Ag Notebook: Southern Colo. still parched |

Ag Notebook: Southern Colo. still parched

USDA declares 12 Colorado counties disaster areas to drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently designated six southern Colorado counties as primary natural disaster areas and six more as contiguous disaster areas due to ongoing severe drought conditions. The designations mean that farmers and ranchers in these counties are eligible for additional Farm Service Agency assistance.

The six Colorado counties designated as primary disaster areas include: Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, and San Miguel.

The six Colorado counties designated as contiguous disaster areas include: Archuleta, Gunnison, Mineral, Montrose, Saguache, and San Juan.

Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

New Smartphone App Keeps Farmers and Ranchers in the Know

A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln smartphone app helps agricultural producers track key temperatures.

The Climate App publishes maps that show recent highs, lows, and soil temperatures.

The High Plains Regional Climate Center in UNL’s School of Natural Resources released the app to keep agricultural producers aware of the temperature ranges that could affect production timelines.

Ken Hubbard, a regional research climatologist and the coordinator heading the app’s development, said that the project aims to inform producers’ decision-making.

The Climate App’s homepage currently presents five options: “Maximum Temperature (F) yesterday,” “Minimum Temperature (F) yesterday,” “7 Day Average Soil Temperature (4”),” “1 Day Soil Temperature (4”),” and “1 Day Precipitation Total.”

Each option links to a map with a color scale that indicates the corresponding local information.

The current map options focus on temperature because the HPRCC wants to help farmers decide whether it is a good time to plant. In the coming months, the app will progress to showcase precipitation information and corn water-use for the previous day.

The intention is that this information would help farmers know whether to irrigate.

Sixty- seven weather stations report data to the HPRCC. Using this data, Hubbard and the team at HPRCC create maps that showcase the variations in temperature at a local level.

— University of Nebraska Lincoln

Ag secretary announces additional watershed protection funding

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will send an additional $66.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds to help disaster recovery efforts in 15 states.

“This funding will help communities implement much needed recovery projects to address watershed damage caused by floods, drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters that occurred in 2012 and 2013,” Vilsack said. “President Obama and USDA are committed to helping repair and rebuild rural communities so hardworking farmers and ranchers can ensure American agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy.”

Examples of conditions qualifying for assistance include: debris-clogged stream channels, undermined and unstable stream banks, jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures, and wind-borne debris removal.

The largest portion of the funds announced today will go to Colorado, which will receive more than $19 million for recovery from one of the worst fire seasons in the state’s history.

In 2012, more than 200,000 acres burned, taking more than 600 homes and other structures with them.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA says Oregon GMO wheat incident isolated

The Agriculture Department said recently that its investigation into the discovery of genetically modified wheat growing in Oregon continues to show that it was an isolated event and poses no health or food safety concern.

USDA officials also said it is working with foreign trading partners to help them make science-based decisions about wheat imports.

The USDA began an investigation into this matter on May 3 when an Oregon State University scientist notified USDA’s officials that plant samples they had tested positive for a protein that made them resistant to glyphosate.

Extensive testing confirmed the wheat as a variety — MON71800 — developed by Monsanto.

Monsanto worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 to complete a voluntary food and feed safety consultation. Completion of the FDA consultation process means this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market.

— Staff reports ❖

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