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Report finds U.S. food supply safe from pesticide residues

WILLMAR -- The recently released results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2010 Pesticide Data Program annual summary confirmed that the U.S. food supply does not pose a safety concern based on pesticide residue.

Each year, USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2010, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, oats, eggs, catfish, baby food, groundwater, and treated and untreated drinking water.

The 2010 report did show that in 0.25 percent of the samples tested, residue levels exceeded the established tolerances set by the EPA. However, similar to findings of previous years, the 2010 report showed that overall pesticide residues found on the foods tested are well below the tolerance levels.

Included for the first time in the 2010 report were sample results for baby food, which found no residues that exceeded tolerance levels.

In May of 1991, USDA initiated the Pesticide Data Program to test commodities in the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues. Since passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, one of the program's focuses has been on testing foods that are most likely consumed by infants and children.

Since its inception, the program has tested 105 commodities including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, grains, catfish, rice, specialty products and water.

Farm Service Agency accepting nominations for committees

Local Farm Service Agency offices are now accepting nominations of candidates for the 2012 county committee election. Eligible voters can nominate, by petition, candidates of their choice. Producers may also nominate themselves.

Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving as county committee members. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by local agricultural producers.

Committee members make important decisions regarding the local administration of commodity and price support programs, including eligibility for several conservation and disaster assistance programs.

Under the election process, each county is divided into election districts known as local administrative areas. Each area has one representative serving on the county committee.

The terms of county committee members are staggered, and only one local administrative area conducts an election each year. Your local FSA office will announce which area has an election this year.

To be eligible to serve on the county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by the local Farm Service Agency office. In addition, the candidate must be of legal voting age and considered an eligible voter in the area that will be holding an election.

According to the election requirements, a county committee member cannot serve more than three consecutive three-year terms.

Spouses listed on a property deed are eligible to vote, and therefore may also qualify as candidates for the county committee.

Since the Farm Service Agency is committed to promoting diversity on its local county committees, nominations of individuals that represent minorities and other under-represented agricultural producers, including women, are being encouraged.

To become a nominee, eligible individuals must complete and sign the required nomination form, which can be obtained from any FSA office, or online at

Deadline for nominations is Aug. 1. Election ballots will be mailed by Nov. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates will begin serving a three-year term on Jan. 1.

Dairy producers to receive April payments

Due to the combination of unusually high feeding costs and lower milk prices, dairy producers will qualify for payments under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Milk Income Loss Contract program for milk produced and sold during the month of April.

The Milk Income Loss Contract program provides monthly financial assistance whenever the Boston Class I milk price falls below the payment trigger price of $16.94 per hundredweight. In that case, dairy producers qualify for a payment rate equal to 45 percent of the price difference.

Under the provisions of the 2008 farm bill, the $16.94 trigger price is adjusted upward whenever the monthly national average cost for a 16 percent protein feed ration is greater than $7.35 per hundredweight.

According to USDA, feeding costs for the month of April warranted an upward adjustment of the $16.94 trigger price to $21.60, resulting in a final payment rate of approximately $1.21 per hundredweight.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the average price received by Minnesota dairy producers during April was $17.80 per hundredweight, down $0.20 from the March average price. Last April, Minnesota's average milk price was $19.10 per hundredweight.

Based on milk futures prices and projected feeding costs, it appears likely that dairy producers will continue to qualify for Milk Income Loss Contract program payments for milk produced and sold through the month of September, when the program expires.

Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.