Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sign Up Begins for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs

Eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill beginning April 15.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency.

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) 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, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also began April 15 for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

Search for State Fair Director, Management to Continue

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets announced Wednesday the search for a new director of the New York State Fair will be extended and a new timeline developed as part of a comprehensive review of the fairgrounds and its year-round operations.

Former Syracuse mayor Matthew J. Driscoll, president and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp., who led the initial search at the behest of Governor Cuomo, said there were many potential candidates for the job, but more work needs to be done to find the right manager for the fair and fairgrounds.

"It became apparent to the search committee and the Department that the future of the Fair, as well as the development and management of the year-round fairgrounds, may require a broader set of skills and management approaches," Driscoll said. "Concurrent with an expanded search, the Department will have the opportunity to explore business opportunities with a variety of vendors related to the Fair, its year-round operations, and its grounds. Job candidates identified by the search committee will remain under consideration.”

In conjunction with this revised approach, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced today the appointment of Troy Waffner as Acting Director, who will lead the Fair’s management team through 2014.

Troy Waffner has served as Assistant Director of the Fair since 2010.  Prior to that, he served for 17 years in a variety of state government positions focused on agricultural-related issues, including stints in both the State Assembly and Senate.

“Troy Waffner has done a phenomenal job over the past few months in keeping the Fair on track for 2014," said acting Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dairy Carousel Continues Today and Tomorrow at State Fairgrounds

            Today and tomorrow are the last days to get out to the Spring Carousel at the state Fairgrounds.

Members of the dairy industry from all over the Northeast will be at the event, operated by the New York Holstein Association. It is said to be the largest spring show in North America.  In past years, exhibitors from as many as 15 states and Canada were on hand.  As many as 1,000 animals in all seven dairy breeds are expected.

           The event features judging and sales of various breeds of dairy cows, as well as activities for juniors.  Admission to the event is free.  It takes place Friday through Monday in the Toyota Coliseum and in the Exhibit Center.  More information is available at

Friday, April 4, 2014

New York Deemed Not Ag Friendly

This doesn't look good for New York.

Check out this story by great ag writer John Vogel.

Implementation of Farm Bill Continues

From the USDA:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today (April 3) announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on Feb. 7. 
The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy.
“We are making tremendous progress implementing the new Farm Bill,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This law is critically important to America’s farmers and ranchers and to our nation’s economy. Every USDA agency is working diligently to implement the Farm Bill’s new provisions quickly and effectively.”

With 12 titles and more than 450 provisions, the Farm Bill drives food, farm, conservation, trade, research, energy policies and more. Implementing such a large piece of legislation within the mandated timeline requires a coordinated effort across all areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Immediately after enactment, USDA established a farm bill implementation team composed of key sub-cabinet officials and experts from every mission area of the Department to put new programs in place and make mandated reforms to existing programs. 
USDA also launched a website that provides details on Farm Bill implementation in one convenient location and the Economic Research Service launched a website highlighting some of the economic implications of the new programs and provisions.
In the weeks since enactment, USDA held 12 outreach and listening sessions to share information and hear from stakeholders on the 2014 Farm Bill implementation process.