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Pesticide collection program collected 18 tons of waste pesticide in 2012

WILLMAR — Through its Waste Pesticide Collection Program, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture safely disposed of more than 18 tons of unwanted, unusable or out-of-date pesticides in 2012.

By Wes Nelson

Farm Service Agency executive director

WILLMAR — Through its Waste Pesticide Collection Program, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture safely disposed of more than 18 tons of unwanted, unusable or out-of-date pesticides in 2012.

During the summer of 2012, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture worked with local officials to organize a series of collection events that were offered in 35 counties around the state.

In addition to the 18 tons of agricultural waste pesticides, the collection events also collected more than 103 tons of household waste pesticides.

The collection events are offered free of charge and typically attract a wide range of people, including farmers, ag chemical dealerships, golf course workers, nursery and garden center staff, and homeowners.

Under an agreement with most Minnesota counties, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture pays for the transportation, disposal and other costs related to the collection events. The program is funded by a surcharge paid by pesticide registrants.

Since 1990, the Waste Pesticide Collection Program has managed and disposed of more than 2,500 tons of waste pesticide.

The removal of unwanted pesticides helps protect the environment and human health, and limits the risk of accidental release of product into the environment through aging product bags or storage containers.

To learn more about the program, and to determine if your county accepts waste pesticides through its household hazardous waste program, call your local solid waste management office.

USDA changes release time of several key reports

Beginning in January, the release time of several key U.S. Department of Agriculture reports will change from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. central time. The reports affected include: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates; Crop Production; Grain Stocks; Prospective Plantings; and Small Grains Summary. The release time for USDA’s livestock reports will remain at 2 p.m. central time.   

The reasons for changing the release time was to provide greater liquidity in the markets, allow greater access to the reports during working hours and still provide all interested parties with equal access to USDA’s data.

Last summer, USDA requested public comments regarding the proposed change in release time, which was largely in response to changes in market hours by major commodity exchanges. A total of 147 comments were received during the public comment period.

Environmental Quality Incentives sign-up period ends Jan. 18

Initially authorized by the 1996 farm bill, and then reauthorized under the 2008 farm bill, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides technical assistance, cost-share payments and incentive payments to crop, livestock and other agricultural producers who make environmental and conservation improvements to their farming operation.

Applications for the program are accepted continuously at local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, applications received by Jan. 18 will be the first to be considered for the $23.7 million in funding that Minnesota has been allocated for the 2013 fiscal year.

Producers can receive funding to help defray the cost of installing a variety of long-term practices that help reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, conserve energy and reduce water usage. Some common examples include reduced tillage practices, water and sediment control structures, filter strips, rotational grazing systems and converting to low-pressure irrigation systems.

Producers who adopt new farming practices that provide conservation and environmental benefits may qualify for special incentive payments. For example, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers special incentives to help producers install conservation practices on certified organic operations, including those working toward organic certification.

Other special incentives are being offered for an on-farm energy initiative to help farmers conserve energy, and a seasonal high-tunnel initiative that can assist with the installation of high tunnels designed to extend the growing season in cold weather climates, increase productivity, and conserve water and energy.

Scholarships available for specialty crop growers and organic producers

Minnesota specialty crop growers, and crop or dairy farmers who are transitioning to organic production, can apply for scholarships to help offset the cost of receiving farm business management education.

The scholarships will be awarded to qualifying farmers who enroll in the farm business management education programs offered by the Minnesota State College and University system, which has more than 70 instructors located throughout the state.

Farmers participating in the farm business management program work one on one with management instructors, learning to keep and use quality records to make sound business management decisions.

Participants will also help University of Minnesota researchers increase their knowledge and understanding regarding the economics of specialty crops and the organic transition process.

Minnesota farmers eligible for the scholarships include organic and conventional producers of fresh market apples, berries, grapes, pumpkins, vegetables and sweet corn.

Also eligible are crop and dairy producers who are actively transitioning to organic production, or who have been certified for fewer than three years.

To learn more, including how to apply for a scholarship, contact a local farm business management instructor or call Meg Moynihan at 651-201-6616.

Scholarship funds are provided by USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

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