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Agritourism enterprises have shown to benefit communities by connecting consumers with agriculture and help preserve farmland in rural and peri-urban communities. Shown here, a pumpkin patch where people can pick their own pumpkin as part of fall activities. Credit: Canva ProAgritourism enterprises have shown to benefit communities by connecting consumers with agriculture and help preserve farmland in rural and peri-urban communities. Shown here, a pumpkin patch where people can pick their own pumpkin as part of fall activities. Credit: Canva Pro

Apr 14

TSTA Weekly Update, 04/14/2022


 
Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
 
Member News
Registration is officially open for ASTA’s new Leadership Summit, June 25-29 in Indianapolis! Make plans now to send your team to a professional development, advocacy and training opportunity that will benefit your company and your industry for years to come.
For more information, including the latest schedule of events, visit the conference webpage.
 
In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.
 
 
The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!
 
4/14/2022 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!
 
If you have not paid your share of land rent, and other services, for the winter growouts please reimburse the association at your earliest convenience. Thank you! Should you need us to reissue an invoice please let us know.
 
 
 
News Bits
 
The USDA's Foreign Ag Service has reported another huge sale of corn to China.
 
This marks China's second recent purchase of more than 1 million tons of corn. Of that, nearly 750,000 tons is marked for delivery during the current marketing year. The balance is set for delivery during the 2022/2023 marketing year.
 
World food commodity prices made a significant leap in March to reach their highest levels ever, as war in the Black Sea region spread shocks through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.
 
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points in March, up 12.6 percent from February when it had already reached its highest level since its inception in 1990. The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a basket of commonly-traded food commodities. The latest level of the index was 33.6 percent higher than in March 2021.
 
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reports:
 
Washington - President Biden is expected to announce today that his administration will use existing authority to prevent drivers from losing access to lower-cost and lower-emission E15, a higher ethanol blend often marketed as Unleaded 88.
 
In response to the development, Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington released the following statement:
 
"Corn growers thank President Biden for ensuring drivers continue to have access to a lower-cost fuel choice and for acknowledging how renewable ethanol helps reduce prices, lower emissions and improve our nation's energy security. Farmers are proud to contribute to cleaner, less expensive fuel choices."
 
Editor's Note: Wow. Just wow. There are 175,000 gas stations in the US and less than 2500 of them sell E15 fuels. If the affect of this administration decision is measurable, in any way, shape, or form, we will express surprise and apologies for our cynicism.
 
Pumpkin production can benefit from conservation practices
Crop Science Society of America
by Susan V. Fisk
 
Pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) are a common vegetable crop sold at local pumpkin patches and farmers markets. They are also used in commercial production (like canned pumpkin). In 2019, the value of harvested pumpkin was worth $180 million.
 
Agritourism enterprises have shown to benefit communities by connecting consumers with agriculture and help preserve farmland in rural and peri-urban communities. Shown here, a pumpkin patch where people can pick their own pumpkin as part of fall activities. Credit: Canva Pro
 
In addition to the value of harvested pumpkins for commercial use (canned pumpkin, produce departments, etc.) pumpkins are also a staple crop in agritourism operations. In Kansas alone, there were 409 farms registered in the state in 2020. Agritourism enterprises have shown to benefits communities by connecting consumers with agriculture and helping preserve farmland in rural and peri-urban areas.
 
Vegetable crop production typically involves smaller acreages than agronomic production. However, farmers often rely on intensive cultivation of soil to prepare the seedbed for planting. Tilling also helps manage weeds.
 
Over time, extensive tillage can have negative effects on soil structure and microbial properties. Researchers in Kansas recently published a paper studying conservation practices for pumpkin production. The research was published in Soil Science Society of America Journal, a publication of the Soil Science Society of America.
 
A field planted with pumpkins grown in a cover crop system with cereal rye. Cover crops have proven environmental benefits, though many vegetable growers in the Midwest have been slower to adopt this conservation practice. A recent study showed soil health benefits with no reduction in yield. Credit: DeAnn R. Presley
 
According to researcher Peter Tomlinson, “no-till production methods have been widely adopted by agronomic (field corn, soybean, wheat, etc.) growers throughout the United States. However, no-till practices for vegetable production in the Central United States are relatively rare. Mid-Atlantic States such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland have adopted no-till practices for pumpkin and other large-seeded vegetable crops.”
 
The study compared growing pumpkins in a biannual tilled control system with annual tilled systems that used cover crops. “This project is designed to compare systems, rather than individual effects of cover crops or tillage,” says Tomlinson. The authors reported the effects of a three-year project on dynamic soil properties.
 
The annual systems used cover crops planted into the soil. They were terminated before planting the pumpkins. The team researched cereal rye and oat alone, as well as cereal rye with other cover crops mixed in. They performed the study over three growing seasons at two sites – Eastern and South-Central Kansas. Both sites have humid climates with warm summers, and loam-type soils.
 
At each of the study sites, soil health was assessed at two key times: plots were sampled 2-3 weeks after pumpkin planting, and immediately after pumpkin harvest.
 
The main soil physical property that was affected by management systems used in this study was an improvement in total soil aggregation and the presence of very large aggregates for the conservation management system (cover crop). Soil aggregates are small particles of soil held together with a glue-like substance. This is usually due to microbial activity. Soil aggregates help in the stability of the soil making it less prone to wind and water erosion.
 
“Adding cover crops and reducing tillage in a pumpkin production system can cause a measurable change in soil aggregation in a short period of time, two years in this study,” says Tomlinson.
 
“There were few instances where the species or mixture of species influenced the results,” he continues. “Rather, the presence of cover crops in the conservation systems appears to have a more dominant role. The significance of this work is that it demonstrated there can be measurable changes in some dynamic soil properties in the short term (two years). This is within a system that involves a reduction in tillage operations and the addition of cover crops.”
 
“We conclude that the use of less tillage and a cover crop in a conservation system is generally beneficial as compared to a conventional system. This study illustrates the potential for improving some soil health parameters in as little as two years,” says Tomlinson.
 
"Future research will focus on how the implementation of conservation system across a range of agricultural systems and time scales effect dynamic soil properties.”
Funding for this research was provided by NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant.
 
Editor's Note: We are always on the lookout for success stories concerning cover crops. Cover crops provide one the best opportunities for seed sales both basic and incremental. And cover crops represent sound technology!
The Philippines - Golden rice up for deployment
Philippine Rice Research Institute
 
Finally, a rice that is infused with vitamin A will soon be served on the tables of Filipino households.
 
After almost two decades of painstaking research and regulatory review, Golden Rice has fully satisfied all biosafety regulatory requirements in the Philippines.
 
The biosafety permit for commercial propagation issued in July 2021 was the final stage of regulatory approval, which means that Golden Rice may now be planted on farmer’s fields and be eaten by consumers once supply is available.
 
Golden Rice is just like our ordinary rice, but superior in the sense that it is enriched with beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A as needed. The beta-carotene compound gives this grain its yellow-orange or golden color, hence its name.
 
It is the first genetically engineered rice with nutritional benefit in the world, and the first in Asia to have been granted a biosafety permit for commercial propagation. The pilot-scale deployment of Golden Rice in the Philippines will open the door for the first direct community or public experience of Golden Rice in the world.
 
The Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has accelerated the Golden Rice seed production to ensure the availability of seed planting materials in the nearest time possible. Agriculture Secretary William Dar has instructed DA regional field offices, through Memorandum Order 19 series of 2022, to integrate Golden Rice into their seed production and distribution program, particularly to utilize their research experiment stations as seed production areas.
 
Following the recent approval of the varietal registration of Golden Rice by National Seed Industry Council (NSIC), the seeds of this vitamin A infused variety can now undergo certification by the Bureau of Plant Industry-National Seed Quality Control Services (BPI-NSQCS) to ensure that they are of high quality when distributed to the farmers.
 
DA-PhilRice and IRRI, together with its local government partners, aim to initially distribute Golden Rice in seven targeted provinces including the identified early planter provinces for expanded seed production. These provinces were identified based on several factors such as stunting rates, inclusion in the list of priority provinces of the National Nutrition Council’s Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), and rice production.
 
The Golden Rice deployment plan aims to ensure that there are enough Golden Rice seeds; farmers and consumers are willing to plant and eat it; and that the necessary policy support is in place to facilitate its integration in existing government programs that address malnutrition.
 
Together with our partners at all levels, we will gradually make available quality Golden Rice seeds through targeted seed production and stewardship. We will also continue to increase knowledge and positive receptivity to Golden Rice in the target communities through communication, education, and marketing. Policy advocacy activities will likewise be integrated at multiple levels.
 
All of these efforts will contribute toward preparing the target communities to own Golden Rice as a complementary intervention to increase vitamin A intake of at-risk populations in line with the food and nutrition security strategies of the DA.
 
Editor's Note: It is hard to identify a genetically modified crop that has has more press, both good and bad, than Golden Rice. Suffice to say it has been a very long journey from inception to the table. We hope and trust the technology lives up to its promise.
 
ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL COULD EXPAND WHEAT PRODUCTION DUE TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE
 
Blog by Joana Colussi and Gary Schnitkey, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois and Silvina Cabrini, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) - Argentina
 
The war in Ukraine is expected to expand wheat production in Argentina and Brazil, the primary wheat-producing nations in South America. Both nations will likely already increase wheat planting this season, which begins in May 2022.
 
The high price of wheat after a significant shock to agricultural commodity markets caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine is undoubtedly an incentive for increased planting of wheat in Argentina and Brazil, as well in the United States (see farmdoc daily March 29, 2022). However, high input prices, in particular the price of fertilizer, could partially offset the incentives for increased planting of wheat in South America.
 
Wheat: World Markets and Trade
Ukraine accounts for 10% of global wheat exports, and Russia 16% in the marketing year 2021/22, which began in July. The majority of Ukraine's exports are shipped in the first few months of the marketing year. The closure of Ukrainian ports is limiting additional exports. Meanwhile, India and Australia are expected to increase exports to record levels since both have record crops and competitive prices (USDA, 2022). Global export and import volumes for wheat in 2021 are reported for the principal wheat-producing countries in Figure 1.
 
Argentina is the primary South American producer and exporter of wheat, accounting for about 7% of the global exports. Brazil, in contrast, is a prominent importer, mainly from Argentina (75%), followed by the United States (10%), and 15% from Paraguay, Russia, Uruguay, and Canada. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has caused wheat supply and food security concerns for many major wheat importers that depend on Black Sea supplies. In this case, South American producers may increase supply to African countries. Argentina already has increased exports to Africa. Australia exports wheat to Southeast Asia, while Canada and the United States serve the European market.
 
EPA ANNOUNCES PLAN TO PROTECT ENDANGERED SPECIES AND SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Source: EPA news release
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first-ever comprehensive workplan to address the decades-old challenge of protecting endangered species from pesticides. The plan establishes four overall strategies and dozens of actions to adopt those protections while providing farmers, public health authorities, and others with access to pesticides.
 
"Today's workplan serves as the blueprint for how EPA will create an enduring path to meet its goals of protecting endangered species and providing all people with safe, affordable food and protection from pests," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "The workplan reflects EPA's collaboration with other federal agencies and commitment to listening to stakeholders about how they can work with the Agency to solve this longstanding challenge."
 
"The workplace announced today will allow us to better protect wildlife, imperiled species, and ecosystems" said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. "I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively across the federal government to better protect wildlife from extinction and minimize the impacts of pesticides."
 
"USDA appreciates the steps EPA is taking today. We are confident that EPA can streamline ESA consultations around pesticides in a way that continues to conserve wildlife while allowing farmers access to the tools they need to produce the food and fiber that all of us rely on," said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie.
 
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is eager to help EPA achieve its vision to protect federally listed threatened and endangered species while fulfilling its obligations related to authorizing the safe use of pesticides," said Martha Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director.
 
"NOAA supports the Environmental Protection Agency's ESA-FIFRA workplan and looks forward to continued collaboration with our interagency partners to ensure the protection of federally listed species and their habitats.
 
Implementation of this work plan will lead to a more consistent and timely regulatory process, and better outcomes for our species and our partners," said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.
 
EPA has an opportunity and an obligation to improve how it meets its duties under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it registers pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). For most of EPA's history, the Agency has met these duties for less than five percent of its FIFRA decisions. This has resulted in over 20 ESA lawsuits against the Agency, which have increased in frequency in recent years, creating uncertainty for farmers and other pesticide users, unnecessary expenses and inefficiencies for EPA, and delays in how EPA protects endangered species.
 
EPA currently has over 50 pesticide ingredients, covering over 1,000 pesticide products, with court-enforceable deadlines to comply with the ESA or in pending litigation alleging ESA violations. Completing this work will take EPA past 2040, yet the work represents less than five percent of all the FIFRA decisions in the next decade for which ESA obligations exist. This is an unsustainable and legally tenuous situation, in which EPA's schedule for meeting its ESA obligations has historically been determined through the courts. The workplan must provide a path for the Agency to meet those obligations on its own, thus protecting endangered species while supporting responsible pesticide use.
 
Today's workplan also sets a new vision for a successful ESA-FIFRA program that focuses on protecting species under the ESA, while minimizing regulatory impacts to pesticide users, supporting the development of safer technologies to control pests, completing timely FIFRA decisions, and collaborating with other agencies and stakeholders on implementing the plan.
 
The workplan describes four strategies and multiple actions to further the vision.
 
A key strategy is for EPA to meet its ESA obligations for all FIFRA actions that invoke ESA. Because EPA does not have the capacity or scientific processes in place to meet all these obligations immediately, it has identified the FIFRA actions that are the highest priority for fulfilling its ESA obligations. These include actions with court-enforceable deadlines and new registrations of conventional pesticides.
 
A second strategy is to improve approaches to identifying and requiring ESA protections, especially for species facing the greatest risk from pesticides.
A third strategy is to improve the efficiency and timeliness of the ESA consultation process for pesticides, in coordination with other federal agencies.
And the final strategy is to engage stakeholders more effectively, to better understand their pest control practices and implement species protection measures.
 
EPA needs the help of other federal agencies, state agencies, and stakeholders to implement these actions. Through the workplan, EPA is describing its future directions in the hope of collaborating with all these organizations on implementation. Over the coming months, EPA will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to identify opportunities for collaboration and will continue seeking input on more effective and efficient ways to meet its ESA obligations. The workplan is a living document that EPA will periodically revisit to incorporate lessons learned from implementation.
 
Editor's Note: Anyone who believes this new plan by the US EPA will "help" is delusional. If the goal is saving registrants money through a shorter litigation period then it "may" have merit but only because the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be more quickly utilized to cancel existing registrations or to prevent new ones. Please make no mistake, the current administration has, as its goal, the elimination of crop protection products and synthetic fertilizers and a reversion to organic, sustainable, restorative, agriculture production. The ESA has been the best, and most frequently employed, tactical tool used by environmental activists to eliminate products that contribute to the safest, most abundant and affordable, food the world has ever known. The ESA was never intended to be a pesticide elimination tool but that is, by far, its most popular use (rivaled only by real-estate development stagnation). Allowing the US EPA to meet ESA "obligations" without consultation with other agencies simply streamlines the process of cancelled tolerances and registrations and will make it much easier to prevent new product introduction. This is a power-play by EPA and characterizes "mission-creep" granting authority to the EPA that is was never intended to possess. Dealing with US Fish & Wildlife on ESA issues is an almost unbelievable burden but it sure beats dealing with EPA sole discretion.
 
 
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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.
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