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Published February 20, 2012, 08:36 AM

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Funds available for specialty crop projects

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

Funds available for specialty crop projects

• PIERRE, S.D. — Interested in on-farm hops research in South Dakota, getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, or learning about honey production? Those ideas all all have been previously funded through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. People involved in the specialty crop industry in South Dakota can apply for select federal funding of projects that enhance the competitiveness of fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops and horticulture. The funds can be used for projects that involve research, food safety, nutrition, promotion, distribution, best management procedures and a variety of other uses to advance the specialty crop industry in South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture encourages applicants to develop projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. SDDA has established priority areas for projects in South Dakota: local foods initiatives, promoting specialty crops to institutions and food safety. Applications are due to SDDA by April 2. Information: 605-626-3272 or http://sdda.sd.gov.

Minn. drought fuels call to consider crop insurance

• ST. PAUL — Because of a drought that’s affecting nearly all of Minnesota, state officials are telling farmers it’s time to consider crop insurance. Farmers must finalize a plan with their insurance agent by March 15. Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says crop insurance coverage could be crucial If dry conditions persist in the weeks and months ahead. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says crop insurance is an important tool for managing the risks of farming, so he encourages farmers to review their options . Minnesota is facing moderate to severe drought conditions.

US-China to sign 5-year cooperative ag agreement

• DES MOINES, Iowa — While agriculture officials from the United States and China discussed how to feed the world at an agriculture symposium, China’s vice president was about 20 miles away learning first-hand from an Iowa farm family. Vice President Xi Jinping climbed into the cab of a John Deere tractor Feb. 16 at the farm of Rick Kimberley, a fifth-generation farmer of 4,000 acres. Xi asked Kimberley how he knows when to sell the grain he grows. Kimberley says marketing his crop probably was the toughest part of farming. The visit came after Xi opened the symposium, where he announced that U.S. and China would sign a five-year deal that will guide discussions on food security, food safety and sustainable agriculture. Xi is now headed to Los Angeles.

Briefly . . .

• S.D. corn: Higher market prices led to a big jump in the value of South Dakota’s corn crop production in 2011. The U.S. Department of Agricultural estimates the value of corn for grain was up 36 percent from 2010 to $3.95 billion. Soybeans were valued at $1.72 billion and hay was valued at 1 billion. The wheat crop was valued at $799.5 million and alfalfa hay was valued at $793.1 million. Crop values are determined by multiplying the average market price by total production.

• American Crystal: Some locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers are joining workers in Ohio locked out by Cooper Tire on a 1,000-mile tour through six states. About 1,300 Crystal workers have been locked out since Aug. 1 in a contract dispute. About 1,000 workers at Cooper Tire’s plant in Findlay, Ohio, were locked out Nov. 28. The Bakery Workers and United Steelworkers unions say the “Journey for Justice” tour will start in Fargo, N.D., on Feb. 22. Stops are expected in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana before the tour concludes Feb. 27 in Findlay. Rallies, fundraisers and other events are planned.

• N.D. crops: The value of all crops produced in North Dakota last year totaled $5.9 billion, down 21 percent over the year. Agriculture Department data show that the decrease largely was due to a 27 percent drop in the value of spring wheat, North Dakota’s staple crop. The values of durum wheat, soybeans, sunflowers, potatoes and barley all were down, and corn was unchanged. The value of a crop is determined by multiplying the production by the average price during the marketing year. Total crop value nationwide last year was $171 billion, up 9 percent.

• Farmers can diversify: Minnesota farmers may receive state loans to diversify their operations. The money is intended to implement environmentally sound farming practices. The Minnesota Agriculture Department’s Wayne Monsen says the program has issued more than $3.6 million in loans to more than 340 Minnesota farmers since it began in 1989. “These loans have enhanced farmers’ ability to respond to consumer demand for local foods, to adopt practices that conserve soil and improve water quality and to see an increase in profitability,” Monsen says.

• Stockmen’s scholarships: The North Dakota Stockmen’s Foundation will award four collegiate scholarships in 2012. Applications are due March 1 and will be awarded Sept. 27 to 29. NDSF is offering two $500 junior scholarships. Also, two $500 legacy scholarships will be awarded to high school seniors, college freshmen, sophomores or juniors. Applicants must be NDSA members or children of NDSA members. Information: www.ndstockmen.org.

Correction

• An article in the Feb. 13 issue of Agweek quoting Stan Erwine, vice president of producer relations for Dairy Management Inc., at the I-29 Dairy Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D., contained some errors. Erwine says the U.S. Dairy Research Institute has a goal of $100 million in research, including participation from all partner companies. Those partners include Domino’s and McDonald’s, which is the company with the 14,000 franchise restaurants.

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