Corn & Soybean Digest Farm Industry News
A Prism Business Media Publication January 25, 2006 | 060125   
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Ag Sciences Week, Show-Me Ag Classic

 >> West African farmers 'pawns' in WTO chess game

 >> Lower income projected for crops and livestock

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Do you have what it takes?

 >> Gas, diesel prices likely will hold steady in 2006

 >> Freedom to farm: The root of current problems

 >> Biodiesel leaders request enhanced quality control

 >> New Japanese beef health concern blocks U.S. exports again

 >> Variable rate tech may improve farm efficiency

 >> Drought conditions persist across Southwest region

 >> Conservation Tillage Conference & Expo

Logan Hawkes
01/25/06    Crop News Weekly
Nearly half way through the winter and already weather gurus are talking about the coming tropical season. So far, I suppose, we haven't had a lot of hard winter, and let's hope it stays that way. The next hurricane season, according to forecasters, may be another rough one for the Gulf coast region. Are those levies repaired yet?

There's a lot to ponder in the news this week, starting with the bad news that, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, it's going to be another slim year for farm profits. Lower income is being projected for both crops and livestock in 2006. In other news, is the American food supply safe? The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced that they will conduct five food defense exercises this year to find out. Also this week, and a little brighter news, barring another major disruption, gasoline and diesel prices are expected to hold steady in 2006, according to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economist. Speaking of fuel, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and Minnesota Biodiesel Council (MBC) presented an action plan to the Minnesota Department of Commerce last week to increase quality control measures and ensure that only high-grade biodiesel is released into the state's diesel fuel pool. And finally this week, and back to weather, serious drought conditions across Texas and much of the Southwest are expected to take a bite out of this year's agriculture production. Wildfires continue to spread, stock ponds are drying up and winter wheat is not germinating in the fields across much of the region.

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


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Ag Sciences Week, Show-Me Ag Classic
More than 1,500 producers, dealers, industry representatives, faculty, students and staff are expected to attend the 2006 University of Missouri Ag Sciences Week and Show-Me Ag Classic, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, on the MU campus here. Events begin Jan. 31 with the MO-AG Custom Applicator Workshop. In addition to providing the opportunity to be recertified as custom applicators, attending certified crop advisors can receive 12.5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the workshop, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Jan. 31, and 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., Feb. 1, at the Hearnes Center. Cost for the workshop is $175 for MO-AG members and $225 for non-members. For more information, contact Jeff Leonard at (573) 636-6130. - Farm Press Daily

West African farmers 'pawns' in WTO chess game
On a trip to Argentina a few years ago, I was standing in a soybean field listening to a group of U.S. farmers commiserate with the Argentine grower about a weed problem he was experiencing. After a few minutes, the ag attaché with the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires began shepherding the U.S. farmers back to the bus. As soon as we were out of earshot, the attaché admonished them about trying to help people who were among their fiercest competitors. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff


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Lower income projected for crops and livestock
Agricultural economists at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting projected that farmers and ranchers will see less income from major crops and livestock during 2006. Revenue is projected to be lower for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, according to Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., vice president of Informa Economics. He noted higher fertilizer and energy costs will negatively impact farmer income. "Projections are for lower yields and lower acres of corn in 2006," Sullivan says. Corn prices should average at the "loan level" for 2006, he says. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

News from the Top of the Hill
01/20/06    National Hog Farmer
Swine Genome - USDA announced the University of Illinois was receiving an award of $10 million to obtain a "draft sequence of the swine genome." The two-year project, according to USDA, will develop new DNA-based tools to "identify and select genetically superior pigs that resist infectious diseases, yield larger litter sizes, and produce leaner cuts of meat for consumers."

Congress & Livestock-Meat Issues - There are a number of bills that were introduced last year in Congress that have been carried over this year. With Congress returning this month, the following is a summary of the various bills concerning the livestock and meat industries.

  • Arbitration in Livestock & Poultry Contracts Legislation - Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) have introduced S. 2131 that limits the use of arbitration in contracts. The legislation would prevent the use of arbitration in livestock and poultry contracts unless both parties have given written consent to use arbitration after a dispute arises. In introducing S. 2131 Senator Grassley said, "Often when there is a dispute between the packer and the family farmer, and the contract between the two includes an arbitration clause, the family farmer has no alternative but to accept arbitration to resolve the dispute. Arbitration has its benefits in certain cases, so it should be an option, but is should not be the only option." Grassley and Feingold introduced similar legislation in the 108th Congress.

  • Country-of-Origin Labeling - The fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill delayed the implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) until 2008. Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Marion Berry (D-AR) have introduced H.R. 2068 which would establish a voluntary COOL program. Similar legislation (S. 1333) has been introduced in the Senate by Senators John Cronyn (R-TX) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). The proponents of mandatory COOL have indicated they plan too have this issue considered again by Congress this year.

  • Livestock Contracts - Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced legislation that would prohibit or restrict the use of forward contracts for livestock. S. 960, the "Captive Supply Reform Act," would amend the Packer and Stockyards Act to outlaw "forward contract" and "formula price" as defined by the legislation. A forward contract would be defined as an "oral or written contract for the purchase of livestock that provides for the delivery of the livestock to a packer at a date that more than 7 days after the date on which the contract is entered into." The legislation defines formula price as "any price term that establishes a base from which a purchase price is calculated on the basis of a price that will not be determined or reported until a date after the day the forward price is established." Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) has introduced similar legislation in the House.

  • Mandatory Price Reporting - Differences between the House and Senate caused mandatory livestock price reporting to expire on September 30, 2005. The House of Representatives passed legislation that renewed price reporting for five years and the Senate passed legislation that renewed it for one year. Efforts will be made this spring for Congress to renew mandatory price reporting.

  • Packer Ban - Senator Grassley (R-IA) introduced S. 818 which would make it unlawful for packers to own, feed, or control livestock intended for slaughter. There are four exemptions to this ban: 1) an agreement entered into within 7 days prior to slaughter; 2) a cooperative or entity owned by a cooperative (this would not apply to a new generation cooperative LLC); 3) a packer not required to participate in USDA's mandatory price reporting program; and 4) a packer that has one livestock processing facility. The Senate passed similar legislation during consideration of the 2002 farm bill.

    FSIS' Efforts to Safeguard the Nation's Food Supply - USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced that they will conduct five food defense exercises this year. The exercises in collaboration with states and private industry are to provide additional efforts to protect the U.S. food supply. According to USDA the exercises are designed to "practice reporting a non-routine incident while coordinating with all levels of government, non-governmental agencies and the private sector in an incident command system structure." The exercises will be conducted in Alameda, CA; Chicago, IL; Raleigh, NC; Minneapolis, MN and Albany, NY. - Scott Shearer, National Hog Farmer


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    Do you have what it takes?
    Dave Kohl writes: "Recently I was visiting with some of my academic colleagues from around the nation concerning the attributes of effective agricultural managers. Let's not confine this to agriculture. It could be any manager, for-profit to non-profit. How do you size up? This winter I will inter-mix these attributes with other current issues in my columns. One attribute that is rising to the top of this list is a manager who is objective, but values performance and action." - The Corn & Soybean Digest


    ""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.

    Gas, diesel prices likely will hold steady in 2006
    Barring another major disruption, gasoline and diesel prices are expected to hold steady in 2006, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economist says. With world demand for energy growing faster than crude oil is being produced, Nebraskans will have to continue to budget more money for gasoline and diesel expenses, says Dennis Conley, agricultural economist in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Unleaded fuel soared to more than $3/gallon in 2005 and diesel to about $2.75. Prices have dropped but consumers shouldn't expect big price declines in 2006. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

    Freedom to farm: The root of current 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. - Darryl E. Ray, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Biodiesel leaders request enhanced quality control
    National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and Minnesota Biodiesel Council (MBC) presented an action plan to the Minnesota Department of Commerce Jan. 11 to increase quality control measures and ensure that only high-grade biodiesel is released into the state's diesel fuel pool. The recommendations include calling for all biodiesel producers to become accredited under "BQ-9000," the industry's quality assurance program. Minnesota law mandates the state's diesel fuel supply contain a blend of 2 percent biodiesel (B2). In December, it was confirmed that some biodiesel that did not meet the specification was delivered to some Minnesota terminals. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

    New Japanese beef health concern blocks U.S. exports again
    It's back to the drawing board, at least temporarily, for the U.S. beef industry's desire to conduct business once again with Japan. Less than two months after Japan's government finally, but conditionally reopened its doors to U.S. raised-beef, a new health scare has shut the doors again. On Friday, Japan's prime minister announced the decision after an animal spine was discovered in a beef shipment at Tokyo International Airport. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the decision was initiated by Japan's agricultural minister, Shoichi Nakagawa. - Andy Bell, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Variable rate tech may improve farm efficiency
    Variable rate irrigation technology offers cotton farmers an opportunity to get more drop for the crop but has a way to go to get more crop for the drop. "We have the technology," says James Mahan, USDA-ARS, Lubbock, Texas. "But we're lagging in (plant physiology) theory." Mahan discussed work on variable rate irrigation during a panel discussion at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Drought conditions persist across Southwest region
    Drought rings in the New Year across the Southwest as many areas log up to six months without appreciable rainfall. Stock tanks are either dry or falling fast. Fall-planted wheat has either not germinated or got just enough rain to poke through the soil and then wither in dry, windy conditions. Wildfires have destroyed rangeland and landscapes, and homes and have accounted for several fatalities in Texas. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates conditions across most of the South as very dry. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Conservation Tillage Conference & Expo
    01/24/06    The Corn & Soybean Digest
    What does new technology have to do with conserving the soil? It presents many new opportunities to make conservation measures easier to do and more profitable, according to some experts. These technologies include new seeds with better cold tolerance, auto guidance to make site-specific management easier and multi-level sensing programs that give farmers a picture ranging from the sky above to below the ground.

    All these and more will be explored at the 2006 Conservation Tillage Conference & Expo in Sioux Falls, SD Feb. 1-2.

    To view the complete program and to register go to or call 1-800-722-5334 to register to attend.


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