USDA Encourages Early Registration for FSA Programs
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today recommended that farmers and ranchers who plan to participate in FSA programs register in advance. Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to a local FSA Service Center before April 15, 2014.
Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will begin by April 15, 2014.
“We expect significant interest in these programs,” said Garcia. “Early registration should help improve the sign-up process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time.”
Examples of updates or changes to report include:
- New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.
- Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates the producer had/has control of the acreage.
- Producers that have changed business structures (e.g. formed a partnership or LLC) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that this is recorded accurately as it may impact payment limits.
Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need. In addition, bank account information should be supplied or updated if necessary to ensure that producers receive payments as quickly as possible through direct deposit.
While any producer may report farm records and business structure changes, it is especially important for producers who suffered livestock, livestock grazing, honeybee, farm-raised fish, or tree/vine losses for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will spend the next several months gathering information for the 2014 Commercial Floriculture and Nursery Survey. NASS will collect data on production area, sales of floriculture and nursery products, and the number of agricultural workers from producers in Hawaii, California and other major floriculture and nursery states across the nation.
“The data we collect in this survey will help the growers make vital business decisions and evaluate the results of the growing season,” said Mark Hudson, State Statistician of the NASS Hawaii Field Office. “The new report will also give us a chance to pinpoint new trends within the floriculture and nursery industry and ensure that policy decisions are made based only on factual information provided directly from producers.”
Once the survey is mailed, growers will have until February 24 to respond. After that, NASS representatives may be contacting those who did not respond to collect the information over the phone or in a face-to-face interview.
All information NASS collects in this survey will be kept strictly confidential, as required by federal law. The results of this survey will be made available in June 2014 in the annual Floriculture Crops report in aggregate form only, without revealing any information that may identify individual operations. All reports are available on the NASS web site: www.nass.usda.gov.
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During the campaign, Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie pledged to inaugurate an “agricultural renaissance” in Hawaii, and he’s tapped a veteran political figure to make it happen.
Abercrombie on Saturday appointed the 2nd District Sen. Russell Kokubun to the Department of Agriculture. His nomination comes on the heels of Dwight Takamine’s appointment to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations after serving half a term as the senator from the 1st District.
The Big Island will lose two-thirds of its elected state Senate delegation if Abercrombie’s appointments are confirmed.
All of Abercrombie’s appointments must be confirmed by the state Senate.
If Takamine and Kokubun are approved, Abercrombie will appoint senators to replace them.
Kokubun was elected to the Hawaii County Council in 1984 and served until 1992, including the last four years as chairman. He resigned to run for mayor but lost to Stephen Yamashiro in the primary election. Gov. Ben Cayetano appointed him in 1998 to the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Two years later, when state Sen. Andy Levin resigned the South Hawaii seat to serve in the Kim administration, Cayetano tapped Kokubun for the seat.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii has a lot of beautiful flowers that are available year-round. But we still think of evergreens and holly when it comes to Christmas decorations.
“I guess we’re kind of conditioned,” said Eric Tanouye, Vice President and General Manager of Green Point Nurseries of Hilo. “We’re all to blame for that. We’re looking for that certain look that maybe we grew up with.
But Hawaii’s agriculture community wants us to consider buying local plants and flowers. “Our locally produced flowers and plants make beautiful arrangements that could be used for holidays. Home settings, entertaining, at the office,” Tanouye said.
Tanouye was among those at the first annual “Buy Local for the Holidays” event Sunday at the Department of Agriculture’s plant quarantine branch facility near Sand Island. Floral designers from around the state were on hand, putting together flower arrangements. The public was also invited to create their own small floral arrangements to take home.
Organizers said there were two big reasons to buy local. First, export orders for Hawaii’s cut flower industry have fallen during the current economic downturn, and buying local would create a homegrown economic stimulus. Second, it would prevent invasive species from entering the state.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has appointed Del. Matt Lohr (R-Rockingham) as the next commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
"Matt understands the importance of agriculture to Virginia’s economy,” McDonnell said in a statement. "Virginia’s farms don’t just grow food; they also provide critically important jobs and revenue for our Commonwealth. I want an aggressive, experienced leader to head up the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is a crucial agency to the future prosperity of our state."
Lohr, 38, was elected to his third term last November. McDonnell will set a special election to fill his seat in the Republican-leaning district when Lohr resigns. He will start his new job May 1.
Lohr, a farmer, will replace Todd Haymore, who McDonnell promoted to secretary of agriculture and forestry.
"I have been passionate about agriculture my entire life and have enjoyed being an advocate for it, whether it’s through my work on the family farm or from my seat in the House of Delegates,” Lohr said. "I look forward to continuing those efforts."
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 12, 2009
Hawaii and Maui counties have been designated primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought this year, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials announced.
"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to these areas and serious harm to farms in Hawaii, and we want to help," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to warm season grasses."
Some parts of Hawaii had a lot of rain the past month, but it fell mainly in places that do not have serious drought conditions, says Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist at the Honolulu Forecast Office.
DROUGHT IN THE ISLANDS
» Extreme drought: South Kohala
» Severe drought: Kau, North and South Kona
» Moderate drought: Lower Kona slopes (Honaunau to Kalaoa)
» Severe drought: Central and West Maui, West Molokai
» Moderate drought: East Molokai, Lanai
Source: National Weather Service
Portions of the Big Island did not receive much rain, and they are still hurting from drought, said the National Weather Service meteorologist.
Hawaii’s wet season is from October through April, but Kodama and Jim Weyman, meteorologist-in-charge of the Honolulu Forecast Office, said in October it would be drier-than-normal from mid-December through April because of El Nino conditions.
An El Nino is a weather phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific with unusually warm sea surface temperatures that affect climate worldwide.
The Big Island’s South Kohala district had the sixth consecutive month of extreme drought in November, Kodama said. Some improvement occurred with rain in the early part of the month — from extreme drought to severe drought, he said.
Then it got windy, and farm agents said the winds "dried things out quick," Kodama said.
That window of opportunity to pull out of the drought is closing, he said.
Climate models have been pretty consistent in predicting drier-than-nomal conditions through the spring, Kodama said.
Kai Market’s “living wall” of herbs and spices is so popular that chefs at other Sheraton Waikiki restaurants have been known to pinch from it when in need.
The living wall is a vertical grid of mint, basil, rosemary and other plants growing under warm lights and hydrated by a hidden watering system. Kai Market has three living walls — one by the restaurant’s entrance and two by the buffet line.
The walls, created by Greg and Terry Lee of First Look Exteriors in Waipio Gentry, have helped make Kai Market a popular draw since it opened Aug. 7. The breakfasts are attracting 600 patrons a day, while dinners bring in about 100.
Sheraton General Manager Kelly Sanders got the idea for Kai Market after a visit to Hawaii’s Plantation Village in Waipahu. Trips to the Bishop Museum and Maui sugar cane fields followed.
Working with the Hawaii Farm Bureau and Armstrong Produce, Sheraton helped persuade the state Legislature to enact Act 9 this year. The law established a Department of Agriculture pilot program to encourage farmers to form ag cooperatives with hotels and restaurants and to develop a safe food-certification process.
Sanders said only 10 percent of Hawaii’s approximately 300 farmers are certified for farm-to-plate sales. A $140,000 appropriation in Act 9 will help other farmers get certification.
A meeting at the State Capitol last Thursday drew testimony from dozens of people concerned about how planned layoffs of more than 50 state agricultural inspectors will impact Hawaii’s export industry.
A few testimonies came from specialists and elected officials–Hilo Mayor Billy Kenoi called the move a “serious mistake.” Most comments came from small-business owners from the neighbor islands who, in language ranging from anger to desperation, expressed alarm about what the cuts will do to their livelihoods.
A national panel criticizes the USDA’s scientific research on the light brown apple moth but affirms the agency’s power to start another round of aerial spraying.
As expected, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences said on Monday that the government has the legal authority to embark on a massive new eradication effort against the light brown apple moth, thereby opening the door for another round of aerial pesticide spraying. But the panel also criticized the United States Department of Agriculture for engaging in shoddy science to substantiate its war on the moth.
The 21-page report came in response to petitions submitted by opponents of the government’s extermination plans. They had asked the USDA to reclassify the light brown apple moth from being a major pest to one that could be easily controlled by farmers. Such a move would have prohibited aerial spraying or other major eradication efforts that the government is now planning.
Opponents believe the USDA and state officials have severely overstated the threats posed by the moth, and have noted that it has lived for more than one hundred years in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii without causing serious, sustained damage to crops or native plants and trees. The USDA, nonetheless, believes the moth will destroy large swaths of cropland throughout California and much of the southern United States. The agency also considers it a serious threat to native redwood and pine forests.