Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Food Safety Modernization Act

I wanted to make you aware that the comment period on the revised Food Safety Modernization Act is now open until December 15.  I have not reviewed the rules, but if you are interested in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s review and understanding of them, check out their website at  It will give you the background of the rules and let you see if you will be affected or not.  I highly recommend that those of you engaged in direct marketing, or marketing of local foods to wholesale outlets, look through this website and dive into these rules more.

Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms also has information, including how they commented on the first round of rules that were proposed in late 2013:  The Organic Trade Association has comments here:

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: “Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938, and it includes new regulations for produce farms and for facilities that process food for people to eat. It represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food and Drug Administration to get these regulations right.”

(by Mary Hendrickson, PhD Rural Sociology)

Monday, October 27, 2014

RMA (Risk Management Agency) on Premium Subsidies for New Whole Farm Revenue Protection Insurance

On October 3, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced that premium subsidy levels established for the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) crop insurance policy will be in line with the premium subsidies available to producers selecting whole-farm units under the Revenue Protection plans of insurance.  If a farmer has two or more crops and meets the minimum diversification requirement they will receive the higher premium subsidy.

This is an important step to level the playing field for diversified farmers.  Until now, farmers purchasing the previous AGR and AGR-Lite policies have had the lower basic subsidy rate available, regardless of the number of commodities insured.  Now, with today’s announcement, those purchasing WFRP (the successor to AGR and AGR-Lite) and meeting the diversification requirements for two commodities, will be eligible for the higher whole-farm subsidy levels available on Revenue Protection products.

On coverage options between 50 and 75 percent, the new subsidy rate will be 80 percent.  Like with other individual crop policies, the subsidy level declines at the very highest coverage levels.
NSAC championed Whole Farm in the Farm Bill and has worked hard to help see this product through to completion.  NSAC commends RMA on this announcement and looks forward to the full roll out of WFRP in mid-November.  We concur with RMA Administrator Brandon Willis who, in making the announcement, said: “Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance will expand options for specialty crop, organic and diversified crop producers, allowing them to insure all the crops at once instead of one commodity at a time. That gives them the option of promoting crop diversity and helps support the production of a wider variety of healthy foods.”

WFRP Policy Basics
Unlike traditional crop insurance, WFRP allows producers to insure the value of all of their crops, including mixed grain/livestock operations and diversified fruit and vegetable farms, rather than insuring crop-by-crop.  This makes the policy an especially attractive option for diversified farms with resource-conserving crop rotations, integrated grain and livestock systems, specialty crop growers, and organic producers.

In many cases individual crop policies do not exist for the crops these farmers grow and even if one does it is often not be available in the state or county where the farmer is located.
WFRP is intended to improve upon the existing adjusted gross revenue (AGR) protection policies known as AGR and AGR-Lite.  These two products have been lightly used since AGR was first introduced in 1999.

WFRP will have an increased liability limit ($8.5 million, compared to AGR’s $6.5 million and AGR-Lite’s $1 million), will offer higher levels of coverage (up to 85 percent), and will include a premium discount for increased crop diversification.

It is also expected to cover incidental costs that are necessary to make a product ready for market, such as washing, trimming, and packaging.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop WFRP in time for the 2015 crop year.  The policy was approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors in May and the full details of the policy are expected to be released in Mid-November.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Farmers Face Critical Farm Bill Decisions; four MU November meetings offer help

Four meetings will be held in November to explain the decisions required of all participants in USDA farm bill programs.

  • Nov. 10, Miner-Sikeston area, Miner Convention Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., David Reinbott, MU Extension Center, Benton.
  • Nov. 11, Macon, Macon County Expo Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Karisha Devlin, MU Extension Center, Edina.
  • Nov. 11, St. Joseph, Missouri Western State University, Blum Union, 4525 Downs Drive, 5-9 p.m., Bob Kelly, MU Extension Center, St. Joseph.
  • Nov. 12, Sedalia, State Fair Community College, Thompson Conference Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Brent Carpenter, MU Extension Center, Sedalia.

“Critical decisions must be made that have long-term income impacts on farms,” says Scott Brown, University of Missouri economist.

“Unlike previous farm bills, where it was a matter of just signing up, this law requires farmers to choose between options.”

The meetings are of interest to farmers and landowners, Brown says.

Date, place, time and local organizers:
All meetings are free.

RSVP by Nov. 5 to the MU Conference Office at 866-682-6663 (toll-free).

Reallocation and program sign-up at local Farm Service Agency offices begin now, but won’t wrap up until next year, Brown says. But homework will be required before sign-up.

First priority is an option to update crop yields and reallocate the base for each farm. Recently, FSA sent farmers a record of past figures. That includes planted and harvested acres. Every farmer should check to see if forms received are correct.

Next, farmers must decide which program option works best for their farm.

At the meetings, farmers will hear two experts who developed nationally accepted farm bill decision tools. They are Joe Outlaw of Texas A&M University and Pat Westhoff of the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

Missouri farmers should mark the dates and sign up for one of the meetings.

The programs are sponsored by MU Extension, Missouri Soybeans, Missouri Corn, Missouri Farm Bureau and FCS Financial.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lamb and Chevon

Lincoln University, through a grant, was able to provide one episode of the Show-Me Ag show on how to cook lamb and chevon.  Goat and sheep producers are finding that customers are interested in purchasing lamb and chevon but have no idea on how to prepare the meat.  Watch this episode to learn more.

The Sheep and Goat meat industries are rapidly growing segments of Missouri agriculture. The demand for these animals is based on their meat production and consumers need to know more about cooking the meat and its and nutrition benefits. That’s why this month we take a look at lamb and chevon, their health benefits, and how best to prepare them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Forest Farming Workshop Series

Wooded areas are a prominent feature in the county landscape and are often thought of as unprofitable or unusable areas.  This workshop series is designed to offer options and ideas to those landowners looking to improve their forested areas or looking for other innovative ways to use the products that these areas can offer. 

This series of workshops will occur three Tuesday evenings in a row to help you gain more knowledge on forest farming and the opportunities that exists in our forest.  You can choose to come to one or all of them.  Each workshop will start at 6 pm and go until you have had all your questions answered. Light refreshments will be offered.  All workshops are FREE of charge.

Oct. 28th (To be held at the Washington Co. Library lower level)
Improving Your Timber Stand and Harvesting Options
Jeff Dierking from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation as well as a professional forester will be there speaking and to answer your questions.

Nov. 4th (To be held at the Wash. Co Health Department)
Silvopasture Practices: getting the most out of your forest for pasture
Rhonda Devault of Natural Resource & Conservation Service (NRCS) will be speaking on this opportunity.

Nov. 11th (To be held at the Washington Co. Library lower level)
Harvesting Wild Grown Products for Profit and Growing Mushrooms
American Botanicals, a company that buys wild products from individuals, will present and Sharon McCann of McCann Forest Farm will be speaking on growing mushrooms for profit.

If you have any questions, contact Joyce Rainwater, LU Small Farm Outreach Worker at 314-800-4076.  RSVP is kindly requested so enough refreshments and handouts will be available for everyone attending.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teaching Financial Literacy to Farmers – A NIFTI Webinar

Join the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI) on Nov. 18th, from Noon to 1:30 PM central time to learn tools and best practices for teaching financial literacy to beginning farmers. Presenters are Julia Shanks - Julia Shanks Food Consulting, and Gary Matteson – Farm Credit Council. The webinar will focus on practical strategies for teaching farmers how to manage the financial health of their businesses.

Click here to register for the webinar, and visit our website: to view previous NIFTI webinars.

Julia Shanks - chef and entrepreneur — consults with food businesses and farms, helping them maximize profits and streamline operations through business planning, feasibility studies and operational audits. Clients include Life Alive, Cuisine en Locale, The Elephant Walk, The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and City Growers. She lectures on sustainable food systems and restaurant accounting. She sits on the advisory board of Future Chefs and is the regional leader of Slow Money Boston.

Gary Matteson has more than 30 years of experience in the farming and agriculture industry. He leads the Farm Credit program serving young, beginning and small (YBS) farmers and ranchers at the Farm Credit Council, the System’s national trade organization. Mr. Matteson coordinates efforts within Farm Credit’s nationwide network and among many national organizations to ensure that YBS farmers have the opportunities they need to succeed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Farmer/Rancher Grant due Nov 20th

This is a reminder that the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer Rancher Grants are due on November 20th.

This is an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to fund innovative ideas that advance sustainable agriculture.  An individual farmer can receive up to $7500, two farmers working together can receive up to $15,000, and three or more farmers can get up to $22,500 in grant funds.

Here are a few Missouri local projects that were funded in the last couple of years:

- Optimizing Year Round Leek Production in the Ozarks:

- Growing Mushroom on Local Agricultural Byproducts:

You can find out more information about this grant here: