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A Prism Business Media Publication March 22, 2006 | 060322   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> House Committee rejects disaster amendment -- again

 >> Purdue Center For Crop Biosecurity set to protect

 >> SCN-resistant soybeans can offer false security

 >> U.S. farm groups: 'Don't weaken now'

 >> Maintaining safety net crucial as farm bill progresses

 >> Forces driving the farm bill debate

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Bird flu has implications for U.S. agriculture

 >> Thiesse's Thoughts: National Ag Week

 >> Renewable fuels should be part of real energy policy

 >> 2006 to present more challenges to farmers

 >> ASA voting delegates set policy direction

 >> Start honing those marketing skills, just in case

 >> USDA crop forecasts studied

 >> Purdue Field Guide An Agronomic Best-seller

 >> Not your Daddy's farm

 >> Soybean checkoff tunes in to customer needs

 >> Apt questions on turning 56

 >> Sign Up for MarketMaxx

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
03/22/06    Crop News Weekly
It's official now - the start of the 2006 spring season. And isn't it just like old man weather, we have now gone from a warm winter to a cool spring in the Midwest - almost overnight. Strange weather! And that's not counting the wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma that have turned into floods, or the deadly tornadoes in Missouri. Southern parts of Texas have also been experiencing a heat wave that has lasted most of the winter. It all makes you worry about hurricane season just around the corner. Should we expect summer snows? One thing is for certain, spring brings with it an abundance of ag news to ponder. Let's get started.

Speaking of weather problems, in the spotlight this week, House Appropriations Committee members voted along party lines to reject an amendment that would have provided $3.4 billion in assistance to farmers who experienced losses due to hurricanes, droughts or other weather disasters in 2005. In other news, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's director of congressional relations, Dana Brooks, the driving forces for the 2007 farm bill will be the budget, the WTO, current farm conditions and politics. Meanwhile, the American Soybean Association and 15 other farm groups are asking the Bush administration to make sure nothing happens to water down "meaningful" market access provisions in any Doha Development Round agreement. In other farm bill news, agricultural commodity groups are beginning to circle their wagons in anticipation of a new round of farm bill discussions. And as debate begins on legislation many believe will be signed sometime in 2008, observers acknowledge that keeping individual wagons from straying off on their own will be more important than ever.

There's a great deal more news to cover this issue, so time to dig in. Thanks for reading Crop News Weekly.



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
House Committee rejects disaster amendment -- again
03/20/06   
House Appropriations Committee members voted along party lines to reject an amendment that would have provided $3.4 billion in assistance to farmers who experienced losses due to hurricanes, droughts or other weather disasters in 2005. Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., offered the legislation as an amendment to a $92.2-billion emergency-spending bill to fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for hurricane-affected states on the Gulf Coast. The Missouri Bootheel's Jo Ann Emerson was the lone Republican voting for the amendment. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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Purdue Center For Crop Biosecurity set to protect
03/21/06   
Purdue University has created a center that could be vital in the national effort to protect the country's food supply against foreign plant pests and pathogens that might be introduced through natural means or terrorism. The existing Purdue University Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, which is part of the new center, already is part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. In addition, Purdue, along with various research organizations and the federal government have discussions under way about establishing a national plant biosecurity center within USDA. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

SCN-resistant soybeans can offer false security
03/21/06   
Soybean producers who have unexplained yield losses shouldn't dismiss soybean cyst nematode (SCN) as the possible culprit, even if they're planting SCN-resistant varieties, a University of Missouri researcher says. "Many farmers think the SCN problem is licked (with resistant soybeans)," says Bob Heinz, coordinator of the MU Nematology Laboratory. "I would think it's licked, too, if I didn't see the high samples come in." During the 2005 season, Heinz, in cooperation with producers and assistance from MU Extension regional agronomists, collected 122 soil samples from 47 Missouri counties and tested them for SCN, a parasitic roundworm that feeds on the roots of soybeans and can cause up to 30 percent yield loss. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

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U.S. farm groups: 'Don't weaken now'
03/16/06   
The American Soybean Association and 15 other farm groups are asking the Bush administration to make sure nothing happens to water down "meaningful" market access provisions in any Doha Development Round agreement. Writing to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, ASA, the National Cotton Council, USA Rice Federation and the other organizations said now is not the time to be easing up on the WTO's Doha negotiators. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Maintaining safety net crucial as farm bill progresses
03/16/06   
Agricultural commodity groups are beginning to circle their wagons in anticipation of a new round of farm bill discussions. And as debate begins on legislation many believe will be signed sometime in 2008, observers acknowledge that keeping individual wagons from straying off on their own will be more important than ever. Observers point out that conditions that allowed the 2002 farm bill to provide a good safety net for agriculture no longer exist. Gone is the budget surplus. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

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Forces driving the farm bill debate
03/17/06   
According to the Dana Brooks, the driving forces for the 2007 farm bill will be the budget, the WTO, current farm conditions and politics. "When the 2002 farm bill was written...the United States was in a budget surplus of $5.6 trillion over 10 years," said the American Farm Bureau Federation's director of congressional relations. "In 2004, we had a record deficit of $412 billion and in 2005 we were again in deficit by over $300 billion. This does not include $70 billion spent on hurricanes in August/September nor does it include the war in Iraq which costs between $5 billion and $8 billion per month." - David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
National Hog Farmer
Packers & Stockyards Management - The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the January 2006 audit report that USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) had done on the management and administration of the Packers and Stockyards act by USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). OIG "concluded that GIPSA had not established an adequate control structure and environment that allowed the agency to oversee and manage its investigative activities for P&SP." GIPSA Administrator James Link vowed to implement the recommendations of the OIG. Members of the committee asked that the agency report back to the committee within 90 days on the agency's progress in implementing the recommendations. Also, the committee wanted a status report on GIPSA's review of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Previously, GIPSA had told the committee in 2003 that the agency was reviewing the act to determine if new authority was needed. The OIG report was at the request of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

NPPC Calls for GIPSA Reforms - The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is calling on USDA to adopt reforms of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as outlined by the recent USDA OIG audit. NPPC said, "These reforms are critically important for the protection of everyone involved in the livestock market transactions." The reforms called for by NPPC include:

  • A policy for defining investigations, such as when and whether to perform on-site reviews of companies or to monitor publicly available data.

  • Procedures for recording data related to complaints and investigations and for validating its accuracy and completeness.

  • A well-defined process for timely identifying work to be done on investigations.

  • A structure for receiving, reviewing and acting on policy issues and requests for guidance.

  • An internal review function to monitor and report on agency activities.

    USDA Confirms BSE Case - USDA announced a third case of BSE in the United States. Indications are the animal was a 10 year old Santa Gertrudis beef cow in Alabama. This would mean the cow was born prior to the 1997 feed ban.

    Federal Procurement of Biobased Products - USDA announced its final rule designating the first six items that must receive special consideration when federal agencies make purchases under the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program. According to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, "The designation of these six biobased items presents new economic opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers. This is an historic step toward increasing the use of biobased products by the federal government." The final rule designates six items, which are generic groupings of biobased products. The items are: mobile equipment hydraulic fluids; biobased roof coatings; water tank coatings; diesel fuel additives; penetrating lubricants and; bedding, bed linens and towels. Two of these items, water tank coatings and bedding, bed linens, and towels, have fewer than two suppliers of the biobased products that fall within these items. Consequently, Federal agencies will not have to give these items preference in procurement until there are two or more suppliers. USDA will issue a Federal Register notice when at least two suppliers are making these items available.

    Farm Bill Extension - Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) has introduced H.R. 4775, to extend the farm bill until the Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations are complete. The National Farmers Union (NFU) at their annual convention voted to support extending the farm bill for one year.

    Malaysia FTA - The United States and Malaysia have announced they will begin negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement. Malaysia is the fourth largest market in Southeast Asia for U.S. agriculture. In 2005, Malaysia purchased $390 million worth of U.S. fresh and process fruits and vegetables, wheat, soybeans and other agricultural products.

    USDA Appointments - Ellen Terpstra has been appointed Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Terpstra has been serving as the administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. Michael W. Yost of Murdock, Minnesota has been appointed administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Yost is past Chairman of the American Soybean Association and the American Oilseed Coalition.

    22 Congressional Districts Collect Over Half of Farm Payments - The debate over farm subsidies will be a major issue during consideration of the 2007 farm bill. One of the interesting studies by the Environmental Working Group is that only 22 of the 435 congressional districts collected over half of all farm subsidies during the past 10 years. The study also found that 47 districts received 70 percent of the farm bill payments during the same period. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns continues to remind Congress and the public that 3 percent of farms receive 30 percent of the support and 92 percent of commodity program payments go to five crops. The top 22 Congressional districts in order of farm payments are: North Dakota - At Large, Kansas - 1, Nebraska - 3, South Dakota - At Large, Arkansas - 1, Minnesota - 7, Iowa - 4, Iowa - 5, Texas - 19, Montana - At Large, Minnesota - 1, Mississippi - 2, Texas - 13, Oklahoma - 3, Nebraska - 1, Illinois - 15, Illinois - 19, Colorado - 18, California - 2, Georgia - 2, Louisiana - 5, Illinois - 18, Iowa - 1, Missouri - 8, and Iowa - 3.

    Congressional Retirements - Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced that he would be retiring from Congress at the end of the year. Congressman Bill Jenkins (R-TN), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, has announced he will not seek re-election. This makes a total of 26 Congressmen who are either retiring or running for higher office. - Scott Shearer

  • Bird flu has implications for U.S. agriculture
    03/14/06   
    The implications of a worldwide avian influenza (bird flu) pandemic are real and of dire concern to people worldwide. Some of the connections between agriculture are real and some are as fictional as a dime store novel. Avian influenza (AI) or bird flu is primarily just that -- a disease of birds. In rare cases the virus has spread to humans and in a few cases -- the 1918 flu pandemic, the 1957 Hong Cong Flu Epidemic and the 1962 Asian Flu Epidemic, it spread rapidly among humans. Bird flu occurs when any of 16 known hemagluttinin (HA) and nine neuraminidase (NA) proteins interact and cause changes in the cellular structure of the avian influenza gene. - Roy Roberson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Thiesse's Thoughts: National Ag Week
    03/14/06   
    National Ag Week is being celebrated March 19-25 all across the U.S., and Monday, March 20, has been designated as National Ag Day. It's a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. agriculture industry second to none. U.S. consumers spend about 10 percent of their disposable income annually on food. By comparison, consumers in France spend 18 percent; consumers in Germany spend 21 percent; consumers in Japan spend 26 percent; and consumers in Mexico spend 33 percent. - Kent Thiesse, The Corn & Soybean Digest

    Renewable fuels should be part of real energy policy
    03/15/06   
    What this country needs is not, as Woodrow Wilson's Vice President Thomas Marshall suggested, "a good 5-cent cigar," but a real energy policy that includes a strong commitment to renewable fuels, according to Jeff Dahlberg, research director, National Sorghum Producers, Lubbock, Texas. Dahlberg discussed energy and its effects on the future of agriculture with Farm Press during the North American Grain Congress, a joint meeting of NGSP and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) held recently in San Antonio, Texas. "Energy is one of the few domestic markets that offers a positive for farmers," Dahlberg said. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    2006 to present more challenges to farmers
    03/15/06   
    Net cash farm income is expected to decline by $18 billion or nearly 22 percent in 2006 because of higher crop stocks, lower crop prices and a modest decline in livestock and livestock product receipts compared with 2005. But it could be worse considering the problems faced by U.S. farmers and the U.S. economy as a whole in late 2005, says USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins. Collins was one of the leadoff speakers at USDA's annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    ASA voting delegates set policy direction
    03/14/06   
    Soybean producers gathered in Anaheim, CA, to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). Soybean producers from 133 production areas across the U.S. participated in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability. The voting delegates session was held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

    Start honing those marketing skills, just in case
    03/14/06   
    The confluence of WTO issues and budget-cutting in Washington could end up exposing growers to more price risk in the future, creating a bigger role for grower price risk management. Although it's still uncertain as to when the next farm bill will be written, some pieces of it seem apparent already. "I would wager a bet that it's going to be leaner, poorer and probably more de-coupled from production to make it more WTO compliant," said John Robinson, Extension economist, Texas A&M University. Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    USDA crop forecasts studied
    03/14/06   
    While USDA crop production forecasts have performed reasonably well over a 36-year period, there is room for improvement, according to two University of Illinois professors in a recent study. "USDA may want to consider expanding the scope of the subjective yield surveys it uses in making the forecasts in order to incorporate a wider range of market and industry participants," says Darrel Good, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, who co-authored the study with Scott Irwin, who is the Laurence J. Norton Professor of Agricultural Marketing in the department. However, the bigger problem Good and Irwin found is the apparent continuing misunderstanding of USDA's motives, methods and procedures used to arrive at the production forecast for U.S. corn and soybean crops. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

    Purdue Field Guide An Agronomic Best-seller
    03/14/06   
    A popular Purdue University agronomic reference book is flying off the shelves this winter. Farmers who act quickly still can ensure a copy lands in their mailboxes. Sales of the 18th annual Corn and Soybean Field Guide are up from 2005, says Corey Gerber, director of Purdue's Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center and field guide project coordinator. "Already this year we've sold 20,000 books, which leaves us with about 1,000 books at Purdue's Media Distribution Center," Gerber says. The little yellow book, commonly called the "pocket guide," provides a wealth of management advice and information on raising corn and soybeans. The nearly full-color guide is 293 pages. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

    Not your Daddy's farm
    03/14/06   
    While the number of farmers, the jobs in agriculture and agriculturally related industries, and the number of counties and communities that rely on agriculture have all declined, the future of U.S. agriculture remains bright. But today's farming and ranching operations will need new financial solutions to take advantage of forces re-shaping U.S. and world agriculture, according to a report by the Farm Credit Council, the national association representing the interests of the institutions of the Farm Credit System. - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

    Soybean checkoff tunes in to customer needs
    03/14/06   
    Nowadays, there's more to exporting than simply sending out a product. The soybean checkoff brings the U.S. soybean farmer and buyer together by understanding customer demands and meeting those needs. While the U.S. remains the leading producer and exporter of soybeans, staying No. 1 means continuing to give customers what they want. The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff work with the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to build customer preference for U.S. soybeans across the globe. - Farm Presss Editorial Staff

    Apt questions on turning 56
    03/15/06   
    Ron Smith writes: I found myself in a contemplative mood again recently and began to analyze who I have become in a mere 56 years. I reached several conclusions. I am not a particularly bad person. I rarely beat my wife. In fact, she recently pointed out to me that there is no one on God's good earth who is remotely afraid of me. Not my children. Not my friends. Not any enemies if there be such. And certainly not my wife. She admitted this while laughing, somewhat rudely I thought... - Farm Press Editorial

    Sign Up for MarketMaxx
    03/22/06   
    Sign up and play The Corn And Soybean Digest's fantasy grain game called MarketMaxx. It's easy, fun and hopefully you'll learn a little more about how to market the corn and beans your raise. It's easy to sign-up. Just log on to http://www.marketmaxx.net and register at the top left and begin trading your fictitious 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans. If you're a winner at the end of the game on October 31 you could take home the grand prize of a year's use of a Massey Ferguson tractor or combine. Or, win additional prizes such as a computer system from Syngenta Crop Protection, customized rugged mobile computers from Grayhill Custom Mobile Solutions or a high-speed satellite Internet service from Agristar Global Networks. - The Corn & Soybean Digest



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