Monthly Archives: February 2013

Rural Health Initiative

An interesting initiative in Wisconsin highlights both a potential problem concerning health insurance for dairy farmers as well as a possible solution.

The rural health initiative, a non-profit, has identified that just under 1/5 of dairy farm families in Wisconsin have no health insurance.

Equally of those who do, the health insurance coverage they have is fairly limited in many ways.

The issue of health provision on farms is much more complicated is then simply identifying risk as in a normal business or for a regular family.

The rural health initiative is a program designed to visit farms and farm families at their place of work and in a variety of ways help them to identify health risks, farm safety risks, to do various screenings to identify potential health risks, and to help educate farmers and their families on a wide range of medical and health issues.

For a detailed news and assessment on Fox News click here

To access the rural health initiative website click here

Value of USDA Census ?

The United States Department of Agriculture is saying that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the Census of agriculture that was distributed to farmers and ranchers approximately one month ago.

They are saying that 25% of the questionnaires have already been returned, and they are doing their best to deal with all the questions have arisen.

The questionnaires are due to be completed by February 4, and may be submitted either online or by regular mail.

It will be interesting to see how the USDA uses this information, and whether the final basis of assessment is one of real benefit to those who work in agriculture.

Full report click here

Anyone with questions about the census please click here

Tractors take over Sioux City

Advance warning of an event that could be mistaken for some type of futuristic Mad Max type film, in fact is an annual gathering or celebration of tractors.

June 23 will see approximately 500 tractors converging upon Sioux City, as a celebration of Iowa’s agricultural heritage.

This is an annual event, lasting about four days,  and is quite an amazing spectacle.

Full details click here

Oregon showing the way…………

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has recently undertaken a remarkably candid assessment of the problems and strengths that currently characterise  agriculture in the state of Oregon.

The intent of the report was primarily to compare Oregon with neighbouring states, with a view to understanding where it might be lacking, and as such would be able to demonstrate what could be done to make it better.

The main recommendations of the report are listed below, and a full copy of the report can be accessed by the link below the recommendations. Perhaps most important thing about the report, is the fact that the Department of agriculture was willing to honestly assess what the problems were in the first place.

The value of this is very much in the fact that if you demonstrate what a specific problem is then a solution or potential solutions tend to flow very  naturally from such an analysis. It makes it much harder to argue against implementing solutions, although politicians will always need to assess the viability of any such solution.

The report makes its recommendations as policy recommendations to politicians in Oregon, and those that can be implemented easily, will have much more weight attached to them.

Those that are more difficult to implement will nevertheless provide a long-term framework, that will serve a valuable purpose. The report also acts to serve as a model for other states, and for many other industries as a way of providing a solid basis for advancing recommendations of policy, but are rooted in a natural flow from an analysis of specific problems or areas that are lacking and can be improved.


Priority policy recommendations to the legislature, governor, and regulatory agencies

  1. Ensure access to irrigation water (statewide).
  2. Expand markets and increase sales locally, regionally, and internationally.
  3. Support truck transportation, but begin to maximize rail use, and barging and other water modes, to move product to market more efficiently.
  4. Provide relief from the high cost of inputs, including taxes, energy, and labor.
  5. Encourage management of natural resources in a way that enables farming while protecting water, soil, air, habitat, and endangered species.
  6. Support a land use system that protects farmland for farm use.
  7. Support high quality research and experiment and extension services that enable growers to diversify cropping and capitalize on unique geographic micro-climates and soils, and to remain competitive in a world market.
  8. Offer assistance for food processors—as key markets for growers—with technical and financial help to address wastewater permits that incorporate recycled, reclaimed, or reused water methods and technologies.
  9. Help growers meet new food safety standards that are becoming more stringent and costly.
  10. Help young or new farmers and transitional family farmers successfully become the next generation of aspiring producers.


Oregon Department of Agriculture – report into state of Oregon agriculture, click here

Not helping organic ……..

Interesting article on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website, explaining  why only sixteen states are able to apply for federal aid with regard to national organic certification programs, and why thirty four other states are not able to.


The federal aid comes via the Agricultural Management Assistance program (AMA) . This has more to do with the fiscal cliff than with any debate about organic farming, or any debate about federal aid, but does raise huge concerns about the future of organic farming for a simple reason.


Organic farming depends on trust and credibility to justify higher prices on produce to consumers. Key to that trust is certification of  organic produce. Anyone can pretty much use the word organic to mean what tehy want.


For proper organic farming, it is essential to have national standards of certification, that everyone can judge produce and farming accordingly. This is now less likely……


Read full article here

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition  website here

Agricultural Management Assistance program here