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May 11, 2005 050511

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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
Groups gearing up for farm bill discussions
Parties battle over depth of cuts in '06 spending plan
Thiesse's Thoughts: E-20 legislation
Asian rust found in Georgia
USTR responds to Brazil demands
News from the Top of the Hill
Preparing spray equipment for the coming battle
Three top oil crops
Domestic farm policy driving ag investments offshore
The wireless farm
Wireless connectivity basics
Farmer leaders recognize historic biotech planting
Minnesota on brink of renewable fuel requirement


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
05/11/05    Crop News Weekly
There's nothing like the threat of farm bill changes or funding to bring the conversation around the table to fever pitch. I can't remember who it was, but just the other day I was reminded that in the 'old days', a farmer could depend on lawmakers to 'stick to their guns on farm issues'. My, how times have changed.

Kicking off this week's news - you guessed it - farm bill funding! Congress moved a step closer to reopening the 2002 farm bill by narrowly approving a 2006-10 budget resolution calling for a $35-billion reduction in mandatory government spending and $70 billion in tax cuts. The resolution requires the House and Senate agriculture committees to reduce ag spending by $3 billion over five years and by $173 million in fiscal 2006. In a related farm bill story, more than a year away from farm bill negotiations, an interesting alliance is developing to bring the focus toward agricultural programs that shy away from amber and blue boxes and draw the spotlight to a green box, which would include conservation programs. In other news, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the "E-20 Ethanol Bill" by a 91 to 43 margin. And bad news for southern soybean growers (and another concern for Midwest beaners), Asian soybean rust has been confirmed in southwest Georgia last week, marking the first reported incidence of the feared fungus outside of Florida this year. In other rust news, preparing spray equipment for the anticipated battle with Asian rust (ASR) in U.S. fields sounds a bit like strategizing for a military campaign. Get the run down inside. Finally this week, the shift from commodity-based crops to more niche crops with special, marketable qualities is evident in the world of oil crops. A major influence has been the increased emphasis by nutrition experts on using "healthier" oils.

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


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From our Magazines
Groups gearing up for farm bill discussions
Cecil Yancy
05/09/05    Farm Press Daily
When light hits a mood ring, its color changes. When trade agreements and budget pressures shine on the farm bill, the color could change as well. More than a year away from farm bill negotiations, an interesting right-left alliance is developing to bring the focus toward agricultural programs that shy away from amber and blue boxes and draw the spotlight to a green box, which would include conservation programs. It involves groups ranging from producers to environmentalists to conservationists.


Parties battle over depth of cuts in '06 spending plan
Forrest Laws
05/09/05    Farm Press Daily
Congress moved a step closer to reopening the 2002 farm bill by narrowly approving a 2006-10 budget resolution calling for a $35-billion reduction in mandatory government spending and $70 billion in tax cuts. The resolution requires the House and Senate agriculture committees to reduce ag spending by $3 billion over five years and by $173 million in fiscal 2006. The $3 billion is closer to the Senate's initial $2.8 billion in cuts than the $5.278 billion in the House version of the budget resolution. But Democrats noted that it also accounts for 8.5 percent of the $35-billion reduction while ag spending represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget.


Thiesse's Thoughts: E-20 legislation
Kent Thiesse
05/05/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
On April 27, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the "E-20 Ethanol Bill" by a 91 to 43 margin, with considerable bi-partisan support by House Republican and DFL Legislators. The E-20 legislation passed the Minnesota Senate by a similarly wide-margin earlier in the 2005 Legislative Session. The main differences in the Senate E-20 Bill and the House Bill are that the Senate Bill calls for implementation by 2012 and the House Bill by 2013. The House Bill also calls for a E-20 compliance and safety test that will require the governor to work with the U.S. Product Safety Commission to determine that E-20 is safe to use in all types of engines, with a final report to be issued by December 31, 2010.


Asian rust found in Georgia
Richard Brock
05/05/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
Asian soybean rust has been confirmed on volunteer soybeans in southwest Georgia last Wednesday, marking the first reported incidence of the feared fungus outside of Florida in 2005. The rust was found in Seminole County, the southwestern-most county in Georgia, which is near the junction of the Alabama, Florida (panhandle) and Georgia state lines. Previously the only incidences of Asian rust found this year were in three central Florida counties.


USTR responds to Brazil demands
Forrest Laws
05/04/05    Farm Press Daily
The U.S. Trade Representative has notified the WTO that the United States will comply with an appeals panel ruling against the U.S. cotton program. What happens next is anybody's guess. The appeals panel ruling issued on March 3 agreed with a three-member dispute panel that found most of Brazil's complaints against the cotton portion of the U.S. farm programs were valid. Press reports said the USTR's notification of its intent to comply on April 22 did not include specifics and noted the United States requires a "reasonable period of time" to implement any changes. They also quoted a USDA official as saying the compliance issues were complex.


News from the Top of the Hill
Scott Shearer
05/05/05    National Hog Farmer
Voluntary COOL - Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and 33 Congressmen have introduced H.R. 2068, the "Meat Promotion Act of 2005." This legislation creates a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program (COOL). Goodlatte said, "I have always favored a voluntary approach and the legislation we are introducing will replace the current mandatory system, with its potential for creating another layer of regulatory and business cost, with a voluntary program. This approach benefits consumers and producers and is preferable to a mandatory program that is more likely to hurt the people it was intended to help." The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), in their support for the legislation, said, "A workable, voluntary labeling program needs the commitment of all segments of the meat or pork production chain to work together to benefit both producers and consumers by providing product origin information and not adding unnecessary costs without demonstrated benefits." The National Farmers Union who supports mandatory COOL said, "Voluntary country-of-origin labeling is currently available and has been for a number of years. Yet companies that import cheaper, often lower-quality food products have been unwilling to participate. Voluntary COOL is like having a voluntary speed limit - it is not realistic." Currently, mandatory COOL would go into effect on Sept. 30, 2006.

Forward Contract Reformation - Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced legislation that would prohibit or restrict the use of forward contracts for livestock. S. 960, the "Captive Supply Reform Act," would amend the Packer and Stockyards Act to outlaw "forward contract" and "formula price" as defined by the legislation. A forward contract would be defined as an "oral or written contract for the purchase of livestock that provides for the delivery of the livestock to a packer at a date that is more than seven days after the date on which the contract is entered into." The legislation defines formula price as "any price term that establishes a base from which a purchase price is calculated on the basis of a price that will not be determined or reported until a date after the day the forward price is established." Enzi said in a press release, "Requiring a firm base price in an open and transparent market ends the potential for price discrimination, price manipulation and undue preferences."

Brazil Suspends Meat Shipments to U.S. - Brazil has tentatively agreed to USDA's request to voluntarily suspend shipments of meat products to the United States. USDA will be sending a team of inspectors to Brazil to help implement the necessary inspection oversight at Brazilian facilities.

Farm Bill Listening Sessions - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced this week that USDA will conduct a "nationwide series of listening sessions" concerning the 2007 Farm Bill, beginning as early as this summer. These sessions will help USDA develop their policy for the farm bill debate. Johanns said, "There certain issues that I am especially interested in hearing about. Are we doing enough to encourage and support the next generation of farmers and people who are interested in starting out in production agriculture? Are we fostering the right kind of atmosphere for farmers and ranchers, one in which the opportunity to succeed is there? And, is there more that we can do to expand this administration's groundbreaking success with cooperative conservation, conservation that works with agriculture and not against it?"

Agriculture Budget Cuts Required - The Senate and House Agriculture Committees will need to cut $3 billion over five years from various agricultural programs. The committees have until Sept. 15 to report back to the House and Senate Budget Committees. They will be considering reductions in farm programs, conservation, and nutrition programs to meet the budget requirements. The Administration had proposed $5.6 billion in cuts by lowering payment limitations from $360,000 to $250,000, 5% reduction in commodity payments, marketing assistance loans based on historical production, and, 1.2% marketing assessment on sugar processors.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Conner - Chuck Conner has been confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Conner previously served as Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture. He is the former president of the Corn Refiners Association and served as staff director of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said that Conner's "lifelong dedication to agriculture and his many years as an outstanding public servant will be an important asset to enhancing USDA's many missions."

Portman and Johnson Confirmed - The U.S. Senate confirmed Congressman Rob Portman (R-OH) to be U.S. Trade Representative and Stephen Johnson as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Portman will have a full agenda with the Administration wanting Congress to approve the Dominican Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) and the growing Congressional frustration with China. The Senate Finance Committee plans to hold a hearing on U.S.-China trade relations this summer.

Preparing spray equipment for the coming battle
Lora Berg
Farm Industry News
Preparing spray equipment for the anticipated battle with Asian soybean rust (ASR) in U.S. fields sounds a bit like strategizing for a military campaign. "Be sure you know about nozzles, pressure and volume and how to use fungicides. Then prepare your equipment and follow where the rust is located," advises Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University agronomist. "It doesn't help to panic. We have the technology to manage this disease and we have prepared very well for it." Pedersen recently returned from a trip to South America to investigate how that country's soybean producers deal with the disease they have been fighting since 2001. "Farmers in South America have learned to manage it and we can do the same thing," Pedersen says.


Three top oil crops
Peg Zenk
Farm Industry News
THE SHIFT from commodity-based crops to more niche crops with special, marketable qualities is evident in the world of oil crops. A major influence has been the increased emphasis by nutrition experts on using "healthier" oils -- those with lower levels of saturated and trans fats. Food manufacturers are feeling pressure from consumers, as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Come January of 2006, that agency is changing food labeling laws, requiring companies to list saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol separately on the Nutrition Facts portion of their food labels. Now companies are choosing to reduce or eliminate those types of fat in their foods rather than list them.


Domestic farm policy driving ag investments offshore
Harry Cline
05/02/05    Western Farm Press
Well-intended, but poorly executed public policy seems more inclined to limit California and U.S. agriculture growth and efficiency with conflicting environmental and social agendas than to encourage investment in American farming. If that continues, according to Stuart Woolf, president of Woolf Enterprises, a family-owned diversified Fresno County, Calif., farming and processing operation, America will lose its place as an agricultural world leader. Woolf told the California Agriculture Symposium in Sacramento, Calif., recently that if domestic farm policy does not change, it will drive agricultural investments to China, India, Turkey, Brazil and others wanting to become "incubators" for agricultural growth.


The wireless farm
David Hest and Karen McMahon
Farm Industry News
TIRED OF TRUDGING from the shop to the office to get on the Internet, a growing cadre of farmers is using off-the-shelf wireless technology to tie computers at multiple locations into a network. A network allows them to share an Internet connection, as well as files and printers. Typically, wireless networks span a few hundred feet to a few hundred yards, but bridging several miles is possible, too. Hard-wired networks are another option at distances up to about 300 ft. But simplicity and relatively low cost tip the balance in favor of wireless, radio-based networks.


Wireless connectivity basics
David Hest
Farm Industry News
When Rod Keller wanted to network his home office computer to a laptop in the shop several years ago, he used his skills as a computer hobbyist to build a wireless technology system. After experimenting with various extended-range antennas, he was able to expand the reach of his wireless network from the advertised 300 feet to two miles or more. So connecting his home and main farm sites near Clarion, IA, which are about a mile apart, was relatively simple. When Keller began his wireless connectivity quest, he studied the basics of microwave radio technology and began experimenting. Since then, Keller, who farms 1,300 acres with his brother Dave and mother Ev, has opened a Radio Shack franchise in his hometown to capitalize on his growing technology expertise.



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From the News Wire
Farmer leaders recognize historic biotech planting
05/09/05    NCGA News
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) member Darrin Ihnen today joined farmer leaders from the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Cotton Council (NCC) in Chicago to recognize the planting of the one-billionth acre of biotech-enhanced agricultural commodities. Representatives from Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) were also on hand to talk about an acreage counter that is being used to track the planting of biotech acres around the world. "U.S. farmers are adopting biotechnology because they recognize the safety, benefits and potential of biotechnology," said Darrin Ihnen, a South Dakota farmer and Chair of NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group. "As a farmer, it's important that I find ways to become more efficient in my operation. Biotechnology helps reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides I use."


Minnesota on brink of renewable fuel requirement
05/06/05    NCGA News
Minnesota is steps away from enacting legislation that requires 20 percent ethanol in the state's fuel, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes. The state Senate Tuesday night and the House voted Thursday to endorse the legislation, which will now move to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's desk for signing. The signing ceremony is expected on May 10 at a local metro E-85 fueling station. The legislation, a boon for the state's corn growers, will require the state to blend 20 percent ethanol in the fuel supply by 2013. "This sets an example for the rest of this country when it comes to using renewable sources for fuel," said NCGA First Vice President Gerald Tumbleson, a grower from Sherburn, Minn.


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