AGRICULTURE NEWS BRIEFS | NevadaAppeal.com

AGRICULTURE NEWS BRIEFS

GARDENING IN NEVADA

Cooperative Extension has teamed up with Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space to offer “Gardening in Nevada: The Bartley Ranch Series.” Classes are free and run 6–8 p.m. every Tuesday, Feb. 2–March 29, at Bartley Ranch Regional Park, 6000 Bartley Ranch Road in Reno.

The classes are taught by Cooperative Extension horticulturists and experts, and Cooperative Extension’s certified Master Gardener volunteers. Upcoming classes include …

March 8: Landscape Gardening for Wildlife – Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Becky Colwell discusses cover food, nesting, and water and shelter needs of backyard wildlife, along with how to attract wildlife such as butterflies, birds and earthworms.

March 15: Designing a Water-Efficient Landscape Using Native Plants – Cooperative Extension Horticulture Specialist Heidi Kratsch shares how to use the natural environment and physical characteristics of local native plants to create a soothing and aesthetically pleasing landscape.

For information or for general horticultural inquiries, contact University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at 775-784-4848 or mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu, or visit http://www.unce.unr.edu.

AG ESTATE PLANNING

Estate planning can be difficult, especially for ranchers or farmers. To help make the process easier, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension presents a one-day workshop on March 12 in Yerington, “Tending to Business: Estate Planning for the Agricultural Business.” Experts will come together to present information designed to help ranchers and farmers begin the estate planning process. The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Snyder Sale Barn, 165 Osborne Lane and concludes that evening at the Catholic Center, 103 N. West St.

“Estate planning is essential for the future sustainability of the business, but it is not always easy to talk about,” said Staci Emm, Mineral County Extension educator and organizer of the conference. “The biggest question is if you want your business to survive into the future and what you would like done with your land and assets.”

In the morning, guest speaker Joleen Brown, a farm business consultant from West Branch, Ind., will present “The Top 10 Mistakes That Break Up a Family Business.” In the afternoon, there will be a financial advisor panel discussion and breakout sessions.

MEDIA PLATFORMS

Beyond Facebook, new social media platforms are emerging as low-cost and effective ways for farms and ranches to market their enterprises.

Western Nevada College Specialty Crop Institute offers ‘Beyond Facebook: Social Media for the Farm’ workshop on March 12, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., at WNC Fallon Campus, 160 Campus Way. Cost is $30 for those registering by March 5, and $35 afterward. Lunch is included. Seating is limited and registration is required. Online registration is available at http://www.wnc.edu/ce/sci/.

The WNC Specialty Crop Institute is an innovative program that teaches alternative farming methods to local growers. Funding is provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Information/registration: Ann Louhela – 775-423-7565 Ext. 2260 or ann.louhela@wnc.edu.

USDA OFFERS INFO ON FARM COMMODITIES

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that producers who have crops pledged as collateral for a marketing assistance loan can now purchase a commodity certificate that may be exchanged for the outstanding loan collateral.

The authority is provided by the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, legislation enacted by Congress in December. Commodity certificates are available beginning with the 2015 crop in situations where the applicable marketing assistance loan rate exceeds USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) routinely provides agricultural producers with marketing assistance loans that provide interim cash flow without having to sell the commodities when market prices are at harvest time lows.

The loans allow the producer to store and delay the sale of the commodity until more favorable market conditions emerge, while also providing for a more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the marketing year.

To learn more about commodity certificates, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact your local FSA office.

To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

These loans are considered “nonrecourse” because the loan can be redeemed by delivering the commodity pledged as collateral to the government as full payment for the loan upon maturity.

Commodity certificates are available to loan holders having outstanding nonrecourse loans for wheat, upland cotton, rice, feed grains, pulse crops (dry peas, lentils, large and small chickpeas), peanuts, wool, soybeans and designated minor oilseeds. These certificates can be purchased at the posted county price (or adjusted world price or national posted price) for the quantity of commodity under loan, and must be immediately exchanged for the collateral, satisfying the loan.

Producers may contact their FSA office that maintains their loan or their loan service agent for additional information. Producers who do business with Cooperative Marketing Associations (CMA) or Designated Marketing Associations (DMA) may contact their respective associations for additional information.

FARM STORAGE FACILITY LOANS

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini has announced that the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program, which provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities, will now include dairy, flowers and meats as eligible commodities.

To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact a local FSA county office.

Find your local FSA county office at http://offices.usda.gov.

The loans are designed to assist a diverse range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers markets, non-traditional farm products, and underserved producers.

land PROTECTION

Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $350 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.

ACEP’s agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Native American Tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

In north central Iowa, ACEP funds have been used to add nearly 400 acres to an existing contiguous 600 acre wetland complex protecting the recently restored public Big Wall Lake. Two land trusts in Colorado plan to use ACEP funds to enroll 1,805 acres to protect critical Sage Grouse habitat in Saguache County and in the Upper Colorado River Corridor Priority Landscape located in Grand County.

In fiscal years 2014 and 2015, NRCS invested more than $600 million in ACEP funding to help landowners engage in voluntary conservation to provide long-term protection of an estimated 250,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through more than 750 new easements.

To learn more, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center.

USDA LOANS, GRANTS

Agriculture Under Secretary Lisa Mensah is encouraging rural small businesses to apply for loans and grants to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

“Helping rural small businesses save money on energy costs strengthens their bottom line and helps the U.S. become more energy independent,” Mensah said. “It also reduces our country’s carbon footprint, which leads to a cleaner environment and a more secure energy future.”

USDA is accepting Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) applications for: 1) loans and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, and 2) grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Eligible renewable energy systems include energy from wind, solar, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydro-electric, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources. Energy audits and renewable energy development assistance grants are available to state, tribal, or local governments; institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities. The REAP grants can pay up to 25% of the total project cost.

REAP applications are accepted continuously, and the next funding deadline for grants of $20,000 and less is Nov. 2, 2015. To learn more visit the USDA website at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency or contact Mark Williams, Energy Coordinator for USDA Rural Development Nevada at (775) 887-1222, Ext. 116.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $210 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

GRANGE LOOKING FOR MEMBERS

Do you have youth ages 5 and up who are looking to get involved? Do they want to learn leadership skills, have a opportunity to make a difference, serve the community and become role models?

A new Grange is starting in Fallon and would like you to join the team. For information email goatdiva@yahoo.com.

The focus initially will be to provide opportunities for children and young adults of Churchill County to engage in community activities. The members of the newly started Grange are going to start both a Junior and a Youth program to provide different enrichment activities and teaching community activities to the youth in our community.

“We want to give the young kids in the area something fun to do and show them how they can work together to make their community better by giving back,” said Gloria Montero. “We want to teach them about farming, livestock, and community service.

We want to instill pride in their accomplishments by letting them present their talents at any or all local fairs and events. The future of this country is our children, so they should always be our priority.”

The Grange is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, fraternal organization with more than 80,000 members across the United States. More than than 2,100 Granges contribute millions of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to our hometowns each year.