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Christmas Trees and Goats

It’s that time when decked-out Christmas trees covered in lights, glass ornaments and tinsel are at many homes. But what happens when it’s all over?

Most trees are tossed away outside or in landfills, creating potential fire hazards, said Vince Thomas, a volunteer firefighter with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.

“I’ve seen them everywhere, all you have to do is get off the beaten path a ways and you’ll see trees all over,” said Thomas, who’s worked as a firefighter for 26 years. “It was amazing to me to see how many Christmas trees people would just toss out there.”

Free Small Flock Poultry Winter Webinar Series

EXtension logoHealth Problems With the Digestive System of Poultry: Tuesday, January 6, 2:00 pm EST

As the first in a four part webinar series on poultry health, Dr. Frame will start this webinar with an introduction to chicken health programs. The remainder of the webinar with discuss problems with the digestive system. The digestive system of poultry is exposed to a variety of pathogens on a daily basis. Dr. Frame will be discussing how some of these digestive-related diseases are manifested in poultry

Salmonella and Backyard Poultry Flocks: Tuesday, January 13, 3:00 pm EST

The summer of 2014 saw many cases of Salmonellosis traced back to backyard poultry flocks – see CDC website: Dr. Colin Basler of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be speaking about preventing salmonellosis while maintaining a backyard poultry flock.

Quality of Eggs from Different Production Systems: Wednesday, January 14, 11:00 am EST

When it comes to buying eggs for your family there are many different types to chose from – conventional, brown, white, green, free-range, cage-free, omega-3 enriched, pasture-raised. What are the differences between these eggs? Why do some cost more than others? Which type of eggs would you like to produce for sale. Dr. Jacquie Jacob from the University of Kentucky will be discussing this nutritious topic. Dr. Jacob is a poultry extension project manager with a heavy focus on small and backyard poultry flocks.

Health Problems with the Respiratory System of Poultry: Tuesday, February 3, 2:00 pm EST

The avian respiratory system of birds is very different from that of mammals with a rigid lung, air sacs and extends into the bones (Pneumatic bones). This is the second in a poultry-related health series looking at health problems associated with the poultry respiratory system.

Participation is free and brought to you by but requires a high speed internet connection.  To participate, simply click on the link and enter the virtual meeting room as a guest.  You will be asked to type in your name.  You may want to attempt to join 5-10 minutes in advance of the start time in case you need to download an abode connect add in or update your software.  These webinars are also recorded and made available through the website when you click on the small flock resource area.

MPP Extended – Again

From an Article in Dairy Herd Management.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) applauded a USDA announcement giving dairy farmers two more weeks to sign up for the revamped dairy safety net included in the 2014 Farm Bill. The extension, the second since the program was announced in September, now sets the enrollment deadline for the new Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) until Friday, Dec. 19.

“The most important New Year’s resolution a dairy farmer can make for 2015 is using the new Margin Protection Program to take advantage of this opportunity to guard against the possibility of low margin conditions at some point in the next year,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

“With a busy harvest season now done, along with this year’s favorable milk prices, many dairy farmers are just now taking the time to review their options and explore the need for the new MPP program,” said Mulhern.

The strong milk prices of 2014 are giving way to lower prices in the coming year, which “should prompt many farmers to consider their risk management options should prices drop further,” Mulhern said.

Mulhern said there are good reasons for farmers to sign up for the program. “First,” he said, “futures indicate dairy margins are leaving their record territory and will trend down through much of 2015.”

He cited the crash in oil prices in recent weeks as an example of where sudden price changes in a commodity can catch many by surprise, adding that “no one expected oil prices would drop by 40% in just a few months, but sudden movements either up or down are a frequent occurrence in commodity markets.”

In addition, Mulhern said, with U.S. milk production expected to increase by more than one percent this year, signing up for MPP boosts an individual farm’s production history going forward by the same amount as the national increase.

“MPP payments are based on past production, and that production history increases only with the rise in national milk production,” Mulhern said. “As a result, those who sign up now for 2015 coverage will benefit from this year’s increase in milk production, thus allowing them to insure a larger base in the future.”

NMPF has a variety of tools on its website and on a separate website devoted exclusively to the new program to help producers make their decisions. Included is a downloadable calculator on which producers can plug in their own numbers and get a sense of the program’s impact on their farm. Farmers who have already enrolled have the opportunity to change their coverage levels until Dec. 19.

“Basic coverage costs farmers only $100 a year,” Mulhern said. “But that relatively small investment does a lot to protect the future of a farm. We encourage all producers to take advantage of USDA’s deadline extension and get to their county Farm Service Agency office to sign up for the Margin Protection Program in the next two weeks.”

Sign up Deadline for MPP

By J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Until recently, the final day to sign up for the Dairy Margin Protection Plan (MPP-Dairy) was Nov. 28, but that day being Black Friday, the deadline was extended to Dec. 5.

Many of you already have attended informational meetings and likely have made a decision, but some have chosen to ignore this program for philosophical reasons or busy schedules.

However, a change is in the market winds: Just listen to the lament about the drop in corn prices! Not that long ago, I overheard some producers suggest the demand for food never would let prices fall drastically.

I never will start a market column; I leave making predictions to others. Nonetheless, I must note that the futures market appears to expect milk prices to change. Declining cash prices are moving closer to the already discounted futures. While the weakness in dairy product prices is not likely to change anytime soon, U.S. and world milk production is increasing, and product availability is keeping world prices low. Furthermore, U.S. products are having difficulty competing on the world market due to high prices.

So back to the MPP-Dairy program. Wisconsin-based commodity trader Robin Schmahl offered the following program observation about the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) and MPP-Dairy programs:

“Because LGM-Dairy is based on futures prices (rather than the national average price calculation in MPP), allowing producers to vary feed inputs, it is anticipated quite a number of dairy producers will opt to implement an LGM-Dairy policy or policies this year with the ability to capture a higher income over feed cost. The issue here is that it is anticipated the appropriated money for the LGM-Dairy program could be used up quickly, which then would require producers to pay the full amount of the insurance premium for the program. After the latest LGM sign-up last weekend, there is slightly less than $3.5 million remaining to subsidize the program, with this expected to be used up during the December offering unless there is some redistribution of funds.”

Many who study dairy markets concur that signing up for the MPP program would be wise if you do not use LGM-Dairy. In our educational meetings, the consensus was that if you do nothing else, simply pay the $100 to have the $4 level coverage. Then use futures, options and forward contracts to protect your milk and feed margin this next year.

This allows you to take advantage of the first production bump in 2015. It also gives you the ability to protect a greater than $8 level income over feed cost by using futures or options for milk and feed.

If you choose to pay higher premiums to increase your income over feed cost using MPP, then decisions remain. For larger farms that have milk production greater than 4 million pounds, Schmahl suggests only purchasing higher margin protection on 4 million pounds and utilizing the futures markets to protect your margins above that level due to the substantial increase in premiums on milk production above that level.

Remember, MPP or LGM-Dairy should not be used as a stand-alone marketing program. These programs protect milk and feed margins. They do not protect against lower milk prices or higher feed prices. A marketing program should be designed using a combination of the tools available.

So my take-home message is: You do not have much time left if you plan to get on board with MPP-Dairy. My feeling is that dairy owners do not want to miss this deadline for pending market reasons. Moreover, if you still have philosophical reservations, simply think of this program as what it is: a risk management program, not an entitlement program.

Grain marketers used to talk about short markets having long tails. The rigors of 2009 still are vivid in the minds and bank accounts of many dairy farms. It was brutal. For the first time in the history of dairy program support, you can purchase some insurance or protection against catastrophic market events.

In my nearly 40 years of service to agriculture, this is the first time you can buy a little insurance. It’s protection that you hope you never have to use. Don’t you wish you had this protection five years ago?

Now that you ate your Thanksgiving turkey, you must decide. But remember, you have only until Dec 5, so visit your Farm Service Agency office and take a little pressure off 2015.

Free Small Flock Poultry Webinar- December 10

EXtension logoFeeds and Feeding of Pullets and Layers: Wednesday December 10, 11 am EST

Feed represents over 70% of the production costs in an egg production operation. Dr. Paul Patterson from Penn State University will be discussing the feeding of replacement pullets and laying hens. Dr. Patterson is a nutritionist. The central theme of his extension and research programs is environmental poultry management. Efforts focus on discovering and promoting efficient poultry production systems that place minimum burden on the environment.

Participation is free and brought to you by but requires a high speed internet connection.  To participate, simply click on the link and enter the virtual meeting room as a guest.  You will be asked to type in your name.  You may want to attempt to join 5-10 minutes in advance of the start time in case you need to download an abode connect add in or update your software.  These webinars are also recorded and made available through the website when you click on the small flock resource area.

Mid Atlantic Crop School

2014 Mid-Atlantic Crop Mangaement School: Register Now!

October 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

The 2014 Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School will be held November 18-20 in Ocean City, Maryland. The program and registration can be found on the following website:

The early-bird registration fee is due by October 31, 2014.

This school is designed for anyone interested in crop management issues, including

  • agronomists
  • crop consultants
  • extension educators
  • farmers and farm managers
  • pesticide dealers, distributors
  • seed and agrichemical company representatives
  • soil conservationists
  • state department of agriculture personnel

The 2014 Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School will offer CCA continuing education units (CEU’s) approved by the Certified Crop Adviser Program in the following categories:

  • Crop Management
  • Nutrient Management
  • Pest Management
  • Professional
  • Soil & Water Management Development

Total CEU’s earned will depend on course selection. This school also provides Pesticide Recertification Credits for DE, MD, NJ, PA, WV, and VA and continuing education for Nutrient Management Consultants in DE, MD, VA and WV.

Base Acreage Reallocation

2014 Farm Bill Workshop


Wednesday, November 12
7:00-9:00 pm
University of Delaware Paradee Center 69 Transportation Circle, Dover
It’s been over a decade since farmers had the opportunity to update farm program bases or yields.
The 2014 Farm Bill provides a one-time option to:
REALLOCATE base acres
RETAIN current base acres
UPDATE yields
RETAIN current yields
Crop acreage bases and yields are used in the new Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage
programs. We will provide an overview of these new programs and discuss how updating bases and
yields may impact your farming operation.

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting
should contact Robin Talley at (302) 678-4250 or
USDA is an equal opportunity lender, provider and employer.

MPP-Dairy Extension

USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadlines
Enrollment Continues Through Dec. 5; Comments Accepted Until Dec. 15
GRAPEVINE, Texas, Oct. 29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting, today announced extended deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until Dec. 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
“We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices,” said Vilsack. “Markets change and the Margin Protection Program can help protect dairy producers from those changes.”
Vilsack encouraged producers to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. “Historical scenarios also can be explored to see how the Margin Protection Program would function should poor market conditions occur again in the future,” said Vilsack. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also extended the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014.
“USDA is committed to creating strong opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. When dairy producers bring new family members into the business, these changes could affect safety net coverage,” said Vilsack. “If our current rules hinder intergenerational changes or if improvements are needed in these programs, then we want to hear from dairy producers.”
Comments can be submitted to USDA via the website at
Today’s announcement was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit