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Published April 14, 2014, 10:16 AM

Latest News

USDA: Disaster aid signup starts April 15, land sale to Jennie-O passed, Vilsack: assistance for PED losses limited, USDA announces $19 million in grants for beginning farmers and CWB building another grain elevator.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports,

USDA: Disaster aid signup starts April 15

• Farmers and ranchers can begin signing up for disaster assistance programs on April 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. The programs were reestablished under the federal farm bill approved earlier this year. “These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, including calendar years 2012, 2013 and 2014, USDA says. Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees & Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program. IP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality as a result of adverse weather. Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses and other livestock as determined by Vilsack. To speed up applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records docu- menting those losses in preparation for the enrollment in disaster assistance programs. Information on the types of records necessary is provided by local FSA county offices. Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

Land sale to Jennie-O passed

• WILLMAR, Minn. — The Willmar (Minn.) City Council has unanimously approved the sale of 7.6 acres of land in the city’s industrial park to Jennie-O Turkey Store. The company plans to expand its corporate headquarters. Under a city policy to encourage economic development, the land value of $238,072 will be written down to zero. The council also voted to allow the mayor and city administrator to enter into an agreement for the land sale. As part of the agreement, the council approved a 10-year option, or first right of refusal, for 30 acres in the industrial park for a possible future plant expansion. The council approved the sale one month ago on a voice vote, but the city staff later found that a public hearing was required because the sale must be approved by city ordinance. The land is two parcels of about eight acres between the south end of the Public Works maintenance property and Kandiyohi County Road 5. The parcels had a combined value of $238,072, which would be written down to $0 under the city’s land write-down policy.

Vilsack: assistance for PED losses limited

• WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said April 7 that his ability to provide assistance to farmers who have lost 5 million piglets from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is limited, and he suggested that Congress might want to adjust a disaster program in order to provide that aid. In the question and answer section of a speech to the North American Agricultural Journalists, Vilsack noted that PED was prevalent in Europe and China before it arrived in the U.S. He noted the disaster programs that were renewed in the farm bill “are not geared” to deal with disease. The Livestock Indemnity Program covers losses from weather disasters and Forage Disaster Program covers forage when it is unavailable. But he added that a third program — Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bee, & Farm-raised Fish Program, known as ELAP — might be adjusted to include losses from disease.“It is time for the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to work with livestock groups on the challenges we face in a global economy,” Vilsack said.

USDA announces $19 million in grants for beginning farmers

• More than $19 million in federal grants will be available to help train agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced April 11. Applications for the program are due June 12. The program, managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, is designed for people aiming to start farming and those who have farmed or ranched for 10 or fewer years. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from nonfederal sources in an amount that is at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds requested. More information on the program:

CWB building another grain elevator

• CWB, formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board, announced April 10 that it’s building another “state-of-the-art” grain elevator, near Colonsay, Saskatchewan. The elevator, on the Yellowhead Highway, about 65 kilometers east of Saskatoon, will have 42,000 metric tons of storage and will open in time for the 2015 harvest. Construction already has begun one mile southeast of Colonsay. “I’m excited to be able to announce the construction of our second elevator in Colonsay so fast on the heels of our Bloom elevator announcement,” CWB president and CEO Ian White says. “We see significant opportunity in the Colonsay area for a fast and efficient grain-handling facility that will provide the customer service that farmers have come to expect from CWB. CWB’s growing network of modern grain-handling facilities across the prairies will provide farmers with more choice out in the country during a critical time in the ongoing transformation of the grain industry,” he says. CWB announced previously that it’s building a grain elevator west of Portage La Prairie in Bloom, Manitoba. The Bloom elevator is also expected to be ready for the 2015 harvest. CWB, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, markets crops such as wheat, durum, barley, canola and peas to customers around the world. The organization, which lost its marketing monopoly on Canadian wheat and barley in August 2012, has been relying on grain-handling facilities owned by rivals. CWB now is building its own network of grain-handling facilities and the Colonsay elevator will be part of that. Farmers who deliver grain to CWB will receive an equity interest in the privatized organization.