Corn & Soybean Digest Farm Industry News
A PRIMEDIA Property December 21, 2005 | 051221   
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Chambliss proposes guest worker reforms

 >> Change of mindset needed for biofuels potential

 >> Column: Lessons learned in 2005

 >> As the Hong Kong WTO meeting spins...

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Congressmen, farm groups want OFAC language

 >> Berry says disaster bill chances decreasing

 >> Agriculture could play major role in U.S. energy picture

 >> Producers argue science, consumers prefer caution

 >> Brazil moving ahead with biofuel initiatives


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Logan Hawkes
12/21/05    Crop News Weekly
Merry Christmas Week on the Farm! Just a programming note: Since both the Christmas and New Year breaks fall on a long weekend this year, Crop News Weekly will publish its normal schedule through the first week of January. The next two issues may arrive in your mail boxes a few hours later than usual on each Wednesday to allow for staff scheduling, but watch for us on the same usual day as always.

Speaking of the holidays, holiday cheer to all! The year is just about to slip away into the history books, and I certainly hope it was a prosperous one for you and yours. Here's to a bigger, better year in 2006!

Down to business and leading off our coverage this week, immigrant farm workers may get a break if legislation is passed as proposed by Sen. Saxby Chambliss that would streamline and expand the H-2A guest worker program and allow some who have entered the country illegally to obtain legal, temporary, nonimmigrant status. Also in the news this week, chances are the topic at your favorite breakfast place is usually about the weather. Perhaps not anymore. Fuel costs have replaced the old standard. The better question may be, for how much longer? And speaking of questions, there has been a flurry of those flying around Hong Kong as world trade ministers strain with the burden of a zealous world press - and others. On the home front, some legislative reps are speculating that unusually raucous debate in the House of Representatives over a call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq may have hurt the chances for the passage of disaster assistance legislation for U.S. farmers. And finally, it's not unrealistic to assume that by 2025, agriculture will be supplying as much as 35 percent of the U.S. energy supply. Just how good will that be for U.S. farmers?

You'll find these stories and a host of others in this issue of Crop News Weekly. Happy reading and Happy Holidays!


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Chambliss proposes guest worker reforms
Sen. Saxby Chambliss has introduced a bill that would streamline and expand the H-2A guest worker program and allow some who have entered the country illegally to obtain legal, temporary, nonimmigrant status. Given the current political climate surrounding border issues, the legislation would also beef up Customs and Border Patrol personnel and detention facilities and allow local and state law enforcement officers with proper training to enforce immigration laws along the nation's boundaries. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff


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Change of mindset needed for biofuels potential
There was a time when the main topic of conversation at the farmers' favorite breakfast or lunch place was the weather, and, if everyone was agreeable with the topic, the current state of government affairs. Now, it's all about fuel costs. And it's certainly not as if there is little else of importance occurring in agriculture. In the past few months alone, the United States' chief negotiator in World Trade Organization talks has suggested eliminating all U.S. farm subsidies. - Paul Hollis, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Column: Lessons learned in 2005
I often reserve my final column of the year to discuss some of the most memorable events of the previous 12 months. It's an opportunity to reflect on where I've been, recall the people I've met and chastise myself for not doing a better job of telling their stories. So, with that in mind, I'm not going to do that this year. I will, however, discuss some of the things I've learned not to do and perhaps will save some of you the pain and/or embarrassment of making similar mistakes. Consider this your don't list for 2006. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff


""Lambsquarters are tough. By the time they die completely with glyphosate, it's too late. We have to have a pre-emergence herbicide to knock them out to get picture-perfect, high-performance fields. We are managing to prevent glyphosate resistance on our farm, because resistance will add cost. In corn, we use LUMAX with a burndown of Gramoxone and 2-4D pre-plant to get good weed control with more than one mode of action."
Blake Johnson, Holdrege, Neb.

As the Hong Kong WTO meeting spins...
"Can you spin it?" appears to be the only really important question in Hong Kong as trade ministers from around the world and emboldened non-governmental organizations apparently wish to "spin" the WTO right into the ground. The press spin has increased as the week drags on, making progress difficult for the WTO member countries. Diametrically opposed quotes from the same interest are as common as the protesters who line the streets every day. U.S. cotton programs have been a focal point again and have been alleged to be responsible for suicide, poverty, death and destruction the world over. As such, it has been receiving the lion's share of spin. - Bill Gillon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
12/16/05    Scott Shearer
US Beef to Japan - Japan announced this week that it was reopening its market to U.S. and Canadian beef from cattle 20 months of age and younger. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said, "Resuming beef trade with Japan is great news for American producers and Japanese consumers, as well as an important step toward normalized trade based on scientifically sound, internationally recognized standards." The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) in a press release said, "We're much relieved to see some genuine movement here, but U.S. cattlemen will continue to work toward fully re-instating access for our products around the world, based upon internationally recognized BSE guidelines." The American Meat Institute (AMI) viewed the announcement as a partial reopening of the Japanese market. AMI urged the Japanese government to adhere to OIE standards and allow beef under 30 months to enter the Japanese market. The Japanese market has been closed to U.S. beef and beef products since December 2003 with the discovery of the first BSE-infected cow in the United States. U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan in 2003 were $1.4 billion.

GAO Study on Mandatory Price Reporting - The General Accountability Office (GAO) released its report on the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act. The report, "Livestock Market Reporting: USDA Has Taken Some Steps to Ensure Quality, but Additional Efforts Are Needed," was requested by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA). According to the GAO, USDA has taken "important actions" to produce quality livestock market news reports, but that "USDA could improve the reports' transparency." The GAO recommended that if Congress extends the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act then the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to:

  • "Increase transparency by (1) reporting to market news readers on its reporters' instructions for making reporting decisions that reflect prevailing market conditions, (2) periodically reporting on the effects of reporters' decisions on AMS reported prices, and (3) reporting the results of its audit efforts.
  • Clarify AMS reporter's instructions to make them more specific and consistent by (1) consulting with packers, producers, agricultural economists, and other interested stakeholders, and (2) undertaking revisions that consider economic analyses of past reporting trends, livestock and meat market variations, and federal statistical and information reporting guidance.
  • Develop information about the overall accuracy of packers' transaction data by auditing a statistical sample of packers' transactions.
  • Further develop AMS audit strategies to identify recurring significant problems.
  • Address the timeliness and consistency of AMS reporters' efforts to follow-up on audit findings."

    In a press release, Senator Harkin said, "GAO found that many times these price reports are inaccurate and that USDA is not letting the public know when it finds late or incorrect information." Senator Grassley said, the GAO report shows that "we had some serious flaws in the Mandatory Price Reporting law that needed to be changed"

    Congress Not Expected to Renew MPR This Year - Congress is not expected to renew mandatory livestock price reporting before they adjourn for the year. Now that the GAO report has been released, Senators Grassley and Harkin want to modify the law. Differences continue between the House and the Senate versions of the legislation. Earlier this year, the Senate passed S. 1613 which extends mandatory price reporting through September 30, 2006. The House has passed H.R. 3408 which extends the law for five-years. The act expired September 30.

    USDA to Allow Japanese Beef into US - USDA announced that it was amending regulations that will now allow the importation of whole cuts of boneless beef from Japan. Beef from Japan may be imported into the U.S. if:

  • The beef is prepared in an establishment that is eligible to have its products imported to the United States under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. This includes provisions that specified-risk materials (SRMs) must be removed under appropriate conditions and it also prohibits the use of air-injection stunning devices.
  • The beef must be derived from cattle that are not subjected to a pithing process at slaughter.
  • The mitigation measures must be certified on an original certificate issued by an authorized veterinary official of the Japanese government.

    Congress Expected to Finish This Weekend - The House and Senate are expected to finish their legislative work this weekend for the year. They hope to complete budget reconciliation, Hurricane Katrina relief, defense authorization, renewal of the Patriot Act, etc. Many items will be carried over until next year including pension reform, tax legislation, immigration reform and mandatory price reporting. - National Hog Farmer


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    Congressmen, farm groups want OFAC language
    A large group of senators, representatives and farm and trade organizations has called on a House-Senate Conference Committee to prohibit the use of fiscal year 2006 funding to enforce the Treasury Department's payment-in-advance rule for cash agricultural sales to Cuba. The request by seven senators, 42 House members and 55 farm organizations is setting up a potential confrontation with the White House, which has threatened to veto legislation that contains the Cuba agricultural trade language sought by the letter writers. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Berry says disaster bill chances decreasing
    The recent, unusually raucous debate in the House of Representatives over a call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq may have hurt the chances for the passage of disaster assistance legislation for U.S. farmers. "Two weeks ago before we came home for the Thanksgiving recess, I would have told you I thought the likelihood of that legislation passing would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 percent," said Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. "Then we got in one of those disgusting, political, partisan knife fights, and everybody lost focus on anything that didn't amount to a hill of beans. All we did was call each other names, and, as you all know, that was very unproductive and didn't get anything done for anybody." - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Agriculture could play major role in U.S. energy picture
    It's not unrealistic to assume that by 2025, agriculture will be supplying as much as 35 percent of the U.S. energy supply, says David Bransby, an Auburn University professor of agronomy and soils and a nationally recognized authority on biofuel alternatives. Bransby spoke at the recent Alabama Agriculture Energy Conference held in Auburn. "The United States accounts for 25 percent of the global consumption of oil, but we own only 3 percent, making us critically vulnerable," says Bransby. "We import more than 60 percent of what we use, and 15 percent of that comes from the unstable Middle East. It's not possible to replace that 60 percent, but it is possible to replace that 15 percent." <0>- Paul Hollis, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Producers argue science, consumers prefer caution
    U.S. agricultural and trade negotiators have been pressuring the Japanese to reopen their market, which has been closed to U.S. beef since BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or mad cow disease) was first detected in the U.S. herd at the end of 2003. The U.S. is also in a trade dispute with the EU (European Union) over the EU's restrictions on the importation of GMO (genetically modified organism) crops. In both cases the United States has argued that, on the basis of "sound science," both of these trade restrictions ought to be lifted. On the face of it, it would seem that the U.S. argument is very strong. After all, how could and why would one argue against sound science? For their part, the Europeans and the Japanese defend their actions on the basis of the "precautionary principle." - Daryll E. Ray, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Brazil moving ahead with biofuel initiatives
    Last month Brazil took a big step forward with its biofuel usage and research program with the launching of a large scale National Agroenergy Plan. Its goals are to set policies countrywide to encourage farmers to start producing and using biofuel more consistently. Around the primary producing areas of Brazil, natural energy sources are already used to generate electricity and to run small engines. The government wants to boost the scale of these practices with the new effort. The primary reason for the initiative is to rely less on oil and prepare the production chain to inevitable fossil fuel shortages. Experts working for the program say that around 2050, oil prices will be prohibitive and the world, farmers included, will need to have an energy source other than petroleum. - Sergio Osse, Farm Press Editorial Staff


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