CRACKED EARTH

Drought, as it happens, isn’t a valid prevent plant condition, according to the USDA’s Risk Management Agency. Only in very, very rare instances has RMA declared drought a valid prevent plant condition.

The misconception that farmers can collect prevent plant crop insurance because of drought is among issues addressed in the latest edition of Agriculture by the Numbers, a monthly newsletter by NDSU with articles by the university’s agriculture experts.

In addition to the prevent plant article, this month’s topics include the potential impact of drought on prices and marketing plans, the Livestock Forage Program, U.S. Canada Beef Cow inventories and more. It’s available online at tinyurl.com/3bz278zj.

Biden’s budget gives agriculture16 percent boostThe skinny version of President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget is out, and it calls for a 16 percent increase for USDA, which would bring its discretionary funds to $27.8 billion for the fiscal year starting in October. Priorities in the funding reflect those in the president’s infrastructure proposals — broadband access, reclaiming abandoned mines, and rural renewable energy. Research and education funding would also get a boost.

The skinny budget is an annual part of the usual appropriations process. It will be running alongside Biden’s recent infrastructure proposals, which is likely to dominate discussion for the next few months.

The more detailed version of the budget should be coming out sometime in late spring.

Private pesticide applicators must renew by May 10Due to logistical problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Dakota Pesticide Control Board is taking action to help with timely pesticide renewals.

Private pesticide applicators with an April 1, 2020 expiration date on their certificates will be eligible for NDSU Extension-delivered training through May 10, 2021.

“We encourage private pesticide applicators to take advantage of the training opportunity to renew by May 10,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “If an applicator does not participate in training by that date, they must renew their certificate by passing an exam.”

Contact your local NDSU Extension county office for training or examination options.

Updated fungicide tables in MontanaThere are new tables listing available fungicide treatments, both seed and foliar, are now available.

Please reach out to Dr. Uta McKelvy with any questions or comments (email: uta.mckelvy@montana.edu; phone: 406-994-5572)Fungicide Seed Treatment Table: http://plantpath.msuextension.org/resources/2021-fungicides-for-pulse-crop-seed-treatment.html

Please reach out to Dr. Uta McKelvy with any questions or comments on the updates. Her email is uta.mckelvy@montana.edu and phone is 406-994-5572.

Irrigation assistance availableIrrigators who want to make changes to their system to decrease water usage are eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conesrvation Service, through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Eligible projects include things like converting from flood to pivot, installing variable rate irrigation on an existing low pressure system or converting a high pressure center pivot to a low pressure system.

To apply, contact your local NRCS office. Deadline is April 30.

State restarting Livestock Water Supply programNorth Dakota is planning to reopen its Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program.

Through the program, eligible livestock producers can get a 50 percent cost-share assistance of up to $4,500 for projects such as new water wells, rural water system connections, pipeline extensions, pasture taps and associated works. Funds may be used for labor, materials, and equipment rentals needed to complete the projects.

The program has $557,277 left over from its use in 2017, when it was used to support 500 projects at a total cost share of about $1.5 million.

Producers in counties in extreme drought (D3) and adjacent counties will be eligible for the program. Williams County is among counties that have been in that category this spring. The recent snowfall will help ease some dryness, but is not a drought breaker all by itself. That will take additional precipitation.

Details on the livestock water supply program are available online at www.swc.nd.gov.www.swc.nd.gov or contact the State Water Commissio at 701-328-4989 or swclivestock@nd.gov.

Walmart announces new policies to protect pollinatorsWalmart is taking steps to help pollinators, with new policies that will require all of its produce and floral suppliers to adopt Integrated Pest Management practices, as verified by a third-party certifier, by 2025.

Walmart is the first U.S. food retailer to make this type of commitment with a timeline. While other major U.S. food retailers have established pollinator health policies encouraging reductions of problematic pesticides like chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids, Walmart is the first to do so with a commitment to tracking the use of such pesticides in its supply chain, along with an actual timeline.

Suppliers can work with anyone on a list of third-party certifiers benchmarked as having meaningful IPM criteria by the IPM Institute of North America.

IPM refers to using ecological methods to control pests that sustain long-term sustainability. The approach prioritizes non-chemical approaches to managing pests first, such as rotating crops, planting resistant varieties, and fostering beneficial bugs.

Walmart’s policy also includes goals for the protection, restoration, and establishment of pollinator habitat in migration corridors and on farms in its supply chain.

“Pollinators are essential for a sustainable food supply,” Walmart said in a media release. “Without pollinators, grocery stores would run short of a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and even chocolate and coffee. And because bees pollinate alfalfa and other crops eaten by cows, even the dairy and meat shelves could look bare without them.

American beef most sustainable in worldThe carbon footprint of the U.S. beef industry has dropped 40 percent between the 1960s and 2018, according to a new report published in Global Change Biology.

The paper actually advocates for less consumption of beef, but the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association still took note of the report, which details how the industry not only reduced its carbon footprint by 40 percent, but at the same time produced 66 percent more beef.

“We already know a growing global population will require and demand high-quality food, which means we need ruminant animals, like beef cattle, to help make more protein with fewer resources,” said NCBA president and Kansas cattleman, Jerry Bohn. “Cattle generate more protein for the human food supply than would exist without them because their unique digestive system allows them to convert human-inedible plants, like grass, into high-quality protein.”

The complete paper is online at tinyurl.com/4xhtrmrr.

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