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A Prism Business Media Publication August 9, 2006 | 060809   
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 >> Logan Hawkes

 >> Farm costs increase

 >> USDA report disputes claim that farmers are vanishing

 >> Thiesse's Thoughts: Hot, dry weather pattern

 >> Road Warrior: Farm Family Living Withdrawals

 >> Farm bill moves to front burner

 >> News from the Top of the Hill

 >> Tools available to help manage soybean rust in Iowa

 >> Nematodes add to farmers' woes in 2006

 >> Agritourism brings farm life to city kids

 >> Soybean growers tracking rust developments

 >> Administration schedules conservation sessions

 >> Harvest concerns for drought-damaged crops

 >> Farm program statutes cause payment problems

 >> Doha Round may get one more try, president says

 >> USDA to help revitalize Iraq's Extension Service

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  EDITOR'S NOTE
Logan Hawkes
08/09/06    Crop News Weekly
Happy National Elvis Week! I've never been much for all these special week or special day observances. Sure Mother's Day, Father's Day and a dozen or so other legitimate holidays should always be observed. But there is now something for every day of the year it seems. Next week is "National Friendship Week". I guess that's a good one. Especially if it could be observed in the troubled Middle East. The following week, by the way, is "National Be Kind To Humankind Week". And here's one I bet you didn't know: The third week in September is "National Farm Animals Awareness Week". I can hardly wait. But here's the topper: Today, Wednesday, is "National Underwear Day". I don't want to know why.

In the news this week, according to a university economist, farm costs are increasing. Not that it comes as a surprise to farmers. The slim wallet and bank account were our first clues. Also this week, the U.S. government always has had a knack for manipulating the English language. They're at it again. How would you define "U.S. farm exits"? Elsewhere, hot temperatures and extremely dry conditions have existed across much of the Upper Midwest during most of July. These conditions have put the 2006 corn and soybean crop in much of western and central Minnesota under varying degrees of drought stress. Rains over the last few days are helping, but warm weather is expected to return. Speaking of returning, now that the latest DOHA Round is over, farmers want to get back to the subject of the farm bill. Farm groups didn't waste much time fretting over what might have been. Three days after the suspension of DOHA talks, the nation's largest farm organization began pushing for a renewal of the 2002 bill. In other news, there are two tools for Iowa soybean producers and agricultural professionals to help them manage Asian soybean rust should it arrive in Iowa this year.

There's a lot more news to cover in this issue of Crop News Weekly, so dig in and get started. Happy reading.



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  FROM OUR MAGAZINES
Farm costs increase
08/08/06   
Rising grain production costs are attributable to much more than what goes in the tractor's gas tank, says a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist. "Of the $50 increase in per acre costs between 2003 and 2005, less than half are directly attributable to rising energy prices," says Gary Schnitkey, who co-authored the study with Extension colleague Dale Lattz. - University of Illinois

USDA report disputes claim that farmers are vanishing
08/05/06   
The U.S. government always has had a knack for manipulating the English language. If you hear the term "revenue enhancements," you should hold on to your wallet, because a tax increase is inevitable. And if any government official -- appointed, elected or otherwise -- starts to talk about "transitioning to a world economy," you can be assured that U.S. jobs soon will be shipped overseas. One example of our government's clever use of the language is the recent USDA report, "Understanding U.S. Farm Exits," a much more palatable title than perhaps, "The Disappearing U.S. Farmer," or "U.S. Farmers: A Vanishing Breed." - Paul Hollis, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Thiesse's Thoughts: Hot, dry weather pattern
08/04/06   
Hot temperatures and extremely dry conditions have existed across much of the Upper Midwest during most of July. These conditions have put the 2006 corn and soybean crop in much of western and central Minnesota under varying degrees of drought stress. This is probably the widest spread drought stress seen in Minnesota since the severe drought-year of 1988. The drought situation is even more extreme in North and South Dakota. Crop conditions are somewhat better in south central and southeast Minnesota, where timely rainfalls have been more frequent and in higher amounts in recent weeks. - Kent Thiesse, The Corn & Soybean Digest

Road Warrior: Farm Family Living Withdrawals
08/04/06   
The Road Warrior writes: "I am in the middle of teaching my summer agrilending schools. It is a treat to discuss some of the challenges and issues facing ag lenders at the different schools around the country. At the Kansas/Nebraska school in Kearney, NE, the issue of family living withdrawals was raised. The average family living withdrawal for a farm family made up of three or four individuals is slightly over $50,000 annually. However, there is a wide range of withdrawals depending on the family lifecycle, lifestyle expectations and region of the country." - Dave Kohl, The Corn & Soybean Digest

Farm bill moves to front burner
08/04/06   
Farm groups didn't waste much time fretting over what might have been in the Doha negotiations. Three days after the suspension of the talks, the nation's largest farm organization began pushing for a renewal of the 2002 farm bill. But Farm Bureau's call for a one-year extension of the current law and the reaction in Congress and the Bush administration may foreshadow more difficult debates ahead for it and other farm groups. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff

News from the Top of the Hill
08/04/06    National Hog Farmer
Vietnam PNTR -- The Senate Finance Committee passed permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) legislation for Vietnam. This would allow Vietnam to become a member of the WTO. Approximately three-fourths of U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam will face base bound duty rates of 15% or less. This includes cotton, selected beef, pork, and variety meats, dairy products, grapes, apples, pears, and soybeans. The Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-Vietnam Trade said earlier this summer in a letter to Congress, "the United States will gain significant new access to Vietnam's growing market, while Vietnam will gain no greater access to the U.S. market, making it an undeniable win for American agriculture." Coalition members include the American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Equipment Dealers Association, and USA Rice Federation. The legislation is expected to be considered by the Senate in September.

Extend Current Farm Bill -- Now that the WTO Doha negotiations have been suspended, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is advocating that the current farm bill be extended for one year. AFBF President Bob Stallman said, "With the suspension of the Doha Round of WTO trade talks on agriculture, the time has come for American agriculture to clearly focus on the need to extend our farm program for at least one year. By extending the current farm program, with minor changes to take into account recent trade rulings, we will move forward with the kind of policy that helps ensure U.S. farmers have the support they need to survive in today's contentious global trading environment."

NFU Farm Bill Listening Sessions -- The National Farmers Union (NFU) has announced it will be holding a series of listening sessions on the 2007 Farm Bill. The sessions are designed to allow rural Americans to voice their opinions on agriculture policy. Sessions will be held: August 5 -- Point, TX; August 14 -- Springfield, IL and Turner County Fair, SD; August 19 -- Chippewa Falls, WI; August 19 -- Aberdeen, SD; August 22 -- Tremonton, UT; August 24 -- Fresno, CA; August 25 -- Michigan; August 27 -- Columbia, MO; August 30 -- Lincoln, NE; and September 2 -- Huron, SD.

Senate Farm Bill Hearings -- The Senate Agriculture Committee will complete its farm bill field hearings this month. Hearings will be held August 15 in Redmond, OR; August 16 in Grand Island, NE; and August 17 in Great Falls, MT.

Congress Gone Until September -- The Senate is expected to complete its business by the end of this week before it leaves for its summer recess. The House of Representatives adjourned last week. There will be a number of issues for Congress to consider when it returns after Labor Day. Some of the issues important to agriculture include: fiscal year 2007 agriculture appropriations, Vietnam PNTR, Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), CAFO legislation, and mandatory price reporting. Many Senators and Congressmen during this recess will be attending county fairs, state fairs, town hall meetings and various events in their states and Congressional districts. This is a good time to let them know your opinion on vital issues facing American agriculture. Contact your Senators or Congressman's office and ask to meet with them or ask where they will be having town hall meetings. Remember "all politics is local." - from the desk of Scott Shearer

Tools available to help manage soybean rust in Iowa
There are two tools for Iowa soybean producers and agricultural professionals to help them manage Asian soybean rust should it arrive in Iowa this year. The first tool is a new publication, Asian Soybean Rust Management Strategies 2006 (PM 2028). It offers management guidelines on when it is appropriate to use fungicides, which class of fungicides to use at various growth stages and a current listing of approved of fungicides approved for use in Iowa to treat Asian soybean rust. - The Corn & Soybean Digest

Nematodes add to farmers' woes in 2006
This is the kind of year nematodes appreciate. The soil is hot, and farmers' crops are stressed. It's ideal for the tiny, soilborne organisms which thrive on plant roots. "The reality is that nematodes are showing up in a lot of cotton fields this year," said Terry Kirkpatrick, professor and nematode expert for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Nematode damage to plant roots leads to a range of problems, including poor plant growth, poor fruit, seed, or fiber production, or plant death. - Lamar James, Arkansas Extension Communications Specialist

Agritourism brings farm life to city kids
08/03/06   
Stanley Wise's neighbors thought he had lost his mind when they saw him planting a field of corn in early August one year. "Uh, Stanley, that corn is not going to get ready," one after another said. It didn't help much when he explained he was in the process of building a corn maze. They'd think for a second, then reply, "That corn still isn't going to get ready, Stanley." Stanley and his wife, Shelaine, are partners in Wise Farms, Boonesville, Miss., where they grow and market fresh produce in the summer and operate an agritourism business in the fall. Both also work for the Mississippi Extension Service. - Elton Robinson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Soybean growers tracking rust developments
08/03/06   
Soybean rust has been found at two sites in Jefferson County in southwestern Mississippi. While rust was heavy on kudzu, it was difficult to find on soybean in sentinel plots. Growers in southwest Mississippi, with beans at the R5 or younger growth stage should consider spraying with a protective fungicide. At this time rust is not a threat to growers in the Delta and northern Mississippi. Rust spore counts and populations found on soybeans in the southwest part of the state have been low. Plus, extreme heat and dry weather in the Delta and further north in the state have further slowed the movement of soybean rust. - Roy Roberson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Administration schedules conservation sessions
08/02/06   
The Bush administration has scheduled a series of listening sessions aimed at addressing issues that are expected to be at the center of the debate over conservation programs in the 2007 farm bill. Farmers in the Mid-South may have to travel some distance to make their opinions heard during the sessions, which will begin at Washington State University-Spokane, Spokane, Wash., Aug. 9. The closest sessions now scheduled to the Mid-South will be held in Jefferson City, Mo., Aug. 29 or Enid, Okla., Aug. 30. - Farm Press Editorial Staff

Harvest concerns for drought-damaged crops
08/04/06   
Drought is taking a toll on crops, writes Terry Mader, University of Nebraska animal science professor, at beef.unl.edu/. With little rain and depleted subsoil moisture in some areas, he says crops may not survive the growing season for fall harvest. "In the present immature stage of growth, green chopping, haying, or grazing are options which can be considered for corn, sorghum hybrids and soybeans," Mader writes. "If silage is to be made, some fields could be ready by mid-August or earlier, after that the plant may become too dry for good fermentation to occur. Optimum plant moisture for silage is 65%." Drought-damaged crops can be harvested as hay. With coarse-stalked crops, adequate drying time is needed. Plants will dry more quickly if crimped as they're cut. Since the stalks are coarse and leaves dry, corn plants in particular can be baled in round bales at around 20% moisture. - -- Terry Mader, University of Nebraska

Farm program statutes cause payment problems
08/02/06   
The Washington Post's two recent articles, "Farm Program Pays $1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm" (July 2, 2006) and "Growers Reap Benefits Even in Good Years," (July 3, 2006) point out some examples of problems with the current farm program -- non-farmers receiving "direct payments" on subdivided housing tracts that were once part of farm fields and farmers who receive substantial loan deficiency payments on a crop that sells for more than the loan rate.?? It would be very easy for someone unacquainted with crop agriculture and who reads these articles to jump on the "eliminate farm programs" bandwagon. - Daryll E. Ray

Doha Round may get one more try, president says
08/02/06   
The Doha Development Round negotiations may be about to start on their eighth -- or is it their ninth? -- life after President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to try to give the talks one more chance. The leaders apparently made the decision in a meeting at the White House last Friday, but only made it public in separate speeches -- Blair in Pebble Beach, Calif., Sunday night and Bush in remarks before he toured the Port of Miami Monday (July 31). - Farm Press Editorial Staff

USDA to help revitalize Iraq's Extension Service
08/01/06   
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Zukam Ali Al-Zawba'I, have signed a joint statement of intent to "strengthen and broaden" Iraq's agricultural extension system and universities. The effort will be carried out through a series of partnerships between U.S. and Iraqi universities, Johanns said during a stopover in Baghdad following a trade mission to Kazakhstan. - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff



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