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A Prism Business Media Publication July 5, 2006 | 060705   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Farming today requires more than growing crops

 >> California, Sweden agree to develop biomethane

 >> Survey says Americans want cleaner fuel

 >> USDA to provide emergency conservation funding

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Reducing nitrogen needs takes time

 >> Farmers reap billions in benefits from herbicide use

 >> U.S. soybean farmers partner with Paragua

 >> Riding on E85... keep your gas credit card handy

 >> Thiesse's Thoughts: Grain prices drop

 >> Road Warrior: Selling your lender on agriculture

 >> Biofuel can buy time until something else comes along

 >> 2006 shaping up as driest in memory

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
07/05/06    Crop News Weekly
There is something that warms my heart as I watch a gala fireworks display honoring the celebration of our Nation's independence. I'm not one for crowds, but in spite of day to day distractions like work, finances, health and fitness, diet, debt and the deluge of ever constant deadlines and drudgery, it still feels good to be an American as I stand shoulder to shoulder with gathering, cheering crowds of patriots who celebrate the ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness afforded by our Declaration of Independence and founding Constitution. I know we don't always get everything right, I realize we are not in the favored limelight around the world, and I know there are those that would destroy our national pride and topple our democratic society if given the chance. While I admit we have a multitude of domestic problems; while there may be corruption at high levels and money motivated agendas at every corner, we are still the world's leading free nation and blessed with the best citizenry around the globe. Perhaps it's time to stop apologizing for which we stand and start exercising our independence and demonstrating our fierce national pride.

Whew -- it's amazing what a few fireworks can do to warm the heart and loosen the tongue. Now, let's get down to business. In spite of the holiday, there's still a lot of industry news and developments to report, so without further introduction, dive in and catch up. Happy reading.



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
Farming today requires more than growing crops
06/30/06   
If you're one of Steve Prather's farm hands, you work levees in the summer, run an excavator in the fall and guide duck hunts in the winter. There's not much time to catch a breath for these talented guys. Prather's farming operation is uniquely diversified to keep cash flowing and employees going year-round. Guiding takes place in December and January, equipment is maintained and overhauled in February and March, the growing season goes from April though September, and custom land-leveling takes place until duck season starts up again. - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

California, Sweden agree to develop biomethane
06/30/06   
In a ceremony held at the Ministry of the Environment in Stockholm, representatives of the Kingdom of Sweden and the state of California signed an agreement pledging the two governments and their related industries to work together to develop bioenergy, with a particular emphasis on biomethane. The Swedish biomethane industry has been growing at an annual rate of about 20 percent over the last five years. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Survey says Americans want cleaner fuel
A recent survey indicated 80% of Americans prefer the cleaner and more environmentally friendly renewable fuel ethanol and alternative fuel vehicles, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes. The survey, sponsored by American Lung Association of Minnesota, polled 1,651 vehicle owners, of which 92% said they prefer flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) and 60% prefer E85 for use in FFVs. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

USDA to provide emergency conservation funding
06/29/06   
More than 10 months after Hurricane Katrina visited death and destruction on the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coasts, USDA says it will begin allocating $11.8 million in Emergency Conservation Program funds to help rehabilitate land damaged by natural disasters. While the ACP funding is only one of several programs USDA is using to provide assistance to the 18 states affected by Katrina and other natural disasters, critics are saying once again the money is too little, too late. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
07/05/06    National Hog Farmer
AG Spending Bill Approved by Senate Appropriations -- The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2007 agriculture appropriations bill. The $94.579 billion bill includes $18.2 billion for discretionary funding and $76.379 billion for mandatory spending which would include payments for farm programs and food stamps. The spending levels are similar to those passed by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee (see June 23 edition of National Hog Farmer for details). The committee did adopt a $4.2 billion agriculture disaster relief package by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Conrad Burns (R-MT). The disaster assistance package would provide a payment rate of 50% of the established price of the crop is a farmer has a loss of at least 35%. The House passed agriculture appropriations bill does not include disaster assistance.

Senate Express Views on Japanese Sanctions -- During consideration of the agriculture appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a "Sense of the Senate" resolution that calls for sanctions on Japanese products if Japan has not resumed imports of U.S. beef by the enactment of the bill. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) stated, "Our cattlemen have paid a tremendous price for the continued delays by Japanese officials to resume beef trade based on scientifically-recognized principles. Each day the Japanese market remains closed, the U.S. beef industry feels a negative economic impact equal to $6.7 million." Japanese audit teams are currently reviewing U.S. plants. The reviews are to be completed by the end of July.

China and U.S. Beef -- Twenty-seven U.S. Senators wrote Chinese President Hu Jintao reminding him of China's commitment at the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting to re-open its market to U.S. beef. The Senators wrote, "China agreed to conditionally resume imports of American beef by June 30, 2006. While this meeting was marked by significant progress, we are disappointed and concerned that China has yet to take the steps necessary to allow beef exports to resume." A USDA technical team was in China earlier this week to discuss re-opening of the market.

Canada Strengthens Feed Controls -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced new efforts to strengthen its feed controls for livestock feed and BSE. CFIA is banning cattle tissues capable of transmitting BSE from all animal feeds, pet foods, and fertilizers. In announcing the new feed ban rule, Chuck Strahl, Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods said, "This ban tightens already strong, internationally recognized feed controls and shortens the path we must follow to move beyond BSE. Preventing all these materials from entering the animal feed chain minimizes risks and demonstrates the commitment of Canada's new government to take necessary, science-based actions to address BSE."

Over 100 Members Seek Action on Animal Waste Bill -- Over 100 Congressmen have written the House leadership urging the House take action on H.R. 4341. This legislation provides that manure is not considered a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) or Superfund. The letter reminded the leadership that manure was not intended to be considered as a hazardous wasted when Congress passed CERCLA legislation. The members wrote, "Recently, a few state and local governments have sued livestock and poultry producers claiming Superfund liability. One Texas case has been settled, but only after 9 of 14 dairies went out of business, with each side paying millions in litigation fees. Unless we act, farmers across America could face vast liabilities under CERCLA and EPCRA -- an outcome not envisioned or intended when Congress enacted these laws."

Permanent Renewable Fuels Incentive -- Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) have introduced the "Renewable Fuels and Energy Independence Promotion Act," that provides a permanent extension of the renewable fuels tax incentives for ethanol and biodiesel. Hulshof said, "Federal policy should strive to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Domestically produced renewable fuels must play an integral role in a plan to promote energy independence. If renewable fuels are to displace significant amounts of petroleum as fuel, we must take bold, aggressive steps to achieve this end." The current tax incentive expires in 2009.

Renewable Energy Conference in October - USDA and the Department of Energy will co-host a national renewable energy conference to help create "partnerships and strategies necessary to accelerate commercialization of renewable energy industries and distribution systems." In announcing the conference Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said, "Never has reducing our dependence on foreign oil been such a pressing issue. We have the will and the means to replace significant quantities of foreign oil with homegrown fuel. We are hopeful this conference will identify major impediments and critical pathways to get more domestically grown, renewable energy sources out of the laboratory and into consumers' hands as soon as possible." The conference, "Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance," will be held October 10-12 in St. Louis. - from the desk of E. Scott Shearrer

Reducing nitrogen needs takes time
06/29/06   
In a natural vegetative system, soil, regardless of quality or texture, naturally releases nitrogen in the summer and plants suck it up. When corn, wheat or any row crop is planted, the crops suck up the nitrogen, but then are harvested, leaving the soil bare until the next crop is planted. Ideally, grain crop farmers would grow crops in soils in which nitrogen and carbon combine to release nitrogen and for that nitrogen to be available to the crop. That type scenario doesn't occur over-night. If steps being recommended by NCRS agronomists across the country are closely followed, results, primarily in reduced N requirements should be evident in 8-10 years. - Roy Roberson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Farmers reap billions in benefits from herbicide use
Use of herbicides saved U.S. farmers 337 million gallons of fuel in 2005, produced $16 billion in crop yield increases, and cut weed control costs by $10 billion, according to a study funded by member companies of CropLife America. Additionally, growers saved a minimum of 1.1 billion hours of hand labor for weeding, which would have required the employment of 7 million more agricultural workers. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

U.S. soybean farmers partner with Paragua
06/27/06   
U.S. soybean farmers are looking for new ways to build demand for soybeans and soy products by exploring partnership activities with growers in Paraguay. U.S. soybean grower-leaders recently met with Paraguayan farmers to discuss how they could work together to increase market potential and improve soybean farmer profitability. The result is a farmer-based agreement, called the Global Grower Development Agreement, signed between the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Paraguayan Chamber of Cereals & Oilseeds Exporters (CAPECO) and Paraguayan Soybean, Oilseeds and Cereals Producer Association (APS). - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Riding on E85... keep your gas credit card handy
06/28/06   
An interesting exercise in alternative fuel utilization was conducted recently by Rick Tolman, chief executive officer of the National Corn Growers Association. For a series of meetings, he drove his Yukon SUV from St. Louis to Chicago, then on to St. Paul, Minn., and back to St. Louis, with several refueling stops along the way. His goal was to power the trip solely with E85 gasoline/ethanol blend and to post observations on the NCGA Web site. - Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Thiesse's Thoughts: Grain prices drop
06/27/06   
Market prices for corn and soybeans made some nice improvement in May, but have dropped back down again in recent weeks. The domestic and export demand for corn and soybeans remains strong; however, a large inventory of 2005 grain that is still in storage, combined with very good 2006 crop development in most areas of the Corn Belt, have lead to some recent pressure on the grain markets. The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) current corn price opened at $2.24/bu. on June 26, which compares to $2.57/bu. on June 5. Similarly, soybeans on the CBOT opened at $5.72/bu. on June 26, which compares to $6.09/bu. on June 5. - Kent Thiesse, The Corn & Soybean Digest

Road Warrior: Selling your lender on agriculture
06/27/06   
The Road Warrior of Agriculture writes: "Many of you reading this column serve on bank, Farm Credit and agribusiness boards of directors. Recently an agricultural banker in Arkansas asked how one could go about selling senior management on why they should loan monies to agriculture. First, agriculture is the leading industry in many rural communities. Historically agricultural producers have had the reputation of paying back commitments even in distressed times. Second, many agricultural loans lead to other business such as checking, savings and investment accounts. The typical farm or ranch balance sheet averages 11.8 credit and financial service opportunities, thus they are rich for mining related services..." Dave Kohl, The Corn & Soybean Digest

Biofuel can buy time until something else comes along
06/28/06   
With global oil reserves estimated at between 2 trillion and three trillion barrels, and global daily consumption of oil for fuel at about 85 million barrels, the last gallon of petro-fuel will burp out of an exhaust pipe sometime between 2070 and 2102. According to Andrew Couch, coordinator of the West Tennessee Clean Cities Coalition, expanding biodiesel and ethanol capacity could push this extraordinary day further into the future, perhaps buying enough time for development of a new abundant fuel source, maybe hydrogen, solar power, ethanol made from municipal waste or a combination of many sources. - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

2006 shaping up as driest in memory
06/28/06   
Weather related conditions, like flood and drought, have always been a problem for farmers, and always will be. But this year's dry conditions in parts of the nation is being called one of the worse possible in recent history. Take for example the Northeast Texas farmer who has lost most of his corn crop and is culling his cattle because of dry pasture conditions. Officials say it may be the worse drought on the books since the 1956 Dust Bowl days. - story by Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff



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