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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
Central corn belt to stay hot, dry
No Asian soybean rust but suspicious spores found
Fears of rust spread said overblown
Thiesse's Thoughts: Brazil ethanol industry
News from the Top of the Hill
Hands-on education and training
Senate completing its version of the energy bill
USDA announces $141 million for MAP funding
Stay hitched
Louisiana rust alert raised
ASA: Even-handed pressure regarding China
Joint A-Team meets with officials on trade mission
American Farm Bureau Federation Announcement


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
06/29/05    Crop News Weekly
Welcome to the Summer! It's official now, the longest day of the year and the official start to summer is behind us. Which actually means the hot weather has arrived - hot and dry if you live in the eastern Corn Belt. Now we wait to see how long it will last and what effect it will have on crop production. By the way, not that you need to be reminded, it's also the tropical season. There is still concern a strong Gulf hurricane could blow rust spores into the Midwest. Keep your fingers crossed and bite the bullet if necessary, because we can't change it.

In the top of the news, the U.S. Senate has passed the energy bill, and Ag Secretary Mike Johanns has responded. Read his official statement inside this issue. And lots of other news, including - of course - the weather. Forecasters last week predicted continued hot, dry conditions over the eastern Corn Belt through this week, fueling increased fears of crop damage in key Illinois growing areas. In other news, Louisiana Extension specialists have announced that three rust spores with features resembling P. pachyrhizi, the causal agent of Asian soybean rust, were found in a spore trap near St. Joseph, LA., but experts report there is no cause for immediate crisis. Elsewhere, fears that tropical storm Arlene carried Asian soy rust spores from the southern U.S. into the Midwest were probably unfounded, plant pathologists told Reuters News Service last week. Also this week, in agriculture circles, there is much discussion about Brazil, and the competition (threat) that the rapidly increasing Brazilian soybean industry poses to the future of soybean farming in the United States. Finally this week, a swirling mix of bi-partisan optimism over increased use of renewable fuel sources and reservations on how the government could afford loan guarantees for such incentives have unfolded in recent weeks in the Senate. Get the details inside.

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

From our Magazines
Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
Special to Crop News Weekly
06/28/05    USDA
"Today, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to support a comprehensive national energy policy with a strong commitment to renewable energy, including a renewable fuels provision that will help lessen our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen energy security, increase farm income, help the environment and create jobs. "I commend the United States Senate for passing this important legislation, which will allow our nation's producers of ethanol and bio-diesel to play a role in decreasing America's need for imported oil. "Energy is the cornerstone of the U.S. economy. As President Bush has stated, four years of debate is enough. I hope that Congress will soon act to complete a comprehensive national energy policy that will provide America's farmers and ranchers access to an affordable, reliable and secure supply of energy." - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, USDA News


Central corn belt to stay hot, dry
06/27/05   
Forecasters on Friday continued to predict hot, dry conditions over the eastern Corn Belt through the middle of next week, fueling increased fears of crop damage in key Illinois growing areas, which are now extremely dry. A large stable ridge of high pressure is expected to remain the dominant feature of Midwest weather again next week, blocking moist air from moving over the dry areas. - by Richard Brock, The Corn & Soybean Digest


No Asian soybean rust but suspicious spores found
06/24/05   
Louisiana Extension specialists have announced that three rust spores with features resembling P. pachyrhizi, the causal agent of Asian soybean rust, were found in a spore trap near St. Joseph, LA. While the spores have heightened the need for further scouting, no Asian rust has been found in fields."There's no cause for panic," says Clayton Hollier, Louisiana Extension plant pathologist. "We don't even know if they're Asian rust spores for sure. The fact the trap was next to a soybean field certainly makes it suspicious, though." - by David Bennett, The Corn and Soybean Digest


Fears of rust spread said overblown
06/22/05   
Fears that tropical storm Arlene carried Asian soy rust spores from the southern U.S. into the Midwest were probably unfounded, plant pathologists told Reuters News Service Friday. As a precaution, crop scouts in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri were inspecting soybean fields this week for signs of the crop-devastating fungus. Anne Dorrance, a plant pathologist at Ohio State University, compared the amount of spores Arlene might have carried to throwing a few grains of sand into an ocean. - by Richard Brock, The Corn & Soybean Digest


Thiesse's Thoughts: Brazil ethanol industry
06/22/05   
In agriculture circles, there is much discussion about Brazil, and the competition (threat) that the rapidly increasing Brazilian soybean industry poses to the future of soybean farming in the United States. However, there is not near as much discussion about the direction that Brazil has taken in the ethanol industry, and how it is vastly different than the approach taken by the United States relative to the development and use of alternative fuels. Back in 1973, when the Middle East oil embargo caused world oil prices to rise sharply, Brazil realized that they were extremely dependent on foreign oil to meet the country's gas and fuel needs. - by Kent Thiesse, The Corn & Soybean Digest


News from the Top of the Hill
06/24/05   
Air Emissions Consent Agreement Deadline Extended - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is extending the air emissions consent agreement sign-up period to July 29. Previous deadline was July 1. The agreement between the livestock sector and EPA establishes a nationwide air monitoring study that will be used to establish air emission standards for livestock operations. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging producers to consider signing up to participate in the agreement. Information regarding the agreement can be found on the NPPC website at: http://www.nppc.org/hot_topics/airemissions.html.

Mandatory Price Reporting - The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing regarding the renewal of mandatory price reporting. The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Sheep Industry Association are urging Congress to renew mandatory price reporting for five-years. The NPPC testified that the "information provided by mandatory price reporting is vital to producers. Producers and packers have come to depend on the information and have learned its strengths and weaknesses. The mandatory price reporting system gives them an accurate frame of reference for their price negotiations." Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) are urging a renewal of one-year. They would like the General Accounting Office (GAO) to complete its study of mandatory price reporting and have Congress review it before mandatory price reporting is renewed for an extended period of time. Mandatory price reporting expires Sept. 30, 2005.

Farm Bill Forum - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced the first USDA Farm Bill Forum would be held July 7 in Nashville, TN. The forum is to receive input from farmers, ranchers and rural residents regarding the development of the 2007 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking comments on the following:

  • How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets?
  • How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture?
  • How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?
  • How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals?
  • How can federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?
  • How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill?

    Besides the forums, the public may submit comments regarding the above questions by email to FarmBill@usda.gov, or by mail to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Farm Bill, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-3355.

    COOL - The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee did not change the law regarding mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) when considering the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill. Thus, mandatory COOL would go into effect September 2006 under the Senate version. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives delayed COOL for meat and meat products until 2007. This issue will be decided in a House-Senate conference committee later this summer.

    Nomination - Food Safety - The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Richard Raymond to become USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety. Raymond serves as director of the Regulation and Licensure Agency within the Nebraska Health and Human Services System and also chief medical officer of the Nebraska Health and Human Services System. The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination before the July 4th Congressional recess.
    - Scott Shearer, National Hog Farmer


    Hands-on education and training
    06/22/05   
    Syngenta's new Learning Centers are designed to bring cutting-edge research to the grower. They explore crop management options across a full range of products, including genetics, traits, seed treatment, crop protection inputs, tillage practices, planting dates, application timing, soil compaction, nutrients and plant health. "Findings from the Syngenta Learning Centers support education and training for growers and dealers looking for innovative solutions," says Jim Elliott, AgriEdge development manager, solutions, for Syngenta Seeds. "They provide a unique opportunity for Syngenta to demonstrate how our broad portfolio of products and new technology can provide a solution to most growers' agronomic needs." - by Natalie Knudsen, Farm Industry News


    Senate completing its version of the energy bill
    06/23/05   
    A swirling mix of bi-partisan optimism over increased use of renewable fuel sources and reservations on how the government could afford loan guarantees for such incentives have unfolded in recent weeks in the Senate. An amendment approved during the first few days of debate in early June created a federal mandate that would double the nation's use of renewable fuels from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 8 billion gallons in 2012. Such an increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard would be a 60 percent increase over the previous level passed by Congress. - by Andrew Bell, Southwest Farm Press


    USDA announces $141 million for MAP funding
    06/22/05   
    USDA will provide more than $141 million to 70 U.S. trade and commodity organizations to promote their members agricultural products overseas, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced. "Exports account for approximately one-quarter of farm cash receipts," said Johanns. "While U.S. farmers and ranchers sold a record number of exports last year, USDA is pleased to partner with them to do even better. These two programs will help our agricultural community take advantage of opportunities to access markets and reach new customers around the world." The fiscal year 2005 allocations will be administered under the Foreign Agricultural Service's Market Access Program (MAP) and Quality Samples Program (QSP). - from Southwest Farm Press


    Stay hitched
    06/22/05   
    Inventions "for farmers by farmers" have comprised a significant subcategory at the annual Inventors Congress in Redwood Falls, MN. The June 2005 event was an especially good one for farm-practical ideas, with at least eight new products ranging from hitches to modular fences to new skid loader bucket configurations. A brilliantly simple idea called the HitchPinPlus offers a better way to keep your wagon tongue securely attached to the tractor drawbar. - by Wayne Wenzel, Farm Industry News


    Louisiana rust alert raised
    06/23/05   
    Louisiana State University (LSU) extension specialists reported June 23 that they found in one trap three spores similar to Asian soybean rust. However, the spores have not been positively identified as from the rust pathogen. "It is extremely important to not be alarmed by this finding," the LSU specialists said in an e-mail distributed to county extension agents. "No Asian soybean rust has been found in fields adjacent to the spore trap. No ASR has been found in Louisiana or surrounding states." - from Delta Farm Press


    From the News Wire
    ASA: Even-handed pressure regarding China
    06/23/05   
    Representing U.S. soybean producers, and the interests of other U.S. commodity groups, the American Soybean Association (ASA) today testified at a U.S.-China Economic Relations hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Finance. ASA told the committee that it believes improved behavior results from the constant application of even-handed pressure to respect trade agreements through discussions and negotiations. ASA and other U.S. agricultural organizations actively support this approach with China. - from the American Soybean Association


    Joint A-Team meets with officials on trade mission
    06/20/05   
    The Joint Trade Policy A-Team, comprised of members from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), National Grain Sorghum Producers and the National Barley Growers Association, met with key representatives of World Trade Organization (WTO) countries and with top WTO agricultural officials during a two-day, joint-trade policy trip to Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month. Delegates from the organizations stressed their support and the support of their members for the U.S. position in the agricultural negotiations, emphasizing the need for a strong market access package in the Doha Round of the WTO negotiations. - from NCGA News


    American Farm Bureau Federation Announcement
    06/28/05    AgPRonline
    "Americans are one step closer today to energy independence because of the Senate's passage of comprehensive energy legislation. The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the bill provides for an 8 billion-gallon renewable fuels standard by 2012, which is vital to U.S. agriculture and, ultimately, to passage of comprehensive energy legislation. "The wide-spread support for the Senate legislation reflects the current attitude of the nation -- that a new direction for U.S. energy policy is long over-due. While the U.S. economy continues to suffer from the failed energy policy of the past, farmers and ranchers are particularly hard hit by the record high oil and natural gas prices. The Senate energy bill will increase and expand our domestic energy resources, alleviate the supply and demand pressures on natural gas, diversify our energy portfolio, promote renewable energy resources and increase U.S. energy independence and national security." - from AgPRonline


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