Farmweek E Edition Page 3

Page 3 Monday, September 21, 2015 FarmWeek USDA food programs filling many kids' plates BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently touted the need for Congress to reau- thorize child nutrition programs set to expire Sept. 30 as he illustrated how his agency works to feed chil- dren. The sec- retary addressed a sympathetic audience in Chicago attending a USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food meeting hosted by Illi- nois Rural Development, Illinois Farm Bureau and Fresh Taste. "If we increase defense spending, surely we can find the wherewithal on the nonde- fense side," Vilsack said. "It's important to get the work done." The secretary refuted school officials' claims they lack funding to implement fresh produce programs. "When the Nutrition Act passed, $90 million was appropriated to imple- ment it; $28 million is still left unspent," Vil- sack said. Asked about Illinois' situation, the secretary said he didn't know. Recently, the Illinois State Board of Educa- tion announced the state received $5.23 million that will buy fresh fruits and vegetables in 200 school districts. (See accompanying story) Vilsack applauded the efforts of his audi- ence of educators, farmers, agencies, farm groups and nonprofit organizations to increase access to fresh produce and locally grown food. Later, participants heard from a Wisconsin pediatric dietician who matched an apple grower and local school district; the nutrition director for Detroit public schools who found land, sponsors and volunteers to grow and process sweet corn for school cafeterias; and the manager of Chicago's Gary Comer Youth Garden Center's rooftop garden and training programs. The agri- culture secre- tary praised programs that involve students in growing food and help them learn about agriculture. "Have kids get their hands dirty and realize the value of fruits and vegeta- bles - and get their parents involved!" Vil- sack said. USDA feeding kids USDA feeds children through several pro- grams. 21.6 million children eat free or reduced-price school lunches daily; 186 million summer meals served in low- income communities; 51 percent of U.S. infants in Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Chil- dren (WIC); 44 percent of Supple- mental Nutrition Assis- tance Program (SNAP) participants are children. Source: USDA U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discusses USDA programs to in- crease fresh produce served in schools via Farm to School and other programs during a recent Chicago meeting convened by Illinois Rural Development, Illinois Farm Bureau, USDA and Fresh Taste. (Photo by Kay Shipman) and listen to Ag Secre- tary Tom Vilsack's news conference. Students in more than 200 schools across Illinois will have access to free fruits and vegetables through the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pro- gram. USDA earmarks funding to states, which then dis- tribute the money to schools already participat- ing in the USDA's National School Lunch Program. Elementary students receive free fresh fruits and vegeta- bles outside of regular school meals. Schools may make the fruits and vegetables avail- able any time except during breakfast and lunch. Illinois received $5.23 million for the school year, marking the seventh year the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has administered the program. ISBE approved 212 schools with an estimated total enrollment of 102,000 students. Each school will be reim- bursed monthly for allow- able expenses up to the school's total awarded amount. Vilsack: 'Take long view' on farm income BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack advised farmers "to take the long view" on fluctuating farm income. During a stop in Chicago, Vilsack responded to a FarmWeek question about farmers anxious about the crop report given bad growing conditions in Illinois. He noted someone recently asked him about farm incomes being down by 50 percent. "That's like saying a guy hit 50 home runs and he hit 30 to 40 this year," Vilsack said. "He'll probably hit 25 home runs next year. Is that a bad year? It's a pretty good year, but he might be down a little. "That's the nature of farming now. But if you look at the long view, the last six to seven years have been profitable," he continued. "If you look at the farm bill that provides support and assistance when prices aren't good, there's no question farmers are going to benefit from those farm programs," the secretary said. "There's no question it's going to work. Folks need to be less anxious and focus on continuing the great work they do." USDA awards $5.23 million for Illinois school produce BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek Illinois Secretary of State officials last week clarified requirements for drivers of truck-tractor semitrailer com- binations and truck-trailer combination vehicles to com- ply with state regulations, including new covered farm vehicle (CFV) rules. A recent FarmWeek story surfaced confusion about the regula- tions. Part of that confusion comes from an attempt on the part of some drivers to equate the commercial driver's license (CDL) with the Class A driv- er's license. Those two are not synonymous. Any large combination vehi- cle requires the Class A license, whether the driver's license is a CDL or a non- CDL. To further help sort things out, keep in mind that there are now three types of Class A driver's licenses for the semi and a different type of Class A license for truck-trailer combi- nations. Nonfarm and farmer driv- ers of tractor-trailers and trucks with trailers may con- tinue to obtain a Class A CDL as they have previously. Likewise, regulations have not changed for the older Farm Vehicle Driver (FVD) exemptions that have gone unchanged since 1996. To qualify for FVD exemp- tions, a vehicle must be operat- ed by a farmer, his family member or an employee; haul only for the farm and not for hire; and be operated within 150 air miles of the farm both within or outside of Illinois borders. FVD operators of any combination vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds must comply with physical exam requirements. Under FVD provisions, semi drivers must obtain a Class A non-CDL with a J50 restriction, sometimes referred to as a "J50" license, while drivers of trucks and trailers may get by with a standard Class A non-CDL. Most of the confusion centers on the expanded CFV provisions. While those federal transportation regulations state a driver is not required to obtain a CDL to drive a trac- tor-trailer, the feds allow states to issue a non-CDL with state requirements, said Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local gov- ernment. Under CFV exemptions, Illinois allows a farm semi driver to obtain a Class A non-CDL with what amounts to a J50 restriction, Rund said. The Illinois requirement for a non-CDL for a semi driver requires passing the "equivalent" of CDL skills and written tests, he noted. Those who have taken the CDL tests previously will find the tests are identical. Under CFV exemptions, Illinois allows a driver of a farm truck and trailer (not a semi) to obtain a stan- dard Class A non-CDL, the same license required under FVD exemptions. Rund emphasized drivers can only obtain the CDL and J50 licenses from driver's license facilities designated to offer CDLs. To qualify for CFV exemp- tions, a vehicle must be: con- trolled and operated by a farmer, a family member or an employee; used to trans- port farm products, equip- ment or supplies to and from a farm; stay within the range limit; and be registered with a farm license plate. The vehi- cle must not be used for hire or haul hazardous materials sufficient to require HazMat placards. Under CFV, a vehicle weighing 26,001 or fewer pounds may be driven within the 48 contiguous states. Those more than 26,001 pounds may be driven any- where in Illinois or within 150 air miles of the farm. State clarifies 'Class A' license questions about CFV exemptions

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