Corn & Soybean Digest Farm Industry News
A PRIMEDIA Property December 14, 2005 | 051214   
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> New Chapter 12 rules friendlier to farmers

 >> POPs legislation introduced by Chambliss, Harkin

 >> Thiesse's Thoughts: The EWG Web Site

 >> Farm groups backing new America's Heartland Series

 >> Road Warrior: Influences Of Cost Of Production

 >> Redesigned NAL Web site brings fresh look

 >> Added fees for registering pesticide products?

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Corn nitrogen rate calculator is online

 >> Farmers need to start planning for 2005 tax season

 >> Biobased plastic flexes its cornstarch muscle

 >> Cochran gains approval for new shipper bill

 >> Fighting crop diseases: major yield boosts

 >> Don't Forget To Sign Up!


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Logan Hawkes
12/14/05    Crop News Weekly
Another full moon is in the sky and the last days before the official start to winter are falling away rather quickly, launching us into another holiday season at full speed. I've said it before but, oh my, how time flies. With 2006 knocking at the door, it's time to start looking ahead. Before you know it, it will be tax time again.

There's a lot of news to send your way this week, starting with the subject of Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Experts are now telling farmers that new rules for Chapter 12 filings may actually benefit the farming community. In other news, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has introduced legislation that would put the United States "at the table" where decisions on persistent organic pollutants or POPs are being made. Also this week, if you've been up in arms over the EWG Web site, Kent Thiesse tells us not to worry. If you examine the site's data carefully, you'll come up with some interesting conclusions. Speaking of Web sites, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) has launched its redesigned Web site as a gateway connecting users swiftly with the services of NAL and with the billions of pages of agricultural information within. And while we're on the subject of online information, corn producers can now calculate the economic return to nitrogen (N) application with different N and corn prices using a new regional Web-based tool located at the Iowa State University Extension Agronomy Web site.

There's a lot more in the news this week and we're tearing at the seams waiting for you to dive in and get informed. Thanks for subscribing to Crop News Weekly. Happy reading.


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New Chapter 12 rules friendlier to farmers
Prior to new federal bankruptcy guidelines going into effect on Oct. 17, there was much speculation that Congress, to the detriment of debtors, had handed the legislative reins over to creditor lobbyists. Now, a month later, that hasn't turned out to be the case -- at least not for the farming community and Chapter 12. "Chapter 12 is actually much friendlier for farming debtors as a result of the new bill," said Susan Schneider, associate law professor at the University of Arkansas. Schneider, who serves as the director of the university's graduate program in agricultural law, says the new and expanded Chapter 12 was no accident." - David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff


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POPs legislation introduced by Chambliss, Harkin
The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry have introduced legislation that would put the United States "at the table" where decisions on persistent organic pollutants or POPs are being made. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs, which went into effect in May 2004, bans or severely restricts 12 crop protection chemicals, nine of which are not available in the United States. (The latter includes organo-chlorine compounds such as DDT.) - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff


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Thiesse's Thoughts: The EWG Web Site
A few years ago an organization called the "Environmental Working Group" (EWG) initiated a new Web site ( that quickly became the hot topic of discussion in coffee shops, grain elevators and on farms throughout the Midwest. The site is a database of all farm program payments paid to listed entities (individuals, partnerships, corporations, etc.), and has recently been updated to include all payments for the past nine years (1995 - 2004). Before everyone gets all worked up about the EWG website and think that most farmers are making a huge windfall, there are a few things to think about. - Kent Thiesse, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Farm groups backing new America's Heartland Series
The National Cotton Council has announced its support of a new weekly public television show that is celebrating the miracle of American agriculture and the farm and ranch families that help make it possible. "America's Heartland" began airing this fall after being distributed to more than 300 U.S. public television stations by America's Public Television, the single largest provider of programming to public television stations. The television series is being produced by KVIE, the public television affiliate in Sacramento, Calif., with the series' two flagship supporters -- the Monsanto Co. and the American Farm Bureau Federation. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Road Warrior: Influences Of Cost Of Production
Dave Kohl writes: "Recently I was addressing the Minnesota Agricultural Bankers Conference in St. Cloud. After a long night of the University students partying outside our hotel (there must be no classes on Friday), we settled down for one of the largest ag lender conferences ever. Bob Craven, the director of the Center for Farm Financial Management, which has a wealth of good benchmark data, discussed the economics of farming. He asked the audience what was the number one factor influencing the cost of production in crop operations. He listed land cost, rent, crop and other input cost, interest, opportunity cost of capital and yield per acre. Do you have the answer?" - The Corn & Soybean Digest


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Redesigned NAL Web site brings fresh look
The National Agricultural Library (NAL) has launched its redesigned Web site ( as a gateway connecting users swiftly with the services of NAL and with the billions of pages of agricultural information within NAL collections and information resources. NAL is part of the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency. Designed with customer preferences in mind, the new NAL site brings a fresh look and faster access to the rich array of agriculture-related information available through NAL. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Added fees for registering pesticide products?
The federal Office of Management and Budget "is up to its old tricks" in trying to increase fees pesticide companies pay to register their products," says Sen. Saxby Chambliss. "Congress passed a good law in 2003, the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, which everyone seems to be satisfied with, and I want to see the law remain in place until it expires in 2008," the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee told members of the Southern Crop Production Association at their annual meeting at Orlando, Fla. He noted also that he has co-sponsored a bill to clarify that pesticides applied according to their label are not also required to have a Clean Water Act permit. - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
Scott Shearer
NPPC Seeks Clean Water Interpretation - The National Pork Producers (NPPC) have joined other agricultural organizations in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling concerning the Clean Water Act. In a friend-of-the-court brief regarding the case Rapanos v. United States of America and Carabell v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, NPPC is asking the court to rule that "ditches, drainage ways or wetlands with only indirect connections to navigable waters are not subject to the provisions of the Clean Water Act." The Act requires a permit to discharge anything into a "navigable" water. NPPC said, "If the interpretation supported by the Corps of Engineers and EPA is allowed to stand pork producers could be subject to Clean Water Act penalties if the manure they spread on their lands reaches a ditch."

Japan Expected to Open this Month - The Japanese Ambassador to the United States has indicated that the Japanese market will reopen this month for U.S. beef. The public comment period on Japan's risk assessment on U.S. beef ended November 29. This week the Japanese Food Safety Commission reported to the Japanese health and agriculture ministries that U.S. beef is safe. A Japanese delegation is expected to arrive in the U.S. next week.

Peru and U.S. Reach Trade Agreement - The United States and Peru have concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA). The FTA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services and expand trade between the U.S. and Peru. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said that when the agreement is implemented, "U.S. pork producers will gain significant new market access in the South American country." According to NPPC the "U.S.-Peru trade agreement will provide an additional 28 million customers for U.S. pork and pork products." In 2004, U.S. exports to Peru were $2.1 billion. Agricultural exports were $301 million with leading products being wheat, cotton, and coarse grains.

USDA Announces Energy Strategy - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced a comprehensive energy strategy designed to help producers dealing with the impact of energy costs. The strategy is to also develop long-term solutions. Johanns announced the formation of the USDA Energy Council. The council will examine USDA programs and authorities to ensure they fit into a comprehensive energy strategy. USDA will be looking at creating risk management tools that would help producers to "manage the adverse impacts of high energy and energy-related input costs." Also, USDA is co-sponsoring the Energy Agriculture Forum to discuss new technology, programs and initiatives that will increase energy production from agriculture. The Forum will be held December 14-15 in St. Louis.

Immigration - Border Security Legislation - Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced H.R. 4437 which would increase border security and increase immigration enforcement. The legislation would require employers to verify the status of all new employees within two years of enactment, and within six years all employees would have to be checked. Currently companies can participate in a voluntary employment verification program (Basic Pilot) for new employees. Employers would be exempt from liability when using and relying on the date from the employment verification program.

WTO Ministerial Next Week - Next week the WTO Ministerial will be meeting in Hong Kong in an effort to move forward on the Doha Round. Agriculture is a very critical area and key to the negotiations. Key areas for agriculture are market access, domestic support and export subsidies.

Feed Rule Comments - December 20 is the deadline for public comments on the Food and Drug Administration's proposal, "Substances Prohibited from Use in Animal Food or Feed." The proposal is to continue to minimize the risk of BSE in the U.S. The proposal can be found at It is docket No. 2002N-0273.

Butler Resigns As Deputy Under Secretary of AG - Dr. Jim Butler has resigned as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Butler will become deputy director general of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. - National Hog Farmer

Corn nitrogen rate calculator is online
Corn producers can calculate the economic return to nitrogen (N) application with different N and corn prices using a new regional Web-based tool located at the Iowa State University Extension Agronomy Web site. The Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator, online at, follows a newly developed regional approach for determining corn N rate guidelines that is being implemented in several Corn Belt states. The Web site includes an animated demonstration of the calculator. University soil fertility specialists from the Corn Belt states began discussions in 2004 regarding N rates for corn production, according to John Sawyer, ISU Extension soil fertility specialist. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Farmers need to start planning for 2005 tax season
Now is the time for farmers to do year-end tax planning and assess farm income, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Farm Business Association's director says. Low crop prices pushed 2005's net farm incomes down, meaning farmers may earn less money this year. That means a grain farmer may want to bring in income to this year's tax return by perhaps selling more commodities this year rather than deferring that income until next year, says Tina Barrett. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Biobased plastic flexes its cornstarch muscle
Electroactive polymers -- plastics that expand or contract when stimulated by electricity -- can now be made from plants rather than petrochemicals, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Peoria, Ill. There is now significant interest in the possible use of electroactive polymers in many industrial and biomedical applications, from light-emitting diodes and controlled-release devices to artificial muscles and environmental sensors. The material is typically petroleum-based, but ARS researchers Victoria Finkenstadt and J.L. Willett showed that plant polysaccharides like starch can work just as well. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Cochran gains approval for new shipper bill
The Senate approved a bill introduced by Sen. Thad Cochran that will protect the U.S. agricultural industry and increase revenue to the Federal Treasury by tightening the standards on the collection of import duties. The New Shipper Review Amendment Act, which passed by unanimous consent Wednesday night, closes a loophole in U.S. law that has allowed new shippers to bypass antidumping and countervailing duties. Under current law, new shippers are given the option of posting either a cash deposit or a bond as security for the amount of duties that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection will ultimately assess against the imports. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Fighting crop diseases: major yield boosts
Spore Wars: That's the movie take-off term Leonard Gianessi uses in discussing the very important role that fungicides play in U.S. and world crop production. From strawberries to peanuts to pecans and a host of other crops in between, major increases in production have paralleled the development and adoption of effective fungicides, he says. Gianessi, who heads the Crop Protection Research Institute, a non-advocacy research organization that focuses on the economic analysis of agricultural pests, pest management, and pesticide use/regulation, says U.S. producers -- including organic growers -- apply more than 100 million pounds of fungicides every year to battle fungi that could otherwise wreak havoc with crops. - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Don't Forget To Sign Up!
12/14/05    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.


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