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July 6, 2005 050705

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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
Rust watch continues
Hot, dry forecast should limit rust
Rust still not as widespread as anticipated
Senate passes DR-CAFTA in 'close' vote
From the Top of the Hill
USDA changing export programs in response to WTO
U.S. soldiers plant Amber Waves in Iraq
Column: Get the facts about biotech
Asian soybean rust confirmed in Alabama
Differentiate your product for enhanced returns
Sulfur deficiencies appearing in corn
ASA applauds Senate approval of CAFTA-DR
NCGA, USGC visit Europe on biotech mission


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
07/06/05    Crop News Weekly
There's no question about it, it's a sizzlin' summer season and things are heating up rapidly. And not just the weather. Like waiting for the big game day to arrive, soybean growers are intently tuned in to the latest news and information about Asian soybean rust. If rust spores are to travel the distance from the Southland to the Midwest, this is the season it will happen. As more tropical systems develop and head into the U.S. mainland, it's all up to fate at this point. So far, however, things are quiet on the Midwest front. Some say there is little chance rust will spread to the Midwest, while others warn such optimism is reckless. Time, of course, will determine who is right and who is wrong. With that thought it mind, let's move straight to the headlines.

The early evidence indicates that so far this summer, rust has failed to spread as widely as first anticipated. Tropical Storm Arlene apparently (and thankfully) failed at the task, and hopes remain high that rust outbreaks will be minimized, even in the south. In a related story, many credit rust's limited spread in large part to this growing season's hot, dry conditions. At least there is something good to be said about the dry, hot weather. Meanwhile, rust experts say that despite the confirmation of the disease in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, the incidence of rust at this stage of the growing season is still not widespread. In other news this week, the Senate passed the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement in one of the closest votes -- 54 to 45 -- on a free trade agreement since the passage of NAFTA in 1993. And more trade news this week: USDA is making changes in three export credit guarantee programs as the first stop on the long road to complying with the World Trade Organization ruling in the case brought by Brazil against the U.S. cotton program. Finally, what can farmers do to give their commodity products a competitive edge and reap improved returns? Make them somehow stand out from the competition.

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


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Manage Rust, Other Soybean Maladies with Help from PHI
Asian Soybean Rust may be top-of-mind right now, but the Plant Health Initiative (PHI) reminds growers not to overlook SCN or aphids, either. The PHI provides management information on these and other pests, and links to other resources through their Web site - http://www.planthealth.info

From our Magazines
Rust watch continues
07/05/05   
Editor's Note: The following report, while centered around Asian rust in the mid-south, has long reaching implications for all soybean growers everywhere. Tropical storm Arlene brought rainfall to the eastern portion of Mississippi, closely following the path of last year's hurricane Ivan. Predictive models have shown that the potential for movement of Asian rust spores was enhanced greatly. We should have a better handle on the presence of rust if Arlene changed our current (June 23) scenario; however, the inoculum potential still appears to be low. Since Arlene, rust has been found in a sentinel plot in Baldwyn County, Ala. Although rust appears to be moving, the inoculum potential in Florida and Georgia has not increased at the rate most believed. - by Alan Blaine, Delta Farm Press


Hot, dry forecast should limit rust
07/01/05   
Many credit rust's limited spread in large part to this growing season's hot, dry conditions. David Lanclos, Louisiana Extension soybean specialist, says, "With the exception of the last couple of weeks in certain parts of south-central Louisiana, things just haven't been conducive for rust. There has to be 10 to 12 hours of dew or moisture of some sort, and that's just not happening." Louisiana currently has a heat index hovering around 105, which Lanclos says is above the optimum temperature for the rust to get going. Forecasters last week predicted continued hot, dry conditions over the eastern Corn Belt through early July. Long-range forecasts released by Meteorologix weather service also predicted a drier period for the central and eastern Midwest from July 4 through July 9. - from The Corn & Soybean Digest


Rust still not as widespread as anticipated
07/01/05   
Despite the confirmation of rust in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, the incidence of the disease at this stage of the growing season is still not as widespread as was anticipated. The most recent confirmed cases come on the heels of the finding of three rust spores resembling P. pachyrhizi, the causal agent of Asian soybean rust, in a spore trap near St. Joseph, LA., last week, as well as unfounded fears that tropical storm Arlene carried Asian soy rust spores from the southern U.S. into the Midwest in early June. While each of these incidents has heightened the need for further scouting, no Asian rust has been found in fields other than the three reported cases. - from The Corn & Soybean Digest


Senate passes DR-CAFTA in 'close' vote
07/01/05   
The Senate passed the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement in one of the closest votes -- 54 to 45 -- on a free trade agreement since the passage of NAFTA in 1993. Proponents of DR-CAFTA said the agreement would build new markets and promote democracy in Central America while opponents argued it would cost more Americans their jobs and increase the U.S. trade deficit. - by Forrest Laws, Farm Press Daily


From the Top of the Hill
07/01/05   
USDA Announces Positive BSE Test - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced late last Friday the second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States, which involved a 12-year-old cow born and raised in Texas. This is the result of retesting previous inconclusive tests (June 17, 2005 issue of North American Preview). At the same time, Johanns announced that if a BSE rapid screening test resulted in an inconclusive finding, USDA will conduct both an immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blot confirmatory test. If results from either confirmatory test are positive, the sample will be considered positive for BSE. Johanns said, "By adding the second confirmatory test, we boost that confidence and bring our testing in line with the evolving worldwide trend to use both IHC and Western blot together as confirmatory tests for BSE." The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) said in a press statement, "The animal did not enter the human food or animal feed supply. The bottom line for consumers remains the same: Your beef is safe. Scientists, medical professionals and government officials agree that BSE is not a public health risk in the United States." The American Meat Institute said, "This test result should be seen for what it truly is - proof-positive that the surveillance system for BSE in the United States is working." However, Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer Federation of America said, "Now we know why USDA resisted having the suspect animal subjected to the most sophisticated BSE test. They were afraid the truth would come out."

Senate COOL Legislation - This week two bills were introduced in the Senate that take opposite approaches to country-of-origin labeling (COOL). Voluntary COOL: Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and 13 other senators introduced legislation to create a voluntary country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program for meat. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said, "This is a bipartisan bill that is widely supported by pork producers as a way of finally moving country-of-origin labeling forward in a common-sense manner that will ultimately benefit both consumers and producers alike." The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) stated, "Mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat would place significant new costs on beef, hog and sheep producers, with the largest impact falling on independent producers. This is clearly a marketing issue, not a food safety issue, and by approving a voluntary program, Congress would be placing control in the hands of consumers at the marketplace." This legislation is a companion to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Marion Berry (D-AR). Earlier Mandatory COOL - Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Craig Thomas (R-WY) have introduced legislation that would implement mandatory country-of-origin labeling eight months earlier. The legislation would change the implementation date to Jan. 30, 2006 from the current law of Sept. 30, 2006. The House of Representatives earlier this month voted to delay the effective date until Sept. 30, 2007. The National Farmers Union (NFU) said, "It is unfair to keep a marketing and promotion tool like COOL from American producers, while continuing the negotiation of trade deals like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that will further open U.S. markets with little expected return for U.S. producers."

Animal ID Bill - Congressman Steve King (R-IA) has introduced the "Livestock Identification and Marketing Opportunities Act." This legislation would establish a producer-controlled national livestock identification system by 2009. The system would be mandatory for cattle, swine, sheep, goats and poultry. Rep. King said, "There's no question we must have a functioning livestock identification system as soon as possible. It's a big step for our producers, so rather than slapping another government restriction on our livestock industry, I seek to create a system that would be developed by people it affects the most, and create it in a way that will benefit everyone."

Senate Passes Energy Bill - The Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive energy bill that provides tax breaks and incentives to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production and increase renewable energy sources. Key provisions for agriculture include:

  • Increase renewable fuels standard (RFS) by mandating that 8 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel be used in transportation fuels by 2012.
  • Extension of biodiesel tax incentive.
  • Promote the purchase and usage of biobased products by the federal government.
  • Phase-out methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as a gasoline additive in four years.

    The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee. A key issue to be resolved will be the House provision that provides manufacturers of MTBE protection from lawsuits. MTBE has contaminated drinking water in numerous communities.

    Senate Ag Appropriations - The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $100.2 billion fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill which is $516 million more than is in the House-passed bill. The bill includes $17.348 billion in discretionary spending and $82.81 billion for mandatory spending. The bill does not change the implementation date for country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The House bill delays COOL until 2007. Also, the bill does not include user fees for meat and poultry inspection as requested by the Administration. The bill will be considered by the full Senate in July.

    USDA changing export programs in response to WTO
    07/01/05   
    USDA is making changes in three export credit guarantee programs as the first stop on the long road to complying with the World Trade Organization ruling in the case brought by Brazil against the U.S. cotton program. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said USDA will alter the Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102), the Intermediate Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-103) and the Supplier Credit Guarantee Program (SCGP), beginning July 1, the deadline the WTO set for the initial U.S. response to the ruling. - by Forrest Laws, Farm Press Daily


    U.S. soldiers plant Amber Waves in Iraq
    07/01/05   
    In January 2005, more than 3,500 members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team, a National Guard unit based in Tupelo, Miss., were deployed to Iraq. The brigade is stationed across five bases just south of Baghdad. Members of the 115th BCT have been tasked with both establishing peace and restoring the Iraqi economy through grassroots projects like building schools and assisting Iraqi farmers. Soldiers who work in civilian life as farmers are using those common bonds both to communicate with Iraqi tribes and to offer new ideas to improve the small farming community. - by Jennifer Farish, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal


    Column: Get the facts about biotech
    07/01/05   
    The public debate continues to heat up in Sonoma County where the radical anti-biotech element is making another stand -- hopefully like the one Custer made. The radicals are facing stiff opposition from a initiative-opposing coalition out of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. A Bay Area CBS Television affiliate put out an article recently detailing how the group led by Lex McCorvey, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau is responding effectively to the scare-monger tactics from the anti-GE bunch. McCorvey did a good job of pointing out, for example, that the GE moratorium initiative to appear on the November ballot in Sonoma County would prohibit the sale of West Nile Virus vaccine in the county. - by Harry Cline, Western Farm Press


    Asian soybean rust confirmed in Alabama
    06/30/05   
    Asian soybean rust has been confirmed in several southern Alabama sentinel plots, according to Extension specialists with Auburn University. Rust was found on two plants with "roughly 10 leaves on each plant showing symptoms in the lower canopy -- typical lesion formations. Two sentinel plots were planted in the area -- one late; one earlier. "One of the infected plants was found in the older sentinel plot where beans were at R-6. The other plant was found on the neighboring sentinel plot at R-1/R-2. - by David Bennett, Farm Press Daily


    Differentiate your product for enhanced returns
    06/30/05   
    What can farmers do to give their commodity products a competitive edge and reap improved returns? Make them somehow stand out from the competition, suggests Bruce A. Babcock, professor of economics and director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University at Ames. "Basically, you can make money by one of two ways: you can be the low-cost producer of whatever commodity you deal with, or you can create a differentiated product, have some control over quality and quantity, and try to behave like consumer-oriented firms worldwide," said Babcock. - by Dan Bryant, Western Farm Press


    Sulfur deficiencies appearing in corn
    06/27/05   
    Yellow stripes on the leaves of light green corn plants could indicate a sulfur deficiency, a South Dakota State University specialist said. SDSU Extension Soils Specialist Jim Gerwing says cornfields in which entire plants or at least many leaves on a plant are striped very likely indicates sulfur deficiency. Yellow stripes on light green plants are common. The sulfur deficiency appears to be most pronounced on sandy, coarse-textured soils that are low in organic matter. Gerwing says it's also much more pronounced in no-till systems, since those soils stay colder and the release of sulfur from organic material is slower. - from South Dakota State University


    From the News Wire
    ASA applauds Senate approval of CAFTA-DR
    07/01/05   
    The U.S. Senate last night approved an historic trade agreement between the United States, the Dominican Republic, and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Commonly referred to as CAFTA-DR, the deal would benefit U.S. agriculture in general and soybean producers in particular. Economists estimate the deal could boost U.S. agricultural exports by $1.5 billion when fully implemented. - from the American Soybean Association


    NCGA, USGC visit Europe on biotech mission
    07/01/05   
    National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and U.S. Grains Council (USGC) leaders traveled to Europe last week for discussion of the key issues facing Americans and Europeans in regard to biofuels, biotech corn and trade. The joint mission met with officials from Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. NCGA President Leon Corzine, NCGA First Vice President Gerald Tumbleson, Biotechnology Working Group Chairman Darrin Ihnen and NCGA CEO Rick Tolman represented corn growers on the trip. Biotechnology was a big issue in each country the group visited. Corzine and Tolman said the scientific community is embracing biotech corn. Governments and the European Union are lagging behind, however. - from NCGA News


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