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Crop News Weekly
If you think we are enjoying a mild winter
season, just wait a couple of weeks. Sure, all the signs are there
that this winter may be less of a winter than most. But farmers who have
been around the block a few times are saying it's far too early to start
calling the warmer temps a winter trend. Midwestern growers particularly
know how fast the weather can turn on you. So enjoy it while you can.
Speaking of icy weather, in the top of the news this week, at least one
Texas politician is wondering why there is a shortage of funds to
support U.S. agriculture, but there seems to be plenty of federal money
to study ice conditions on the moon. And we're not even talking about
the Earth's moon. Also this week, as we head into 2006, there are many
unresolved farm policy issues that will likely be on the front-burner in
the coming months. Depending on the course of action by USDA, Congress
and others, some of these issues could have an impact on Midwest farm
operators. Elsewhere in the news, fertilizer prices are at record highs.
What can you do to reduce costs without risking yield reduction? Answers
to these and other questions are available at the upcoming Conservation
Tillage Conference & Expo. Make arrangements now to attend. Speaking of
farm conferences, the annual Iowa Soybean Association's (ISA) On-Farm
Network Nitrogen Conference will take place Feb. 22, 2006, at the
Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines. And finally this week, the need for
the U.S. to completely dismantle its farm program is one of the ideas
being spread at this time by think tanks, academics, and trade
officials. The argument is that the current program with its LDP/MLGs
and counter-cyclical payments subsidize the export of U.S. grain at
below the cost of production leaving us open to charges of dumping.
You'll find these stories and more in this issue of Crop News
Weekly. Happy reading.
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moons of Jupiter' more important than agriculture?
The national debt is projected to reach $7.8 trillion
this fiscal year, but the federal government continues to spend money on
projects such as a $248-million study of the icy moons of Jupiter. Rep.
Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, doesn't understand why the government is
shelling out that kind of money for what he clearly considers to be
frivolous research when it's is also planning to cut farm program
spending by at least $3.7 billion over the next five years. Cuellar, a
late addition to the program at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San
Antonio, says the federal government has a number of areas it could cut
spending -- including excessive payments to Medicare practitioners --
before it reduces funding for agriculture. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press
farm policy issues for 2006
As we head into 2006, there are many unresolved farm
policy issues that will likely be on the front-burner in the coming
months. Depending on the course of action by USDA, Congress and others,
some of these issues could have an impact on Midwest farm operators.
Following are a couple of the key farm policy issues for 2006. WTO
Negotiations: The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial meeting was
held in Hong Kong in mid-December, as part of the continuing Doha Round
of WTO trade negotiations. There were very few final policy agreements
at the recent WTO meetings; however, following are some items that were
agreed upon. New Farm Bill: The current Farm Bill was passed in 2002,
and was set up to govern farm commodity programs from 2002 through 2007,
meaning we have less than two years remaining on the current Farm Bill.
- Kent Thiesse, Farm Press Editorial Staff
News from the Top of the
National Hog Farmer
Congress Returns this Month - Congress returns
this month for the second session of the 109th Congress. The Senate will
begin hearings next week on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the
Supreme Court. The House will return January 31 in which it will begin
completing the unfinished business of budget reconciliation. Congress'
agenda will include taxes, pension reform, appropriations, Patriot Act,
etc. President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address on
January 31 in which he will present the administration's agenda. Two
issues that will impact this year's Congressional agenda will be the
2006 Congressional elections and the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Defense Department to Study Alternative Fuels - The 2006 National
Defense Authorization bill requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct
a study on the use of biodiesel and ethanol fuel by the Armed Forces and
the Defense Agencies and "any measures that can be taken to increase
such use." Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), author of the provision,
said, "I am encouraged by the fact that the Pentagon has already taken
some steps to adopt alternative fuels, but I wanted this language in the
defense bill to make clear to the Defense Department that Congress
supports research and development and the increased use of alternative
Food Allergy Label Law - This week the new federal law, "Food
Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act," went into effect that
requires that food labels list whether a product contains any of eight
major allergy-causing foods. The law requires the label to say if a
product contains protein from milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish,
tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybean. It is estimated that 11 million
Americans have food allergies.
Agriculture's Future Challenges - The American Farm Bureau
Federation (AFBF) has completed a two-year study, "Making American
Agriculture Productive & Profitable," regarding U.S. agriculture's
future. The study is to help "develop a vision of where American
agriculture should be in 2019 and then develop policy recommendations."
The study will be officially released next week at AFBF's annual
convention. The study identified trends affecting agriculture. They
Government support for agriculture will look very different in 2019;
the farm bills of recent years will be nothing like the farm bills of
America will have fewer farms producing a larger percentage of total
U.S. food and fiber, but there also will be more smaller farms.
Farmers will be more dependent on rural communities than rural
communities will be dependent on agriculture.
Global trade will be driving agricultural profitability, because
more than 96 percent of the world's population will be living outside
the United States.
More farmers and ranchers will have learned to produce what they can
sell and not simply sell what they produce.
Market forces will be driving the implementation of more
Agricultural research and technology will be global in scope rather
than focused nationally.
Crowder Confirmed AG Trade Ambassador - The United States Senate
confirmed Richard Crowder as Chief Agriculture Trade Negotiator at USTR.
Previously, Crowder served as President and CEO of the American Seed
Trade Association. He was Under Secretary of Agriculture for
International Affairs and Commodity Programs from 1989-1992. - Scott
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Conservation-Tillage Conference &
Fertilizer prices are at record highs. What can you do
to reduce costs without risking yield reduction? Answers to these and
other questions are available at the Conservation Tillage Conference &
Expo. A special Program Track is devoted to helping you "Fertilize for
More Profit." Variable rates, zone vs. grid sampling, new products to
get more from N and soil quality and structure will be discussed by
university experts and conservation-minded farmers.
Attend and come away with strategies that can help you reduce costs
without sacrificing yield. The Conference is being held Feb. 1-2, 2006
in Sioux Falls, SD at the Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center.
To see the complete program, register and get hotel information, go to
or call 1-800-722-5334.
Network Nitrogen Conference scheduled
The annual Iowa Soybean Association's (ISA) On-Farm
Network Nitrogen Conference will take place Feb. 22, 2006, at the
Airport Holiday Inn, 6111 Fleur Drive, in Des Moines. Registration will
begin at 8 a.m. and the first session will start at 9 a.m. For those who
register and pay before Feb. 1, 2006, there will be a $45 advance
registration fee, which will include conference materials and lunch. For
those registering after Feb. 1 or paying at the door the fee will be
$65. Tracy Blackmer, ISA director of research, says a number of
participating growers have found they can cut nitrogen rates by 50
lbs./acre or more without reducing nitrogen (N) yields. - The Corn &
Warrior: Cash Flow Vs. Collateral
Agriculture road Warrior Dave Kohl writes: "If
it's all about cash flow and earnings, why does my agrilender still
require collateral, particularly the land?" This was a question posed to
me at a recent agricultural producers' seminar in Grand Island, NE.
These comments were preceded by the forecast that in 2006 more
agrilenders would request cash flow and documentation of earnings with
the continuing saga of rising costs and general inflation with
suppressed commodity prices." - Dave Kohl, The Corn & Soybean
to Farm: The root of current farm problems
The need for the U.S. to completely dismantle its farm
program is one of the ideas being spread at this time by think tanks,
academics, and trade officials. The argument is that the current program
with its LDP/MLGs and counter-cyclical payments subsidize the export of
U.S. grain at below the cost of production leaving us open to charges of
dumping. This is essentially the argument that Daniel A. Sumner makes in
the analysis he did for the Cato Institute, Boxed In: Conflicts between
U.S. Farm Policies and WTO Obligations. We have looked at the model that
Sumner used in his analysis and found it showed by looking at crops one
at a time he came to some very questionable conclusions. - Daryll E.
Ray, Farm Press Editorial Staff
after first year of Asian soybean rust
Asian soybean rust might seem to have been just a
flash in a pan after its first full season in the United States. But,
before growers get too laid back, consider this: It took three years for
Asian rust to become widespread in Brazil. Soybean rust made only a few
appearances in the Mid-South -- in one county in Louisiana, two
counties in Mississippi, one county in Texas and in kudzu in Kentucky
-- in 2005. The disease popped up more frequently in Alabama, Florida,
Georgia and the Carolinas, but Mid-South growers mostly dodged a bullet
last year. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff
CAFTA-DR implementation delay not a concern
Free trade agreements such as the Central
American--Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) have
enormous implications for corn growers and the agriculture industry.
They must also be implemented in the right way. That, according to
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Joint Trade Policy A-Team
Chairman Bob Bowman, is why corn growers are not overly concerned with
the delay of the agreement last week. CAFTA-DR, which was originally
scheduled for implementation on Jan. 1, has been delayed so that the
involved countries can finalize their national policies to put the
agreement into force. The U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office said
although implementation is delayed, the United States will be ready to
put the agreement into effect with the other countries on a rolling
basis as individual countries complete the process. - NCGA
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