Streamlining Acreage Reporting
USDA officials have announced that farmers and ranchers filing crop acreage reports with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) can now provide the common information from their acreage reports at one office, and the information will be electronically shared with the other location.
This new process is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI). This interagency collaboration includes participating private crop insurance agents and insurance companies, all working to streamline the information collected from farmers and ranchers who participate in USDA programs.
“If you file your report at one location, the data that’s important to both FSA and RMA will be securely and electronically shared with the other location,” says FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “This will avoid duplicative reporting, and we expect this to save farmers and ranchers time.”
“Accuracy in crop reporting is a key component for crop insurance because an error can affect premiums or claims. This is going to greatly improve efficiencies and reduce mistakes,” says RMA Administrator Brandon Willis.
USDA representatives believe farmers and ranchers will experience a notable improvement in the coming weeks as they approach the peak season for crop reporting later this summer. More than 93 percent of all annual reported acres are eligible for the common data reporting.
Producers must still visit both locations to validate and sign acreage reports, complete maps or provide program-specific information. The common data from the first-filed acreage report will now be available to pre-populate and accelerate completion of the second report. Plans are underway at USDA to continue building upon the framework with additional efficiencies.
Dolcini also reminds farmers and ranchers that they can access their FSA farm information from home. “You can see your field boundaries, images of your farm, conservation status, operator and owner information and much more,” he says.
The new customer self-service portal, known as FSAFarm+, gives farmers and ranchers online access to securely view, print or export their personal farm data. To enroll in the online service, producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office.
Help For S.C. Producers
South Carolina producers will get $40 million in state aid to help them pay for crops ruined by last year’s massive flood. After weeks of effort, S.C. Farm Bureau was able to get a bill passed only to have Governor Nikki Haley veto it. Many peanut producers experienced crop losses.
The Senate voted 39-3 to override the governor’s veto, and the House voted 112-2. The votes are a rare, but sharp rebuke for the veto from the second-term Haley, who called the bill a bailout.
The bill allows farmers in disaster-declared counties to apply for grants of up to $100,000 each, covering no more than 20 percent of their total loss.
Cotton Gets Some Assistance
During the Farm Bill, cotton did not stay the course with the Market Loan Assistance Program. Cotton has now been suffering from low prices that threaten the entire industry. In an effort to help, USDA/FSA will provide an estimated $300 million in cost-share assistance to producers through the new Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program in order to expand and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton.
The program will provide approximately 60 percent more assistance per farm and per producer than the 2014 program. Eligible producers can receive a one-time cost-share payment, which is based on a producer’s 2015 cotton acres reported to FSA, multiplied by 40 percent of the average ginning cost for each production region.
With the need to provide assistance ahead of the 2016 ginning season, USDA will ensure the application process is straight-forward and efficient. Sign up began June 20 and will run through Aug. 5, 2016, at the producer’s local FSA office. Payments will be processed as applications are received and are expected to begin in July.
The acreage rate is $47.44 for Southeast producers, $56.26 for Mid-South producers and $36.97 per acre in the Southwest.
Olam Buys Alabama Sheller
Olam International Ltd (Olam), a leading agribusiness operating across the value chain in more than 70 countries, announced recently that it has acquired a 100 percent interest in Brooks Peanut Company for $85 million.
Brooks is the sixth largest peanut sheller in the United States and the largest Alabama-based sheller, processing approximately 110,000 farmer-stock tons with an annual capacity at 175,000 tons. Founded in 1959, the company is based in Samson, Ala., in Alabama’s southeast peanut growing region.
Olam’s acquisition of Brooks, which follows its acquisition of McCleskey Mills in December 2014, further integrates its value chain into direct farm procurement and shelling. It strengthens Olam’s market position as the third largest peanut sheller in the United States and helps expand its sourcing network into new areas in Alabama and Florida.
Olam’s President of Global Peanut Business, Anupam Jindel, says, “We are pleased to have the opportunity to acquire Brooks’ procurement and processing capabilities, which complement our footprint in the US and significantly strengthen our network and product offerings to our customers and growers.”
Barrett Brooks, president of Brooks Peanut Co. says, “I believe the combination of our modern processing assets and strong procurement franchise with Olam’s expertise in peanut processing, marketing and risk management will be a very successful one.”
The transaction is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2016.
The National Peanut Board, in coordination with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announces a call for research grant applications that seek breakthroughs to improve food allergy diagnostic methods and also discoveries that lead to increased efficiency in water usage for peanuts.
National Peanut Board is allocating $250,000, with matching funds from NIFA for a total of $500,000, toward research to improve peanut and food allergy diagnostic methods. NPB is allocating an additional $150,000, with matching funds from NIFA for a total of $300,000, towards research in drought tolerance and efficient use of water resources in peanuts.
The funding through AFRI was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is in addition to National Peanut Board’s ongoing and annually-budgeted production research projects.
“This funding will help accelerate solutions for two critical areas in the peanut industry—peanut allergies and drought tolerance,” says Bob Parker, NPB president and CEO. “We remain committed to improving the lives of those with food and peanut allergies and a key component of that commitment is ensuring people have clear, accurate and affordable diagnostic tools.
Currently, the “gold standard” of diagnosis, the clinical food challenge, is many times avoided because of risk, lack of clinical resources, cost and insurance coverage issues. Therefore, many people are incorrectly diagnosed with food allergy through the most commonly used methods, such as skin-prick tests and IgE blood tests. NPB will sponsor an innovative and ground-breaking research project that develops a diagnostic method that is definitive, accurate and safe for the allergic individual.
For drought tolerance and efficient use of water, the NPB-sponsored project will find ways to reduce the amount of water necessary to produce peanuts, develop a more drought-tolerant peanut variety or develop efficient agronomic methods that decrease the amount of water used in peanut production.
“Less dependence on water resources through improved drought tolerance of peanut cultivars or through more efficient use of water will not only help farmers financially, but will reduce the environmental footprint of peanuts,” Parker says.
The application deadline is July 14, 2016.
Algood Announces Expansion
Algood Food Company, a major producer of peanut butter, has filed plans to construct a 210,000 square foot warehouse adjacent to the manufacturing plant in Louisville, Ky.
As a peanut butter manufacturer, Algood Food Company must store products tested for salmonella for a specific time period in order to confirm the product is safe for consumption. This warehouse would provide the storage of product before it ships out for sale, plus 25 outside parking spaces and a truck loading area.
Algood’s Louisville plant was built in 2003 and it also operates a site in Lawrenceburg. Its products include peanut butter, jellies and jams and customers include industries, food-service companies, the U.S. government, wholesalers and cooperatives and chain stores.
Pride In American Agriculture
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than consumers in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.
USDA has also provided $5.6 billion of disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 bio-based products through USDA’s BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America.
For more information on USDA’s results, visit www.usda.gov/results.
National Peanut Board Upgrades Website
The National Peanut Board has overhauled the look, feel and content of its website, nationalpeanutboard.org, the home base of its digital activities.
“Nationalpeanutboard.org is poised to become a hyper-relevant news and entertainment source for our target audiences of millennials and influencers,” says Lauren Highfill Williams, NPB marketing and communications manager. “Through this revamp, we’ve sharpened our focus on producing the right content through the right channel for the right audience.”
The new layout emphasizes stunning images that complement a mix of articles covering in-depth topics and snackable content that millennials crave. Social media is integrated across the site so users can easily share content with their connections. Visitors to nationalpeanutboard.org can sign up to receive alerts when new content is added and NPB can distribute site content to thousands of media contacts.
The latest news is prominent on the homepage, along with on-trend categories of wellness, recipes and peanut info.
The new website is the first public-facing project of NPB’s new brand identity, which mixes rustic and contemporary styles and reflects the down-to-earth quality and modernity of today’s peanut farmers.