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Colorado farmer elected to National Corn Growers board of directors

GREELEY, Colo. – Mike Lefever, farmer and immediate past president of the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, was elected to serve on the National Corn Growers Association board during Corn Congress in Washington D.C., July 17, 2019.

“I am humbled and honored to be elected to the National Corn Growers Association board of directors. As I strive to represent Colorado farmers and the grain corn industry to the best of my abilities, I look forward to enhancing the already incredible work the board performs on a national stage.”

One of four appointments, Lefever and Dennis McNinch of Kansas join re-elected board members Chris Edgington of Iowa of Iowa and Tom Haag, Minnesota. All were elected to three-year terms which start Oct. 1, the start of NCGA’s 2020 fiscal year. They will serve alongside eight other directors.

“Mike has a long record of service to the grain corn industry,” said CCAC CEO Mark Sponsler. “I am confident Mike will continue to serve his peers with the same energy and regard for the issues at the national level as he has done at the state level. I am equally proud he is the first director from Colorado to be elected to a national board seat in over 20 years.”

Lefever farms 22 miles northwest of Yuma and near Longmont. During his 24-year history of service at the state level he has been a director and officer for both the Administrative Committee and Growers Association. Lefever has served on several state and two national action teams. This past year, he has served as chairman of NCGA’s Market Access Development Action Team.

About: Established in 1979, Colorado Corn Growers Association (CCGA) serves as the voice and grassroots advocacy organization for corn producers within the state. Members voluntarily focus their support and engagement on shaping state and national policy that specifically impacts corn producers and agriculture in general. CCGA is affiliated with the National Corn Growers Association, which has more than 40,000 dues-paying members nationwide.

Colorado Corn Administrative Committee (CCAC) manages producer’s one-penny-per-bushel assessment from the sale of grain corn, collected by the state’s first handlers. These funds are invested in research, market development, consumer outreach and education to create opportunities for producers and enhance the value of corn.

ASI submits comments on gray wolf delisting

The American Sheep Industry Association joined with the Public Lands Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a number of state livestock associations this week in submitting comments on the proposed delisting of the gray wolf.

The livestock associations have been involved with the agency’s actions with regard to gray wolves at every step of the way and feel that delisting should occur. At this point, the requirements for delisting have been met for many years and the best available science overwhelmingly indicates that this is an appropriate action. The livestock associations offer comments on the following points:

The current listing of the gray wolf (C. lupus) is unlawful, as the entity is neither a valid “species” nor “endangered” under the ESA.

While uncertainties in taxonomy persist, the best available science indicates the existing populations within the gray wolf entity should be treated as a whole; due to its prior extirpation and practical concerns, FWS should continue to treat the Mexican wolf as non-essential experimental population.

The wolf has exceeded recovery criteria outlined in the gray wolf Recovery Plans, as evidenced by wolf population estimates and expansion of its range. The ESA does not require expansion into “historical” range to achieve recovery.

The livestock associations feel that management at state level is appropriate.

In sum, numbers and range occupancy have been stable or increasing for the better part of the last decade or more. Gray wolves are recovered within the meaning of the ESA. While differences of opinion may persist, the best available science indicates wolves have surpassed measurable objectives laid out in the recovery plans and state management plans, and expanded into all or significant portions of current available range, and in some cases, into portions of “historic” range. The species’ status thus exceeds what is necessary to be considered recovered consistent with FWS’s recovery criteria.

USDA to publish rule ending SNAP ‘broad-based categorical eligibility’

The Trump administration today will release a rule that the Agriculture Department estimates will take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamp benefits away from more than 3 million people, saving the government $2.5 billion per year.

In a telephone call Monday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, the Agriculture deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, told reporters that USDA would publish a proposed rule to end what they called the “broad-based categorical eligibility loophole” that has allowed people to be qualified for SNAP benefits without going through what Lipps called “a robust eligibility determination” for up to two years while receiving benefits.

The proposed rule will be published today and subject to a 60-day public comment period beginning Wednesday.

Perdue said it is USDA’s responsibility to make sure that “those who need food” get it, but said that states have “taken advantage” of a rule that allowed the states to qualify people easily.

Perdue cited the case of a Minnesota millionaire who managed to qualify for SNAP benefits using broad-based categorical eligibility as an example of why the regulation should be changed.

Anti-hunger advocates and Democrats on Capitol Hill, including House Agriculture Nutrition and Departmental Operations Subcommittee Chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, have said that the case repeatedly cited by the Republicans is unrepresentative of the people who need the food purchasing power.

Anti-hunger advocates have said that broad-based categorical eligiblity has allowed states to strengthen SNAP’s rules to encourage work and savings among low-income households.

The option “allows states to raise SNAP income eligibility limits so that many working-poor families that have difficulty making ends meet, such as because they face expenses for costly housing or child care that consume a sizable share of their income, can receive help affording adequate food,” the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explained.

“This option also allows states to adopt less restrictive asset tests so that families, seniors and people with a disability can have modest savings without losing SNAP.”

Lipps said people who have gotten benefits as minimal as a brochure under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program have qualified for SNAP.

A total of 43 states and territories use broadbased-categorical eligibility, which means that the impact of the rule change would be broad throughout the country.

About 36 million people got SNAP benefits in April, down from about 45 million at the height of the post-2008 Great Recession. The rule would remove about 3.1 million people or 8% of current beneficiaries from the SNAP rolls, USDA said.

Lipps emphasized that to confer automatic eligibility for SNAP under the proposal, a household must receive TANF-funded cash or non-cash benefits valued at a minimum of $50 per month for at least six months. In addition, non-cash benefits that could convey automatic eligibility would be restricted to subsidized employment, work supports or childcare.

People who apply for TANF and are eligible under categorical eligibility will not have to go through the application process a second time, Lipps said.

About 300,000 children are expected to lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunch, but Lipps said USDA expects that almost all the children will still qualify for free school lunch if they go through the normal application process.

Democrats and anti-hunger advocates reacted negatively to the proposal.

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said, “This proposal is yet another attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”

Aggie dean Rosati set to retire from NCTA

CURTIS, Neb. – Ron Rosati, dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis, plans to retire Aug. 5 from NCTA. Rosati was tapped as head administrator for the University of Nebraska’s sole two-year institution in July 2013.

Before completing his University of Nebraska service at year-end, Rosati will serve as senior adviser for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture in Kigali, Rwanda. Opening in September, RICA is an English language institution dedicated to educating and inspiring a new generation of innovators in agriculture in Rwanda.

“Under Ron Rosati’s leadership, NCTA truly reached new heights in providing academic and financial access to higher education, as well as career preparation in the ag and veterinary technology industries,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president for agriculture and natural resources, and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I want to thank Ron for his exemplary service and dedication over the past six years and wish him the best as he transitions into retirement.”

Kelly Bruns, director at NU’s West Central Research and Extension Center based in North Platte, has been named NCTA interim dean, while continuing to serve in his WCREC role. Bruns will lead NCTA campus administration with associate dean Jennifer McConville.

“It has been a privilege for me to serve NCTA as dean,” Rosati said. “The college is an exceptional place to work due to its small size, focus on agriculture and veterinary technology, and its emphasis on experiential learning.”

Rosati is a native of New York and has earned degrees in agricultural education and agronomy. He earned his doctorate from Iowa State, masters and bachelor’s from Cornell University, and associate degree from SUNY Farmingdale. Prior to moving to Nebraska, Rosati served in administrative capacities as provost at Southeast Missouri State University, provost at Alfred State College, State University of New York, and was a dean at Texas A&M University, Kingsville.

Rosati taught agricultural engineering technology and aquaculture for 19 years at Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Illinois State University, The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute, and Iowa State University.

Rosati led strategic initiatives at NCTA including a 28.5% enrollment growth from 2013-2018, increased fiscal strength from deficit to fiscal health, and added academic programs in agricultural welding, equine industry management, a general agriculture online degree certificate, and partnerships in dairy and poultry management.

“NCTA has been recognized nationally for the quality of its academic programs and the success of its graduates. It’s been very rewarding for me to work with the faculty and staff who are responsible for those successes,” Rosati said.

Other administrative progress at NCTA the past six years included developing new procedures and policies for advising, admissions, registration, student payment procedures, student transfers, academic catalogs, student and employee handbooks, and Title IX and ADA compliance.

Increased appropriations by the Nebraska Legislature enabled significant campus progress in programs, student resources, and pay equity for faculty. New initiatives in public relations and recruiting, federal approval for enrolling international students, and reaccreditation were further benchmarks.

Bruns, who holds a doctorate in animal science, has served as director of WCREC since Nov. 2015. Jerry Volesky, longtime range and forage specialist, will serve as interim associate director at WCREC.

A national search will be launched to identify a new permanent dean of NCTA.

Western bean cutworm and spider mites in field corn

Western bean cutworm (WBC) moths began to emerge in most part of northeastern Colorado. According to the historic pheromone trap data, the moth flight will continue until middle of August in Colorado. The peak population of the moth usually occurs between the last week of July and first week of August.

Western bean cutworm is a pest of both corn and dry beans. In dry bean, pheromone traps may be used to monitor moth populations and make treatment (https://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Main_Page).

Control is expected with only those Bt corn hybrids containing the Herculex I or Herculex Xtra events. For corn hybrids that do not contain these events, fields should be scouted for this pest; good control will be difficult once the larvae move into ears.

In non-Bt corn, management decisions of western bean cutworm are based on monitoring egg masses on corn leaves. Eggs from the moth are deposited in clusters on upper surface of leaves. Upon hatching, young western bean cutworm larvae, move to one of the two places on corn plant, depending on the stage of the plant. If the corn has not tasseled, larvae will feed on pollen in the developing tassel. If tasseled, larvae will feed on silk in the ear and once the ear is formed, the larvae will feed on developing kernels.

Chemical control is justifiable if 8 percent or more of the plants have egg masses or small larvae in the tassels and the crop is at least 95 percent tasseled. If tasseling is much less than this, the economic threshold should be raised to as fewer larvae are likely to reach the ears.

Scouting for eggs of western bean cutworm in corn is recommended the next three weeks in Colorado. Effective insecticide products for both corn and dry beans are found in the High Plains IPM Guide: (https://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Main_Page). Many of the insecticides registered for western bean cutworm have been associated with spider mite outbreaks, so fields should be monitored for mites after a treatment is made. It is important to monitor Banks Grass Mite (BGM) in corn if dry hot conditions prevail during the growing season. Webbing and discoloration on leaves are often first signs of mite infestations.

BGM builds up on the plant from the bottom up. Chemical treatment is justified when there is visible damage in the lower third of the plant and small colonies are present in the middle third of the plant before hard dough stage. For effective products for both species of spider mites management and detailed economic threshold, check the High Plains IPM guide (https://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Main_Page).

State seeks public input on industrial hemp at meeting in Southwest Colorado

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Leaders of the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) will hold the first of several public meetings on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Old Fort in Hesperus, Colo. A repeat session will be held from 1-4 p.m. for anyone not able to attend the morning session.

The meeting will be held in partnership with Fort Lewis College and the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes for the purpose of gathering public feedback on specific issues related to the research and development, sustainability, seed certification, cultivation, crop disposal, transportation and testing of industrial hemp.

“There is much excitement about hemp, and also a lot of questions. The Department of Agriculture wants to hear what’s on people’s minds as we build out the framework for the hemp industry across Colorado and the nation,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “We are grateful to the Old Fort for hosting and honored to be working in consultation with the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes. Broad participation is important as we enter into this new chapter of a new industry.”

The CHAMP Initiative is a statewide effort to develop a Colorado blueprint that will outline a regulatory framework and identify the economic opportunities needed to build a robust and sustainable hemp industry across the state.

It is spearheaded by the office of Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Departments of Agriculture, Public Health and Environment, Regulatory Agencies and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The initiative also includes a number of other state, local, and tribal agencies and more than 150 stakeholders representing private industries.

All are invited to attend and participate in the public hearing. Please call 303-869-9103 or go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1akNE7cQJfCJh8Ta43pV0duK-p-QYV8rGc0vQY2GdYHI/viewform?ts=5d35d303&edit_requested=true to RSVP for one of the two sessions.

Tofurky, ACLU sue Arkansas over meat labeling law

Tofurky, a company that makes a tofu-based “turkey” product, and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing Arkansas over a statelaw that prohibits the labeling of plant-based meat alternatives as “burgers” or “hot dogs.”

The complaint, filed Monday in the Eastern District Court of Arkansas, Western Division, alleges that Arkansas Act 501, which is meant to “require truth in labeling” and “protect consumers from being misled or confused,” violates Arkansans’ civil rights.

The law covers veggie burgers, smoked ham style plant-based deli slices, and vegan sausages. The law also extends to dairy alternatives and vegetable alternatives to grains; nut milks and cauliflower rice would also be subject to fines, NBC News said.

FMCSA asks for comments on hours-of-service regs for ag drivers

The Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today announced that it is seeking public comment on revising agricultural commodity or livestock definitions in hours-of-service regulations.

The agency noted in a news release that it worked closely with the Agriculture Department “on this effort to provide clarity for the nation’s farmers and commercial drivers.”

Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the hours-of-service requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.

The advanced rule authored by FMCSA would revise the definitions of livestock and agricultural commodities to ensure the exemption is consistently applied and has enough flexibility that it can be utilized by eligible commercial drivers and farmers.

“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez.

“We encourage all CMV (commercial motor vehicle) stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement,” Martinez said.

“The agriculture industry is vital to our nation and we look forward to receiving input that will help clarify these definitions, improve safety, and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“The current regulations impose restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Chao on revising these regulations.”

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., who is also a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, praised the request for comment, but noted that he and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., have introduced a Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act.

Democrats to meet with Lighthizer on USMCA after Mexico trip

The House Democrats’ trade working group on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will convene its fourth meeting on USMCA with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer later this week, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Democratic leadership announced today.

The meeting will focus on enforcement and the enforceability of provisions in the renegotiated NAFTA, Ways and Means announced in a news release.

Previously, the working group held meetings with Lighthizer to detail their priorities for improving the new agreement’s provisions for workers, the environment and access to medicines.

Ways and Means also said that the congressional delegation to Mexico led by Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., had concluded their trip. The members spent time in three locations — Mexico City, San Luis Potosi, and Tijuana — meeting with Mexican government officials and other stakeholders “to inform their consideration of the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement,” Ways and Means said.

“The Democratic members of the delegation specifically assessed how to ensure the new agreement raises standards for workers and the environment, provides access to medicines, and can be enforced,“ the committee said.

“They also examined Mexico’s commitment to implementing the reforms necessary for the country to comply with its labor and other obligations under the agreement.

“While in Mexico City, the delegation met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Economia Graciela Marquez, Secretary of Labor Luisa Alcalde, and Environment Secretary Victor Manuel Toledo and met with workers in San Luis Potosi, hearing about workplace conditions and treatment, the challenges to democratically unionizing in Mexico, and the need for significant reforms and new protections for workers.

“Yesterday, the delegation spent time in Tijuana, where they learned about the North American Development Bank’s efforts to improve environmental conditions and border infrastructure to address waste water problems. The group also met with representatives from the state water commission, inspected environmental conditions at sites along the Tijuana River, and toured a water treatment plant.”

CSU launches first-of-its-kind graduate certificate in agritourism management

Colorado State University has launched the nation’s first online graduate certificate in agritourism management, equipping tourism operators and agricultural professionals with the skills and strategies to manage new tourism enterprises in traditional settings.

With the global market size of agritourism expected to reach $10.16 billion by 2024 according to Verified Market Reports, the new certificate provides the foundation for creating and operating tourism enterprises.

These new enterprises could include adding a new source of income to an existing farm or ranch, providing exceptional experiences for guests or creating unique opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in the rural landscape and lifestyle.

Beyond farm-based activities, communities and community development workers in rural areas can benefit from rethinking how to grow tourism in their areas, with a focus on food and agriculture. U.S.-based agritourism revenues topped $2 billion in 2012 and grew by 24 percent, making it one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the country.

“Agritourism can play an important role in the sustainability of small, family farms,” Delta County Tourism Coordinator Kelli Hepler said. “In Colorado, the average reported income from adding agritourism is $36,000 per year.”

BREAKING GROUND

The graduate certificate in agritourism management is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. The bulk of the certificate’s curriculum draws on decades of experience from experts in ag-extension courses and includes coursework from the award-winning master of tourism management curriculum at CSU.

The program covers the basics of creating and operating a tourism enterprise in a rural or farm and ranch setting, as well as offering insight into spatial and financial analysis tools, lodging operations, marketing, operating culinary tourism venues and analyzing the latest trends in rural and agricultural tourism development. The coursework is based on input within the tourism industry and the agricultural community and will help students to create strong networks of like-minded entrepreneurs on a global basis.

“Colorado is at the intersection of how tourism and agriculture can be blended to attract those interested in reconnecting with their food, Western heritage or our abundant natural resources, said Rebecca Hill, a research scientist in the College of Agricultural Sciences and an instructor in the program. “This certificate highlights best practices for people to do so effectively.”

As a land-grant institution, CSU has long been a champion of agricultural and food producers, and the rural communities in which they are a vital economic driver.

GROWING INDUSTRY

“Tourism is a strong and growing industry, particularly in Colorado,” said Dawn Thilmany, a professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences who has managed research and outreach in agritourism — before it was known by that name — for over a decade. “Yet, we have too few educational and professional development opportunities for those who want to thoughtfully and authentically integrate agritourism into their farm or community’s development plans. We believe these needs are even more acute in rural areas struggling to find an economic driver well suited to the 21st century.”

Hepler noted that many farmers can’t afford to keep working the land, yet the public needs local farms and the farms need more public support. “Agritourism accomplishes both, while supporting the community, enriching wildlife habitat, and protecting water and soil resources.”

Delivered by CSU Online, this six-course certificate addresses a need for graduate-level education in a growing tourism sector, as farmers increasingly use agritourism operations as a means to diversify and generate revenues for their agricultural business ventures. The aim of this graduate certificate is to provide students with a sound understanding of the agritourism industry and the knowledge to successfully support a range of agritourism activities.

Students and professionals interested in this program can take courses individually or as a fulfillment of the requirements for the certificate.

The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, which aims to improve societal well-being by creating and sharing tools and information aimed to solve economic, managerial, educational, and policy-related problems within agri-food and resource systems, has offered an undergraduate degree in agribusiness management that complements this graduate certificate for over a decade.

The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources has more than 90 years of experience teaching and collaborating with diverse public organizations and people working in nature-based tourism. Its master of tourism management, available online and on-campus, is affiliated with the World Tourism Association, the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.