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SCDA Now Accepting Applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Institutions and groups that support specialty crops within our state can go online now to apply for the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The S.C. Department of Agriculture will accept proposals for these funds through May 17, 2013.

Project administrators are encouraged to submit grants that are committed to help strengthen the market for specialty crops in South Carolina. Funding for all projects will be granted for up to two years. The projects must fall within the criteria as described in the application and must benefit groups of producers, not individuals. Interested participants can visit to download the application. Look under Hot Topics for Specialty Crop Block Grant Application.

Cooler Weather Expected Through Easter

If your hope was to see spring-like weather before Easter, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey, says outlook for March 26th through April 1st isn’t promising:

“Through the last six days of March, there will be no signs of wide spread spring. We are looking at near to below normal temperatures. The greatest liklilhood of cool weather will be across the eastern US.” 

2013 Got to be NC Festival Still Accepting Antique Tractors

The Got to be NC Festival wants your antique tractor to display during the festival at the NC State Fairgrounds. Tractors in working order can also participate in the daily tractor parade through the fairgrounds. Participation is free, but pre-registration is required. Festival organizers also have a few spots available for independent vendors and concessionaires. For more information visit

U.S. retailers vow not to sell GMO salmon

Whole Foods Market, Aldi and Trader Joe’s Co. are among retailers who have pledged not to sell genetically engineered salmon or other seafood, according to a new advocacy campaign.

The Campaign for Genetically Engineered-Free Seafood – a coalition formed by the Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth and other groups – announced Wednesday that food retailers representing 2,000 U.S. stores have vowed not to sell GM seafood if it is approved in the United States. The announcement was made as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears close to approving genetically engineered salmon from AquaBounty Technologies, Maynard, Mass.

Budget Cuts Impacting Direct Payments to Farmers

The sequester has had many impacts – and one of those in agriculture deals with farm payments. USDA has announced it will cut more than 150-million dollars in farm payments. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack…

“The problem with the way in which the sequester was structured, is it requires us to actually look back in time at the beginning of the fiscal year. And to the extent that payments have been made to farmers, we will be required in theory to recoup those amounts.”

So producers receiving direct payment subsidies this fall will see pro-rated payment reductions – which Vilsack says means the direct payment amount will be reduced by the amount they have to repay to USDA. This affects producers with the Milk Income Loss Contract subsidy, SURE and NAP.

Speaking of budget cuts, the Senate passed a funding bill to keep the federal government running for another six months, and the bill includes an amendment designed to avoid furloughs for USDA meat plant inspectors even as other budget cuts go into effect. The legislation includes an amendment that designates the USDA inspectors, among other categories of federal workers, as "essential services." That would give the agency additional latitude in terms of moving funds around in its budgets to keep the inspectors on the job — and the meat processing facilities running. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.