Weekly ag briefs: Federal aid for losses from cold, updates on water and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
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Federal resources aid losses due to Arctic cold

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by recent winter storms of several programs that provide financial assistance. USDA staffers in regional, state and county offices offer a variety of programs with the flexibility to assist residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities as they recover from severe weather, according to USDA. Those programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish that reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or by loss of feed.

AFBF wants program deadline extension

The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking USDA to extend the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In January, an additional $13 billion in assistance was made available to help farmers and ranchers suffering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current deadline to apply was set for Friday, February 26, but recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments has led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process, AFBF says.

Webinar to cover stream water management tools

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Ag Water Network is offering a free water education webinar on March 10 at 12 noon. Featured presenters are Gretchen Rank, executive director of the Mancos Conservation District and Dave Kanzer, deputy chief engineer for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Attendees will learn about multi-benefit irrigation infrastructure projects implemented in the watersheds of the Mancos River and the North Fork of the Gunnison, as well as learn about improvements that can be installed, such as in-stream diversions, head gates and screens, flow measurement and ditch lining and piping.

More headaches loom for Colorado River

A new study from Utah State University suggests Arizona and two other Lower Colorado River Basin states, California and Nevada, might have to reduce water use from Lake Mead by 40 percent by 2050. The study also concludes the four Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — need to dramatically scale back or kill plans to divert more water from the already depleted river, according to reporting by Tucson.com and redistributed by Water Education Colorado. The study comes as the seven states in the Colorado River Basin prepare for a series of negotiations over new operating guidelines that would take effect in 2026.

Change ahead at State Vet’s Office

Colorado State Veterinarian Keith Roehr has announced his plans to retire on May 1. He first joined the Colorado Department of Agriculture in March of 1995, after working in private veterinary practice for 14 years. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine from Kansas State University in 1981 and served on many animal health related committees, boards and initiatives in the years since.

Second plains water summit tackles tough questions

Ogallala Water Project director and Colorado State University cropping specialist Meagan Schipanski welcomed a diverse group of participants to the second Ogallala Aquifer Summit on Wednesday. Panelists shared information about projects across the 8-state region, including the Colorado Master Irrigator program currently underway in the Republican River District. Several interactive workshops convened to discuss the social, economic, and policy-driven factors that hinder adaptation and action on water issues, strategies and opportunities that could be replicated or adapted to make a difference in meeting those challenges, and ideas for supporting and mobilizing younger generations as they take on the mantle of economic and resource stewardship. The two-day summit concluded Thursday.

Cattle feeders recognized

The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame has announced its 2021 inductees. They include Steve Gabel, founder of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colorado, and Johnny Trotter, president and CEO of Bar-G Feedyard in Hereford, Texas. Gary Smith, visiting professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University and formerly a distinguished professor of meat science at Colorado State University, is the recipient of the Leadership Award. George Eckert of Green Plains Cattle Company in Leoti, Kansas, and Gaspar Martinez of Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, California, were named Service Award winners. The winners will all be recognized at an annual banquet to be held Aug. 9 in conjunction with the cattle industry convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Organic interests represented at virtual DC fly-in

Organic agriculture representatives met with lawmakers this week as part of a virtual fly-in hosted by the Organic Trade Association. More than 20 organic producers from a dozen states voiced their concerns, which included calls to insure continuous improvement and accountability in organic standards. Industry advocates also expressed the need for increased funding for organic research, the need to provide organic farmers, businesses and workers with adequate support and protection to help deal with COVID-19, and restoration of full funding to help organic farmers cover certification fees. The industry also seeks additional investment in federal programs to help support farmers who want to transition to organic production.

New ag law degree offered

Purdue University's Department of Agricultural Economics and Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law have joined forces to create the first MJ-MS agricultural economics and law program in the nation. Students who complete the program will receive a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and Master of Jurisprudence from IU. The MS in agricultural economics consists primarily of online courses with three required periods of in-person residency. The MJ degree program will be taught through evening, online and hybrid courses. Both programs are now accepting applications.