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A Prism Business Media Publication April 12, 2006 | 060412   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Iowa farmer, politician could be sincerely wrong

 >> Fertigation, chemigation combat soaring ag fuel costs

 >> Disaster relief passes Senate committee

 >> Biodiesel vision -- 5 percent of petro-diesel market

 >> New from the Top of the Hill

 >> Plan to implement animal ID system moves forward

 >> Chinese sign soybean letter of intent

 >> Ag Road Warrior: A dating service for farmers?

 >> Got a good machinery idea?

 >> Brazilian agribusiness crisis slash down farmland prices

 >> Could disaster on the farm happen to you?

 >> Sign Up for MarketMaxx



  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
04/12/06    Crop News Weekly
Millions around the world are observing Holy Week. For many, Easter celebrations are gearing up for the weekend as those of the Christian Faith observe the most "Holy of Holy Days." For others, Passover is celebrated this week, and others yet are preparing for observances unique to their religions. In the spirit of the season, regardless who you are or what you believe, may your harvest and your lives reap all that you sow - and more.

In the top of the news this week, in a time when fuel prices are running rampant, chemigation and irrigation fertigation systems are proving valuable on the farm in more ways than one. Also this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed disaster relief for farmers on April 5. The $106 billion bill, primarily aimed to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and provide Gulf Coast hurricane relief, allocates some $4 billion to farmers. Also this week, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the release of an implementation plan that outlines timelines and benchmarks for the establishment of the National Animal Identification System. And more talk this week about biodiesel and America's energy self-sufficiency. Finally, a delegation of Chinese soybean buyers on a relationship-building tour signed a letter of intent with U.S. soybean exporters at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) April 6.

You'll find these stories and more in this special Easter week edition of Crop News Weekly. Happy reading.



  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
Iowa farmer, politician could be sincerely wrong
04/11/06   
Mark W. Leonard sounds like a genuinely nice guy. Last year, he brought a cotton farmer from Mali in West Africa to church gatherings near his farm in Holstein, Iowa, to discuss U.S. farm subsidies. But being a nice guy doesn't mean that Leonard, who, according to a Wall Street Journal article, is a Republican candidate for agriculture secretary in Iowa, cannot also be terribly wrong. The article, written by Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow, the reporters who bushwhacked National Cotton Council Chairman and Mississippi producer Kenneth Hood in another attack on U.S. farm programs, cites Leonard as an example of farmers who are becoming disenchanted with U.S. subsidies. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Fertigation, chemigation combat soaring ag fuel costs
04/10/06   
With the price of fuel recently approaching $3 per gallon in the US, farmers have found their livelihoods threatened by rising input costs cutting into already razor thin profit margins. In October 2005, farmers suffered the highest real fuel prices on record, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. With the EIA projecting an average retail fuel price of $2.58 per gallon in 2006, up from an expected average of $2.45 in 2005, farmers at the mercy of spiraling fuel and agricultural costs are regaining financial control with chemigation and irrigation fertigation systems. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Disaster relief passes Senate committee
04/10/06   
As part of an emergency supplemental bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed disaster relief for farmers on April 5. The $106 billion bill, primarily aimed to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and provide Gulf Coast hurricane relief, allocates some $4 billion to farmers. Aimed at lessening the impact of higher input costs, the $4 billion will provide 30 percent of a direct payment for farmers enrolled in the farm program for the 2005 crop. According to reports, it will also provide USDA grants to states to provide agricultural market and economic assistance. - David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Biodiesel vision -- 5 percent of petro-diesel market
04/10/06   
In the days when every American farm family grew a little patch of corn for fuel to power the mules that plowed their fields, the farm was pretty much a self-contained unit, capable of providing for the farm family and a little extra for a rainy day. Can such a self-sustaining paradigm be modernized and applied in a larger sense, if you will, to encompass all of America? Or perhaps we should ask, "Can we plant enough corn and soybeans to power not only our farm tractors and trucks, but an entire nation of automobiles?" - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

New from the Top of the Hill
04/07/06    National Hog Farmer
USDA Animal ID Announcement
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has announced USDA's animal identification system implementation plan that outlines timelines and benchmarks for the establishment of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). USDA also released the general technical standards for animal tracking databases that will "enable integration of private systems with the NAIS." Private database owners may submit applications for their system to be evaluated to USDA.

In June, USDA plans to begin entering into cooperative agreements with private database owners who meet the standards. According to Johanns, USDA plans to have the technology in place by early 2007. The technology, called the Animal Trace Processing System, will allow state and federal animal health officials to "query the NAIS and private databases during a disease investigation." Also, USDA will be holding training sessions for organizations that will be distributing animal ID tags as either a tag manager or reseller on April 13 and April 26. The implementation plan is available at http://www.usda.gov/nais.

House Budget Calls for Agriculture Cuts - The House of Representatives Budget Committee approved a fiscal year 2007 budget resolution that calls for $55 million in cuts in mandatory programs over five years. The Senate budget resolution approved last month does not require any cuts in agricultural programs. After the House considers its budget resolution, there will then be a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the differences between the two resolutions.

Senate Appropriations Approves Disaster Assistance - The Senate Appropriations Committee passed Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-ND) comprehensive disaster assistance program for farmers and ranchers as part of an emergency supplemental bill. The legislation would provide assistance for crop and quality loss, as well as help ranchers in disaster counties with livestock feed. The bill will now be considered by the full Senate.

Superfund Law on Manure - A number of agricultural organizations are increasing efforts to have Congress approve legislation that will clarify that manure is not a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund law. Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) has introduced H.R. 4341 to accomplish this effort. Currently there are 105 cosponsors. However, 14 environmental organizations have written Congress opposing H.R. 4341. The letter states, the "size of livestock operations has increased tremendously in recent years. Unlike traditional farms, these industrialized operations confine thousands, or even millions, of animals in closed buildings for most of their lives. As a result, these facilities generate large quantities of manure. A single location often generates as much waste as a small city. As the manure decomposes, it generates toxic gases, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which cause significant health problems in workers and nearby residents." Organizations signing the environmental letter include Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, The Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Waterkeepers Alliance.

Record Soybean Acres - According to USDA's 2006 "Prospective Plantings" estimates, U.S. farmers will be planting record soybean acres and fewer corn acres this year. Farmers intend to plant 76.9 million acres of soybeans this year, up 7% from last year. This would be the largest number of soybean acres planted on record. According to the report, large increases will be in the Corn Belt, "including 600,000 more acres in Illinois and 500,000 more acres in Indiana." Corn plantings are expected to be 78.0 million acres in 2006, down 5% from 2005. This would be the lowest corn acreage since 2001. According to USDA, farmers are switching to other less-input-intensive crops due to high fertilizer and fuel costs. Wheat is expected to total 57.1 million acres, down slightly from 2005. This will be the lowest wheat acreage since 1972.

Soybean Rust Detection Efforts - USDA released a report which evaluates the early warning system for soybean rust surveillance, reporting, prediction and management during the 2005 growing season. The report," The Value of Plant Disease Early Warning Systems: A Case Study of USDA's Soybean Rust Coordinated Framework," concluded that information provided as part of the system "helped to increase profits and mitigate damage caused by the fungus." USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) estimated that the information provided by federal, state, industry and academic partners increased U.S. soybeans producers' profits by a total of $11 million to $299 million in 2005. - Scott Shearer

Plan to implement animal ID system moves forward
04/10/06   
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the release of an implementation plan that outlines timelines and benchmarks for the establishment of the National Animal Identification System, along with a plan for the initial integration of private and state animal tracking databases with NAIS. "Developing an effective animal identification system has been a high priority for USDA and we've made significant strides toward achieving a comprehensive U.S. system," said Johanns. "We recognize that this represents one of the largest systematic changes ever faced by the livestock industry and we have welcomed suggestions from stakeholders to ensure that we continue to gain momentum." - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Chinese sign soybean letter of intent
04/07/06   
A delegation of Chinese soybean buyers on a relationship-building tour signed a letter of intent with U.S. soybean exporters at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) April 6. The letter of intent demonstrates the commitment of the Chinese industry to continue purchasing U.S. soybeans. China is the number one export market for U.S. soybeans with 435 million bushels, more than 40 percent of total U.S. exports, sold to China in the last marketing year. The delegation currently visiting the U.S. represents 67 percent of those 435 million bushels. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Ag Road Warrior: A dating service for farmers?
04/04/06   
Dave Kohl writes: "I thought I had seen it all, but now there is a matchmaker Web site for isolated single farmers. You may laugh at this, but it's a serious issue facing the sustainability of many agricultural and rural businesses. In my seminars I often discuss that when a person hires an individual they directly or indirectly hire the spouse also. As farms and ranches become larger and more isolated, these are some of the major issues now being discussed in farm family business meetings and lender strategic planning sessions." - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Got a good machinery idea?
04/12/06   
Got a whiz bang machinery idea? Please tell our Corn And Soybean Digest editors about it. They're searching for shop-built or modified farm machinery projects that you've worked on over the winter. No idea is too big or too small. They're interested in machinery that's been built from scratch, or several pieces of equipment that have been torn down and re-assembled as a single unit, or simple modifications to existing equipment. It's always interesting to see planters, anhydrous applicators, sprayers and tillage tools that farmers have constructed to help them farm better, bigger or more efficiently. If you have an idea you'd like to share, please send an e-mail to csd@prismb2b.com or click on the link below to enter your project.

Brazilian agribusiness crisis slash down farmland prices
04/07/06   
Once a very well-priced asset, farmland in Brazil is selling fast and cheap. The most hard-hit areas in Brazil are those mostly dedicated to soybeans and newest to agriculture, having been farmed 20 or 30 years. Falling soybean prices are behind this rural real estate crisis in Brazil, a private analysis firm says. The soybean production industry has been hit so hard in the past season that fewer and fewer people are inclined to invest in it. - Jose Sergio Osse, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Could disaster on the farm happen to you?
04/07/06   
The combination of prolonged drought, winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour and a spark of unknown origin culminated in the loss of nearly 1 million acres of rangeland in nearly a dozen counties in the Texas Panhandle. L. H. Webb, a Pampa, Texas, rancher, paused from the grisly task of dragging dead cattle into a pile on his burned out Gray County ranch to talk about the aftermath of what some have described as a 1,000-year wildfire. "Our grass is gone, our cattle are gone and our fences are gone," Webb said. "But we're alive and we have our home." - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Sign Up for MarketMaxx
04/12/06   
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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