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June 22, 2005 050622

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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
Johanns sets farm bill forum
Watch pH levels when switching to surface water
Senate weighs DR-CAFTA pros, cons
Tennessee fights rust with DNA analysis
News from the Top of the Hill
In the legislative aftermath...
EPA denies RFG waiver requests
Asian rust outbreak unlikely for Texas soybeans
GAO: Are we prepared for soybean rust this year?
Share your joy of agriculture
Success: Playing to your strengths
Pharmaceutical trials under way in Iowa


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
06/22/05    Crop News Weekly
It's official: Summer has arrived! Not that it is a surprise to anyone. Like clock work, it comes around every year. In fact, it is clock work. But what makes this summer seem more significant to soybean growers is the threat of the spread of Asian soybean rust, especially into the bean-rich Midwest. So far (keep your fingers crossed), no outbreaks yet reported in this delicate region.

In the news this week, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the location and date for the first USDA farm bill listening session. The Farm Bill Forum will be held at RFD-TV's Northstar Studios in Nashville, July 7. Elsewhere in the news, the increasing use of surface water to irrigate Arkansas crops is a welcome development. But there are issues producers (everywhere) should be aware of when making the switch from wells. Also this week, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance told the Senate Ag Committee hearing that DR-CAFTA would send efficient U.S. producers to the "back of the line" for access to the U.S. market. In other news, and speaking of soybean rust, if Asian soybean rust enters west Tennessee this season, soybean farmers should know about it even before the disease's lesions show up in sentinel plots, thanks to a project sponsored by the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board. Also this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied Clean Air Act waiver requests from California, New York and Connecticut, allowing the use of ethanol to continue to aid those states in reducing air pollution.

You'll find these stories and more in this issue of Crop News Weekly. Happy reading.

From our Magazines
Johanns sets farm bill forum
06/21/05    Farm Industry News
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the location and date for the first USDA farm bill listening session. The Farm Bill Forum will be held at RFD-TV's Northstar Studios in Nashville, July 7. The Nashville event will mark the secretary's second trip to Tennessee to discuss farm policy issues. The first came on May 4 when he met with a group of west Tennessee producers at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's Cotton Division offices in Memphis.


Watch pH levels when switching to surface water
David Bennett
06/16/05    Farm Press Daily
The increasing use of surface water to irrigate Arkansas crops is a welcome development. But there are issues producers should be aware of when making the switch from wells. "The big thing with Arkansas groundwater is most -- not all -- has appreciable amounts of calcium and magnesium bicarbonates," said Nathan Slaton, agronomist and professor with the University of Arkansas. "When cold irrigation water is pumped onto a field, the calcium and magnesium fall out of the water and form lime.


Senate weighs DR-CAFTA pros, cons
Forrest Laws
06/20/05    Southwest Farm Press
A spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance told the Senate Ag Committee hearing that DR-CAFTA would send efficient U.S. producers to the "back of the line" for access to the U.S. market. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss continues to have reservations about the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, including concerns that it could "seriously impair" the operations of the U.S. sugar program. In comments at a committee hearing, Chambliss did not speak directly against DR-CAFTA, which was concluded with five Central American countries in December 2003. (The Dominican Republic joined in March 2004.)


Tennessee fights rust with DNA analysis
Elton Robinson
06/16/05    Farm Press Daily
If Asian soybean rust enters west Tennessee this season, soybean farmers should know about it even before the disease's lesions show up in sentinel plots, thanks to a project sponsored by the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board. Sentinel plots consist of early-maturing soybeans, planted earlier than usual so that the plot achieves canopy closure quickly. Under the right environmental conditions, rust should first appear in the sentinel plots, giving growers some lead time (one to three weeks) for treating their soybean fields for rust, if necessary.


News from the Top of the Hill
Scott Shearer
06/17/05    National Hog Farmer
Australia to Appeal Court Decision on Pork, - The Australian government announced it will appeal the court decision that ruled against their import risk assessment, which allowed U.S. processed pork to be imported (North American Preview - June 3, 2005). On Wednesday, the Australian court issued orders on implementing its decision. No new import permits may be issued. Permits held by importers, who were not parties in the case, can continue to import pork under current arrangements during the appeal.

U.S.-Russia Meat Agreement - The United States and Russia have signed an agreement that will provide market access for U.S. pork, beef and poultry. The agreement provides the U.S. a country-specific quota for each year of the agreement, which covers 2005-2009. The 2005 U.S. quota is 53,800 metric tons. U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said, "This agreement will help provide stable access to a very important market for American poultry, beef and pork and a vehicle through which we can address some of the difficult market access issues that we face in Russia." The agreement is supported by the National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, American Meat Institute, U.S. Meat Export Federation, and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

FY '06 Agriculture Appropriations - The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2744, "the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill," by a vote of 408-18. The $100.3 billion bill provides $16.8 billion in discretionary funding with the remaining going to mandatory programs. This is a 17% increase in mandatory spending, primarily for farm subsidies and food stamps. The major issue for the livestock industry was the one-year delay of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of meat products. The House also adopted an amendment that would bar USDA from inspecting horses slaughtered for human consumption and defeated an amendment that would have eliminated the Market Access Program. Key items in the bill include:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) funding, increased by $20 million over last year, is set at $837 million.
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) funded at $829 million, which is a $16 million increase over last year.
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) detection and prevention activities are funded at $90 million, same as last year.
  • The bill does not include user fees for meat and poultry inspection as proposed by the White House.

    The Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee will consider the legislation next week.

    CAFTA Mock Markup - The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) moved forward this week with both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee approving a draft version of the agreement during "mock mark-up." This is a procedure for Congress to advise the Administration about its views on the trade agreement before the Administration formally sends it to Congress for final consideration, which is expected very soon. However, sugar continues to be a major problem.

    BSE Inconclusive Test - USDA has tested more than 375,000 animals through the enhanced bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program. Three animals tested "inconclusive" and were subjected to additional testing, which were negative. USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has been working with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to review USDA's BSE-related activities. OIG recommend that all three of the inconclusive samples be subjected to a second internationally recognized confirmatory test - the Western blot test. Last Friday, the USDA announced the blot test results found one sample to be "reactive." This sample has been sent to the Office of International Epizootics (OIE)-recognized laboratory for BSE in England for additional testing. In making the announcement, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said, "The first thing I want to mention again is that there is no risk to human health here. The animal did not get in the food or the feed chain. The firewalls that the USDA put in place some time ago once again have shown that they do work."

    WTO Withdrawal - The House of Representatives has voted down joint resolution H.J. Res. 27, which would have required the United States to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). This vote had added significance this year with the continuing negotiations of the Doha Round. Congress is required to vote on the United States WTO membership every five years.

    USDA Changes - More changes are coming to the Agriculture Department. Two USDA subcabinet members have resigned: Bill Hawks, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Joe Jens, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

    Next Week:

  • Mandatory Price Reporting - The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing June 22 on renewal of mandatory price reporting. Witnesses will include USDA, National Pork Producers Council, American Meat Institute, Colorado State University, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
  • Agriculture Appropriations - The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will consider the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations legislation.

    In the legislative aftermath...
    David Bennett
    06/17/05    Delta Farm Press
    Jimmy Wallace said farmers are almost always on the short end of the stick. His beliefs, somehow uttered rapid-fire while maintaining a strong country drawl, carry more than a hint of populism. His speech is peppered with country wit and loud laughter. Ask a question and stand back: Wallace is unafraid and throws rhetorical punches with relish. "No one talks about price to the farmer!" he said as his pick-up bounced down a turn-row at his farm. "You never hear anything broadscale about the price of production. Farming is the only business where you buy for retail and sell for wholesale. And that's the truth."


    EPA denies RFG waiver requests
    National Corn Growers Association
    06/06/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied Clean Air Act waiver requests from California, New York and Connecticut, allowing the use of ethanol to continue to aid those states in reducing air pollution. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauds EPA's action to uphold the Clean Air Act requirements, which are designed to reduce smog-forming emissions in the nation's most severe ozone non-attainment areas. The states were seeking exemptions from the oxygenate requirement of the federal Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program. Under Clean Air Act requirements, reformulated gasoline must contain at least 2% oxygen by weight. The oxygenate contained in RFG allows the gasoline to burn cleaner. Ethanol made from corn and other renewable crops has been determined to be the safest and most effective oxygenate.


    Asian rust outbreak unlikely for Texas soybeans
    Ron Smith
    06/16/05    Southwest Farm Press
    Likelihood of an Asian rust outbreak in Texas soybeans seems relatively low this year, says a Texas Extension plant pathologist. "We just don't see much going on now," says Tom Isakeit from his College Station office. Rust identified in Florida and Georgia earlier apparently has not spread to other parts of the country. "We're not certain if the tropical storm (that recently went through part of the Southeast) will spread the pathogen or not. We will not know for a week or more." He says Texas soybean farmers should be safe this year with the possible exception of late-planted beans in the south vulnerable if spores blow in from South America on late summer hurricanes.


    GAO: Are we prepared for soybean rust this year?
    American Soybean Association
    06/06/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
    The Federal government says there will not be enough fungicides if there is a serious outbreak of Asian soybean rust (ASR) disease this growing season. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has assessed preparations by USDA in 31 individual states to fight soybean rust. "The states generally responded positively when discussing efforts to educate growers and others on ASR," said Robert Robinson, GAO Managing Director, Natural Resources and Environment. "However, some of the states reported that their diagnostic laboratories may have insufficient funding and/or staff to test suspected samples for [rust].


    Share your joy of agriculture
    Jay Lehr, Ph.D. Guest columnist
    Apply*
    A century ago most Americans lived either on a farm or near a farm or had relatives they could visit on a farm. The public looked at farming as God's work. The farmer was viewed as a hero wearing a white hat astride a white horse. Today that image has faded. Less than 2% of the nation is now involved in production agriculture, and most people have never set foot on a farm. Many city kids honestly do not understand where milk comes from beyond the grocery store cardboard carton.


    From the News Wire
    Success: Playing to your strengths
    06/20/05    AgPRonline
    Let's face it. American companies don't make and sell as many home electronics devices as do the Japanese and Chinese. When it comes to labor rates, China and India have the advantage. One of our economic strengths, though, is our agricultural production. American farmers produce far more than can be consumed in this country. That, along with our farmers' amazing efficiency and competitiveness, is why the United States is the world's largest agricultural exporter.


    Pharmaceutical trials under way in Iowa
    06/21/05    NCGA News
    National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Biotech Working Group member Bill Horan is taking part in a bold initiative under way in Iowa that could give growers another market for corn and hope to individuals battling diseases and other illnesses. Horan is monitoring a field trial for plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMP). Iowa State University scientists received permission from state officials to plant a trial field of pharmaceutical corn at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant near Middletown. The crop on the Army base is being grown to create a vaccine that prevents diarrhea in pigs, and possibly traveler's diarrhea in humans. The U.S. military would be important beneficiaries of this type of vaccine because they could be called to duty in another country at any time.


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