Farm-Fresh Ag News

Farm-Fresh Ag News

"Farm Safety"

The cold snap has reminded us of the need to be prepared throughout the winter season. We talked farm safety with Amy Rademaker of the Carle Center for Rural Health.  The interview can be found at, and you can also visit


Wednesday we discussed South American crops, the upcoming World Ag Supply and Demand Report, and high break-even costs with Nick Klump, Business Operations Specialist with AgriVisor. You can listen to the interview at and you can learn more at

"Beef Prices"

How high can beef prices go, and how long can they maintain these levels? We asked these and other questions to Kevin Good, Senior Analyst with CattleFax. You may listen to the interview at and you can learn more at

"Sharon Covert"

Sharon Covert, a United Soybean Board farmer-leader, recently went to New York to see how they are making the most of biodiesel. We also discussed the upcoming end of the 60-day comment period with EPA. You can hear the interview at and you can learn more about soybean promotions and research  at To make your comments to EPA, go to


Monday we talked with Deborah Colbert, Sr. VP with Waterways Council, about the need to get WRDA (or WRRDA) passed with necessary funding to improve our inland waterways. The interview can be heard at, and you can learn more about Waterways Council at

"Ken Ericksen"

Earlier this week at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting. Ken Ericksen of Informa Economics was one of the speakers. He discussed the impact of the 2012 drought on corn prices. We talked about drought and other factors that could prevent grain from moving down the river. You can hear the interview here,


GROWMARK CEO Jeff Solberg was a guest on the noon show. We interviewed him at the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Convention. You can hear the interview here,


Last week we talked with local farmer Steve Foglesong, who is a corn farmer and a beef producer from Astoria. He’s also past president of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Steve testified last week in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s policy regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard. You can hear the interview here,

"Chevrolet at GPFS"

Our coverage of the Greater Peoria Farm Show was presented by Chevrolet. Thursday we talked with Brian Dennison of Ray Dennison Chevrolet in Pekin about the Chevy Silverado as well as the Cruze diesel. You can hear the interview here,, and you can also visit to see what they have in stock.

"1st Farm Credit Services"

Yesterday we talked about crop insurance options with Shane Kaiser of 1st Farm Credit Services. We also talk about what to do about claims that may still need to be made. You can find the interview here,, and you can also find out more about 1st Farm Credit Services at

"IL Soybeans"

Yesterday we talked about soybeans as well as storm damage. The Hodel family near Metamora has a lot of cleanup ahead but is in very high spirits. You can hear the interview here,


"Chevrolet at GPFS"

Yesterday at the Greater Peoria Farm Show we talked about Chevy Trucks with Chuck Hart from Bob Grimm Chevrolet in Morton. We talked about Silverados and the special deals they have at the dealership. You can listen to the interview at



Tuesday at the Greater Peoria Farm Show we visited with Bryan Lessen with LGSeeds. We talked about corn rootwork and proper seed selection. You can listen to the interview here,  and you can learn more about the farm show at

"Chevy Trucks"

Yesterday at the Greater Peoria Farm Show we talked with Kyle Merritt, Sales Consultant with Uftring Weston Chevrolet Cadillac in Peoria. We talked about the new line of Chevy Trucks, including the new Silverado, and free maintenance for 2 years or 24,000 miles. You can find the interview here, and you can learn more about the farm show at

"Illinois Soybean Association"

Last week we talked with Illinois Soybean Association president Bill Raben. We talked about 100 years of soybeans, 50 years of ISA, as well as several other topics.

The interview can be heard at If you have questions or want to have your voice heard as a soybean producer, simply go to


"Greater Peoria Farm Show"

The 32nd Greater Peoria Farm Show is Tuesday-Thursday at the Peoria Civic Center. It’s the largest indoor farm show in the state, and we’ll be broadcasting from the show each day. Our reports will be sponsored by Chevrolet.

To hear a preview of the show, please click on And to prepare for your trip, visit and use their map to see where all of the exhibitors will be located.


"Farm Bill Report"

On Thursday ag secretary Vilsack discussed a roughly 50-page report, entitled the economic importance of passing a comprehensive food farm and jobs bill. It was published by the council of economic advisors and the white house economic team.

Vilsack says the report makes a compelling case for why congress needs to pass the farm bill, as it impacts all of America, not just farmers.

The report also highlights the current economic state in farm country, with farm income at or near record levels, farm asset values have increased significantly, and that record ag exports are supporting nearly one million jobs nationally.

The report highlights work in bioenergy, as USDA is working with nearly three thousand companies that are producing bio-based products, as well as other farm-bill related programs that have helped people across the country.

Secretary Vilsack talked about crop insurance and its role in the coming years with farm policy. Vilsack says farmers have no control over floods, snowstorms or droughts, so it’s important that farmers control and mitigate the consequences of natural disasters through appropriate safety net programming.

The full report can be found at

"Illinois Commodity Conference"

The Illinois Commodity Conference is coming up…it will be Tuesday, November 26. One of the speakers at the conference will be George Bush.

No, not that one.

Not that one, either.

It’s George Prescott Bush, son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. He’s the grandson of George H. W. Bush. He’s also a US naval reserves intelligence officer who’s seeking elective office as Texas Land Commissioner in 2014.

Theme of the Illinois Commodity Conference is “Connecting with your Customer.” It will be held at the Marriott in Normal. Registration is $60 if the register by Friday; after that the price will go to $90.

To learn more about the conference, visit the event blog at

"More Harvest for Holidays Sponsors!"

Central Illinois Ag thanks 3 more sponsors for their support of Harvest for the Holidays, which will help Midwest Food Bank:


Uftring Auto Group

Mid State Ag in Green Valley

Akron Services in Brimfield, Glasford and Edelsteen

"Harvest for the Holidays Sponsors"

Central Illinois Ag thanks these 6 sponsors for their support of Harvest for the Holidays:


Ag-Land FS in Pekin

Amerigas in Peoria

Mack Sales and Service in Morton

Performance Automotive in Havana

Rawlings Trailer Sales in Hopedale

Weaver Ridge in Peoria


Last year we raised $37,000 for Midwest Food Bank in Peoria and Morton. Please help us again this year.

"Harvest for the Holidays Returns!"

The Midwest Food Bank is honored to be a part of the 1470/100.3 WMBD and 1290/102.7 WIRL Harvest for the Holidays campaign for the 5th year in a row.  Last year the efforts of area Farm Bureaus, sponsors and the Agri-Business Department at 1470/100.3 WMBD and 1290/102.7 WIRL were able to raise more than $37,000 for the Midwest Food Bank  – we hope to surpass that amount this year. The Midwest Food Bank – in Peoria and Morton - is a volunteer organization that supplies food free of charge to over 600 not for profit agencies throughout Illinois and Indiana. MFB is also active in disaster relief in the U.S. and also donates food supplies to alleviate suffering internationally.


Here’s how you can help: please donate at least either 10 bushels of corn or 5 bushels of soybeans to a participating elevator. The elevator will, in essence, buy the grain from you, and then they will present checks to Midwest Food Bank based on the value of the donations.


Area locations include:

Ag-Land FS

Akron Services

Bell Enterprises

Farmers Elevator of Biggs and Easton

Farmers Grain and Coal of Mason City and Teheran

McNabb Grain

Minier Co-Op

Monica Elevator

Rickett Grain Company

Roanoke Farmers

Ruff Brothers

Rumbold & Kuhn

Taloma Grain Co-Op

Tremont Co-Op

Varna Farmers

Western Grain Marketing


No donation is too small for Midwest Food Bank. Keep listening to learn more about our Harvest for the Holidays promotion.



"EPA’s Release of Personal Information Leads to Introduction of Senate Legislation"

(NAFB) - Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly have introduced legislation to protect livestock and poultry farmers from having personal information released by the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill stems from the release of the personal information of more than 80-thousand livestock and poultry owners from across the country to three activist groups. Grassley’s office notes the EPA disclosed information on people in Iowa owning as few as one pig and an individual who owned 12 horses. In fact - he says a large number of those the EPA released data on did not meet the definition of a Consolidated Animal Feeding Operation. According to Grassley - this is just another in a pattern of egregious overreach by the federal bureaucracy. He says the idea that government knows best was bad for the IRS and is bad for the EPA. He says a lot of Iowans were concerned with the EPA’s actions and he can at least try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Donnelly says it is unacceptable that the EPA released the personal contact information of tens of thousands of poultry and livestock owners earlier this year. He says this blatant violation of privacy must not happen again. That’s why he’s urging Senators on both sides of the aisle to support the legislation - which does not prevent the EPA from collecting the information about where farmers’ operations are located and does not prevent EPA from disclosing information in the aggregate.

Grassley says transparency is good for accountability - bur argues putting the personal information of farmers in the hands of environmental activists makes no sense. Several Senators wrote the EPA in June regarding their concern with the agency’s release of personal information. Their response was unsatisfactory for Grassley and Donnelly. Grassley says it looks like the EPA isn’t going to end this reckless behavior - so it’s time for Congress to step in and fix the problem.

Grassley and Donnelly filed a similar amendment to the farm bill - but it wasn’t brought up by the Senate leadership for consideration.

"Farm Bill ‘Ball’ in House Court"

(NAFB) - Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow told reporters Tuesday she is waiting for the House leadership to respond to the receipt of the Senate farm bill, call for a conference and appoint conferees. Her hope is that conferees will be appointed before the August recess. Last week - after receiving the farm-program only farm bill from the House - the Senate substituted its bill and sent it back to the House. Stabenow said the House needs to formally object to the Senate bill and appoint conferees to work out the differences. While Stabenow said the Agriculture Committee leaders of both chambers have met - she pointed out there’s a limit to what they can do before a formal conference is called and conferees are named.

Currently - Stabenow said the committee leaders are talking through the differences in the commodity title. She doesn’t believe replacing permanent law makes sense for the future of the farm bill. Stabenow also said the Senate will insist on a comprehensive bill that includes nutrition. Without the nutrition title - she said the farm bill can’t make it through the Senate or be signed by the President.

"Senate Ag Holds Confirmation Hearing"

(NAFB) - The Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing for Krysta Harden - President Obama’s nominee for Deputy Agriculture Secretary - and Robert Bonnie. Bonnie is the nominee for USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Calling herself a product of rural America - Harden said too many young rural people face a lack of opportunity. She is determined to use the powers of USDA to change the situation. As Deputy Secretary - Harden told the committee she would grow existing markets and create new ones, open new doors around the world for quality U.S. products and increase farmers markets and food hubs in the U.S. that can help the new generation of farmers who want to grow organic crops and sell products locally. In addition - Harden expressed a belief that the nation is on the cutting edge of conservation, pledged to build the biobased economy and usher in a new era of civil rights at USDA.

Harden has served as Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations. She said the biggest challenge she’s faced at the department is the uncertainty of budgets and the need to motivate employees in the midst of that uncertainty. That experience - and her role in the implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill - she said - would help her performance as Deputy Secretary.

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow said the committee was impressed with both nominees.

"CFTC Commissioners Testify Before Ag Subcommittee"

(NAFB) - The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management continued the process of gathering information and perspectives on the future of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Tuesday. Congress is preparing to write legislation to reauthorize the agency as the statutory authorization expires at the end of the fiscal year. CFTC Commissioners Scott O’Malia and Mark Wetjen testified before members of the committee. Subcommittee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said Dodd-Frank fundamentally changed the regulatory agency as much as it sought to remake the financial markets. He said it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that regulatory actions have consequences. It’s critical for a healthy economy - he said - to weigh the costs and benefits of those actions. 

Ranking Member David Scott said the passage of Dodd-Frank made the CFTC one of the most important regulators in the U.S. - if not the entire world. He noted the portion of the financial sector they oversee is enormous and growing daily. Scott said the hearing was important for reviewing the tasks CFTC has on its plate and to ensure they have the tools statutorily and monetarily to accomplish the job Congress has given them.

Tuesday’s hearing was the second on the future of the CFTC. The full committee met in May to gain perspectives from the market. A third hearing is taking place today (Wednesday) to learn more about the impact of the Commission’s actions on end-users.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is holding its own meeting on Thursday to discuss the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFTC will convene a meeting of its Agricultural Advisory Committee to talk about customer protection - but also to hear a presentation on trading of ethanol/Renewable Identification Numbers.

"RFS Supporters Get Chance to Share Success Stories with Congress"

(NAFB) - A House Energy Subcommittee met Tuesday to get stakeholder perspectives on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis and National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe were among those testifying before the Energy and Power Subcommittee. Buis outlined his support for the RFS and the renewable fuel industry - calling it a resounding success that has created American jobs, revitalized rural America and injected much-needed competition into a monopolized liquid fuels market. He noted the industry - thanks to the RFS - has lowered prices at the pump, improved the environment and made the nation more energy independent. Buis urged the committee to stay true to the RFS - a policy that is working and showing results. He said now is not the time to disrupt this success and interfere with the progress of the American biofuels industry.

The National Biodiesel Board’s Jobe highlighted how the RFS is helping consumers by stimulating the production of advanced biofuels like biodiesel. He emphasized that the law was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, is working as Congress intended to diversify the transportation fuels market, is boosting local economies and cutting harmful emissions. Jobe also cited persistent increases in gasoline prices as evidence of the continued need for alternatives at the pump. Jobe told subcommittee members consumers will continue to see rising gas prices until we diversify the market. That - he said - is what the RFS is all about. He said it is a success.

Jobe also noted how the RFS has helped biodiesel become the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach one-billion gallons of annual production. He pointed out the industry has cracked the one-billion gallon mark for two consecutive years - exceeding the volume requirements under the RFS every year. The industry is on pace to do so again this year. Jobe said this is a tremendous success story that is creating jobs across the country, improving our energy security, helping consumers and reducing pollution.

"USDA Takes Additional Steps to Address Sugar Surplus"

(NAFB) - USDA has announced additional actions to address the domestic sugar surplus at the least cost to the federal government. The department sent purchase invitations to domestic sugarcane processors soliciting bids to sell raw cane sugar to the Commodity Credit Corporation. USDA says the CCC will purchase sugar from domestic processors under the Cost Reduction Options of the Food Security Act of 1985 and simultaneously exchange this sugar for credits offered by refiners holding licenses under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. According to USDA - similar actions last month successfully removed almost 300-thousand metric tons of import supply in exchange for 91-thousand metric tons of CCC inventory for a cost of 43-million dollars - saving an estimated 66.9-million in avoided sugar forfeitures. Tuesday’s action is expected to remove an additional 136-thousand metric tons of import supply of raw cane sugar at a cost of 18.7-million dollars - reducing federal sugar program expenditures by an estimated 37.6-million - which would be incurred if the sugar were forfeited to CCC.

While this invitation will be administered similarly to the purchase announced in June - it is different from the earlier action in that only sugarcane processors may offer to sell sugar because raw cane sugar poses the greatest risk of forfeitures at this time. Another difference from the earlier purchase is that any sugar offered must be under CCC loan.

The Farm Service Agency’s invitation for U.S. sugarcane processors to sell sugar to CCC - and the invitation to exchange Re-export credits - can be found on the FSA Commodity Operations website.

"FSA County Committee Nomination Deadline Approaching"

(NAFB) - Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers have about a week left to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local Farm Service Agency County Committees. FSA Administrator Juan Garcia says this is an opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered at the county level. He is encouraging producers to get involved and nominate the candidate of their choice or themselves to serve on their local county committee. Garcia is especially encouraging the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers - as well as women and minorities. FSA county committees help local farmers through their decisions on commodity price support loans, conservation programs and disaster programs and by working closely with county executive directors. For a complete list of eligibility requirements and nomination forms - visit www dot FSA dot USDA dot gov slash elections ( The deadline to submit nominations is August 1st.

"Rancher Cites Four Beef Cattle Health Questions to Ask this Week"

(NAFB) - South Dakota rancher Amanda Radke writes in BEEF Daily that producers should ask four beef cattle health questions when checking the pasture this week. The first question is about flies. Radke cites an old article on managing flies that states it doesn’t take a large number to have an impact on cattle production. Despite the date on the article - Radke says the information is still pertinent. It goes on to say as few as 100 to 200 flies per side are enough to impact stocker gains by 50-pounds during the summer. So - if you can see more than a hand-sized patch of flies on each side of your cattle - you could have a problem. The second question to ask - according to Radke - is whether heat is weighing the herd down. She notes several thousand head of cattle have died in the state of Nebraska this year as a result of high heat, humidity and calm winds. The Lincoln Journal Star reported feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to heat waves. In South Dakota - a case of anthrax was confirmed in a calf. That’s why Radke says it’s also good to ask if anthrax is a real threat to your cattle. The final question to ask this week - Radke says - is about pinkeye. Pinkeye can cause dramatic economic damage. According to The Western Producer - calves experiencing pinkeye weigh 30-pounds less on average than calves not affected. The decreases in productivity are even more dramatic for calves with both eyes affected. Their weaning weights were 40-pounds less. Even post-weaning - data has shown calves affected by pinkeye before weaning weighed an average of 15-pounds less at 12 months of age.

"NCGA Accepting Applications for Action Teams, Committees"

(NAFB) - The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications from those members with an interest in serving on an NCGA action team or committee during the 2014 fiscal year. NCGA First Vice President Martin Barbre notes NCGA is a grassroots organization that relies on its members to step forward and take an active role in developing the policies that will lead the industry forward. For the upcoming fiscal year - which begins October 1st - Barbre says NCGA has opportunities in all of the areas the organization touches - thus allowing members to take their involvement to the next level while exploring in great depth the areas that interest them most.

NCGA has available positions on all teams and committees - including the CornPAC, Ethanol Committee, Grower Services Action Team, Production and Stewardship Action Team, Public Policy Action Team, Research and Business Development Action Team and the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. There are also positions available on the Corn Board Bylaws Committee and Nominating Committee.

Action teams and committees are made up of 14 voting members representing a cross-section of corn production. Duties include conducting an annual planning process, defining programs to be implemented and implementing them with evaluation measurement for each program, seeking necessary information and expertise to advise the team, advising the Corn Board on policy positions or requesting Corn Board action, keeping the Corn Board informed and working through the Corn Board on public policy actions or positions.

The application must be received by the state corn association offices by August 30th. For more information - visit www dot ncga dot com ( or call Kathy Baker at the NCGA office at 636-733-9004.

"A Busy Thursday for Ag Groups"

(NAFB) - Farm groups were not sending the same message to members of Congress before the farm-only farm bill vote Thursday. Despite the urging of House Speaker John Boehner and Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas - some groups - including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union - asked members of Congress to vote against final passage of the attempt to split the farm bill and end permanent law provisions for agriculture. Other farm groups did encourage members to vote yes - though reluctantly in some cases. National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson wrote that the group disagreed with the policies of the legislation and was dismayed with the process that led to the sad situation. But she said NCGA saw no other way to move the farm bill to conference with the Senate. As a result - Johnson urged members of the House to approve the bill. But she stressed the request did not reflect NCGA’s approval of the bill’s contents or the manner in which it came to the floor. The National Pork Producers Council took a slightly different approach - with CEO Neil Dierks stating that NPPC and its state pork producer affiliates wouldn’t have signed on to the letter sent on July 2nd had they realized a statement of opposition to splitting the nutrition title from the House Farm Bill had been added. Dierks said NPPC and its affiliates would support the removal of the nutrition title if it led to passage of a new farm bill - which he called imperative to America’s pork producers. Even after the House approved the stripped down version of the farm bill - the response from ag groups varied.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said his group had hoped the farm bill would not be split - nor permanent law repealed. He said the group will now focus its efforts on working with lawmakers to deliver a farm bill to the President’s desk for his signature by September. According to Stallman - the next steps for the bill are unknown - but Farm Bureau looks forward to moving ahead with fundamental farm policy legislation and will be working with both sides of the aisle and both Chambers of Congress to ensure passage of a new five-year farm bill.

Roger Johnson - National Farmers Union President - said Thursday’s partisan vote to pass the farm bill apart from the nutrition title undermines the long-time coalition of support for a unified, comprehensive farm bill that has historically been written on a bipartisan basis. Johnson said NFU will continue to do all it can to get a reasonable bill through the conference process. For NFU - Johnson said any final legislation must continue existing permanent law provisions and include meaningful safety net protections for family farmers facing difficult times and the food insecure.

The American Soybean Association was relieved to see the House approve a farm bill - but President Danny Murphy said their approval of a partial bill will mean nothing if a bill doesn’t emerge from conference that both chambers will pass. ASA is calling on the House and Senate to work in a bipartisan manner to craft a conference bill that can pass both chambers and be signed by President Obama before existing authorities expire on September 30th. Murphy said ASA is opposed to the replacement of permanent law by whatever legislation may result from this process. By only making Title I of a new farm bill permanent - he noted other titles - including conservation, research, energy and trade - would risk not being reauthorized when the bill expires after five years. Murphy said the group is also concerned that Title I of a new bill could include provisions that would distort plantings and production in years of low prices - and that it would be extremely difficult to change these provisions if the legislation were made permanent.

National Sorghum Producers Chairman Terry Swanson said - while the road leading to House passage of a split version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 was unconventional - NSP supports the revised bill and thanks the members of the U.S. House for passing the measure. Swanson said NSP will stand behind the leadership of House Ag Chair Frank Lucas and his decision to move forward in this way as a means to get a bill to conference that will ultimately result in a comprehensive, five-year farm bill.

The National Cotton Council says House action on new farm legislation is an important step that will hopefully lead to successful and timely development of critically important new multi-year legislation. The U.S. cotton industry is thankful for the inclusion of the Stacked Income Protection Plan - or STAX - and transition payments to assist cotton producers and their lenders while USDA’s Risk Management Agency completes the task of fully implementing the new program. NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson also notes the House legislation addresses the entire cotton industry’s interests by including provisions that assist U.S. textile manufacturers, extend the marketing assistance loan and adjusted world price redemption process, continue conservation programs, extend the highly successful Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program and extend the extra-long staple cotton program.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance welcomed House passage of the revised farm bill as the next step to enacting a five-year plan for federal agriculture policy. The group is pleased that the House and Senate bills both address many of the critical priorities outlined by the alliance and continue the support of specialty crops established in the 2008 Farm Bill.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Scott George called the separation of the nutrition title from the farm bill an unprecedented step - but was pleased to see cattlemen and women a step closer to final legislation that provides certainty for producers and incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry. George said NCBA is pleased that the legislation includes disaster programs, authorizes conservation programs important to cattle producers and contains language to prevent USDA from moving forward on the proposed GIPSA rule from the 2008 Farm Bill. George said there are also important amendments included which rein in the Environmental Protection Agency. He said the amendments provide regulatory relief to cattle producers, prevent EPA from releasing personal producer information to third parties and prohibit EPA from regulating forest roads under the Clean Water Act.

Based on the unprecedented action of the House - National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber says his group is hopeful the farm bill process will move forward. Garber urged the House and Senate to come together to find a common ground that will benefit the future of our natural resource base. He said the nation’s farmers and landowners deserve to have long-term certainty to effectively and efficiently manage their land, resources and businesses for the years ahead.

"Farm Bureau Economist Highlights WASDE Corn, Soybean Numbers"

(NAFB) - The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report shows no change in the projected corn and soybean yields. The 2013 corn yield is projected to be 156.5-bushels per acre. The soybean yield is forecast at 44.5-bushels per acre. American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Todd Davis notes corn production is down slightly from June though. Due to slightly lower harvested acreage expectations - the corn crop is now projected at 13.95-billion bushels - a slight decline from the 14-billion bushel projection in last month’s report. Despite the decrease - Davis points out corn production is still on target for a record-setting year if realized. Davis says the soybean crop could be record-setting as well if the 3.42-billion bushel production forecast is obtained.

Corn and soybean acreage reflected the acreage survey released June 28th - which meant an increase of corn planted acres to 97.4-million and soybean planted acres to 77.7-million. A dip of 50-million bushels to 1.25-billion is expected for 2013-14 corn exports due to a later harvest and tight old crop corn stocks. That would be an increase of 550-million bushels from the 2012-13 marketing year. Davis says the estimate may be optimistic because of South American competition. Corn ending stocks are estimated to build significantly - from 729-million in 2012-13 to a projected 1.959-billion for 2013-14. Davis notes the projections are higher than the trade pre-report predictions of 1.88-billion. He says the elevated corn ending stocks predictions will reflect negatively on marketing-year prices - reducing the estimated 2013 farm price to $4.80 per bushel from $6.95 per bushel in 2012.

U.S. soybean ending stocks are expected to more than double from the 2012-13 marketing year - projected at 295-million bushels for 2013-14. That’s an increase from 265-million bushels in June’s WASDE report. The increase will lower the 2013-14 projected soybean price to $10.75 per bushel from $14.40 per bushel in the 2012-13 marketing year.

"WASDE at a Glance"

(NAFB) - USDA has released the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. This month’s report adopts U.S. area, yield and production forecasts for winter wheat, durum, other spring wheat, barley and oats released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. For rice, corn, sorghum, soybeans and cotton - area estimates reflect the Acreage report released by NASS late last month. The next WASDE report - to be released August 12 - will include the first survey-based production forecasts for those crops.

WHEAT: Projected U.S. wheat supplies for 2013/14 are raised slightly this month with lower beginning stocks more than offset by higher production, both based on the latest survey-based estimates and forecasts. Beginning stocks are reduced 27 million bushels as indicated by the June 1 stocks estimate reported in the June 28 Grain Stocks. Production is forecast up 34 million bushels with lower forecast harvested area from the June 28 Acreage report more than offset by higher yields. Production is raised 11 million bushels for Hard Red Winter and 30 million bushels for Soft Red Winter (SRW) wheat. White Winter wheat is forecast down 7 million bushels. For durum, a reduction in area is only partly offset by a higher yield with production forecast down 5 million bushels. For other spring wheat, a reduction in area is more than offset by a higher yield forecast in today’s Crop Production report, adding 4 million bushels to this month’s production forecast. July survey-based yield forecasts for durum and other spring wheat are up 1.6 bushels per acre from last month’s trend based projections. Total U.S. wheat use for 2013/14 is raised 89 million bushels as lower expected domestic use is more than offset by higher projected exports. Projected feed and residual disappearance is lowered 10 million bushels with stronger export demand, especially for SRW wheat. Exports are projected 100 million bushels higher reflecting strong sales, particularly to China. Ending stocks are projected down 83 million bushels. At 576 million tons, stocks are expected to remain well above the 60-year low of 306 million in 2007/08. The projected range for the 2013/14 season average farm price is raised 20 cents on both ends to $6.45 to $7.75 per bushel. At the $7.20-perbushel midpoint, this would be down from the record $7.77 per bushel reported for 2012/13.

Global wheat supplies for 2013/14 are lowered 3.5 million tons reflecting lower projected beginning stocks as world production rises 1.9 million tons. World production for 2013/14 is raised. Global wheat consumption for 2013/14 is raised 5.4 million tons. Global wheat trade is raised with a 5.0-million-ton increase in China imports. World exports are raised 5.0 million tons. World ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 8.9 million tons lower. At 172.4 million tons, stocks would be the lowest since 2008/09, but well above the 128.8 million in 2007/08.

COARSE GRAINS: Projected 2013/14 U.S. feed grain supplies are lowered this month with reduced beginning stocks for corn and sorghum and lower forecast harvested areas for corn and sorghum from the Acreage report. Corn beginning stocks for 2013/14 are projected 40 million bushels lower. Corn production for 2013/14 is lowered 55 million bushels with the lower harvested area and the projected yield unchanged at 156.5 bushels per acre. Projected production remains just below 14 billion bushels and would be 858 million above the record in 2009/10. Corn supplies for 2013/14 are lowered 90 million bushels as a 5-million-bushel increase in imports only partly offsets the lower beginning stocks and production. This month’s changes to corn use for 2012/13 and 2013/14 largely reflect the lateness of the 2013 crop and expectations for extremely tight supplies later this summer and into early fall. Feed and residual disappearance for 2012/13 is raised 50 million bushels as early harvest of new-crop corn is expected to be sharply reduced from last year. A 10-million-bushel increase in projected imports for 2012/13 also reflects the tight supply situation expected for old-crop corn during the summer quarter. Imports for 2013/14 are raised because the tight supply situation is expected to continue into September. Feed and residual use for 2013/14 is lowered 50 million bushels with tighter beginning stocks and lower production, and also on the lack of early new-crop usage which tends to boost indicated disappearance during the September-December quarter of the new marketing year. Projected exports for 2013/14 are lowered 50 million bushels as tight supplies of corn in early September are expected to limit early season shipments. With lower projected use in 2013/14, ending stocks are raised 10 million bushels and remain just under 2 billion bushels. The projected 2013/14 season-average farm price for corn is unchanged at $4.40 to $5.20 per bushel. The 2013/14 other feed grain farm price projections are also unchanged.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013/14 are projected 3.6 million tons lower with 2.9 million tons of the decline resulting from the tighter supply situation for corn and sorghum in the United States. Foreign coarse grain supply and use changes this month are relatively small in the aggregate. Global 2013/14 coarse grain trade is mostly unchanged this month with exports down slightly on the reduction for U.S. corn. Global corn consumption is down 2.6 million tons with half of the reduction in the United States. Global corn ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected at 151.0 million tons, down 0.9 million. World corn stocks are expected to be the highest since 2001/02.

RICE: U.S. all rice supplies in 2013/14 are lowered 10.5 million cwt or 4 percent to 235.6 million cwt, the lowest since 2000/01, as beginning stocks and production are lowered 1.5 million and 10.0 million, respectively. Conversely, the import forecast is raised 1.0 million cwt to a near-record 23.5 million. Beginning stocks for 2013/14 are lowered 1.5 million cwt as small changes are made to 2012/13 supply and use - imports are lowered 0.5 million to 21.0 million, and exports are raised 1.0 million to 109.0 million. Rice production in 2013/14 is lowered 5 percent to 179.5 million cwt this month due entirely to a 5 percent reduction in harvested area as reported in the Acreage report released on June 28. Harvested area for 2013/14 is dropped 141,000 acres to 2.45 million, down almost 9 percent from last year, and the lowest since 1987/88. U.S. all rice total use for 2013/14 is lowered 6.0 million cwt or nearly 3 percent to 207.0 million, the lowest since 2000/01, as domestic and residual use, and exports are each reduced 3.0 million. Ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected at 28.6 million cwt, down 4.5 million, or nearly 14 percent from a month ago, and the lowest since 2003/04. The 2013/14 long-grain rice U.S. season-average farm price (SAFP) is projected at $14.50 to $15.50 per cwt, up 60 cents per cwt on each end of the range from last month. The combined medium- and short-grain SAFP is projected at $15.80 to $16.80 per cwt, unchanged from a month ago. The 2013/14 all rice SAFP is projected at $14.90 to $15.90 per cwt, up 40 cents per cwt on each end of the range from last month. Long-grain rice price projection for 2013/14 is raised due mostly to a decrease in expected supplies. Combined medium- and short-grain rice prices are expected to remain near last year’s level as there will be strong competition from Egypt and Australia for export markets outside of Northeast Asia.

Global 2013/14 rice production, consumption, trade, and ending stocks are all reduced from last month. Global production is projected at 478.7 million tons, still a record despite decreases totaling 0.5 million. Global exports in 2013/14 are reduced slightly. Global consumption for 2013/14 is reduced. World ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected at 108.0 million tons, down 0.6 million from last month, but 2.6 million above the previous year. Global 2012/13 exports are reduced by 0.6 million tons.

OILSEEDS: U.S. oilseed production for 2013/14 is projected at 100.9 million tons, up 0.2 million from last month, with increased soybean production mostly offset by reductions for other oilseeds. Soybean production is projected at 3.42 billion bushels, up 30 million due to increased harvested area. Harvested area, estimated at 76.9 million acres in the June 28 Acreage report, is 0.7 million above the June projection. The soybean yield is projected at 44.5 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month. Soybean supplies are 30 million bushels above last month’s forecast reflecting the production change. With projections for exports and crush unchanged, 2013/14 soybean ending stocks are raised 30 million bushels to 295 million. U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2012/13 are unchanged. The 2013/14 U.S. season-average soybean price is forecast at $9.75 to $11.75 per bushel, unchanged from last month. Product prices are also unchanged, with soybean meal prices forecast at $290 to $330 per short ton and soybean oil prices forecast at 47 to 51 cents per pound.

Global oilseed production for 2013/14 is projected at 492.9 million tons, up 2.1 million from last month. Higher forecasts for soybeans, rapeseed, cottonseed, and peanuts are only partly offset by reductions for sunflowerseed. Global soybean production is projected at 285.9 million tons, up 0.6 million. Argentina soybean production is reduced due to a lower harvested area estimate for both 2012/13 and 2013/14.

SUGAR: Projected U.S. sugar supply for fiscal year 2013/14 is decreased 647,000 short tons, raw value, from last month mainly due to lower imports. Higher sugar production, based on higher area for harvest of both sugar crops, is partially offset by lower beginning stocks. Reduced imports under the tariff rate quota and the re-export programs combine with lower imports from Mexico to reduce total imports by 694,000 tons. Total use for 2013/14 is increased in line with the increase for the previous year. Ending stocks are lowered 667,000 tons to 16.8 percent of use. For Mexico, lower beginning stocks and higher use reduce ending stocks to 22 percent of domestic consumption.

LIVESTOCK, POULTRY, AND DAIRY: The forecast for 2013 red meat and poultry production is reduced from last month on lower beef, pork and turkey production. Beef production is lowered as steer and heifer slaughter in the second quarter was lower than expected. The lower second quarter slaughter more than offsets higher forecast slaughter in the second half of the year. The pork production forecast is reduced, largely on a reduction in fourth-quarter slaughter. USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report indicated that despite a record number of pigs per litter in March- May, the pig crop for that period was only fractionally above year-earlier. Turkey production is lowered as hatchery data points toward sharper declines in second-half production. The broiler production forecast is unchanged. Egg production is raised on higher table and hatching egg production. For 2014, the red meat and poultry production forecast is higher based on larger pork production. Pork production increases are driven primarily by gains in pigs per liter as producers have indicated intentions to only gradually expand farrowings in the second half of 2013.

Beef and pork exports for 2013 and 2014 are unchanged. The beef import forecast is lowered for 2013 and 2014 due largely to expected tight supplies in Oceania. Pork imports are raised slightly for 2013 and 2014. Broiler and turkey exports for 2013 are raised on the current strength of trade. Forecasts for 2014 are unchanged. The cattle price forecast for 2013 is lowered from last month as prices have weakened recently. The 2014 price forecast is lowered for the first half of the year. Hog prices are raised as demand strength carries from 2013 into 2014, but price gains will be limited by higher production. Broiler prices are higher as strong demand is expected to support prices in 2014. Turkey prices are down slightly for 2013 while 2014 is unchanged. Egg prices are raised for 2013 on relatively strong demand.

The 2013 milk production forecast is raised from last month based on growth in milk production to date. The milk production forecast for 2014 is unchanged from last month. Despite weaker forecast milk prices, forage supplies and feeding margins will likely continue to support modest gains in milk production. The fat-basis import forecast for 2013 is unchanged, but lowered on a skim-solid basis reflecting slower-than-expected imports of milk protein concentrates. The 2013 fat-basis export forecast is higher on continued robust exports of cheese. Skim-solid exports for 2013 are higher as nonfat dry milk (NDM) shipments are expected to remain strong. The United States has gained in export markets typically served by the European Union which has experienced a slowdown in production. Export forecasts for 2014 are unchanged. Fat and skim-solid basis ending stock forecasts for 2013 are raised as stocks of butter and cheese have remained large. Ending stock forecasts for 2014 are raised as well. Cheese and butter prices are forecast lower for 2013 on larger supplies. Prices for 2014 are lowered as the larger carry-in stocks overhang the market. The 2013 NDM price forecast is raised from last month on strong export demand, but the forecast for 2014 is unchanged. The whey price forecasts for both 2013 and 2014 are unchanged from last month. The Class III price forecasts are lowered from last month in line with lower product prices. The Class IV price forecast is unchanged for 2013 as lower butter prices are largely offset by higher NDM prices. However, the Class IV price is lowered for 2014, reflecting lower butter prices. The 2013 all milk price is forecast at $19.50 to $19.80 and the price for 2014 is $18.70 to $19.70 per cwt.

COTTON: The month’s U.S. cotton estimates include slightly higher ending stocks in 2012/13 and 2013/14 resulting from a reduction in the current season export estimate, which reflects the recent pace of shipments. Forecast production for 2013/14 remains at 13.5 million bales, the same as last month; however, estimates of planted area, harvested area, and average yield have been updated to reflect recent information. The 2013/14 projections of domestic mill use and exports are unchanged from last month. The forecast range for the marketing-year average price received by producers is lowered 3 cents on each end to 70 to 90 cents per pound.

Projections of world cotton stocks are also raised in both 2012/13 and 2013/14 due to a combination of higher production and lower consumption. The balance sheet for China is unchanged this month and assumes continuation of current policies regulating the national reserve acquisition and release prices.

"Introduction of Zero-for-Zero Sugar Policy Pleases Sugar Alliance”"

(NAFB) - The American Sugar Alliance praises Florida Congressman Ted Yoho for introducing a new zero-for-zero sugar policy - instructing the Administration to target foreign sugar subsidies distorting world prices and keeping a free market from forming. Sugar Alliance Chairman Ryan Weston says Americans are efficient sugar producers - and the Alliance believes the U.S. government should back policies that reward the best business people - not the most subsidized. However - Weston warns efforts to target U.S. policies without addressing foreign subsidies would only harm the U.S. economy - leaving America dependent on unreliable foreign producers. Weston says foreign subsidies simply have gotten out of hand - and if there’s ever going to be a free market in sugar - something must be done. He says anyone who supports free market principles should support the Yoho legislation.

"Ag Department Designates New Biobased Product Categories"

(NAFB) - USDA announced yesterday the designation of eight new bio-based product categories for preferred Federal procurement - furthering goals of last year’s presidential memo designed to increase rural job creation and increase the number of categories and products eligible for preferred purchasing. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says companies across the nation create incredible new products from crops grown in the U.S. every day - expanding markets for ag and growing job opportunities in rural America. He says the designation of these new categories underlines the Administration’s commitment to strengthening the bio-based economy - and ensures the Federal government uses American bio-based products whenever possible. The eight new categories include aircraft and boat cleaners, automotive care products, engine crankcase oil, gasoline fuel additives, metal cleaners and corrosion removers, microbial cleaning products, paint removers and water turbine bearing oils. With these additional categories - the total is now 97 representing nearly 10-thousand types of products.

"NACD President Highlights Importance of Wildfire, Forest Management"

(NAFB) - National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber submitted a statement for the record for the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation oversight hearing titled Wildfire and Forest Management. Garber says it’s critical the U.S. examines its forest-management policies and looks for ways to strengthen and improve upon those practices for the future. He says modern challenges have proven to take their toll on forests across the country - and stresses including management practices, pests, disease and resources are impacting the health of forest ecosystems - making them more susceptible to wildfires and other serious issues. To address this growing crisis - Garber reiterates the importance of allowing land managers to be free to manage forests to their authority under current law - based on scientific practices and in coordination with conservation districts and other stakeholders at the local and state level. Garber says a strong investment in the health of U.S. forests today will reduce the cost and devastation of future weather events and other natural disasters.

"Battle Over Keystone XL Pipeline, President’s Climate Standards Continues"

(NAFB) - This week - the political battle over how to define what doesn’t significantly exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions - which President Obama said it would take for him to support the proposed Keystone XL pipeline - is still raging. The American Petroleum Institute revealed a new eight-state advertising campaign to support the project - while environmental groups reintroduced conflict of interest charges against a State Department contractor. Also - California Representative Henry Waxman and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wrote a letter to the State Department saying the pipeline doesn’t meet the President’s climate test. A few months ago - the State Department issued a preliminary environmental impact statement saying approval of the pipeline wouldn’t impact the climate - but the Congressmen say that analysis was fundamentally flawed. They also argued recent opposition in Canada cast doubt on the viability of alternative pipeline routes within the country.

Environmental groups say the international consulting firm ERM - which the State hired to help write its report on the pipeline and is a member of the American Petroleum Institute - didn’t disclose conflicts of interest. However - the State Department says they have known about ERM’s other projects and most reputable environmental consulting firms working in the pipeline industry have done business for big oil and gas corporations. State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki says the Department’s rigorous conflict of interest procedures ensure that no contractors or subcontractors have financial or other interests in the outcome of a project.

The State Department isn’t expected to complete its final report on the pipeline until late summer or early fall - but TransCanada has pushed ahead with the southern part of the project - supported by President Obama. According to TransCanada - 80-percent of the southern part is complete and should be ready by the end of the year.

"Company Introduces New Technology to Aid in Food and Water Shortage Across the Globe"

(NAFB) - Sustainable Microfarms has created the Genesis dosing controller to help large and small farmers grow their product more quickly, with less effort and at a considerable financial gain. SMF developed Genesis to fulfill the vision of a de-centralized urban culture - allowing residential and industrial-purpose growers to have all-in-one self-sustaining gardens. The product monitors plant life and growth - and doses the garden with nutrients, water and pH solutions by using 90-percent less water and 70-percent fewer nutrients - while also creating 10-times the output of manual farming techniques. SMF Founders believe this technology will help eradicate food scarcity in arid countries that lack potable water in the future. SMF Founder and Initial Product Engineer Sanjay Rajpoot says the ultimate goal is to provide the tools to empower and enable these countries to generate their own food supplies with their limited resources. Rajpoot says Genesis can do just that. To learn more - visit www dot kickstarter dot com ( beginning Wednesday July 17th.

"Success of The Peterson Farm Brothers"

(NAFB) - It may be hard to believe - but it’s been a little more than a year since the Peterson brothers released their viral music parody “I’m Farming and I Grow It.” The brothers had released a handful of farm videos before the hit parody - all of which currently have tens-of-thousands of views. But “I’m Farming and I Grow It” now stands at more than 8.6-million views. Their Gangnam Style parody - “Farmer Style” - released in December - has been viewed more than 13.7-million times. The brothers were back again last month with a new parody - a play on the theme from Fresh Prince of Bell Air - “A Fresh Breath of Farm Air.” In addition to the musical parodies - the brothers have posted several informational videos and a Life of a Farmer video series. In total - the videos they have put together have been viewed more than 24-million times.

To see all of the videos posted by the brothers - do a YouTube search for Peterson Farm Brothers. They currently have 31 videos available for viewing.

"Immigration Reform Makes it Through the Senate"

(NAFB) - The U.S. Senate has approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 by a vote of 68 to 32. The measure includes provisions to allow current undocumented ag workers to gain citizenship after working another five years in agriculture and create a new guest worker program.  The measure was not supported by Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran or committee members Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. Chambliss argued the ag provisions made it too easy for farm workers to gain citizenship and wouldn’t create a stable workforce. He tried to make changes through a series of amendments - but the leadership didn’t allow them to come to a vote. House Speaker John Boehner says the House will not take up the Senate-approved measure. He says they will do their own bill - through regular order - and it will be legislation that reflects the will of the majority and the will of the American people.

The following are key agricultural labor provisions included in the immigration reform bill:

* Current undocumented farm workers will be eligible to obtain legal status through a new Blue Card program if they choose to remain working in agriculture:

* Ag workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for a minimum of 100 workdays or 575 hours prior to December 31, 2012 can adjust to this new Blue Card status.

* After a minimum of five years, workers who fulfill their Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture will become eligible to apply for a Green Card, providing that they have no outstanding taxes, no convictions and pay a fine.

* A new agricultural guest worker program will be established, with two work options:

* An “At-Will” option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific job offer from an authorized agricultural employer, under a three-year visa. Employees will then be able to move within the country, working “at will” for any other authorized agricultural employer during that time. Employers must provide housing or a housing allowance to these workers.

* A “Contract-Based” option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific contract for a specific amount of work from an authorized employer. This will also provide for a three-year visa, and require employers to provide housing or a housing allowance.

* All guest workers will be paid an agreed-upon wage under the terms of this agreement.

* There is a visa cap for the first five years of the program while current workers are participating in the Blue Card program. The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to modify that cap if circumstances in agricultural labor require.

* The new program will be administered by the Department of Agriculture.

"Groups Applaud Senate-Passed Immigration Measure"

(NAFB) - The Agriculture Workforce Coalition is calling the Senate’s approval of comprehensive immigration reform a landmark achievement in agriculture’s effort to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers have access to a legal, skilled and stable workforce. AWC has worked with the United Farm Workers union over the past six months to develop an agricultural immigration proposal that is reflected in the bill approved by the Senate. According to the Agriculture Workforce Coalition - the provisions contained in the legislation address the status of agriculture’s current skilled and experienced workers and would institute a new, market-based visa program to fix this issue once and for all going forward. In the coming weeks - AWC will work with members of the House as the chamber begins to develop its own immigration reform proposals. The group encourages House members to ensure any legislation contains meaningful reform to meet agriculture’s current and future labor needs.

American Farm Bureau Federation 
President Bob Stallman says the Senate passed a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision. He says a comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of the nation is long overdue. Stallman notes America’s farmers and ranchers depend on the workers who show up every day to tend crops and raise livestock. The Senate-passed bill - he says - will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor. In addition - he says it provides increased surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders. Stallman says one of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter the country. This legislation - according to Stallman - is the first step in reforming our broken immigration system and ensuring agriculture has access to a stable and legal workforce. He says Farm Bureau will work with members of the U.S. House to pass responsible immigration reform legislation that includes an earned adjustment for experienced undocumented agricultural workers and a new, flexible guest worker program. Stallman says it’s critical for both chambers to pass legislation that can be reconciled in conference and signed into law.

National Farmers Union
 President Roger Johnson says the Senate’s immigration reform measure includes important provisions that will bring greater stability to the farm workforce and provide a practical, legal means for immigrants to work in agriculture. He says it allows for peace of mind for all parties in agriculture to know that a more easy-to-use and effective system will be enacted. Johnson says he’ll continue to work with the House of Representatives to pass immigration legislation that achieves many of these same ends.

Border security and immigration have been a top priority for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association this year. NCBA President Scott George says this important issue affects all Americans - but especially rural Americans and NCBA members who live and ranch along the nation’s borders. He says the action taken by the Senate is a step in the right direction and NCBA looks forward to engaging with members of the House in ensuring the priorities of cattlemen and women are met in final legislation. George says a strong year-round workforce is paramount to the success of the cattle industry. He says NCBA recognizes the first step in ensuring the success of that workforce is securing and maintaining the borders. He says the conversations taking place on Capitol Hill right now are keeping those issues front and center and NCBA appreciates those efforts.

United Fresh
 CEO Tom Stenzel says the Senate seized the opportunity to enact immigration reform that is desperately needed in the fresh produce industry and many other agricultural sectors. He says the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy. Stenzel cites the efforts of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers - groups United Fresh worked with to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers. As the House prepares to take up immigration reform - United Fresh will continue to cooperate with AWC and other stakeholders to advocate for ag labor provisions as part of any broader reform package to ensure a stable workforce for the fresh produce industry.

"USDA Announces New Snack Standards for Schools"

(NAFB) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the nation’s students will have healthier food options during the school day under USDA’s new Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. USDA was required to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The nutrition standards announced Thursday - according to USDA - carefully balance science-based nutrition guidelines with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating on campus. They draw on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country.

Vilsack says nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. He says parents and schools work hard to give kids the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong - and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their efforts. As a mom - First Lady Michelle Obama says she is excited that schools will now offer healthier choices to students. She notes many parents work hard every day to provide healthy, balanced meals and snacks to their kids. But the First Lady says parents don’t always have control over the snacks their children have access to when they’re away from home and these standards will help reinforce the work done at home to help kids stay healthy.

According to a USDA press release - highlights of the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards include:

More of the foods we should encourage - Like the new school meals, the standards require healthier foods, more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein

Less of the foods we should avoid - Food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need

Targeted standards - Allowing variation by age group for factors such as portion size and caffeine content

Flexibility for important traditions - Preserving the ability for parents to send their kids to school with homemade lunches or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like fundraisers and bake sales

Ample time for implementation - Schools and food and beverage companies will have an entire school year to make the necessary changes, and USDA will offer training and technical assistance every step of the way

Reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply - Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to these requirements

Flexibility for state and local communities - Allowing significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.

"New School Snack Standards Welcomed"

(NAFB) - United Fresh is applauding the Smart Snacks in School standards announced by USDA. The group notes these standards - which must be implemented by July 1st of 2014 - apply to all foods and beverages sold a la carte and will increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. United’s Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra says increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks in school will go a long way towards creating a healthy school food environment and improving nutrition for 32-million school children. In addition - DiSogra says this will drive opportunities for increased produce sales to schools - especially for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in convenient single servings. According to United - the new school lunch regulations implemented at the start of the 2012-13 school year doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables served every day and emphasized providing a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week.

United Fresh has championed healthier school food environments over the past decade. The group says the new school snack standard complements and supports recent improvements to school meals and underscores their commitment to improving child nutrition. United is the lead advocate for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program - which provides a fresh fruit and vegetable snack to more than four-million low-income elementary school children every day. United is also a founding member of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign - which aims to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and has donated salad bars to more than 25-hundred schools towards achieving that goal. The group plans to continue working with its members, nutrition advocates and stakeholders to maximize opportunities for schools to offer students more fresh-cut fruit and vegetable options.

"Johanns Questions Use of USDA Funds for Promotion of Health Care Law"

(NAFB) - Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns is not happy with a plan to use USDA to promote the health care law. Johanns has written letters to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request details of a special contract between the two departments. According to a Johanns press release - USDA has announced nearly 800-thousand dollars in grants from USDA’s Cooperative Extension Service resources to promote the health care law. Johanns says extension funds are supposed to fund programs to educate producers about the latest ag technology and to educate the next generation of farmers. According to Johanns - USDA is not responsible for helping promote the flawed health care law - especially when it means siphoning funds away from higher education programs to keep agriculture on the cutting edge - as well as 4-H youth development programs.

Johanns says Secretary Vilsack has expressed Congress doesn’t provide USDA with enough funds to fulfill its Congressionally-mandated obligations. He questions how they suddenly found almost a million dollars to promote the work of another federal agency. The former Ag Secretary says it’s wrong and should be reversed.

According to the Johanns press release - Secretary Sebelius referenced a special contract between HHS and USDA in a speech to the National Rural Assembly. The next day - USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture posted a grants notice for up to $795,455 of cooperative extension resources to conduct outreach to promote the health care law.

"Mexico Restricts Live Pork Imports from U.S."

(NAFB) - Citing the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus - Mexico has restricted live pork imports from the United States. At this time - Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry says the virus has not been detected in Mexcio. The Ag Ministry will review imports on a case by case basis and those pigs imported from the U.S. before May 17th will be quarantined and closely observed.

"Groups Urge Repeal of RFS"

(NAFB) - The Renewable Fuels Standard Repeal Act has been introduced in the Senate. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation are urging Congress to repeal the RFS. NTF President Joel Brandenberger says the RFS has been a poorly managed mess and needs a fresh start in order to put a smarter policy on the mix of fuel and feed in place. A joint release issued by the three groups points out that the RFS required 13.2-billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into gasoline last year and mandates 13.9-billion gallons be blended in 2013. They say that will use about 4.9-billion bushels of corn - or about 40-percent of the nation’s crop. National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says chicken producers are already competing with the weather and asks why they must also compete with an inflexible federal mandate that voluntarily places another strain on limited resources. He says the approach taken by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would let the free market decide whether corn should go to food or to fuel.

Last fall - for the second time since 2008 - livestock and poultry groups asked the administration to waive the RFS. Despite the widespread drought and reduced harvest - the EPA did not use the safety valve built into the biofuels mandate. When EPA is unable to provide a temporary waiver of the RFS during the worst drought in 50 years - NCBA Policy Vice Chair Craig Uden says it’s apparent the RFS is broken. He says NCBA appreciates the efforts of Senators Barrasso, Pryor and Toomey to fix this flawed program.

"NACD Asks Congress to Regroup and Move Forward with Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber is calling on Congress to renew its efforts to pass a five-year farm bill before the current one expires in September. Garber says there are a number of options on the table for moving forward with a farm bill - and failure can’t be one of them. It’s been a week since the House failed to pass its version of the farm bill. Garber says it’s now time to regroup and get the bill done. House Speaker John Boehner says there are a lot of conversations going on about the farm bill and the way forward - though no decisions have been made. But Garber says NACD is confident Congress can and will do the right thing and provide needed certainty for farmers and landowners to effectively and efficiently manage their land, resources and businesses for the years ahead. Failure to pass a farm bill - Garber says - would mean the loss of meaningful reform measures that would cut costs while increasing efficiencies and best management tools to care for our natural resources. He says the future of our land, air, water and other natural resources is simply too important to become the victim of politics.

NACD is a strong supporter of the robust and consolidated Title II framework included in the Senate and House versions of the farm bill. The bill will be a key issue on the agenda for next month’s NACD Legislative Conference. The conference will include keynote remarks by Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and a farm bill panel with Congressional staff. Details are available at www dot nacdnet dot org slash events slash legconference (

"Ag Appropriations Rule Approved by House"

(NAFB) - The House has approved a rule for debate on the Ag Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014. The rule calls for open debate and waives points of order against the bill except for those that would challenge provisions on the grounds they amount to legislating on a spending bill. The bill still has not been scheduled for floor action - which means it will not come up until the House returns from the 4th of July recess on the 8th at the earliest.

"Senate Ag Will Take Closer Look at Proposed Sale of Smithfield"

(NAFB) - Following the 4th of July recess - the Senate Agriculture Committee will meet to examine the pending purchase of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui (shawn-way) International. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow notes the purchase would be the largest Chinese company acquisition of an American company in history. Smithfield Food CEO Larry Pope will testify on the pending sale. Stabenow says the hearing will also more broadly examine how the government review process of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies addresses American food safety, protection of American technologies and intellectual property and the effects of increased foreign ownership of the U.S. food supply.

Stabenow and Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran led a bipartisan group of 15 Senators last week in writing a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The Senators urged Lew to include USDA and the Food and Drug Administration in the government review of the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods.

"CFTC Files Charges in MF Global Collapse"

(NAFB) - The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed an enforcement action against MF Global Inc., former CEO Jon Corzine and the company’s former Assistant Treasurer Edith O’Brien. According to CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers - MF Global has agreed to settle all charges against it on terms set forth in a proposed order that is subject to court approval and includes 100-percent restitution of the approximately one-billion dollars lost by all commodity customers when the firm failed in October of 2011. If approved by the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court - the proposed settlement of all charges against MF Global will require 100-percent restitution of all remaining commodity customer claims. The proposed order also includes the imposition of a 100-million dollar penalty - which can be paid to the extent MF Global has not fully exhausted all available funds and assets paying customers and then other creditors entitled to priority under bankruptcy law. The CFTC is also seeking full restitution and penalties against MF Global Holdings, Corzine and O’Brien - in addition to trading and registration bans and injunctions against Corzine and O’Brien.

Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow called the CFTC’s action an important step forward. She expressed appreciation that the CFTC continues to pursue the matter and fight for customers and market integrity. According to Stabenow - the loss of 1.2-billion dollars in customer funds represents an extraordinary breach of trust and devastated thousands of farmers, ranchers and small businesses who rely on the futures market to hedge business risk. She said the Senate Ag Committee will continue to consider additional protections to prevent situations like the MF Global bankruptcy from happening again. House Ag Committee member Randy Neugebauer - who chairs a House Financial Services Subcommittee - said the CFTC’s conclusions track closely with his subcommittee’s findings that Corzine’s decisions caused farmers, ranchers and other customers to lose more than a billion dollars.

"Obama Announces Intended USDA Nominations"

(NAFB) - President Obama has announced his intent to nominate Krysta Harden for the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture position. Most recently - Harden has served as Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Chief of Staff. Before that - she served as USDA Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations. She is also a former National Association of Conservation Districts CEO.  President Obama also plans to nominate Robert Bonnie for USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Bonnie held a number of positions working for the Environmental Defense Fund from 1995 to 2008.

"Break the Corn Rootworm Cycle"

(NAFB) - Wet soils and cooler temperatures challenged corn growth early this year - according to DuPont Pioneer Insect Resistance Management Expert Clint Pilcher. These conditions may have also controlled early-hatching larvae by reducing their food source and saturating the soils - but Pilcher says growers should still scout their fields to check the effectiveness of their control program against corn rootworm. He says managing the pest means knowing about larvae and adult beetle populations in fields in order to break the rootworm cycle and manage the population. One way for growers to determine the current level of rootworm pressure and potential threats in the future is to scout for adult beetles in July and August - which helps determine whether to spray the current crop and limit potential for population outbreaks during the next crop season. DuPont Pioneer suggests growers consult their local agronomist to determine the critical population threshold has been met before using an insecticide.

After growers have gone through these steps - DuPont Pioneer suggests growers think ahead for the next crop and controlling corn rootworm. Pilcher says the best thing growers can do to help eliminate rootworm pressure is to rotate another crop - such as soybeans - breaking the corn-on-corn cycle corn rootworms love so much. If growers don’t have the opportunity for crop rotation - DuPont Pioneer suggests using a product with multiple modes of action in corn rootworm-resistant traits.Pilcher says corn rootworms are becoming more difficult to management - so growers must be cognizant of the practices they use so they can be used long term.

"Taking a Different Approach to Managing Corn Rootworm"

(NAFB) - Managing corn rootworm is a common goal for everyone in ag and a top priority for Syngenta - according to Syngenta Solutions Development Manager Bruce Battles. Managing this pest has to start with a change in how growers view corn rootworm management - Battles says. Oftentimes - he says growers react to what they saw in the field during the previous year - but they must take a step back and start thinking about a more proactive, long-term approach to managing the pest. Considering current and historical pest pressures in each field - Syngenta is working to deliver strategic recommendations based on technology preservation and the principles of integrated pest management - according to Syngenta Corn Traits Technical Product Lead Miloud Araba. A lasting management strategy will require more than traits or any singular technology - Araba says - but rather the integration of multiple technologies and control measures.

Most recently - Bt trait technology efficacy concerns in Western corn rootworm have created worries over the most destructive pest in agriculture - which is a complex and resilient pest with a proven ability to overcome traditional farming methods and technology over time. Syngenta Technical Product Lead Caydee Savinelli says in order to maximize crop productivity - it’s imperative to focus on successfully managing corn rootworm. So - Syngenta has invested significant resources to research best practices for corn rootworm management - incorporating expertise, input and data from internal and external sources - to develop a practical set of corn rootworm management recommendations so farmers can successfully control the pest and grow more corn. Battles says there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this pest - but Syngenta is committed to helping growers responsibly and effectively manage pests.

"NFU All-States Leadership Camp Coming to a Close"

(NAFB) - Young adults from across the country are attending National Farmers Union’s All-States Leadership Camp in Colorado this week. NFU President Roger Johnson says a priority for NFU is ensuring the future of family farm agriculture and rural communities is in good hands. He says the next generation is going to make a powerful impact in the society. Farmers Union campers are taking part in cooperative activities and listening to several inspirational speakers at the NFU Education Center. This year’s camp - themed Building Ourselves, Building Our Lives - concludes this (Friday) evening. As a former camper - Johnson says he understands the importance of building leaders in the industry at a young age. He says NFU is proud of these young people and the tradition of NFU’s All-States Leadership Camp.

"Gut Health Symposium Hosted by Novus International"

(NAFB) - Novus hosted key influencers representing the Latin American poultry and pork industries at the company’s headquarters Tuesday. During a day-long seminar - seven topics related to gut health in poultry and pork were presented by Novus research experts and technical staff. The day ended with a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities in poultry in Latin America. Novus Executive Manager for Global Poultry Marketing Marc Decoux says the company felt it was important to develop this program to help Latin American producers address the specific challenges they are dealing with regarding gut health. Decoux says Novus is aware the implications of gut health extend down the food chain in the area of food safety. He says there is no one solution that will eliminate all the potential areas of pathogenic presence - but different elements - when positioned together - can help producers simplify the difficulty of food safety management.

"High Court Makes Decision on E-15 Challenges"

(NAFB) - The Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear the American Petroleum Institute and other ethanol opponents’ challenges to E-15 - which Growth Energy says is a true victory for the American biofuels industry. Time and again - Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says Big Oil has challenged E-15 and Growth Energy’s Green Jobs Waiver in attempts to deny consumers a choice and savings at the pump. Buis says this decision marks the end of these challenges.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the proliferation of E-15 across the country will offer consumers a choice at the pump and create a strong market signal for this emerging industry. Buis now hopes oil companies will begin to work with biofuel producers to help bring new blends into the marketplace that allow for consumer choice and savings. This was not just a victory for consumers - Buis says - but also America’s energy security, economy and environment. As the industry continues to produce homegrown American fuels that reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil - Buis says jobs will have to continue being created that can’t be outsourced and drive research and investment - improving the environment with a cleaner, sustainable fuel.

"House Farm Bill Defeat Brings Many Issues for Farmers, Ranchers"

(NAFB) - The U.S. House of Representatives’ defeat of a new, five-year farm bill has completely surprised the ag industry. While 2008 law still exists through September 30th - farmers, ranchers and dairy producers say the failure to pass a new farm bill last year left them unable to plan as the planting season approached this year. American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy says the biggest thing it creates is uncertainty - which is the one thing farmers and ranchers can’t have. Murphy says the lack of a farm bill makes it hard for farmers and ranchers to get loans or buy equipment because they don’t know what price support programs they will be operating under - something banks don’t like. Even though most support and subsidy programs for crops run through the end of the year - Murphy says farmers want something done - that Congress can’t keep kicking this can down the road.

As for livestock producers - they have almost another year to go without a disaster insurance program that can help after droughts and other weather-related disasters occur - causing them to face an uncertain future. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Cristina Llorens says this is a major defeat for cattle producers because they were counting on Congress doing something to help drought-suffering producers. Llorens says 70-percent of cattle producers were affected by the drought - and cattle herds are the smallest since World War II - so it will take them years to rebuild.

National Milk Producers Federation Spokesman Chris Galen says the first program to go - if current law isn’t extended again - will be the Milk Income Loss Contract Program - which compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a certain level. Galen says without another extension - farm programs will revert to 1949 law requiring Washington to purchase milk at inflated prices - meaning higher dairy product prices - which would be about twice the current market prices in order to maintain a stable market. Galen says that would be bad for dairy producers and customers.

"Senate Takes Up Immigration This Week"

(NAFB) - The Senate has been waiting to take up the immigration reform legislation - and this week they are doing just that. Senate Democratic leaders would like to pass a bill before the one-week break 0- which is scheduled to begin Friday. The Senate will consider and debate various proposals to reform immigration - which includes a path to citizenship for 11-million undocumented immigrants in exchange for tougher border security. The bill’s advocates reached a bipartisan deal last week to double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol and require 700-miles of fencing at the Mexican border. However - even if the Senate passes an immigration bill - it’s unlikely a bill would pass the House.

Nebraska U.S. Senator Mike Johanns has already announced his opposition to the nearly 12-hundred page Corker-Hoeven amendment introduced Friday night as a complete substitute to the legislation the Senate has been considering the past two weeks - saying the amendment’s promise of secure borders isn’t airtight. Johanns says he believes in a trust - but verify - policy and the amendment allows the Administration to simply verify with itself the border is secure - with the backlog of those wishing to be legal cleared.

"Veterinarian Dispels Antibiotic Use Myths During NCBA’s Beef 101 Series"

(NAFB) - Yesterday - the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association provided an overview of antibiotics used in food-producing animals as part of its Beef 101 series to more than 70 Congressional staff members. Dr. Mike Apley - Kansas State University Clinical Pharmacologist - gave a presentation to the attendees. Apley says the goal of producers is to manage cattle to avoid infectious diseases - and antibiotics are a valuable resource to do so. Farmers and ranchers work with vets to implement comprehensive herd-health management plans - Apley says - and it’s important for vets and producers to have the ability to best manage herd health and raise healthy cattle - ultimately meaning a safe food supply.

During his presentation - Apley discussed common myths about antibiotic use - including the misconception that 70-percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. for human and animal uses are used for non-therapeutic use in food animals - when the truth is some antibiotics in that total haven’t been marketed in the U.S. before. Unfortunately - Apley says there are a lot of misconceptions and misrepresentations about why and how antibiotics are used in the cattle industry. He says the truth is that cattle producers and vets utilize many tools - including vaccines, herd health management, genetics and animal nutrition - to continue producing the world’s safest beef.

"Obama to Announce Climate Change Action"

(NAFB) -Tuesday - President Obama will outline his plan to use executive powers to address climate change - including his intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Obama is expected to detail a government-wide plan to reduce the nation’s carbon output and prepare the U.S. for the near-term impacts of global warming. Measures for this would include programs to enhance the resilience of coastal communities and USDA climate adaptation hubs to help farmers cope with changes in temperature and precipitation. Former Clinton Climate Adviser Paul Bledsoe says taken together - these actions indicate an entirely new sense of urgency in addressing the threat climate change is posing to the U.S. economy and security.

Obama says climate change is a serious challenge - but it’s uniquely suited to America’s strengths. He says scientists will need to design new fuels and farmers to grow them - and engineers will need to devise new energy sources and business to produce and sell them. However - the move to impose greenhouse gas limits on existing plants will raise consumer electricity prices in the short term.

"Latest Biodiesel Production Figures Released"

(NAFB) - During the month of May - 135-milion gallons of biodiesel was produced - according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. So far this year - biodiesel production totals nearly 504-million gallons. With the May numbers - the biodiesel industry is on target to exceed annual volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard once again.

"Angus Association Hosts 6th Annual Beef Leaders Institute"

(NAFB) - The American Angus Association hosted its four-day Beef Leaders Institute last week - giving 20 young cattle producers to opportunity to meet various industry representatives and network with peers in the industry. American Angus Association CEO Bryce Schumann says BLI is a great opportunity for Angus producers to enhance their leadership skills, learn more about the beef industry and meet new people. The group toured the Association headquarters, attended presentations from Angus Genetics, Angus Productions, Certified Angus Beef and the Angus Foundation and then toured some areas of Iowa and Nebraska - including a Tyson beef processing plant, Whole Foods grocery store, Sysco, the GeneSeek genetics lab and a Cargill Meat Solutions deli meat processing plant.

Participant Andrew Stewart says he wanted to learn more about the entire process and what the industry is trying to focus on regarding consumer needs. Stewart says that’s what all producers try to do - develop a desirable product for consumers and hopefully one that’s profitable for ranchers, packers and feedlots. For more information about the BLI - visit www dot Angus dot org (

"Joint Forum on Animal Disease Traceability Scheduled for August"

(NAFB) - The National Institute for Animal Agriculture and U.S. Animal Health Association have partnered to hold the Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability August 6th and 7th in Denver, Colorado. This forum will provide a platform for those involved in animal disease traceability to discuss ways to ensure success of the implementation of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Veterinary Services final rule. Forum Co-Chair Victor Velez says there’s always a learning curve when a new rule is issued - and this forum will allow for much-needed interaction between those impacted by the ruling. Velez says it’s the ideal gathering place for State and Tribal animal health officials, animal producers, livestock marketers and handlers and meat processors. He says the main goal is to find consensus on consistency and harmony of compliance with the final ADT rule. For more information and the Forum’s agenda - visit www dot animal agriculture dot org (

"Growth Energy Tells Congress the RFS is Working"

(NAFB) - The House Energy Committee asked for stakeholder input on the issue of energy security and the Renewable Fuel Standard - and Growth Energy responded. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the RFS has been the most successful energy policy enacted in the last 40 years. Not only is it benefitting consumers by providing a choice and savings at the pump - but Buis said the RFS has helped create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Buis added that the RFS has revitalized local communities - leading to a robust farm economy - and has helped significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Growth Energy points out that the U.S. is dangerously addicted to foreign oil - sending roughly a billion dollars a day unstable regions overseas to meet our growing energy needs. But with the RFS and a robust biofuels industry - Growth Energy says much of that money is being invested here at home - improving our economic and energy security by stimulating our economy and producing home grown, sustainable fuel.

The bottom line - according to Buis - is the RFS is doing what it was designed to do and is doing it well. When the RFS was first enacted into law in 2005 - Buis said the U.S. was nearly 60-percent dependent on foreign oil. That figure is closer to 45-percent today. Buis noted ethanol has grown to be 10-percent of America’s fuel supply and has the ability to displace even more foreign oil.

Buis said we are taking meaningful steps in reducing our addiction to foreign oil and to fix something that is not broken would be poor policy and put us back on the road to increased imports. Without the RFS - Buis concluded - there will be no other competitive alternative to imported oil and American consumers will continue to be held hostage to the supply chain of the oil industry.

"In Response to House Energy White Paper, RFA Defends RFS"

(NAFB) - The Renewable Fuels Association has responded to questions posed by the House Energy Committee in its fourth white paper in the series examining the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard. RFA discusses the increase of new ethanol production, the decrease in petroleum imports and the positive impact of the RFS in making the nation more energy independent. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen stressed that ethanol is already making a difference. Thanks to the RFS - ethanol already accounts for 10-percent of the nation’s gasoline supply. As a result - ethanol displaced the need for the amount of gasoline refined from 462-million barrels of imported crude oil in 2012. And because of the RFS - according to Dinneen - the biofuels industry stands ready to contribute even more to the nation’s energy and economic security.

Some believe increased domestic oil production from unconventional sources is driving our dependence on imported oil down - but Dinneen explained that those claims exaggerate the impact of these new supplies. He said the farm greater impact has been from biofuels - and ethanol in particular. Dinneen stated the Energy Information Administration cites increased use of domestic biofuels as a major driver behind the decrease in petroleum import dependence. In fact - he continued - cumulative new ethanol production since 2005 has accounted for 62-percent of new domestically-produced liquid fuels. Cumulative new U.S. crude oil production has accounted for 38-percent.

Dinneen then went on to discuss increasing ethanol production and its impact on decreasing oil imports. While he said several factors are responsible for the decrease in petroleum import dependence in recent years - Dinneen cited the rapid emergence of ethanol production under the RFS as a particularly important catalyst - largely eliminating the need for imported finished gasoline.

"USDA for All Seasons"

(NAFB) - Marking the first day of summer Friday - U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack launched the USDA for All Seasons campaign. It’s an effort to help Americans stay healthy and safe throughout the year with USDA programs and information. Vilsack says USDA provides assistance to millions of Americans across a wide variety of areas every day. This USDA for All Seasons effort is designed to expand access to helpful seasonal information and resources from the Department that play a key role in advancing the Obama Administration’s goal of improving the health and well-being of all Americans. During the summer - Vilsack says USDA will help folks enjoy the great outdoors safely with useful grilling and food safety tips, help parents ensure good nutrition for their kids and much more.

One example of a USDA agency contributing to this health agenda is the Food and Nutrition Service - which kicked off an awareness campaign to promote the Summer Food Service Program and other initiatives across the country to feed low-income children during summer when school is out. It’s USDA’s goal to serve five-million more meals to children at risk for hunger this summer so they can return to school healthy and ready to learn in the fall. Another example is the Food Safety and Inspection Service - reminding barbecuers that following safe food handling steps is the key to making cookouts safe and healthy.

"AAW Honors Senator Thune for Support of Agriculture"

(NAFB) - American Agri-Women honored Maine Senator Susan Collins with the 2013 Champion of Agriculture Award during their annual legislative Fly-In trip to Washington, D.C. The group says Collins has established a record of integrity, unsurpassed work ethic and a steadfast commitment to the people of Maine. American Agri-Women note Collins led a successful effort to prevent USDA from limiting certain healthy vegetables in the National School Lunch program, her part in the effort to include a provision in the farm bill that would require an examination of dairy price structure in the U.S. and her efforts to maintain funding for critical areas like integrated pest management and research. They add that her willingness to reach across the aisle and her centrist, moderate approach has earned Collins the title of the Most Bipartisan Republican by her Senate colleagues.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota shared the Champions of Agriculture honor with Collins. Past recipients include Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, Oklahoma Senator James Inhoffe, California Congressman Dennis Cardoza, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis.

"House Rejects Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - After several votes on amendments Thursday - the House rejected the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 with a vote of 195 to 234. Prior to the final vote - House members had defeated a motion to recommit 188 to 232. Just before that vote was taken - House Ag Chair Frank Lucas came to the floor to urge lawmakers to approve the bill - telling members that if the measure failed - he couldn’t promise they would see another bill this session. The House had approved an amendment to remove supply management from the dairy title and replace it with a margin protection program and an amendment to reduce farm program payment limits - capping commodity payments at 250-thousand dollars per year for any one farm. An amendment to remove the changes made to the sugar program in the 2008 Farm Bill by lifting trade restrictions, lowering sugar price support levels and giving USDA more flexibility on domestic supply and import quotes was defeated on a vote of 206 to 221.

House members had agreed to repeal the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, strike the addition of natural stone to the list of commodity products that can petition USDA for the issuance of a promotion and research order and apply federal welfare work requirements to SNAP, at state option. The amendment to create additional work requirements for SNAP recipients and raise the total reduction in spending to 31-billion dollars was rejected 175 to 250. An amendment to limit premium subsidies to producers with an Adjusted Gross Income under 250-thousand dollars was narrowly rejected earlier in the day - with a 208 to 217 vote. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson had urged members to vote against the amendment - saying it would destroy Federal Crop Insurance. In all - the House considered more than 100 amendments before rejecting the underlying bill.

On the floor following the farm bill vote - Minority Whip Steny Hoyer seemed to suggest the amendment approved to apply federal welfare work requirements to SNAP was the deal breaker for many Democrats. He accused the Republican leadership of taking a bipartisan bill and making it partisan through the amendment process.

"Congressional Ag Leaders React to Farm Bill Vote"

(NAFB) - House Ag Committee Chairman says the House worked its will with the vote on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 Thursday. Lucas is disappointed - but says the forty-billion dollars in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program since 1996 are important and must be pursued. Lucas says all options are being assessed. He has no doubt that work on the farm bill can be completed and that farmers, ranchers and rural constituents can get the certainty they need. Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson did not express the same optimism. He says he cautioned his colleagues that Republicans and Democrats would have to work together to pass a farm bill. But he says the House adopted a partisan amendment process - playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law. Peterson says he’ll continue to do everything he can to get a farm bill passed - but he has a hard time seeing where they go from here.

In the Senate - where the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act passed earlier this month on a bipartisan 66 to 27 vote - Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says the House needs to find a way to get a five-year farm bill done. She says the Speaker needs to work in a bipartisan way and present a bill that Democrats and Republicans can support. Stabenow suggests he could start by bringing the Senate bill to the floor for a vote. She notes the Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill that reforms farm programs, ends direct payments, cuts spending and creates American agriculture jobs twice. Maintaining the status quo - Stabenow says - means no reform, no deficit reduction and further uncertainty that slows growth in the ag industry. She says that is totally unacceptable.

"Secretary Vilsack on Failed Farm Bill Vote"

(NAFB) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the failure by the House leadership to reach consensus on a food, farm and jobs bill is a tremendous disappointment for all Americans. He notes the Senate has now done its job twice - passing balanced, comprehensive legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. Unfortunately - Vilsack says the House version of the bill would have unfairly denied food assistance for millions of struggling families and their children - while failing to achieve needed reforms or critical investments to continue economic growth in rural America. As a result - he says the House was unable to reach bipartisan consensus.

"Lots of Disappointment with House Failure to Pass Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - Several agriculture groups expressed disappointment after the House failed to move a farm bill to conference with the Senate.

The American Farm Bureau Federation believed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 was a balanced bill that would have provided much needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the group is highly disappointed the House didn’t complete work on the measure. He says a completed farm bill is much needed to provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming years and to allow USDA to plan for an orderly implementation of the bill’s provisions. Stallman says Farm Bureau will work with Ag Committee leaders Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson as they regroup and move forward.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the House let rural America down. He expressed deep disappointment that the House voted against the best interests of family farmers and rural America.

The National Corn Growers Association was also extremely disappointed to see the House fail to pass the 2013 farm bill. NCGA President Pam Johnson noted the organization’s active and consistent call for the legislation’s passage. Johnson said NCGA will be engaged in all efforts needed to secure passage in the House and bring the bill to Conference.

Disappointment and frustration were voiced by the American Soybean Association Thursday afternoon. ASA President Danny Murphy says the failure of the House to pass the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act leaves the entire food and agriculture sector in the lurch. He says the bill would have reinforced the farm safety net, promoted U.S. products in foreign markets, strengthened the fast-growing biodiesel industry, enhanced conservation programs and ensured a stable, affordable and safe supply of food, feed, fiber and fuel for all Americans - all while addressing our collective fiscal and budgetary obligations. Now - Murphy says none of those benefits can be realized and a debilitating uncertainty extends from farmers to consumers as the September 30th expiration of farm bill programs looms. Murphy says it’s incumbent on both Republicans and Democrats to find a way forward for American agriculture.

The National Cotton Council says the farm legislation rejected by the House would have provided a predictable, long-term safety net while saving billions of dollars; reforming and streamlining programs; and providing a basis for the resolution of a long-standing trade dispute. NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson says the cotton industry is deeply disappointed the House failed to approve the legislation approved by the Ag Committee on a strong bipartisan vote after two years of extensive debate and consideration of hundreds of amendments. The cotton industry is urging House leaders to allow the bipartisan bill produced by committee to be reconsidered by the full House so a Conference Committee can resolve differences between the Senate and House bills and a new farm law can be enacted before the expiration of current law. Dodson says U.S. farmers need a stable, long-term policy in order to continue making the investments necessary to adopt new technology needed to provide safe, affordable food and fiber to U.S. processors and consumers and to maintain competitiveness in world markets.

United Fresh felt the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 was a strong bill for specialty crops that had support from members on both sides of the aisle. The group was disappointed that the House ultimately rejected the measure. United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther says the group strongly encourages the House leadership and the House Agriculture Committee to get back together and bring a bill to the House floor that can pass before the current extension expires at the end of September.

Passage of a 2013 Farm Bill remains the top priority for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. That’s according to NCBA President Scott George who says the group is extremely disappointed in the failure of many members of the House to recognize the importance of a full five-year farm bill. He says the House’s failure puts cattlemen and women behind the curve on having agriculture policy that provides certainty for producers nationwide and incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry. According to George - we were very close in this legislation to providing disaster programs for our producers - which would have extended disaster assistance for five years and would have covered losses in 2012 and 2013. He says these disaster programs are essential to equipping producers with the necessary tools to manage the risks associated with catastrophic weather events. After the historic drought which has plagued the countryside for the last few years - George says livestock producers needed these programs now more than ever. He says NCBA continues to support passage of this legislation by the House and will work to ensure producers receive the certainty they deserve. While the bill wasn’t perfect for any industry - George says cattlemen and women made sacrifices in order to support it - and they expected members of the House to do the same.

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President Chuck Conner says America’s farmers and ranchers deserve the certainty provided by a five-year farm bill. He says NCFC members are disappointed the House rejected the farm bill and calls it imperative to get a new farm bill passed before the current one-year extension expires in September.

The leading producer of enzymes that turn biomass into biofuels calls the House vote against the farm bill a missed opportunity for America’s farming communities. Novozymes Americas Regional President Adam Monroe says there was a chance to funnel more investment into America and do more to support the nation’s hard-working farmers - and we missed it. Monroe says the world want to know America is serious about growing its rural economy and putting more Americans to work in agriculture and energy. He says the FARRM Act offered the stable policy we needed. Novozymes urges the House to find a solution and bring the farm bill back for a vote.

American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl says it’s unfortunate the House fell short of the votes needed to pass the farm bill and more forward to a conference with the Senate. He says AFT is committed to passing a comprehensive five-year farm bill that provides a strong farm and natural resource safety net - including re-linking conservation compliance to crop insurance premium assistance, reinvestment in farmland conservation programs and strengthening access to local, healthy food choices.

The National Wildlife Federation wasn’t wild about the farm bill moving through the U.S. House. In fact - the group said the bill - if enacted - would have been the worst in at least 25 years for fish and wildlife. Still - NWF wants to see a five-year farm bill enacted that protects conservation. According to NWF President and CEO Larry Schweiger - the House farm bill failed commonsense conservation standards. He says reasonable measures to protect taxpayers and natural resources must be included in a farm bill - and NWF will continue to fight for a farm bill that includes a link between conservation compliance and crop insurance and a National Sodsaver program.

"Senate Ag Members Urge Appropriate Oversight of Proposed Smithfield Purchase"

(NAFB) - A bipartisan group of Senate Ag Committee members - including Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Thad Cochran - are raising questions regarding government oversight of the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods and future foreign acquisitions of American agriculture companies. The Senators are urging Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to include USDA and the Food and Drug Administration in the review of the proposed purchase of Smithfield so the oversight process includes experts on the American food supply and food safety. The proposed acquisition by Shuanghui (shawn-way) International will undergo a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Treasury Secretary has the authority to add agencies to the review process. According to the Senators - the foreign purchase of such a significant American agricultural company raises a number of broader questions about how such transactions are reviewed and whether the appropriate authorities are evaluating risks and ensuring American interests are protected.

In a letter to Secretary Lew - the Senators say that the U.S. food supply is critical infrastructure that should be included in any reasonable person’s definition of national security. They not only suggest including USDA and FDA in any review of the transaction and designating USDA as one of the lead agencies - but that any review should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety and biosecurity. The letter goes on to state that the United States has the safest, most efficient and reliable food supply in the world.  The Senators call it one of our nation’s great strengths - and write that we must ensure it is preserved and protected.  According to the letter - the Agriculture Committee will further examine how the transaction is reviewed and how these transactions should be reviewed in the future.

In addition to Stabenow and Cochran - the letter is signed by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Massachusetts Senator William Cowan, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

"RFA Says Legislation to Repeal RFS the Wrong Policy for America"

(NAFB) - Wyoming Senator John Barrasso has introduced legislation to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the proposed legislation may serve the oil and gas interests in Wyoming - but is bad for consumers, bad for the environment and bad for America. Dinneen says the RFS has proven its worth time and time again. He notes it creates jobs, reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil, lowers the price of gasoline and gives consumers choice at the pump. Dinneen says consumers want options and the ability to make their own informed decision. He says the renewable fuels industry is fighting tooth and nail to introduce more choice into a market that is dominated by the petroleum industry. He says the lack of choice caused by that market domination by the petroleum monopoly is the problem - and repealing the RFS is not the answer.

"Growth Energy CEO Says NCCR Serving False Claims About RFS"

(NAFB) - The National Council of Chain Restaurants was on Capitol Hill Thursday to call for the repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Representatives from White Castle and Wendy’s joined National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Steve Foglesong, Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Representative Jim Matheson of Utah to launch ‘Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu.’ But Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the RFS is the most successful energy policy this nation has enacted in the last 40 years. If the NCCR is looking for the culprits behind increased food costs - Buis says they should look no further than the mirror and their supporters at Big Oil who have relentlessly tried to repeal the RFS. Buis says they are trying to blame the ethanol industry to justify their actions of constantly increasing food prices. He notes just 14-percent of the price of food is attributable to the cost of the commodity - while the rest can be attributed to energy costs and marketing.

Buis says the fact of the matter is that the true driver in food costs is energy prices. He says processing, packaging, wrapping, storage, refrigeration and transportation are all energy intensive and food prices will follow with ever increasing oil and energy prices. Buis says Big Oil is costing the consumer at the pump and at the grocery store. He cites a recent World Bank study that shows the biggest driver by far of world food prices has been crude oil - responsible for almost 50-percent of the change in food prices since 2004.

Buis says it seems NCCR’s end game is to blame the ethanol industry and revert to the days of cheap, government subsidized corn so they can earn higher profits at the expense of the nation’s consumers and farmers.

"Grains Council Highlights T-TIP Opportunities"

(NAFB) - Formal negotiations on the Transatlantic and Trade Investment Partnership are set to begin the week of July 8th. The U.S. Grains Council says the agreement is an opportunity for U.S. agriculture to provide for improved market access and overcome significant barriers to trade. Earlier this year - the Grains Council provided comments to the U.S. Trade Representative noting the most significant barrier for U.S. market access for corn and corn co-products is the European Union asynchronous approval process for genetically modified events. USGC Director of Trade Policy and Biotechnology Floyd Gaibler says T-TIP needs to ensure full and consistent implementation of existing European Union legislation governing approval of agricultural biotechnology products within the timeframes established by European laws and regulations. Gaibler says respecting science and legislated timelines would dramatically reduce the threat of trade disruption and address the growing gap between the deregulation of new biotechnology products in the U.S. and the approval of those products in the EU. Similarly - he says the EU needs a streamlined approach to regulating stacked events where the individual event products have previously undergone a risk assessment and been deregulated.

Gaibler says it’s equally important to have a comprehensive strategy for a low level presence policy for EU unauthorized GM products in feed, food and seed. He says the policy should consider practical approaches to unauthorized products, discontinued events, off-license products and products not submitted for approval in the EU. Finally - Gaibler says the negotiations should ensure that risk assessment of GM events remains science-based and that efforts be made to acknowledge mutual recognition of approvals with third countries.

"NACD Comments on Proposed Listing of Lesser Prairie-Chicken"

(NAFB) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species. But National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber says ongoing conservation work is effectively contributing to the recovery of the lesser prairie-chicken. Through proactive, voluntary, locally-led conservation practices - he says stakeholders have collaborated to enhance the health of the land and the health of the species. In comments submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service - he says NACD believes if this work is sustained - a threatened or endangered listing is not necessary. Further - NACD says it’s important that any decisions or determinations be based solely on sound scientific data.

If FWS does determine a threatened or endangered listing is necessary - NACD requests the use of provisions granted under the proposed rule to allow for agriculture activities to continue in accordance with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative. The initiative provides financial and technical assistance to participating landowners to implement practices beneficial to the species that also contribute to the sustainability of agricultural operations.

Garber says NACD supports rules stipulating that conservation management decisions should be in the hands of the landowner. He says conservation districts work with private landowners to provide options of best management practices and to empower the landowner to choose the options that works best for the unique needs of their land. Garber says NACD is encouraged the Fish and Wildlife Service is following a similar approach.

"U.S. Soy Leaders Meet with Middle East Customers to Help Build Markets"

(NAFB) - Leaders from the Soy Checkoff and American Soybean Association met with Middle Eastern and North African customers this week to discuss secure ways to maintain exports during turbulent times. ASA Chairman Steve Wellman says Middle Eastern markets represent a valuable and impactful dual opportunity for the U.S. soy family. Wellman says soybeans provide nutritious protein for those in need. As the markets emerge and buying power increases - he says demand for animal agriculture products that involve soybeans increases - too. Most soybean imports in the Middle East and North Africa are crushed - and soybean meal is used for poultry and agriculture feed - leaving oil for cooking and frying. From 2010 to 2011 - Syria brought in 18-million bushels of U.S. soybeans. Through the meeting this week - U.S. soy leaders hope more stable trade lines can be found to increase exports to the region.

"PEDV Not Slowing Down With Summer Heat"

(NAFB) - The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has now spread to 13 states - including Arkansas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota - since it was first diagnosed in the U.S. last month. There also are now more than 100 positive cases of the virus. Veterinarians and scientists studying the outbreak say the mortality among very young pigs infected by PEDV is commonly 50-percent - but can be up to 100-percent - while the virus doesn’t typically kill older pigs. This strain is 99.4-percent similar to the strain that affected Chinese herds last year - which killed more than 1-million piglets. American Association of Swine Veterinarians Executive Director Tom Burkgren says PEDV has proven far more tolerant of heat - which isn’t what the pork industry expected.

The virus’ uncertainty is creating fear with traders, meat processors and farmers as to how it will impact pork supplies later this year. Still - this virus doesn’t pose any health risk to humans or other animals. Federal officials and livestock economists confirm meat from PEDV-infected pits is safe for people to eat.

"House Begins Work on Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - The House approved the rules of debate on the amendments to the House farm bill and started debating the amendments Wednesday. There are 103 amendments to be considered. An amendment offered by Representative Bob Gibbs of Ohio to set target prices for all crops at 55-percent of the five-year rolling Olympic average was withdrawn. House Ag Chair Frank Lucas asked Gibbs to withdraw the amendment and promised to work with Gibbs in the conference committee to see an equitable and market-oriented farm bill enacted. The House rejected an amendment to restore 20.5-billion dollars to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a vote of 188 to 234. Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern wanted to restore the cuts by offsetting crop insurance - the Farm Risk Management Election Program and the Supplemental Coverage Option.The House also narrowly defeated - on a 203 to 220 vote - an amendment to change the food aid program as proposed by the Obama Administration.

The House continued work on the farm bill late into the evening. Two more amendments were withdrawn - one to require a conservation compliance plan be filed with USDA and followed for all crops in wetlands and all annually tilled crops on highly erodible lands in order to qualify for crop insurance premium subsidy assistance and another to ensure corn growers who sell their crop for ethanol production may not receive farm payments. The House voted 267 to 156 to approve an amendment to cap spending on the Farm Risk Management Election Program at 110-percent of the CBO estimate for the first five years in which payments are disbursed. The vote was 273 to 149 in favor of an amendment to improve federal coordination in addressing the decline of the honey bee, wild bees and other beneficial insects in agriculture.

Several amendments were rejected by recorded vote, including:

To repeal the dairy support program and prevent the currently suspended law from becoming reactivated if Congress doesn’t reauthorize programs under the Ag Department - defeated on a 112 to 309 vote

* To require 20-percent of Conservation Reserve Program acreage to be set aside for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program and to continuously re-enroll that land in CRP - defeated on a 179 to 242 vote

* To reform the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to increase access for farmers and eliminate payments to projects that don’t show strong conservation benefits - defeated on a 157 to 266 vote

* To repeal the reauthorization of the Market Access Program - defeated on a 98 to 322 vote

Some 40 amendments were adopted en bloc by voice vote shortly after 11 o’clock Eastern Wednesday night.

"House Continuing Farm Bill Work Thursday"

(NAFB) - The U.S. House of Representatives will get back to work on the farm bill first thing this (Thursday) morning. According to a notice posted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - they will start with debate and votes on five farm bill amendments and for votes on a series of amendments debated Wednesday. The first votes are expected between 9:30 and 11:15 Eastern - with the last votes expected between 12:30 and 2:30 Eastern. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said late Wednesday he was still hopeful the House could vote on final passage of the farm bill before departing for the week as scheduled around three o’clock Eastern today (Thursday).

The House is slated to debate and vote on the following amendments:

* An amendment from Pennsylvania Representative Joseph Pitts that would return raw sugar cane price support to its historic level of 18-cents per pound and establish the refined sugar beet price support at 128.5-percent of the cane rate. It also amends provisions for sugar marketing allotments by repealing a provision that establishes allotments at no less than 85-percent of domestic consumption and repeals restrictions on the Secretary of Agriculture’s authority to adjust import quotas for raw and refined sugar and the Feedstock Flexibility Program under which surplus sugar must be purchased by the government and re-sold to ethanol plants at a loss.

* The dairy program amendment from Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte that would remove the dairy producer margin protection and dairy market stabilization programs and replace them with a new Dairy Producer Margin Insurance Program.

* Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska’s payment limits amendment to cap commodity payments at 250-thousand dollars per year for any one farm. The amendment also closes loopholes in current law to ensure payments reach working farmers.

The other two amendments are related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

* An amendment from Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp would create additional work requirements for SNAP recipients and raise the total reduction in spending to 31-billion dollars. 

* The second - offered by Florida’s Steve Southerland - would apply federal welfare work requirements to SNAP at state option.

Votes on several amendments were postponed Wednesday. Among those that are expected to get votes today (Thursday) are amendments to limit crop insurance premium subsidies to producers with an Adjusted Gross Income under 250-thousand dollars; terminate funding for the Emerging Markets Program after September 30th; allow qualified third-party, non-governmental entities to hold the conservation easements financed with Forest Legacy revenue; repeal the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program; end the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program; and repeal the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.

"Commodity Groups Disappointed to See Amendment Withdrawn"

(NAFB) - Leaders from the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Sunflower Association and U.S. Canola Association were disappointed to see the amendment to set target prices for all crops at 55-percent of the five-year rolling Olympic average withdrawn. The groups believe the Gibbs amendment would have received strong support on the House floor and would have made the 2013 farm bill a better piece of legislation overall. In a joint statement - the groups said they expect Lucas to respond to the farm policy concerns raised by the amendment during Conference on the farm bill as he committed to do. According to the soy, corn, sunflower and canola groups - the final farm bill must be more equitable and market-oriented than the current Price Loss Coverage program in the House bill.

"Michael Froman Confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative"

(NAFB) - The Senate has voted to confirm Michael Froman as the United States Trade Representative. The vote was 93 to 4. President Obama says Froman has been his closest advisor on a broad range of international economic issues and will continue to play a key role on his economic team. According to the President - Froman is trusted and well-respected by our partners around the world - and has been the driving force behind our international economic agenda for the last several years. In the USTR position - President Obama says Froman will stay focused on the economic goals of promoting growth, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class. Froman will also - the President says - continue to help open new markets for American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, farmers and ranchers and fully enforce our trade rights.

"House Judiciary Approves Guest Worker Program"

(NAFB) - The Agricultural Guest Worker Act has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20 to 16. The measure is expected to be part of immigration reform in the House. Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte - chief sponsor of the bill - said the passage of the AG Act takes us one step closer to providing American farmers with a workable and reliable guest worker program. Goodlatte said American farmers have faced unnecessary hurdles and excessive red tape when hiring foreign workers under the current H-2A program. He said the AG Act replaces this broken program with a new, sensible guest worker program that is designed to boost the modern agricultural labor market as needed. According to Goodlatte - the new guest worker program created under the AG Act is a market-based approach that removes red tape, streamlines access to a reliable workforce and protects farmers from abusive lawsuits. He said it also allows more participation in the guest worker program by opening it up to dairies and food processors - both of which often need access to foreign labor.

By putting farmers in the driver’s seat rather than Washington bureaucrats - Goodlatte said they will be better equipped to compete in the global economy and continue growing our crops. He said it is vital that American farmers have access to a workable guest worker program now so they can continue putting food on Americans’ tables.

United Farm Workers opposes the bill - and says it would create a servants-only guest worker program for farm workers reminiscent of the infamous 1942-1964 bracero guest worker program.

"USDA Announces Support for Rural Businesses"

(NAFB) - U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the lifeblood of any successful business is access to capital - and USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program play a major role in helping qualified farms and organizations in rural areas gain access to the capital they need to start or expand their enterprises. The program aids rural businesses by bolstering private credit through loan guarantees for quality business ventures. Vilsack announced funding for 15 businesses in 10 states Wednesday. The announcements made by Vilsack include conditional commitments totaling 37.6-million dollars. USDA has provided more than 15-thousand loans and grants through its business programs - helping more than 60-thousand rural businesses - since 2009.

"More than 200 Farm Bill Amendments Filed in House"

(NAFB) - According to a schedule released by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - the U.S. House will not hold any votes on Friday this week. The last vote is slated for three o’clock Eastern Thursday afternoon. No farm bill votes were taken Monday - as the House Rules Committee had not yet set the rule on the farm bill. House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson are expected to ask for a rule that allows debate on all subjects House members want to discuss - but limits the number of amendments on each subject. The Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to issue a rule on how farm bill amendments will be handled on the House floor.

The deadline for submission of amendments was two o’clock Eastern Monday afternoon. As of five o’clock Eastern - the House Rules Committee had posted 226 amendments. Twenty-eight of those were marked as late. Among those filed on time - there is an amendment to set the target price for all crops at 55-percent of the five-year rolling Olympic average and change the acreage available for target price support to 85-percent of the farmer’s base acres; an effort to reform the federal sugar program; amendments aimed at changing crop insurance premium subsidies; an amendment to replace the dairy producer margin protection and dairy market stabilization programs; and of course, several amendments that would make changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"Farm Bureau Cautiously Hopeful as TTIP Talks Launched"

(NAFB) - American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the launch of comprehensive trade negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union holds the promise of expanded market access and an improved, science-based regulatory approach for agriculture and food. But to achieve a worthwhile agreement for U.S. agriculture - Stallman says a constant commitment to removing barriers to agricultural trade is necessary. He says the misuse of sanitary and phytosanitary standards - including restrictions on genetically engineered crops - has long been a tactic to impede trade. Stallman says Farm Bureau will look to these negotiations to move past this trade distorting tactic and fully embrace a rules-based trading system with standards based on scientific assessment.

According to Stallman - farmers and ranchers have been frustrated over the seemingly endless array of non-tariff barriers Europe applies to many of our agricultural commodities and products. He says Farm Bureau expects the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to be a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that covers all significant barriers to U.S. and EU agricultural trade - and is cautiously hopeful the negotiations will yield positive results for U.S. agriculture.

"Drought Tolerance Trait Granted Import Approval by China"

(NAFB) - As part of a broader series of approvals - China has granted full regulatory import authorization for Monsanto’s biotechnology trait in Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids. Lisa Safarian - U.S. Row Crops Lead for Monsanto - says the import approval of this trait is great news for U.S. farmers. With full import approvals in key export markets - Safarian says farmers can market their grain more broadly this year and plant with confidence in 2014. She says this approval also provides expanded access to another tool that can help farmers more sustainably manage their risk.

More than 250 farmers in the Western Great Plains planted DroughtGard Hybrids as part of Monsanto’s Ground Breakers program in 2012. This year - the product was introduced in the Western Great Plains under stewardship requirements. Those farmers purchasing DroughtGard Hybrids for planting in 2013 signed a grain stewardship agreement committing to use the grain as on-farm feed or to sell the grain for domestic use due to pending import approvals in key export markets. China’s approval means Monsanto will remove the grain stewardship requirements and grain will no longer be required to remain in the domestic market.

"USDA Taking Action to Manage Domestic Sugar Surplus"

(NAFB) - USDA has announced actions to manage the domestic sugar surplus while operating the sugar program at the least cost to the government. U.S. sugar prices have been driven down by record-breaking yields of sugar crops and a global surplus. USDA is required by law to act to stabilize the domestic market. First - USDA intends to purchase sugar from domestic sugarcane or sugar beet processors and subsequently conduct voluntary exchanges for credits under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. This will reduce imports into the U.S. and is designed to reduce the sugar surplus at a lower cost than loan forfeitures. The department anticipates this action could remove around 300-thousand tons of sugar from the U.S. market and cost approximately 38-million dollars - one-third the expected cost of forfeitures. USDA will continue to monitor current market conditions and projections to determine if additional actions are needed.

Second - to facilitate the exchange - USDA is giving licensed refiners 270 days - rather than 90 days - to make required exports or sugar transfers under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. This will increase the pool of available re-export credits. These are temporary waivers and do not permanently change Re-export Program rules.

The announcements made Monday build on previous actions taken to stabilize the domestic sugar market. At the start of fiscal year 2013 - USDA announced the domestic Sugar Marketing Allotments and the U.S. WTO raw sugar import tariff-rate quota at minimum allowable levels. In May - USDA permitted licensed refiners to transfer program sugar from their license to another refiner’s license through September 30th of this year and increased their license limit form 50-thousand metric tons raw value of credits to 100-thousand metric tons raw value of credits through December 31st of 2014.

"USDA Announces Investment in Rural Businesses During Small Business Week"

(NAFB) - To kick of National Small Business Week - Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted USDA’s actions to help rural small businesses create jobs, get access to capital and spur economic growth. Vilsack also announced 54 awards totaling 4.7-million dollars under the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program in 21 states. Vilsack says USDA supports small businesses by providing job training, business development opportunities, strategic community planning and other resources. He says they are focused on making sure Main Street businesses have the tools they need to grow. The funding announced Monday will provide rural communities with resources to support small businesses improve public facilities and create new, sustainable jobs.

There are several USDA initiatives to support small businesses and the communities they serve. Since 2009 - USDA has provided more than 15-thousand loans and grants through its business programs - helping more than 60-thousand rural small businesses.

"Many Events Planned for National Pollinator Week"

(NAFB) - It’s National Pollinator Week. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it’s a time to raise awareness about the importance of bees, birds and other pollinator species to agriculture, forest and grassland environments and other ecosystems. Bees are responsible for pollinating nearly one-third of every bite of food we eat and the global value of crops pollinated by bees is estimated to be nearly 217-billion dollars. But they are facing troubling declines in the U.S. - and Pollinator Week efforts are working to reverse and prevent declines. Vilsack encourages all Americans to learn about the important work being done to conserve, protect and restore their habitats - and more importantly - to join in and help take steps to support healthy pollinator populations.

During Pollinator Week - farmers, businesses, schools, nature centers, churches, scout groups, government and community groups are all pitching in across the globe. To find out about events taking place across the nation - visit pollinator dot org slash npw underscore events dot htm (

"Promising Signs for Farm Bill in House"

(NAFB) - Speaking to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Wednesday - House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said he expects the farm bill to come up on the House floor next week. He expressed his hope that around Monday the Rules Committee would put out a call for amendments - which he expects hundreds of. Then on Tuesday - Lucas hopes the Rules Committee will sort through the amendments, realize redundancy isn’t a good use of time and limit the number of amendments on each subject. Lucas is looking for an open but orderly process - and believes the House will likely vote on 30 to 40 amendments covering every area - including food stamps, sugar, dairy, conservation and crop insurance. Once the House achieves consensus on the farm bill - Lucas isn’t sure what the measure will look like. He said it will be a document that brings the farm bill to conference. Once the conference report comes to the House and Senate - it will not be subject to amendment. There will be up or down votes with a majority in each body required for passage.

House Speaker John Boehner has expressed his opposition to the Dairy Security Act written by Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson and included in the committee’s bill. But Boehner reportedly said Wednesday he will support the farm bill. Without a new bill - he said there would be no changes in the farm program or nutrition program. Boehner made his statement following a House Republican Conference where Lucas was to explain the importance of the farm bill to all Republican members of the House.

But at a National Milk Producers Federation reception on Tuesday - Peterson said that the dairy issue isn’t the only hurdle to passage of the farm bill. He said he feels somewhat optimistic - but explained it’s not a sure thing they’ll have enough votes to pass the bill.

"Ag Group Presidents Applaud Boehner’s Farm Bill Support"

(NAFB) - American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says House Speaker John Boeher’s statement of support for the farm bill gives all Americans real optimism that Washington can get important work done in 2013. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said it was promising to hear House leadership is embracing the farm bill and its importance to all Americans - and applauded Ag Committee leaders Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson for their bipartisan leadership in getting the bill to the floor. Stallman also pointed to the fact that Congress is advancing bipartisan farm legislation and said Boehner has been unfairly attacked by those who want to make the bipartisan progress on a farm bill appear to be the work of party politics by President Obama or the speaker itself. He called it unfortunate that outside political groups with no interest in the agricultural economy or the farm and ranch families who underpin our rural economies have reacted by promoting inaction.

NFU’s Johnson also took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of moving the farm bill toward conference and final passage before the September 30th deadline. He said According to Johnson - FARRM makes significant, much-needed reforms to agriculture programs - including significant deficit reduction. NFU’s also supportive of the elimination of direct payments. Johnson says American farmers need a safety net in times of natural disaster and long-term price collapse - not when conditions are more favorable. American Farm Bureau called on Congress to work through a fair process and an open debate to finish the House bill, leading to a conference committee - which can then produce legislation that reflects the will of the American people. Johnson says NFU will continue working with members of Congress through the floor process in the House and the conference process to ensure the final result is a comprehensive, five-year bill that is the best it can be.

"House Committee Advances Grazing Improvement Act"

(NAFB) - The House Natural Resources Committee has voted to advance the Grazing Improvement Act. The legislation seeks to improve the livestock grazing permitting processes on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. With the bipartisan 27 to 15 vote - the measure now goes to the full House for consideration. According to Dustin Van Liew - Public Lands Council Executive Director and Director of Federal Lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - the measure will contribute greatly to providing a stable business environment for federal lands ranchers who face increasing uncertainty as to the future of their livestock grazing permits.

The legislation - introduced by Idaho Representative Raúl Labrador as companion legislation to S. 258 introduced by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso - proposes to increase the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years. Among other provisions to reduce the burdens of National Environmental Policy Act review of expired permits - the bill also proposes to codify longstanding appropriations language that would allow grazing to continue under existing terms and conditions while the NEPA backlog is addressed. Van Liew says ranchers can no longer afford the incredible regulatory and litigious environment created by excessive application of NEPA. If we lose ranchers - he says we lose the stewards of the land, job providers in the West and a crucial part of American livestock production.

Two amendments were offered during committee consideration of the bill. The committee passed an amendment offered by Labrador that would exempt range improvements from excessive and unnecessary environmental review and clarify the intent of Congress with regard to who may appeal agency grazing decisions. According to Van Liew - the amendment will prevent radical environmental groups from abusing the current appeals system and further reduce the NEPA burden. The second amendment failed. It would have imposed an arbitrary 74-percent increase of the federal lands grazing fee on ranchers. Van Liew says the current grazing fee is fair, is based on market criteria and accurately reflects the cost of operating on public lands.

"Farm Bureau Notes June WASDE Reflects Weather Challenges"

(NAFB) - According to American Farm Bureau Federation analysis - the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report reflects the slow corn planting season across much of the Corn Belt. Farm Bureau notes later-planted corn faces the risk of pollination during seasonally warmer temperatures and drier weather expected in late July - which could reduce the yield. The June WASDE report lowered its yield projection 1.5-bushels per acre from May to 156.5-bushels per acre for 2013. Still - the corn production estimate at just above 14-billion bushels - a reduction of 135-million bushels - would be record setting if realized. Projected corn use was also reduced by 70-million bushels. Farm Bureau Economist Todd Davis says the report still predicts ending stocks to build significantly over the 2012-13 marketing year levels. According to Davis - June’s WASDE projects corn stocks are greater than the pre-report estimates - which reflects negatively on the corn market. He says the projected increase in stocks will cause marketing-year prices to drastically fall to $4.80 per bushel - compared to $6.95 per bushel in the 2012-13 marketing year.

As the World Agricultural Outlook Board awaits the release of the acreage survey on June 28th - the report showed no change in planted or harvested acres for corn or soybeans. Davis says trade projections are that about two-million acres will not be planted to corn this year due to the late season rains and unusually cold weather. He says the expectation is that soybean planted acres will increase as farmers plant soybeans instead of late planted corn. U.S. soybean ending stocks are still expected to more than double from 125-million bushels in the 2012-13 marketing year to 265-million bushels in 2013-14. That increase will drop the 2013-14 projected soybean price to $10.80 per bushel - a decline from $14.35 in the 2012-13 marketing year.

Farm Bureau’s Davis says the weather will keep the market captivated during the next three months in an attempt to better understand what proportion of the crop was planted later than normal and is at risk of pollinating during adverse conditions.

"WASDE at a Glance"

(NAFB) - The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates were released Wednesday. Since planting is still underway in the Northern Hemisphere and remains several months away in the Southern Hemisphere - it is noted that the projections are highly tentative.

WHEAT: Projected U.S. wheat supplies for 2013-14 are raised this month with an increase in beginning stocks and higher forecast winter wheat production. Beginning stocks are higher with a 15-million-bushel reduction in 2012-13 exports as May shipments fell below expectations. Projected production for 2013-14 is up 23-million bushels. Exports are projected 50-million bushels higher for 2013-14. Ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected down 11-million bushels. Projected stocks of 659-million bushels remain at a five-year low. The projected range for the 2013-14 season average farm price is raised 10-cents on both ends to $6.25 to $7.55 per bushel. This is down from the record $7.80 per bushel expected for 2012-13.

Global wheat supplies for 2013-14 are lowered 5.6-million tons. World production is projected at 695.9-million tons, down 5.2-million from last month. Global wheat consumption for 2013-14 is reduced slightly. Global wheat trade is raised. World ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected at 181.3-million tons, down 5.1-million from last month and just above the level projected for 2012-13.

COARSE GRAINS: The outlook for 2013-14 U.S. feed grain supplies is lowered this month as delayed plantings reduce yield prospects for corn. Projected corn production is lowered 135-million bushels to 14.0-billion with the average yield projected at 156.5-bushels per acre, down 1.5-bushels from last month. With reduced production prospects, domestic corn usage is projected 70-million bushels lower for 2013-14. Projected feed and residual disappearance is lowered 125-million bushels with the smaller crop, higher expected prices and increased availability of distillers’ grains. Corn used in ethanol production is raised 50-million bushels in line with an increase this month for the 2012-13 marketing year. Other food and industrial uses are also projected higher, up 5-million bushels from last month. Corn ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected 55-million bushels lower. At the projected 1.9-billion bushels, ending stocks are expected to be 2.5 times their 2012-13 level. The season-average farm price range for corn is raised 10-cents per bushel on each end to $4.40 to $5.20 per bushel.

Increases are also projected for the 
sorghum, barley, and oats farm price ranges this month. Changes for 2012-13 include higher corn and oats imports, higher corn food, seed, and industrial use, and reduced corn exports. Corn imports are raised 25-million bushels. Oats imports are raised 3-million bushels reflecting shipments to date. Corn used in ethanol production is raised 50-million bushels for 2012-13 based, in part, on higher-than-expected May ethanol production as indicated by weekly data reported by the Energy Information Administration. Other food and industrial use is projected up 15-million bushels with increases projected for corn use in cereals and beverage and industrial alcohol. Corn exports are projected 50-million bushels lower. Projected corn ending stocks for 2012-13 are raised 10-million bushels.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013-14 are projected 4.3-million tons lower. Global coarse grain beginning stocks are also lowered. Global 2013-14 coarse grain trade is raised slightly this month. Global corn consumption is down 1.7-million tons. Global corn ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected 2.8-million tons lower. At the projected 151.8-million tons, 2013-14 world corn stocks would be up 27.5-million tons from 2012-13 and the largest in 12 years.

RICE: The 2013-14 all rice supply and use balance sheet is unchanged from last month. Small revisions are made to the 2013-14 rice by-class supply and use balance sheets. Rice by-class 2013-14 beginning stocks forecasts are changed based on small adjustments to 2012-13 rice by-class balance sheets. Long-grain rice 2013-14 beginning stocks are raised 1.0-million cwt to 21.4-million resulting from a reduction in the 2012-13 export forecast now projected at 76.0-million. Combined medium- and short-grain 2013-14 beginning stocks are lowered 1.0-million cwt to 10.5-million resulting from an increase in the 2012-13 export forecast now projected at 32.0-million. Rough rice exports for 2012-13 are lowered 1.0-million cwt to 35.0-million and combined milled and brown rice exports are raised 1.0-million to 73.0-million. No other changes are made to 2012-13 and 2013-14 U.S. rice supply and use balance sheets except for season-average farm price forecasts. The 2013-14 U.S. long-grain rice season-average farm price is projected at $13.90 to $14.90 per cwt, up 10-cents per cwt on each end from a month ago and compares to a revised $14.30 to $14.50 per cwt for 2012-13. The 2013-14 combined medium- and short-grain rice season average farm price is $15.80 to $16.80 per cwt, an increase of 30-cents per cwt on each end from last month and compares to a revised $16.00 to $16.20 per cwt for 2012-13. The 2013-14 U.S. all rice season-average farm price is projected at $14.50 to $15.50 per cwt, up 20-cents per cwt on each end from a month ago and compares to a revised $14.80 to $15.00 per cwt for 2012-13.

Global 2013-14 rice supply and use is little changed from a month ago. Global rice production is projected at a record 479.2-million tons, down less than 100-thousand tons from last month. Global 2013-14 exports are lowered 0.5-million tons to 38.4-million. Global 2013-14 consumption is lowered 0.3-million tons. Global ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected at 108.6-million tons, up 0.8-million from last month.

OILSEEDS: U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2013-14 are unchanged from last month. Changes for 2012-13 include increased soybean imports and crush, and reduced exports. Soybean imports are raised 5-million bushels to 25-million. Soybean exports for 2012-13 are reduced 20-million bushels to 1.33-billion bushels. Although soybean exports are reduced, U.S. soybean meal exports are increased this month. As a result of increased soybean meal exports, the U.S. soybean crush is projected at 1.66-billion bushels, up 25-million. Soybean ending stocks for 2012-13 are projected at 125-million bushels, unchanged from last month. The 2013-14 season-average price for soybeans is forecast at $9.75 to $11.75 per bushel, up 25-cents on both ends of the range. Soybean meal prices for 2013-14 are forecast at $290 to $330 per short ton, up 10 dollars on both ends. The soybean oil price forecast is unchanged at 47 to 51 cents per pound.

Global oilseed production for 2013-14 is projected at 490.8-million tons, down 0.5-million from last month.

SUGAR: Projected U.S. sugar supply for fiscal year 2013-14 is increased 435-thousand short tons, raw value, from last month. Imports from Mexico are increased based on Mexico’s higher carryover from the large 2012-13 crop. U.S. ending stocks for 2012-13 are up because higher imports from Mexico more than offset lower tariff rate quota imports. Mexico’s 2012-13 production is increased to reflect the strong pace of harvest to date. For both countries, 2013-14 use is unchanged from last month and ending stocks are increased.

LIVESTOCK, POULTRY, AND DAIRY: The forecast for total meat production in 2013 is raised from last month as higher beef and broiler production more than offsets lower pork production. Beef production is raised from last month as poor forage conditions have resulted in relatively large placements of cattle in feedlots in the first part of 2013 and cow slaughter remains high. Broiler slaughter is raised slightly for the third quarter, reflecting hatchery data. Pork production in second quarter is lowered based on the pace of hog slaughter and slightly lower expected carcass weights. Turkey production is unchanged from last month. Egg production is raised. Red meat, poultry, and egg production forecasts for 2014 are unchanged from last month. Forecasts for 2013 beef exports are reduced from last month as trade to a number of markets has been relatively weak. Broiler exports are raised based on export strength to date. Pork exports are unchanged. Forecasts for 2014 are unchanged from last month. Cattle price forecasts for 2013 are lowered from last month, reflecting lower-than-expected prices to date. Broiler prices are raised, reflecting strong domestic and export demand. Hog prices are raised as tighter supplies have pushed prices higher. Price forecasts for 2014 are unchanged.

The milk production forecast for 2013 is unchanged. For 2014, the production forecast is lowered as relatively weak milk-to-feed ratios in the third and fourth quarter of 2013 are expected to slow production growth in the first half of 2014. Fat basis exports for 2013 are lowered based on slow butter exports through April. Skim-solid exports are higher based on expectations of continued robust nonfat dry milk (NDM) exports. Fat and skim basis exports for 2014 are unchanged. Fat basis imports are raised for 2013 and 2014. Forecasts for 2013 cheese and butter prices are lowered from last month, reflecting greater stocks and weaker-than-expected prices to date. The NDM price is raised on tightening supplies and expectations of continued robust export demand. The price range for whey is narrowed. As a result of the lower cheese price forecast, the Class III price is reduced. The Class IV price is down as lower butter prices more than offset higher NDM. For 2014, the butter price forecast is lowered as stocks remain high, but other product prices are unchanged. The Class III price forecast is unchanged, but the Class IV price is lowered. The all milk price is forecast at $19.60 to $20.00 per cwt for 2013 and $18.95 to $19.95 for 2014.

COTTON: The 2013-14 U.S. cotton supply and demand balance sheet shows lower beginning and ending stocks, lower production, and higher prices relative to last month. The 2012-13 export estimate is raised 350-thousand bales to 13.6-million, reducing the current season’s ending stocks forecast. At the same time, projected U.S. production for 2013-14 is reduced to 13.5-million bales. With the total 2013-14 supply 900-thousand bales below last month, U.S. exports are reduced 500-thousand bales to 11.0-million and ending stocks are reduced to 2.6-million, the equivalent of 18-percent of total use. The projected range for the marketing-year average price of 73 to 93 cents per pound is raised 5-cents on each end, with a midpoint of 83-cents per pound, 15-percent above the estimated average for 2012-13.

This month’s changes to the world cotton estimates for both 2012-13 and 2013-14 result primarily from a sharp increase of 1.75-million bales in China’s 2012-13 imports to a level of 20.0-million. Higher imports by China in the current season are drawing stocks out of exporting countries and constraining the 2013-14 supply outside of China available for global consumption and trade. World production in 2013-14 is reduced slightly from last month. World consumption also is reduced slightly. Projected world 2013-14 ending stocks are reduced marginally.

"NIAA Releases FMD Symposium White Paper"

(NAFB) - A newly released White Paper summarizes the information presented at the Foot and Mouth Disease Symposium sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture in April. This FMD Symposium White Paper covers presentations given by numerous experts - plus an outline of discussion periods where stakeholders addressed key challenges of preparedness activities. Symposium Co-Chair Dr. Julie Smith of the University of Vermont says the goal of the symposium was to enhance preparedness for FMD across food animal production sectors by bringing a broad range of stakeholders together. She says the symposium facilitated the exchange of information and identification of next steps that can help foster scientific innovation, industry engagement and consumer confidence. While the U.S. food animal industry is FMD-free and has FMD-free status - California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones says FMD is considered an ever-present threat to animal agriculture and the U.S. in general. To manage the risk and have an effective emergency plan in place ready to activate is vitally important - Jones says - and requires cooperation among all levels of government, the private sector and the community. Visit www dot animalagriculture dot org ( to access the FMD Symposium White Paper.

"Vilsack Announces Rural Electric Project Funding"

(NAFB) - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced funding for rural electric projects in 16 states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents. Vilsack says USDA funding for rural electric utilities improves service to customers, makes the grid more efficient and reliable and encourages investment, business development and job creation in rural communities. Wednesday’s announcement includes more than 356-million dollars in loans to upgrade rural electric services - including more than 15-million dollars in smart grid funding. This funding will help finance the construction of more than 24-hundred miles of new or improved electric line.

According to USDA - the department’s support for rural electric utilities benefits more than 8.5-million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology further increases the efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Rural electric cooperatives have used USDA funding to invest nearly 560-million dollars in smart grid improvements since 2011.

"USDA Accepting Applications for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant Program"

(NAFB) - USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says these grants will jump start small business hiring and help producers in areas facing economic challenges get the tools they need to succeed. The funding is available through USDA Rural Development’s Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program. The maximum grant award is 200-thousand dollars.

According to USDA - this grant program and other business and cooperative development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. They helped almost 10-thousand rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises in 2012. Also in 2012 - USDA reports business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53-thousand rural jobs.

Eligible applicants include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives and cooperative development centers where a majority of the governing board or board of directors is comprised of individuals who are members of socially disadvantaged groups. Small, socially disadvantaged producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and fishermen that have averaged 250-thousand dollars or less in annual gross sales of agricultural products in the last three years. Producers will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training and implement business plans. Electronic applications must be submitted by July 10th. The deadline for paper applications is July 15th. Additional information is available at www dot rurdev dot usda dot gov slash BCP underscore SSDPG dot html (

"Another World Pork Expo in the Books"

(NAFB) - Nearly 20-thousand pork producers and leaders from 39 countries were in Des Moines, Iowa last week for the 25th anniversary World Pork Expo. Overall - National Pork Producers Council President Randy Spronk says producers were upbeat, exhibitors were busy, the weather was great and the crowds were good. Spronk says World Pork Expo is a great place to share ideas and talk business with vendors and fellow pork producers. Attendees had the chance to view the products, services and technologies of more than 400 exhibitors from the U.S. and other countries, eat some free pork barbecue and interact with fellow producers. The nearly two dozen business seminars and PORK Academy seminars were also popular. They offered the latest insights in production management, market outlook and strategic planning. In a special session - a panel of swine veterinarians and diagnostic experts updated producers on the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus - PEDV. The discussion centered on PEDV symptoms and infection rates - as well as prevention and biosecurity protocols. The World Pork Expo Junior National set another record for participation in its shows and other competitions. Sixteen-hundred pigs were exhibited by 678 juniors from 26 states. The 2014 World Pork Expo will take place June 4th through the 6th at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

"Senate Farm Bill Approved"

(NAFB) - The Senate approved the farm bill with a vote of 66 to 27 Monday evening. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and other Senators then put the pressure on the House to get a farm bill passed. Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee Thad Cochran said the legislation approved by the Senate will provide farmers in all regions of the country with a robust and workable safety net - while also reducing the cost of the programs authorized by current law by 24-billion dollars. He noted the bill will also encourage and reward protection of water, soil and forestry resources. Stabenow thanked Cochran for his leadership and commitment to bipartisan partnership - and her Senate colleagues for voting on behalf of the 16-million American jobs that rely on a robust, innovative agriculture sector. She said the bill proves that by working across party lines - Congress can save taxpayer money and create smart policies that lay the foundation for a stronger economy.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven believes this year’s Senate bill will be easier to match with the bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee because it contains a target price-based program as the House bill does. He said all regions of the country are on board - and called it a good bill that deserves to be passed. Former Ag Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts voted against the Senate bill - saying the bill looks in the rearview mirror for outdated policies that cause the farmer to plant for the government and not the market. He said we have seen the effects of this interference before with extended periods of depressed prices and excess supplies. In this budget environment - Roberts said he couldn’t justify a subsidy program that can pay producers more than the cost of production and essentially becomes nothing more than an income transfer program - not a risk management tool.

Senate Ag Committee members Mitch McConnell and John Thune also voted against the measure. Thune said the bill contains an outdated counter-cyclical program with even higher fixed target prices for rice and peanuts and only offers a minimal attempt at making meaningful reforms to the food stamp program. Thune was also displeased that Senators weren’t able to get votes on all the amendments they offered.

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns - who voted against the measure in committee - said this isn’t the farm bill he would have drafted - but it’s better than no farm bill at all. He said long-term ag policy is a necessity for the nation’s farmers and ranchers who work hard to provide food, fuel and fiber for Americans and the rest of the world. Johanns said Congress has a responsibility to give them the certainty they need to continue feeding a growing population.

Committee member Chuck Grassley of Iowa called the Senate-passed farm bill a step in the right direction. He said responsible payment limits on the commodity program are crucial to the defensibility of the farm-safety net. He is hopeful the House will take notice of the reforms in the Senate’s bill and see the positive changes made to the farm payment system. While he sees the inclusion of his payment limits plan as very reform-minded - Grassley said the target price program included in the final bill will take us back a step. While he has concerns about the potential impacts of the shallow loss and target price programs in the farm bill - he said farmers need certainty. According to Grassley - a five-year farm bill that maintains the crop insurance program, includes his payment limit reforms and streamlines conservation programs provides that certainty.

Before the final vote on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 - Senators voted to approve an amendment to direct the Agriculture Secretary to establish a pilot project on ultra high-speed internet service in rural America 48 to 38.

"Reaction to Senate Farm Bill’s Passage"

(NAFB) - The American Farm Bureau Federation commended the Senate for quickly moving to complete work on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the bill provides needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. He says Farm Bureau appreciates the decision to protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and the approval of a commodity program that provides farmers varied safety net options. According to Stallman - this approach to farm policy will encourage farmers to follow market signals rather than basing planting decisions on anticipation of government farm benefits. Farm Bureau now looks forward to working with the House as it moves forward with its farm bill legislation. Stallman says timely completion of the bill will help provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year and allow USDA to plan for an orderly implementation of the bill’s provisions.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson is pleased Senators came together in a bipartisan manner to pass the 2013 Farm Bill. Johnson was happy to see language included that will provide a safety net for family farmers and ranchers - as well as a robust crop insurance program, mandatory energy funding, streamlined conservation programs, additional protections for livestock producers and incentives for locally owned and organic production. NFU is hopeful the House will follow suit with expeditious floor consideration and passage of its version of the farm bill. Johnson says NFU looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress through a conference committee to complete a comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current legislation expires on September 30th.

National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson says America’s farmers greatly appreciate the leadership and bipartisan efforts by the Senate to complete their work on the farm bill. The group also recognizes the efforts put forth to address regional concerns to ensure all areas of the country are adequately represented. Johnson says NCGA’s attention now shifts to the House - with hopes they schedule floor time to consider the legislation as soon as possible. She says the group looks forward to continuing to partner with agriculture advocates to pass a new common-sense, reform-minded bill.

Passing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill is the top priority for the American Soybean Association. ASA President Danny Murphy says the Senate has again shown admirable dedication to passing a new farm bill that will provide certainty for soybean farmers and other members of the agriculture community. He says the measure approved by the Senate represents many of ASA’s priorities and is a critical step toward strengthening the farm safety net, protecting planting flexibility, improving conservation, bolstering exports and feeding the nation’s hungry. In addition - Murphy says the bill represents a commitment from farmers to their collective national financial responsibility - cutting billions in spending and streamlining redundant and ineffective federal programs. He says ASA now turns its attention to the House and calls on Representatives to move the bill quickly this month and on to conference before the August recess.

National Sorghum Producers also applauds the Senate’s passage of the farm bill. NSP Chairman Terry Swanson says as attention turns to the House - it’s to the point where everyone must work together to get a farm bill across the finish line. Swanson says this has been a long, tough process - but NSP looks forward to working with Congress members in the coming weeks to bring the bill to its completion.

This bill also addresses priorities critical to United Fresh members – including programs that support essential research, market promotion and nutrition – supporting specialty crops. United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel says the bill supports fruits and vegetables in ways that will boost consumption and help provide healthy options to Americans. United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther says the Senate has sent a strong signal to the House that this legislation deserves to be acted on quickly – and United Fresh encourages the House to move forward as soon as possible.

Cattlemen and women have been asking Congress to pass a farm bill that provides certainty for agricultural producers nationwide and incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry - and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Scott George says his group is pleased with the passage of the farm bill by the Senate. He notes there is not a livestock title, conservation programs are maintained, the research title is sustained and disaster assistance programs are included. George says passage of a farm bill isn’t just important to farmers and ranchers - but also to Americans nationwide who enjoy an abundant, safe and affordable food supply. As the farm bill process moves forward - NCBA urges family farmers and ranchers to continue their grassroots efforts and remain involved and engaged.

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and America’s farmer co-ops applauded the Senate’s passage of a new five-year farm bill. The NCFC statement noted that producers across the country deserve the certainty provided by a five-year bill. It was also noted that the support shown for the legislation was bipartisan and regionally balanced.

The Senate’s passed farm bill includes a robust and consolidated Title II framework - according to the National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber - as well as a historic amendment to strengthen the ability to conserve natural resources for the future by tying conservation compliance to crop insurance. NACD says this farm bill calls for a number of meaningful reform measures that would cut costs and increase efficiencies and best management tools to care for natural resources. Garber says producers deserve to have a long-term framework in place to effectively and efficiently manage their land, resources and business in the future. NACD calls on the House to bring the farm bill to the floor next week.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis commends the Senate for approving the 2013 Farm Bill - specifically the 900-million dollars in mandatory funding to critical rural energy programs he says will help provide certainty investors and businesses need to keep making renewable fuels from diverse feedstocks. By including programs - like the Rural Energy for American Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program and Biorefinery Assistance Program - Buis says the Senate has reiterated its vote of confidence in the nation’s renewable fuels sector. He says America’s robust farm communities are the heart of the nation, economy and future - and he applauds the Senate for recognizing their critical importance. There’s still work to be done - though - and Buis urges the House to follow suit in passing a farm bill.

Novozymes praised the Senate for passing a farm bill with dedicated energy funding. The energy title of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 contains 800-million dollars in energy program funding. Funding is included for the Rural Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program and the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Novozymes points out that the energy title also funds USDA programs that help jumpstart additional biorefinery construction for advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals, dedicated energy crop feedstock development and consumer demand of biobased products - all encouraging further commercialization of the renewable industry. Novozymes Americas Regional President Adam Monroe says this bill supports the sweat and toil of America’s farmers. He also says the bill offers the stable policy needed to grow the rural economy.

"House Still Plans to Get to Farm Bill This Month"

(NAFB) - Now that the Senate has approved its version of the farm bill - the House will have to pass its version so the two pieces of legislation can be merged in a conference committee and presented for the President’s consideration. House Speaker John Boehner confirmed Monday that he expects the farm bill to come to the House floor this month. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson even expressed optimism that the House would be able to consider the farm bill next week thanks to the strong bipartisan support in the Senate. If everything stays on track - Peterson believes Congress could get a bill to the President before the August recess.

One possible hiccup is Boehner’s opposition to the dairy program approved by the House Agriculture Committee. If that program - which is the same as the program included in the Senate-passed bill - is changed - Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow has told reporters she would have to consider those changes in conference. She will also have to consider - she said - how the House handles cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She is opposed to the 20.5-billion dollar cut over 10 years included in the House legislation.

"Markup of Ag Spending Bill Scheduled"

(NAFB) - The House Appropriations Committee will markup the fiscal year Ag Appropriations bill Thursday. The markup is slated to begin at 10 o’clock Eastern time.

"NFU Submits Comments on Inclusion of Japan in TPP"

(NAFB) - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson has submitted comments on Japan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations. Johnson says the agricultural sector is among the few parts of the U.S. export portfolio with a trade surplus. He says we must do much more to reduce our crippling, massive trade deficits - and this should be the primary concern of negotiators in the TPP talks. According to Johnson - the most important measure of the success of a trade agreement has to be its benefit to U.S. agriculture and specifically its producers’ net income. He says the promise of greater market access to Japan’s agricultural market alone isn’t enough to justify the risks that accompany opening our borders to more imports. Johnson says market access doesn’t equal market share - and net balance of trade must be considered.

Johnson also calls for greater transparency in the negotiating process. He says NFU fears family farmers in both Japan and the U.S. will be harmed if the negotiations are conducted under the current framework of secrecy.

"Additional EWP Funds Available for Disaster Recovery Efforts"

(NAFB) - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is sending an additional 66.8-million dollars in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds to help disaster recovery efforts in 15 states. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funding will help communities implement much needed recovery projects to address watershed damage caused by floods, drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters that occurred in 2012 and so far this year. He says USDA and the President are committed to helping repair and rebuild rural communities so hardworking farmers and ranchers can ensure American agriculture remains a bright spot in the nation’s economy.

The Emergency Watershed Program has helped many communities recover from natural disasters by providing on-site technical and financial assistance. The money will help implement all requested recovery projects in presidentially declared disaster areas. The largest portion of the funds announced Monday will go to Colorado - with the rest of the funds going to Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

"USDA Working to Ensure Summer Access to Healthy Food for Kids"

(NAFB) - To kick off National Summer Food Service Program Week - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterated USDA’s commitment to ensuring no child goes hungry when school is out. When school is out during the summer months - Vilsack says many families struggle to feed their children even one nutritious meal a day. He says government alone can’t address this challenge - which is why the department joins its valued partners this week to raise awareness about the nutrition gap low-income children face when schools close for the summer. National Summer Food Service Program week is a national push to promote USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and other initiatives designed to alleviate hunger during the summer months. Last year - USDA’s summer feeding programs provided 161-million meals - feeding approximately 3.5-million children on a typical summer day.

Vilsack says USDA’s summer feeding initiative supports programs that keep children active and engaged when school is out - reducing learning loss that often occurs during the summer months. He says they do all they can to ensure children get nutritious food year-round so they are ready to learn during the school year and have a greater chance to succeed. To ensure no child goes hungry this summer - USDA and its partners are redoubling their efforts to reach more eligible low-income children. USDA is issuing a national call to action for schools, communities and faith-based organizations across the country to increase the number of program sponsors and feeding sites. USDA is also providing intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of the program in five states with high levels of rural and urban food insecurity and/or reduced program participation. In addition - the Department is working with individuals, schools and community organizations to help connect families to summer meals.

"Attempt to Prevent Use of Renewable Fuels Rejected by Court"

(NAFB) - Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the recent decision by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is a win for the ethanol industry and will help break down market barriers erected by the oil industry. The court found that the American Petroleum Institute and other associated special interests of the oil industry were preventing retailers from blending ethanol into their gasoline for sale. By trying to prevent retailers from blending higher levels of ethanol into their gasoline - Buis says Big Oil is preventing market competition. He says the court specifically noted that suppliers are essentially seeking to exclude retailers from participating in the process of ethanol blending - therefore creating a monopoly. According to Buis - the statements from the court reaffirm what biofuels producers and industry stakeholders have been saying for years - Big Oil is operating a monopoly on the liquid fuels market and it’s time to end the practices that restrict competition, harm consumers and stand in the way of true energy independence.

"Biofuels Industry Can Produce More with Less Thanks to New Enzyme Technology"

(NAFB) - Novozymes is launching new enzyme technology that can increase ethanol yield from corn up to five-percent and corn oil extraction by 13-percent - all while saving eight-percent energy. These efficiency improvements are achieved by using two new enzymes - Spirizyme Achieve and Olexa - together with another Novozymes enzyme - Avantec. Novozymes Executive Vice President for Business Operations Andrew Fordyce says the new technology allows ethanol producers to make more from less and substantially improve their profit margins.

According to Novozymes - a typical U.S. ethanol plant uses around 36-million bushels of feed-grade corn each year to produce 100-million gallons of fuel ethanol, 300-thousand tons of DDGS and 85-hundred tons of corn oil. With these three enzymes - a typical plant can save up to 1.8-million bushels of corn while maintaining the same ethanol output, increasing corn oil extraction and generating up to five-million dollars in additional profit.

"New Web-Based Management Tool Introduced by DuPont Pioneer"

(NAFB) - A new web-based field management tool is available to growers from DuPont Pioneer. Pioneer Field360 Select software is a subscription service that combines field-by-field data with real-time agronomic and weather information to help growers make informed management decisions. According to DuPont Pioneer New Services Manager Justin Heath - Pioneer Field360 Select software guides growers to better use the field data they have collected to increase farm productivity and profitability. Growers can transform farm data from the present and past into timely and actionable information with a subscription. Heat says growers can get information about a field without setting foot on the ground. The Pioneer Field360 Select software allows them to access their farm data from just about anywhere and record inputs, scouting information and access weather and agronomic information on the go.

Growers can visit their Pioneer sales professional or pioneer dot com slash 360 ( for more information.

"Pork Board Approves Funds for PEDV Research"

(NAFB) - The National Pork Board is committed to helping expedite research to find answers to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. To do so - NPB has approved 450-thousand dollars in Checkoff funds toward this effort. This money - along with funds provided through the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s research committee - means a total of 527-thousand dollars is dedicated to PEDV research. NPB President Conley Nelson says NPB took this action to help get answers to U.S. producers as quickly as possible to help protect their herds from this devastating disease. Nelson says it’s because of the investment producers make as part of the Checkoff that NPB is able to respond quickly to sudden disease threats like this one. As with all research - Nelson says NPB wants this PEDV research to be transparent and objective - and specific with quick turnaround times to get answers quickly.

"NFU Urges Congress to Move Quickly on Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for a cloture vote on the farm bill late Tuesday. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson then sent a letter to all Senators saying the farm bill is a vital piece of legislation for the farmers and ranchers producing food, feed, fiber and fuel for the United States. Johnson says 16-million American jobs depend on the ag industry - and this bill is critical for those jobs, protecting natural resources and keeping food secure. He says it’s critical the bill continues to move through the Senate and urges the House to follow suit soon to have a bill signed into law before the September 30th deadline.

"Renewable Fuels Industry Disappointed in House Energy Subcommittee’s RFS Hearing"

(NAFB) - The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements held a hearing Wednesday on the Renewable Fuel Standard and the blend wall. The National Corn Growers Association says the hearing was a subjective hearing - and NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis says it was a disappointment to hear the hearing’s outcome. Willis says the majority of the testimony and discussion focused on misguided, previously refuted allegations. Growth Energy says at a time when gas prices keep going up - the Subcommittee should be looking at why prices are near record levels instead of hearing testimonies from critics of the only cost-competitive alternative to oil.

Growth Energy says millions of Americans struggle to afford to fill up their cars while the oil industry sees record profits. Solutions exist - but the organization says the oil industry distorts facts and develops market barriers instead of adopting a viable solution that saves Americans money and gives them a choice and savings at the pump. No biofuels producers or stakeholders were invited to testify at the hearing. Willis says the hearing is the perfect reminder to farmers that they need to be diligent in contacting Congress and sharing the positives of the renewable fuel industry.

"FFA to Receive Largest Endowment Ever"

(NAFB) - Thousands of future FFA members could attend the organization’s largest leadership development conference free of charge through the new Glenn and Maggie Stith Leadership Development Fund Endowment. This endowment could provide around 15-hundred dollars each for 110 eligible FFA members across the country to attend the annual Washington Leadership Conference. Eligible students must be active FFA members with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, demonstrate financial need and be first-time conference attendees. The scholarship will be awarded to the National FFA Organization to cover the cost of each recipient to attend along with a stipend for travel, meals, lodging and other expenses to attend. This year - more than 18-hundred students are registered for the conference - which began Tuesday and runs until July 21st. FFA CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong says the Stith’s generosity focuses on one of FFA’s core values - living to serve. Mr. Stith says the most satisfying thing he can do is give back and help young people achieve their dreams and have an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful career like he has.

"Stabenow on Possible Smithfield Foods, Shuanghui International Merger"

(NAFB) - Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow says American consumers have long been able to trust the food they buy in the supermarket - as the U.S. produces the safest, most affordable food in the world due to the high standard to which U.S. producers are held. Stabenow says she is concerned about Shuanghui (Shawn-way) International’s possible purchase of Smithfield Foods because of the implications it could have on food safety for American consumers. She says the agencies responsible for approving this possible merger must take China’s and Shuanghui’s troubling track record on food safety into account and do everything they can to ensure America’s national security and family health isn’t jeopardized.

"Senate Closing in on Final Farm Bill Vote"

(NAFB) - A final vote on the Senate farm bill could come as early as Thursday - but is more likely next Monday. Following the Democratic Caucus lunch Tuesday - Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow told reporters Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would file cloture on the farm bill - setting up a cloture vote Thursday and a vote on final passage Monday. The decision to invoke cloture comes as no agreement has been reached on a package of amendments. If an agreement is reached before Thursday - then Stabenow says the vote on final passage would be held Thursday.

"Draft Ag Spending Bill Released in House"

(NAFB) - The House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee is set to markup the fiscal year 2014 agriculture spending bill this (Wednesday) morning. The bill was released Tuesday. The proposed legislation totals 19.5-billion dollars in discretionary funding - 1.3-billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level, approximately equal to the current level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts and 516-million dollars less than the President’s request. The bill does not provide the money the Commodity Futures Trading Commission wants to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and rejects the president’s proposal to change the way food aid is provided.

House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers - noting the nation relies on American farmers and ranchers to provide the food and products needed every day - says this bill will fund critical agricultural programs to support farmers and ranchers, ensure the safety and sustainability of our food and drug supply and offer some needed help to families who are facing the dangers of hunger. Rogers says it’s all accomplished while keeping a tight hold on spending and trimming unnecessary funds to make the most of every tax dollar. According to Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt - the funding in the bill will help keep America’s agricultural research cutting-edge, maintain vibrant rural communities, provide nutrition to those most vulnerable, and keep our markets competitive while maintaining the safest food and drug supply in the world.

Here are the bill’s highlights as outlined on the House Appropriations Committee website:

The agencies and programs in this bill will receive a total of $139.4 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding – $2.6 billion below the President’s request and $52 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

The programs funded in this bill, including agriculture production, promotion, research, and marketing, will help build upon the estimated $139.5 billion in U.S. agricultural exports this year – the highest level on record. These exports support more than one million American jobs and are essential to the nation’s continued economic growth.

  •          Agricultural Research – The bill provides $2.5 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is approximately equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted funding level. This funding will support research to help stop and mitigate devastating crop diseases and improve food safety and water quality. The bill also maintains responsible investments in the nation’s land-grant colleges and universities.

  •          Animal and Plant Health – The legislation includes $803.5 million – approximately equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This funding will provide support for programs to help control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases that can be crippling to U.S. producers and entire agricultural industries.

  •          Conservation Programs – The bill provides $823 million – $2.3 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land. This includes $12 million in conservation funding for dam rehabilitation to help small communities ensure their small watershed projects meet current safety standards.

  •          Farm Service Agency (FSA) – The legislation provides $1.5 billion for FSA, which is equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. This funding will support the various farm, conservation, loan, and emergency programs for American farmers and ranchers

  •          Rural Development – The bill provides a total of $2.2 billion for rural development programs, which is equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. These programs help create an environment for economic growth by supporting basic rural infrastructure, providing loans to increase opportunities for rural businesses and industries, and helping balance the playing field in local rural housing markets.

• Business and Industry Loans – The legislation includes $52 million – $3.1 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – for the rural business and industry loan program. This funding will support $741 million in loans to help small businesses in rural areas, many of which face unique challenges due to local economic conditions.

• Rural Infrastructure – The legislation includes responsible investments in basic rural infrastructure needs. This includes $1.2 billion for rural water and waste program loans and $448 million for grants, $5.2 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans, and $24 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants, which address educational and health needs in rural communities.

• Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance – The bill provides a total of $24 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing guaranteed loan program (equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and the President’s request), and $820 million in direct loans ($80 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level). These loans provide low-income rural families – many of whom would have few loan options for purchasing a home because of their geographical location – with home loan assistance. In addition, $1 billion – $128 million above last year’s level – is provided for rental assistance to provide affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities.

  •          Food Safety and Inspection Service – The legislation includes $999 million for food safety and inspection programs – which is $31 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. These mandatory inspection activities help ensure the safety and productivity of the country’s $832 billion meat and poultry industry, and keep safe, healthy food on American tables. The funding provided will maintain more than 8,000 frontline inspection personnel for meat, poultry, and egg products at more than 6,200 facilities across the country. 

  •          Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – The FDA receives a total of almost $2.5 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, an increase of $24 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. Total funding for the FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $4.3 billion. Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $27 million, and drug safety activities are increased by $2.5 million.  

  •          Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – Included in the bill is $195 million for the CFTC, the agency’s current operating level, which is a cut of $10 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $120 million below the President’s budget request.

  •          Food and Nutrition Programs – The legislation contains discretionary funding, as well as mandatory funding required by law, for food and nutrition programs within the Department of Agriculture. This includes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Child Nutrition programs.

• WIC – The bill provides $6.7 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $214 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $487 million below the President’s request. This program provides supplemental nutritional foods needed by pregnant and nursing mothers, babies and young children. Language is included for oversight and monitoring requirements to ensure the proper use of taxpayer dollars, including a directive for the Secretary of Agriculture to increase oversight of vendors to help rein in food costs.

• Child nutrition programs – The bill provides for $20.45 billion in required mandatory funding – which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committee – for child nutrition programs. This is $561 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.  This funding will provide for an estimated 5.6 billion free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for 32.1 million children who qualify for the program.

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – The bill provides for $76.3 billion in required mandatory spending – which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committee – for SNAP. This is $958 million below last year’s level and $2 billion below the President’s budget request. This program provides food assistance to more than 45 million Americans on average every month. Strong oversight language is included requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to report on actions to help weed out and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, such as a directive to ban fraudulent vendors, and a prohibition on advertisements or outreach with foreign governments.

• International Food Programs – The legislation contains $1.15 billion for “Food for Peace” grants, also known as the P.L. 480 – Title II program. This is $284 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. The bill does not reflect the President’s budget request to move this program to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

"ADUFA Reauthorized by Congress"

(NAFB) - The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to authorize the Animal Drug User Fee Act and the Animal Gener Drug User Fee Act Monday night with a vote of 390 to 12. The measure was already approved by the Senate - so the legislation now heads to the White House for the President’s signature. ADUFA and AGDUFA - first enacted in 2003 - allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to collect fees from animal health companies for the review and approval of animal health products. The fees supplement the agency’s annual congressionally-approved appropriations and have enabled FDA to reduce its review time for new animal drugs. As a result - medications are brought to market more quickly with high standards for safety and effectiveness maintained.

The reauthorization of ADUFA is a top policy priority for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. According to NCBA President Scott George - the legislation’s passage is important because new animal health technologies allow cattle producers and veterinarians to prevent, control and treat diseases to maintain a healthy herd. George says raising healthy cattle is of utmost importance to cattlemen and women - and it’s important for them and the veterinarians they work with to have the ability to best manage herd health and produce safe, nutritious beef. National Pork Producers Council President Randy Spronk says the laws will help ensure pork producers have access to products that keep their pigs healthy and their products safe and wholesome.

NPPC points out opponents of modern livestock production had threatened to offer provisions to restrict certain antibiotics from use in food-animal production and to require reporting of on-farm uses of animal health products - but the bill was approved without amendments. With a clean bill free of amendments - NCBA’s George says the fees paid by animal health companies to fund FDA reviews and evaluations will be utilized to support and facilitate the new animal drug approval process.

"Americans Challenged to Reduce Food Waste"

(NAFB) - USDA is collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency on the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. It’s a call on all parts of the food chain - including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and other government agencies - to join the effort to reduce, recover and recycle food waste. According to USDA - U.S. food waste is estimated at 30 to 40-percent of the food supply. An estimated 133-billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants and homes never made it into people’s stomachs in 2010. In 2008 - the amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at nearly 390-dollars per consumer. That was more than an average month’s worth of food expenditures. The goal of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge is to lead a fundamental shift in the way we think about and manage food and food waste in this country. The goal is to have 400 partner organizations by 2015 and one-thousand by the year 2020.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth - but too much of it goes to waste. Addressing this issue - according to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe - not only helps combat hunger and save money - but also with combating climate change. He notes food in landfills decomposes to create potent greenhouse gases.

For its part in the challenge - USDA is initiating a wide range of activities - including activities to reduce waste in the school meals program, educate consumers about food waste and food storage and develop new technologies to reduce food waste. USDA will also work with industry to increase donations from imported produce that doesn’t meat quality standards, streamline procedures for donating wholesome misbranded meat and poultry products, update U.S. food loss estimates at the retail level and pilot-test a meat-composting program to reduce the amount of meat that’s sent to landfills from food safety inspection labs.

"Youth Around the Country Challenged to Help Fight Hunger"

(NAFB) - Before and during the National Junior Angus Show in Kansas City - Angus youth will team up with Harvesters for a food drive. Harvesters is a community food network in Kansas City feeding as many as 66-thousand people each week. The food drive will have two phases - a virtual food drive and a canned/boxed food drive. The virtual food drive is already under way and will continue until July 10th at noon Central time. The canned food drive takes place the week of the National Junior Angus Show.

For the virtual food drive - states can visit www dot 2013njas dot harvesters dot org ( to donate money toward the purchase of meals for Harvesters. Every dollar donated equals five meals that Harvesters will provide to those in need. During the NJAS awards ceremony - the states that provide the most meals in the virtual food drive will be recognized.

During the show - Missouri juniors are challenging exhibitors from each state to drop canned or boxed goods into Harvesters donation barrels. The items most needed include canned vegetables, canned fruit, boxed meals, canned meat/tuna, peanut butter, canned soup, cereal, bar soap, deodorant, shampoo and toilet paper. The goal is to fill up a Harvester truck that will be taken back to the warehouse and distributed through their vast network. They work weekly with more than 620 non-profit agencies to provide food to those in need through emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and more.

"Senate Back to Work on Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - As Congress returned from the Memorial Day recess - the Senate returned to the farm bill debate. Senators voted 72 to 18 for an amendment to develop a crop insurance program for alfalfa. An amendment to increase the amount of international food aid money available for local purchases from 40-million dollars to 60-million dollars passed by voice vote. Following the votes - Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow reiterated the hope to complete the farm bill by the end of the week and said the Senate would resume work on the farm bill after a period of morning business Tuesday.

"Finance to Consider USTR Nomination This Week"

(NAFB) - The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Michael Froman for U.S. Trade Representative. The hearing to consider the nomination is slated for Thursday at 10 o’clock Eastern time. Froman is the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for International Affairs. He also Chairs the Major Economics Forum on Energy and Climate, Co-Chairs the Transatlantic Economic Council and plays an active role in the G-20 and G-8 summits.

During the Clinton Administration - Froman served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasia and the Middle East and as Director for International Economic Affairs at the National Security Council and National Economic Council.

"AASV Working to Determine Origin of PEDV in U.S."

(NAFB) - The American Association of Swine Veterinarians is conducting an epidemiologic survey of PED-positive herds in an effort to determine how porcine epidemic diarrhea virus - PEDV - may have been introduced into the U.S. swine herd. The survey was compiled in collaboration with National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and USDA. AASV is asking those veterinarians who have worked with a U.S. swine herd that has been confirmed PED-positive to contact the AASV office with their name and contact information as soon as possible if they are willing to complete a survey. AASV notes the timely completion of the survey is critical. Any personal identifiers will be removed and the epidemiologic data forwarded on to USDA’s Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health for analysis. The information will be treated confidentially - with only aggregate results reported. To assist in the efforts to determine the origin of PEDV in the U.S. - email the AASV office at aasv@aasv.orgwith your email address and phone number.

"USDA Plans Policy Change to Improve Efficiency"

(NAFB) - USDA has announced its plan to update regulatory processes for notices regarding public property, loans, grants, benefits and contracts by rescinding an ouated statement of policy that required USDA agencies to needlessly delay the delivery of these benefits to rural communities. As the Department continues working to streamline government and remove red tape - U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says they’re better able to serve rural constituents by helping them have quicker and easier access to federal loan and grant programs.

The Administrative Procedure Act provides Federal Agencies an exemption to notice and comment requirements for rules related to property, loans, grants, benefits and contracts. USDA voluntarily revoked the exemption in 1971 because the Federal Register published information that was not widely available elsewhere. But now - new technologies like the Internet allow for the broad distribution of program information to interested stakeholders. This proposed policy change would restore USDA’s discretion to use notice and comment when it best serves the interest of the public. It would also - according to USDA - improve the department’s ability to efficiently implement programs that provide funding for disaster assistance loans and rural business grants to farmers and rural communities faster.

"Ag Secretary Taking Questions from Twitter During National Press Club Speech"

(NAFB) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is slated to share his vision for USDA’s work to help American agriculture adapt to modern environmental changes during a speech at the National Press Club Wednesday. Vilsack will discuss the tools America’s farmers, ranchers, growers and private foresters are using to mitigate the risks of more severe storms, historic drought, devastating floods and a resurgence in invasive pests - as well as USDA’s efforts to help them. The Secretary will also highlight the problem of food waste and discuss ways in which all Americans can make the most of our abundant food supply while furthering efforts already underway to put the nation on a solid environmental footing in the years ahead. A question-and-answer session will follow Secretary Vilsack’s remarks. Interested parties can submit questions in advance by sending them to @QNPCLunch on Twitter or emailing with Vilsack in the subject line. Emails must be received before 10 am Eastern on Wednesday.

"Jon Scholl’s Successor at American Farmland Trust Named"

(NAFB) - American Farmland Trust has announced that Andrew McElwaine will succeed Jon Scholl as President. McElwaine says he has devoted his life to conserving working and natural lands - especially acquiring and protecting farms and ranches. He is honored that AFT has asked him to turn his energies toward working with the farmers and ranchers who make their living on that land. AFT Board Chair Miranda Kaiser says the challenge to protect farmland and keep farmers thriving has never been more urgent. AFT board member John Hardin - an Indiana farmer - says McElwaine is a proven leader with a strong track record in nonprofit management, team-building and collaboration with key stakeholders. Hardin adds that McElwaine demonstrates a real-world understanding of the important issues facing today’s farmers.

McElwaine has worked for more than three decades in conservation, land protection, agriculture and public policy. Since 2005 - he has served as President and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. He successfully led coalitions at the local, state and federal level to restore the Everglades, improve water storage and management and balance growth with land conservation. Before that - he worked to conserve land and water resources in Pennsylvania as President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. McElwaine has also held the position of Director of Environmental Programs at the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments; was a staff member on President George H. W. Bush’s Commission on Environmental Quality; and was Senior Legislative Assistant to the late U.S. Senator John Heinz.

"Time to Apply for 2014 ASA/DuPont Young Leader Program"

(NAFB) - The ASA/DuPont Young Leader program is recognized throughout agriculture for its tradition of identifying and cultivating farmer leaders who are shaping agriculture. American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy says the program has had a significant impact on the soybean industry. He says ASA/DuPont Young Leaders have participated in training and developed peer networks that have enabled them to better serve and represent their national, state and local agricultural industry organizations for the last three decades. The American Soybean Association and DuPont Pioneer are currently seeking applicants for the 2014 program. The challenging and educational two-part training program will begin with a meeting at Pioneer’s headquarters in Johnston, Iowa November 19th through the 22nd, 2013. The program will continue with training held in conjunction with Commodity Classic in San Antonio February 25th through March 1st, 2014.

Participants in the ASA/DuPont Young Leader program will have the opportunity to strengthen and build upon their natural leadership skills, meet and learn from other young leaders and expand their agricultural knowledge. Those interested can now go to www dot SoyGrowers dot com slash dyl to apply ( The application deadline is October 1st.

The American Soybean Association, its 26 state affiliates and DuPont Pioneer will work together to identify the top producers to represent their state as part of this program. One couple or individual will be chosen per state to participate.

"The Ripple Effect of the Call for Non-GMO"

(NAFB) - As demand for labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients grows - businesses are trying to find out what it will take to gain certification as non-GMO. Several state legislatures have GMO labeling measures pending and just this weekend - rallies were held against the producers of genetically altered ingredients. Some consumers are threatening to boycott products that aren’t labeled. According to Megan Westgate - Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project - roughly 180 companies inquired about gaining certification last October as California voters prepared to vote on a labeling initiative. Then - after Whole Foods announced all products sold in its stores would have to be labeled - Westgate says nearly three-hundred more signed up. The Non-GMO Project received three-hundred additional inquiries in April.

As these companies seek non-GMO certification - they are also looking for non-GMO crops. Clarkson Grain Founder and President Lynn Clarkson says food processors are calling and asking for non-GMO supplies. But making the swap to ingredients sourced from conventional varieties is no easy task. A portion of the conventional varieties of crops is exported, another portion is already spoken for by domestic companies and demand is increasing in the livestock industry as demand grows for eggs and meats sourced from animals that haven’t eaten genetically modified feeds. Still - Clarkson says right now - there are more non-GMO crops than there are buyers.

At Whole Foods - National Grocery Buyer Errol Schweizer says he’s seeing shortages in organic and conventional seeds - as well as in commodity ingredients sourced from conventional crops. He says there is demand for conventional crops - and urges farmers to plant them. If farmers do make the switch - Verity Farms Senior Vice President Richard Kamolvathin says there will be a transition period. Not only will it take time for the farmers - but for the companies too - who will have to make changes for things like taste and consistency.

"Corn Growers Making Big Planting Strides"

(NAFB) - The latest report from USDA shows farmers were able to bring corn planting progress to within four points of the five-year average last week. Eighty-six-percent of projected corn acres were planted as of May 26th - a big jump from the 28-percent planted just two weeks prior. The five-year average for this point in the season is 90-percent. National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson says farmers again demonstrated that by working tirelessly and using new technology that allows them to cover more ground in less time they can accomplish an incredible amount given the smallest planting window. Johnson - a grower in Iowa - says farmers planted more than half of the corn acres in the country in just two weeks. She says they are working hard to grow the food, feed, fuel and fiber that the country and world need.

Corn emergence also made significant gains over the past week. Overall emergence stands at 54-percent of the total corn acres in the top 18 corn-producing states. While this still lags behind the five-year average of 67-percent - it closes the gap significantly as just 19-percent had emerged the prior week.

"Summer Weather Prediction Not Pretty"

(NAFB) - According to Harris-Mann Climatology - the summer doesn’t look promising for much of the Corn Belt. Long-term Climatologist and Forecaster Cliff Harris expects the drought in the Southwest to move and expand eastward over the central and southern Great Plans - as well as at least the western Midwest - by late June or July. Those flooded areas near the Missouri River - they will likely be impacted by extreme dryness later this summer season. Harris-Mann Climatology is predicting this current drought patter could be the costliest U.S. natural disaster of 2012 and 2013 - even more costly than Hurricane Sandy - with damage estimates possibly near 200-billion dollars.

The outlook from Harris-Mann Climatology is the first to show the drought growing to the east. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from the National Weather Service - which was updated mid-May - showed drought improving or leaving much of the Central Plains and areas east of the Mississippi River. They did see a dry, hot summer - but the target for the driest and hottest forecast of the summer was the Southwest.

"Research Aimed at Boosting Nutritional Value of Rice"

(NAFB) - USDA research could improve the nutritional value of rice. Scientists are closing in on genes in rice that regulate the uptake and storage of important minerals. USDA Agricultural Research Service Plant Geneticist Shannon Pinson says the ultimate goal is to conventionally breed new rice varieties whose grains boast exceptionally high concentrations of one or more 14 essential minerals including zinc, iron and calcium.

While rice is a rich source of energy, free of gluten, easy to digest, low in fat and packed with vitamins - Pinson notes some key elements like iron are lost when the bran on unmilled brown rice is stripped off to produce white rice. A team of USDA and collaborating scientists is trying to address this issue since re-fortifying rice after milling isn’t always a viable option in developing countries. In addition - the soils in which the crop is grown may be lacking in certain essential minerals or the minerals aren’t available for uptake by the plant’s roots. The team is focused on three different population groups of rice and has found rice accessions whose grains contained up to nine-times the amount of minerals normally observed in standard U.S. varieties.

The team is also developing molecular marker data for use in rapidly identifying high-mineral rice plants without growing them to maturity during breeding operations. So far - the team has identified 127 gene locations in 40 different chromosome regions that correlate to high concentrations of certain minerals and other grain features.

To learn more about this research - visit www dot ars dot usda dot gov ( and click on the link to the Agricultural Research Magazine. The article - Mapping the Way to Even Healthier Rice - is available in the May/June 2013 issue.

"CSP Applications Due June 14th"

(NAFB) - The deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program applications has been extended. Farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in this year’s CSP funding need to submit applications to their local NRCS office by June 14th. NRCS will provide about 175-million dollars for up to 12.6-million additional acres. NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller notes CSP is different from other financial assistance programs in that it offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. He says it’s about conservation activities on the entire operation - focusing on multiple resource concerns.

NRCS notes many CSP enhancements improve soil quality - which helps land become more resilient to extreme weather. In fact - NRCS experts expect more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements this year because of the extreme weather of 2012.

To determine if CSP is suitable for your operation - a self-screening checklist is available. It highlights basic information about eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. For the checklist and additional information - visit your local USDA NRCS office or go online to www dot nrcs dot usda dot gov (

"Immigration Reform Bill Gets Senate Judiciary Nod"

(NAFB) - The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Border, Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act Tuesday on a bipartisan 13 to 5 vote. More than 200 amendments were considered - and 141 adopted - during the committee’s five markup sessions to consider the bipartisan legislation. President Obama said the legislation is largely consistent with the principles of commonsense reform he has proposed - and meets the challenge of fixing the nation’s broken immigration system. But he also urged the Senate to improve it further on the Senate floor. The New York Times reported that some high-profile and conservation leaders and activists went even further - publishing an open letter that denounced the bill and said the Senate would do better to start from scratch. They compared it to the President’s health care bill - calling it bloated and unwieldy.

"Farm Bureau Calls Immigration Measure Balanced"

(NAFB) - According to the American Farm Bureau Federation - the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee is balanced and includes a fair and workable farm labor provision. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the time is long overdue for the nation to have a comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors or agriculture across all regions of the country. He says the success of American agriculture depends on the workers who show up every day and work in partnership with the nation’s farm and ranch families to tend crops and livestock. Stallman says Farm Bureau believes the bill approved by the Judiciary Committee will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor and provide an increased level of surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders.

Stallman notes this could be a banner year for public policy advances related to agriculture. He says efforts to win farm labor reform, make progress on the farm bill and upgrade the nation’s waterway shipping system are setting the table for what could be a great year for ag policy.

"Farm Bill Debate Continues in Senate"

(NAFB) - As the Senate continued to debate the farm bill Wednesday - an amendment to repeal the nutrition entitlement programs and establish a nutrition assistance block grant program was defeated 36 to 60. Oklahoma’s James Inhofe offered the amendment - noting that people in his state are shocked to find that a high percentage of farm bill spending is for nutrition programs. All of the Senators voting in favor of the Inhofe amendment were Republicans. While lobbyists have said maintaining federal nutrition spending as part of the farm bill is vital to garnering votes for the farm bill in the House - the majority of Ag Committee Republicans voted for the amendment. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Johanns (Nebraska), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), John Boozman (Arkansas) and John Thune (South Dakota) voted to turn SNAP into a block grant to the states. Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Saxby Chambliss (Georgia), Pat Roberts (Kansas) and John Hoeven (North Dakota) voted to maintain the current program. Senators also defeated an amendment to change the sugar program 45 to 54.

"IA’s Grassley Focuses on EPA, Payment Limits and Competition with Amendments"

(NAFB) - Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley - a working family farmer - has introduced three amendments to the farm bill now being considered on the Senate floor. He says the commonsense amendments would hold the bureaucracy accountable, keep fairness in farm program payments and ensure USDA - with its extraordinary knowledge and expertise in agricultural matters - has a more formal role with the Justice Department in scrutinizing ag competition.

The first amendment would protect livestock and poultry farmers from having their personal information released by the EPA. The amendment does not prevent the EPA from collecting information about where operations are located or from disclosing information in the aggregate.

Grassley’s second amendment would hold peanut farmers to the same cumulative 50-thousand dollar payment limit that applies to farmers of other crops. In current law - and in the underlying bill - the Senator says peanut farmers can essentially double their farm payments by growing peanuts and another type of crop.

The third amendment offered by the Iowa Senator would create a Special Counsel at USDA charged with analyzing mergers within the food and agricultural sectors in consultation with USDA’s Chief Economist, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. The Special Counsel would also investigate and prosecute violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

"NFU Makes Senate Leadership Aware of Stance on Farm Bill Amendments"

(NAFB) - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson has sent a letter to Senate leadership to detail his organization’s stance on proposed farm bill amendments. The letter notes that NFU is happy to see the full Senate considering language that will provide a safety net for family farmers and ranchers - as well as a robust crop insurance program, mandatory energy funding, streamlined conservation programs, additional protections for livestock producers and nutrition assistance for vulnerable people. Johnson highlights several amendments in his letter. Among them - he says NFU is opposed to amendments to eliminate the Adverse Market Payment program except for rice and peanuts; to eliminate the U.S. sugar program; to repeal the Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Stewardship Program; and to permanently repeal the estate tax. The organization supports amendments to increase mandatory energy title funding to 1.3-billion dollars; to clarify exemptions for small and local producers from Food Safety Modernization Act rules; and to require reports on agricultural consolidation. NFU’s position on several other amendments was included in the letter as well.

"Groups Urge FCC to Keep Translators and Low-Power TV in Rural America"

(NAFB) - Urging further research relating to spectrum incentive auctions and their impact on television translator service and low power television - several agriculture and conservation groups have signed off on a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Congress authorized the FCC to conduct voluntary spectrum incentive auctions in 2012. This gives television broadcasters the ability to sell their channels to wireless companies for a portion of the auction proceeds. Those that do not participate in the auction may eventually be relocated to maximize spectrum availability for wireless services. In rural and mountainous areas - the letter notes - local broadcast television is often the only communications infrastructure that connects communities. In addition - the groups state that their members rely heavily on broadcast television for local public affairs programming, news, weather and emergency information.

There are currently 1,984 low-power stations and 4,171 television translators in the U.S. Those stations and translators - which serve small, rural areas with local television signals - are not guaranteed a channel location and will not be compensated for their moves - which may result in viewers losing current channels and limiting access to local news and information.

The letter urges the Commission to carefully consider the significant negative impact of unnecessarily reallocating more spectrum than is necessary in rural America - especially on those viewers that receive broadcast television via a translator or other low-power television stations. The groups - including American Agri-Women, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and others - say they are certain there is a way forward that addresses the congestion on wireless networks in urban areas that doesn’t imperil rural America.

"GAO Offers Recommendations on Disease Surveillance Strategy"

(NAFB) - A new Government Accountability Office report looks at the federal government’s efforts to conduct surveillance activities for animal diseases in livestock and wildlife. More specifically - it examines USDA’s new approach to disease surveillance in livestock and poultry and the extent to which the approach is guided by a strategy with measurable goals and supports broader national bio-surveillance efforts. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service started shifting from a disease-by-disease surveillance approach to one that monitors the overall health of livestock and poultry last year. The GAO report finds APHIS faces several challenges in carrying out this new approach - including obtaining new data from current and additional sources and determining how best to deploy declining resources given increasing fiscal constraints. The GAO also found that APHIS may not be ideally positioned to support national efforts to address the next threat to animal and human health if its vision isn’t integrated into an overall strategy with goals and measures that are aligned with broader national homeland security efforts to detect biological threats.

After monitoring USDA’s new surveillance efforts - it was the determination of the GAO that USDA’s planning documents didn’t provide a clear road map or overall strategy for managing the new approach to animal disease surveillance. The GAO said the documents also don’t include specific information on how the effort would contribute to the national goal of bio-surveillance.

The GAO is recommending that as APHIS develops goals and measures for this new approach - it integrate the agency’s vision into an overall strategy - guiding how it supports national homeland security efforts to enhance the detection of biological threats.

According to Agri-Pulse - USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos said the department agrees with the recommendations and APHIS will include better performance metrics in its planning efforts. In fact - Agri-Pulse reports Avalos said APHIS plans to develop performance measures for its Comprehensive and Integrate Swine Surveillance within the year.

"USDA Promotes Business Development, Job Creation in 11 States"

(NAFB) - USDA is providing loan and grant funds to applicants in 11 states to support businesses, improve the quality of medical care and create or save hundreds of jobs. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says investing in rural America is essential to continuing the economic revitalization we’re seeing today. He says the funding announced Wednesday - provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program - will provide rural communities with resources to support small businesses, improve public facilities and create new, sustainable jobs.

"Vilsack Urges Nominations for Advisory Committee"

(NAFB) - Nominations for the USDA Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers are due May 31st. A Notice of Solicitation for Nominations for two-year membership terms was posted in the Federal Register at the end of April - and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is encouraging the nomination of folks who are interested in serving their community by helping USDA continue its record accomplishments on behalf of all Americans. Vilsack says members of the committee play a critical role in helping the department ensure modern and equitable service for all customers. The committee advises the Secretary on matters broadly affecting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers - and considers strategies, policies and programs that enhance USDA goals for assisting minority farming and ranching operations.

Interested organizations and individuals from the ranching and farming industry, related State governments, Tribal agricultural agencies, academic institutions, commercial banking entities, trade associations and related nonprofit enterprises can make nominations. Organizations may nominate individuals from within or outside its membership. Individuals may also nominate themselves.

Visit the newsroom of www dot usda dot gov ( for more information and a link to the nomination form.

"Complaints of Bacon Smell (and More) Lead to Restaurant Closure"

(NAFB) - A San Francisco bacon restaurant is closed after neighbors complained of the smell coming from the establishment. The San Francisco Examiner reports there were also allegations the store - called Bacon Bacon - was illegally dumping bacon grease into the sewers and the restaurant lacked the proper health permits to operate the business. It’s possible the restaurant could secure a permit and resume operations - but it will remain closed until at least July - the earliest a hearing can be held. Until he is able to secure the right permits to reopen - the restaurant’s owner will run his operation out of a food truck. There is a website dedicated to reopening the store. Save Bacon Bacon has amassed over two-thousand signatures. The story also found its way into the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update

"House Ag Holding Series of Hearings Ahead of CFTC Reauthorization"

(NAFB) - The House Agriculture Committee has started a series of hearings in advance of writing legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Committee members heard perspectives from the futures and swaps market - including the two largest derivatives exchanges, a futures commission merchant whose customers are farmers and ranchers and industry trade associations. Chairman Frank Lucas called Tuesday’s hearing a first step in the process of gaining a greater understanding of the regulatory challenges that members of the derivatives marketplace face. He said the committee learned there is still work to be done to ensure regulations are implemented in a sensible manner that gives businesses certainty, maintains the integrity of the marketplace and guarantees our global competitiveness. In the coming weeks - the committee will hold additional hearings and hear perspectives from end-users, futures customers and the CFTC.

"Restoration of Wetlands Good for Environment, Economy"

(NAFB) - According to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service - more than 220-million acres - or more than 50-percent - of the nation’s wetlands no longer function. NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller says the greatest potential for wetland restoration is on private lands. He says those are the people influencing our future landscapes. Wetlands are good for the environment and have significant economic benefits. Through the Wetlands Reserve Program - NRCS is helping private landowners bring back and preserve wetlands. The program is also improving habitat and recreational opportunities. National Program Manager Randy Epperson says the popularity of WRP has been amazing. He says the program started as a pilot in nine states to address pressing natural resource concerns in 1992. Since then - more than 11-thousand landowners have restored about 2.5-million acres of wetlands. To learn more about the Wetlands Reserve Program - and how to enroll - contact your local service center or visit

"Vilsack Weighs in On Committee Farm Bills"

(NAFB) - U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack responded Friday to the action taken by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to move toward passage of a five-year, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. He said the Senate bill would help revitalize the rural economy by supporting agricultural trade, local and regional food systems, renewable energy and biobased manufacturing. He says it would maintain a firm commitment to conservation while streamlining programs and linking crop insurance payments to the nation’s soil conservation and wetland protection goals. The Secretary added that he looks forward to working with the Senate to achieve significant deficit reduction by building on these reforms to farm programs. Secretary Vilsack has concerns about portions of the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee - including significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He said the administration strongly supports SNAP - a cornerstone of the nation’s food assistance safety net.  Vilsack said SNAP helps families put food on the table - while also benefitting farm and rural economies. He said these issues need to be resolved so Congress can achieve passage of a final bill without delay. According to Vilsack - USDA is committed to working with Congress to get the strongest bill possible for all Americans.

"Immigration Markup to Likely to Cover Ag Workers, E-Verify Next Week"

(NAFB) - As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues its review of the immigration reform bill - it’s expected the sections of the bill regarding agricultural worker programs and E-verify requirements will come up next week. That’s the prediction of United Fresh Produce Association Vice President for Public Policy Robert Guenther. The committee markup started on May 9th. There are some 300 amendments to deal with. The farm worker provision was developed by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and three others. It includes a path toward legalization for undocumented farm workers currently in the U.S.

On the other side of the Hill - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte promoted his farm guess worker reform proposal as a hearing Thursday. He said his Agricultural Guestworker Act creates an H-2C visa program that would be market-oriented and adaptable. Under the program - foreign workers could be admitted for up to 18 months to work a temporary or seasonal job. Those working in dairy and food manufacturing who would work year-round could be admitted for up to 36 months initially and then up to 18 months on subsequent H-2C visas. Once the authorized work period came to an end - the worker would have to remain outside the U.S. for a continuous period that is equal to at least one-sixth of the duration of the worker’s previous stay as an H-2C worker or three months - whichever is less.

According to Goodlatte - the H-2C program would be better than the current H-2A program because it wouldn’t require growers to hire and train unneeded workers after the work period begins or require employers to provide free housing and transportation for their workers - and would set wages based on the typical wage paid to ag employees in their locality - not an adverse effect wage dreamed up by labor department bureaucrats. Goodlatte said at its core - H-2C will be a guest worker program because it does not create any special pathway to citizenship for unlawful immigrants.

"Survey Finds Great Support for COOL Among Consumers"

(NAFB) - A recent survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America found that a large majority of Americans continue to strongly support mandatory country-of-origin labeling. Ninety-percent of the adults surveyed favored - either strongly or somewhat - requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country of origin of fresh meat they sell. In addition - 87-percent strongly or somewhat favored requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country or countries in which animals were born, raised and processed. Ninety-percent of the one-thousand surveyed also said they strongly or somewhat favored requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country or countries in which animals were born and raised and the fact that the meat was processed in the U.S.

National Farmers Union applauded the results of the survey. NFU President Roger Johnson says the results are a further indication of what they have known for some time - consumers overwhelmingly want to know more about the origins of their food - and farmers and ranchers want to provide this information. He says the survey’s findings - coupled with the recent withdrawal of amendments to the Ag Committee’s farm bills in both chambers that would have negatively impacted COOL - are promising indications that country-of-origin labeling is vitally important and here to stay.

"Tyson Foods Announces Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel"

(NAFB) - Tyson Foods has announced the formation of an independent Farm Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel. The members of the panel will serve as advisers to the company’s FarmCheck program - a comprehensive initiative designed to ensure responsible care and overall well-being of farm animals. According to Tyson - the panel members are leaders in their fields and were invited to serve because of their demonstrated interests across a broad range of issues related to raising farm animals responsibly. They will help determine research priorities and suggest ways to improve the audit program - which was launched in October of last year to focus on a broad array of animal well-being issues.

The FarmCheck program includes auditing the treatment of animals at livestock and poultry farms that supply the company, using research to identify potential new and better methods for animal care and handling and reaffirming Tyson’s commitment to animal well-being issues with a dedicated senior management team. According to Tyson President and CEO Donnie Smith - the FarmCheck program continues a long-standing commitment to responsible farm animal care. Smith says the Advisory Panel will help shape the future of the program and ensure its effectiveness.

[Members of the panel include: Ryan Best, 2011-2012 National FFA President; Anne Burkholder, cattle feedlot owner; Ed Cooney, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center; Gail Golab, Ph.D., DVM, Director of American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Division; Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Colorado State University Professor of Animal Science; Karl Guggenmos, Johnson & Wales University Dean of Culinary Education; Tim Loula, DVM, co-founder and co-owner of Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota; Miyun Park, Global Animal Partnership Executive Director; Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., National Chicken Council Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs; Richard Raymond, M.D., former U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Food Safety; Janeen Salak-Johnson, Ph.D., University of Illinois Associate Professor in Animal Sciences; Janice Swanson, Ph.D., Michigan State University Chair and Professor, Animal Behavior and Welfare; and Bruce Webster, Ph.D., University of Georgia Professor of Poultry Science.]

"Reason for Fertilizer Plant Explosion Undetermined"

(NAFB) - Investigators have announced that the cause of the West Fertilizer Company explosion has been ruled undetermined. This ruling is made when the cause can’t be proven to an acceptable level of certainty - which may be due to insufficient information or the inability to eliminate multiple causes. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did eliminate some possible causes for the fire - including rekindling from a previous fire, spontaneous ignition, a 480-watt electricity system, anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, smoking and weather concerns. A 120-volt electrical system, a golf cart and an intentionally set fire were not eliminated as possible causes. While the investigation into the fire’s cause is closed - a separate criminal investigation remains open.

"Virginia Cattle Rancher Wins Farm Mom of the Year Title"

(NAFB) - Monsanto’s 2013 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year is Virginia grain and cattle farmer Betty Rosson. Her son Charles wrote that whether driving a tractor, feeding cows or caring for her family - Betty is 100-percent all-in for the job. In addition - Betty is very active in her community. The nomination her son wrote notes her involvement in the FFA, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom - in addition to the Louisa County Farm Bureau and livestock judging and showmanship clinics hosted at the farm. Betty manages the record-keeping and taxes for Quaker Hill Farm and plans two annual cattle production sales. She’s also a founding member of her church and is a board member of her local volunteer rescue squad. Upon learning she had won Farm Mom of the Year - Betty said it’s a blessing to raise a family on the farm and be involved with agriculture.

Betty was selected by judges of American Agri-Women as the regional winner for the Southeast. She and four other regional winners receive a five-thousand dollar cash prize from Monsanto. As the national winner - Betty also receives an additional five-thousand dollars. Kris Zilliox of American Agri-Women says from the large pool of nominations from almost every state - Betty’s immediately stood out. Zilliox says like so many farm moms - Betty is passionate about supporting her family, bettering her community and increasing awareness of American agriculture.

America’s Farmers Mom of the Year is an element of Monsanto’s America’s Farmers program - an advocacy effort promoting, recognizing and supporting U.S. farmers through communications, awards and special programs that highlight the importance of agriculture. To read more about Betty and the other 2013 regional winners - visit AmericasFarmers dot com (

"Celebrating 50 Years of Grassroots Beef Promotion"

(NAFB) - During the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver - a day-long celebration will recognize a major milestone in grassroots beef promotion. The Federation of State Beef Councils - a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Current Federation Chairman Richard Gebhart says the Federation has played a critical role in assuring grassroots involvement in beef promotion since 1963. He says they look forward to the next 50 years of checkoff support through producer leadership, investment and involvement. For  more information on the events taking place August 8th to celebrate the Federation 50th Anniversary - contact Walt Barnhart at or 303-850-3347.

"Reaction to House Ag Farm Bill Continues to Stream In"

(NAFB) - When the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 - approved by the House Agriculture Committee late Wednesday - is considered by the full House - the National Cotton Council will encourage Cotton Belt Representatives to support the work of the Agriculture Committee and oppose damaging amendments. NCC is especially grateful to Chairman Frank Lucas for his leadership in including the Stacked Income Protection Plan - or STAX - and transition payments to assist growers and their lenders until STAX can be fully implemented. According to NCC - this provides growers with certainty and provides the basis for a final resolution of the longstanding Brazil WTO case. NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson says the committee addressed the interests of the entire cotton industry by including provisions to assist U.S. textile manufacturers, extending the marketing loan and adjusted world price redemption process, maintaining reasonable limitations and eligibility requirements, extending the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program and extending the extra-long staple cotton program.

National Sorghum Producers says the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 strengthens crop insurance and leaves the commodity title relatively intact - including reference prices and producer choice. These were priorities of the group. According to NSP - the bill achieves substantial budget savings while maintaining balanced and solid protection for America’s farmers and ranchers.

For the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - portions of the House Ag farm bill included priorities important to cattlemen and women - including permanent disaster programs, the elimination of the livestock title, maintaining of conservation programs and a strong research title. NCBA President Scott George says the disaster assistance would provide certainty to cattlemen and women who are affected by disastrous weather events and continue to contribute to the nation’s strong agriculture industry. He says the inclusion of disaster assistance programs is a positive step toward providing a strong safety net for producers. George says NCBA was also encouraged by the amendment introduced by Representative Steve King that would prohibit states from setting production standards for foods brought in from other states. He says the amendment would keep decisions regarding how livestock and poultry are raised in the hands of farmers and ranchers where they belong. According to George - NCBA is supportive of the House version of the farm bill and hopes both the full House and Senate take up their respective bills soon and continue to move forward with passing a 2013 Farm Bill which is positive for cattle producers and gives rural America much needed certainty.

According to the National Association of Conservation Districts - the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 demonstrates bipartisan recognition and appreciation for the significant value of locally-led conservation in supporting the nation’s long-term environmental and economic stability. NACD President Earl Garber says the group will continue to work closely with members of the House and Senate throughout the farm bill process to ensure a strong final version of the legislation that protects critical conservation program funding and increases conservation program efficiency and ease of use for producers. NACD says farm bill conservation programs not only play a key role in supporting clean air, clean water and productive soils - but also help producers avoid unnecessary regulation and support the nation’s long-term economic and food security.

The Coalition for Sugar Reform applauded Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte for his farm bill amendment to reform the sugar program - and his decision to bring the amendment to the House floor so the full House has the opportunity to vote for sugar program reform. The Coalition says Goodlatte deserves recognition for his strong commitment to standing up for American consumers and businesses that have been forced to pay a 14-billion dollar hidden tax on sugar since the 2008 Farm Bill. Goodlatte is part of a bipartisan group of policymakers who introduced the Sugar Reform Act. The Coalition says the bill would not repeal the sugar program - but would roll back the most costly, restrictive and market-distorting provisions of the sugar program enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Novozymes expressed a need to fully fund the energy programs in the farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee excluded mandatory funding from the version of the bill it passed. Adam Monroe of Novozymes says stable farm and energy policy is good for America. He says it creates jobs, supports our farmers and encourages private investment. He says funded farm and energy policy is better - as it puts those benefits into action. On that score - Monroe says the leading producer of enzymes that turns biomass into biofuels is concerned the House bill missed the mark. Novozymes hopes to see the House follow the Senate Ag Committee’s lead and support a strong, fully-funded energy title.

"Senate Farm Bill Debate to Begin Monday"

(NAFB) - The Hagstrom Report is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced a motion to proceed on the farm bill and the Senate has reached agreement to proceed to the bill on Monday.

"House Ag Committee Completes Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - The House Ag Committee wasn’t able to finish its farm bill markup quite as quickly as its Senate counterpart did on Tuesday. Still - Chairman Frank Lucas was pleased with the progress made when the committee had to break Wednesday afternoon for a Republican meeting and votes - and expressed confidence they would finish their work Wednesday night. He was right. The committee finished the credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous titles and finally approved the 2013 farm bill by a vote of 36 to 10.

Ahead of the break - the committee passed the en bloc amendment by unanimous voice vote and closed the commodity, conservation, trade and nutrition titles of the bill. The committee rejected a dairy amendment offered by Representatives Bob Goodlatte and David Scott as a substitute for the underlying dairy program proposed by Ranking Member Collin Peterson. Goodlatte and Scott argued that the underlying measure amounts to supply management. The amendment was rejected 20 to 26. Amendments to reduce reference prices in the Price Loss Coverage Program and to change the sugar program were withdrawn.

Jim McGovern of Massachusetts offered an amendment to strike the 20.5-billion dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It was defeated 17 to 27. The vote followed a lengthy and emotional debate - with some vowing they would continue the fight on the House floor if the cuts remained in the bill. Texas Representative Randy Neugebauer wanted to make even deeper cuts in food stamps - but that amendment was rejected on a voice vote. Other related amendments were also rejected - including one to lower the amount of low-income energy assistance states would have to provide to people in order for them to qualify for food stamps and one that said SNAP cuts wouldn’t take place until the rates of fraud, waste and abuse in the crop insurance program are equal to or less than those rates of fraud, waste and abuse in SNAP.

Once the Committee returned from the break - a measure to allow USDA to develop a process to establish an organic checkoff for promotion was approved. A similar measure is included in the Senate version of the farm bill. The vote was 29 to 17 - though Chairman Lucas opposed the measure because it would be on a process rather than a product. An amendment that repeals the section of the 2008 Farm Bill directing USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to address practices by meatpackers and poultry companies that farmers and ranchers said were hurting them was also approved. Even though he put the provision in the 2008 measure - Ranking Member Peterson supported the repeal.

The committee passed an amendment that would make it illegal for a state to restrict sales of products based on production standards by voice vote. The amendment is aimed at standards on eggs sold in California following a state initiative that sets cage sizes for egg-laying chickens. California Representative Jeff Denham opposed the proposal - sponsored by Iowa’s Steve King - arguing it would affect more than 150 laws in other states. Vicki Hartzler won enough support to repeal the provision in the 2008 Farm Bill to move inspection of catfish from the Food and Drug Administration to USDA. Chairman Lucas opposed the amendment - but the vote was 31 to 15.

"House Floor Action Expected on Farm Bill Next Month"

(NAFB) - House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas was proud of the Committee’s effort to advance a farm bill with significant savings and reforms. Ranking Member Collin Peterson was also pleased with the Committee’s ability to work together, find some common ground and advance a five-year farm bill. He says the process has gone on far too long and it’s past time to get the bill done. Lucas says he has been assured that House Republican leaders will bring the bill to the floor in June. Peterson is optimistic the farm bill will continue through regular order and be brought to the House floor in June. If things stay on track - he suggests the House should be able to conference with the Senate in July and have a new five-year farm bill in place before the August recess.

Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson told reporters Wednesday night they believe the committee has written a balanced bill that can win passage on the House floor. While Peterson isn’t sure how many Democrats will vote for the bill - he’s confident he and Lucas can deliver the votes for passage. Lucas said the extreme members on both ends of the political spectrum won’t vote for the measure. The men agree the bill’s prospects could depend on the kind of rule it receives for debate. Due to the technical nature of the bill - Lucas said there needs to be a prefiling requirement for amendments. Peterson said there should be a modified closed rule as there was in 2008.

According to the news release from the Chairman’s office - highlights of the measure include:

  • FARRM saves nearly $40 billion in mandatory funds, including the immediate sequestration of $6 billion.
  • FARRM repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs.
  • FARRM eliminates direct payments, which farmers received regardless of market conditions.
  • FARRM streamlines and reforms commodity policy while also giving producers a choice in how best to manage risk.
  • FARRM includes the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, saving more than $20 billion.
  • FARRM consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than $6 billion.
  • FARRM builds on previous investments to fruit and vegetable production, farmers markets, and local food systems.
  • FARRM includes several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers, and rural communities face.

"Groups React to House Ag Passage of Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - Reaction to the farm bill approved by the House Ag Committee started trickling in late Wednesday night. 

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the fact that both Ag Committees have completed their work provides a great reason for optimism that we will have a new long-term farm bill this year. He said that belief is supported further by the fact that the bills are more striking in their similarities than in their differences. According to Stallman - both bills provide a solid start for a farm bill that serves America’s farm and ranch families. He said the emphasis on crop insurance as a risk management tool - combined with flexibility that the measures offer through other safety net choices - will go a long way in ensuring a stable agricultural economy over the next few years. Stallman said many aspects of both bills reflect the essence of Farm Bureau’s farm bill proposal.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said Wednesday’s markup included several significant accomplishments that are important to NFU members. He said the language included in the commodity title that provides protections to family farmers both when disasters strike and during times of long-term price collapse is crucial. NFU was also happy the committee streamlined the conservation title and rejected the Goodlatte amendment that would have eliminated the stabilization portion of the Dairy Security Act. But Johnson said NFU was disappointed in the passage of an amendment that repeals certain Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration protections for farmers and in the lack of mandatory funding for renewable energy programs.

According to American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy - the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee contains several key ASA priorities - including provisions to strengthen crop insurance and continue overseas marketing programs. ASA is concerned with the bill’s inclusion of a price-based program under which payments are tied to current plantings and the potential planting distortions the program could cause if market prices fall. Still - Murphy says the group believes those differences can be ironed out on the House floor or in conference with the Senate. ASA appreciated the efforts of Representative Bob Gibbs to highlight the potential distortions. Gibbs offered an amendment that would have decoupled payments under the Price Loss Coverage program from current-year plantings. Avoidance of such distortions - Murphy noted - has been a core ASA priority from the beginning. ASA pointed out that Gibbs was successful in including an amendment that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to report annually on the impact of the PLC and Revenue Loss Coverage programs on the planting, production, price and export of commodities, as well as on the cost of these programs - a provision ASA supported.

"Farm Bill Makes it Through Senate Ag Committee"

(NAFB) - The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 on a 15 to 5 vote Tuesday. The bill ends direct payments and transitions to risk management tools that support farmers when they have been impacted by disaster. Overall - the legislation will yield a total of over 23-billion dollars in spending cuts through the elimination of subsidies, consolidation of programs to end duplication and addressing misuse and fraud in food assistance programs. The measure was introduced on the Senate floor Tuesday evening. According to the office of Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow - votes could come as early as next week.

In her opening remarks Tuesday morning - Stabenow noted that the Senate Agriculture Committee was in this same position before one year ago and worked together in a bipartisan way to craft a farm bill with major reforms, deficit reduction and a commitment to the diversity of American agriculture. She said last year provided undeniable proof that farming is the riskiest business in the country - which is why the farm bill is so important. At the beginning of the year - Stabenow told Ranking Member Thad Cochran that she wanted to build on last year’s success. She said they worked together to craft a strong farm bill that gives farmers the ability to manage their risk, streamlines programs and cuts red tape for farmers, recognizes the diversity of agriculture and continues a commitment to deficit reduction.

Following the vote - Stabenow said reforming agriculture programs will save taxpayers billions of dollars while helping farmers, ranchers and small businesses create American jobs. Because the Agriculture Committee worked across party lines to streamline programs - she said they were able to save tax dollars while investing in initiatives that help boost exports, help family farmers sell locally and spur innovations in new bio-manufacturing and bio-energy industries.

"Only Five Committee Members Reject Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - The five Senators voting against the Senate Ag Committee’s farm bill were Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Pat Roberts of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Johanns, Roberts and Thune offered amendments and supported each other in amendments to change the target price-based program and to make changes to the food stamp program that would have cut the number of beneficiaries and costs. Gillibrand - on the other hand - voted against the bill because of the cut to food stamps.

Despite the rejection of his amendments to eliminate conservation compliance - North Dakota’s John Hoeven voted in favor of the committee’s farm bill. Stabenow did tell Hoeven she would work with him on his concerns.

"Johanns Explains ‘No’ Vote"

(NAFB) - According to Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns - the farm bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee relied on budget gimmicks and outdated policy. He says ag producers and taxpayers deserve an updated, reform-minded bill that promotes free market principles and saves taxpayer dollars. He says the bill considered by the Ag Committee didn’t do enough to save money and took us a step back towards 1980s farm policy. Johanns says the bill reported out of the committee counts 6.4-billion dollars in savings from spending cuts that were already signed into law in 2011. He says it also includes a budget gimmick that hides 3.1-billion dollars in payments just outside the ten-year budget window to make the bill appear less-costly. All told - Johanns says the bill actually saves just 15-billion over ten years instead of the 24-billion its supporters are claiming.

Although last year’s bill would have eliminated target prices - Johanns says this year’s bill more than doubles target price payments from 1.5-billion to 3.5-billion. He says target prices were also increased. Johanns says the legislation also failed to achieve available savings by modernizing farm payments or focusing nutrition programs - which can be done without affecting the benefits going to current eligible recipients. Johanns plans to offer fixes during the amendment process.

"Grassley Votes ‘Yes’ But Hopes for Further Reforms"

(NAFB) - According to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley - the bill that passed the Senate Agriculture Committee was a step in the right direction. He’d like to see further reforms included when the bill is debated on the Senate floor. Still - Grassley says the bill does provide some needed reforms - including some that make the farm program more defensible and effective. By including his payment limits reform - Grassley says Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran showed a real effort to put together responsible programs that ensure a safe and stable food supply for the American people while giving certainty to farmers and rural communities. Now he says we can look at additional reforms and continue to improve the bill.

The payment limit provisions included in the bill are nearly identical to legislation introduced by Grassley earlier this year - placing a hard cap on the farm payments an individual farmer can receive in a year and closing long-abused and well-documented loopholes in the farm payment program.

The committee also adopted an amendment Grassley sponsored with Mike Johanns, John Thune and Pat Roberts intended to make the farm bill more market-oriented in the way target prices are set. Grassley would prefer that the bill not include a target price program - but since it was - he pushed for ways to make it more market-oriented. For commodities except rice and peanuts - the measure set the target price by averaging the prices from the five previous years, while dropping the low and high price for that average and multiplying it by a factor of 55-percent. That way - Grassley says - if peanut and rice farmers want to protect a high price set by Congress - they can fight that battle, but other farmers won’t have to defend high target prices.

Grassley didn’t have the opportunity to offer his amendment that would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to release personal information to environmental activists. He is preparing that amendment for floor consideration.

"Groups Form International Maize Alliance"

(NAFB) - An international alliance has been formed by maize growers from North and South America. The U.S. Grains Council, National Corn Growers Association, MAIZAR and ABRAMILHO signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday to collaborate on a global basis to address key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image. These organizations - representing the U.S., Argentina and Brazil - will function under the name MAIZALL - The International Maize Alliance. The primary focus of the new alliance is to emphasize the need for better consumer understanding of production agriculture - including the benefits of biotechnology and advancing the global acceptance on the capacity to produce maize for feed, food and fuel. MAIZALL will also conduct outreach to governments and stakeholders on the need for trade-enabling biotechnology policies and regulatory procedures.

As populations and economies continue to grow - Grains Council Chairman Don Fast says the global middle class is expanding rapidly. He says the increase in population and buying power has led to an ever-growing demand for maize and other food and feed ingredients as diets are improving globally. NCGA President Pam Johnson notes food security is a priority for every country. She says countries can be food secure without being self-sufficient by establishing relationships and building trust with exporting countries to be long-term, reliable suppliers of quality feed and food supplies.

MAIZAR Chairman Alberto Morelli points out that farmers in exporting countries today are challenged to grow more with less while improving stewardship and sustainability. Morelli says biotechnology - in the three countries where it is embraced - has boosted yields and grain quality, reduced the intensity of chemical and fertilizer application, conserved soil, organic content and moisture and enhanced returns to producers. Sergio Luiz Bortollozo - ABRAMILHO 2nd Vice President - says the lack of predictable, functional, practical and science-based regulatory and trade policies in reviewing and approving new crop technologies by governments worldwide are imposing a crippling burden on innovation. For growers - he says the delays in introducing new technologies mean lost opportunities for higher yields and lower input costs. For consumers facing ever-rising food prices - he says the consequences are more acute.

"Ag Research Benefits Everyone"

(NAFB) - Today marks 151 years since the U.S. Department of Agriculture was created. Since then - agriculture has evolved in every aspect - yet fewer people have firsthand knowledge of agriculture. USDA Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki says agricultural research is extremely important as it provides multiple benefits for ag producers and consumers - especially when it comes to the U.S. economy. For every one-dollar invested in ag research - Woteki says 20-dollars is returned to the economy. USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse says people shouldn’t think about the time it takes to get research results - but rather the years to come and how research today will have an impact for this country’s future.

To produce enough for a growing population - expected to reach nine-billion by 2050 - Scuse says ag production will have to increase 70-percent - and he says technology is a major part of that. In the past 30-years - Scuse says 40-million acres have been lost from agricultural production - yet production has increased because farmers are embracing technology. However - he says challenges arise because agriculture’s greatest success - through the use of technology - has led to the greatest criticism by those not living in Rural America. Woteki says people just need to look at the good track record of agriculture’s technology usage - as farmers and ranchers are producing safe food, fiber and fuel for the U.S. and the world. She says producers need to use all the tools in the toolbox to meet the growing demand of those products for the growing population.

"Sign-Up Early for Conservation Reserve Program"

(NAFB) - USDA is urging producers to maximize their environmental benefits and make cost-effective offers when enrolling in a four-week Conservation Reserve Program starting May 20th. Secretary Vilsack says this program is important to protect environmentally sensitive lands and ensure sustainability of natural waters. He encourages producers to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis. Sign-up will end on June 14th for this four-week session. The restart for sign-up for continuous CRP will end on September 30th.

"USDA Offers Grants to Help Grow Rural Businesses"

(NAFB) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now seeking applications from qualified organizations - such as public bodies, non-profit corporations, higher education institutions, Indian tribes and rural cooperatives - to provide rural businesses with technical assistance to expand and create jobs. Secretary Vilsack says these grants will help businesses get access to planning, mentoring and other services that can help ensure their success. Up to 2.6-million dollars is available through USDA’s Rural Development Rural Business Opportunity Grant. The maximum grant amount is 100-thousand dollars. The deadline to apply is June 28th for general requests and June 30th for partnership funds.

For more information - visit

"USDA Continues Efforts with Organic Agriculture"

(NAFB) - Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with the Organic Trade Association yesterday (Tuesday) about his vision for U.S. organic agriculture and USDA’s efforts to ensure it continues to be successful. One example is USDA’s Risk management Agency will increase organic producers’ coverage options for federal crop insurance this year and provide more options next year while removing the current five-percent organic rate surcharge on all future crop insurance policies beginning next year. Vilsack also says USDA will provide new guidance and direction on organic production to all USDA agencies supporting organic ag and markets. Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture - according to Vilsack - and helps farmers receive a higher price for their product as they strive to meet growing consumer demand. He says these new options will extend the safety net provided by crop insurance and provide fair and flexible solutions to organic producers. For more information about USDA’s National Organic Program - visit www dot AMS dot USDA dot gov slash NOP (

"Biodiesel Enters Tractor Pulling Competition"

(NAFB) - U.S. soybean farmers have partnered with the National Tractor Pullers Association for a seventh season to promote the use of biodiesel to pulling fans - including farmers, truck drivers and others who use diesel. Through this partnership - NTPA will allow the use of 100-percent biodiesel in all diesel pulling classes for this season on Friday. The Minnesota Soy Checkoff funded a study with the Untied Pullers of Minnesota and found biodiesel use in pulling competitions can provide a four-percent increase in torque and horsepower. Soy Checkoff Farmer-Leader Larry Marek says if NTPA pullers can get these kinds of results on the track - farmers certainly can get great results using B100.

NTPA Office General Manager Gregg Randall says B100 performs well and is dependable - even in the most excruciating tests - so pullers will definitely want to take advantage of the fuel this pulling season. View the 2013 NTPA competition schedule and find tractor pullers near you who will be using B100 at www dot NTPA Pull dot com slash index (

"Some Farmers Begin Planting with Monsanto’s FieldScripts"

(NAFB) - More than 150 farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota are trialing Monsanto’s FieldScripts - which integrates Monsanto’s understanding of hybrid performance with data from farmers’ individual fields to identify the best hybrids and provide a variable rate planting prescription for each field. Illinois farmers planted FieldScripts on more than 83-hundred acres in a Ground Breakers trial. FieldScripts allows farmers to accurately plant a lower seeding rate in lower-yielding areas of the field and a higher seeding rate at higher yielding areas of the field. Research has shown FieldScripts delivers a five to 10-bushel-per-acre yield advantage across the entire field compared to fields not planted with FieldScripts.

Ground Breakers Farmer and Dealer Dustin Spears says FieldScripts is extremely simple for farmers to use - much simpler than alternative technology. Ground Breakers Farmer Mark Sturtevant is excited to bring this new technology together with the latest planter technologies. By harnessing this technology - Sturtevant says farmers will be able to increase yields and their profit potential. He says FieldScripts is a step in the right direction for the industry. Next year - Monsanto plans to launch FieldScripts that will be delivered to farmers through FieldScripts Certified DEKALB seed dealers.

"House Ag Chair Optimistic About Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - House Ag Chair Frank Lucas told farmers in his home state of Oklahoma last week about his the expectations for his committee’s farm bill mark-up tomorrow (Wednesday). The Senate Ag Committee begins its mark-up of the 2013 Farm Bill today (Tuesday). Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow released her draft of the mark-up last week - which includes the Agricultural Risk Coverage - or ARC - proposal along with a target price provision. Lucas says the inclusion of those provisions is opening a door for House members - particularly those with interests in peanuts and rice - and he says this represents a great step forward. Lucas says it lays the groundwork for compromise - but ultimately - both Ag Committees have to address all commodity groups during a farm bill mark-up. All commodity groups need to be able to participate - Lucas says - when it comes to options along with ARC.

In addition to being the House Ag Chair - Lucas also is chairs the conference committee that will work on any differences in the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. Even though there is a wide gap between both versions - Lucas is confident they will be able to come to a consensus. He says producers have many reasons to be optimistic in this farm bill process - and he is optimistic a new five-year farm bill will be completed this year.

"NFU Sends Priority Letter to House Ag Leaders"

(NAFB) - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson sent a letter Monday to House Ag Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson outlining key priorities before the amendment filing deadline for the 2013 Farm Bill. Johnson praises the draft language for Title 1 and that modifications to better balance the protections offered by the Price Loss Coverage program shouldn’t undermine the integrity of the program. Johnson says one problem in the mark-up is in language requiring a study on COOL labeling implementation. He says consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and producers want to provide that information - and USDA has proposed a rule that will fully comply with recent rulings by the WTO - which has said the law is fully compliant with U.S. trade obligations. That’s why Johnson says the language is an unnecessary attempt to delay the process and seriously damage COOL.

"Supreme Court Rules to Protect Intellectual Property"

(NAFB) - In a unanimous ruling - the Supreme Court supported the protection of intellectual property in the Bowman versus Monsanto case yesterday (Monday) by saying the principle of patent exhaustion doesn’t permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. Monsanto Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel David Snively says the ruling ensures longstanding principles of patent law apply to breakthrough 21st Century technologies that are central to meeting growing demands of this planet and its people. American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy says this ruling has ensured America’s soybean farmers can continue to rely on the technological innovation that has pushed American agriculture to the forefront of the effort to feed a global population projected to pass 9-billion by 2050.

Murphy says revolutions in seed science have enabled soybean farmers to produce more food, feed, fiber and fuel with significantly reduced strain on resources. Without intellectual property protection - he says the companies on whom soybean farmers rely would have no real incentive to make the investments necessary to develop new soybean varieties that yield more, resist disease, weeds and pests, are drought tolerant or have improved nutritional profiles. Murphy says the Supreme Court’s decision in this case recognizes if you take away incentives for those entities to strive for a better seed - they won’t make those investments - and farmers eventually won’t have the benefits of improved seeds. For more information on this case - visit www dot innovation at stake dot com (

"Corn Farmers Made Planting Progress in Last Week"

(NAFB) - The latest report from USDA shows 28-percent of projected corn acres were planted as of May 12th. While that’s more than double the 12-percent planted by May 5th - progress is still behind the five-year average by 37-points. National Corn Growers Association Chairman Garry Niemeyer says farmers are heading into their fields and taking advantage of every possible window to get the corn crop planted. By taking advantage of every warm day dry enough to get into the fields and using significantly more efficient technology - Niemeyer says growers can make progress not even possible just a few decades ago. For most farmers - he says one week of warm, drier weather will make the crucial difference.

While it is important to get the corn crop planted in a timely manner - NCGA notes the planting date alone isn’t a good indicator of overall corn production. As the rate of progress begins to increase - NCGA remains hopeful that U.S. corn farmers will have a good year. It’s noted that the 2009 crop set an all-time yield record despite the fact it was one of the latest planted crops in the last 15 years. In 2012 - when U.S. farmers had one of the all-time earliest planting completions - the drought produced a crop that was significantly below trend-line yields and four-billion bushels off USDA’s original crop estimate.

"Ag, Interior Secretaries Discuss Wildfire Prevention, Protection Collaboration"

(NAFB) - Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlined the federal government’s efforts to ensure collaboration to protect Americans from wildfire during a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center yesterday (Monday). Vilsack says the U.S. Forest Service, federal fire managers and crews will continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and the country’s natural resources during what is expected to be a challenging, severe wildfire season across much of the Western United States. Fire potential is predicted to be above normal in almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Idaho this year as well as parts of Montana, Colorado, Utah and Washington. Last year - 19.3-million acres of private, state and federal land burned in wildfires - along with more than 44-hundred structures - the third largest number of acres burned since 1960. Vilsack and Jewell urge the public to do their part to prevent wildfires by taking proactive steps and improving safety in their communities. For more information and resources - visit www dot fire adapted dot org (

"Baked, Farm-Raised Salmon Helps Reduce Heart Disease Risk"

(NAFB) - U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Nutritionist Susan Raatz and Physiologist Matthew Picklo - along with other cooperators - have discovered farm-raised Atlantic salmon maintains healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids when baked. Research shows baking salmon to the proper temperature - 145-degrees - decreases the presence of fatty acid oxidation byproducts. Data shows consuming 250-milligrams per day of omega-3 fatty acids - the amount found in three-ounces of salmon - can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

"House Follows Senate Closely with Farm Bill Discussion Draft"

(NAFB) - House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson have released a discussion draft of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bipartisan bill cuts spending, reduces the size of government and makes common-sense reforms. According to Lucas - the bill is responsible and balanced. He says it addresses American’s concerns about federal spending and reforms farm and nutrition policy to improve efficiency and accountability. The Committee is scheduled to markup the farm bill on Wednesday. Lucas suggests full House consideration will happen this summer. Peterson says the draft closely resembles the bipartisan bill the House Agriculture Committee passed last summer. He says it includes a common-sense commodity title that will work for all producers, much-needed reforms to dairy programs and continued support for the sugar program. Peterson says the bill also builds on the investments the 2008 Farm Bill made to fruits and vegetables, farmers markets and local food systems. As for nutrition program reforms - Peterson says he believes there are more responsible ways of doing it. But he says the bottom line is that this is the first step in the process and it’s past time to pass a five-year farm bill.

According to a release from the House Agriculture Committee - highlights of the measure include:

  • Savings of nearly 40-billion dollars in mandatory funds, including the immediate sequestration of six-billion
  • Repeal or consolidation of more than 100 programs
  • Elimination of direct payments, which farmers received regardless of market conditions
  • Streamlining and reforming commodity policy, saving nearly 14-billion dollars while also giving producers a choice in how best to manage risk
  • Inclusion of the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, saving more than 20-billion dollars
  • Consolidation of 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than six-billion dollars
  • Building on previous investments to fruit and vegetable production, farmers markets and local food systems.
  • Inclusion of several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers and rural communities face

"Other Highlights of House Ag’s Farm Bill Draft"

(NAFB) - The House Agriculture Committee release on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 notes reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will save more than 20-billion dollars. That cut - which comes from changes to categorical eligibility and a requirement that states make at least 20-dollars in payments for energy assistance for people to be eligible for food assistance - is a cut of just 2.5-percent. The cut made to commodity programs is 34-percent. The bill doesn’t include conservation compliance for crop insurance or any income eligibility limitations for crop insurance - nor does it shift international food assistance programs to cash assistance as proposed by the Obama Administration. The FARRM Act creates a Revenue Loss Coverage program - the equivalent of the Senate Agricultural Risk Coverage program - and a Price Loss Coverage program with payments based on reference or target prices. Both of these programs would make payments on current planted acreage up to a level of the farm’s overall base acreage. The new cotton program known as STAX is included in the measure - but it does not include a target price. The program would be based on revenue - with payments made on loss of revenue in a county. The hope is that this can resolve the WTO cotton case the U.S. lost to Brazil. Because the Risk Management Agency has said it can’t implement STAX for the 2014 crop year - and can’t guarantee it’s availability in all counties for 2015 - cotton growers would receive transition payments for 2014 and 2015.

"NFU Has Mixed Feelings About Farm Bill Draft"

(NAFB) - In response to the initial draft of the 2013 Farm Bill released by the House Ag Committee Friday - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson was happy to see target price protection included - especially target prices that are balanced and set at a meaningful level. He said the inclusion of stronger protection against long-term price collapse for all commodities in all regions is also a step in the right direction. He called strong support for crop insurance a positive element for U.S. family farmers and ranchers for when natural disasters strike. But Johnson said NFU was deeply disappointed with the lack of mandatory funding for programs that are critical to the nation’s energy independence. He also encouraged the House to strongly consider a more moderate approach when reducing funding for programs that help the food insecure in the country. He said just as farm safety net programs are important for farmers facing hardship - nutrition programs provide critical assistance to consumers in difficult times. Johnson was also concerned with language to study Country-of-Origin Labeling - calling it disheartening and unnecessary. He said the unwarranted attempt to strip consumers of their right to know where their meat comes from is alarming.

"NFU President Weighs in on TTIP and TPP"

(NAFB) - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson has submitted comments on a possible Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. He also sent a letter to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding the upcoming round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Lima, Peru. Johnson says trade agreement negotiations shouldn’t simply be limited to regulating trade-specific issues - but must also address differences in labor standards, environmental standards, health standards, the trade-distorting effect of currency manipulation and cartelization of markets.

Regarding the TTIP - Johnson’s comments note the importance of trade balance, fair compensation for farmers and other workers and protection from dumping and other unfair trade practices that force farmers off their land. According to Johnson - the TTIP should establish minimum standards for environmental, food and product safety, and consumer information. He said these important considerations should not be limited - and terms of any agreement should not prohibit countries from enacting measures that protect the safety of their citizens.

As for the TPP - Johnson noted lingering concerns with the secrecy in which the negotiation process has been conducted. He also urged caution in the talks - specifically as they relate to dairy policies. Johnson said it’s not in the interest of family-owned and operated dairies to open greater access to a country with a consolidated entity controlling the dairy sector. He said U.S. trade negotiators shouldn’t force other countries in the TPP to dismantle supply management programs - especially as efforts are underway to implement a similar system in the U.S. If these inconsistencies are left unresolved - Johnson said dairy shouldn’t be part of any TPP agreement.

"ASA Disappointed in USDA Decision to Prepare EIS for 2,4-D, Dicamba"

(NAFB) - USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will conduct a full environmental impact statement on soybean, corn and cotton crops designed to tolerate the 2,4-D and Dicamba herbicides. Industry sources say the move could delay the introduction of new products containing these herbicide-tolerant traits for two to four years. American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy noted the association’s frustration with the announcement - stating extreme disappointment in the decision. He said it will only serve to place another barrier between soybean farmers and the tools and technologies they need to sustainably grow more food, fiber and fuel for the nation while using less resources. According to Murphy - there is no reason for APHIS to conduct an additional environmental impact statement on top of the already-comprehensive environmental assessment that has been completed for these products. Even APHIS cites - he noted - the sustained, safe use of 2,4-D since the 1940s and Dicamba since 1967.

Murphy said farmers need new technologies such as crops that have herbicide-tolerant traits to manage weeds and weed resistance - and USDA’s decision will delay the availability of these new technologies. He said USDA’s decision also greatly undermines its previous commitments to eliminate delays in its regulatory reviews and utilize robust environmental assessments. Murphy went on to state that requiring a full EIS unjustifiably delays the availability of safe products to farmers, increases regulatory costs, chills product innovation and ultimately reduces the efficiency and productivity of U.S. agriculture. He said tools like 2,4-D and Dicamba-tolerant traits are critical to the mission of farmers to produce enough food and products to satisfy the demands of a global population projected to hit nine-billion within the next 40 years.

"Farm Bureau Economist Analyzes Latest USDA Numbers"

(NAFB) - American Farm Bureau Federation analysts note the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report shows a record corn crop is still reachable despite the slow start to planting. The report forecasts a corn yield of 158-bushels per acre - implying a 14.14-billion bushel crop. The current record corn crop was produced in 2009 at 13.09-billion bushels. If this large crop is realized - the report projects corn stocks could increase to slightly more than two-billion bushels - reducing forecast farm-level prices to less than five-dollars per bushel. American Farm Bureau Economist Todd Davis says export predictions are down from the February outlook conference and use projections may be overly generous. He notes the U.S. will have to compete in the export market this fall with Brazil - which will be producing its second corn crop of the year.

The May WASDE report also forecasts a record year for the soybean crop. The projection is for a crop of 3.39-billion bushels - up 375-million from 2012. Soybean stocks are expected to increase to 265-million bushels - with the stocks-to-use ratio at 8.1-percent. The farm price for the crop is down to $10.50 per bushel.

Ultimately - Davis says the weather will be the deciding factor. He says it’s all in the hands of Mother Nature and she will dictate the weather to allow for the amount of corn and soybeans that will be planted and the growing season weather. Davis says the May WASDE is a good starting point for the projections - but there’s a long way to go before the uncertainty of 2013 production and stocks become resolved.

"USDA Sees Big Decline in Winter Wheat Production"

(NAFB) - USDA is projecting winter wheat production at 1.49-billion bushels. That’s a decline of 10-percent from 2012. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 32.7-million acres - down six-percent from last year - and yield is down 1.8-bushels at a forecast of 45.4-bushels per acre. Hard Red Winter production is down 23-percent from a year ago at 768-million bushels. The 501-million bushel forecast for Soft Red Winter is a 19-percent increase from 2012. White Winter - at 217-million bushels - is down two-percent from a year ago.

"WASDE at a Glance"

(NAFB) - The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates were released Friday. The report presents USDA’s initial assessment of U.S. and world crop supply and demand prospects and U.S. prices for 2013-14. The latest WASDE report also presents the first calendar-year 2014 projections of U.S. livestock, poultry and dairy products. The projections reflect economic analysis, normal weather, trends and judgment. Since spring planting is still underway in the Northern Hemisphere and remains several months away in the Southern Hemisphere - it is noted that the projections are highly tentative. The forecasts for U.S. winter wheat area, yield and production are from Friday’s Crop Production report - while the March 28th Prospective Plantings report is used for planted acreage for other U.S. crops.

WHEAT: U.S. wheat supplies for 2013-14 are projected at 2,917-million bushels - down seven-percent from 2012-13. Wheat production is projected at 2,057-million bushels - down nine-percent from last year with reduced prospects for Hard Red Winter wheat. The all wheat yield - projected at 44.1-bushels per acre - is down 2.2-bushels from the record levels of 2012-13 and 2010-11. The survey-based forecast for winter wheat production is down 10-percent with the lowest harvested-to-planted ratio since 2006-07 and lower yields as persistent drought and April freezes reduce crop prospects in the southern and central Plains. Partly offsetting is higher forecast Soft Red Winter wheat production with higher area. Spring wheat production for 2013-14 is projected to decline eight-percent as reduced durum area and a return to trend yields reduce prospects for durum and other spring wheat.

Total U.S. wheat use for 2013-14 is projected down seven-percent year-to-year with lower domestic use and exports. Feed and residual disappearance is projected 70-million bushels lower as larger supplies and lower prices for feed grains in 2013-14 limit wheat feeding by late summer. Exports for 2013-14 are projected at 925-million bushels - down 100-million from the 2012-13 projection. Large crops for major export competitors limit opportunities for U.S. wheat. U.S. ending stocks are projected to decline for a fourth consecutive year. At 670-million bushels - ending stocks would be down 61-million bushels from the 2012-13 projection. The all wheat season-average farm price is projected at $6.15 to $7.45 per bushel - down from the record $7.80 projected for 2012-13 as world prices for wheat and coarse grains are expected to decline sharply by fall.

Global 2013-14 wheat supplies are projected three-percent higher than in 2012-13 with a 51.2-million-ton increase in foreign production more than offsetting a 19.3-million-ton reduction in global beginning stocks and lower forecast production in the United States. At the projected 701.1-million tons - global production would be a record and up 45.5-million from 2012-13. Production for 2013-14 is projected higher in all of the world’s major exporting countries. Global wheat exports for 2013-14 are projected higher than in 2012-13. Global wheat consumption is projected 20.0-million tons higher with increases in both feeding and food use. Global ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected at 186.4-million tons - up 6.2-million on the year.

COARSE GRAINS: U.S. feed grain supplies for 2013-14 are projected at a record 400.5-million tons - up 25-percent from 2012-13 with higher area and yields expected for corn, sorghum and oats. Corn production for 2013-14 is projected at 14.1-billion bushels - up 3.4-billion from 2012-13. The 2013-14 corn yield is projected at 158.0-bushels per acre - 5.6-bushels below the weather adjusted trend presented at USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in February. The slow start to this year’s planting and the likelihood that progress by mid-May will remain well behind the 10-year average reduce prospects for yields. Corn supplies for 2013-14 are projected at a record 14.9-billion bushels - up 3.0-billion from 2012/13. U.S. corn use for 2013-14 is projected up 16-percent from 2012-13 on higher feed and residual disappearance, increased use for ethanol, sweeteners, and starch and a partial recovery in exports. Feed and residual use for 2013-14 is projected up 925-million bushels reflecting a sharp rebound in residual disappearance with the record crop and an increase in feeding with lower corn prices. Projected corn use for ethanol is increased 250-million bushels from this month’s higher projection for 2012-13. Lower corn prices and high prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) support profitability for ethanol producers. U.S. corn exports for 2013-14 are projected 550-million bushels higher than this month’s lower projection for 2012-13. At the projected 1.3-billion bushels - 2013-14 exports are expected to rebound from their lowest level since 1970-71. U.S. corn ending stocks are projected at 2.0-billion bushels - up 1.2-billion from 2012-13. The season-average farm price at $4.30 to $5.10 per bushel is down sharply from the record $6.70 to $7.10 for 2012-13.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013-14 are projected at a record 1,407.6-million tons - up 113.8-million from 2012-13. Global corn production for 2013-14 is projected at a record 965.9-million tons. Foreign corn production is up 23.5-million tons. Global corn trade is projected higher. World corn consumption is projected at a record 936.7-million tons - up 72.8-million from 2012-13 with foreign consumption up 41.5- million. Global corn ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected up 29.2-million tons on the year. At 154.6-million tons - stocks would be a 13-year high.

RICE: Tighter U.S. 2013-14 all rice supplies - forecast down six-percent from 2012-13 - and lower projected use - down seven-percent from 2012-13 - result in ending stocks that are down three-percent from the previous year. Beginning stocks and production for 2013-14 are both forecast lower from a year ago - while imports are forecast five-percent larger. U.S. rice production for 2013-14 is projected at 189.5- million cwt - down five-percent from 2012-13. Harvested area is estimated at 2.59-million acres based on average harvested-to-planted ratios for the previous five years - the lowest area since 1987-88. Average all rice yield is projected at 7,317-pounds per acre - down two-percent from the previous year’s record.

U.S. 2013-14 all rice total use is projected at a 213.0-million cwt - seven-percent below the previous year.

Domestic and residual use is projected at 115.0-million cwt - four-percent below 2012-13. All rice exports are projected at 98.0-million cwt - nine-percent below 2012-13 and the lowest since 2008-09. Long-grain rice exports are projected at 69.0-million - 10-percent below the previous year and combined medium- and shortgrain rice exports at 29.0-million - seven-percent below 2012-13. U.S. all rice ending stocks for 2013-14 are projected at 33.1-million cwt - three-percent below the previous year. Long-grain ending stocks are forecast at 21.9-million cwt - seven-percent above 2012-13 and combined medium- and short-grain rice stocks at 9.0-million - 22-percent below the previous year. The U.S. 2013-14 long-grain rice season-average farm price is projected at $13.80 to $14.80 per cwt, compared to a revised $14.20 to $14.60 for the previous year. The combined medium- and short-grain price is projected at $15.50 to $16.50 per cwt, compared to a revised $15.80 to $16.20 for the year earlier. The 2013-14 all rice price is projected at $14.30 to $15.30 per cwt, compared to a revised $14.70 to $15.10 per cwt for 2012/13.

Global 2013-14 total supply and use are each projected to reach record levels at 584.7 and 476.8-million tons, respectively, resulting in a 2.4-million increase in world ending stocks. Global 2013-14 rice production is projected at a record 479.3-million tons - up 9.0-million from 2012-13. Global 2013-14 consumption is projected at a record 476.8-million tons - up one-percent from the previous year.

Global exports in 2013-14 are projected at 38.9-million tons - up marginally from 2012-13. Global 2013-14 ending stocks are expected to increase 2.4-million tons to 107.8-million - the largest since 2001-02.

OILSEEDS: U.S. oilseed production for 2013-14 is projected at 100.9-million tons - up nine-percent from 2012-13. Higher soybean production accounts for most of the increase. Sunflowerseed, peanut and cottonseed production are each projected below last year’s crops. Soybean production is projected at a record 3.390-billion bushels - up 375-million from the drought-reduced 2012 crop on slightly higher harvested area and higher yields. Soybean yields are projected at a weather-adjusted trend level of 44.5-bushels per acre - up 4.9-bushels from 2012. Soybean supplies are projected at 3.530-billion bushels - up 10-percent from 2012-13. Additional soybean meal exports for 2012-13 are offset by reduced domestic consumption - leaving crush unchanged. Soybean exports and ending stocks for 2012-13 are also unchanged from last month. The 2013-14 U.S. soybean crush is projected at 1.695-billion bushels - up 60-million from 2012-13 - reflecting increased domestic soybean meal consumption and exports. U.S. soybean meal exports are forecast higher on sharply lower prices. Soybean exports are projected at 1.450-billion bushels - up 100-million from 2012-13 on increased supplies and competitive prices. Ending stocks are projected at 265-million bushels - up 140-million from 2012-13. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2013-14 is forecast at $9.50 to $11.50 per bushel compared with $14.30 per bushel in 2012-13. Soybean meal and oil prices are forecast at $280-$320 per short ton and 47-51 cents per pound, respectively.

Global oilseed production for 2013-14 is projected at a record 491.3-million tons - up 4.7-percent from 2012-13 - mainly due to increased soybean production. Global soybean production is projected at 285.5-million tons - up six-percent. Global production of high-oil content seeds (rapeseed and sunflowerseed) is projected up 6.1-percent from 2012-13. Oilseed supplies are up 5.1-percent from 2012-13. With crush projected to increase 3.4-percent - global oilseed ending stocks are projected at 82.6-million tons - up 12.3-million. Global protein meal consumption is projected to increase 2.7-percent in 2013-14. Global soybean exports are projected at 107.1-million tons - up 11.3-percent from 2012-13.

SUGAR: Projected U.S. sugar supply for fiscal year 2013-14 is up 2.1-percent from 2012-13 - as higher beginning stocks and imports more than offset lower production. Lower beet sugar production reflects reduced area and a return to trend yields - while lower cane sugar production is based on trend yields.

Imports under the tariff rate quota (TRQ) reflect minimum U.S. commitments to import raw and refined sugar and projected shortfall. The Secretary will establish the TRQ at a later date. Total use is up 1.8-percent and ending stocks are slightly higher than a year earlier.

Exports to all destinations are lower - but shipments to the U.S. market are up 5.3-percent from 2012-13.

LIVESTOCK, POULTRY, AND DAIRY: Total U.S. red meat and poultry production in 2014 is projected to be above 2013 as higher pork and poultry production more than offsets declines in beef production. Tighter cattle supplies and potential heifer retention during late 2013 and into 2014 are expected to limit cattle available for placement - thereby reducing fed cattle slaughter in 2014. Lower cow numbers and herd rebuilding will also limit non-fed beef production. Pork production is forecast to increase more rapidly than in 2013 as lower forecast feed costs provide incentives for producers to expand farrowings and increase carcass weights from 2013 levels. Broiler and turkey production are forecast higher as lower forecast feed prices encourage expansion despite lower poultry prices. Egg production for 2014 is forecast to expand as producers respond to lower feed costs. The total red meat and poultry production forecast for 2013 is lowered from last month as lower pork, broiler and turkey production more than offsets greater beef production. Higher cattle placements are expected to support higher fed beef production and cow slaughter has remained relatively high. However - recent winter storms have affected cattle weights - which are lowered slightly from last month. Pork production is down marginally on lower forecast slaughter in the second of half of 2013. Broiler production is lowered on hatchery and chick placement data to date - while turkey production is cut on lower poult placements.

Continued year-over-year declines in U.S. beef production are expected to push beef exports lower in 2014. Pork exports are expected to rebound in 2014 as supplies increase and demand improves. Broiler exports are forecast higher on expanded supplies and moderating prices. Beef imports are expected to be higher in 2014 as U.S. cow slaughter declines and domestic non-fed beef supplies tighten. Pork imports are forecast up fractionally from 2013. The 2013 red meat export forecast is lowered from last month, largely due to lower expected pork exports. The beef forecast is adjusted to reflect lower first-quarter exports. Poultry exports are raised as higher broiler exports more than offset lower turkey exports.

For 2014 - cattle prices are forecast to rise above 2013 as supplies continue to tighten. Hog prices are forecast to be slightly lower than 2013 on higher production. Broiler, turkey and egg prices are forecast to be below 2013 as production expands. Cattle price forecasts for 2013 are unchanged from last month. Hog prices are down fractionally from last month on weaker second quarter prices. Broiler prices are forecast higher as prices remain strong.

Milk production for 2014 is forecast higher as lower feed costs and relatively strong milk prices are expected to support production. Commercial exports are forecast higher on robust international demand. Imports will be lower on greater domestic supplies. With higher domestic production, cheese, butter and whey prices are forecast lower than last year - while nonfat dry milk (NDM) is higher largely on continued strength in international demand. Both Class III and Class IV prices are forecast lower. In the case of Class IV, lower forecast butter prices more than offset higher NDM prices. The all milk price is forecast at $18.85 to $19.85 per cwt for 2014. Forecast milk production in 2013 is unchanged from last month. Imports are raised. Exports are higher as abundant U.S. supplies and competitive prices are expected to spur foreign demand. Cheese, butter and NDM prices are raised from last month while whey is lower. The Class III price is lowered as lower whey prices more than offset greater cheese prices. Class IV is up reflecting higher prices for butter and NDM. The all milk price is forecast at $19.50 to $20.00 per cwt.

COTTON: The U.S. cotton projections for 2013-14 include lower production, exports and ending stocks compared with 2012-13. Projected production is reduced 19-percent to 14.0-million bales - based on regional average abandonment and yields. Domestic mill use is projected at 3.5-million bales - 100-thousand bales above 2012-13. Exports are projected at 11.5-million bales - down 13-percent from 2012-13 - due to the smaller available domestic supply and lower imports by China. Ending stocks are reduced to 3.0-million bales - equal to 20-percent of total use - which is well below the previous 10-year average. The forecast range for the marketing year average price received by producers is 68.0 to 88.0 cents per pound - compared with 72.0 cents estimated for 2012/13.

The initial 2013-14 world cotton projections show world ending stocks of nearly 93-million bales - the third consecutive seasonal record. World production is projected nearly three-percent lower than 2012-13 at 117.8-million bales. World consumption is expected to rise two-percent due to modest growth in world GDP. World trade is expected to fall 12-percent. World ending stocks outside of China are projected to fall nearly 2.0-million bales. China’s national reserve stocks are currently expected to reach nearly 40-million bales at the end of 2012-13. USDA is projecting that China will import 12.0-million bales in 2013-14 and will add 10-million bales to ending stocks as reserve purchases exceed reserve sales. The resulting projected China ending stocks of 58.2-million bales would account for 63-percent of world stocks.

For 2012-13 - the final U.S. crop production estimate of 17.3-million bales is virtually unchanged from last month. U.S. exports are raised 250-thousand bales.

"Beef Boot Camp Event Held in New York"

(NAFB) - The beef checkoff hosted a Beef Boot Camp even in New York last week (May 7). Twenty-two retail meat buyers, managers and directors representing more than 400 retail locations were on-hand for the event. In addition - 12 culinary instructors, foodservice distributors and restaurant operators were present. During the event - Cornell University Beef Cattle Extension Specialist Dr. Mike Baker discussed the various choices of beef available to consumers. Cattlemen’s Beef Board member and Beef Cattle Extension Specialist at Penn State University Dr. Dan Kniffen explained the role of the Beef Checkoff Program. The majority of attendees had little to no understanding of beef production - so a tour of the Walbridge Farm provided a unique opportunity to see a modern-day working beef farm from pasture to plate.

After lunch at the farm - Dr. Kniffen discussed the current climate of the beef industry before the group split into separate retail and foodservice tracts. Those in retail heard about the recently launched Better Beef Sales retail training tool, a beef pop-up timer program, beef and veal promotional opportunities available through the beef checkoff, findings from the checkoff-funded 2011 National Beef Quality Audit and saw a demonstration on how to cut and merchandise the new beef value cuts from the beef chuck roll and shoulder clod.

Foodservice influencers received a trio of presentations highlighting the checkoff’s Beef Alternative Merchandising (BAM) program. It started with a cutting demonstration on the beef top sirloin and beef ribeye, followed by a cooking demonstration and then merging the two demonstrations together by showing attendees how to make this work for their menus.

"Senate Ag Committee Releases Draft of Proposed Farm Bill"

(NAFB) - The official committee print of the 2013 Farm Bill is now available on the Senate Agriculture Committee website. According to Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow - the bipartisan 2013 Farm Bill represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades. She notes the era of direct payments comes to an end with the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act - with the bill creating risk management tools that support farmers when they are negatively impacted by weather disaster or market events beyond their control. According to Stabenow - by ending unnecessary subsidies, streamlining and consolidating programs and cracking down on abuse the bill will yield a total of 23-billion dollars in cuts to agriculture programs - including cuts made due to the sequester. She notes that is more than double the amount recommended by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission and the Gang of Six. Stabenow says the Senate’s 2013 Farm Bill strengthens top priorities that help farmers, ranchers and small business owners create jobs. With the current farm bill set to expire September 30th - Stabenow says Congress must pass legislation this year to provide farmers the certainty they need to keep driving our economic recovery. She says 16-million jobs hang in the balance. The Committee is set to markup the measure next Tuesday.

Here are some of the highlights outlined in Chairwoman Stabenow’s summary of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013:

Reform - The 2013 Senate Farm Bill reforms farm programs to save taxpayer dollars, while providing farmers with a responsible risk management system that only helps farmers when they experience substantial losses due to events beyond their control.

  • Eliminates direct payments. Farmers will no longer receive payments when prices are rising and support is not needed. Ending these subsidies and creating responsible risk management is a major shift in American farm policy
  • Caps remaining risk management support at $50,000 per person
  • Ends Farm Payments to Non-Farmers. This bill closes the “management loophole,” through which people who were not actually farming—in many cases not even setting foot on the farm—were designated as farm “managers” so they could receive farm payments
  • Strengthens crop insurance and expands access so farmers are not wiped out by bad weather
  • Includes disaster relief for producers hurt by drought, spring freeze, and other weather disasters
  • Reforming farm programs, ending direct payments and implementing market-oriented programs to help farmers manage risk saves $16 billion dollars ($12 billion in the bill, $4 billion through sequestration)

Consolidating and Streamlining Programs - The Senate Farm Bill eliminates over 100 programs and authorizations under the Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction.

  • The bill consolidates 23 existing conservation programs into 13 programs—while maintaining existing tools to protect and conserve land, water and wildlife
  • Streamlining programs provides added flexibility and focuses conservation around four primary functions: working lands conservation, the Conservation Reserve Program, regional partnerships, and easements to help prevent sprawl and protect wetlands
  • These reforms save money while still increasing resources for top priorities
  • Because we are truly doing more with less, changes to conservation policies are supported by nearly 650 conservation organizations from all 50 states

Improving Program Accountability - The Senate Farm Bill increases accountability in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by:

  • Stopping lottery winners from continuing to receive assistance
  • Preventing states from providing $1 per year in home heating assistance to individuals who do not have a heating bill for the sole purpose of providing extra benefits above what they would normally receive
  • Ending misuse by college students whose families are not truly low-income
  • Cracking down on retailers and recipients engaged in benefit trafficking
  • Increasing requirements to prevent liquor and tobacco stores from accepting food assistance benefits
  • The above savings reduce the deficit while continuing support for food banks, seniors’ food programs and healthy school lunch initiatives

Continuing Growth in America’s Diverse Agricultural Economy - The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act increases efficiency and accountability, saving tens of billions of dollars overall, while still strengthening agricultural jobs initiatives through:

  • Export opportunities to help farmers find new global markets for their goods
  • Help for family farmers to sell locally, increasing support for farmers’ markets and spurring the creation of food hubs to connect farmers to schools and other community-based organizations
  • Training and access to capital to make it easier for beginning farmers to get off the ground
  • Initiatives to help American veterans start agriculture businesses
  • Growth in bio-based manufacturing (businesses producing goods in America from raw agricultural products grown in America) to create rural agriculture and urban manufacturing jobs
  • Innovation in bio-energy production, supporting non-food based advanced biomass energy production such as cellulosic ethanol and woody biomass power
  • Research to promote the commercialization of new agricultural innovations
  • Rural development initiatives to help rural communities upgrade infrastructure, extend broadband internet availability and create a better environment for small businesses

[Broadcasters: The committee print of the farm bill is available at and the Chairwoman’s full summary can be found]

"Other Farm Bill Draft Highlights"

(NAFB) - The draft farm bill released by the Senate Ag Committee is more than 11-hundred pages in length. Some aspects not highlighted by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow include the establishment of a new Adverse Market Payments program - which would be based on reference prices. Like last year’s bill - the measure establishes the Agricultural Risk Coverage program. The bill also reauthorizes the sugar program, includes the dairy program favored by milk producers, extends the Food for Peace Act and reduces the size of the Conservation Reserve Program. The recent agreement between farm and conservation groups to create a tie between crop insurance eligibility and conservation compliance with no income tests for premium subsidies is not included in the draft. Instead - it includes the conservation compliance language proposed by Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss last year - which was adopted by the full Senate. Also included is the gross income means test introduced by Dick Durbin of Illinois and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

"Thoughts on Senate Ag Committee 2013 Farm Bill Draft"

(NAFB) - The Senate Ag Committee has released its initial draft of the 2013 Farm Bill - and it does not include the Egg Products Inspection Act amendments of 2013. But National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall says it most likely will come up again in relation to this farm bill. The National Farmers Union is encouraged the draft has been circulated to Senate Ag members in advance of the committee’s markup next week.

NFU President Roger Johnson says NFU is please target price protection was added to the bill - but the organization believes target prices need to be increased and balanced in a meaningful way to be substantial. Johnson says NFU also is encouraged SNAP remains virtually unchanged from last year’s bill - as he says it’s crucial to continue providing a safety net to those who are food insecure in this country. He says NFU expects the House Ag Committee to follow suit very soon and is pleased to see movement in both chambers - since September 30th is quickly approaching.

"Senate Ag Farm Bill Draft Welcomed by Soybean Growers"

(NAFB) - American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy commended the Senate Agriculture Committee for its work in crafting a proposed farm bill. Murphy says the draft released by the Committee would protect and strengthen crop insurance - as well as ensure that a target price program to protect growers from low prices remains decoupled from current planting decisions. Combined with a revenue protection program similar to the one included in last year’s Senate bill - he says the proposed legislation takes significant steps to provide farmers with effective risk management programs - while protecting planting flexibility and avoiding planting distortions. ASA is still studying the details of the legislation - but Murphy says an initial review shows that the draft reflects some of ASA’s priorities. These include reauthorization and funding of the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program and Market Access Program, funding for conservation programs applied to working lands, reauthorization and funding for important bio-based and bioenergy programs and support for agricultural research.

Murphy says ASA applauds both Agriculture Committees for taking the initiative to move a farm bill forward in this Congress. He says ASA looks forward to speedy markups in both Committees next week and the passage of a new comprehensive farm bill as quickly as possible.

"Antimicrobial Data Collection Bill Introduced in Senate"

(NAFB) - The Antimicrobial Data Collection Act has been introduced in the Senate. The bill calls for increased data collection by the Food and Drug Administration, enhanced transparency and public awareness of antimicrobial drug use in agriculture and strengthened FDA accountability regarding unsafe antimicrobial drug use. The measure was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California and Susan Collins of Maine. Collins says the bill wouldn’t create any new reporting requirements for drug companies, feed mills or farmers. She says it would only require the FDA to provide more transparency in reporting the antimicrobial data already reported to it.

The measure would require a pilot program to look into new data sources on antibiotics used for food-producing animals. The FDA would create a comprehensive data collection strategy - based on the new data sources - to increase data availability to the public and transparency. The FDA would be audited by the Government Accountability Office to determine if the data collection for antimicrobial resistance programs is effective in protecting public health.

"Ag Secretary Addresses Several Issues at Budget Hearing"

(NAFB) - The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture met Thursday to review the FY2014 budget request for USDA. Several issues were addressed - including the proposal to shift food aid from U.S. commodity purchases to cash assistance funneled through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Pryor and Ranking Member Roy Blunt told U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack they don’t support the idea. Pryor noted that the goals when the food aid programs were set up in the 1950s were to increase U.S. exports and feed hungry people. But Vilsack said the U.S. doesn’t have the surpluses it did in 1954 and there are markets for U.S. exports. He noted the change to cash assistance would save 500-million dollars over 10 years and added that 55-percent of the food would still be bought in the U.S.

Vilsack also addressed the short-term law that has become known as the Monsanto Protection Act. He said it is unnecessary, of questionable legality and has made it more difficult for USDA to develop rules and programs to allow for coexistence of organic and conventional and biotech crops.

On the issue of school meal rules - Vilsack told Blunt and North Dakota’s John Hoeven the waivers that allow schools to serve more proteins and grains as long as they comply with calorie restrictions will likely be made permanent. USDA already extended the waiver for the 2013-14 school year.

"Representatives Ask for Specifics After NRC Releases Study"

(NAFB) - The National Research Council released its risk assessments reports on pesticides yesterday (Wednesday) - which raises concerns about the federal government’s methods to conduct scientific assessments of ecological risks from pesticides - as required by the Endangered Species Act. The House Ag Committee held a joint oversight hearing in May 2011 and urged the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to modify their request and ensure the NRC conducts a complete, comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the Biological Opinions relating to pesticide use across the nation. In particular - the request was for the study to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of reasonable and prudent measures suggested by the NMFS - which would affect more than 112-million acres and rural economies in certain states if implemented.

House Ag Chair Frank Lucas says while they appreciate the NRC’s hard work - the charge to the Council was so restrictive as to render their final report meaningless. Lucas says it is essential that federal agencies charged with administering the ESA be open to legitimate scientific scrutiny of their policies and practices if endangered species and their habitats are to be protected. With the recent federal court ruling that NOAA’s salmon BiOps for crop protection products are based on flawed science, outdated data and failed to consider economic impacts - Representative Doc Hastings says it is imperative the National Academy of Sciences comprehensively review the flaws and force NOAA to re-write these opinions quickly.

"Vote Now for the 2013 National Farm Mom of the Year"

(NAFB) - Mother’s Day is quickly approaching - and so is the deadline to vote for your favorite farm mom to become the 2013 National Farm Mom of the Year. This year’s five regional winners - who each received a five-thousand-dollar cash prize from Monsanto - are Aimee Hachigian-Gould of Montana, Mary Ann Bansen of California, Tina Hinchley of Wisconsin, Sue Roehm of Ohio and Betty Rosson of Virginia. Monsanto U.S. Row Crops Lead Lisa Safarian says reading these women’s nominations made it clear that farm moms work tirelessly to improve their farms, communities and agriculture in general - no matter what and where they farm. Visit www dot Americas Farmers dot com ( to cast your vote. The woman receiving the most votes will be named the national winner and receive another five-thousand-dollars on Mother’s Day.

"Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program Due May 31st"

(NAFB) - This year - the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program will provide nearly 175-million dollars for up to 12.6-million additional acres of enrollment. Farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in the program may submit their applications until May 31st to their local NRCS office to be considered for funding. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the CSP is different than other USDA financial assistance programs because if offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. He says it’s about conservation activities on the entire operation focusing on multiple resource concerns. Many CSP enhancements improve soil quality - helping land during extreme weather - and improve some areas for producers - such as intensive rotational grazing, wildlife-friendly fencing and intercropping. For more information - visit www dot NRCS dot USDA dot gov (

"USDA Continues Efforts to Improve School Nutrition"

(NAFB) - Ag Secretary Vilsack says parents work hard to instill good eating habits in their children - and now those efforts are being supported by the foods served in the school lunch line. Vilsack highlighted improvements to school meals Wednesday as part of USDA’s efforts to create a generational change to improve childhood nutrition. He says USDA encourages partnerships between food service professionals, school administrators and industry to help continue progress on food served in schools. USDA also provides reimbursements and technical assistance to schools to find creative solutions to improve school nutrition. Vilsack says USDA has partnered with Chefs Move to Schools to enhance school lunches, engage students in the food preparation process and educate children about food and healthy eating. He says chefs are incredibly creative and passionate about food and have the skills to create healthy meals that appeal to a variety of audiences.

"More Producers, Businesses Receive Value-Added Producer Grants"

(NAFB) - USDA Rural Development has selected 110 agricultural producers and rural businesses to receive Value-Added Producer Grants to help them increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, create new products or develop new uses for existing products. Eleven of the projects involve bio-based products. Secretary Vilsack says this support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where recipients are located - while also advancing USDA’s goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems. These grants are an important part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

"Livestock, Poultry Groups Submit Comments on RFS to House Energy Committee"

(NAFB) - Seven livestock and poultry groups - including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council - submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Renewable Fuels Standard’s negative effects on agriculture - such as the high cost of feed livestock and poultry producers face. The groups say the RFS has been the major driver in increasing corn use for ethanol production and causing corn stocks to decline to crisis levels. In a market-driven world - the groups say ethanol would be priced competitively with gasoline - but that has never been true in the industry’s history. The groups also submitted a study to support their comments - which examines the extensive impact the RFS has had on food and fuel prices.

"Positions Shifting in Agriculture Department"

(NAFB) - Beginning this Saturday - Michael Scuse will replace Kathleen Merrigan as Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Scuse has served as Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services and also as a member of the Commodity Credit Corporation Board of Directors. Before he joined the Obama Administration - Scuse served as Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture and President of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Other changes include Darci Vetter serving as Acting Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services and Suzanne Heinen stepping in as the Acting Deputy Undersecretary for FFAS. Philip Karsting has been chosen as the new Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator. Doug O’Brien will replace Dallas Tonsager as Acting Undersecretary for Rural Development and Ann Mills will replace Harris Sherman starting May 9th as Acting Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

"Senators Urge USTR to Investigate EU Anti-Dumping Decision"

(NAFB) - Senators from both sides of the aisle have signed a letter sent to the Acting U.S. Trade Representative and Acting Secretary of Commerce to ask that they review and consider a World Trade Organization challenge to the European Union’s controversial and unprecedented anti-dumping duty recently imposed on U.S. ethanol producers. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis have issued a joint statement on the rare bipartisan agreement generated by the anti-dumping duty. According to Dinneen, Buis and the Senators - the EU Commission failed to make any particular finding of dumping by any producer or marketer investigated in connection with the case. If allowed to stand - they say the rule would set a dangerous precedent for trade and trade remedies in advance of important trade talks between the U.S. and EU. Dinneen, Buis and the Senators say it will also dramatically change the boundaries and limits of international anti-dumping law. Dinneen and Buis believe the WTO will nullify the anti-dumping duty on exports of ethanol from the U.S.

The letter to Acting USTR Demetrios Manatos and Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was co-authored by South Dakota Senator John Thune and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Iowa’s Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, Al Franken of Minnesota, Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt of Missouri, Pat Roberts of Kansas and Richard Durbin of Illinois co-sponsored the letter.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the administration should take an aggressive position against the penalty because of the way it violates trade law standards and practices that are well established. He says what has happened is an unfair trade practice that has already had a measurable negative impact on the U.S. renewable energy industry.

"Growth Energy Explains Ag Impact of RFS in Comments to Energy Committee"

(NAFB) - In addition to issuing a series of white papers on the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard - the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently asked stakeholders to submit comments on the agricultural impact of the RFS. In response - Growth Energy outlined the critical importance of the RFS and how it has directly benefited consumers, farmers and America. According to Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis - the RFS has been one of the most successful energy policies in the last 40 years. He says it’s had a tremendous positive impact on the agriculture sector and on consumer prices at the pump. Buis notes the RFS has significantly increased value to farmers for their crops and hard work and has driven production efficiency.

Buis also clarifies the total amount of corn used to make ethanol. If you look beyond simple volume and into the net corn acreage used - he says the industry utilizes just 17.5-percent of the acres because of displacement of corn and soybean meal through the use of distiller grains as a high protein animal feed.

The bottom line - according to Buis - is that the RFS has provided significant benefits to farmers at home and around the world. He says the global corn crops of recent years have been record-breaking and have provided economic opportunities to many farmers and communities most in need.

"Coalition Provides Conservation Title Recommendations to Ag Committees"

(NAFB) - A coalition of conservation groups has released a document of principles for the new farm bill. They say the Conservation Title programs, funding and authorities have never been more important than they are today. The conservation community cites the great benefits to farmers and ecological integrity of voluntary conservation programs and conservation compliance provisions over the last 25 years - but says there is still work to do. One suggestion is to maintain robust conservation funding. The coalition says funding must be adequate to continue critical conservation programs at robust levels and argues that the Conservation Title has already given more than its fair share of savings through the annual appropriations process.

Other recommendations provided to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees include harmonizing crop subsidies and conservation; improving conservation performance, results and efficiency by focusing conservation resources where the opportunities for environmental outcomes are greatest, streamlining, paying for performance, supporting whole-farm, sustainable and organic conservation systems in addition to individual practices and providing more technical assistance funding; and enhancing equity and outreach.

Groups including American Farmland Trust, the Environmental Working Group, National Association of State Conservation Agencies, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and National Wildlife Federation support the principles and recommendations outlined.

"NTF Refutes Consumer Reports Article on Ground Turkey"

(NAFB) - According to a study released by Consumer Reports - potential disease-causing organisms were found in most of the 257 ground turkey samples it tested. The National Turkey Federation says the findings of the Consumer Reports article are misleading. The group says a number of alarming claims are made based on an extremely small sampling of ground turkey products. NTF President Joel Brandenberger says Consumer Reports had the opportunity to foster a serious, thoughtful discussion about food safety - but chose to sensationalize findings and mislead people instead. NTF is refuting numerous claims and challenging the methodology in the report.

While the magazine reported high levels of certain pathogens on the samples tested - NTF says it’s important to note that the two most prevalent aren’t considered sources of foodborne illness. In addition - the group’s Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Lisa Picard says the pathogens are found everywhere. NTF points out that the magazine found almost no prevalence of the two pathogens that are of public health concern.

The National Turkey Federation argues that the Consumer Reports article is also misleading about the significance of its antibiotic findings. The Director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Group said the findings suggested there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey. According to NTF - one of the antibiotics for which Consumer Reports tested hasn’t been used in poultry production for almost eight years - meaning resistance is highly unlikely to be farm farm-animal use - and two other drug classes are used infrequently in animal agriculture. Picard stresses that the turkey industry judiciously uses antibiotics under strict guidelines set by federal law to restore health and to treat and control disease. Picard says proper animal health practices and an important reason the U.S. food supply is one of the highest quality, safest and most affordable in the world.

"Former World Food Prize Laureate Says Policies Interfere with Feeding the World"

(NAFB) - Speaking as part of a lecture series at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln - the 2001 World Food Prize Laureate said the world is actually capable of producing enough food to feed the growing population - but policies and politics stand in the way. According to Per Pinstrup-Andersen - inappropriate policies are the problem. He estimates 2.9-quadrillion pounds of food are lost globally each year throughout the distribution system. Pinstrup-Andersen says that amount would feed the two-billion people expected to be added to the population by the year 2050. While it’s not likely that entire loss can be captured - he says some could be saved through better policies and management. He says more investment is needed in research and technology - including genetic modification - as well as in rural infrastructures in developing countries. Pinstrup-Andersen also called for orderly trade policies, rules governing land acquisition and antitrust legislation.

Pinstrup-Andersen is the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy, the J. Thomas Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship and a professor of applied economics at Cornell University. He is also an adjunct professor of food economics at the University of Copenhagen. He served 10 years as the International Food Policy Research Institute’s director general in Washington, D.C. and seven years as a department head. Pinstrup-Andersen also served seven years as an economist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia and six years as a professor at Wageningen University.

"Recently Introduced Legislation Focuses on New Farmers"

(NAFB) - The recently introduced Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act aims to improve financing and land ownership opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers. It would improve on existing USDA programs and include a program for training beginning farmers and ranchers. Minnesota’s Tim Walz - who introduced the bill in the House - says ensuring the next generation of American farmers is able to provide the world with a safe, abundant supply of food should be a top priority. He says that requires providing youth with the training and tools they need to seize opportunity and take up farms of their own. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Iowa’s Tom Harkin.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act helps new farmers get started in agriculture and invests in programs that have a proven track record of equipping farmers with the tools and skills they need to be successful in their farming career. Similar legislation was introduced in previous legislative sessions - with some of the bill’s provisions included in the farm bill passed by the Senate and the measure approved by the House Agriculture Committee.

The bill would create a microloan program to offer loans of up to 35-thousand dollars to farmers seeking capital to cover start-up costs. It would also provide for flexibility in meeting loan eligibility requirements for Farm Service Agency loans to purchase farmland. The legislation continues and improves upon the Down Payment Loan program and modifies the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program to give priority to preserving farmland that is accessible and affordable to new farmers. It renews funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program - which was lost with the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill.

"May Farm Bill Markup a ‘Go’ for House Ag"

(NAFB) - The official markup notice hasn’t been issued - but House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says the committee will markup the 2013 Farm Bill on May 15th. He says they’ll start with a draft that is essentially the 2012 document with adjustments because entities like the Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office have rescored some of the expenditures and savings. But in the end - he expects the Ag Committee members will stick to the principles they agreed upon last year when writing the farm bill. Lucas says there will be choice, savings and a safety net for all crops in all regions.

In the area of nutrition - Lucas says the Committee will continue to focus on things like categorical eligibility and other loopholes. Instead of 16.5-billion dollars in reforms as called for in the nutrition title of the Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill - he says this bill will contain about 20-billion in savings. Lucas says a substantial of conservation title savings will come from CRP. In the commodity title - he says the direct payment program is once again eliminated. Overall - Lucas expects the bill will save about 38-billion dollars.

Lucas believes there’s a good chance the Ag Committee can reach consensus on the farm bill on May 15th.

"Senate Ag Hopes for May Farm Bill Markup"

(NAFB) - Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow announced Thursday that she - too - plans to markup a new farm bill next month - though she has not set a specific date yet. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated his intentions to bring it to the Senate floor next month as well.  Stabenow wants to make sure a new farm bill is in place by September 30th - when the current extension of the 2008 law expires.

"GMO Labeling Gets the Federal Attention Expected"

(NAFB) - Legislation to require the Food and Drug Administration to clearly label all genetically engineered foods has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced by California Senator Barbara Boxer and Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio. The bill has ten co-sponsors in the Senate and nearly two-dozen co-sponsors in the House. Boxer says Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families. She says the legislation has the support of a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree consumers deserve more information about the food they buy.

"Report Underscores Importance of Maintaining U.S. Sugar Policy"

(NAFB) - American Sugar Alliance Director of Economics and Policy Analysis Jack Roney says a recently released report underscores the importance of maintaining the current U.S. sugar policy. He says the report shows that Brazilian government programs provide nearly 2.5-billion dollars a year in sugar subsidies - giving Brazil a leg up on its competitors and distorting global prices. Roney says U.S. sugar policy was designed to shield consumers from foreign market manipulation and ensure an affordable, homegrown supply of a food staple. While U.S. sugar producers are highly efficient - Roney says disarming unilaterally while foreign subsidies run rampant would lead to job loss and leave us dependent on unreliable, subsidized foreign sugar.

According to the American Sugar Alliance - Brazil’s subsidization has helped the country gain a nearly 50-percent market share of global sugar exports. In the past - it’s been difficult to pinpoint the country’s policies because of poor data reporting and non-transparent programs. But sugar and ethanol expert Patrick Chatenay from the United Kingdom-based company ProSunergy spent months unearthing Brazil’s subsidies and recently made his report available to U.S. lawmakers. The sugar and ethanol subsidies detailed in the study include direct payments, debt forgiveness, usage mandates, lower tax rates for sugar producers and special interest rates on government loans. The study notes actual subsidization amounts could be much higher than 2.5-billion because of unreported debt restructuring. But Chatenay is certain Brazil’s policies have a profound effect on global sugar prices - estimating Brazil would need a 15-percent increase in sugar prices to replace the government supports.

According to Chatenay - policies in Brazil and other countries make sugar one of the world’s most distorted commodity markets. He says the world market price is a dump price and should never be used as a yardstick to measure what benefits or costs may accrue from free trade in sugar. The American Sugar Alliance believes this work will help educate lawmakers about the distorted dump sugar market and the consequences of becoming more dependent on it by weakening current U.S. sugar policy.

"China’s Bird Flu Impact on Poultry Production, Feed Demand Less Than Originally Thought"

(NAFB) - Recently - China’s bird flu incidents closed live bird markets around the Shanghai region and in South China. Cases spread to other regions - such as Beijing and Henan. According to a recent report issued by the U.S. Grains Council shows the effects of the closings and reduction of poultry inventories will reduce feed consumption in the poultry industry. However - if consumers switch to pork instead of poultry meat - poultry sector losses will be offset and the net effect on feed demand reduced. USGC China Director Brian Lohmar says this is because hogs are less efficient converters of feed to meat and use a higher proportion of energy feeds.

If the virus continues for another month or more and spreads in China - the effect could be more significant - as China produces nearly 17-million metric tons of poultry meat. A five-percent reduction in meat production would result in nearly 88.5-million bushels reduction in corn feed demand - which would be a 1.1-percent decrease from USDA’s estimated 8.1-billion bushels of total corn demand in China for 2012 to 2013. If pork is substituted for a bit more than half of poultry - corn feed demand will actually rise because of the higher corn input required to produce pork.

"Additional Funding Announced for National Water Quality Initiative"

(NAFB) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide 35-million dollars of additional funding for the second year of the National Water Quality Initiative to farmers and ranchers in 164 priority watersheds. Last year - NRCS provided 34-million dollars to farmers and ranchers in 154 small watersheds. Through this initiative - NRCS is piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff to help landowners determine how water quality improvement will be impacted by alternative conservation systems. State water quality agencies and other partners will also be conducting in-stream and watershed-level monitoring to track quality improvements in many project watersheds.

NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller says these voluntary efforts can yield results for locally important waters. When farmers and ranchers work to improve water quality - Weller says they also help provide the nation with clean waterways, safe drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. For more information on the initiative - visit www dot NRCS dot USDA dot gov (

"New EPA Ag Counselor Wants to Improve Communication"

(NAFB) - The new agriculture counselor at the Environmental Protection Agency says she wants to improve communications between the agency and rural America. Sarah Bittleman says she will need to hear from the farmers in order to counsel EPA on agriculture. Bittleman previously served as senior adviser to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack on energy and EPA issues. She has also worked at the Department of the Interior and in the House and Senate on issues ranging from energy and natural resources to Native Americans and climate change. According to Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis - Bittleman is an excellent choice for the position of EPA ag counselor. He says she’s open minded and always willing to listen.

Bittleman says her overall goals at EPA are to increase economic opportunity, make sure rural Americans know what is coming down the pike and to create jobs. She says there is a network of folks at the agency who have a genuine interest in agriculture. She wants to create better communication - a better network of the folks at EPA who really get ag. But Bittleman admits she won’t be able to make everybody happy. She says her job is to help keep agriculture informed about what EPA is up to - and to tell EPA how agriculture is going to respond to what the agency is going to do.

"Poultry Farmer’s Lawsuit Against EPA Not Dismissed"

(NAFB) - The American Farm Bureau Federation says a federal court has rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to dismiss a case brought by West Virginia poultry farmer Lois Alt. Alt had challenged an EPA order demanding she obtain a Clean Water Act discharge permit for ordinary stormwater runoff from her farmyard. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled that although the EPA has withdrawn the Alt order - the case should go forward to clarify whether discharge permits are required as EPA was contending in Alt’s case. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the court recognized EPA wasn’t changing its underlying legal position in dismissing the Alt lawsuit - but just trying to avoid having to defend its position.

Alt filed suit against EPA last June after the agency threatened her with 37,500-dollars in fines each time stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside of her poultry houses as a result of normal farm operations. Separate fines of 37,500-dollars per day were threatened if Alt failed to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for such stormwater discharges. To help resolve the issue for the benefit of other poultry and livestock farmers - Farm Bureau and the West Virginia Farm Bureau intervened as co-plaintiffs with Alt. The order was withdrawn by EPA in December.

But Farm Bureau said farmers remain vulnerable to similar EPA orders because the agency contends that the Clean Water Act statutory exemption for agricultural stormwater doesn’t apply to stormwater from the farmyard at a concentrated animal feeding operation. Stallman says Farm Bureau is pleased that the court agreed that the stakes are high for all poultry and livestock farmers and this issue should be resolved.

The court is allowing environmental groups to intervene on the side of EPA - and ordered briefing on the Alt and Farm Bureau claims to begin by June 1st.

"Separate Case Against EPA Dimissed"

(NAFB) - The U.S. District Court of Northern California has dismissed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency - and the National Corn Growers Association is pleased with the decision. The lawsuit alleged that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act when it failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service on hundreds of pesticide registrations. NCGA supports the ability of farmers to use products that have been approved within EPA’s rigorous registration process. NCGA President Pam Johnson says the dismissal of the case is a sweeping victory for growers who were faced with the possibility of major restrictions on previously approved crop protection products. She says the decision offers reassurance to the nation’s farmers that they are free to use products that have been deemed safe by the EPA. Johnson adds that it demonstrates a faith the group shares in the EPA’s extensive testing process.

The suit was filed in 2011. NCGA and other ag organizations joined the case as interveners to ensure growers would have a seat at the table in any potential settlement negotiations. NCGA took those actions because the suit posed a significant risk to agriculture by raising the possibility of court-ordered injunctions that could limit pesticide usage throughout the U.S. Atrazine and a number of other chemicals used by corn farmers were specifically named in the suit.

"Culinary Students Get First-Hand Look at Beef Industry"

(NAFB) - Culinary students from the Howard Community College of Columbia, Maryland attended an educational beef tour this weekend. The beef checkoff - through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative in conjunction with Hedgeapple Farms of Buckeystown, Maryland - organized the one-day event. Dr. Scott Barao - Executive Director of the Maryland Beef Council and the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association led the group on the tour. He says the tour provided an opportunity to expose future food service professionals to the full scope of our great beef industry in an honest and transparent manner. According to Dr. Barao - the students finished the day with a new appreciation of what it takes to produce safe, wholesome and highly nutritious beef.

Students toured the Hedgeapple meat market, took a hayride tour of the farm and got a look into the Hedgeapple cattle handling facilities. They finished with a picnic lunch that included hamburgers and cheeseburgers from the Black Angus cattle raised on Hedgeapple Farms. Dr. Barao says the students learned about beef production from conception to consumption.

Howard Community College Culinary Instructor Jana Anderson called the farm tour experience an incredibly valuable opportunity. Anderson noted many of the students had never been to a farm before the trip - and said it was a positive way for them to learn more about the beef industry.

"Beef Checkoff Reaching Out to New Target with New Ad Campaign"

(NAFB) - A new “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” campaign is debuting this month. According to Michele Murray - Consumer Marketing Executive Director for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - the campaign builds on the core benefits that only beef offers. Murray notes most look at beef for its sizzle or great flavor - but notes its nutrients make it the most powerful protein. It’s called the “Above All Else” campaign - and it aims to reach the older millennials and Gen-Xers who care about food and nutrition. The beef checkoff-funded campaign will feature sizzling beef recipes, juicy details about essential nutrients and the voice of one of Hollywood’s most promising new talents - Garrett Hedlund. Hedlund says he’s proud to represent America’s farmers and ranchers - noting he grew up on his father’s cattle operation.

"Coalition Wants Limits on Excessive Commodity Speculation"

(NAFB) - The Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition has filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia in support of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s rule that would limit speculative trading in commodities. A District Court judge vacated the CFTC rule to impose speculative position limits on futures and swaps for 28 listed commodities last September in response to a legal challenge by Wall Street groups. The judge cited an ambiguous Congressional mandate and CFTC’s failure to determine if it should have made a finding of necessity before promulgating the final rule. In the brief - the coalition supports the CFTC’s position that Congress mandated a rule setting speculative position limits.

According to the brief - Congress had been gathering evidence for nearly a decade about excessive speculation and had already concluded that excessive speculation constituted an undue burden on interstate commerce. The coalition states Congress had studied and identified a serious crisis that it wanted remedied quickly - and therefore mandated position limits. The coalition also points to the requirement by Congress that regulators conduct an expedited rulemaking process - as well as the fact that lawmakers required a study into the effect of position limits one year after they had been imposed. The coalition says there should be no doubt Congress was mandating swift and decisive action to end what it believed was a serious problem.

National Farmers Union is part of the Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition.

"Vilsack Renewing Historic Agreement with Dairy Industry"

(NAFB) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the renewal of a historic agreement with U.S. dairy leaders today (Wednesday). The agreement will accelerate adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects on U.S. dairy farms. This pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009 - which supports the dairy industry as it works to reach a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25-percent by the year 2020. Objectives of the MOU are to increase the construction of anaerobic digesters and explore innovative ways to use products previously considered waste streams from dairy production, processing and handling.

"From Low Water Levels to Flooding"

(NAFB) - Just three-months ago there were concerns of barge traffic coming to a halt on the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Now - flooding has forced the closure of several locks. As a result - barge shipping on the Illinois River and parts of the Mississippi River was at a standstill Monday. U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Colin Fogarty told Reuters it’s difficult to say how soon navigation can resume.

"UK Scientific Adviser Making Case for GM Crops"

(NAFB) - The new Chief Scientific Adviser in the United Kingdom says the case for genetically modified food is getting stronger because of its importance as a tool to feed a growing global population. Sir Mark Walport says he aims to offer ministers the best and most accurate advice on all aspects of science policy - including the introduction of GM crops. He believes it’s his job to set out the scientific case - but notes it’s up to the politicians to decide how to use that science. Still - he says the scientific case for GM is becoming stronger and stronger.

"Monsanto Seeks Non-Regulated Status of Genetically Engineered Alfalfa"

(NAFB) - Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International are seeking a determination of non-regulated status of alfalfa designated as event KK179. This alfalfa event has been genetically engineered to express reduced levels of guaiacyl lignin. The reduction in G lignin - according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - leads to reduced accumulation of total lignin in alfalfa forage. The petition states this alfalfa event is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and - therefore - should not be a regulated article under APHIS regulations. The petition was submitted to APHIS in accordance with the regulations concerning the introduction of certain genetically engineered organisms and products. It was published in the April 22 Federal Register. APHIS is accepting public comments for 60 days.

"USDA Funding Water Quality Projects in 32 States"

(NAFB) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced support for projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment as part of USDA’s Earth Day celebration. Forty-three water and wastewater projects in 32 states will be funded. USDA Rural Development is providing more than 145.2-million dollars to improve water quality and provide a safe and healthy environment for rural Americans. Vilsack says it’s critical for communities across the country to have reliable, clean and safe water. Vilsack also took the time Monday to encourage those communities affected by natural disasters to apply for funding through the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants Program.

"Assistance for States Affected by Superstorm Sandy"

(NAFB) - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says USDA is providing an important package of disaster assistance valued at 209-million dollars to help farmers, landowners and communities recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. The funding is provided by USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program and Emergency Watershed Protection Program through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 signed by the President earlier this year. The assistance will help rebuild and repair land damaged by the flooding and other events in 12 states. Vilsack says this assistance will keep farmers on the farm, ranchers on the ranch and landowners on the land - helping to keep American agriculture profitable.

Up to 171-million dollars in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds is available to help communities recover. The Emergency Conservation Program will contribute 15-million to producers to help remove debris from farmland, restore livestock fences and conservation structures and grade and shape farmland damaged by the natural disaster. The Emergency Forest Restoration Program will provide 23-million dollars in payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by the natural disaster.

"National FFA Convention Recognized for Growth"

(NAFB) - Expo Magazine has named the National FFA Convention and Expo as one of the top 25 fastest-growing expo events in the country. The event draws more than 56-thousand FFA members, alumni, teachers, school administrators and agriculture industry representatives from across the country. It is one of the largest student gatherings in the nation - and has been an annual event since 1928. From 2011 to 2012 - the Expo’s square footage of exhibitor space grew by 14-percent. Attendance grew as well - increasing from 53-thousand attendees in 2011 to more than 56,300 last year.

More than 400 companies exhibit at the National FFA Convention and Expo - including large corporations like Ford, John Deere, the U.S. Army, Dodge, Monsanto, Toyota, Case IH and more. During the Expo - FFA members have a chance to meet company representatives, learn about their operations and get answers to their questions about the companies and their roles in the agriculture industry. National FFA Organization CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong says exhibitors are an important part of the process that transforms FFA members into productive, goal-oriented and industry-dedicated individuals.

The four-day convention moves to Louisville, Kentucky this year - where it will remain through 2015. The Expo will span more than 290-thousand square feet of space inside Kentucky Exposition Center.

"Registration Open for 2013 Pork Management Conference"

(NAFB) - The Pork Checkoff is bringing industry experts together to speak on current business trends and challenges at the 2013 Pork Management Conference. Checkoff Producer and State Services Committee Chair David Ray says the conference combines up-to-date information on the business of pork production with opportunities to interact with knowledgeable financial and business professionals who are dedicated to helping pork producers succeed. Pork producers can gain important insight and financial sophistication they can use to help manage through tough economic times.

The Pork Management Conference will take place in Denver, Colorado June 18th through the 21st. In addition to the general sessions On Wednesday and Thursday - two concurrent sessions are planned for Thursday. Topics include the Affordable Care Act, the use of alternative feeds, updates on accounting practices for pork producers, a case study on margin management, PRRS strategies and the economics of sow-housing.

Through May 24th - the registration fee is 395-dollars per person. After May 24th - the fee increases to 435-dollars per person. Thanks to AgStar Financial Services - the first 10 pork producers who have not attended the conference in the past two years will receive a 300-dollar discount on registration. Visit www dot pork dot org ( for a registration form and a detailed list of events.

"Horse Slaughter Ban Possible Through President’s 2014 Budget Proposal"

(NAFB) - President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal on Wednesday - which includes a request to block funds to inspect horse slaughter plants in the United States. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act is a bipartisan measure introduced by four Congressmen and women that would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. In 2005 - a similar block occurred and shutdown the horse slaughter industry in the country - but it was not renewed in 2011. The Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal welfare organizations support this new attempt to ban horse slaughter. While there are no operating horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. - USDA says it has received at least six applications. HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle says it’s a fool’s errand to inspect tainted horse meat and the Obama Administration is wise to reject that path and embrace the idea that horses belong in the stable - not on the table.

"PLC, NCBA Disappointed in President’s Proposed Federal Lands Grazing Fee Increase"

(NAFB) - The President’s proposed budget also includes an increase in the public lands grazing fee assessment that would put many family ranches out of business - according to the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. PLC Executive Director Dustin Van Liew says this fee is unwarranted and further evidence the Obama Administration is out of touch with production ag and Western U.S. rural economies. Van Liew says federal lands ranchers are and always have been willing to pay a fair price to graze livestock on public lands and willingly invest significant amounts of money to manage and improve the range. He says the current grazing fee is fair - but arbitrarily increasing the grazing fee through a 74-percent tax will just impose unnecessary costs on the ranchers working every day to produce safe, affordable food and fiber. Van Liew says this increase during these times of economic uncertainty will unnecessarily increase burdens on livestock producers and hamper their ability to create jobs and generate economic growth in their communities. He says PLC and NCBA will continue working with members of Congress to do what’s in the best interest of ranchers and the nation’s natural resources to ensure a sustainable future for the ag industry and rural America.

"Growth Energy Says Comparing E15 to MTBE Absurd"

(NAFB) - The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers has compared the polluting and potentially carcinogenic gasoline additive MTBE to ethanol. MTBE has been banned in over half the states nationwide. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the comparison is absurd. He says AFPM, refiners and oil companies refused to use cleaner-burning, biodegradable ethanol - and instead chose to use an oil-derived alternative that ended up contaminating water systems throughout the U.S. He says they chose MTBE over ethanol until it polluted water systems because of leaks - and switched to ethanol after states and local communities started banning the additive’s use. According to Buis - the oil companies and groups like AFPM will say and do anything to block market access for biofuels to protect their near monopoly on the liquid fuel system and their bottom line - even if it’s at the expense of their customers.

"ASA Wants EU Trade Issues Addressed as Part of TTIP Negotiations"

(NAFB) - American Soybean Association Executive Committee member Richard Wilkins spoke on the importance of including the unique nature of American agriculture and of soybean farming in upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations at a forum held in Washington Wednesday. During the European Union-United States High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum - Wilkins noted the importance of the EU as an export market for U.S. soybeans and soy products. But he said recent exports have declined due to EU policies. Wilkins said the U.S. exported 10.3-million tons of soy products to EU Member States in 1997. By 2012 - the volume of exports had fallen by over 81-percent to 1.9-million tons. According to Wilkins - the American Soybean Association believes one cause for the sharp decline is the EU’s requirements that food products derived from agricultural biotechnology enhancement be labeled. Wilkins also cited the EU’s discriminatory policies on biofuel feedstocks under its Renewable Energy Directive.

Wilkins highlighted three major areas in which EU biotech regulations and policies must be discussed during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks - including correcting the EU approval process for new biotech enhancement traits such that approvals are subject to deadlines and based only on scientific criteria; the establishment of commercially-feasible international standards for the Low Level Presence of unapproved biotech traits in commodity shipments; and addressing the unlawful practice of prohibiting imports of biotech-enhanced commodities that have been approved by EU Commissioners. He also raised concerns with the Renewable Energy Directive. Wilkins said the U.S. soy industry has worked with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA to initiate negotiations with the EU on a bilateral agreement under which documented  producer compliance with U.S. conservation laws would be deemed as achieving the RED’s sustainability requirements. If the U.S. is to maintain even its current limited access to the EU market for soybean exports - he said the TTIP must guarantee that negotiations on an aggregate bilateral agreement will go forward, as provided for under the RED.

Wilkins also cited the soybean industry’s opposition to the EU’s proposed Ecologically-Focused Areas program. ASA believes the program would nullify and impair U.S. access to the EU market for soybeans and soybean meal - and also violate the Blair House Agreement reached at the end of the Uruguay Round negotiations.

"USGC Sees Opportunity to Address EU Regulatory Issues in TTIP, Too"

(NAFB) - The European Union has historically been a major market for U.S. feed grains. But the U.S. Grains Council says non-tariff trade barriers developed in recent years have greatly reduced U.S. market share. U.S. corn represented the lion’s share of EU corn imports until 1997-98 - when U.S. corn exports fell to historically low levels. That sharp drop in exports coincided with the introduction of genetically modified varieties in the U.S. While the U.S. Grains Council notes the emergence of Black Sea/Former Soviet Union producers and the growth of the EU’s own production have contributed to the continued loss of market share - the Council says it’s clear regulatory impediments in biotech approvals are among the most significant current barriers to U.S. competitiveness in the region.

According to the Grains Council - the EU biotech approval process is at best slow. The EU system suffers from chronic backlogs and delays as its own administrative deadlines are regularly missed. In addition - the EU won’t begin assessment of stacked events until each individual event has been separately approved. Then an assessment of the stack has to start over again. The Grains Council says a zero tolerance policy for unapproved events creates additional unpredictability. These factors - according to the Council - increase market risk, raise costs for EU consumers and create arbitrary barriers to U.S. feed grains exports.

The Grains Council believes the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership initiative offers a welcome opportunity to address these longstanding concerns. The goal of the talks is a comprehensive, high standards agreement. The Council is working to ensure that agricultural issues remain a high priority for U.S. negotiators, that risk assessments of GM events remain science based and that the timeliness, transparency and predictability of the approval process be improved to minimize uncertainty and the risk of trade disruption.

"Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing for EPA Administrator Nominee"

(NAFB) - The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Gina McCarthy Thursday. McCarthy is President Obama’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is hopeful McCarthy - if confirmed - will work to develop a more positive working relationship with the ag industry. Citing the release of personal information to activist groups and efforts to regulate all ponds and puddles across the U.S. - NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald says EPA has not worked cooperatively with the cattle industry under the current administration. She says improving this relationship would ultimately have a more positive impact on the environment than the current anti-agriculture attitude that is prolific within the agency.

During the committee hearing - NCBA notes McCarthy was questioned on issues such as the Spill Prevention Control and Counter measure rule and whether she would commit to not creating a national database with information on agricultural operations around the country - among other things. McCarthy was also urged to ensure regulations are made on sound, publicly available science subject to a thorough analysis. McCarthy said there are bridges to build with the farming community - but did not commit to supporting the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act. That measure would lessen the burden of the Spill Prevention Control and Counter measure rule on farms and ranches. She also could not commit to not creating a national database that would make producer information publicly available and readily searchable through EPA’s website. According to McDonald - those statements call into question whether McCarthy truly wants to build relationships with the agricultural community.

"NRCS Hydrologists Predict Reduced Water Supply for Western States"

(NAFB) - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service hydrologists are predicting reduced spring and summer water supply for much of the West. The water and climate experts say April streamflow forecasts show a decline in parts of every Western state and most basins. Hydrologist Tom Perkins says the April forecast is especially important since there likely won’t be significant snow accumulation from here on out. He says April is usually the endgame - and there’s not much chance to make up the deficit. According to Perkins - snowpack isn’t good and reservoir carryover isn’t good. Perkins says Western states should prepare for potentially increased vulnerability to forest and rangeland fires and mandatory water restrictions. There are a few exceptions to the dry forecasts. The North Cascades - including Washington and Western Oregon - and the headwaters of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers are near normal. For the rest of the West - Perkins says there is no silver lining. He says it’s going to be a long, hot, dry summer.

NRCS Meteorologist Jan Curtis says most Western snowpacks peaked two to three weeks early this season and are now in decline. Curtis says the best scenario would be for those snowpacks to melt slowly - providing a steady water supply through the spring and summer. Unfortunately - given the above-average temperatures forecasted for the spring and summer - this seems unlikely.

Perkins says NRCS streamflow forecasts do not directly predict drought. But he says they do provide valuable information about future water supply in states where snowmelt accounts for as much as 50 to 80-percent of seasonal runoff. The streamflow forecast compares the current level of water content in snowpack in the 13 Western states with historical data to help the region’s farmers, ranchers, water managers, communities and other stakeholders make informed decisions about water use and future availability. The April forecast is the fourth of six monthly forecasts issued each year between January and June by the national center.

"2013 FFA Chapter Challenge Grand Prize Winners Announced"

(NAFB) - Monsanto sponsored the 2013 FFA Chapter Challenge - which began in January. FFA members either interviewed and documented the lives of agriculturalists in their local communities or built a portfolio of interviews, developed a social media plan and produced a video promoting ag awareness to enter. Entries were judged by marketing, communications and education professionals last month - and two FFA chapters won grand prizes. Cameron High School FFA in Cameron, Missouri won the grand prize in the interview and documentary division. Siegel High School FFA in Murfreesboro, Tennessee won the portfolio division grand prize. Both earned a two-thousand dollar certificate of credit with the National FFA Organization and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2013 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville for up to six students and their FFA Advisor - all valued at 12-thousand dollars. National FFA CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong says the projects submitted were outstanding and proof that ag is alive and growing throughout the country. For more information about the competition - visit www dot FFA Chapter Challenge dot com (

"Technology Provides Better Picture of Vector-Borne Viruses"

(NAFB) - In Ithaca, New York - USDA scientists are working to develop a technology that could lead to new ways of disrupting how insects transmit viruses to crops. Working with colleagues at the University of Washington - Agricultural Research Service scientists have mapped out the structure of an elusive protein that gives certain plant viruses the ability to travel from plants to insects, through the insects and back into plants. Some viruses need to be ingested by a feeding aphid to move from plant to plant. Then the virus must pass through the insect’s gut and salivary tissues in order to be passed into another plant. That requires the viruses to assemble into virions. Each virus species is very particular and can only be transmitted by a few species of aphids. The ARS researchers believe the outside shape and topology of the virion plays a major role in that specificity - determining whether a virus will move through the aphid and infect a plant. A minor structural protein of the viruses is instrumental in guiding the virion through the insect and through the plant - but there hasn’t been information about these proteins. That information - according to USDA’s ARS - is crucial to developing new ways of disrupting how they work.

Using protein interaction reporter technology - the researchers studied protein interactions and were able to capture a molecular snapshot of them. Scientists were also allowed to visualize critical topological features of the virion for the first time. The results represent a new technology that can take measurements of insect and plant-virus protein interactions in living cells. This technology could one day be used to study insect-transmitted plant viruses and animal-infecting viruses that are currently difficult to study with traditional methods.

"Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences Reach New Cross-Licensing Agreements"

(NAFB) - Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have obtained new cross-licensing agreements to create the next generation of advanced weed and insect control technology in corn. The agreements build on the competitive standard set by SmartStax and creates the opportunity to bring together three different modes of action for below-ground insect control in a corn product. Monsanto will license Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Weed Control System herbicide-tolerant trait for use in field corn and Dow AgroSciences will license Monsanto’s Corn Rootworm III. These technologies -should be introduced in each company’s respective germplasm and sold competitively by both. Dow AgroSciences President and CEO Antonio Galindez says this agreement takes the outstanding value offered by SmartStax to a new level - allowing growers increased flexibility with highly effective new modes of action for weed and insect management. Monsanto President and Chief Commercial Officer Brett Begemann says Monsanto continues to look for additional modes of action that offer benefits to customers and complement the company’s existing offerings. For more information - visit www dot Monsanto dot com ( or www dot Dow Agro dot com (

"USTR Reports Show Trade Progress"

(NAFB) - A series of reports released this week by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative shows existing international agreements are breaking down barriers to trade. According to a statement from Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis - the Obama Administration has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to opening markets for American products and services abroad. Marantis went on to say that on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers - they will continue to eliminate unwarranted barriers that obstruct the sale of high-quality ‘Made-in-America’ products overseas and maintain vigorous efforts to ensure a level playing field for U.S. goods and services in markets around the world.

One of the reports focuses on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers affecting U.S. agricultural products. The report notes the administration’s success in tackling a number of barriers to trade - including - among other things - the removal of specific sanitary and phytosanitary barriers for exports of U.S. beef in El Salvador, Hong Kong, Japan and Mexico and working with Taiwan to implement a maximum residue limit for beef containing ractopamine. The report stated that many SPS measures are fully justified - but governments too often cloak discriminatory and protectionist trade measures in the guise of ensuring human, animal or plant safety. According to the report - these barriers not only harm U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, workers and their families - but also deprive consumers around the world of access to high-quality American food and agricultural goods.

A report focused on technical barriers to trade finds that as tariff barriers to industrial and agricultural trade have fallen - standards-related measures have emerged as a key concern. These include product standards, testing requirements and other technical requirements. The report says these new restrictions are hurting the ability of U.S. companies, farmers, ranchers and manufacturers to sell their products abroad.

"Activists Spreading Misinformation About CR Farmer Assurance Provision"

(NAFB) - What critics have been referring to as the Monsanto Protection Act is actually not new according to Agricultural Retailers Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel Richard Gupton. The Farmer Assurance Provision included in the continuing budget resolution that has garnered a great deal of attention from activists codifies existing USDA practices and elements of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that lower courts should not automatically prohibit the planting of biotech crop varieties or the harvest and sale of biotech crops already planted when their commercial approval is revoked for procedural reasons. Gupton says the language included in the CR provides some predictability and assurance to farmers who plant biotech crops that have been deregulated by USDA but are subject to litigation by anti-biotech activists. He says this language was actually included in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill during the 112th Congress and has therefore been in the public domain for a number of months.

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Gregory Conko has also weighed in on the attempts of activists to stir up consumers who aren’t knowledgeable about agriculture or the production of biotech crops. Conko says the rider does not give USDA any new authority. He says it simply codifies existing case law and agency practice. In addition - Conko says the rider wasn’t slipped into the continuing resolution surreptitiously. Given how abusive National Environmental Policy Act litigation has become and how disruptive the rulings are to farmers and the American food chain - Conko says enacting the Farmer Assurance Provision is the very least Congress should do to protect American agriculture.

"USDA Urged to Protect Integrity of COOL"

(NAFB) - A coalition of more than 200 rural, faith, consumer and environmental organizations from 45 states are urging USDA to protect the integrity of Country of Origin Labeling for meat products. Mandatory COOL provisions for beef, pork, poultry, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some nuts were included in the 2008 Farm Bill. Canada and Mexico successfully challenged the implemented rules for meat products at the World Trade Organization as a barrier to international trade. USDA issued proposed new rules that simplify and clarify COOL to comply with that WTO decision in early March. The proposed rules would ensure all meat from animals born, raised and processed in the U.S. will bear a “born, raised and slaughtered in the USA’ label. Some of the labeling provisions highlighted in the WTO ruling would be eliminated. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says U.S. farmers and ranchers take pride in what they produce - and consumers ought to be able to know the origins of their food. He says NFU has long supported COOL and urges USDA to move forward with the new, more accurate, strengthened proposed rule.

NFU was among the groups that signed a letter to USDA as part of the regulatory comment period that closes on April 11th. The Consumer Federation of America, Food and Water Watch and R-CALF USA were also among those signing the letter. CFA Food Policy Institute Director Chris Waldrop says strengthening the country of origin label provides consumers with more accurate and precise information about the source of beef and pork products they purchase. Food and Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter says consumer and farmer advocates pushed for COOL for more than a decade. Bill Bullard - CEO of R-CALF USA - says a regulatory fix is a preferred response to the WTO because the U.S. can preserve its sovereignty while simultaneously improving the accuracy of information conveyed to consumers.

"Call for Sugar Program Reform Continues"

(NAFB) - Small and medium-sized U.S. confectioners are sending video messages to Congress to urge sugar program reform. Kevin Silva of The Warrell Corporation says sugar reform will improve competitiveness - allowing for the creation of more jobs in U.S. factories, offering a better product to American consumers and helping to grow confectioner businesses. At the Blommer Chocolate Company - Vice President Rick Blommer says the sugar program is outdated and isn’t needed anymore. He says a level playing field will help all parties involved and make doing business much simpler. The Coalition for Sugar Reform says the current sugar program hurts U.S. consumers, taxpayers, food manufacturers and their workers. With simple reforms to the Farm Bill - the coalition says Congress can fix the program. They are urging members of Congress to cosponsor the Sugar Reform Act.

"Representative Looks to Expand School Lunch Program"

(NAFB) - Nevada Representative Dina Titus has introduced legislation to expand the National School Lunch Program. Her Weekends Without Hunger measure would establish a five-year pilot program to allow some eligible low-income children to receive free lunches on weekends and holidays during the school year instead of only on school days. Titus says the legislation will fill a gap in federal programming and provide funding for nutritious meals to ensure vacation from school doesn’t mean hunger for children.

"Simplified Beef and Pork Cut Names Approved for Retail Implementation"

(NAFB) - The Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee has granted the National Pork Board and Beef Checkoff Program approval to introduce updated Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards nomenclature for fresh beef and pork for retailers to use on pack. The changes were the culmination of extensive consumer research that showed an opportunity to build consumer confidence in shopping for and preparing beef and pork. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service also reviewed the revised nomenclature. Retailers, packers and scale label companies were engaged in the process as well. Jim Henger - Senior Executive Director of B2B Marketing for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - says the feedback and approval from the Standards Committee means retailers and packers can begin to implement the new names and labels to give them a competitive advantage and drive meat department sales. National Pork Board Director of Retail Marketing Patrick Fleming says this is a historic event for the meat industry. He notes the cross-industry effort to develop new common names was completely consumer-driven - and was recognized as critical to keeping meat on the center of the plate.

For a full list of the revised beef and pork common names - visit www dot MeatTrack dot com ( More information on the consumer research that shaped the new program is available at www dot PorkRetail dot org ( and www dot BeefRetail dot org (

"Growers Can Now Enter National Corn Yield Contest Online"

(NAFB) - Online entry for the 2013 National Corn Yield Contest is now open. Farmers can quickly and easily submit all necessary entry forms and take advantage of the special early entry discount using the online format. Entry fees are reduced to 80-dollars until June 15th. National Corn Growers Association Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor says the online entry option makes taking advantage of that early entry discount easier than ever. As planting season gets underway in many parts of the country - Taylor encourages members to take advantage of the discount, use the easy online form and become a part of the contest. Current NCGA members should have their membership ID ready when they go online to enter.

Non-members wishing to participate can quickly fill out an online membership profile and enter immediately following completion of the form. Taylor encourages non-members to explore the many benefits that NCGA members enjoy and consider joining the association and entering the contest.

NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest has provided corn growers the opportunity to compete with their colleagues to grow the most corn per acre and learn from their peers for nearly half a century. For more information and to enter online - visit www dot NCGA dot com (

"World Dairy Expo Cattle ID Changes"

“(NAFB) - World Dairy Expo is changing its dairy cattle health check-in process. Registration numbers and breed tattoos will no longer be official identification for interstate transport. Exhibitors bringing cattle to World Dairy Expo will need to have an accepted World Dairy Expo-defined ID tag in the animal’s ear upon entering the grounds. This is in accordance with the new USDA Animal Disease Traceability rule and will help strengthen event biosecurity.

World Dairy Expo will accept a Canadian Cattle Identification Agency Radio Frequency Identification Device tag, a USDA 840 Animal Identification Number Radio Frequency Identification Device tag, a USDA 840 Animal Identification Number Visual Tag and a manufacturer coded tamper evident Radio Frequency Identification Device tag. The 47th edition of World Dairy Expo will take place October 1st through the 5th in Madison, Wisconsin. Those U.S. exhibitors that do not have one of these 15 digit number accepted ID tags are encouraged to visit with an approved 840 Animal Identification Number tag distributor to secure 840 Animal Identification Number Radio Frequency Identification Device tags.

Dairy cattle exhibitors can visit the Dairy Cattle Show page at www dot worlddairyexpo dot com ( for complete details.

"Growers Intend to Plant More Corn, Less Soybeans & Cotton"

(NAFB) - USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has released the Prospective Plantings report - providing survey-based estimates of the planting intentions of U.S. farmers in 2013. According to the report - the nation’s farmers plan to plant a record-high combined 174.4-million acres of corn and soybeans. Corn growers intend to plant 97.3-million acres. The planned acreage is slightly higher than last year and six-percent higher than in 2011. If realized - this would represent the highest planted acreage in the U.S. since 1936. The nation’s soybean growers expect to plant 77.1-million acres of soybeans in 2013 - which would mark the fourth highest acreage on record. The figure is down slightly from last year - but up three-percent from 2011.

Corn growers throughout the south and the northern Great Plains intend to plant more corn. Record high acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. But most states in the Corn Belt expect to plant slightly less acres to corn this year. USDA reports the largest year-over-year decreases are expected in Illinois, Missouri and South Dakota. Iowa leads the nation with 14.2-million acres of corn. For soybeans - planting intentions are down across all of the Great Plains. North Dakota is the only exception. Planted area in most of the eastern Corn Belt and parts of the Southeast are expect to rise - nearly balancing out the declines in the Great Plains. The year-over-year national decrease is only 72-thousand acres. If realized - New York, North Dakota and Pennsylvania will set new records for planted soybean acres.

The Prospective Plantings report shows U.S. cotton growers expect to plant significantly fewer acres in 2013. Expected cotton area is down 10-million acres - a 19-percent decline from last year. If realized - planted area is Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be a record low.

The acreage estimates provided by USDA’s NASS are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 83,500 farm operators across the U.S. The report is available at www dot nass dot usda dot gov (

"National Initiative Launched to Confirm Ag Culture of Care"

(NAFB) - The National Milk Producers Federation has joined the Center for Food Integrity and the U.S. pork sector to launch the See It? Stop It! Animal Care Starts with You campaign. This national initiative confirms the culture of care that farm owners and managers demand of every person who comes in contact with their animals. It highlights the integrity of the farm’s philosophies on responsible animal care, helps staff understand their important role in animal protection and provides clear direction on how to report instances of animal abuse, neglect, harm or mishandling. NMPF Senior Director of Animal Health and Welfare Betsy Flores notes care of animals could not be more important to farmers. Even though animal abuse, neglect, harm and mistreatment are uncommon on farms - she says having a system in place to contact any of several authorities is imperative. Flores says See It? Stop It! provides that resource.

See it? Stop It! is not an animal care program - but a directive that demands immediate action if an employee suspects of witnesses animal abuse, neglect, harm or mishandling. But Flores says the initiative does combine well with the dairy industry’s National Dairy FARM Program - Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. Director of Animal Welfare for the National Pork Board Sherrie Niekamp says the initiative meshes well with the core principles of the Pork Quality Assurance program as well. Pork producers have followed the program - which outlines best practices for proper animal care - for more than two decades.

For more information - visit www dot seeitstopit dot org (

"Dairy Successfully Using Waste to Power Fleet"

(NAFB) - Officials from the Department of Energy say Fair Oaks Farms is a pacesetter for the dairy industry. The Indiana farm has used electricity generated by the manure gathered from its own barn floors to power milking equipment, barns, a cheese factory and more for years. Now - the farm is using manure to fuel its delivery trucks as well. According to the Department of Energy - it’s the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive the nation’s roads. Fair Oaks has also opened two fueling stations to the public. Fair Oaks Chief Executive Gary Corbett says the farm is taking two-million gallons of diesel off the highway each year.

Erin Fitzgerald - a Senior Vice President at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy says farmers across the country are starting to look at the Fair Oaks model to see if it would work for them. Department of Energy Clean Cities program Director Dennis Smith says about eight-thousand large-scale dairy and swine farms across the country could potentially support similar biogas recovery projects. When coupled with landfills and wastewater treatment plants - Smith says there is potential to someday replace as much as 10-billion gallons of gasoline a year with renewable fuel.

Bioenergy Consultant Michael Boccadoro says the market isn’t firm yet - but AMP Americas has partnered with Fair Oaks on the fuel project and plans to build 15 more natural gas stations this year. The company plans to partner with more dairies along the way - though each station will primarily be supplied by traditional pipeline gas.

"New Ag Parody Generating Interest on Youtube"

(NAFB) - During the past six-months - agvocacy videos have become extremely popular on social networks - such as the I’m Farming and I Grow It parody created by the Peterson farm brothers in Kansas. Now - a new parody has been produced by a Kansas State University alum - Derek Klingenberg. In just three weeks - the video has more than 175-thousand views. Klingenberg says he searched the Number One pop song and then decided to promote agriculture and educate others on ag through the parody. Kansas State Agricultural Education Major Johanna Ryckert says these parody videos prove agriculturalists are proud of their product and what they do for a living.

"USDA Announces Promotions"

(NAFB) - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a few promotions at USDA last week. Cheryl Cook - the acting chief information officer since last April - has been appointed as USDA’s Chief Information Officer. Johnie Jones has been appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for USDA Rural Development. Mike Schmidt is now the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs. Last - Susan Keith is now the Deputy Administrator for the Packers and Stockyards Program in the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

"France’s Support in U.S.-EU Trade Deal Crucial"

(NAFB) - France threatened Monday to delay trade talks between the U.S. and European Union. Negotiations for a transatlantic free trade agreement are expected to start in June - but the negotiating mandate proposed by the European Commission earlier in March must be approved by EU governments before talks can start. Trade Minister Nicole Bricq says France wants to exclude genetically modified products in food and hormones in meat from the deal.  Even though the European Commission and U.S. hope for a free trade agreement by the end of 2014 - Bricq says talks could be long and last several years.

"Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act Receives Bipartisan Support"

(NAFB) - The Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 - which proposes to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management identified as high-risk - has been reintroduced by Arizona Representative Paul Gosar with bipartisan support. This bill would streamline analyses performed by the National Environmental Policy Act in those areas - expediting fuels-reduction activities - like livestock grazing and timber thinning. It would also allow hazardous fuels-reduction projects to move forward under emergency provisions in the Endangered Species Act when threatened or endangered species are at risk. The bill currently has 13 co-sponsors and support from the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - with PLC President Brice Lee and NCBA President Scott George saying it addresses a significant issue by reducing administrative delays and encouraging better forest health and economic development.

As local stewards of the land and natural resources - National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber says conservation districts remain concerned about the devastating impact of wildfires. In 2012 - more than 9-million acres were burned in one of the worst fire seasons the U.S. has seen in the last few decades - according to Lee. He says everyone bears the burden of habitat loss - and the PLC hopes Congress acts swiftly to pass this legislation so ranchers and entire communities don’t remain vulnerable during what may be another devastating fire season this year. Garber is pleased with this proactive proposal to provide local land managers with the tools they need to help combat and mitigate the effects of destructive wildfires on the landscape.

"USDA Expanding StrikeForce in 10 More States"

(NAFB) - The Strike Force Initiative - a project to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas - started as a pilot project in 2010 in regions of Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. In 2011 - the project expanded to Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. This year - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the project will expand into Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. To identify sub-county pockets of poverty - the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies census tracts with more than 20-percent poverty. Once those areas of persistent poverty are identified - USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness and build participation in USDA programs. Since the project began - USDA has partnered with over 400 local community-based organizations to promote local or regional development projects. Vilsack says Strike Force is helping improve the quality of life of producers and their communities - while also accelerating the implementation of conservation practices on their land.

About Us

We are committed to bringing you the latest in global, national, state and local news. WIRL announces the latest in regulations and legislation, agronomic issues, and local news from our FFA and 4-H clubs. We also are committed to building positive perceptions of Illinois agriculture to our consumer audience. 


We work openly to demonstrate dedication to the industry, direct attention to the needs of farmers and consumers, and offer enthusiasm and support to local experts. We work hard to preserve, protect and promote this great industry in which we work and live in every day.


WMBD/WIRL has a long standing, dominant farm listening audience. Measured by AMR, some of WMBD’s ag daypart listening has been among the best in the U.S.

Ag Media Research Comparison

Coverage Area

WIRL/WMBD Coverage Area

WMBD and WIRL Stations

1470 WMBD — This legendary News-Talk station has been Central Illinois’ voice since first signing on the air in 1927. WMBD continues to feature local talk show hosts each morning and afternoon, a large local news department anchoring local newscasts every 30 minutes all day every weekday, live and comprehensive traffic reports every 15 minutes in morning and afternoon drive time and of course a legendary Farm/Agri-Business department.

Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL — Featuring the biggest Country hits of the last 40 years, the station draws a strong regional audience. The music format compliments the expanded Noon Show from 12 until 1pm. The full service music format is mixed with agribusiness updates, local news, sports and commentary.


About DeLoss

Veteran Farm Broadcaster DeLoss Jahnke (pronounced Yonk-ee) brings a wealth of experience to WMBD AND WIRL. Raised on a five-generation family farm, DeLoss has been in broadcasting for more than 20 years. His career began at KKSU and the K-State Radio Network, and he later went on to WIBW and the Kansas Agriculture Network. He spent five years at Brownfield Network and broadcast news and market information to more than 200 radio stations on a daily basis.

DeLoss has also performed sports play-by-play duties in Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, and also performed television duties for the Indiana Cable Network. Most recently, DeLoss was a communications specialist for the National FFA Organization. He developed an hosted The FFA Podcast, which was aired on these stations this past year. DeLoss Jahnke is a long-time member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and was an NAFB scholarship winner in 1993.

If you have a local agriculture event or potential story topic, I would love to hear from you! You can e-mail me at or give me a call at


Mother Nature is unpredictable and it can impact your daily operations. Chief AgriBusiness Meteorologist, Chuck Collins, brings you the most up-to-date weather forecast every day during Early Mornings in Central Illinois Agriculture and The Noon Show. 

In addition to his AgriBusiness responsibilities, Collins also is the Chief Meteorologist for WEEK and WHOI. He was born in Cairo, Ill., and grew up in Marquette Heights. Collins graduated from Lakeland College and the Mississippi State Broadcast Meteorology program. Prior to joining WEEK-TV in 2009, Collins was at WMBD-TV for 23 years. He is a member and holds seals of approval from the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

Water Drop
Rain Gauge Report

Click Here to view the AG-Land FS Rain Gauge Report.

Ask Chuck!

Have a weather related question for Chuck Collins?

Click Here to submit your question.

Local weather
Local Weather

Click Here for your local forecast.



How does the price of beans in China, the weather in South America and the European markets affect your grain-marketing plan here in Central Illinois?

Our AgriBusiness Market Specialist, Pete Manhart, owner of Bates Commodities, shares with us his market outlook and recommendations daily on Early Mornings in Central Illinois Agriculture and The Noon Show.


Manhart grew up on his family’s grain and dairy farm in Shelby County, Illinois. A graduate of University of Illinois, he worked in the agricultural insurance industry as a field supervisor. While working for Rain and Hail, the nation’s larges crop insurer, Manhart held the titles of manager, vice president and member of the board. After joining Bates Commodities, Manhart purchased the company. Bates Commodities has branches in six locations and specializes in individual service.



Listen Live


Country Fair Tour Tshirt

County Fair Tour

Summer is just around the corner; along with picnics at your local park, football games with your family and the Prairie Farms Dairy Fair and Festival Tour.

This has been a time honored tradition for the AgriBusiness Department. Come along and celebrate with us when we visit your hometown and listen to the Noon Show to hear live coverage of the 2013 Prairie Farms Fair and Festival Tour!

Event schedule TBA.

prarie farm

Farmer Breakfast Series

Stay tuned for the 2013 schedule of the Farmer Breakfast Series! DeAnna, Chuck and Pete will be out and about hosting weekly breakfasts at area cafes visiting with local farmers to discuss the latest in agriculture news, weather and markets.

Farmer Family of the Month

Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL's Farm Family of the Month promotion is back! This promotion creates an opportunity for farmers and those involved in the ag industry here in central Illinois to nominate hardworking, dedicated farm families for this special award.

Each month, WIRL brings one winner lunch, a personalized plaque and broadcasts the Noon Show from their farm. During the Greater Peoria Farm Show at the end of the year, each family will be invited to a special breakfast where the Farm Family of the Year will be selected.

We are excited to share the stories of Illinois farm families and how they grow our food, grow our communities and care for our environment. Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL's Farm Family of the Month is brought to you by our friends at Uftring Chevy-Saab in Washington. For the best deals on Chevy Silverados, call the truck experts at Uftring-Chevy Saab in Washington. 

I know that after reading this, you thought of at least three or four farm families that deserve this award. Visit Farm Family Of The Month to nominate them today!

Harvest Tour

1470 WMBD and Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL have teamed up with 1st Farm Credit Services to put together this years 1st Farm Credit Services Harvest Tour.

1st Farm Credit Services

Listen to the ag reports on both WMBD and WIRL along with the new Early Mornings in Central Illinois Agriculture and The Noon Show to find out where DeAnna and Mike are headed next.  1470 WMBD and Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL are your home for all the latest in Agriculture News.

Check back for an updated list of stops for the 1st Farm Credit Services Harvest Tour.

9/6 Tremont Co-Op Adwell Facility

9/11 Taloma Grain, Delavan Location

9/12 Grainland, Eureka Location

Harvest for the Holidays

1470 WMBD and Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL is excited to report through the efforts of area Farm Bureau’s and a multitude of sponsors, many families will have meals this holiday season! Hunger is a reality for millions of people, young and old, who never imagined they would be depended on food banks, pantries, shelters and school lunch programs. With the rising food prices and the given economy, people who have never had to rely on food banks are now using those local food pantries, and the overall supply of food is running low across food banks in our own state.

“Despite the historic drought and many other challenges farmers faced in central Illinois, farmers were very generous this year and through our efforts, we were able to raise a record amount of money, $37, 160.50, to help feed families this holidays season,” said AgriBusiness Director for 1470 WMBD and Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL DeAnna Thomas.

The Midwest Food Bank is a volunteer organization that supplies food free of charge to over 600 not for profit agencies throughout Illinois and Indiana. MFB is also active in disaster relief in the U.S. and also donates food supplies to alleviate suffering internationally.

“We are excited that this program allows Illinois grown agricultural products to be used in our Tender Mercies food program,” said Larry Herman, Midwest Food Bank. “The volunteer packaged rice, beans, soy protein and fortified chicken flavoring is a great way to introduce a better quality of life to those that are nutritionally insecure. It is presently aiding school backpack programs, township pantries and providing health to thousands of children and families in Illinois.”

Harvest for the Holidays partners and contributors include:

  • 1470 WMBD and Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL
  • AgLand FS, Becks Hybrids, Ellers Custom Cabinets, Mac Trucks of Morton and Weaver Ridge.
  • Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton, Mason, Marshall-Putnam and McLean County Farm Bureaus
  • Illinois Farm Bureaus Young Leaders in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton, Mason, Marshall-Putnam, and Mclean counties.

The Harvest for the Holidays program creates a way that farmers can donate 10 or more bushels of corn or soybeans to participating elevators November 8th thru December 12th. The donated grain was sold on the cash grain market on December 12th. All proceeds will benefit the Midwest Food Bank food distribution efforts.

A list of participating elevators and more information Click Here to view map of elevators for Midwest Food Bank information.

Ag Youth

FFA Week Tour

National FFA Week: February 18-22, 2013

Kids involved in the future of agriculture are learning and making a difference every day. Each day of FFA Week, AgriBusiness Director DeAnna Thomas will visit a local FFA Chapter in Mason, Tazewell, Fulton, Woodford and Peoria counties. Be sure to tune in the week of February 18, 2013 as DeAnna visits with local FFA members on chapter activities, community service projects and more!

Farm Facts & Activities

“Mommy—Daddy—I see a pig, a cow, a sheep.” Children are naturally intrigued by farm animals. Books are a wonderful way to get your child interested early and get them involved in what is the future.

Reading for the Youth

It’s never too early to get your child involved in Agricultural Learning:

Farm Animals - Lucy Cousins

Farm Trucks - Betsy Imershein

I Love Animals - Flora McDonnell

My First Farm Book- DK Publishing, Inc.

Chickens to the Rescue- John Himmelman

On the Farm - David Elliot

I Drive a Tractor- Sarah Bridges

Wake Up, Big Barn- Suzanna Tanner

Primary Grades:

The Berenstain Bears Down on the Farm- Stan and Jan Berenstain

Biscuit’s Day at the Farm- Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Chickens on the Farm- Abbie Mercer

Down on the Farm: Cows: Hannah Ray

Life on a Cattle Farm-Judy Wolfman

Fantastic Farm Machines- Cris Peterson

Tractor- Carol Bingham

Growing Seasons- Elsie Lee Splear

Upper Elementary

Life in Farming Community- Lizann Flatt

How is Soil Made- Heather L. Montgomery

The Shepherd’s Trail- Cat Urbigkit

Fun Activity Websites:

FFA Week Tour

National FFA Week: February 18-25, 2013

Kids involved in the future of agriculture are learning and making a difference every day. Each day of FFA Week, AgriBusiness Director DeAnna Thomas will visit a local FFA Chapter in Mason, Tazewell, Fulton, Woodford and Peoria counties. Be sure to tune in the week of February 18, 2013 as DeAnna visits with local FFA members on chapter activities, community service projects and more!

Making a Career in Agriculture

Growing up, I knew Agricultural Science was the field for me. It is important to know the facts about each school and what they offer before deciding which university or college to attend.

Two great websites that offer information on careers and agriculture are: and

Agricultural Colleges and Universities around Central Illinois:

University of Illinois (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences)

Illinois State University (Department of Agriculture)

Illinois Central College (Agricultural and Industrial Technologies)

Black Hawk College

Western Illinois University

Spoon River College

Contact Us

Contact DeLoss

Questions or comments? Get in touch with us!

Phone: 309-495-4732

Fax: 309-686-8655

Facebook: The Noon Show

Mailing Address:

331 Fulton St.

Suite 1200

Peoria, IL 61602

When We’re On

1470 WMBD

5:25 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update

5:45 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update

5:50 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update

6:25 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update

7:30 a.m. - DTN Market Report

11:54 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update

12:15 p.m. - AgriBusiness Update

12:32 p.m. - AgriBusiness Update

12:54 p.m. - AgriBusiness Update

1:30 p.m. - DTN Market Report

Goodtime Oldies 1290 WIRL

5:30 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. - Early Mornings in Central Illinois Agriculture

6:30 a.m. - AgriBusiness Update