Rounds Statement on Meeting with Army Corps


WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today issued the following statement after meeting with R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River. The meeting comes more than two months after Rounds requested an in-person briefing.

Rounds and James meet in Rounds’ Washington, D.C., office on May 16, 2018

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Assistant Secretary James today to share my concerns about the Corps’ management of the Missouri River. We had a good exchange and I found his interest in working with us refreshing. We have agreed to continue work to address our concerns about the high water levels along the river, as well as make certain an appropriate monitoring system is in place. Flood control is priority number one. We also discussed issues in South Dakota regarding access to water in Corps-controlled land, so we can better use our water along the river system. We will continue to keep a close watch on the Corps’ management practices along the river to help avoid another flood and make certain South Dakotans’ concerns are adequately addressed.”



File Photo

The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) welcomes public comments through May 31 on a draft conservation plan that provides a blueprint for reversing the decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population.

The draft plan, called the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy, builds on existing efforts of state, federal, and local agencies and private organizations and individuals. It covers a 16-state region stretching from Texas to the Upper Midwest that encompasses the primary production and migratory habitat areas for eastern monarchs (see map). Other eastern monarch states are also collaborating with the plan.

The draft plan identifies conservation goals and strategies for improving habitats in various sectors or categories of land use such as natural areas, agricultural lands, urban lands, and rights of way. State wildlife agencies and partners will be working to add milkweed plants where lacking and to ensure diverse, nectar-plant-rich landscapes with blooming species during seasons when monarchs are present.

“In addition to their beauty, pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and other species provide important pollination services critical to our food supplies and economies,” said Terry Steinwand, MAFWA President. “This is the first phase of a long-term strategy that will require increased commitment of people and resources to support enhanced monarch and pollinator conservation and monitoring efforts by many partners over the next 20 years.”

Eastern monarchs, those found east of the Rocky Mountains, have declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years primarily due to habitat loss, including reduced milkweed required for reproduction and fewer nectar plants. In 2014 the monarch was petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, and a decision on whether listing is warranted is expected in 2019.

Monarchs produce multiple generations each year and undertake a lengthy fall migration from the U.S. and southern Canada to the forested mountains of central Mexico where they overwinter. The goal of the strategy is to coordinate state and partner efforts to restore and enhance habitat to support an average overwintering population in Mexico occupying about 15 acres (6 hectares), consistent with international goals.

The plan primarily focuses on voluntary and incentive-based habitat restoration and enhancement efforts, but also includes priority education and outreach, research, and monitoring needs related to monarch conservation.

For more information, a copy of the draft strategy, and how to submit comments, please visit the MAFWA website at Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy.


Custer, SD A landowner workshop, “Protect your home and property” will be held on Friday, May 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Argyle Fire Hall, 12000 Mountain Lion Lane, Hot Springs, SD.

Multiple agencies are working together to reach out to landowners, provide information on land stewardship and encourage management for more resilient forests across all lands.

Experts will discuss: living with fire; insect, weed and pine management; and technical assistance and cost-sharing programs available to landowners; followed by a field trip showing thinning and fuel treatment.

A free lunch will be offered.

The workshop is sponsored by Custer County Conservation District and the South Dakota Family Forest Association.

Cooperating agencies include South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) Resource Conservation & Forestry and SDDA Wildland Fire; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Custer County Weed & Pest; and US Forest Service.

Registration RSVP is appreciated by May 14 with Angie Keierleber, Custer County Conservation District, 605-673-4971 or e-mail




From the kitchen table to the boardroom table, the USDA brings people together across the nation for: healthier
food, natural resources and people; a stronger agricultural industry; and economic growth, jobs and innovation.
Each Friday, meet those farmers, producers and landowners through our #FridaysOnTheFarm stories. Visit local
farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where USDA customers and partners do right and feed everyone.

This Friday, meet Hillary and Diane Dean, boutique wine operators in Caddo, Oklahoma, who are passionate
about wine making. The Deans own and operate Blue River Valley Winery, growing several grape varieties and
producing over 15 varieties of wine.

From Hobby to Business
“It all started with homemade peach wine. A family member had us try their homemade wine, and we couldn’t
believe the quality. We wanted to try our hand at it,” said Diane. “We started off in the kitchen. Our table space
was taken up by small fermenters.”

After making craft beer for nearly 20 years, Hillary and Diane fell in love with making fine wine. Their hobby
quickly became a business, selling more than 15,000 bottles of their handcrafted wine in 2016 and over 19,000 in
2017.“Making wine became a passion. Over the years, we were encouraged to do it commercially,” said Hillary. “It
grew so fast, we couldn’t believe it. We thought it would just be a small mom and pop business, but it just

Growing a Dream
Before opening their boutique winery, they visited the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center where they
learned about the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) loan opportunities. The Deans visited the Bryan County
FSA office and met with Greg Mathis, farm loan manager, to explore their options.
“We had a dream and it just didn’t seem like it was going to work out. We came to Greg and everything worked
out,” said Hillary. “He was interested in our venture. Greg believed in us and worked very hard to put together our

FSA’s farm loan programs offer opportunities, such as microloans, to farmers and ranchers by providing access to
credit. Microloans focus on financing the needs of new, niche and small to mid-sized family farm operations.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Producing an Oklahoma Wine
The Deans currently grow muscadine grapes and other grape varieties, but they don’t produce enough to supply
their entire wine operation. According to Hillary, 100 pounds of grapes will only make about five gallons of wine.
To keep up with demand, they purchase juice from several vineyards across the country through a wholesaler.
“Our grapes might be grown all over the United States, but our wine is all Oklahoma,” Hillary said. “We ferment
the juice and then it goes through the clarification process. When that is done, we fill the bottle and cork it by
hand. It’s truly a handcraft.”

They currently offer 15 varieties of wine at Blue River Valley Winery, including “Blue River Bliss,” a blackberry
merlot, “Strawberry Blonde,” a strawberry white zinfandel, and “Rio Rosa,” their blackberry and lemon signature
wine. The number of varieties will continue to increase as they keep exploring new flavors.

Agritourism Is an Added Benefit
Since opening, the winery has drawn customers from all over the United States. To increase agritourism, the
Deans recently added a covered outdoor pavilion, where guests can enjoy live music on select evenings, hold
small weddings and other events.

“There are thousands of varieties of wine that you can make. We get a kick out of making our wine the highest
quality that we can,” said Hillary. “This doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something we really enjoy.”

Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm story series and other news you can use on and @Farmersgov Twitter.
View all #FridaysOnTheFarm feature stories.
Story Credit: Lauren Moore
Photo Credits: Blue River Valley Winery; Lance Cheung (USDA), Scott Bauer (USDA)



Hay producers can add value to their product by having it certified noxious weed-free forage through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA).

“This is a win-win situation. A farmer can get a better price for their forage and it helps prevent the spread of noxious weeds,” said Ron Moehring, state weed supervisor and program specialist for the weed-free forage program.

The certification program is the first step to preventing the spread of new noxious weeds into forests and natural areas. Straw used in soil erosion reclamation projects or animal bedding must also be free of noxious weeds.

“I’m selling my hay at a higher price, $3 to $4 a bale more,” said Travis Ismay of Vale, SD. “I didn’t have to treat my fields much differently than I had been doing. I just had to have the inspector come out and certify the field before I cut the hay.”

Cost of certification is $250 for the first acre and $2 an acre for the rest of the field that is inspected. A request for certification needs to be made to the SDDA 10 days prior to expected harvest date. The crop will be certified using the NAISMA Weed Free Forage list and the South Dakota Noxious Weed list. A field can still be certified weed free if listed weeds are present in the field, however those weeds cannot seed before harvest takes place.

“Once the inspector arrives at the field, they must walk the perimeter of the field in question, then crisscross or zigzag through the field by coming in at one point (or side) and leaving at a different point, looking for any of the designated weeds. In addition, a buffer area on the perimeter must also be weed-free, as well as hay storage areas.  A certificate of inspection is completed and sent to the producer. Once a field is certified, the producer has a designated time period to harvest the crop. If the crop isn’t harvested within the time frame, the field must be re-certified to verify no seeds have formed. The producer will identify the inspected forage by a special tag available through SDDA,” Moehring said.

For more information about South Dakota weed-free forage program visit or contact Moehring at or 605.773.3796.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow.

Visit us online at or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Emerald Ash Borer, Photo:USDA

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) has confirmed that an infestation of emerald ash borer (EAB) has been discovered in northern Sioux Falls. This is the first confirmed infestation in South Dakota. Emerald ash borer is an invasive insect that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in at least 32 states.

On May 9, 2018, Secretary Mike Jaspers implemented an Emergency Plant Pest Quarantine in order to prevent or reduce the spread of the EAB. This emergency quarantine is effective immediately.

The quarantine restricts the movement of ash materials in all of Minnehaha County, in areas north of Highway 18 in Lincoln County and north of Highway 18 and east of Highway 19 in Turner County, unless accompanied by the appropriate authorization from the SDDA. These regulated ash materials include: ash nursery stock; ash logs, lumber, wood chips or mulch, including trimmed ash tree branches; and pallets made out of ash. Movement of firewood from any hardwood species, whether intended for commercial or private use, is also restricted within the quarantine area.

Ash trees within the quarantine area should not be pruned or removed unless absolutely necessary until after Labor Day to prevent spread of EAB. As a precautionary measure, people with ash trees in good condition within the quarantine area who want to save those trees should consider treating them now. Treatment information, as well as more information on EAB and response efforts, can be found by visiting the SDDA’s dedicated EAB webpage.

The SDDA is hosting EAB information forums on Thursday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. at the Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Campus located at 4500 South Oxbow Avenue in Sioux Falls. These forums will provide important information for residents in the quarantine area on EAB and current efforts to limit its spread. Dr. John Ball, Forest Health Specialist for the SDDA and SDSU Extension Forester, as well as officials from the SDDA and the City of Sioux Falls, will present information and answer questions.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

SDDA Classifies Dicamba Products as Restricted Use Pesticides


PIERRE, S.D. – As of April 30, 2018, all pesticide products containing only dicamba, and having agricultural use labels, sold in South Dakota are classified as restricted use pesticides (RUPs). This includes over-the-counter herbicides that were previously sold to unlicensed applicators and producers. Since these products have been classified as RUPs by the State of South Dakota, but not by the federal government, they will not display the restricted use pesticide legend on the label. A list of 2018 registered products impacted by this new classification can be found on the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s (SDDA) website,, by clicking on the “Dicamba Information” link under the “Happening Now” section.

Applicators will be required to be certified private or commercial applicators to purchase and apply these products. In addition to state certification, the SDDA encourages applicators to take a dicamba-specific training. An online training is available on the SDDA’s website. All applicators will be required to maintain application records for each application of these products and any other RUPs. The records of application must be kept for three years.

Three dicamba products, Xtendimax with Vapor Grip technology, Fexapan with Vapor Grip technology and Engenia, were classified as RUPs by the Environmental Protection Agency effective October of 2017. Separate regulations surround the sale and use of these products, including a requirement that applicators complete a dicamba-specific training.

Any questions about this change or the regulation of dicamba products can be directed to the SDDA at 605.773.4432.

USDA to Immediately Assist Producers for Qualifying Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program Losses

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue $34 million to help agricultural producers recover from 2017 natural disasters through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), which covers losses not covered by certain other USDA disaster assistance programs. These payments are being made available today, and they are part of a broader USDA effort to help producers recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and drought. A large portion of this assistance will be made available in federally designated disaster areas.

“From Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, through the South, the Southwest, California and the Great Plains, American agriculture was devastated by natural disasters in 2017,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “The Trump Administration is moving quickly to distribute financial assistance to help producers recover and rebuild.  It is important to get this help to producers in time for the spring planting season.”

ELAP aims to help eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs such as the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).

The increased amount of assistance through ELAP was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed earlier this year. The Act amended the 2014 Farm Bill to enable USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide assistance to producers without an annual funding cap and immediately for 2017. It also enables FSA to pay ELAP applications as they are filed for 2018 and subsequent program years.

Other USDA Disaster Assistance Programs
The Act removed program year payment limitations and increased the acreage cap for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), a nationwide program that provides owners of orchards, vineyards and nurseries with cost share assistance to replant eligible trees, bushes, and vines following a natural disaster. For example, the program will help owners of citrus groves in Florida, avocado trees in California, coffee plantations in Puerto Rico and vineyards reduce the cost of replanting, and speed recovery from the loss of fruit and nut trees, bushes, and vines.

Prior to the Act, there was a combined program year payment limitation of $125,000 for ELAP, LIP and LFP per person or legal entity. The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) had its own $125,000 payment limitation.  The Act removed the program year per person and legal entity payment limitation for LIP and TAP.  As a result of the Act, a $125,000 per person and legal entity single payment limitation applies to the total amount of program year payments received under both ELAP and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and program payments under LIP and TAP no longer have payment limits.

Under the updated program, as amended by the Act, growers are eligible to be partly reimbursed for losses on up to 1,000 acres per program year, double the previous acreage limit of 500 acres.

In total, it is estimated that the Act will enable USDA to provide more than $3 billion in disaster assistance, including the $2.36 billion announced last week to be made available through FSA’s new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. This includes $400 million made available for the Emergency Conservation Program, which helps farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters. As signups across the country are completed, additional applications will be funded.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events in 2017 including: three tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two inland floods, a crop freeze, drought and wildfire. More than 25 million people – almost eight percent of the population – were affected by major disasters. From severe flooding in Puerto Rico and Texas to mudslides and wildfires in California, major natural disasters caused catastrophic damages, with an economic impact totaling more than $300 billion.

For Assistance
Producers with operations impacted by natural disasters and diseases in 2018 are encouraged to contact their local USDA service center to apply for assistance through ELAP, TAP, LIP and LFP. Producers with 2017 ELAP claims need to take no action as FSA will begin paying those claims today.


WASHINGTON, March 29, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced the 2018 marketing assistance loan rates by:

  • County for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, soybeans and each “other oilseed” (canola, crambe, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, sesame seed and sunflower seed);
  • Region for pulses (dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas and large chickpeas); and
  • State for rough rice.

The rates are posted on the Farm Service Agency (FSA) website at

Marketing assistance loans provide interim financing to producers so that commodities can be stored after harvest when market prices are typically low, to be sold later when price conditions are more favorable.

2018 Wheat, Feed Grains and Oilseeds National Loan Rates
Wheat $2.94 per bushel
Corn $1.95 per bushel
Grain Sorghum $1.95 per bushel
Barley $1.95 per bushel
Oats $1.39 per bushel
Soybeans $5.00 per bushel
Other Oilseeds $10.09 per hundredweight (cwt.) for each “other oilseed”

Marketing assistance loans for the 2018 barley, canola, crambe, flaxseed, oats, rapeseed, sesame seed, and wheat crops are available through March 31, 2019, and for the 2018 corn, grain sorghum, mustard seed, safflower, soybean and sunflower seed crops through May 31, 2019.

2018 Rough Rice Loan Rates by State and Class
State Long Grain Rice Medium Grain Rice
$ per cwt.
Arkansas 6.48 6.31
California 6.34 6.56
Louisiana 6.47 6.52
Mississippi 6.53 6.50
Missouri 6.48 6.50
Texas 6.70 6.50
U.S. Average 6.50 6.50
U.S. loan rate applies to all other states.

Medium grain includes short grain.

For warehouse-stored loans, national loan rates for whole and broken kernels are used to establish loan proceeds based on the milling out-turns reported on the warehouse receipt. Marketing assistance loans for the 2018 rice crop are available through May 31, 2019. The loan rate for long grain whole kernels is $10.08 per cwt.; for medium grain (including short grain), $9.67 per cwt.; and for broken kernels (all classes), $6.14 per cwt.

2018 Regional Pulse Crop Loan Rates
Crop East Region

Loan Rate

West Region

Loan Rate


Loan Rate

Dry Peas 5.35 5.74 5.40
Lentils 11.19 11.96 11.28
Large Chickpeas 11.28 11.28 11.28
Small Chickpeas 7.43 7.43 7.43

The West region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The East region includes Montana, North Dakota and other states not included in the West region. The rate for small and large chickpeas applies to all states and counties. Marketing assistance loans for the 2018 pulse crops are available through May 31, 2019.

For more information, visit To learn more about FSA, visit


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the Department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.

“The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. “The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”

According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by seven percent and globally by 11 percent. Industry estimates show that organic sales in the United States reached almost $47 billion in 2016, reflecting an increase of almost $3.7 billion since 2015.

The Department carefully considered public comments and the relative costs and benefits for both producers and consumers of imposing the proposed additional regulations.