A few things we’re reading at the Ohio Farmers Union:
Drought has Texans looking to Ohio for hay
Ohio Cattlemen’s Association has been contacted by cattlemen in Texas and other drought-stricken states who are looking to purchase hay.
OCA is working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to assist these cattle producers by identifying Ohioans who have hay available.
South Dakota’s Thune says next farm bill will focus on crop insurance
Sen. John Thune and an assembly of agriculture advocates at a roundtable discussion Tuesday in Sioux Falls were in agreement that the next federal farm bill will be focused on crop insurance.
Farmers told Thune access to reasonably priced crop insurance is their safety net and is necessary to safeguard their futures.
Thune said it is the federal farm support most easy to defend when Congress and the president are looking for trillions of dollars of spending cuts.
“It makes sense to make this the centerpiece of ag policy,” Thune said. “Insurance is more defensible than subsidies.”
Vilsack says economics will have USDA conservation programs under pressure
US Ag Net
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said at the Iowa State Fair Friday that he hopes the next farm bill will preserve conservation programs that have been a part of federal farm legislation since the 1930s.
But the former two-term Iowa governor said economics makes continuation of conservation efforts uncertain.
“There was less interest by farmers in the last round of CRP signups,” Vilsack said, referring to the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program where farmers idle land in return for government payments. “In an era of high commodity prices and high costs, farmers are under more pressure.”
According to the Des Moines Register, the next farm bill, Vilsack said, will be a different animal than its predecessors.
Possible solution to Grand Lake St. Mary’s problem gets $1 million
ST. MARYS – The first of what could be a series of methane digesters here to turn animal waste into energy will receive a $1 million award from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service grant, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said Monday.
Grand Lake St. Marys would be the beneficiary as animal waste that now flows into the lake from feeder streams, firing up toxic cyanobacteria blooms that have at times shut down the lake, is converted into methane gas.
“Not only will this help clean up the Lake, it will also help create jobs in the clean energy industry. This project will serve as a national model for an innovative solution to clean up toxic algae blooms creating jobs and provide consumers with a source of clean, domestic energy,” Brown said. “Grand Lake St. Marys has been an economic anchor of Mercer and Auglaize counties and I remain committed to pursuing all possible solutions to restore it.”
Mel Kurtz, president of Ohio company Quasar Energy Group, said the project will also show how to solve such problems elsewhere.
Dairy Industry seeks some relief
With a gallon of milk costing as much as or more than a gallon of gasoline this summer, a consumer scanning the supermarket shelves might think milk is a cash cow for dairy farmers.
In reality, it isn’t. Though the price of a gallon hovers around $4, dairy farmers in Idaho and around the country are still struggling with the aftermath of what’s dubbed the Great Dairy Recession.
“For a young guy starting out in dairy farming, it’s tough,” said Jim Heckman, a farmer in Walker Township, Pa., who sold his dairy herd in May. “I wish them the best of luck, but I don’t think they’ll make it.”
Some in Congress, including Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson, want to replace longstanding safety nets for dairy farmers with new ones that better reflect the challenges they face.
$103M to expand broadband Internet in rural areas
Telecommunications companies in 16 states will share more than $103 million in federal funding to help expand broadband Internet access to those areas of rural America that haven’t been reached by the high-speed service or are underserved, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.
Policymakers, public interest groups and telecom companies are seeking to bridge the digital divide by reaching even the most remote pockets of the U.S. with broadband internet, hoping to improve economic and educational opportunities there.
“There’s a big gap that remains between rural and urban areas because it’s just hard to make a business case in rural areas,” said Jonathan Adelstein, the agriculture department’s rural utilities service administrator, in a conference call with reporters. “Rural areas’ future depends upon access to broadband and we’re not where we need to be today.”