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AGFLEX NEWS ARCHIVE

Participate in the AGFLEX 2006 Research Program
Farmers, crop advisors, fertilizer dealers, state and federal agencies, watershed stewardship groups and others are invited to participate in AGFLEX's ongoing research to support nutrient Best Management Practice (BMP) adoption.  To date, AGFLEX programs have helped to achieve a 24% reduction in nutrient application rates to corn crops in four states.

AGFLEX is also conducting research on increasing corn rootworm IPM adoption by providing a guaranteed treatment recommendation, based on scouting results.

A conservation tillage performance guaranty is also being tested for the first time this coming season.  Try reduced tillage practices on your own farm - without risk of yield loss.

AGFLEX is seeking corn farmers and those working with corn farmers to expand its research program to additional states and acres.  Contact AGFLEX for further details.

Agflex Partners on USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Project
September 16, 2004 - Agflex is a partner on a project grant awarded to American Farmland Trust's Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center.  The project, Guaranteed Performance of Nutrient and Tillage Best Management Practices, seeks to increase adoption of stewardship measures by reducing economic risk for participating farmers. A significant obstacle to inducing producer adoption of best management practices is the possibility that, in the short-term, such practices may reduce production yields. The purpose of this project is to test and evaluate the performance of an innovative, market-based, performance guarantee approach that increases producer adoption rates by removing economic risk as a barrier.

Corn Rootworm IPM Guaranty Project Underway in Wisconsin and Illinois
April 7, 2004 - Northern and western corn rootworms (CRW) are important insect pests of corn throughout the corn belt. Approximately 50 percent of continuous corn acres are treated with soil insecticide for control of CRW larvae. Many of these applications could be avoided with the use of crop scouting and IPM treatment thresholds. 

Farmers and crop advisors can be reluctant to scout and leave below-threshold fields untreated due to the risk that yields and income may suffer if something goes wrong. Agren, Inc., a consulting firm located in Carroll, Iowa, has won an EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship grant to test a guarantee on the “no-treat” recommendation in fields that scout below threshold. The guarantee provides compensation to farmers if damage exceeds acceptable levels. The goal is to increase adoption of corn rootworm scouting by protecting farmers from economic risk.

The project will establish “check,” or comparison strips on participating fields. These check strips will receive a soil insecticide or Yieldgard® Rootworm variety. The balance of the field will not be treated for rootworm. Rootworm feeding damage, lodging and yield at harvest will be compared between the check strip and the untreated portion of the field.

The project has enrolled acres in Wisconsin and Illinois that were scouted in 2003 and found to be below threshold. Project collaborators expect to recruit additional acres for scouting during the 2004 season.

This project follows two years of successful testing of a corn nutrient Best Management Practice, or BMP, guarantee that protects corn farmers from yield and income loss when they follow University-recommended fertilizer application rates. Participating farmers in four states have reduced fertilizer use by 24%.

For more information, contact Thomas Green, Ph.D., President, Agflex Inc., (608) 232-1528.

AGFLEX Featured in Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
November, 2003.  AGFLEX's unique programs to support farmer adoption of nutrient BMPs were featured in an article by Susan Campbell.  "insuring Best Management Practices" appears on pages 116-117A in the November-December issue.  For more information about the journal, see http://www.swcs.org/t_pubs_journal.htm.

AGFLEX Program Highlighted in American Farmland
November, 2003.  American Farmland Trust (AFT), publisher of American Farmland, is a founding partner in AGFLEX and highlights the development of the BMP risk management effort on pages 7-8 in the Winter 2004 issue.  "Clean Water AND Higher Profits on America's Farms" reports on the development of the Nutrient BMP Endorsement and related programs by AFT's Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center.  For more information on the publication, see http://www.farmland.org/magazine/index.htm

Tri-State Project Hires Nutrient Insurance Education Coordinator

October 2003.  Paul Brietzke was recently hired to lead the educational efforts associated with a Cooperative Agreement with the USDA Risk Management Agency.  This Cooperative Agreement will enable educational efforts for a new crop insurance endorsement recently approved by USDA-Risk Management Agency.  This endorsement will allow farmers to insure their corn production by adhering to University recommendations and following Best Management Practices.  This innovative insurance program has potential to assist farmers in adopting more conservative nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer rates by minimizing many of the financial risks incurred during the learning process. For the past 6 years, Paul has been an independent agronomist specializing in developing nutrient management plans for dairy farmers in southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin. He also served as an Outreach Coordinator for the Whitewater River Watershed Project.

During the past summer, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff authored and successfully obtained the grant to launch an educational campaign on Nutrient Insurance in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. These three states, along with Pennsylvania, will serve as pilot states for the next 3-4 years. Grant funds and the coordinator position will be administered by the Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) which is located in Rochester, Minnesota

Paul will work closely with an Advisory Board represented by a large number of cooperators including the following:
* Four state agricultural agencies (Iowa Department of Natural Resources, WI DNR, WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the MN Department of Agriculture);
* National Crop Insurance Services (Overland, Kansas);
* Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center (Columbus, OH);
* Agren, Inc (Carroll, IA) and Agflex (Madison, WI);
* Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota;
* Discovery Farms and the University of Wisconsin;
* Minnesota Corn Growers Association; and
* USDA National Soil Tilth Laboratories.

Paul can be reached by e-mail at paul@fflax.net.

 

AGFLEX REQUESTS WITHDRAWAL OF PROPOSED CHANGES TO ENDORSEMENT

October 18, 2002.  Agflex's proposed changes to the Endorsement have received mixed support from reviewers.  Agflex and co-submitter ACIC-AFT have requested that the proposal be withdrawn in the interest of finalizing the product for the 2003 season.

 

FCIC BOARD SENDS PROPOSED CHANGES TO NUTRIENT-BMP ENDORSEMENT TO OUTSIDE REVIEW

August 12, 2002.  Agflex's proposed changes to the Endorsement have been sent to outside expert review by the FCIC board.  Reviewer comments are expected by September 23.

 

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT
Nutrient Insurance Policy Educational Program seeks Coordinator

LOCATION:
This position will work in the main corn producing counties of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa with the primary focus on groundwater sensitive regions of each state. Location will be flexible with potential facilities at the Hiawatha Valley ( Rochester , MN ), Southwest Badger ( Platteville , WI ), or Northeast Iowa ( Postville , IA ) Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) offices. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work out of the home for most daily activities provided reasonable space accommodations, location, and mutual agreement with the RC&D.

GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES:
Coordinator will be responsible for: 1) Organizing training, locating speakers, sponsors, and hosts; 2) Building partnerships; and 3) Delivery of educational programs related to Nutrient Insurance. Audiences will include farmers, crop retailers, crop consultants, state and federal agency staff, insurance agents, and community water suppliers. This policy is offered as a pilot project through USDA-Risk Management for the 2003 cropping season. Nutrient insurance is a risk management tool that could potentially assist farmers in reducing fertilizer costs through the adoption of university fertilizer recommendations and associated BMPs.

The Coordinator is accountable for programmatic purposes to the Advisory Board which will be established to direct the USDA-RMA agreement. The Board, chaired by the RC&D, will consist of three representatives from each state and will have representation from state agencies, USDA-RMA, Extension, private industry, and agricultural commodity groups. The position is accountable for administrative purposes to the Hiawatha Valley RC&D.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Bachelor's degree required, Master's degree highly preferred, with at least five years of experience specifically related to agricultural education and multi-agency collaboration;
  • Advanced experience in agronomy, crop production, agricultural impacts on water quality, BMP effectiveness, and possesses the ability to work cooperatively with a wide range of audiences on environmental issues;
  • General knowledge of the technical concepts associated with risk management strategies, federal crop insurance, and the Farm Bill;
  • Proven track record for developing effective programs, providing strong leadership, and building partnerships (public and private) within narrow time frames;
  • Strong communication (written and oral) skills;
  • Ability to work independently as well as a team member; and   
  • Ability to travel extensively during the winter months and sometimes work evening and weekend hours.

APPOINTMENT TYPE:
This is a one-year position made possible through an agreement with USDA-Risk Management Agency. The position is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2002 and end September 30, 2003 . This will be a 0.8 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) position (1,680 hours over a 12 month timeframe) with full-time requirements from October through May and part-time for the remaining portion of the project.

SALARY AND BENEFITS:
Salary is commensurate with professional experience and demonstrated ability. Maximum salary possible will be $25.00/Hour.  Employee will accumulate 4 hours of vacation and 4 hours of sick leave per two-week pay period.  A limited benefits compensation allowance will be provided. Employee will need to use a personal vehicle for travel; mileage, meals, hotel costs, and other travel expenses will be reimbursed according to RC&D guidelines.  

APPLICATION PROCEDURE AND DEADLINE:
The application packet must be postmarked no later than September 14, 2002 . The application packet will consist of the following: 1) Cover letter; 2) Resume; and 3) Names and phone numbers of 3-4 references.  Electronic submission of the applications packet is highly encouraged. College transcripts will be required at the time of the interview. Interviews will be conducted in the La Crosse , WI area in early October.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY:
The Hiawatha Valley RC&D, cooperating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.  (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs).  Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building , 14th and Independence Avenue, SW , Washington , DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Please direct additional questions and applications to:  

Ms. Diana Strain
Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation & Development
1485 Industrial Drive NW, Room 104
Rochester, MN 55901
Diana.Strain@mn.usda.gov

(507) 281-1959 x4
 

ENDORSEMENT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

July 17, 2002. Agflex has submitted a draft list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Endorsement to USDA Risk Management Agency for review. View the FAQ List.

FCIC BOARD TO REVIEW PROPOSED CHANGES TO NUTRIENT-BMP ENDORSEMENT

July 16, 2002. Agflex has proposed the following changes to the Endorsement in an application delivered to USDA Risk Management Agency on July 5. The next anticipated action is an FCIC board decision on whether the changes require outside review.
  • Coverage for continuous or second-year corn in addition to rotated corn. Continuous or second-year corn is a common cropping system in Minnesota and Wisconsin, especially among farmers with livestock, who are prime candidates to benefit from the Endorsement by reducing commercial fertilizer costs.
  • A limit of 320 insured acres maximum per check strip. Currently a single management unit of several thousand acres in size may have only one check strip. Potentially, a very large indemnity could be paid out based on the performance of just one check strip.
  • Allowance for multiple hybrids in a field, provided the check strip and adjacent BMP strips contain the same hybrid or hybrid mixture. Planting multiple hybrids within a single field or management unit is a common practice and would not be allowed under current Endorsement terms.
  • Specially designated and trained state personnel for adjusting the endorsement. Should weather conditions create unusual demand for adjusters for FCIC policies, a contingent of speical adjusters could enhance timely determination of claims under the Endorsement.
  • Approval of Revenue Assurance as underlying coverage for the Endorsement in Iowa and Minnesota. In crop year 2002, a significant number of farmers in Iowa and Minnesota unexpectedly switched coverage from APH and CRC to RA due to favorable economics of the RA policy. If RA is not allowed as underlying coverage, the market for the endorsement could be greatly restricted in these two states.
Agflex believes these changes will improve the implementation of the product and allow for an adequate market test in 2003.

TeamAg TO SUPPORT ENDORSEMENT ADOPTION IN PENNSYLVANIA

July 8, 2002. TeamAg, Inc., based in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has been contracted by Endorsement co-applicant ACIC to support adoption of the Endorsement in the state. The company will offer briefings and training sessions on the Endorsement for state and federal agency personnel, crop consultants, nutrient planners and insurance agents.

TeamAg provides agricultural consulting services throughout the Northeastern states. For more information on support services in Pennsylvania, contact Christopher Sigmund, TeamAg Inc., 18E South 7th Street, Akron PA 17504. Phone 717 721-6795.