News & Opportunities
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Additional USDA Actions to Combat Spread of Diseases Among U.S. Pork Producers
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Required Reporting of Cases Latest Measure to Slow Disease Spread
St. Paul, Minn., April 18, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that in an effort to further enhance the biosecurity and health of the US
swine herd while maintaining movement of pigs in the US, the USDA will require reporting of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) and Swine Delta Coronavirus
in order to slow the spread of this disease across the United States. USDA is taking this latest action due to the devastating effect on swine health since it was first
confirmed in the country last year even though PEDv it is not a reportable disease under international standards. PEDv only affects pigs and does not pose a risk to
people and is not a food safety concern.
"USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols,
sequenced the virus and are investigating how the virus is transmitted," said Vilsack. "Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work
together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers."
In addition to requiring reporting of the PED virus, today's announcement will also require tracking movements of pigs,
vehicles, and other equipment leaving affected premises; however, movements would still be allowed. USDA is also
working with industry partners to increase assistance to producers who have experienced PED virus outbreaks in other
critical areas such as disease surveillance, herd monitoring and epidemiological and technical support.
As part of USDA's coordinated response, USDA's Farm Loan Programs is working with producers to provide credit
options, including restructuring loans, similar to how the Farm Service Agency successfully worked with livestock
producers affected by the blizzard in South Dakota. In the case of guaranteed loans, USDA is encouraging guaranteed
lenders to use all the flexibility available under existing guarantees, and to use new guarantees where appropriate to continue financing their regular customers.
USDA is already providing assistance to researchers looking into this disease, with the Agricultural Research Service
(ARS) working with the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa to make models of the disease transmission
and testing feedstuffs. This modeling work is contributing to some experimental vaccines to treat animals with the
disease. ARS also has a representative serving as a member of the Swine Health Board. USDA also provides
competitive grant funding through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program and anticipates some
applications on PEDv research will be submitted soon. In addition, USDA provides formula funds to states and
universities through the Hatch Act and National Animal Health Disease Section 1433 for research activities surrounding this disease.
In conjunction with the pork industry, state and federal partners, the USDA is working to develop appropriate
responses to the PEDv and Swine Delta Coronavirus. A question-and-answer sheet on today's reporting requirement is available on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website here:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2014/faq_ped_reporting.pdf (PDF, 31KB)
For a summary of USDA actions to date, additional information is available here:
http://www.usda.gov/documents/pedv-summary-actions.pdf (PDF, 150KB)
From an earlier forward from Dr. Marshall:
http://www.pork.org/News/3904/NationalPorkBoardStatementOnPEDV.aspx links to the National Pork Board's page on Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV). The disease causes severe diarrhea in pigs, and piglets are especially hard
hit. It is a disease that only infects pigs, therefore there is no risk to other animals or people. Pork from infected pigs is safe to eat.
I strongly encourage all pork producers in the state to review and to redouble biosecurity efforts. The article that I
linked to has good recommendations regarding biosecurity and protection of your herd, your animals' health, and your
livelihood. As always, please contact me if your herd is experiencing any significant disease event so we can assess
whether there exists any disease that could impact public health or animal health in the state.
New Website Connects Farmers to N.E. Farmland
New England Farmland Finder: This new online service helps farmers and landowners find each other. This farm
property clearinghouse is free, simple and privacy protected. It contains information and resource links to inform and
support farm seekers and landowners. The site was launched by a collaboration of New England organizations focusing
on farmland access issues. The new service complements local and statewide efforts to match new farmers with
available land. Ken Ayars, chief of state Department of Environmental Management's Division of Agriculture, is enthusiastic about this New England-wide resource.
"In our experience, people come from all over the country to farm in our area," Ayars said. "Yet, finding land to
purchase or rent can be their biggest challenge. This new service helps make good connections. It also makes it easy
for individuals, towns and organizations to let farmers know about their available farms and farmland." Thanks, ecoRI, for this abbreviated bit of their article!
- Availability of Farm Viability Grant Funds RI Specialty Crop Grant Program
Grant Funding period April 1, 2014 – March 31, 2016
Funding is contingent on availability of funds from USDA
The RIDEM/Division of Agriculture is pleased to announce the availability of Farm Viability grant funds for the
purpose of enhancing the Competitiveness of Specialty Crops grown in Rhode Island.
Specialty crops are defined by this Federally supported program as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts,
and nursery crops including floriculture including Christmas Trees, cut flowers, honey, hops, and turf grass
production. Examples of enhancing the market competitiveness of specialty crops include, but are not limited to:
Research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs,
education, ``buy local'' programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced
costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, product development, and developing cooperatives.
Grant applications and projects must further the competitiveness of specialty crops only as broadly as possible in
Rhode Island, and not just serve to enhance individual farm viability pursuant to USDA program guidelines.
Grant funds will not be awarded for Projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a
profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.
For an overview of the program and some examples of grant requests, please go to:
www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp and click on Grants, Rules, and Procedures 2013 Guidance Document.
- A total of $150,000 is available for projects with no direct match required.
- Awards will be made in amounts of $10,000 to $50,000 for each project.
- Any Rhode Island agricultural or educational association or organization, individual farmer, or resident is eligible to apply.
- Got Something to Share?
The quarterly RIRLA newsletter is primarily comprised of stories gathered by or written by Jane Christopher.
(Jane and her husband, Chris, also produce the newsletter.) Occasionally an article falls in that was written by
another member or associate. If you have attended a fair, a livestock or breed show, attended a conference or
workshop, or anything else you feel would be interesting to our members, please send me an email and let us
know what you'd like to write about. When space permits, these articles would be a nice addition to an already terrific newsletter. What can you share?
- List Your Farm – Buy Local RI FREE Listing!
Farmers! You are not taking advantage of this great, FREE resource! When I go to Buy Local's website and
search "pork" "lamb" "beef" I am still seeing only 2 to 3 of our farms for each meat. Only four or five farms
show up when I simply search "meat" If you have a listing, PLEASE take a moment to "search" yourself, your
products, etc. See if the public can find you! Remember to use search terms in your listing that YOU would use to search for your farm's products.
Buy Local RI is a program of the Lt. Governor's office. The Buy Local RI website is meant to connect RI's local
independent businesses to consumers in the state. There are a LOT of consumers out there who want to buy
local meat but don't know where or how to find it. This is a great opportunity to market your farm and its
products for FREE! Go to www.buylocalri.org and click on the "Sign Up" icon in the upper right corner of the
home page. Look for AMCC, The Mission Farm, Windmist and Ever-Breeze on the Buy Local RI site. Let consumers find your farm, too!
- Got Equipment, Animals or Hay to Sell? Services to Offer?
As part of its effort to become a true resource for farmers, RIRLA is looking to develop the "Classified" section
of the RIRLA website, but we can't do it without your help! We need listings for For Sale, Services and Wanted. Listing is FREE!! Go to www.rirla.org/bulletinboard-classifieds.htm to list your item, service or need.
- Free Harvest To Hand App for iPhone and iPod Touch: A New Way to Promote Locally Grown Goods
You can enroll in Farm Family's Harvest to Hand program which uses an app that will be available soon on
iPhone or iPod Touch. This easy to use app allows consumers to locate farmers markets, local festivals, locally
made products, family-friendly farms, local wineries, breweries, local eateries, and agritourism venues in their
own town or wherever the road takes them. The venues may be categorized several different ways, and users
can map out directions directly from the app wherever they may be located. Harvest To Hand app users can add venues to a list of favorites, and share finds with friends and family in a number of ways.
Participants do not have to be clients of Farm Family to participate. The main criteria are that the venue, event or
farm must be accessible to the general public, and feature locally produced or grown and harvested products If
you would like to get your event, agritourism venue or farmers market listed, simply go to www.HarvestToHand.com and complete the online form.
- USDA Funding to Test for Scrapie
RI has been awarded $2000 by the USDA to enhance surveillance for the disease known as scrapie. This disease
affects sheep (and less frequently, goats). Surveillance quotas for the disease must be met for each state to enjoy
the benefits of being classified as low risk. The surveillance for the disease can only be reliably done on samples
from dead animals. Therefore, any adult sheep that dies on the farm is appropriate for testing.
The University of Connecticut has agreed to apply this money to subsidize 20 RI origin sheep submitted to them
for a complete necropsy examination. The benefit of having this money available is two-fold. First, a necropsy
examination is critical to knowing the cause of death of the animal, therefore the farmer will gain much more
knowledge about that animal's health and often the flock's health. Second, is that maintenance of low-risk scrapie
status by meeting surveillance quotas will prevent any interstate movement restrictions being imposed on RI origin sheep.
The usual cost for necropsy at UCONN is $120 or $150 depending on the weight of the animal. UCONN will be
paid through these funds directly by DEM, so, farmers will only be responsible for the balance of the necropsy
fee at the time they submit their animals. This service will be a good value to them and I hope that they take advantage of this opportunity.
Scott N. Marshall, DVM
R.I. State Veterinarian
- RI Small Business Development Center
The RI Small Business Development Center (RISBDC), hosted by Johnson & Wales University in partnership
with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the RI Economic Development Corporation, is a program
designed to provide the highest quality of business assistance services to established enterprises and promising
new start-ups, including your farm business! The RI SBDC is a one-stop resource center for small and medium
-sized businesses that tailors their services based on client needs. SBDC provides assistance in business plan
development, market analysis, sources of capital, technology transfer, inventory assistance and other managerial
and technical support services, including short-term professional counseling services e.g. financial analysis and advice (for FREE!), workshops and information services. Go to www.risbdc.org or contact Douglas Jobling, SBDC's agricultural specialist at 401-263-5124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Farm Hack Invention Blogs
FarmHack is a resource for farmers who embrace the long-standing farm traditions of tinkering, inventing,
fabricating, tweaking, and fixing things that they broke. Open to farmers of all ages, it has special relevance to
young and beginning farmers, who may want to learn from their peers' and their elders' successes, mistakes and new ideas. Go to http://www.youngfarmers.org/practical/farm-hack/ for ideas!
- $1.3 Million available
RI Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Office
The RI Farm Service Agency has $1,393,000 available to lend beginning farmers to purchase a farm or to make
improvements to an existing farm. Call 1-800-551-5144 or 401-828-3120 for more information.