Texas: Denton County cool-season forage field day set April 1

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Denton County and the Denton County Extension Agriculture Committee will hold a cool-season forage field day from 5-8 p.m. at Rancho De La Roca, located on 2459 Blackjack Road West, Aubrey.

The event will begin in the field on the north side of Farm-to-Market Road 428, between Blackjack Road and the Green Belt Corridor at 5 p.m., said Brandon Boughen, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Denton County.

Dr. Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Overton, will discuss the pros and cons of utilizing cool-season forages in cattle operations, Boughen said.

Registration will be $15, and include educational materials and a light meal. Those wishing to attend should RSVP by calling Pamela Hill at 940-349-2894 by March 31, he said.

“When properly utilized, cool-season forages can save cattle producers the time and cost associated with extensive hay use,” Boughen said. “The results of our cool-season ryegrass demonstration will be used as a teaching tool to help producers understand the dynamics of forage, whether they are grasses or legumes.”

For more information contact Boughen or Hill at 940-349-2894.


Texas Ag Forum to feature overview of 2014 Farm Bill

Discussion of the 2014 Farm Bill will take center stage at the Texas Ag Forum, scheduled April 10 at the Hilton Austin Airport, 9515 Hotel Drive, in Austin.

The event will bring together producers, commodity and farm organization leaders from across the state, said Dr. Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University and a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

“The 2014 Farm Bill significantly changed the farm program safety net,” he said. “The new law provides producers with a number of choices for both commodity programs and crop insurance. We will take the opportunity to discuss these changes and provide insight on how the new farm programs will work for Texas producers. In short, the conference will focus on what the impacts will be.”

The forum will feature presentations from policy makers, university experts and farm-group representatives. Presenters and topics are:

• Judith Canales, state executive director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency in Texas, “Implementing the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Outlaw, “Commodity Title Overview and Explaining the Crop Policy Decision Aid.”

• Bart Fischer, chief economist for the House Agriculture Committee, “An Insider’s Perspective on the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Dr. Patrick “Pat” Westhoff, director, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, University of Missouri-Columbia, “Sector Level Analysis of the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Dr. Doug Steele, director, AgriLife Extension, “Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Dr. D. Scott Brown, assistant research professor, department of agricultural and applied economics, University of Missouri-Columbia, “A Dairy Perspective on the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Dr. Gary Adams, vice president, economics and policy analysis, National Cotton Council, “Cotton and the 2014 Farm Bill.”

• Dr. Mechel S. “Mickey” Paggi, director of the Center for Agricultural Business in the department of agricultural economics, California State University-Fresno, “Fruits and Vegetables and the 2014 Farm Bill.”

Advanced registration is $125 through the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council, 1210 San Antonio St., Suite 101, Austin, Texas 78701. To register, call 512-450-0555 and ask for Gloria Johnson. Same-day registration is $150.

The Texas Ag Forum is as an association of agricultural leaders and representatives from across the Texas food and fiber system. It was founded more than 20 years ago to provide a forum for open and public discussion of the problems and emerging issues in agriculture. It is a stakeholder-driven program in partnership with AgriLife Extension.


Agricultural law blog serves as educational resource for Texas landowners, producers

Tiffany Dowell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist and agricultural law specialist in College Station, has seen her Texas Agriculture Law Blog continue to gain popularity due to timely topics addressing issues affecting landowners across the Lone Star State.

The law blog can be found online at http://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/ .  It features a number of different topics, including updates on current ag-related litigation and events, information about basic laws in Texas, and information on specific legal issues such as pipeline easements and leasing.

In January, the blog had more than 2,100 visitors. The source serves not only farmers and ranchers, but Texas landowners as well, she said.

Site visitors can access information online or sign up for email subscriptions receiving the latest information as soon as it’s posted to the site.

Dowell also incorporates questions she receives via email and telephone calls and, while respecting confidentiality, shares those questions and answers with readers.

Some of the most recent topics Dowell has addressed in the blog include:

• Underground trespassing.  Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could determine whether Texas recognizes underground trespassing. This case involved a  landowner drilling an injection well used to dispose of wastewater 1 mile underground, which then crossed over property lines to a rice farmer’s neighboring land. The case could have major impacts on the oil and gas industry and landowner rights. The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering the case and no decision has been issued.

• Interaction of rights between surface owners and mineral owners. Dowell has addressed what rights the surface owner has in the event the minerals have been leased and an oil company wants to drill on the land.

Other topics Dowell has previously addressed include eminent domain and water law.

“Water law continues to be a hot topic,” Dowell said. “This along with pasture leases is what I’ve been doing a lot of presentations on across the state.”

Prior to joining AgriLife Extension in 2013, Dowell was an associate attorney with the law firm of Peifer, Hanson and Mullins in Albuquerque, N.M. She received her law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law and bachelor of science in agribusiness from Oklahoma State University.


WUD Dairy Leader Program accepting applications until April 4

April 4, 2014 is the deadline to apply for Western United Dairymen's highly successful California Dairy Leaders Program. Designed to train the next generation of California's dairy leaders, the leadership program consists of several sessions devoted to developing a better understanding of the economic, legislative, marketing, and environmental issues facing the industry. Eligible participants must be ac-tively involved in milk production, be able to spend the necessary time in class, as well as studying resource materials, and be able to commit to visits to locations such as Sacramento and Washington DC. Visit WUD’s website: www.westernuniteddairymen.com to download an application packet.

The year-long program kicks off in the spring. Topics include environmental issues, the state and federal legislative process, dairy pricing and economics, biotechnological developments, marketing and promotion, and public relations skills. Participants will develop and enhance their leadership skills through communication, business etiquette, negotiation skills, time management, and team building work-shops. Instruction will be provided by recognized experts in their field.

Enrollment will be limited to ensure one-on-one instruction. Applications will also be accepted from individuals in allied industries. Only a single allied member may be selected for the program in any given year. The program enrollment fee and letters of recommendation are to be submitted with the application. Further information is available by contacting WUD at (209) 527-6453.


California: Spring Dairy Seminar to be held in Eureka

Humboldt/Del Norte County UC Cooperative Extension along with Western United Dairymen, NRCS and FSA, will hold a Spring Dairy Seminar on Monday, March 31 at the Humboldt County Agriculture Center. The event begins at 10:00 a.m. and includes brief information regarding disaster assistance and FSA loan program updates. Before concluding at noon, guests will also be provided with Water Board updates from Melissa Lema of WUD, and others. The program is offered free of charge to dairy producers in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

For questions or comments, contact Melissa Lema, WUD field rep, at 707-779-2214 or email wud.mlema@yahoo.com.


WUD: Maldonado calls for immigration reform

Former Lt. Governor and Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Abel Maldonado made an impassioned plea for immigration reform along with a warning about the disappearance of mid-size farming operation in his keynote remarks at WUD’s recent annual convention. Speaking not far from his family farming operation in Santa Maria, Maldonado, a Republican, chided congressional lawmakers for their inability to gain traction on immigration reform, stress-ing the need for temporary worker permits. “It’s embarrassing how they can’t come together on anything,” he said.

Maldonado pointed out that the Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill but the House leadership has refused to take action. “DC is completely broken,” he lamented. “Democrats and Republicans can come together to pass a bill in the Senate but the House is not holding up its end of the bargain. Shame on all of us!”

Maldonado explained how his father came to the U.S. from Mexico “to work, not to moan and complain. I have not seen anyone come over here just to get on social services. People come here for opportunity and to make a better life for their family.” Maldonado told the luncheon audience how he, as the eldest son of immigrant Mexican-American farm workers, helped his family run a small family farm, where they grew strawberries. After Maldonado graduated from Santa Maria High School, his family used their earnings from the farm to send him to Cal Poly, where he majored in Crop Science. He brought his college experience back to his family's farm and helped his family grow the half-acre strawberry farm into a 6,000-acre farm, employing 250 people, with produce shipped around the world. Maldonado stressed the importance of WUD members educating federal and state legislators. “When times are rough, it is important to kick it up a notch for your organization,” he said. “Bring legislators to the ranch. It is really important for you to educate these folks moving forward.”

Maldonado pointed out that he was a champion for the open-primary concept and that he believes it is having an impact. “When I introduced the open primary bill, I wanted to achieve three things – I wanted to attract candidates who were open-minded, reasonable and pragmatic. That is what’s lacking in Sacramento and DC – people who want to make tough decisions and move forward.” He said he remains optimistic that the open primary system will help boost moderate legislators.

He lamented the trend toward bigger and bigger farming operations. “The mid-sized grower doesn’t exist anymore. I want that mid-sized farmer who was there when I was growing my business. It seems like those small banks are not there anymore either,” he noted.

Maldonado was nominated by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November, 2009 as Lieutenant Governor to fill the vacancy created by John Garamendi's election to the United States House of Representatives. A State Senator from 2004 until his appointment as Lieutenant Governor, Maldonado ran unsuccessfully for California State Controller in 2006. He represented a swing district in the Senate and is considered a moderate. Prior to serving in the State Senate, Maldonado was a member of the California State Assembly and Mayor and City Councilmember of Santa Maria. Maldonado was defeated in the 2010 lieutenant governor election by Democrat Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and recently announced his withdrawal from the Governor’s race.


Arizona counties eligible for drought relief

Farmers and ranchers in 11 Arizona counties can seek USDA financial relief from the impact of the intense drought. With this federal designation, farm operators and ranchers in Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai counties – and neighboring counties of Cochise, Gila, Graham, LaPaz and Maricopa – are eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The other four counties – Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma – were eligible starting on Feb. 27.

“This announcement is great news for Arizona farmers. The extreme drought creates a host of issues for our agricultural partners including significant land damage and financial losses,” said Jack Peterson, Interim Director for the Arizona Department of Agriculture. “No matter what the weather forecast is, we have a significant hill to climb to emerge from this drought.”

With the disaster designation, the USDA found that agricultural production losses in the counties were sufficient to warrant federal assistance. Eligible farm operators in the affected areas have eight months to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the FSA, at which time the agency will determine whether damages and production losses are sufficient to warrant the funding.