By Katie Nichols,
Justin Miller and
Special to the
Tariffs, issues with trading partners and natural disasters have lowered income for United States farmers and ranchers. On July 25, U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, announced details surrounding the $16 billion trade aid package for farmers.
The package, to assist farmers impacted by foreign trade damage and disruption, was first announced in late May. Producer registration opened July 29 and will continue through Dec. 6.
With prices per acre between $15 and $150, the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) prices vary depending on the county.
Extension Working to Aid Farmers
Alabama Cooperative Extension System Regional Agent Jessica Kelton said eligibility requirements are similar to last year’s program and much of the information is available online.
“Extension agents and specialists are studying specifics as they become available,” Kelton said. “We will be providing support to farmers through this application process.”
Alabama Extension Economist Max Runge said the relief packages are good news for Alabama producers, as well as others across the country.
“With low commodity prices and weather challenges across the country, this will help provide some assistance to our struggling agriculture economy,” Runge said. Runge is the Alabama Extension Farm and Agribusiness Team Leader. “This trade aid package offers some positive news to our producers.”
Trade Aid Payments
On July 26, the USDA announced values for the Market Facilitation Program MFP payments. The announcement came later in the growing season, as Perdue and USDA officials sought to minimize influence on planting decisions.
Perdue said USDA has worked to develop programs to assist agricultural producers who have been hard-hit by retaliatory tariffs. Perdue’s team at USDA gathered feedback and built on the 2018 aid program to ensure effective relief for farmers.
“Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them,” Perdue said in a USDA press release.
The package includes three direct payments, with the first expected in mid-to-late August. Two more will follow in November 2019 and early 2020. The bulk of the $16 billion in payments will roll out in August. However, amounts will vary by county.
“The impact will reach beyond the farm gate,” Runge said. “All sectors of the U.S. economy should benefit from these MFP payments.”
Kelton, a member of the Farm and Agribusiness Management Team, said it is important for growers to realize the payments will come in installments.
“If a farmer’s county payment is more than $15 per acre, they will receive 50 percent of the total in the first installment,” Kelton said. “The other half of the payments are on an ‘if conditions warrant a payment’ basis.”
Many commodities have been affected by retaliatory tariffs and market distortions. U.S. commodities are currently being marketed in other arenas. However, extensive entry procedures in China have stalled and slowed the shipment of perishable goods. The delay affects quality and makes the sale of U.S. goods more difficult.
Trade Aid Specifics
The USDA says payments will be made by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to producers of the following crops:
- alfalfa hay
- dried beans
- dry peas
- extra-long staple cotton
- long grain and medium grain rice
- mustard seed
- sesame seed
- small and large
- sunflower seed
- temperate japonica rice
- upland cotton
MFP assistance for those non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.
View the USDA press release announcing trade aid at www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2019/07/25/usda-announces-details-support-package-farmers
Contact the Farm and Agribusiness Management team for more information, or for assistance when registering for the 2019 Market Facilitation Program.
Angel’s and Devils Trumpets
Angel’s and Devil’s Trumpets, while closely related, are just as different as their names suggest. An extension professional discusses these differences, as well as one important similarity.
Angel’s trumpets, scientifically known as Brugmansia, is a genus of seven different species of flowering plants in the Solanaceae family. Other members of the Solanaceae family include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and tobacco.
Master Gardener Program Coordinator Kerry Smith said that angel’s trumpets have several distinct characteristics.
“Brugmansia flowers hang downward, giving them their trumpet shape. Their flowers are usually yellow or pink in color,” Smith said. “Late summer into early fall is when you find the heaviest flowering of these plants.”
Angel’s trumpets are native to the tropical areas of South America. In these tropical type climates, they flower year-round. The flowers are especially fragrant in the evening.
Devil’s Trumpets are part of the genus Datura. There are between nine and 12 known species in the Datura genus. While they are commonly confused with Brugmansias, there are several characteristics that make them quite different.
“Daturas are smaller, shrubby plants, and their flowers point upward.” Smith said. “These flowers are either white or purple.”
While Brugmansia species are native to tropical areas, Datura species are native to North America and northern Africa. A few common names in the Datura group are Jimsonweed, Thornapple, Moonflower and Sacred Datura.
Both Plant Species Are Toxic
These plants have many differences, but there is one important similarity; both are toxic and can be deadly if ingested.
“While toxicity levels from each species are debatable, all parts from both plants are considered toxic,” Smith said. “These toxins are at their highest concentration in the seeds.”
Smith added that when it comes to living around these plants, the main point is for people to thoughtfully consider the placement of the plants.
“Avoid planting in or near a food garden to prevent confusion,” she said. “If concerned about children playing nearby, plant them toward the back of a flower bed.”
Using common sense is a good rule with any endeavor, gardening and otherwise.
“Don’t eat a plant if you don’t recognize it or know it well. Daffodils and azaleas are common to most southern landscapes and are also highly poisonous. We never think of them being harmful because we would never think of eating these,” Smith said.
Drosophila Causing Problems in Fruit Crops
Summer is a great time for growing and harvesting fruit. The farmers markets are filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables. However, summer can bring about many diseases and pest problems, making it difficult for farmers to produce a good crop.
Alabama Extension Commercial Horticulture Agent Chip East reveals one pest that is causing a problem in fruit around the state and country.
Spotted wing drosophila is a type of fruit fly that causes problems in late summer. It has been in other states for several years, but was first found in Alabama in 2011. Most fruit flies lay eggs in over-ripe fruit, and that does not affect fruit production. However, the spotted wing drosophila lays eggs in ripening and ripe fruit, as well as fruits with thin skin such as strawberry, blackberry and blueberry. Thick-skinned fruits are especially susceptible.
Regional extension agents have put out traps and caught thousands of these insects in large plantings, as well as small home plantings.
“Of course all of the spotted wing drosophilas we catch are not females, but there are a lot of eggs being laid in fruit,” East said.
The insect has a complete life cycle, which means it develops from an egg, to a larva, to a pupa, then to an adult. Egg and larval stages are found in the fruit when it is ripe.
“I have found the pupal stage in blueberries, but it was in very over-ripe fruit, well past the time when it normally would have been eaten,” East said. “The insect does not hurt anyone who eats it, but it is there and it lowers the fruit quality.”
The larvae are tiny, but can be seen without a hand lens. Fruit can be checked for larvae by mashing fruit in a container and adding salt water. The small larvae will float to the top, and the berries will stay at the bottom of the container.
After harvest, freezing berries will kill any of the immature, insect stages inside the fruit. Temperatures of 34 degrees for 72 hours should kill any eggs and larvae. Refrigerating fruit will stop the development of the insect.
If you choose to spray, a weekly insecticide (organic options are available) application beginning just before the fruit starts to ripen through the end of the berry-picking season will manage the pest. Make sure to follow the pre-harvest recommendations on the label. If the label recommends one day from application to harvest, make sure to wait a complete 24 hours between spraying and picking fruit.