranchers and cattle producers. The bill also fully preserves the step-up in basis, allows businesses to immediately and fully expense the cost of new investments, increases Section 179 small-business expensing limits, and expands cash accounting. These are all victories for cattle producers.

“Unfortunately, the House-passed bill would also significantly limit the ability of some businesses from deducting their interest expenses. This could be a big problem for some members of the cattle-production business. We’ve worked closely with Members of Congress to address this issue, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to fix this problematic provision as this legislation moves forward in the Senate and toward a House-Senate conference committee.”

Over the past two months, NCBA has executed a media campaign in support of tax reform provisions that would benefit cattle and beef producers. The campaign is centered atCattlemenForTaxReform.com, and the campaign’s videos have been viewed more than a million times on Facebook.

NRCS Accepts Applications for Water Quality Projects in Camp, Godfrey Creek Watershed

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering funding through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to farmers and ranchers in the Camp and Godfrey Creeks watershed in Gallatin County to reduce sediment and agricultural related nutrient loads and E.coli and improve riparian function. While NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis, NRCS has set a deadline of Dec. 15, 2017, to apply for funding.

 

The Camp and Godfrey Creek watershed received special funding last year as part of the National Water Quality Initiative, which targets funding in watersheds to improve water quality. Both Camp and Godfrey Creeks were listed in the “Impaired Waters” category within the Montana Department of Environmental Quality 2014 Water Quality Integrated Report for excessive sediment and agricultural related nutrients loads.

 

With the help of partners at the local level, NRCS identified priority watersheds within states where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality benefits. State water quality agencies and local partners also provide assistance with additional dollars and planning assistance, along with outreach to farmers and ranchers.

 

For more information, contact the NRCS field office in Bozeman at 406-522-4012.

Montana FSA: USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that starting Nov. 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will end on Aug. 1, 2018.

“Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steve Peterson. “I encourage producers to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

“This week FSA is issuing approximately $850 million in rice payments,” said Peterson. “These payments are part of the $8 billion in 2016 ARC and PLC payments that started in October to assist enrolled producers who suffered a loss of revenue or price, or both. Over half a million producers will receive ARC payments and over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops.”

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Montana Stockgrowers Association secures $300 million agreement for Montana beef

(Nov 8) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Cross Four Ranch, and Chinese eCommerce retailer JD.com, today, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to facilitate collaboration on Montana sourced beef to China as well as the potential investment in Montana.

This agreement transpired following Daines’ agricultural roundtable where Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Chinese business representatives, and Montana agricultural leaders discussed potential opportunities for expanding Montana beef exports.

“While there are details to be finalized, this MOA represents a great step in the right direction for Montana ranchers and the state of Montana,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of MSGA. “The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks, Sen. Daines for his work on expanding opportunities and access to overseas markets for Montana ranchers, particularly in lifting the ban on U.S. beef in China earlier this year. ”

The agreement is proposed for an initial three years, with a minimum commitment of $200 million in Montana beef to be imported by JD.com from MSGA members. Beef is the fastest growing sector in China and the world’s fastest growing overseas market for beef.

In addition to the $200 million proposed procurement, JD intends to invest up to another $100 million to build a brand-new processing facility in Montana to support Montana beef production.

Click HERE to read the official signing agreement. For additional information, please contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.

###

The Montana Stock Growers Association (MSGA) is a non-profit membership organization that has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. The mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

The association works to achieve its mission by representing the members and the policy they set at the Montana Legislature and U.S. Congress, with governmental agencies, in the media, and by promoting the work of Montana’s family ranchers to the public.