Written by The Herald-News
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has begun distributing Conservation Reserve Program annual rental payments to participants across the country.
USDA also will distribute 2013 direct payments and 2012 Average Crop Revenue Election program payments beginning Oct. 24.
Payments originally were scheduled to be issued earlier in the month, but were delayed by several weeks due to the lapse in federal funding.
“Farmers, ranchers and rural landowners across the country count on USDA programs and the payment delays due to the shutdown were an unnecessary burden,” Vilsack said. “USDA has prioritized making these scheduled payments without any further delay and Farm Service Agency staff have worked hard to get this assistance out the door as quickly as possible.”
Producers will receive payments on almost 700,000 CRP contracts on 390,000 farms covering 26.8 million acres. In exchange for a yearly rental payment provided by USDA on contracts ranging from 10 to 15 years, farmers and ranchers enrolled in CRP agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant grasses or trees that will improve water quality and improve waterfowl and wildlife habitat. CRP reduced runoff and leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus into waterways by an estimated 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds, respectively, in 2012, and soil erosion reductions totaling 308 million tons in 2012.
Direct payments for 2013 for the DCP and ACRE programs are being made to the more than 1.7 million farms enrolled in the Farm Service Agency’s programs. Producers with base acres of certain commodities are eligible for DCP payments. ACRE payments for 2012-crop barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans and wheat are scheduled to be released beginning Oct. 24 and contingent upon national average market prices and yields in each state. ACRE payments for upland cotton are scheduled to be made in early November, after the 2012-13 average market year price is published in the Agricultural Prices publication scheduled to be released on Oct. 31. ACRE payments are scheduled to be made for large chickpeas, small chickpeas, canola, crambe, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, sesame and sunflowers are scheduled to be made in early December, after the 2012/13 average market year price is published in the Agricultural Prices publication scheduled to be released on Nov. 27. ACRE payments for long grain and medium and short grain rice are scheduled to be made in early February after the final 2012-13 average market year price is published in the Agricultural Prices publication scheduled to be released on Jan. 31.
The 2008 Farm Bill, extended by the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012, provides authority to enroll land in DCP, ACRE and CRP through Sept. 30; however, no legislation has been enacted to reauthorize or extend this authority. Effective Oct. 1, FSA does not have legislative authority to approve or process applications for these programs.
For more information on CRP, DCP and ACRE, producers should contact their local FSA office or visit FSA's website at www.fsa.usda.gov.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 15:27
Written by The Herald-News
The Montana Department Fish, Wildlife and Parks is on a strange mission to impose a free-roaming bison herd in Eastern Montana. It’s puzzling because it’s a plan that few Montanans want and a large, diverse majority oppose. Yet, inexplicably, Gov. Bullock’s administration and FWP director Jeff Hagener seem determined to give us a dose of a bitter medicine we don’t want or need.
The opposition to free-roaming couldn’t have been more evident at a recent FWP meeting on the issue in Lewistown. One after another, ranchers, sportsmen, farmers, local business owners and others voiced their objections to FWP’s proposal to move bison from Yellowstone National Park to an undisclosed location in eastern Montana.
They spoke loud and clear that free roaming bison would be an economic hardship; lead to the destruction of property, forage and crops; and put pressure on other native species.
At FWP’s meeting there was virtually no support for the plan from Montanans — but there was plenty of support from out-of-state environmental groups. The American Prairie Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society and National Wildlife Federation flew in their national officials to explain why Montana should accept their plan.
The reasons so much vocal opposition has formed to oppose free-roaming bison are fairly obvious.
Sportsmen are opposed because wild bison would compete for scarce resources and destroy habitat, ultimately displacing game animals. Hunters have been largely disinterested in hunting bison because of the lack of sport involved.
Landowners are opposed because wild bison would destroy fences and crops, expose livestock to disease and be an enormous financial burden.
A landowner invaded by free-roaming bison would largely be on their own to absorb the cost of any damage done to property, just like they would for any other wildlife. The difference is the potential amount of forage lost and damage done is orders of magnitude greater for bison than it is for deer or elk.
With the damage that could be done to agriculture from free-roaming bison, there is a very real potential of significant, negative shocks to local economies. If ag producers are forced to absorb the cost of bison foisted on them, the effects will be felt throughout the community.
We’ve already seen what havoc a wild free-roaming herd can do. The damage to property and habitat and the spread of disease to livestock near Yellowstone National Park is well documented. Yet even as the bison advocates admitted Yellowstone bison management is a debacle, they saw no reason not to move forward with a new herd. It’s obvious they don’t care what happens to communities in eastern Montana.
A middle-road compromise position was offered to allow a small herd as long as stringent confinement measures were in place. But the BLM made it clear they have no interest in building a fence along their boundaries and FWP director Jeff Hagner was clear that FWP had no interest in the management of a fenced-in herd. With their refusal to compromise, it’s clear these bison advocates won’t stop until they can force bison onto private property.
It's both obvious and puzzling that MT FWP has partnered with out-of-state environmental groups.
From their offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City they’ve pulled out a map, drawn a circle in Eastern Montana, and come up with their own plan about what’s best for us. They’ve given no consideration to the financial hardship or damage to our local communities that their plan would create.
Restoring bison is a deserving goal, and it’s already happening as a result of private initiative. Already in eastern Montana, bison populations have been rapidly rising due to the efforts of Montana’s Indian tribes and private landowners who’ve taken it upon themselves to bring bison back to the prairie. This approach is working, and it’s being done without placing any burden on landowners who don’t want bison on their property.
Free-roaming bison have no place in modern Montana. We can’t turn back the clock two hundred years to a time before the land came into private ownership. I think the time is appropriate for all Montanans to look toward our eastern Montana brothers and sisters and ponder for a moment whether we want to force free roaming bison down their throats and across their private property.
(Editor’s Note: Toby Dahl is a director of United Property Owners of Montana, an advocacy group committed to protecting and enhancing property rights and preserving traditional agriculture in Montana.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 10:30
Written by The Herald-News
U.S. Department of Agriculture Montana Farm Service Agency, in conjunction with Montana State University, have announced the schedule of the financial and production management training which is available for Montana agriculture producers.
The series of six one-day training sessions will begin on Nov. 4 and will run through Dec. 9. Each of the six sessions is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.
This continuing education course is available to anyone interested in learning more about managing their farm/ranch operation. This course also meets the requirements for production and financial management training for FSA loan recipients. In order to qualify for a certificate, all six sessions must be attended. Participants will be asked to pay the registration fee to cover the cost of the video conferencing at the first session they attend.
The cost to attend all six training sessions is $100 per family unit. A registration fee of $20 will be charged for anyone interested in attending a single session. The sessions are scheduled for Nov. 4, Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9. Anyone interested in attending should contact one of the locations listed below.
Available training locations locally are:
·Glasgow USDA Service Center at 54062 US Hwy. 2, Suite 1 - Valley County FSA Office; Contact Sharon Baillargeon at 228-4321, ext. 105.
·Wolf Point Campus - Robert Dumont Building, Fort Peck Community College; Contact Sharon Baillargeon at 228-4321, ext. 105 or Debra Duke at 406-433-2103, ext. 109.
Topics to be covered are: family business issues, goals and assessments, taxation issues, financial analysis I - records and ratios, crop and livestock marketing, crop production, livestock production, risk management, communicating about estate planning, tools estate planning, policy issues (farm and ranch programs) and retirement planning.
The workshops are designed to provide a variety of management and production tools to assist producers in meeting today's financial demands.
For more information, contact the location contacts listed above. The training course schedule and more FSA news are available on the Montana Farm Service Agency state website at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 10:18
Written by The Herald-News
Montana wildlife officials said today it's not yet legal to salvage deer, elk, antelope or moose killed in vehicular collisions.
The new law will not go into full effect until next month when a permit system is approved and operational. Until then individuals may not pick up road-killed wildlife.
While the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules to establish a permit system for salvaged roadkill, those rules by law must now be approved by Montana Secretary of State’s office. Officials said once the law for the salvage of road-killed deer, elk, antelope and moose goes into full effect FWP will alert the public how to obtain a salvage permit and other requirements.
Individuals are expected to be able to apply for a permit online or in person at any FWP office within 24 hours of salvaging an animal.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 10:17
Written by The Herald-News
The Governor’s Office of Community Service and the Montana Commission on Community Service is now accepting nominations for the 2014 ServeMontana Awards.
Presented in February, these annual awards recognize outstanding Montana individuals, organizations and national service members committed to community and volunteer service.
“Montanans deserve to be recognized for the impactful work they are doing in local communities,” said Dan Ritter, director of the Governor’s Office of Community Service. “The ServeMontana Awards provide an opportunity for volunteers to share their stories and inspire others.”
The ServeMontana Awards are for service and volunteer work in the areas of education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, economic opportunity, disaster services, emergency preparedness and emergency response.
The nomination form is available to download at serve.mt.gov.
All nominations for the 2014 awards must be submitted to the Governor’s Office of Community Service by Dec. 2.
The awards will be presented during a ServeMontana Award ceremony open to the public in February in Helena.
The public is encouraged to nominate individuals of all ages and backgrounds, organizations and groups. All services must be performed in Montana or by Montanans.
The Governor-appointed Montana Commission on Community Service was created in 1993 to renew the ethic of civic responsibility in the state and to encourage citizens, regardless of age and income, to engage in service.
The Governor’s Office of Community Service expands and promotes national service and volunteerism in Montana and engages citizens in service and emergency preparedness.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:59