The past few months have been a challenge for Virginia’s farmers, the agriculture industry, and our society as a whole. We have been asked to self-isolate, to make sacrifices for the greater good, and above all else, continue farming and providing the food, fiber, and resources our country relies on. Farmers are known for their self-reliance, but this pandemic has stressed even the most resilient facets of our industry, and we have looked to the government for their assistance in the form of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Planting season is well underway in the Commonwealth and many are already cutting hay. We always ask the public to be mindful of the increased traffic of agricultural equipment on the roadways during planting and harvest season. It’s important for both farmers and nonfarmers to be aware of how to give proper signals when you don’t have electronic signaling devices on the equipment being driven. Many of us might be racing against the weather to get the chore done, but we still need to let others on the road know when we are turning, slowing down, or stopping.
Check out this week’s Merchandiser Minute.
Beaver dam debris clogged the spillway pipe in Stephen Goforth’s ranch pond near Chelsea, Okla., causing 5 feet of water to accumulate over it.
To drain the flood, the 61-year-old rancher had to physically unclog the 2½-foot-diameter pipe. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol report said Goforth was standing in the pond, working with his feet to clear the debris.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released import and export data for March 2020 on May 5, offering a first look at the state of agricultural trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus began to influence world markets in March, the disruption resulted in the U.S. having a negative agriculture trade balance of $501 million. In total, the U.S. exported $11.8 billion in agricultural goods and imported $12.3 billion in March.
Check out this week’s Merchandiser Minute!
The story of how the U.S. copes with the coronavirus pandemic is in its early chapters, as Virginia’s agricultural producers hold out for a happier ending.
A recently released report from the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics provides an overview of the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptions to the national food supply chain and Virginia agriculture. The overall analysis is ominous, with a few bright spots.
Virginia farmers expect to harvest 11.7 million bushels of winter wheat during 2020 according to the Virginia Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The expected crop for 2020 would be up 80% from the previous year. Farmers seeded 260,000 acres last fall with 180,000 acres to be harvested for grain. Based on crop conditions as of May 1 and assuming a normal growing season, farmers expect a yield of 65.0 bushels per acre, up 3.0 bushels from 2019. Acres for other uses totaled 80,000 acres and will be used as cover crop or cut as silage or hay.
As of May 10, winter wheat overall was in mostly good condition with farmers currently planting crops and cutting hay. Eighty-six percent of the crop was headed compared to 69% at this time last year and 68% for the five-year average.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) will host a webinar on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1 p.m. ET, for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
This webinar is an opportunity for producers to learn about the general application process and required documentation prior to the official beginning of signup. Producers interested in participating may register in advance for webinar at https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_SPWI7yOFSqaGG1JKzhEbjA.
USDA is hosting this webinar to share what information is needed to apply for direct payments through CFAP, once the application period begins. Producers who are new to participating in FSA programs are especially encouraged to join the webinar. More details about CFAP direct payments will be announced soon. Participants are encouraged to submit questions through the Q&A box or by emailing CFAP.email@example.com. Answers will be posted after the webinar atfarmers.gov/CFAP.
A recording of the webinar, the answers to its questions, and other CFAP information can be found at farmers.gov/CFAP.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are addressing challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $145,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Farm Bureau Bank.