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A Prism Business Media Publication May 31, 2006 | 060531   

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> LATE BREAKING: Surprise ASR hits portions of Mexico

 >> Senate passes immigrant reform bill

 >> Could loss of incentives slow down biodiesel expansion?

 >> Global competitiveness requires a new map for crops

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Bipartisan effort crucial for advantageous farm bill

 >> Control mosquitos on the farm

 >> Tired, aching feet? Slip into socks made from tofu

 >> Prevention and control of E. coli in fresh produce

 >> Corn growers unite to oppose lifting import tariff

 >> There may be less to Doha Round than meets the eye

 >> Road Warrior: Unfavorable Circumstances: Part 2

 >> Thiesse's Thoughts: Corn belt shifting

 >> Embarrassment at lack of border control efforts

 >> Soybean rust spores abundant, movement slow

 >> UT establishes soybean rust hotline

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
05/31/06    Crop News Weekly
The Memorial Day weekend brought a few weather surprises to much of America's farm land, most of it in the form of beneficial rains. While there remains serious drought conditions across much of the nation, every drop counts. By the way, tomorrow marks the official start to the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season - for what it's worth.

Speaking of the season heating up now that summer has arrived, debate and political positioning over a new farm bill and other ag legislation is also cooking on the Hill. For example, the Senate last week passed legislation that would create a new guest worker program and grant amnesty to some illegal immigrants, setting up a fight with House members who would send anyone illegally in the country back to their homes. Speaking of political agendas, the most important ingredient in a recipe for another good farm bill, according to former U.S. Representative Larry Combest, may be hard to find in Washington. "Bipartisanship is rare and getting rarer," Combest reports. In other news, and also related to warmer weather, it's mosquito breeding time once again and farmers and ranchers now have a new tool to help control the pests. And give credit to the think tank boys, there may be another use for soy based materials in the works, and you won't believe this one! Also this issue, Scott Shearer is back with a full wrap of what's happening in our nation's Capitol, and Ag Road Warrior Dave Kohl takes us through Part II of his 'Unfavorable Circumstances' series. Finally this week, it's not often that the National Corn Growers Association and the American Corn Growers Association come down on the same side of an issue. In this case, the conservative NCGA and the more progressive ACGA, along with Farm Bureau and the Renewable Fuels Association, are teaming up to oppose efforts by House leaders and the Bush administration to suspend import tariffs on ethanol.

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



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
LATE BREAKING: Surprise ASR hits portions of Mexico
05/30/06   
A bout of Asian soybean rust left more than 20 soybean seed growers near Tampico, Mexico unexpectedly dealing with the disease. About 320 hectares, or 650 acres, were affected, resulting in defoliation and potential large yield losses. ASR infections began in January but became increasingly noticeable in March and April. "It caught these particular growers by surprise, and it hit them pretty hard," says Dr. Marty Wiglesworth, Syngenta technical brand manager, fungicides. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Senate passes immigrant reform bill
05/26/06   
The Senate passed legislation that would create a new guest worker program and grant amnesty to some illegal immigrants, setting up a fight with House members who would send anyone in the country illegally back to their homes. The Senate vote was 62-36. The Senate bill, like the measure the House passed earlier, calls for tighter border security. The Senate version includes the construction of 370 miles of triple-layer fencing along the Mexican border while the House bill would provide 700 miles of two-layer fences. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Could loss of incentives slow down biodiesel expansion?
05/30/06   
How big can biodiesel get? According to one expert, production capacity could grow to around 600 million gallons annually with soybeans as a major feedstock. But much will depend on whether federal incentives to expand biofuel production are extended, according to the American Soybean Association. No doubt, biodiesel is enjoying exponential growth. Production has grown from two million gallons annually in 2000 to more than 150 million gallons projected for 2006. Today, there are 65 operational biodiesel plants, while 50 more are under construction. - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Global competitiveness requires a new map for crops
05/30/06   
Maintaining competitiveness in the world market requires scientists to lay out a new roadmap for crops, according to a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station leader. Bill McCutchen, Experiment Station deputy associate director from College Station spoke on "A Platform for Yield Gain through Genetic Discovery in Wheat" at the Small Grains Field Day in Bushland, Texas, on May 25. "We have to maintain our international competitiveness, especially with our wheat program and our varieties," McCutchen said. "That means we have to stay a couple steps ahead in the area of technology." - Kay Ledbetter, Southwest Farm Press

News from the Top of the Hill
05/26/06    National Hog Farmer
House Passes Agriculture Appropriations -- The House of Representatives passed the $94.5 billion fiscal year 2007 agriculture appropriations bill by a vote of 378-46. The bill includes $18.4 billion in discretionary spending and the remainder in mandatory spending (farm programs, food stamps, etc.) The bill is similar to the committee passed bill (see May 19 National Hog Farmer for spending details). There were a number of amendments that were considered during the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. Some of the key amendments were: MAP - Congressman Chabot's (R-OH) amendment to eliminate the Market Access Program (MAP) was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 342 to 79. The House passed bill fully funds MAP at $200 million and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program at $34.5 million. Sugar -- The House rejected Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) amendment to reduce the sugar loan rate. WRP -- Congressman Gil Gutknecht's amendment to restore Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) acres to the maximum 250,000 acres was defeated. Milk and Peanut Programs: The House struck the House Appropriations Committee's provisions that would have extended the peanut storage and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) programs for one month, which would have allowed them to expire at the end of the 2002 farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to consider its FY '07 appropriations bill next month.

Animal ID Frustration -- The main issue during House consideration of the agriculture appropriations bill was animal ID. A number of members stated their frustration that the U.S. does not have an animal ID program in place and criticized USDA. The bill prohibits USDA from spending any money in fiscal year 2007 for its animal ID program until USDA sends the House Appropriations Committee a "complete and detailed plan, including but not limited to proposed legislative changes, cost estimates and means of program evaluation." The committee said USDA has been sending "mixed signals" as it relates to animal ID. The House overwhelmingly defeated (389-34) an amendment by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) that would have eliminated all funding for the animal ID program.

Japan -- End Beef Ban -- Over 30 Senators joined Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) in sending a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi urging the Japanese government to resume beef trade with the United States. The Senators said, "This prohibition on trade is unfounded and inconsistent with the guidelines of the mutually recognized World Animal Health Organization (OIE), which establishes the legal framework of a science-based approach to safeguard trade for the sake of international solidarity." Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has called upon Koizumi to "end swiftly" Japan's unfair ban on imports of U.S. beef. In a letter to Koizumi, Baucus said, "The scientific evidence is absolutely clear: U.S. beef is safe. As all of Japan's food safety and animal health concerns have been addressed, many Americans are beginning to conclude that other motivations lie behind the continuation of the ban. Pressure, therefore, is building for the U.S. government to step up action to address this matter -- in the World Trade Organization or otherwise."

Senate Energy Plan -- The Senate Democrats have unveiled a comprehensive energy proposal. The "Energy Development for a Growing Economy" is to promote energy independence by increasing the use of renewable fuels. The proposal would give the president authority to increase the renewable content of motor fuel to 25 percent by 2025. Also, 25 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. would run on ethanol, biodiesel or alternative fuels by 2010. The proposal would require that 10 percent of electricity in the U.S. come from renewable resources by 2020.

Risk Management Conference on Energy Costs -- USDA will hold a conference on June 27-28 in Kansas City, MO to examine risk management issues and strategies as it relates to alternative energy production and use in agriculture. The conference will focus on: maximizing profits in a higher energy cost environment; renewable energy enterprises on the farm; protection against supply, production and price fluctuations for small alternative fuel production plants; new energy-related risk management tools; and government policies that encourage or accommodate new risk management strategies. Details and program registration are available at http://www.farmfoundation.org or http://www.usda.gov.

Drop in Cropland Erosion -- USDA announced that total soil erosion on cultivated and non-cultivated cropland in the U.S. decreased by 43 percent between 1982 and 2003. Wind erosion decreased by 44 percent and sheet and rill erosion decreased by 42 percent during this time period. USDA's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conducted the survey. Additional details are available at http://www.usda.gov/technical/NRI. - Scott Shearer

Bipartisan effort crucial for advantageous farm bill
05/26/06   
The most important ingredient in a recipe for another good farm bill, according to former U.S. Representative Larry Combest, may be hard to find in Washington. "Bipartisanship is rare and getting rarer," Combest told participants in the Texas Cotton Association's 95th annual convention recently in South Padre Island, Texas. Combest, in the keynote address, cited bi-partisan support as the best chance of getting "the best program possible." He said the Freedom to Farm Act of 1996, for instance, was developed in a "divisive, partisan" atmosphere. - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Control mosquitos on the farm
It's the time of year again when standing water in troughs and ponds on the farm could breed those unwanted, disease-carrying mosquitos. Get ahead of mosquitoes with the new PreStrike Mosquito Torpedo. The Torpedo is a tablet that treats more than 100 sq. ft. of water without affecting water clarity. It prevents mosquito larvae from becoming breeding adults and does not adversely affect humans, animals, fish and vegetation. The torpedo will control mosquitoes in standing water for 180 days. The active ingredient in the Mosquito Torpedo is methoprene. - Farm Industry News Product Update

Tired, aching feet? Slip into socks made from tofu
05/26/06   
OK, so you know about soydiesel, the soy product that is helping to reduce our nation's dependency on foreign oil supplies. It's the only alternative fuel to pass Environmental Protection Agency testing specifications, and can be used with no engine or fuel system modifications. And you know, too, about soy-based printing inks, now used by a third of the nation's newspapers and more than 90 percent of daily newspapers with more than 1,500 circulation. These inks are more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based inks, and paper printed with soy ink can be more effectively recycled. - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Prevention and control of E. coli in fresh produce
05/25/06   
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced yesterday that USDA has awarded $1.2 million to a collaborative research effort to identify sources and risk factors of E. coli O157:H7 contamination in fresh produce. The funds will also be used to inform growers about strategies to prevent pre-harvest contamination. "Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is increasing in the United States, highlighting the importance of scientific research that enhances safe growing practices," said Johanns. "This research will help to ensure that our farmers can continue to deliver safe and wholesome products from the farm to the dinner table." - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Corn growers unite to oppose lifting import tariff
05/26/06   
It's not often that the National Corn Growers Association and the American Corn Growers Association come down on the same side of an issue. When they do, you can bet that farmers may be getting gored by somebody. In this case, the conservative NCGA and the more progressive ACGA, along with Farm Bureau and the Renewable Fuels Association, are opposing efforts by House leaders and the Bush administration to suspend import tariffs on ethanol to supposedly bring down prices of the alternative fuel. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

There may be less to Doha Round than meets the eye
05/25/06   
A friend asked a question about the WTO negotiations the other day. "If cotton producers export 70 percent of their crop," he said, "why aren't they more excited about the prospects for trade liberalization in the Doha Round?" That's a logical question for someone who spends more time following grains and soybeans than cotton. Grain and soybean groups are pushing hard for a new WTO agreement because they want increased market access in Europe and Japan. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Road Warrior: Unfavorable Circumstances: Part 2
05/23/06   
Road Warrior Dave Kohl writes: "In my last column we focused on the question posed to me concerning the biggest threat to being a low cost producer in the global market. This was identified as continued appreciation of land values. The next factor is a combination of attributes. For commodity producers in the high government payment zones, it would be the 2007 Farm Bill, along with high input costs. Concerning government supports, let's put the U.S. in perspective with other regions of the world. Supports are 17 percent of gross farm revenue in the U.S. Contrast this to Canada at 22 percent, the European Union at 34 percent, Brazil at 3 percent and New Zealand and Australia at 2 percent and 3 percent respectively. Thus, emerging regions of competition have a cost or revenue benefit to the U.S..." - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Thiesse's Thoughts: Corn belt shifting
05/23/06   
For many decades, the primary area of the Corn Belt in the U.S. was generally considered to be Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, eastern Nebraska, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since the mid 1970s the area known as the Corn Belt in the U.S. has been shifting and expanding. Favorable grain prices in the early 1970s caused that primary area for corn and soybeans to expand to the south and west, with the Southeast U.S. becoming a major soybean producing region. Expanded irrigation in Nebraska greatly increased corn production. - Kent Thiesse, The Corn & Soybean Digest

Embarrassment at lack of border control efforts
05/24/06   
Congressman Henry Bonilla expressed his "embarrassment" that the U.S. government has not done more to "get borders under control. "Immigration is a red hot issue," said Bonilla, who chairs the agricultural appropriations sub committee. Bonilla gave the keynote address recently at the Texas Agricultural Forum in San Antonio, where he also accepted the Texas A&M College of Agriculture Distinguished Service Award. "The immigration issue has many aspects, including border security and guest worker issues," Bonilla said. He said security concerns have heightened in recent year, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack and also from an influx of illegal immigrants labeled OTM, "other then Mexican." - Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Soybean rust spores abundant, movement slow
05/23/06   
As of May 18, soybean rust has not been found in any sentinel plots, including the 22 sentinel plots in Alabama -- a primary watch state for movement of disease causing spores. "So far the disease hasn't even moved in the kudzu patches that we are monitoring," notes Auburn University Plant Pathologist Ed Sikora. On May 18, Sikora checked kudzu patches and found only seven lesions in five patches. Soybean rust over-wintered in kudzu as far north as Montgomery, Ala., but the Auburn scientist says as of mid-May the virus just hasn't moved at all. - Roy Roberson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

UT establishes soybean rust hotline
05/25/06   
A toll free hotline has been established for producers and others to call for up-to-date information about the possible spread of Asian soybean rust to Tennessee. The number is 877-875-BEAN (877-875-2326). Although the fungal disease had not been confirmed as occurring in the state in 2006, experts want to be ready for a possible outbreak, says Melvin Newman, Extension plant pathologist with the West Tennessee Experiment Station in Jackson. - Farm Press Editorial Staff



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