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A PRIMEDIA Property November 23, 2005 | 051123   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Cooperative approach for environmental compliance

 >> Laws: Democrats propose farm bill extension

 >> 'Ball is in EU's court,' U.S. negotiators tell WTO

 >> 'Team effort' preserved 2002 payment limit language

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Chemical companies preparing to raise prices

 >> Farmers brood over a future uncertain, uncontrollable

 >> Conservation Tillage Conference & Expo

 >> Plethora of issues, ideas presented to USDA official

 >> House panel passes $3.7 billion reconciliation package

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
11/23/05    Crop News Weekly
Happy Thanksgiving Week, and welcome to the holiday season - and to early winter weather across the upper Midwest. As they say, 'tis the season. Speaking of the holiday season, and especially Thanksgiving, once again the cost of preparing the big meal has gone up this year over last. But when you compare that with the increases in fuel costs, the rise in food prices is rather insignificant. We do have a lot for which to be thankful.

In spite of the holiday week, there's a lot to report in the world of agriculture news. First up this week, while agriculture is "clearly on the defensive" with regard to environmental and pesticide issues, an Environmental Protection Agency official says a proactive, collaborative approach can provide "an opportunity to get out front on these issues more than we have in the past." Also this week, they may be of different political persuasions, but many row-crop farmers will applaud the recent introduction of a one-year extension of the 2002 farm bill by a group of Democratic congressmen. Meanwhile, things aren't looking so good for the next DOHA round. The World Trade Organization is waiting on the European Union to submit a "meaningful and credible" proposal on market access to keep the December meetings from unwinding before they start. In other news, if oil and natural gas prices are rising faster than they can change the signs at the pumps, could crop protection chemicals be far behind? You can bet your turkey they are. Also in the news, time is running short to get registered for the 2006 Conservation Tillage Conference and Expo scheduled in Sioux Falls. Link to online registration from this newsletter.

You'll find these stories and more making the headlines in this issue of Crop News Weekly. Thanks for dropping in - and have a great holiday break!



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
Cooperative approach for environmental compliance
11/21/05   
While agriculture is "clearly on the defensive" with regard to environmental and pesticide issues, an Environmental Protection Agency official says a proactive, collaborative approach can provide "an opportunity to get out front on these issues more than we have in the past." Jon Scholl, counselor for agricultural policy to the administrator of the EPA, told members of the Southern Crop Production Association at their annual meeting at Orlando that while "I'm aware the EPA and the agchem industry have had a contentious relationship in many ways, the general attitude I see among the administration and the leadership in Washington is very much one that coincides with the themes of the agchem industry." - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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Laws: Democrats propose farm bill extension
11/18/05   
They may be of different political persuasions, but many row-crop farmers will applaud the introduction of a one-year extension of the 2002 farm bill by a group of Democratic congressmen. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member on the Agriculture Committee, and Jim Costa, D-Calif., say the extension would provide certainty to farmers and allow U.S. negotiators to focus on the ongoing WTO Doha Development Round negotiations. "With farmers facing record energy costs, natural disasters, low commodity prices and cuts in farm programs, this bill assures they can count on the farm bill to continue in its current form until we see what the Doha Round could mean for American agriculture," Peterson said. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

'Ball is in EU's court,' U.S. negotiators tell WTO
11/17/05   
The World Trade Organization is waiting on the European Union to submit a "meaningful and credible" proposal on market access to keep the Doha Round negotiations from unraveling before the start of the Hong Kong meeting of WTO trade ministers in December. The United States and members of the G20 group of countries appear to have reached agreement on a number of issues under two of the so-called three pillars of agriculture in the trade talks, says U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman. Those two are export competition and domestic support. But lack of consensus on the third pillar -- market access -- threatens to derail the agricultural negotiations ahead of the Hong Kong ministerial meeting, Portman told reporters covering a press briefing at the U.S. Trade Mission in Geneva. - Forrest Laws, Farem Press Editorial Staff

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'Team effort' preserved 2002 payment limit language
11/17/05   
Barring any unforeseen developments, U.S. farmers will receive their 2006 farm program payments under the same rules that have been in effect since President Bush signed the current farm bill in May 2002. Some growers may not realize that new regulations that would have cut the maximum direct, counter-cyclical and marketing loan gain payment amounts in half could have been in effect next year if a gaggle of Midwestern senators and environmental organizations had had their way. When the Senate began voting on Amendment 2359 to the Budget Deficit Reduction and Reconciliation Act of 2005 on Nov. 3, opponents of the group thought they had enough votes to defeat the proposal to place a "hard" $250,000 cap on farm payments. But, in Washington, you never count on anything until all the votes have been counted. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
11/22/05   
Prohibit Livestock Forward Contracting - Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) has introduced H.R. 4257, the "Captive Supply Reform" bill. This legislation would prohibit the use of forward contracts and formula pricing in the livestock sector. Pomeroy said, "Cattlemen and women from across the country should receive a fair price from the free market, but all too often ranchers are held hostage to the large packers who control the way livestock is bought and sold. The Captive Supply Reform bill is a good first step towards leveling the playing field for our ranchers." According to the legislation, formula price would mean "any price term that establishes a base from which a purchase price is calculated on the basis of a price that will not be determined or reported until a date after the day the forward price is established." A forward contract is defined as an "oral or written contract for the purchase of livestock that provides for the delivery of the livestock to a packer at a date that is more than 7 days after the date on which the contract is entered into."

GAO Asked to Evaluate Animal ID - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate USDA's plans for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Harkin is asking GAO to evaluate and find out the cost of implementing NAIS, costs to producers and government, and determine how effectively USDA has used money for developing NAIS. According to Harkin, "After two years of discussions, USDA has no clear plan for moving forward with a workable system. Producers are getting upset that they still don't know how much the system will cost them and who will run it."

NCBA-AMI Urge Access to Japan for Cattle Over 20 Months - The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) have asked President Bush in his meeting this week with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi to pursue "immediate" access for U.S. beef and also for U.S. beef over 20 months of age. In a letter to Bush, NCBA and AMI stated, "U.S. animal health authorities find no scientific basis in the current Japanese restriction regarding the age of cattle. USDA estimates indicate the potential eligible product that could meet the Government of Japan's requirements would be approximately 7-8% of our current domestic production."

Manure Not Hazardous Waste - The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials held a hearing this week on "Superfund Laws and Animal Agriculture." During the hearing, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) testified that animal manure is a natural organic fertilizer and should not be regulated under Superfund Laws as a hazardous waste. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) testified that "Congress never intended that animal manure be considered a hazardous waste and regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Congress needs to reaffirm this now. We need some common sense that will protect us from those who would litigate us out of business." NCBA and AFBF cited court cases and recent efforts to have CERCLA (Superfund) apply to manure from animal feeding, farming, and ranching operations.

Mandatory Price Reporting - Time is beginning to run out for Congress to renew mandatory livestock price reporting. Congress is only expected to be in session one to two more weeks this year. There continues to be a disagreement between the House of Representatives and Senate. The House passed bill would renew price reporting for five years. The Senate bill is for one year. Those supporting the House bill include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and the National Pork Producers Council. - Scott Shearer, National Hog Farmer

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Chemical companies preparing to raise prices
11/16/05   
You knew it was coming, didn't you? If oil and natural gas prices are rising faster than they can change the signs at the pumps, could crop protection chemicals be far behind? They aren't giving specifics yet, but farm chemical manufacturers say prices of some commonly used products could rise 3 percent to 4 percent between now and the beginning of the 2006 crop season. Spokesmen for the companies concede it isn't the best time to be raising prices for farmers, but they say they also cannot continue to "eat" the rising costs of raw material the way they have for the last two to three years. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Farmers brood over a future uncertain, uncontrollable
11/17/05   
I spent a rainy October day recently in the company of a few Northeast Texas corn, wheat and cattle farmers, a most enjoyable way to spend any day and an especially good use of time when the soaking taking place outside makes field work impossible and puts farmers in a mood to chat. No one was in any particular hurry to get rid of me. Eric Akins, Ken Griffin, his son Chris, and Jim Swart, a Texas Extension IPM agent who leads me to good interviews from time to time, sat around a table at a small café in Van Alstyne, munching on exceptional cheese burgers and homemade French fries and talking about the sorry state of farm economics. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Conservation Tillage Conference & Expo
11/22/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
Mark your calendars for the 2006 Conservation Tillage Conference and Expo scheduled Feb. 1-2 at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, SD. The conference will focus on using conservation tillage to boost Return On Investment and will feature speakers from Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, South Dakota State University and many top conservation farmers.

Ademir Calegari, a soil scientist from the Agriculture Research Institute in Parana, Brazil, will also be speaking at the conference. Brazil is a leading adopter of no-till, and Calegari will provide a fresh perspective on this method. Other topics include new technology, soil and fertility and prepping for cost-share. In addition to the speakers, the conference features a tradeshow where growers can see some of the latest conservation technology.

Plethora of issues, ideas presented to USDA official
11/15/05   
On Oct. 14, the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock played host to the 31st stop on USDA's "farm bill listening tour." Held in a hall next to several pungent horse barns at the north end of the fair's busy midway, the meeting began with a near full house singing the national anthem. If not in the thick of a late harvest, even more producers would have joined in. Standing in for Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, Deputy Secretary Chuck Connor didn't take the rhetorical beating his boss did in a Little Rock farmer meeting in June (see http://deltafarmpress.com/mag/farming_sec_johanns_faces/index.html). At least some of that had to do with the format -- those testifying were limited to six listed topics and two minutes of speaking time. Still, Connor took several jabs and heard well over two hours of emotional pleas and blunt suggestions regarding trade and farm legislation. He also heard from a handful of rural bankers warning of serious financial difficulties in the short-term (see accompanying story). - David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff

House panel passes $3.7 billion reconciliation package
11/15/05   
The House Agriculture Committee passed an agricultural reconciliation package drafted by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would cut spending by USDA by $3.7 billion over five years. The proposed reduction is 23 percent more than the $3 billion target assigned the Agriculture Committee by the House Budget Committee and more than the $3.014 billion in spending reductions approved by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. - Farm Press Editorial Staff



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