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A PRIMEDIA Property December 7, 2005 | 051207   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Avian influenza concerns continue

 >> EPA addressing pesticide issues

 >> 'Team effort' preserved 2002 payment limit language

 >> The Road Warrior of Agriculture

 >> Portman calls for cutting farm payments by at least half

 >> USDA provides funding for legume genome research

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> House approves Deficit Reduction Act, cuts ag spending

 >> EU response in Doha Round found lacking

 >> USDA's FSA county committee elections begin

 >> Ag producers get second sign-up chance

 >> NOAA monitors moisture

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
12/07/05    Crop News Weekly
The weather has turned south for most of us, we've entered the last month of the year, and this is the day that lives in infamy. Good Pearl Harbor Day to all, especially those who have served our country so well. May our country prosper in the years ahead, and may agriculture always remain in the hands of farmers!

In the top of the news - avian flu. Has it reached our golden shores? No - or at least we hope not. But it is the hot topic at Main Street cafes across rural America. Read about it in our lead story this week. Also this issue, pesticide spray drift is another hot topic, but this time with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, the EPA and agricultural interests are expected to wrestle over the issue all throughout 2006, says Jon Scholl, EPA's counselor for agricultural policy. Elsewhere, and good news, 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. Also this week, a lot of controversy expected over U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman's comments that government support for the ag industry could be cut in half or more. Finally, USDA's National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program has decided to provide up to $5 million of funding for functional genomics and bioinformatics on legume crops such as soybeans.

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



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
Avian influenza concerns continue
12/05/05   
Whether vectored by birds or something else, there is little doubt a flu pandemic threatens the world. However, as many in the poultry industry readily admit, that has always been the case. So it is puzzling why avian influenza (AI) has suddenly become the angst du jour. "This story is really popular," said Phil Wyrick, executive director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. "It just won't level off. The world media continues to ride this horse." Representing the state with the largest poultry base in the nation, Wyrick insists he's "not trying to downplay the tragedy of those who have died from (avian influenza) -- 65 at last count, I believe. How horrible for their families. But I'm not sure the response from the world media is warranted." - David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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EPA addressing pesticide issues
12/05/05   
The issue of pesticide spray drift is expected to generate "a lot of discussion" between the Environmental Protection Agency and agricultural interests during 2006, says Jon Scholl, the agency's counselor for agricultural policy. There will be "a lot of public meetings that will offer opportunities for everyone to be involved," he told members of the Southern Crop Production Association at their annual conference at Orlando, Fla. "This is a difficult issue for the agency," said Scholl, advisor to the EPA administrator. There have been suggestions that drift issues should be addressed in the context of the rulemaking that's currently under way with the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)." - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

'Team effort' preserved 2002 payment limit language
12/05/05   
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. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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The Road Warrior of Agriculture
12/06/05   
Dave Kohl writes: My quick trip to Swift Current and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, with a stop over in Calgary, Alberta, was an encounter with a snowstorm and typical delays with AirCanada. However, once I made it to my destination in Calgary, Delta SkyWest was able to get me through check-in, security and customs in four minutes to make my final destination in Salt Lake City, despite long lines. Discussions with the Canadians found some interesting perspectives and one common question: the beef and livestock producers are doing quite well. Most admit that the closing of the Canadian border was a blessing. This allowed them to develop their processing industry and find new niche markets outside the U.S..." - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Portman calls for cutting farm payments by at least half
12/05/05   
Reading U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman's Oct. 12, 2005, press briefing is like listening to the dialogue of a Saturday night poker game, except that for U.S. farmers the consequences are serious. Portman said, "The expectation as you know was that there would be a 50 percent cut in AMS (Aggregate Measure of Support - a measure of the government's financial support of a sector, in this case agriculture). They challenged us to make a 55 percent cut last week, and the week before. We made a 60 percent cut. . . The truth is that we have spent up to $17 billion in the amber [box] (one of the categories used in the trade negotiations process to signal the level of acceptability of various means of support - amber signaling caution). We can only spend $19.1 billion, -- that is what we are allowed". - Daryll E. Ray, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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USDA provides funding for legume genome research
12/05/05   
USDA's National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program has decided to provide up to $5 million of funding for functional genomics and bioinformatics on legume crops such as soybeans. Research on legume plants offers unique opportunities for basic gene and genomics studies to improve the nutrition, yield and disease-resistance of soybeans and other legume crops. This announcement is a major accomplishment for the U.S. Legume Crops Genomics Initiative, a four-year cooperative effort. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
12/01/05    National Hog Farmer
Record Pork Exports - USDA estimates record U.S. pork exports at $2.4 billion for fiscal year 2006. Total agricultural exports are estimated at $64.5 billion which would be a record. Livestock, poultry, and dairy products are estimated to reach $12.5 billion which is $400 million higher than fiscal year 2005. The top five markets for U.S. agricultural products are Canada, Mexico, Japan, EU-25, and China. Agricultural imports are forecast at $61.4 billion with increases in horticultural products, fresh fruits and vegetable, wine and beer.

South Korea Delays Beef Decision - South Korea's animal quarantine committee has postponed a decision regarding the resumption of U.S. beef imports. The committee is scheduled to meet again later this month. Korea is the third largest market for U.S. beef and beef variety meats. In 2003, the U.S. exported $815 million in beef and beef products to Korea.

BSE Prevention Legislation - Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced S. 2002, the "BSE and Other Prion Disease Prevention and Public Health Protection Act," that would make changes to regulations to prevent BSE in the U.S. The legislation would expand FDA's list of specified risk materials (SRMs) prohibited from use in all animal feeds. It would also ban the use of plate waste, poultry litter, and blood and blood products in feed intended for use in food-producing ruminants. Prion-disease rapid screening tests would be conducted on all cattle and bison 30 months of age or older.

Congress Returns Next Week - The House of Representatives returns December 5 and the Senate on December 12 with a full schedule. Items on the agenda include finishing appropriations bills, budget reconciliation, tax legislation, pension reform, etc. Reaching an agreement on budget reconciliation will be a very difficult undertaking. The Senate cuts $35 billion while the House's budget package cuts $50 billion over five years. It will have to be done with only Republican votes because of united opposition by the Democrats. Some of the items that will need to be resolved regarding agriculture include the differences on the level of commodity program cuts, food stamp cuts, school lunch program, Milk Income Loss Contract (MILK), and conservation programs.

County Committee Elections Ends Dec. 5 - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns urged producers to vote in USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections. The deadline for voting is December 5. Ballots may be returned to local FSA offices by the close of business this coming Monday. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on January 1, 2006.

Election 2006 - As we look towards the 2006 Congressional election, there are now 21 House members who have announced they are retiring or running for another office. There are five Senators who have announced they are retiring. Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) is one who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Congressman Tom Osborne (R-NE) serves on the House Agriculture Committee. He plans to run for Governor of Nebraska. - Scott Shearer

House approves Deficit Reduction Act, cuts ag spending
12/02/05   
The House of Representatives approved legislation that would reduce total mandatory spending by $49.99 billion during fiscal years 2006/2010. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 includes cuts of $3.7 billion in agriculture programs. Passage of the bill on a party line vote of 217-215 sets up a conference with Senate members, whose version of the legislation reduces mandatory spending by $35 billion, including cuts of $3.014 billion over the five years. The conference was to be scheduled after the House and Senate return from their Thanksgiving recess. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

EU response in Doha Round found lacking
12/01/05   
The European Union tabled a new proposal that would reduce tariffs on agricultural products by an average of 46 percent, rekindling hope that a new Doha Round trade agreement could be worked out in time for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong Dec. 13-18. Most of the principal players in the Doha negotiations, including U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, had little good to say about the latest EU proposal, but most agreed it was something to work with to keep the Doha talks moving. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

USDA's FSA county committee elections begin
12/01/05   
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that elections for USDA Farm Service Agency county committees have begun and will run through Dec. 5. Ballots were mailed to eligible producers on Nov. 4. "County committees help administer federal farm programs at the local level, and it is vital that committees represent a cross-section of producers in each community," said Johanns. "I encourage all eligible producers, especially minorities and women, to make a difference in their community by voting in this year's FSA county committee elections." Johanns made the announcement in Springfield, Mo., at the Missouri Farm Bill Forum. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Ag producers get second sign-up chance
12/01/05   
Farmers and ranchers have another chance to sign-up for a program that can help pay for installing or implementing conservation management practices on their land. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is conducting a second round of sign-ups, Nov. 2 until Jan. 16, for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The first sign-up period ended Nov. 1. EQIP provides funds and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers reduce soil erosion, improve water use and protect grazing land by installing conservation practices that protect natural resources. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

NOAA monitors moisture
11/29/05   
Updated Web page offers extensive database and online maps for free. Continuation depends on user feedback. Visit the site and make your comments known. High-quality precipitation analyses used for flood forecasts, drought monitoring and climate trends are available on the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service Web site on a trial basis through June 2006. During this time, the agency will collect comments regarding the service to determine whether it effectively meets users' needs and whether the service should be continued after the trial period. - Wayne Wenzel, Farm Industry News



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