Agriculture news

Read merck-texas-Repro-rendention

Merck donates $500K for new Texas A&M animal science facility

Merck Animal Health said it will donate $500,000 to Texas A&M University to help facilitate the construction of the school’s new Animal Science Reproduction and Biotechnology Center.

The new animal science center, expected to be completed in 2023, includes research labs, educational spaces, animal handling areas along with dedicated research lab space for emerging technologies and practices for both academic and industry partner use.

“We’re grateful for Merck Animal Health’s support in assisting to build this new state-of-the-art facility,” said Cliff Lamb, director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and former head of the Department of Animal Science. “This facility will advance ruminant health by identifying and developing new and innovative technologies associated with reproduction and genetic sciences and allow us to apply it to the sustainability of livestock systems.”

Merck Animal Health, which is a division of New Jersey-based medicine and vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co., has a long-standing relationship with Texas A&M and has provided funding and support for veterinary scholarships, internships, and research and development projects at the university.

Texas A&M is one of the world’s leading research institutions, especially in terms of animal science. Research conducted at Texas A&M generated annual expenditures of more than $952 million in fiscal year 2019. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the most recent National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development survey based on expenditures of more than $922 million in fiscal year 2018.

“New technology and therapy research is important to veterinarians and producers in helping to advance sustainable livestock production systems,” said Todd Bilby, dairy technical services director, Merck Animal Health. “Merck Animal Health and Texas A&M share a commitment to advancing the health of animals through innovative science and research-driven solutions.”

Image courtesy of Merck Animal Health
Read organic-farmers-market-produce

USDA offering programs to help cover organic costs

Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic or those who are looking to transition into marketing their products as organically produced can apply to U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that will help to defray the costs of the certification and other expenses. The two programs that help with these costs are the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

“By helping with organic certification costs — long identified as a barrier to certification — USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We launched the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program to build on the support offered through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to a news release from the USDA, the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program covers:

  • Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25 percent up to $250 per category)
  • Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75 percent up to $750)
  • Registration fees for educational events (75 percent up to $200)
  • Soil testing (75 percent up to $100)

Meanwhile, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program covers 50 percent or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022. This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.

Both programs cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and the FSA will make payments as applications are received.

To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the Organic Certification Cost Share Program applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for that through participating state agencies.

Diversity in Agriculture

USDA to dole out $6B to producers affected by 2020 & 2021 natural disasters

If you are a commodity or specialty crop producer who experienced losses due to natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released gobs of new money that could help. The emergency relief payments totaling approximately $6 billion through the Farm Service Agency’s new Emergency Relief Program will be doled out to offset crop and yield value losses.

This can be done because on September 30, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021. FSA recently made payments to ranchers impacted by drought and wildfire through the first phase of the Emergency Livestock Relief Program. The Emergency Relief Program is another relief component of the Act.

For impacted producers, existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program data is the basis for calculating initial payments. The USDA estimates that phase one ERP benefits will reach more than 220,000 producers who received indemnities for losses covered by federal crop insurance and more than 4,000 producers who obtained NAP coverage for 2020 and 2021 crop losses.

“For over two years, farmers and ranchers across the country have been hard hit by an ongoing pandemic coupled with more frequent and catastrophic natural disasters,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As the agriculture industry deals with new challenges and stressors, we at USDA look for opportunities to inject financial support back into the rural economy through direct payments to producers who bear the brunt of circumstances beyond their control. These emergency relief payments will help offset the significant crop losses due to major weather events in 2020 and 2021 and help ensure farming operations are viable this crop year, into the next growing season and beyond.”

ERP Eligibility: Phase One

ERP covers losses to crops, trees, bushes, and vines due to a qualifying natural disaster event in calendar years 2020 and 2021. Eligible crops include all crops for which crop insurance or NAP coverage was available, except for crops intended for grazing. Qualifying natural disaster events include wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture, qualifying drought, and related conditions.

For drought, ERP assistance is available if any area within the county in which the loss occurred was rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a:

  • D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks; or
  • D3 (extreme drought) or higher level of drought intensity.

Lists of 2020 and 2021 drought counties eligible for ERP is available on the emergency relief website.

To streamline and simplify the delivery of ERP phase one benefits, FSA will send pre-filled application forms to producers where crop insurance and NAP data are already on file. This form includes eligibility requirements, outlines the application process and provides ERP payment calculations. Producers will receive a separate application form for each program year in which an eligible loss occurred. Receipt of a pre-filled application is not confirmation that a producer is eligible to receive an ERP phase one payment.

Additionally, producers must have the certain forms on file with FSA within 60 days of the ERP phase one deadline, which will later be announced by the FSA’s Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs. Most producers, especially those who have previously participated in FSA programs, will likely have these required forms on file. However, those who are uncertain or want to confirm the status of their forms can contact their local FSA county office.

Emergency Relief: Phase Two (Crop and Livestock Producers)

Today’s announcement is only phase one of relief for commodity and specialty crop producers. Making the initial payments using existing safety net and risk management data will both speed implementation and further encourage participation in these permanent programs, such as Federal crop insurance, as Congress intended.

The second phase of both ERP and ELRP programs will fill gaps and cover producers who did not participate in or receive payments through the existing programs that are being leveraged for phase one implementation. When phase one payment processing is complete, the remaining funds will be used to cover gaps identified under phase two.

Through proactive communication and outreach, the USDA will keep producers and stakeholders informed as program details are made available. More information on ERP can be found in the Notice of Funding Availability.

More news


The Colorado rancher-conservationist finding the ‘radical middle ground’

Ryan Brown splits time between running Opera Lafayette and stewarding his family land at Reddert Ranch, one of the oldest ranches in Mancos Valley, Colorado.

Farms & ranches prove the perfect place to repurpose materials for their second life

Thanks to companies such as repurposedMaterials, ranchers and farmers discover big value in recycling and helping to avoid more landfill waste.

Little Red Hen nursery helps plant job skills for disabled people

Chico, California-based Little Red Hen hires people with mental and physical disabilities in jobs that cater to their needs and give them valuable skills.