Ag Briefs

Klobuchar, Smith announce open enrollment for 2020 Dairy Margin Coverage program

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Tina Smith, D-MN, both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced that dairy producers are now eligible to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for calendar year 2020, which helps dairy producers better manage the volatility of milk and feed prices. The Senators encouraged dairy producers to sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Enrollment ends Dec. 13.

“Dairy farmers continue to face low prices and market instability, and they deserve our support during tough times like these,” Klobuchar said. “I encourage all dairy farmers to sign up now for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, which can help mitigate the serious challenges they are facing.”

“The Dairy Margin Coverage program helps offer stability and predictability to dairy farmers when they’re hit by low commodity prices and high feed costs,” Smith said. “During the 2018 Farm Bill debate I fought to make this program more affordable and flexible to help producers during challenging times. I encourage all Minnesota dairy operations to take advantage of this opportunity.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened signup this week for the program that helps producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities.

The 2018 Farm Bill created DMC, improving on the previous safety net for dairy producers. DMC is one of many programs that FSA and other USDA agencies are implementing to support America’s farmers.

For more information on enrolling in DMC and taking advantage of an online dairy decision tool that assists producers in selecting coverage for 2020, visit the DMC webpage.

For additional questions and assistance, contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

PACE assists businesses with energy efficiency and conservation improvements

The Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB) invites commercial and agri-businesses looking to make energy efficiency and conservation improvements to their facilities to apply for the RMEB’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

PACE is a program that finances energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial and agri-business properties within the Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB) region. The program allows businesses to make these improvements without the up-front costs. Costs of improvements are repaid as a special assessment on the property taxes. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

The RMEB PACE program has assisted 26 businesses across southern Minnesota in reducing their energy consumptions. Eligible projects include: Energy efficiency upgrades such as HVAC, lighting, and equipment; and renewable energy.

The PACE program is administered by the Southwest Regional Development Commission. For more information about PACE, visit rmeb.org/pace.htm or contact Robin Weis, robin@swrdc.org.

Study to assess farm efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — As Vermont works to reduce algae-causing phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain as mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly $2 million in federal funding will go toward a study to look at how farm efforts are working to improve water quality, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced Tuesday.

Officials estimate that about 38% of the phosphorus load in the lake comes from agricultural land.

Pest that feasts on broccoli found in Maine for first time

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Agriculture authorities in Maine say an invasive pest that can damage crops such as cabbage and broccoli has been found in the state for the first time.

The pest is an insect called the Swede midge. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says Monday the UMaine Cooperative Extension made the discovery and it’s the first confirmed appearance of the midge in Maine.

Some Georgia residents oppose plans for giant solar farm

AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — Some residents are opposing a $500 million solar farm in southwest Georgia that would be one of the nation’s largest.

WALB-TV reported Sumter County commissioners held a hearing Tuesday on whether to grant zoning approvals for Americus Solar LLC. The company is a subsidiary of Chicago-based Invinergy.

Lawmakers move to legalize hemp over governor’s objection

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers are writing a bill to legalize industrial hemp in 2020, despite the governor’s stated plan to veto it because law enforcement can’t differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

The legislative Hemp Study Committee is working from a failed 2019 bill, the Argus Leader reported.