Secretary Vilsack Warns Ag Companies to Beef Up Cybersecurity
Speaking to attendees of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) meeting, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that farm cooperatives and state ag directors should be ready for increasing cyberattacks as harvest begins.
“I would strongly encourage all of us as commissioners, directors, and secretaries to encourage our coops in our respective states to do what they need to do, to learn what they need to learn, to make sure their systems are hardened against any kind of cyberattack,” Vilsack noted.
NASDA adopted cybersecurity policy at their business meeting in Louisville. The policy encourages agriculture producers to look at their cybersecurity measures to ensure protection is there, said RJ Karney, public policy director for the organization.
PSA Membership Update
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Please mark your calendars for February 13-16, 2022 and join the PSA membership for the 2022 Annual Convention at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Waikoloa, HI.
2022 Schedule of Events
Sunday, February 13th
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Set Up for Exhibitors
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm Board of Directors Meeting
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm Early Registration
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Welcome Reception
Monday, February 14th
7:00 am - 9:00 am Registration for PSA Participants
7:00 am - 8:00 am Past Presidents Breakfast
8:00 am - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast for all Attendees
9:00 am – 9:30 am General Session Opens
Welcome / Introductions Carolyn Lockwood, PSA President
Chris Zanobini, PSA Executive Director
9:30 am - 10:30 am Industry Issues Forum
10:30 am - 11:30 am Panel Discussion
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch for Convention Attendees with Keynote Speaker
2:00 pm - 2:30 pm ASTA Legislative Update: Federal and State Issues
Pat Miller, Director of State Affairs, American Seed Trade Association
Agri-Pulse writes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, which has been dormant so far during the Biden administration, is likely to tackle climate change and environmental justice issues when it starts meeting again later this year.
The board is made up of 47 outside scientists and is supposed to provide peer review of EPA studies and regulations, help guide research priorities and provide advice to the EPA administrator on request.
In announcing the new members, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, “This highly qualified, diverse group of experts will ensure that EPA is receiving sound science-based advice to inform our work to protect people and the environment from pollution.”
The EPA board has six committees: Agricultural Science; Chemical Assessment Advisory; Climate Science; Drinking Water; Economic Analysis, and Environmental Justice Science Committee. There’s also a Radiation Advisory Subcommittee.
Austin Omer, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of natural resource policy, was reappointed to the board and will also serve on the Agricultural Science Committee. He said that “as a scientist working in a policy organization, my goal is to make sure our farmer leaders, members, and policy staff have a good understanding of what science is telling us about many different issues.” But he offered no insight into which specific issues the SAB might address.
Ag Associations Write to President Biden on the Crisis Facing Exporters
Over 70 agriculture associations wrote to President Joe Biden, USDA Secretary Vilsack, Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg, FMC Chair Maffei, the Chair of White House Council of Economic Advisors, and the US Attorney General urging action to relieve the crisis facing American exporters.
In the letter, the groups wrote, “The cost to ship a container has increased between 300 and 500 percent in the past 2 years; U.S. producers are losing from 10-40 percent of their export value to these added costs; an informal survey suggests that U.S. agriculture exporters’ inability to perform is leading to a loss of 22% of their sales.”
The groups recommend a series of actions be taken immediately to provide near-term solutions to current supply chain problems.
Article and Photo Source: Morning Ag Clips
Cover Crop economics: Long-term gains, holistic improvements: Exploring how a holistic approach to taking care of resources comes with long-term gains
WASHINGTON — There are no “quick fixes” when it comes to the health of soils, the benefits take more than overnight to show up. While it takes time and deliberate care to learn how to enhance resources holistically within your own system, the general principles are relatively simple and can be significant cost savings.
“Soil is the natural capital of the land,” explains Dr Shannon Cappellazzi, GO Seed Director of Research. “By making the investment in soil health, not only are you making an impact on all of the downstream ecosystem services that are related to soil functions, you are also regenerating the land for continued agricultural production.”
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan says a proposal to restore regulations defining "waters of the U.S." to those that were in place before the Obama administration's 2015 rule could be issued by November, with another proposal redefining WOTUS to follow a year after that.
Regan told state agriculture regulators that EPA's goal is to write a new rule that will bring clarity for farmers and ranchers, according to DTN/Progressive Farmer.
"We know and recognize that farmers are leaders in environmental stewardship and water management, and that they recognize that water is central to the work you do to feed and fuel the nation," he said. "That's why I'm here today. I'm having these conversations all across the country to continue to learn from you and to truly understand what works for you and understand that your perspective is essential to crafting a durable definition of WOTUS, one that will withstand the test of time and the court rulings that we've seen in the past few years, while protecting our vital water sources."
Regan said the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have hosted about 60 listening sessions during the past month and are in the process of reviewing more than 32,000 pre-proposal recommendations and comments submitted on a proposed rule by the end of August.
USDA Announces $446 Million To Fund Ag, Business Renewable Projects
The USDA announced that its handing out $464 million to farm operations and other businesses to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities lower energy costs in 48 states and Puerto Rico.
The government agency will pull $129 million from the Rural Energy for America Program to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Meanwhile, $335 million of funding will come out of the Electric Loan Program. Money coming out of the Rural Energy for America Program will be funding what is being called climate-smart projects.
"These climate-smart investments will conserve and generate more than 379 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in rural America, which equates to enough electricity to power 35,677 homes per year," according to a USDA press release. The loans from the Electric Loan Program will help build or improve 1,432 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas, according to the USDA. The loans include $102 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
The projects receiving funding range from building more efficient grain drying facilities to improving city wastewater treatment plants.
In North Dakota, Red Trail Energy LLC will use a $25 million loan to build a carbon-capture processing and storage facility at an ethanol manufacturing facility. The project will provide a 40-50% reduction in the carbon intensity score of ethanol the company produces. It also will enable the company to distribute ethanol to low-carbon fuel standard markets.
Prairie State Solar, LLC will use a $95 million loan to construct a 99 megawatt solar photovoltaic farm on 621 acres in Perry County, Ill., about 50 miles southeast of St. Louis.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Thursday that none of this funding is dependent on whether the proposed Infrastructure bill is passed by Congress.
"These projects are funded by our normal budget allocation passed by Congress. These announcements come as we end the fiscal year and begin a new one," Secretary Vilsack says.
Vilsack added, "Having said that, based on how the Infrastructure bill is passed, it will determine how we fund more of these type of projects in the future and whether we have the resources to do it."
The department is announcing investments today in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.