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A Prism Business Media Publication January 11, 2006 | 060111   

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> 'Icy moons of Jupiter' more important than agriculture?

 >> Key farm policy issues for 2006

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Conservation-Tillage Conference & Expo

 >> On-Farm Network Nitrogen Conference scheduled

 >> Road Warrior: Cash Flow Vs. Collateral

 >> Freedom to Farm: The root of current farm problems

 >> Questions after first year of Asian soybean rust

 >> NCGA: CAFTA-DR implementation delay not a concern

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
01/11/06    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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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
'Icy moons of Jupiter' more important than agriculture?
01/09/06   
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 Editorial Staff

Key farm policy issues for 2006
01/10/05   
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 Hill
01/06/06    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 fuels."

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 include:

  • Government support for agriculture will look very different in 2019; the farm bills of recent years will be nothing like the farm bills of the future.
  • 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 environmental practices.
  • 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 Shearer

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    Conservation-Tillage Conference & Expo
    01/11/05   
    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 http://www.tillageconference.com, or call 1-800-722-5334.

    On-Farm 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 & Soybean Digest

    Road Warrior: Cash Flow Vs. Collateral
    01/05/06   
    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 Digest

    Freedom to Farm: The root of current farm problems
    01/05/06   
    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

    Questions after first year of Asian soybean rust
    01/06/06   
    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

    NCGA: CAFTA-DR implementation delay not a concern
    01/04/06   
    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 News



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