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News Briefs - Jan. 21, 2010
Buckeye Farm News
USDA/IRS working to reduce farm program fraud
The Agriculture Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are partnering up to reduce fraud in farm programs. According to Tara Smith, AFBF farm policy specialist, this partnership could make farmers’ lives easier by addressing concerns about privacy. “One of our concerns has always been that farmers are required to bring business documentation or tax documentation to a local FSA office, and while we admire the work that our local FSA offices do, that is very sensitive information and a lot of times the security that needs to be in place for that kind of information just really isn’t there. Under the old system, anyone could be audited to see if they qualify for farm payments, but the new process will focus those audits on those more likely to be ineligible. Farmers have to fill out a form that goes directly to the IRS and even if they get red-flagged it goes to the state FSA committee and not through a local FSA office at all. Those are huge improvements over the current system,” Smith said.
AFBF survey shows staple food prices decreasing
The price of food at the supermarket has decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter and is significantly lower than one year ago, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare a meal was $42.90, down $3.13 from the third quarter of 2009 and $7.31 lower or about 15 percent less compared to one year ago. Stefphanie Gambrell, economist for AFBF, said sluggish consumer demand particularly in meats and dairy products played a role in the lower retail grocery prices.
Survey helping to identify broadband shortfalls
Ohio Farm Bureau worked with the Connect Ohio project this summer to gain a better understanding of who has broadband Internet access in the state. OFBF collaborated on a survey that will aid Connect Ohio in its effort to map broadband gaps. Several survey respondents were selected to win a free computer or high-speed Internet access. They also shared testimonials about how access to high-speed Internet has impacted their lives. Learn more about the effort at www.ConnectOhio.org.
2010 could be a better year for livestock farmers
In addition to improving prices, livestock producers should see improvements in profit margins in 2010, according to John Anderson, an Extension livestock economist with Mississippi State University.
“This year is shaping up to be one of the best years for livestock and poultry producers in several years but this will depend on healthy demand supported by a recovering economy,” Anderson said.