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CHEVY CHASE, MD

Famous folks promote 4-H

National 4-H Council announced the launch of 4-H Luminaries, an exclusive group of accomplished and influential 4-H alumni that will help raise awareness of the life-changing 4-H impact and generate support for bringing 4-H to more youth in need.

This prestigious group is part of the 25 million 4-H alumni from across the nation that share a common bond in 4-H.  The 2017 Class of 4-H Luminaries includes Grammy award-winning artist Jennifer Nettles, NBA star Kent Bazemore, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth and MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin, to name a few.

4-H Luminaries will help fuel the growth of 4-H by committing to serve as 4-H spokespeople sharing the personal impact of 4-H, offering their expertise and access to experiences for 4-H youth, alumni and professionals, and connecting their network for marketing, media and fundraising opportunities to help grow the mission of 4-H.

LIHUE, HA

Plans for dairy on hold for environmental review

A judge has ruled that Hawaii Dairy Farms must forego all permits and approvals for construction of a proposed 560-acre dairy in Kauai's Mahaulepu Valley pending an environmental assessment.

Kawailoa Development LLP, which owns the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and a golf course near the proposed dairy, filed a lawsuit against Hawaii Dairy Farms based on claims that its business and recreational interests would be adversely affected by the dairy's wastewater treatment unit. A judge ruled in favor of Kawailoa.

Kawailoa says any harm associated with the project could be avoided with an environmental assessment to review the effects of discharge, odors and other pollution.

Hawaii Dairy Farms is looking to develop the site with at least 700 cows and institute a rotational-grazing system that would use all the manure as natural fertilizer to grow grass, according to reports.

POWELL, WY

Hard winter challenges livestock producers

The snowy winter caused challenges for some Wyoming livestock producers, who spent more time and money working to help their herds survive into spring.

"We've always had bad (winter) weather, but usually we have some good weather between storms. This winter, we could hardly get a break," said Regan Smith of Smith Farms, which raise sheep, cattle and crops northeast of Powell. "It's just been a costly winter for extra labor, extra feed and extra energy — propane and electricity."

Producers incurred more expense to feed cows that have to eat more to maintain their body heat when the weather is bitter cold. With temperatures plunging to 20 below zero, cattle refused to leave windbreaks, forcing farmers to transport feed out to animals.

BILLINGS, MT

Study: Livestock grazing benefits bird species

A new study disputes a widely-held view that livestock grazing is largely incompatible with a ground-dwelling bird that has suffered a dramatic population decline across its 11-state range in the U.S. West.

Researchers said some grazing, particularly later in the growing season, could actually benefit the chicken-sized greater sage grouse.

Late-season grazing leaves in place for longer the grasses and other vegetation that sage grouse nest in, increasing their breeding success, researchers concluded. It also can stimulate the growth of vegetation that sage grouse eat, according to scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University and Utah State University.

An estimated 200,000 to 500,000 grouse remain in the U.S., down from a peak population of about 16 million.

AMARILLO, TX

ProAg to acquire International Ag

Producers Ag Insurance Group, Inc. (ProAg), a member of the Tokio Marine HCC (TMHCC) group of companies, announced a purchase agreement had been signed to acquire crop managing general agent (MGA) International Ag Insurance Solutions, LLC (International Ag).

The transaction, which is subject to a number of closing conditions including final approvals by certain International Ag members and regulatory authorities, is expected to close by April 3, 2017.

Headquartered in West Des Moines, IA, International Ag manages multi-peril crop, crop hail and named peril crop insurance. In 2016, the company managed gross premiums of $67.4 million, as reported by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).

FRESNO, CA

$19M available to farmers to improve air quality

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has $19 million available for eligible farmers to implement conservation practices that benefit air quality, which help to reduce on-farm emissions. Through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to eligible agricultural producers for addressing their natural resource concerns, including the air quality concerns from their farming operations.

Payments are available to replace old diesel-powered farm equipment, repower irrigation engines with new electric motors, adopt no-till or reduced-till conservation tillage practices; stabilize unpaved roads and traffic areas to limit dust, establish windbreaks and shelterbelts at CAFOs and more.

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