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Published June 30, 2014, 09:35 AM

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Farm bill programs for beginning farmers and ranchers are implemented, USDA sees more rapid increases for U.S. dairy and fruit prices, and eight people are hospitalized in a horse-riding accident.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire reports, Agweek

Farm bill programs for beginning farmers, ranchers implemented

• WASHINGTON — New farm bill measures to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers have been implemented. A new website, www.usda.gov/newfarmers, has been set up to provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of U.S. Department of Agriculture initiatives designed to help them succeed. “In every generation, a group of young men and women take on the important responsibility of producing food, fiber and fuel for America and the world,” says Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. “For that reason we worked to include programs and policies in the new farm bill that would help beginning farmers and ranchers during those difficult early years. The policy changes and new tools now available to young farmers will help secure the future of U.S. agriculture, which supports 16 million jobs and provides Americans with the highest quality, least expensive food supply in the world.” The website has in-depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools and access USDA education and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations. Support includes: enhanced access to beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for the 2014 crop year; increased flexibility under the Conservation Reserve Program for new and beginning farmers, which will allow routine, prescribed and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans; and enhanced support for beginning farmers and ranchers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program. Additional support for new and beginning farmers and ranchers include increased lending and education and training program dollars. These policy announcements are made possible through the 2014 farm bill passed by Congress in February.

USDA sees more rapid increases for US dairy, fruit prices

• WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on June 25 maintained its forecast for U.S. food prices to rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2014, in line with historic norms, but raised its estimates of price increases for dairy and fresh fruit. The agency evaluated expected increases in overall food, food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices. USDA now forecasts 2014 U.S. fresh fruit prices to jump by 5 to 6 percent, against an earlier forecast of a 3.5 to 4.5 percent increase. “This surge has been driven mostly by citrus prices, which remain under pressure from the greening in Florida and the lingering effects of the winter freeze in southern California. Citrus fruit prices increased another 3.8 percent in May and are up 22.5 percent on the year,” USDA says.

8 hospitalized in horse riding accident

• MEDORA, N.D. — Eight minors were hospitalized June 23 after being bucked from their horses during a trail ride near the Medora riding stables. One boy suffered a broken nose, a contusion and knee injuries because of the accident. He was airlifted to Bismarck to receive medical care. Others came away with bumps and bruises, and were taken by Billings County Ambulance Service responders to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson. In the aftermath of the accident, some parents are asking why the children were not wearing helmets when the horses lost control. A group of 14 people were on the ride, including 13 minors and one supervising adult from a local youth group. Two Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation guides led the group. At one point, one of the horses saw something and got spooked, Billings County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Rummel says. After that, other horses became fearful as well, bucking off their riders. “It sounds like it was a chain reaction,” he says. Neither guides nor riders were able to identify what scared the horses, Rummel says. The Roosevelt foundation is staying in touch with those who were taken to the hospital, and will be involved with the insurance claims process, he says. The Medora public nonprofit organization supervises about 5,000 trail riders every year, but rarely do accidents of this size occur, Fisk says. “We’re adamant about investigating this, and we want to make sure that every one of our riders are as safe as they can be,” Fisk says.

Germany to propose law regulating GMO crops

• HAMBURG — Germany’s agriculture minister says he will propose a draft law regulating cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Minister Christian Schmidt had supported a European Union initiative approved on June 12 giving member states the freedom to prohibit GMO crops, saying this opened the way for a ban in Germany even if crops had been approved by the bloc for EU-wide cultivation. “We have pushed through a cultivation ban for genetically modified organisms at the EU level,” Schmidt says. “As the next step, I will present a draft law for the German regulation.” The law would depend on the final outcome of the EU’s new decision-making process on GMOs, which is still awaiting final approval, he says. The agreement struck on June 12 still needs approval from the European Parliament, which is to debate the issue later this year. More decisions also need to be made about German policy before the law is presented, he says. “For example, we still have to decide whether every German federal state can introduce its own ban on cultivation or whether we need a national rule,” Schmidt says. GMO crops, although widely grown in the Americas and Asia, have divided opinion in Europe with strong opposition in many countries including France and Germany. Imports of GMO crops from the U.S. are a major stumbling block in a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal.

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