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. Continue reading
PUHI — Gov. Neil Abercrombie is not getting many kudos from Kaua‘i residents lately. Heavily criticized for signing Act 55 last year, Abercrombie was booed several times at a meeting at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Puhi Wednesday evening, attended by approximately 200 people.
“I suggest you take a look at what the children have put on the walls around here, about respect and about self-discipline,” said Abercrombie, making a reference to posters around the school while reacting to being interrupted several times.
Shortly after the state Legislature approved Senate Bill 1555 last year, Abercrombie signed Act 55, creating an appointed five-member Public Land Development Corporation that will decide the fate of development — by circumventing county zoning laws — on roughly 1.8 million acres of public lands. The developments on those lands will generate additional revenues to the state Department of Land and Natural resources.
The meeting was Abercrombie’s first “Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community” event, a series of statewide public meetings where the governor and key members of the administration will share project updates and listen to community issues.
Abercrombie brought with him Scott Enright, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture, Loretta Fuddy, director of the Department of Health, William Aila Jr., chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Glenn Okimoto, director of the Department of Transportation, Leslie Tawata, from the Department of Human Services, and Lori Tsuhako, Homeless Program administrator.
Each department head went through recent improvements and achievements. When state spokeswoman Donalyn DelaCruz opened the floor for questions, Aila was the first to take the heat. Continue reading
HONOLULU – Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that he plans to veto a bill that would remove mandatory certification for Hawaii-grown coffee, a measure Kona coffee farmers said would be disastrous for the industry’s integrity and reputation.
Abercrombie listed the bill as one of 19 he is considering vetoing from the 2012 legislative session. Some of the bills are still under consideration, he said.
Kona coffee farmers who were against the certification repeal from the start welcomed the veto. The certification helps them fight against lesser-quality products, they said.
“The implications of this measure are problematic,” Abercrombie said. “Further discussion is needed to ensure that the Hawaii brand will not be undermined.” Continue reading
Rainfall levels in Upcountry areas are below normal this year, and there’s a bleak outlook for rain for ranchers and farmers as the islands head into the normally dry summer months, a hydrologist said Thursday.
“We’re headed out of our wet season. The outlook is not too good,” said Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service on Oahu.
From January through March, Kula received 5.5 inches of rain. Normally, it gets around 8.7 inches, Kodama said. Pukalani received 4 inches in the same time period while it normally gets around 16 inches. Ulupalakua received a little under 5 inches, and it usually gets about 10.
“We’re in really bad shape,” said Sumner Erdman, president of Ulupalakua Ranch. “The economic impacts have already hit.”
Erdman said this will be the fourth year his ranch has been impacted by dry conditions.
The economic losses amount in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
The ranch has had to sell cattle. It now also sees cattle with lower weights because less rain means cows have less grass to feed on. The ranch also has lower reproduction rates because there are fewer cows to breed, Erdman said.
Over four years, the number of breeding cows has gone from 2,300 to 1,500, as the ranch sells them off to deal with the drought conditions, Erdman said.
The ranch currently has 3,800 head of cattle, with preparations under way to sell more, he said.
Warren Watanabe, executive director of the Maui County Farm Bureau, said the dry weather trend seems to follow the long-term prediction of scientists.
Because areas of extreme drought in Hawaii have increased in the past few months, with the hardest hit being the pasture areas on the Big Island, Maui and portions of Molokai, the farm bureau’s priority during this legislative session has been to fund drought mitigation projects. Continue reading
AUSTRALIAN cattle farmers fear a plan by Indonesia to drastically cut the amount of beef it imports next year will be a massive blow to the domestic industry.
Indonesia will only allow for 280,000 cows to be imported, down from 520,000 permits this year. Live exports to Indonesia are believed to be worth $300 million to Australian farmers.
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Indonesia will also limit the boxed beef it buys from overseas to 34,000 tonnes. Last year, Australia exported 48,500 tonnes of boxed beef to Indonesia.
Indonesia has indicated it wants to be self-sufficient in beef by 2014.
The Cattle Council of Australia president, Andrew Ogilvie, said Indonesia’s decision had dealt the industry a huge blow.
”Industry is pretty disappointed that there has been a reduction but we recognise Indonesia’s determination for self-sufficiency,” he said.
Mr Ogilvie said he did not believe the decision was in retaliation to Australia’s suspension of trade in June.
The live cattle trade was suspended by the Australian government for a month this year after the ABC’s Four Corners program sparked animal welfare concerns. The trade was later reinstated.
The Australian Live Exporters Council chief executive, Lach McKinnon, told the ABC any drop in exports would be massive blow to the cattle industry in the northern states.
”It’ll put us under a lot of pressure and we’ll have to work very hard to get through this,” he said.
”It’s like any of these particular trade issues – it’s about government to government and working through what it is both parties want to get.”
This month the Labor Party’s national conference rejected a push to phase out live cattle exports altogether. Continue reading
The Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB) will present the second annual Maui Ag Day with a focus on “Understanding Food Safety Certification” on Friday, Aug. 26, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company located at 872 Hāli‘imaile Road.
The trade show, panel discussion, tour and parking are free and open to the general public.
The day opens with the trade show and continental breakfast. At 9 a.m., the event will feature a Food Safety Certification Panel Presentation by three Maui farmers who have completed the Food Safety Certification process: Heidi Watanabe of Watanabe Processing, Geoff Haines of Pacific Produce and Brian Igersheim of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Co. At 10:30 a.m., tour of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company facilities and pineapple fields. A Grown on Maui lunch will be provided to MCFB members at 11:45 a.m.; non-members may purchase lunch. Continue reading
On Saturday, April 23, 2011 from 8:30 am – 5 pm, Island X Hawaii / Old Sugar Mill Brand Coffee & Chocolate will host a celebration of North Shore grown coffee, cacao, produce, food, art, film, music, and surf industry manufacturing at an open house exhibition in the Old Sugar Mill, Waialua.
The North Shore town of Waialua was once a bustling sugar mill town producing what locals said was the “World’s Best Sugar” but in 1996 the Waialua Sugar Mill stopped production and closed its gates after over a 100 years of operation. In recent years, however, there has been a quiet resurgence of shops, businesses, and local product manufacturing that has helped transform the Old Waialua Sugar Mill into one of Oahu’s newest visitor destinations. The mill is also the processing site of Waialua Coffee and Cacao / Dole. Free mini tours of the coffee and chocolate mill as well as free Waialua Coffee samples are offered daily at Island X Hawaii. Come join us on Saturday, April 23rd, for a gathering of local art, food, music, and community groups and to celebrate the rebirth of the Old Historic Waialua Sugar Mill town. Continue reading
A big crowd filled the grounds at the Maui County Agriculture Festival at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.
Farmers of vegetables, flowers, livestock and other local products were on hand to share their goods with the community.
Organizer Charlene Kauhane said the festival drew its largest crowd to date.
“It just ended, and it’s still packed,” she said. “It was a tremendous success, and it really shows us that the community really cares about agriculture on Maui.”
Kauhane said more than 6,500 people attended the festival, an increase of about 1,000 over last year.
Downpours have ended drought conditions on Oahu and Kauai, but the suffering continues for farmers and ranchers on other islands
Oahu and Kauai are no longer officially in drought conditions after last month’s heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.
But farmers and ranchers are still suffering, especially those on Maui, Molokai and the Big Island, where some ranchers are reportedly still hauling water to support their livestock.
National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama said “conditions on the leeward side of the Big Island, which is a dry area normally, improved slightly.”
However, last month’s rainfall “was not enough since it occurred over a short period of time,” too short to eliminate the drought conditions there.
The report issued by the Weather Service is just one of several steps that must be met before the emergency drought declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is lifted. The emergency declaration, which made farmers and ranchers eligible for emergency loans and other payments, was issued for the Big Island in 2006, Maui and Molokai in 2007 and Kauai and Oahu last January.
“It’s good news,” said Diane Ley, state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
However, it will be several years before the state’s pasture lands recover from the past four years of drought conditions. Continue reading
LIHU‘E — The oldest agricultural organization in the United States has arrived on Kaua‘i.
The National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers and rural communities, according to its mission statement.
In a state where most land is zoned agricultural or conservation, the Hawai‘i Farmers Union was not formed until June 2008. More than a year later, the organization reached Kaua‘i.
The Kauai‘i Farmers Union may be young, but is steadily growing on the island. HFU Treasurer Patti Valentine said the Kauai‘i chapter — for which she serves as liaison — already has 93 members. Half of them are farmers and the other half are friends of farmers.
“We encourage people who support farmers to join us too,” she said.
Valentine said HFU is a state organization which is mainly an advocate for small farmers, but large farmers can also join.
“We define members as a natural person,” said Valentine, adding that corporations can join at a higher fee but have no voting power.
HFU promotes prosperous agricultural communities through cooperation, legislation and education, the three basic frameworks of the NFU, Valentine said.
“That’s how they like to do everything, help set up cooperatives, help teach people how to do new and better farming methods, and show up in legislation,” said Valentine. Continue reading