State Beef Councils Extend Checkoff Campaign

A new generation of consumers is getting to know beef through the new beef checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. campaign, launched in October. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its introduction, the iconic brand has been refreshed, celebrating its reintroduction to a variety of today’s consumers, channel partners and food influencers.

State beef councils are beginning to extend the campaign’s content and features, educating and exciting their states’ consumers about the many benefits beef provides to their lives.

Of special interest to state councils has been the campaign’s “Rethink the Ranch” anthem video and related video spots, showcasing real, hard-working farmers and ranchers from around the country. Nationally, the videos have generated more than 765,000 video views to date, and reached more than 3.5 million consumers. State beef councils have downloaded various Rethink the Ranch content for use on their own social media properties and through other consumer and thought leader outreach.

“Our state and national partnership is particularly valuable to Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., as the campaign showcases the people behind beef as well as beef’s powerful nutrition story,” according to Alisa Harrison, senior vice president for Global Marketing and Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.  “Our team travelled across the United States to capture and develop the most factual and thoughtful stories about how today’s beef is brought from the cattle raiser to the dinner table. Together with the information about the high-quality beef being delivered, it’s a message that’s compelling to consumers today.”

Councils in several states, including Kansas and Missouri, will be promoting the Rethink the Ranch anthem video in a YouTube campaign launching mid-January. The Ohio Beef Council is producing its own video series to bring to life local producer stories, and is using the familiar sound of Copland’s Rodeo music and the new Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo in its own state materials.

Nationally, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. team has reached more than 20 million people in the first quarter of this fiscal year (starting Oct. 1) with positive messaging about beef. Overall, more than 2 million people visited the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com website from Oct. 3 to Dec. 18, 2017. The team has successfully driven web traffic to the Raising Beef section of the website to encourage visitors to view the Rethink the Ranch videos, with almost 400,000 page views since the launch. Those people stayed on website pages 42 percent longer (compared to 2016), and the Raising Beef section – core content for the relaunch campaign – became the second top viewed section of the site, right after the recipes.

Retailers, foodservice operators and other beef marketers are also being engaged and encouraged to learn more about beef and feature it more often through one-on-one outreach and through a LinkedIn campaign, which targeted business decision-makers. Major media outreach has resulted in more than 30 million impressions for the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. relaunch, including a major story in the Wall Street Journal online and print editions.

The effort is also reaching out to food and health influencers, such as registered dietitians, bloggers and doctors, to share the positive information about the brand and website. More than 36,000 health professionals have been reached through outlets such as Nutrition 411, a popular e-newsletter for dietitians.

“Teamwork has always been an element of pride for the cattle and beef industry,” said Harrison. “With this campaign, we’re able to celebrate and capitalize on our state and national partnership and make the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand as broad, extensive and cost-effective as possible.”

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The Federation of State Beef Councils is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The Beef Checkoff Program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PLC Opens Application for the Nick Theos Scholarship Program

The Public Lands Council (PLC) today opened applications for the Nick Theos Scholarship Program, offering qualified college students a unique opportunity to attend the PLC 2018 Spring Legislative Conference April 10 – 12 in Washington, D.C.

Selected scholarship recipients will join conference attendees as they meet with members of Congress, federal government agency officials, and leading policy influencers to communicate policy priorities of the public land ranching industry.

Two Nick Theos scholarships are available for 2018. The scholarships include a $250 stipend, hotel accommodations, and complimentary conference registration. While PLC is unable to pay for travel in full, additional sponsorships to help cover travel costs are encouraged.

Nick Theos, a founding member of PLC and lifetime supporter of the livestock industry, passed away on April 11th, 2013, at the age of 92. The scholarship was created by the Theos family to encourage the next generation to engage in the policy issues facing public lands ranching.

Application Details:

Interested students should complete an online application by February 9, 2018. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in public lands ranching.

Questions may be directed to Allie Nelson, 406-231-3328, anelson@beef.org.

Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association give away Ford Super Duty pickup

Keith Bales was the lucky winner of a 2017 Ford Super Duty pickup given away by Montana Ford Stores and Montana Stockgrowers Association at the 133rd Annual MSGA Convention and Trade Show.

Keith and his wife, Christl, ranch near Otter, Mont. and have been long-time members of the association.  Each year Montana Ford Stores donates a new Ford pickup to be given away to one lucky MSGA member attending the Annual Convention and Trade Show. This year, Congressman Greg Gianforte was on hand to draw the winning ticket!

“The winning partnership with Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Ford Stores continues to grow and prosper,” according to MSGA President, Bryan Mussard of Dillon. “We can’t thank the Montana Ford Stores enough for their continued support.”

2017 was the ninth year of partnership between MSGA and Montana Ford Stores. MSGA Rancher, Feeder, Stocker and Young Stockgrower members are eligible to win the truck. An entry form must be completed and the member must be present at Annual Convention when the truck is given away.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association meets annually to discuss and vote on policy that guides the Association activity representing its members. To learn more about MSGA programs and membership, visit mtbeef.org or contact the office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.

 

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The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

USDA Seeks Applications for $10 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants

Funding is available in three focus areas, including grazing lands, organic systems and soil health

BOZEMAN, Mont., Dec. 18, 2017 – USDA is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS ) plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26, 2018.

“Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and implementing new methods to help our customers across the country and here in Montana conserve natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines,” said Tom Hedt, NRCS state conservationist in Montana. “Today’s announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by providing producers tools to utilize across their working farmlands.”

The NRCS uses CIG to work with partners to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches that address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns. This year, NRCS is focusing funding in these areas:

  • Grazing Lands: Helping livestock producers make grazing management decisions, encouraging prescribed burning as a grazing management practice, and improving access to conservation planning tools used for developing grazing management plans.
  • Organic Agriculture Systems: Helping organic producers develop innovative cropping and tillage systems, edge-of-field monitoring, crop rotations, and intercropping systems.
  • Soil Health: Supporting both cropping and grazing systems, in a variety of climatic zones, that incorporate soil health management systems for addressing specific resource concerns like nutrients and availability. Evaluating multiple soil health assessment methods to assist in the development of new soil health indicators and thresholds.

 “Every sector of American agriculture has its unique conservation challenges,” said Hedt. “CIG enables USDA to help support new, innovative tools and techniques which have helped U.S. agriculture become the powerhouse we see today, leading the world in both production efficiency and conservation delivery. We encourage groups and individuals in Montana to take advantage of this grant opportunity.”

Potential applicants should review the announcement of program funding available at www.grants.gov, which includes application materials and submission procedures. All U.S.-based entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of Federal agencies. Up to 20 percent of CIG funds will be set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, veteran farmers or ranchers or groups serving these customers.

NRCS is hosting a webinar for potential CIG applicants on Jan. 11, 2018, at 4 p.m. Eastern. Information on how to join the webinar can be found on the NRCS CIG webpage.

CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects can last up to three years. The maximum award amount for any project this year is $2 million.

Since 2004, NRCS has invested nearly $286.7 million in more than 700 projects focused on providing farmers and ranchers new techniques, data and decision-making tools for improving natural resources conservation on their land.

Source: NRCS

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.

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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