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New National FFA President is from Delaware

The year was 1969 and it proved to be an important one at the National FFA Convention in Kansas City. The delegates had voted to provide full membership privileges to women. It was also the year that Charles Postles was elected as the Eastern Region Vice President. Only two others from Delaware had ever earned the honor of serving as a National FFA Officer: S. Pennewill Isaacs (Secretary, 1941-1942) and John W. Webb, Jr. (Eastern Region Vice President, 1947-1948). Over the past 47 years, there have been many deserving candidates that have worked hard in hopes of being elected, but no one from Delaware had succeeded in being one of the top 6 selected by the National FFA Nominating Committee to serve.

Delaware’s dry spell came to an end this afternoon, when David Townsend was elected to the 2016-2017 National FFA Officer team as President at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo. As a National Officer, David will travel more than 100,000 miles, nationally and internationally, to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

David is a 2014 graduate of Middletown High School. He was very active in their FFA chapter and Agriscience program, led by Jeff Billings and Cheryl Vest. In March 2014, David was elected as the 2014-2015 Delaware FFA State Treasurer, serving a membership of more than 10,000 students. He is currently attending University of Delaware studying Agriculture & Natural Resources and Plant Sciences.

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Farm Succession

Farm Succession Planning Education Series

Farm Succession Planning is a business and risk management practice that is critical to the
agricultural industry and to the health of families and farm businesses. These sessions will
present farmers with the knowledge to begin or continue the process of succession planning.
Families are encouraged to attend the workshop together.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 – 7pm

Farm Transfer Communication Webinar The Farm Whisperer by David
University of Delaware Paradee Center 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, DE 19901
Please arrive 15 minutes early.

For more information and to pre‐register, contact Extension agents:
Dan Severson ‐ or (302) 831-2506
Laurie Wolinski ‐ or (302) 831-2538

It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to
discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

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Pre-calving immunity affects transition health and reproduction

Experiencing any one of the metabolic diseases of dairy cows, such as milk fever, ketosis, and displacement of the abomasum, is strongly associated with decreased fertility in the cow. These metabolic problems in the transition dairy cow can have a tremendous negative effect on the immune system of the cow, increasing her susceptibility to retained placenta (RP), metritis and endometritis. A strong immune system is also required if immune recognition of a conceptus is to occur so that implantation can proceed.

Research on the nature of these diseases has shown:

  • Cows with hypocalcemia (milk fever) are 3.2 times more likely to also have RP, compared to cows with no hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia also has been linked to a higher incidence of mastitis and endometritis in postpartum cows.
  • RP has been shown as a risk factor for developing ketosis, and ketosis is a highly correlated risk factor for the development of metritis and mastitis.
  • Cows with RP, metritis and endometritis have been shown to have impaired neutrophil (white blood cell) function up to two weeks prior to calving, before lactation starts and before any bacteria can enter the uterus.
  • Similarly, levels of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) have been shown to be elevated in cows that eventually developed metritis at least two weeks before they calved. This suggests they were mobilizing fat even before calving.

Negative energy and protein balance in the late dry period likely impairs immune function and leaves cows less equipped to manage the stress, bacterial invasion and metabolic changes that occur during calving. For example, it is likely that RP does not necessarily “cause” mastitis or metritis, but is symptomatic of a depressed immune system overall.

If we are going to reduce uterine disease, we must look back to the dry cow. To improve feed intake in the critical period around the time of calving, we must offer palatable rations in a cool, uncrowded environment with plenty of bunk space (28″ to 30″ per cow) to encourage intake. Clean maternity pens, clean obstetrical equipment when assisting calving and clean stalls can reduce exposure to bacteria; even a strong immune system can be overwhelmed by a large bacterial load in the uterus.

Feed to avoid metabolic disorders. Reducing dietary potassium in the dry cow ration and adding chloride or sulfate to the diet in a palatable form to reduce hypocalcemia improves feed intake in early lactation and helps keep white blood cells functioning. Maintain adequate fiber in dry and fresh cow diets to avoid displaced abomasum. Keep cows from getting too fat, as fat cows seem to suffer the greatest decline in feed intake prior to calving.

To read a more comprehensive summary of the author’s insights on the relationship between immunity, transition-cow immunity and reproductive performance, follow this link.

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Conservation Assistance

Delaware farmers may apply for conservation assistance

First application cutoff date date is Oct. 21
September 25, 2016

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications from Delaware farmers and forest landowners who want to further enhance the sustainability of their land. Farmers can apply now for financial assistance to address natural resource concerns through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program  and Agricultural Management Assistance program. The first application cutoff date for fiscal year 2017 is Friday, Oct. 21, for both EQIP and AMA.

Assistance is available through EQIP to help farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Popular practices include waste storage structures, heavy use area pads, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management and more. Delaware has also placed an emphasis on several EQIP initiatives including the Organic Initiative and High Tunnel in FY 2017 by setting aside separate funding pools for each.

In FY 2016, Delaware approved 189 EQIP contracts for a total of $7.9 million. AMA provides assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water quality, water management and erosion control through identified conservation practices. These include, but are not limited to, nutrient management, cover crops, poultry windbreaks, proper manure storage, composters and conservation cover. NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines.

Producers with applications in before Oct. 21 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Additional application cutoff dates are scheduled for the third Friday of each month until May 19, 2017. Eligible producers with a conservation plan for their operation receive priority for financial assistance. NRCS staff is available to help producers create conservation plans. For more information for Sussex County farmers, call 302-856-3990, Ext 3 or go to

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Build silage piles correctly

By Jim Dickrell 

With large crops of forages coming off fields this fall in many areas, some farmers might be storing silage in piles for the first time.

Constructing these piles correctly spells the difference between having good quality forage or a spoiled mess, says Jerry Clark, an Extension soil and water educator in Chippewa County, Wis.

“Without proper packing, silage losses can easily exceed 30% of ensiled dry matter,” he says. “With proper management, silage piles serve as a short-term storage option with dry matter losses as low as 15%.”

The first step is to construct storage piles on a solid, well-drained surface. Concrete or asphalt slabs are preferred. Barring that, well packed surfaces underlain by geotextile fabric can work. The pads should be constructed above existing ground level to ensure rainfall and silage seepage runoff, Clark says.

“To ensure well safety and prevent water contamination, silage piles should be at least 100′ away and down slope from any existing well,” he adds. “On lighter soils, or with shallow well depths, this distance should be even greater.”

Piles should be constructed using the wedge method, with a 3:1 maximum side slope for safety. “Systems that have steep side slopes will [also] have inadequate sideslope packing and appreciably higher silage losses on the side,” Clark explains.

Forages should be added to the pile in thin layers no more than 6″ in depth. Forage moisture should be at least 65% to 70% at ensiling to improve packing.

“When constructing the pile, plan for at least 12″ of feed removal per day,” he says. Such a feed out rate is needed to minimize spoilage, though lower rates can be removed during cold weather.

“Therefore, when planning for a 270-day (nine month) feed storage period, the length of all piles should add up to 270′ long.”

Piles should also be covered as soon after the pile is completed as possible A 6-mil black plastic sheet should be used, weighted down with tires over the entire surface, and sealed along the sides of pile.

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Overtime for Farm Workers

California first U.S. state to promise overtime to farmworkers

California will become the first U.S. state to require farmers to pay overtime to field workers, milkers, feedlot cowboys and fruit pickers under a bill signed on Monday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

The bill would phase in overtime pay for farmworkers from 2019 to 2022. In an industry where a work week during the harvest season can be as long as 60 hours, the measure requires farmers to pay overtime after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.

“We’re shedding tears of joy right now,” said Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers Union, which lobbied for years for an eight-hour day for agricultural employees.

The new law, part of a sweeping liberal agenda that passed in the last months of the 2015-2016 legislative session, ends an exemption meant to benefit farmers during the Depression-era implementation of the nation’s first wage and hour laws.

It will make California the first state to require overtime for farmworkers who work more than eight hours per day. Under a 1970s executive action, farmworkers in the state get overtime after a 60 hour week or a 10-hour day, leading to long, backbreaking shifts and six-day work weeks, Rodriguez said.

California employs an estimated 800,000 seasonal farmworkers, about a third of the agricultural industry’s nationwide workforce, according to the University of California report. Its agricultural economy is the largest in the United States, with $47 billion in revenue last year, according to state data.

Other states and the federal government continue to exempt farmworkers from overtime and other protections. Supporters, including Latino lawmakers whose parents and grandparents worked in the fields as migrant laborers from Mexico, say the change rectifies years of unfair practices.

But opponents, including many farmers and most Republican lawmakers, said that agricultural work is seasonal, with 60-hour weeks during the harvest and planting seasons, and no work at all during other parts of the year.

Requiring overtime, these opponents say, would be prohibitively expensive, leading farmers to cut back hours for pickers during a time when the workers need to earn more to make up for months of unemployment during other parts of the year.

“Farmers, ranchers and growers cannot afford this mandate,” said state Senator Jim Nielsen, who represents agricultural and suburban areas north of Sacramento.

Farms employing fewer than 25 people would have three additional years to comply with the new law.

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New mobile app for pricing standing corn silage

The start of corn silage harvest for 2016 is just around the corner.  In 2015, nearly a quarter of all four million acres of corn planted in WI were harvested as silage with an estimated market value between a quarter and a half billion dollars.  However, like hay, there’s no established commodity market for corn silage like there is for corn or soybeans.  Pricing standing corn silage is even more difficult than pricing standing hay, because the seller often has the option of letting the corn crop mature and marketing it for grain, but harvest and storage costs must be considered as well.

To help determine a fair price when buying or selling corn silage, UW-Extension agriculture agents Greg Blonde and Ryan Sterry teamed up with Smart mAPPS Consulting to develop a new free Android app that can quickly estimate the value of standing corn silage.  It’s based off a detailed spreadsheet Sterry developed with input from several state Extension specialists (Shaver, Lauer, Linn).  The app includes links to current corn and hay market prices and allows buyers and sellers to enter their own yield estimates and harvest costs.  The difference in value of soil nutrients removed when harvesting silage versus corn for grain is also calculated helping sellers fine tune their standing value per acre.  The app is free and available for Android smart phones and tablets at: or just search the Google Play Store for “Corn Silage Pricing”.

According to Blonde and Sterry, “The Corn Silage Pricing mobile app not only allows farmers, Extension Educators and other Ag professionals to access current market information for both grain and hay at the same time, it’s  a convenient tool to determine the value of standing silage for buyers and sellers alike.”  The app features separate tabs for buyer and seller calculations.  Using both tabs will show the range in silage value, with the Seller tab being a price ‘floor” and the Buyer tab a price “ceiling”.

“Pricing Standing Hay” and “Pricing Wet Corn” are also available at no cost on the Google Play Store.  For more information contact Greg Blonde, 715-258-6230,, or Ryan Sterry, 715-531-1930,

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Summer Forage Tour

Thursday, Sept. 1
3:30-5:00 pm Pre-tour option at Beck-n-Rich Farm

Raphine, VA

Featuring: forage sorghums for silage & baleage
5:00-5:30 pm Registration at Virginia Tech McCormick Farm
5:30-6:15 pm Dinner
6:15-7:30 pm Tour: – summer stockpiling for late-summer grazing,
– crabgrass, lespedeza, & summer annual forages
– building drought resistance with healthy soils

To Beck-n-Rich Farm 4875 Borden Grant Trail Fairfield, VA 24435
Directions from I-81

To VT McCormick Farm
128 McCormick Farm Circle Raphine, VA 24472

-I-81, exit 200
-east on 710 Sterrett Rd (1000 ft)
-left on Rt. 11 (1 mile)
-right on 707 Jonestown Rd (1 mile)
-left on Borden Grant Trail (700 ft)

-I-81 exit 205
-east on Raphine Rd. (½ mile)
-farm on left

Registration is $10 /person; includes dinner and tour.
Payment must be received by Friday, Aug. 26 to account for dinner.

Name Phone

# attending

Make check payable to: “Augusta VCE”
PO Box 590
Verona, VA 24482

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color,
disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation,
race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis
protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of
Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State
University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia
Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890
Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg. If you are a person with a disability and
desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity,
please contact Matt Booher at (540-245-5750/TDD*) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5
p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event.
*TDD number is (800) 828-1120.
This field event is partially funded by a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant and the Virginia
Ag Council.

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USDA plans to buy 11 million lb. of cheese, extends MPP deadline

Dairy farmers will receive additional assistance from the government following today’s announcement by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese and extend an application deadline.

The cheese purchase will come out of private inventories and will be donated to assist food banks nationwide. The value of the cheese comes to $20 million.

USDA’s purchase would help reduce the highest cheese surplus in 30 years and increase bottom-lines for dairy farmers after a 35% reduction in revenues the last two years.

“We understand that the nation’s dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions and that food banks continue to see strong demand for assistance,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need. USDA will continue to look for ways within its authorities to tackle food insecurity and provide for added stability in the marketplace.”

In addition to the cheese purchase, USDA will extend the deadline to enroll in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy to Dec. 16, 2016. The previous deadline was Sept. 30.

Earlier in the month USDA announced approximately $11.2 million was earmarked for dairy producer financial assistance through the MPP-Dairy program. It is the largest payment since the program began 2014.

A number of groups had asked USDA for assistance in regards to Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935, which allows surplus food to be purchased and donated into nutrition assistance programs. Still, the $20 million purchase does not come close to industry recommendations. National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) asked for $100-150 million and American Farm Bureau Federation requested at least $50 million.

“This cheese purchase will provide some assistance to America’s dairy farmers through increased demand for their milk,” says Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “We will continue to assess the economic situation facing dairy farmers, and suggest ways to help farmers endure this lengthy period of low prices.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson says the help is appreciated but it still won’t fix the business environment dairy farmers work with.

“Current projections indicate that farm revenue from milk sales this year will drop to $31.5 billion – a $20 billion plunge from 2014 revenue highs. Even with modest price rebounds, dairy producers are draining capital reserves, or worse, going out of business,” Johnson says.

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