Farm-Fresh Ag News
Farm-Fresh Ag News
"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 (http://pollinator.org/npw_events.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 (www.animalagriculture.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 (www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SSDPG.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 (http://pioneer.com/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 (www.2013njas.harvesters.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.
(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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (www.SoyGrowers.com/dyl). 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 (www.ars.usda.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 (www.nrcs.usda.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 (www.usda.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 www.nrcs.usda.gov.
"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 (www.AmericasFarmers.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 email@example.com 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 www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-14/html/2013-11451.htm.
"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 (www.ams.usda.gov/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 (www.ntpapull.com/).
"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
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
"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 (www.innovationatstake.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
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"
"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 www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill and the Chairwoman’s full summary can be found atwww.ag.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/the-agriculture-reform-food-and-jobs-act-of-2013]
"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 (www.AmericasFarmers.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 (www.nrcs.usda.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 (www.nrcs.usda.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 (www.pork.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 (www.ffachapterchallenge.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 (www.Monsanto.com) or www dot Dow Agro dot com (www.dowagro.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 (www.MeatTrack.com). More information on the consumer research that shaped the new program is available at www dot PorkRetail dot org (www.PorkRetail.org) and www dot BeefRetail dot org (www.BeefRetail.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 (www.ncga.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 (www.worlddairyexpo.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 (www.nass.usda.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 (www.seeitstopit.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.
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.
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.
My love for the land began when I was young. Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to major in agricultural communications.
Learning about some of the different schools around the area, I decided to attend the University of Illinois. I graduated in 2010 with a degree in agricultural communications and quickly found myself back here at WMBD and WIRL — the station for which I interned while in college. Currently, I am serving as the AgriBusiness Director here at WIRL and WMBD.
While interning at WMBD and WIRL, I worked for Colleen Callahan and Tricia Braid. These two talented women taught me that communication is the beginning of understanding. Every day, I strive to share what is going on in the agriculture industry at the national, state and local levels.
Even though agriculture faces many challenges, I believe today is a great day for agriculture. Today, the general public has many distorted and misdirected views when it comes to production agriculture and the people who make their living involved in it. As an agricultural communicator, and now the wife of a fourth-generation family farmer, it is not only my responsibility, but also my obligation to effectively inform, educate and communicate the truth of agriculture.
In addition to serving as the Agribusiness Director at JMP, I am also the wife of a fourth generation family farmer. Braden and I farm in the Illinois River bottoms near Manito raising a bevy of interesting crops including corn, soybeans, green beans, peas and popcorn. We have no livestock, except for Mae and Tess, two much-loved black labs.
If you have a local agriculture event or potential story topic, I would love to hear from you! You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Rain Gauge Report
Click Here to view the AG-Land FS Rain Gauge Report.
Have a weather related question for Chuck Collins?
Click Here to submit your question.
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.
Spring Lake Levee District
Images from the past week in the Spring Lake Bottoms as volunteers work to build up the levee in preparation for record high crest levels.
Spring Lake Levee District
Images from the past week in the Spring Lake Bottoms as volunteers work to build up the levee in preparation for record high crest levels.
Spring Lake Levee District
Images from the past week in the Spring Lake Bottoms as volunteers work to build up the levee in preparation for record high crest levels.
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
Spring Lake Levee District
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.
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!
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.
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
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
www.midwestfoodbank.org for Midwest Food Bank information.
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
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
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.
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
Questions or comments? Get in touch with us!
Facebook: The Noon Show
331 Fulton St.
Peoria, IL 61602
When We’re On
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