Agricultural News Briefs

Staff Reports

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Proposed FY 2018 Budget

(Washington, D.C., May 23, 2017) – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement on the proposed FY 2018 budget:

“President Trump promised he would realign government spending, attempt to eliminate duplication or redundancy, and see that all government agencies are efficiently delivering services to the taxpayers of America. And that’s exactly what we are going to do at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Having been the governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011 – not during the best economic times – we did what it took to get the job done, just like the people involved in every aspect of American agriculture do every single day. While the President’s budget fully funds nutrition programs, wildland fire suppression and food safety, and includes several new initiatives and increases for Rural Development, whatever form the final budget takes, it is my job as Secretary of Agriculture to manage and implement that plan, while still fulfilling the core mission of USDA,” said Secretary Perdue.

Both Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss

CARY, N.C. (AgPR) May 15, 2017 – The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. The first challenge weather can present to N applications is preventing farmers from getting into the field to make pre-plant, topdress or sidedress applications. Applications in wet conditions can lead to soil compaction, so many times N applications are delayed or are not made at the ideal times.

“Ideal conditions to apply N would be spoon feeding it during the growing season, just before the plant needs it,” says Ben Hushon, general manager of The Mill, which provides custom blending of liquid or dry fertilizers as well as custom application services to farmers in six counties along the Maryland and Pennsylvania line. “Because it’s ideal to apply N when the plant needs it, we support split applications, following a pre-plant application with one or two applications during the growing season. Sometimes this can cause challenges. If weather prevents you from making the last application, your crop is left short of the N it needs.”

Farmers should make sidedress and topdress N applications at about the V6 to V8 growth stages, before the canopy closes in most of the Corn Belt, says Darin Lickfeldt, Ph.D., senior technical development manager for Verdesian Life Sciences. After farmers apply their N, it can be at risk for loss in both wet and dry conditions.

“Farmers should take steps to protect their applied N from loss to the environment,” says Lickfeldt. “If it ends up being dry, farmers could lose their applied N to volatilization; if it ends up wet, you could lose N to denitrification; and if you have water moving through the soil, you could lose N to leaching.”

Much of the Corn Belt is still dealing with saturated and wet conditions this spring, with higher than normal rainfall up to 300 percent above the monthly average in some parts of the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service, leading to concerns about pre-plant N applications being susceptible to loss via denitrification or leaching. Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin are among the states most affected by saturated soils and high moisture levels.

“In high moisture conditions, you certainly have higher chances of the applied N getting diluted and potentially moving into the environment with the water,” says Hushon.

Even if farmers have favorable conditions and are able to apply their N, that doesn’t mean there’s no danger of loss. For example, farmers could apply in-season N and, if the weather turns dry, that applied N can be susceptible to loss via volatilization.

“If you apply untreated N and there is a prolonged period of two or three weeks with less than a half inch of rain, you can lose up to 25 percent to 50 percent of your applied N to volatilization,” says Hushon. “Soil type and soil moisture play a role in susceptibility to volatilization, and the form of N matters, as urea is more volatile than liquid urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), and ammonium sulfate is extremely stable.”

Farmers should do all they can to protect their applied N from being lost to the environment. This includes practicing the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship, applying the right product at the right rate at the right time and in the right place. But sometimes even when farmers follow the 4Rs, conditions conducive to N loss may occur, and farmers may need to include a nitrogen fertilizer manager or stabilizer. Hushon says it takes a premium product to protect N from all three forms of loss, which is why The Mill uses NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager from Verdesian. Hushon says when farmers started paying more attention to yield monitors, they could tell right up to the individual row if they ran out of NutriSphere-N while applying N. But, says Hushon, increased performance is not the only benefit to his farmers.

“We have proven through both on-farm and replicated trials that we can reduce the amount of N we put down on corn and get as good or better yield results,” says Hushon. “To be able to tell a farmer in the Chesapeake Bay area that 180 units of N can provide just as good, and possibly better, results than 200 units and reduce the environmental impact is a big deal in this neighborhood.”

Over 500 trials have been conducted on NutriSphere-N use on corn and have shown more than a 90 percent positive yield response over the control. NutriSphere-N has been commercialized for more than 10 years and has been used on more than 46 million acres. The product is available in formulations that can be used on granular urea, liquid UAN and anhydrous ammonia.

To learn more about NutriSphere-N and other products and technologies from Verdesian visit

USDA Certifies Another Rural Business Investment Fund

Fund to Help Capitalize Small Rural Businesses

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2017 – Acting Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning announced that USDA has certified the Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV LP as an investment pool for small and startup rural businesses.

“This certification is another tool USDA provides to help rural businesses, to create jobs and to attract private-sector capital to rural communities,” Glendenning said. “Geography should not be a barrier to economic success. This pool will offer rural business owners the same access to capital as their counterparts in metropolitan areas.”

The fund will support 30 to 45 companies that have the potential to generate more than $200 million in economic activity and create 600 jobs. It will provide capital for high-growth companies in the biosciences, technology and agricultural technology industries. The fund is the second USDA has certified under the Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). RBIP funds support USDA’s strategy for rural economic growth.

For a fund to receive USDA certification, its managers must demonstrate that they have venture capital experience and that they have successfully worked with community development organizations.

The Ag Innovation Fund is being managed by Innova Memphis RBIC, LLC. Innova has three other funds that are not part of the Rural Business Investment Program. Those three funds collectively have invested $20 million in 75 startup companies, attracted $90 million of outside capital and created approximately 250 jobs.

Farm Credit System members are contributing $31 million to the Ag Innovation Fund. The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of banks and lenders specifically chartered to serve agriculture and the U.S. rural economy.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

Ohio Applicator Forecast and Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program will help all Ohioans work to improve water quality

REYNOLDSBURG (May 18, 2017) – The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has introduced two new nutrient management tools. The Ohio Applicator Forecast is a new online tool designed to help nutrient applicators identify times when the potential nutrient loss from a fertilizer or manure application is low. The Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program is a pilot certification for farmers who protect farmland and natural resources by implementing best management practices on their farms. ODA announced these developments at an event at Drewes Farms in Custar, Ohio on May 17th, 2017.

“ODA firmly believes science and technology must be at the forefront of all water quality issues and these new and innovative tools are impactful steps that will merge the ideas of precision farming and precision conservation,” said ODA Director David T. Daniels. “The agricultural community continues to take the necessary steps to maintain agricultural productivity, while protecting our natural resources and reducing nutrient runoff to improve water quality in Lake Erie and surrounding waterways.”

The Ohio Applicator Forecast takes data from the National Weather Service, predicting potential for runoff to occur in a given area. The forecast takes snow accumulation and melt, soil moisture content and forecast precipitation and temperatures into account, giving farmers substantial information when they are making nutrient application decisions.

“The National Weather Service is excited to work with Ohio in their efforts to help farmers reduce nutrient runoff across the Midwest,” said Brian Astifan, the Development and Operations Hydrologist with the National Weather Service Ohio River Forecast Center in Wilmington, Ohio. “We believe Ohio’s partnership with several federal agencies and educational institutions to develop this decision-support tool will benefit farmers and ultimately work towards improving Ohio’s water quality.”

The Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program will certify farmers in targeted watersheds in Henry and Wood counties who apply and meet criteria developed by ODA’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Criteria for the certification include developed nutrient management plans, accurate soil tests and documented best management practices, among others. The program will begin as a pilot with an intention to expand the program to all of Ohio.

“We are excited to be one of the first farms in Ohio to prove our commitment to improving water quality through this verification program,” said Tyler Drewes of Drewes Farms. “Farming as many acres as we do in the Western Lake Erie Basin region, we know we play a very important role in the long-term improvement of the lake’s water quality. We want to be part of the solution and this program will help farmers toward that goal.”

ODA will continue to reach out to farmers and applicators in the coming months to make them aware of these new and beneficial tools. Those interested in applying for the Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program can visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to find out how to become involved. For the Ohio Applicator Forecast, individuals can visit

Secretary Perdue Statement on Administration’s Intent to Renegotiate NAFTA

Washington, D.C., May 18, 2017 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It’s why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture. As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it,” said Secretary Perdue.


Secretary Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA, a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. The new undersecretary will work hand in hand with Commerce and the USTR and help open up even more markets to American products.

Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole. U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20 percent of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity. Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs across the entire American economy. As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive every day, the United States must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.

Delaware-area Tractor Supply’s Spring Paper Clover Helps Raise $825,000 for 4-H Youth

Donations send next generation of OH leaders to local, national summer camps and conferences

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (May 22, 2017) – 4-H youth from across OH will have countless opportunities to learn valuable life skills this summer, thanks to more than $825,000 donated by Tractor Supply Company customers earlier this year.

Between Apr. 26 and May 7, Delaware-area Tractor Supply stores hosted a Paper Clover fundraiser to help send thousands of 4-H youth to county-level development programs, camps and leadership conferences. Awarded as scholarships, the money will enable individual 4-H members to learn everything from science and technology to fishing and horseback riding.

“The value of our partnership with National 4-H Council is never more clear than during the Paper Clover Campaign,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president of marketing at Tractor Supply Company. “Our dedicated team members and loyal customers continue to show outstanding support for 4-H programs that teach children life skills in science, healthy living and citizenship empowering them to thrive today and tomorrow.”

2017 marks the eighth consecutive year of the semi-annual Paper Clover Campaign. The partnership between Tractor Supply and National 4-H Council has generated more than $11 million in essential funding over its history, due in large part to the commitment of 4-H groups. This year, individual 4-H Clubs greeted customers at stores and held their own promotions, including greenhouse sales, 4-H alumni events and social media challenges.

“So many Tractor Supply customers have a true passion for 4-H and want to help our country’s next generation of leaders gain the skills they need to succeed,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4-H Council. “By emphasizing individual development and group dynamics through hands-on learning and team challenges, 4-H youth programs can do just that.”

The Paper Clover Campaign will return to OH Tractor Supply Company stores this fall, from October 4-15, 2017. Customers can participate in the 2017 Fall Paper Clover Campaign by purchasing paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout.

For more information on the program, visit

About Tractor Supply Company

Founded in 1938, Tractor Supply Company is the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States. At April 1, 2017, the Company operated 1,617 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website at Tractor Supply stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. Stores are located primarily in towns outlying major metropolitan markets and in rural communities. The Company offers the following comprehensive selection of merchandise: (1) equine, livestock, pet and small animal products, including items necessary for their health, care, growth and containment; (2) hardware, truck, towing and tool products; (3) seasonal products, including heating, lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts and toys; (4) work/recreational clothing and footwear; and (5) maintenance products for agricultural and rural use.

Tractor Supply Company also owns and operates Petsense, a small-box pet specialty supply retailer focused on meeting the needs of pet owners, primarily in small and mid-size communities, and offering a variety of pet products and services. At April 1, 2017, the Company operated 152 Petsense stores in 26 states. For more information on Petsense, visit

About 4-H

4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. Learn more about 4-H at

Staff Reports