Tag Archives: crops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmer Jeff Jorgenson looks out over 750 acres of cropland submerged beneath the swollen Missouri River, and he knows he probably won’t plant this year.

But that’s not his biggest worry. He and other farmers have worked until midnight for days to move grain, equipment and fuel barrels away from the floodwaters fed by heavy rain and snowmelt. The rising water that has damaged hundreds of homes and been blamed for three deaths has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock.

In Fremont County alone, Jorgenson estimates that more than a million bushels of corn and nearly half a million bushels of soybeans have been lost after water overwhelmed grain bins before they could be emptied of last year’s crop. His calculation using local grain prices puts the financial loss at more than $7 million in grain alone. That’s for about 28 farmers in his immediate area, he said.

Once it’s deposited in bins, grain is not insured, so it’s just lost money. This year farmers have stored much more grain than normal because of a large crop last year and fewer markets in which to sell soybeans because of a trade dispute with China.

“The economy in agriculture is not very good right now. It will end some of these folks farming, family legacies, family farms,” he said. “There will be farmers that will be dealing with so much of a negative they won’t be able to tolerate it.”

Jorgenson, 43, who has farmed since 1998, reached out to friends Saturday, and they helped him move his grain out of bins to an elevator. Had they not acted, he would have lost $135,000.

Vice President Mike Pence surveyed flooded areas in Nebraska Tuesday, where he viewed the raging Elkhorn river, talked to first responders and visited a shelter for displaced people. He promised expedited action on presidential disaster declarations for Iowa and Nebraska.

“We’re going to make sure that federal resources are there for you,” Pence told volunteers at Waterloo, a town of less than 1,000 residents about 21 miles (34 kilometers) west of Omaha that was virtually cut off by the floodwaters.

(Video) On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence flew into Nebraska to assess flood damage and emergency response efforts.

The flooding is expected to continue throughout the week in several states as high water flows down the Missouri River. Swollen rivers have already breached more than a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The flooding, which started after a massive late-winter storm last week, has also put some hog farms in southwest Iowa underwater. The dead animals inside must be disposed of, Reynolds said.

The water rose so quickly that farmers in many areas had no time to get animals out, said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

“Places that haven’t seen animal loss have seen a lot of animal stress. That means they’re not gaining weight and won’t be marketed in as timely a manner, which results in additional cost,” he said.

In all, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson estimated $400 million of crop losses from fields left unplanted or planted late and up to $500 million in livestock losses.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said there have been deadlier disasters in Nebraska but never one as widespread. He said 65 of the state’s 93 counties are under emergency declarations.

In neighboring Missouri, water was just shy of getting into Ryonee McCann’s home along a recreational lake in Holt County, where about 40,000 acres (16,188 hectares) and hundreds of homes have been flooded. She said her home sits on an 8-foot (2.5-meter) foundation.

“We have no control over it,” the 38-year-old said. “We just have to wait for the water to recede. It’s upsetting because everything you have worked for is there.”

The Missouri River was forecast to crest Thursday morning at 11.6 feet above flood stage in St. Joseph, Missouri, the third highest crest on record. More than 100 roads are closed in the state, including a growing section of Interstate 29.

Leaders of the small northwestern Missouri town of Craig ordered an evacuation. The Holt County Sheriff’s Department said residents who choose to stay must go to City Hall to provide their name and address in case they need to be rescued.

In nearby Atchison County, Missouri, floodwaters knocked out a larger section of an already busted levee overnight, making the village of Watson unreachable, said Mark Manchester, the county’s deputy director of emergency management/911.

Officials believe everyone got out before thousands of more acres were flooded. But so many roads are now closed that some residents must travel more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) out of their way to get to their jobs at the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska, he said.

“It’s a lot harder for people to get around,” Manchester said.

River flooding has also surrounded a northern Illinois neighborhood with water, prompting residents to escape in boats. People living in the Illinois village of Roscoe say children have walked through floodwaters or kayaked to catch school buses.

Flooding along rivers in western Michigan has damaged dozens of homes and businesses.

The Organic Farmers Association is a national membership body of American organic farmers. The Association’s mission is to provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers. Its purpose is to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement and national policy platform by: developing and advocating for policies that benefit organic farmers; strengthening and supporting the capacity of organic farmers and farm organizations; and supporting collaboration and leadership among state, regional and national organic farmer organizations. 

Members of the Organic Farming Association are represented by a Governing Council, Advisory Committee, and Policy Committee. Recently, new representatives were elected to the Governing Council and Policy Committee for 2019. These representatives will serve 2-year terms, up to 3 consecutive terms (no more than 6 consecutive years). Newly elected members begin their terms at the annual meeting on March 13, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

2019 Governing Council

The Council includes 19 members. From each of the six regions, the council includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization.  In addition, Organic Farmers Association’s fiscal sponsor, Rodale Institute, also has a seat on the council. All Council Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote. The fiscal sponsor, if it has a certified organic farm, also has a vote.

* = Newly elected

Farmers (Voting)

California Farmer Representatives
*Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

Steve Beck, Kings River Produce, Inc., Hanford, CA

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
*Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL

Joannee DeBruhl, Stone Coop Farm, Brighton, MI

North Central Region Farmer Representatives
*Mike Kelly, High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI

Harriet Behar, Sweet Springs Farm, Spring Valley, WI

Western Region Farmer Representatives
*Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

Jessica Gigot, Harmony Fields, Bow, WA

Southern Region Farmer Representatives
Jennifer Taylor, Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

*Loretta Adderson, Adderson’s Fresh Produce, Keysville, GA

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
David Colson, New Leaf Farm, Durham, ME

*Maryrose Livingston, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Advisory (Non-Voting)

California Organization Representative
Phil LaRocca, Chair, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

Midwest Region Organization Representative
Renee Hunt, Program Director, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

North Central Region Organization Representative
*David Perkins, President, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Western Region Organization Representative
Becky Weed, Board of Directors, Montana Organic Association (MOA)

Southern Region Organization Representative
*Michael Sligh, Program Director, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)

Northeast Region Organization Representative
*Ed Maltby, Executive Director, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)

Sponsor Seat
Jeff Tkach, Rodale Institute

2019 Policy Committee

The elected Policy Committee is made up of 12 voting certified organic farmer members and six advisory organizational members. Committee members are regionally diverse and reflect the national diversity of organic farms. The Policy Committee will facilitate OFA’s policy platform, created by certified organic farmer members. From its start in the fall of 2016, Organic Farmers Association has been working to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement with a strong voice advocating for organic farmers. 

* = Newly elected

Farmers (Voting)

California Region Farmer Representatives

*Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

 Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures, Fresno, CA

Western Region Farmer Representatives

*Nate Lewis, Oyster Bay Farm, Olympia, WA

Pryor Garnett, Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Sheridan, OR

North Central Region Farmer Representatives

*DeEtta Bilek, Tom and DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

Harriet Behar, Sweet Springs Farm, Gays Mills, WI

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives

*Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, MI

Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Village Acres Farm & FoodShed, Mifflintown, PA

Southern Region Farmer Representatives

*Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

Jennifer Taylor, Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives

*Luke Gianforte, Gianforte Farm, Cazenovia, NY

Dave Chapman, Long Wind Farm, East Thetford, VT

Advisory (Non-Voting)

California Region Organization Representative

David Runsten, Policy Director, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, CA

Western Region Organization Representative

*Cara Loriz, Executive Director, Organic Seed Alliance, Missoula, MT

North Central Region Organization Representative

Matthew Miller, Policy Committee Member, Iowa Organic Association, Ames, IA

Midwest Region Organization Representative

*Mallory Krieger, Farmer Training Program Manager, The Land Connection, Champaign, IL

Southern Region Organization Representative

Michael Sligh, Program Director, Rural Advancement Foundation International, Pittsboro, NC

Northeast Region Organization Representative

Edward Maltby, Executive Director, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MA

HAYS, Kan. —  A Kansas State University researcher is reporting the first-ever study confirming that Palmer amaranth has developed resistance to the herbicide 2,4-D, findings that may signal an important step in developing future controls for the pesky weed.

Vipan Kumar, a weed scientist at the Agricultural Research Center in Hays, said that since 2015 a few farmers had reported poor control with 2,4-D, but until now, researchers were not able to confirm the resistance levels to 2,4-D in Palmer amaranth.

“Historically, Palmer amaranth was not a problem weed in western to central parts of Kansas, but over the past 10 to 15 years, it has become a major problem and it is present in all crop situations, and even in non-cropland situations,” Kumar said.

Palmer amaranth is extremely aggressive and thus considered the No. 1 weed problem in U.S. agriculture. It is commonly found in Kansas cropping systems and negatively affects soybean, corn, sorghum, sunflower, cotton, wheat, and fallow fields. It is also a serious problem in wheat stubble.

Kumar and his research team have recently tested one strain of Palmer amaranth – known as a biotype – and the results, Kumar says, are sobering.

That biotype has been confirmed with low levels of resistance to 2,4-D, as well as resistance to glyphosate (Roundup PowerMax), chlorsulfuron (Glean), atrazine (Aatrex), and mesotrione (Callisto).

In addition, Kumar said the biotype showed less sensitivity to fomesafen (Flexstar) herbicide, a commonly used herbicide in soybeans. He added that more research is underway to confirm if this biotype has developed resistance to fomesafen.

“This discovery confirms the first case of 2,4-D-resistant Palmer amaranth biotype that has also developed multiple resistance to four other herbicide modes of action,” Kumar said.

“We have been seeing a lot more populations with multiple resistance, especially with glyphosate, atrazine and HPPD inhibitors. There is increasing concern about Palmer amaranth’s ability to resist multiple modes of action.”

That situation has left farmers with few options to manage the weed.

“I would recommend growers use some of the pre-mixes, or tank mixes, that are still effective to control those biotypes so that they don’t get into seed,” Kumar said, noting that one female Palmer amaranth plant can produce as much as one-half million seeds.

“In addition to using effective herbicide programs, growers should look at crop rotation as a foundational practice of weed control. Grow those crops that are highly competitive with Palmer amaranth and try to grow some cover crops if you can in the fallow land. Don’t leave fallow – that’s the weakest link in this whole system where these weed species have been gaining resistance.”

Kumar also suggests that farmers consider pre-emergent herbicides, depending on the crop being grown.

“Including PRE herbicide options can help growers manage some of these multiple-resistant weed biotypes, and delay the development of resistance in this weed,” he said.

Kumar’s research group is currently studying about 200 biotypes of Palmer amaranth collected in Kansas fields to determine the extent of multiple resistant Palmer amaranth throughout the state. He said the group expects to continue their work well into the future.

“My idea is to determine the distribution of these multiple resistant Palmer amaranth biotypes in Kansas, and based on that biological information, what we can do in terms of alternate strategies to manage this problem weed in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

“If we are losing these tools, like 2,4-D or glyphosate, which are the key tools to control these weed species, then this is going to be economically expensive for growers. So we have to bring more tools into our toolbox to tackle these problems.”

Kumar’s findings have been published in the journal, Pest Management Science. The article, titled “Confirmation of 2,4‐D resistance and identification of multiple resistance in a Kansas Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) population, is available online.

MINNEAPOLIS/PRNewswire/ — General Mills today announced its commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The Company will partner with organic and conventional farmers, suppliers and trusted farm advisors in key growing regions to drive the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices. A contributor to climate change, it is estimated that the global food system accounts for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 70 percent of water consumption.

“We have been feeding families for over 150 years and we need a strong planet to enable us to feed families for the next 150 years,” said Jeff Harmening, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Mills.  “We recognize that our biggest opportunity to drive positive impact for the planet we all share lies within our own supply chain, and by being a catalyst to bring people together to drive broader adoption of regenerative agriculture practices.”

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic method of farming deploying practices designed to protect and intentionally enhance natural resources and farming communities. These practices focus on pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil in addition to helping the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. General Mills will partner with key suppliers to drive adoption across key ingredients including oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar beets.

“Our first on-farm training and education academies will focus on North American growers where we source high-quality oats for Cheerios, Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo,” said Jon Nudi, president of North American Retail for General Mills.

General Mills is granting $650,000 to non-profit organization Kiss the Ground to support farmer training and coaching through Soil Health Academies where growers will learn how to increase farm profitability, build resiliency into the land and decrease input costs using soil health practices.

“Investing in soil health and regenerating our soils has numerous benefits including water infiltration, reduced pest pressure, resilience to unpredictable weather, and reducing greenhouse gasses,” said Lauren Tucker, executive director of Kiss the Ground. “We have an opportunity to not just sustain our natural resources, but to restore them for generations to come. We can only advance the adoption of these practices that benefit people and the planet if we partner with and support our farmers.”

Today’s announcement builds upon the company’s commitment to improve soil health and to reduce its absolute GHG emissions by 28 percent across its full value chain by 2025. General Mills reported it is nearly halfway to that goal, with its GHG emissions footprint down 13 percent in 2018 compared to 2010.

General Mills also drives awareness of regenerative agriculture with consumers through its brands. For example, in 2018, Annie’s launched two limited edition products with ingredients grown using regenerative practices, and this year will offer two additional regenerative agriculture products: Macaroni & Classic Cheddar and Shells & White Cheddar. Cascadian Farm, in partnership with The Land Institute, is working to commercialize organic Kernza, a perennial grain whose 10-foot long roots are able to capture carbon and water, while preventing soil erosion. And EPIC Provisions is helping connect mission-based companies to progressive livestock producers using regenerative practices. Its Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Beef Bites product was the first consumer packaged product to feature the Savory Institute Land to Market Ecological Verification Outcome seal, which measures outcomes versus practices.

General Mills is leading the development of measurement science to connect regenerative agriculture practices, like no-till and cover cropping, to environmental and economic outcomes:

  • Healthy Soil: Carbon rich, biologically active soil plays an essential role in cleaning and storing water, supporting biodiversity and regulating the climate.
  • Above-Ground Biodiversity: Diversity in crop varieties, grazing animals, wildlife and pollinators supports resilient ecosystems that can better withstand disease, pests and climate fluctuations.
  • Farmer Economic Resilience: Regenerative agriculture practices can strengthen whole farm profitability and resilience over time.

Healthy soil is the foundation for regenerative agriculture and since 2015, the company has invested more than $4 million to advance soil health initiatives. Previous and ongoing examples of General Mills’ work include:

  • Development of The Soil Health Roadmap in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, which outlines key steps to achieve widespread adoption of soil health systems on more than 50 percent of U.S. cropland by 2025. These efforts could deliver $50 billion in societal benefits annually.
  • Development of a Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment tool to help farmers understand how their practices influence soil health, biodiversity and economic resilience.
  • A strategic sourcing agreement with Gunsmoke Farms LLC to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage, using regenerative agriculture practices, by 2020.

“We need companies like General Mills who have the scale and commitment to create sustainable agricultural systems,” said Larry Clemens, North America Region Agriculture Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Efforts to improve soil health and enrich biodiversity are critical to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.”

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Experts are concerned about the potential threat posed to Nebraska agriculture by an invasive worm from Asia.

The Asian jumping worms can deplete soil of nutrients, damage plant roots and alter the soil’s capacity to hold water. They’ve been confirmed in several states, including Nebraska’s next-door neighbor, Iowa, last year.

It’s unclear how or when the species, which has historically called Japan and the Korean Peninsula home, arrived in the United States. Experts think it likely was brought by boat in a plant shipment.

The worms move fast, like snakes, and appear to be jumping when disturbed. They’re sometimes called “Alabama jumpers” or “crazy snake worms,” can reproduce without fertilization and are popular as fish bait.

The peril for plants? The jumping worms don’t provide channels for plants to take root as other worms do as they move through the soil, and their excreta isn’t easily accessible for plants that use it for its nutrients.

“All it’s doing is it’s breaking down that top layer” of soil, Allison Zach, coordinator of the Nebraska Invasive Species Program, told the Lincoln Journal Star .

“These worms eat so much that all the invertebrates die off, and that goes up the food chain,” she said.

Oregon State University professor Samuel Chan, who’s studied the worms, said it’s difficult to determine what financial impact the worms could have on Nebraska’s agriculture, given that they would be a relatively new invasive species in the state.

Zach said the worms have the potential to affect agriculture because as they break down leaf and plant litter it changes the carbon-nitrogen ratio in the soil, which can cause pesticides to be less effective to protect crops from pests. She also said the worms’ activity will increase soil erosion, which could remove nutrients from ag fields.

She urges people who think they’ve spotted one of the worms to call the Nebraska Invasive Species Program at 402-472-3133 or report it through a website, www.neinvasives.com .

Kevin Ruyle is, by his own description, the “grinder” on the Kansas farm he runs with his brother-in-law, Thane Buss. “I have to stay busy. If you need someone to work 18 hours, that’s me. Is that ADD?”

Maybe, but he is an admitted competitor, too. “I love to win. I love to compete,” he explains. “I was one of those little turkeys, growing up who never wanted to lose.”

Buss Farms is not a place of inaction. The no-till Kansas farm, near Oxford, 45 minutes south of Wichita, demands constant attention in the service of six crops: soybeans, wheat, corn, grain sorghum, alfalfa and cotton. Seven crops, if you include a newer venture with cover crops.

DIVERSIFIED MIX

Wheat is good behind cotton, and cotton is good behind milo. “So, we stay with the rotation,” Ruyle says. “We’re busy nine months of the year.” Twelve months of the year for Ruyle. He runs 60 Red Angus cow/calf pairs. Registered heifers and bulls generate income, of course, but tending the calm, smaller-framed animals is an enjoyable release of stress.

Cotton was cool on Buss Farms before cotton was cool in Kansas. Chuck Buss, Kevin’s father-in-law, was growing it in the 1990s, and it has been the money-leading crop on the farm for four years running. It competes well with soybeans and uses about one-third of the water corn consumes, an important attribute given the blinding heat of a Kansas summer and the dwindling water supplies.

The farm grew 600 acres of cotton in 2018 and is headed toward 1,000 acres in 2019. In the days just before Christmas, Ruyle felt comfortable saying that some of the farm’s cotton fields yielded three bales to the acre. “For dryland Kansas, that’s tremendous,” he says.

Cotton was the crop that brought Ruyle into Buss Farms. That, and the fact he married the farmer’s daughter, Dawn.

“My father-in-law found an avenue for me to get back onto the farm in 2003, and it was stripping cotton,” Ruyle says. “It had a significant impact on our farm. We needed additional income to support [his and Thane’s] families. So, we picked cotton and did custom-stripping for other farmers.” They custom-stripped 300 acres this past year.

SEEKING OPPORTUNITIES

Buss Farms seems comfortable playing long ball, focusing on the long view — looking not just one step down the road, but two steps and more. It’s an outlook that considers not just the next farming opportunity but how that opportunity might create the next business venture beyond that. It’s really a generational outlook. Ruyle and Thane Buss talk about it. They have four boys, two each, between them and would love to give them all a farming opportunity if they want it. However, that just doesn’t happen without putting all the pieces together to understand what the pieces might be, Ruyle says.

He asks, “How does a kid get into farming, start making money? There are no guarantees out here in south-central Kansas. We’ve seen crops burn up. It’s kind of hard to go to the banker and tell him you’re a good farmer when everything has fallen apart.”

Cover crops may be the fuel of Buss Farms’ next generational opportunity. Ruyle and Thane Buss have been working with cover crops for only a short time.

“We’re still learning,” Ruyle says. “But, there is a yield increase [when a cover crop is planted] before soybeans.” The crop builds organic matter, holds the moisture in the ground and keeps the soil cool.

A cover crop before soybeans controls weeds so well that Ruyle and Thane Buss are left wondering why they continue to plant test strips. “We don’t do a lot of test strips, because we leave weeds behind [in the tests],” Ruyle says. That cover crops might benefit corn, too, in south-central Kansas is an open question. Will corn have enough water after the cover crop consumes some of it?

Then, Ruyle throws out a longer-term prospect about cover crops. Could cover crops create a grazing opportunity for an expansion into cattle?

“When I was a kid, I got to plow fields all day long. Which was boring,” he says, but he was learning, too. “Now, we run expensive tractors. It’s hard to turn a kid loose.” Might cattle become the way Buss Farms provides opportunity for another generation much as cotton provided opportunity for Ruyle?

“When the kids get older, I’ll be looking for more revenue streams, whether that’s cows or more land,” Ruyle says. “Maybe there’s an opportunity for cattle or something else we don’t even know about yet. I’m not sure, but I think the future will be exciting for them.”