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May 18, 2005 050518

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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
China's approach to world trade unsettling
Have plan ready for Asian rust
Corn planting surges, growth behind
Two sides warming up for battle over CAFTA
News from the Top of the Hill
NCC throws support behind "improved" DR-CAFTA
The Road Warrior of Agriculture
Ethanol bill passes
Why not a buyout program for all crops?
Column: More e-mails on biotechnology
Stenholm blasts WTO, U.S. economic policy failures
Senate energy policy set for markup this week
U.S. soybeans on center stage for Presidential visit


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
05/18/05    Crop News Weekly
In The News: China's world trade; planning for Asian rust; corn plantings surge; battle over CAFTA; ethanol bill passes; emails on biotechnology; Stenholm blasts WTO; the Senate energy bill - these stories and more in this issue of Crop News Weekly

A report in the International Herald Tribune the other day said soybean-crushing plants in China face closings this year because exporters are requiring them to pay in advance for their soybeans. The demands for upfront payments come after plants reneged on contracts last year, leaving shippers holding the bag for more than $350 million in soybeans. In other news, Asian rust was recently identified in south Georgia, once again raising the question, "are we ready for a rust invasion?" Check your preparedness level! Also this week, the recent USDA weekly crop update showed corn planting progress has nearly caught up to last year, but crop emergence trails the five-year average following the recent cold spell in the Midwest. And are the "sins of the father" about to be visited on the latest trade agreement to be negotiated by the Bush administration? That's the question some are posing as administration officials, farm organization leaders and members of Congress prepare for a showdown vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic. Elsewhere, Minnesota is the first State in the Nation to require a 10 percent ethanol blend in its gasoline, and Minnesota will now be the first State to require that 20 percent of its gasoline be from ethanol, as mandated by recent legislation. Finally, Charlie Stenholm remains a powerful voice in Washington. Some six months after he lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives he continues to stump for the benefit of U.S. farmers, now as an agricultural consultant with a Washington D.C. law firm. Find out his agenda.

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


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From our Magazines
China's approach to world trade unsettling
Forrest Laws
05/16/05    Farm Press Daily
A report in the International Herald Tribune the other day said soybean-crushing plants in China face closings this year because exporters are requiring them to pay in advance for their soybeans. The demands for upfront payments come after plants reneged on contracts last year, leaving shippers holding the bag for more than $350 million in soybeans, according to analysts. Problems with Chinese defaults on payments haven't been confined to soybeans. U.S. cotton merchants reportedly are trying to resolve contract disputes that occurred last year when Chinese textile mills began to realize they had purchased more cotton than they could use.


Have plan ready for Asian rust
Alan Blaine
05/16/05    Farm Press Daily
Asian rust was recently identified in south Georgia on volunteer soybeans. As of April 29 we had completed our fifth survey of Mississippi sentinel plots, and as of May 3 we had no reports of rust. The process of labeling fungicides continues, but some materials will not be approved until next season. We have a fairly good arsenal but not all materials are equal. What you use will depend on whether or not rust is present when you spray, availability, efficacy and cost. I hope several co-packs/premixes will be available. They will be good options, but the time of application and what is in the field will determine what is used.


Corn planting surges, growth behind
Richard Brock
05/11/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
Last week's USDA weekly crop update showed corn planting progress has nearly caught up to last year, but crop emergence trails the five-year average following the recent cold spell in the Midwest. The USDA reported that 79% of U.S. corn acreage had been planted as of Sunday, up from 52% a week earlier. That progress compared with 81% a year earlier and a five-year average of 67%. According to the USDA, however, only 23% of the corn crop had emerged, vs. 34% last year and the five-year average of 23%. Crop emergence is furthest behind in the northwest Corn Belt, with only 1% of the Minnesota crop said to be emerged, vs. an average of 13%.


Two sides warming up for battle over CAFTA
Forrest Laws
05/12/05    Farm Press Daily
Are the "sins of the father" about to be visited on the latest trade agreement to be negotiated by the Bush administration? That's the question some are posing as administration officials, farm organization leaders and members of Congress prepare for a showdown vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic. While no date has been set for a vote, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has said he would bring the measure to the floor later this month. Senate leaders have not indicated when they might consider it.


News from the Top of the Hill
Scott Shearer
05/13/05    National Hog Farmer
Animal Identification Strategic Plan - USDA announced a "thinking paper" and timeline for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has asked for agriculture producers, leaders and industry to provide feedback on the proposal. Johanns said, "We created these documents with guidance from the NAIS advisory committee and with a great deal of input from producers. We're proposing answers to some of the key questions about how we envision this system moving forward. Now, I'm eager to hear from farmers and ranchers so we can develop a final plan." The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) commended USDA for moving forward. NPPC said, "It's critically important that we proceed on a national animal identification system as quickly as possible. An identification system is needed to enhance the health and biosecurity of the U.S. livestock herd by providing a method to insure rapid and accurate tracing of animal movements in the event of an animal emergency." The strategic plan provides detail projected timelines and "potential avenues" to achieve the program. According to the proposal, stakeholders would be required to identify premises and animals according to NAIS standards by January 2008. Recording of animal movements would be required by January 2009. Comments on the "thinking paper" are due June 6. The strategic plan and advanced notice of availability are available at: http://usda.gov/nais.

Animal Identification Timeline
USDA's "thinking paper" on National Animal Identification System (NAIS) has key dates in the proposal:

  • July 2005: All states capable of premises registration; Animal Identification Number system operational.
  • April 2007: Premises registration and animal identification "alerts." A program to build awareness.
  • January 2008: Premises registration and animal identification required.
  • January 2009: Reporting of defined animal movements required; entire program mandatory.

    Ethanol Benefits Consumers - A Consumer Federation of America report, "Over a Barrel: Why Aren't Oil Companies Using Ethanol to Lower Gasoline Prices?" found that consumers could save up to 8 cents/gallon of gasoline if oil companies used ethanol instead of other petroleum components. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plans to ask the Department of Energy to investigate the reasons for the limited blending of ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply. Harkin, in a news release, stated: "America's businesses and families continue to face record gas prices. This report provides further evidence of the real benefits for both consumers and rural America from increasing our use of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply." The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said, "Blending high-priced gasoline with modestly-priced ethanol results in a more affordable final product. By using ethanol, oil refiners have a real opportunity to pass along real savings to consumers during this period of high gasoline prices."

    USDA-Biotech Reports - USDA has released two reports concerning agricultural biotechnology. The reports concern the evolving world requirements for the traceability and labeling of agricultural biotechnology products and on the complexities of predicting the use of these products in the future. The reports were developed by USDA's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. Copies of the reports can be obtained at http://www.usda.gov/event_15.xml.

    Oman Reopens for U.S. Beef - USDA announced that Oman has agreed to import all U.S. beef and beef products. Oman is the second country in the Middle East to reopen for U.S. beef. Egypt announced the reopening of its market in March.

    NCC throws support behind "improved" DR-CAFTA
    Forrest Laws
    05/12/05    Southwest Farm Press
    The National Cotton Council's board of directors has voted to support the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement after Bush administration officials "satisfied their concerns" about the document. The NCC becomes the last major commodity organization to endorse the trade pact. The National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, USA Rice Federation and Farm Bureau have been behind it since its initial signing in December, 2003.


    The Road Warrior of Agriculture
    Dave Kohl
    05/11/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
    Dave Kohl writes: An ag banker who was attending the annual Wisconsin Agricultural Bankers Conference in the Dells, WI, asked a very pertinent question for today's economy, "How will the government, consumers and businesses deal with increasing interest rates and inflation?" First, let's start with inflation. Many households and farmers are facing pinched budgets because of fuel, medical cost and cost of materials. As a result, many consumers are driving less. Convenience store owners and restaurants are finding fewer people eating out and shopping. I have noticed less traffic on key interstates as well.


    Ethanol bill passes
    Kent Thiesse
    05/11/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
    Minnesota was the first State in the Nation to require a 10 percent ethanol blend in its gasoline, and Minnesota will now be the first State to require that 20 percent of its gasoline be from ethanol. The compromise version of the so-called "E-20 Bill" (S.F. 4) passed the Minnesota Senate by a 57-8 margin, and the Minnesota House by a 100-32 margin, and will be signed into law on May 10 by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The new E-20 legislation will change the current 10 percent ethanol requirement in gasoline to 20 percent, effective on August 30, 2013. This assumes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves the E-20 ethanol blend as an acceptable fuel blend, similar to E-10 and E-85.


    Why not a buyout program for all crops?
    Daryll E. Ray
    05/11/05    Western Farm Press
    Over the next two years, in the run up to the 2007 Farm Bill, one can expect to see a wide variety of ideas being floated as alternatives to a continuation of the present set of policy instruments. Much of the discussion of various farm policy proposals is being driven by two factors. The first is the U.S. budget deficit and the need to reduce the $20 billion annual price tag of the current legislation. The second is the desire to make U.S. farm policy compliant with the WTO commitment to trade liberalization.


    Column: More e-mails on biotechnology
    Harry Cline
    05/10/05    Western Farm Press
    Out of the mouths of babes, and from the keyboard of an idiot adult. It has been awhile since I have shared fan mail generated from my haranguing of the radical anti-biotech crowd. However, I received an e-mail a few weeks back that prompts me to share a couple of recent cyberspace communiqués. The first is from a young Mendocino County, Calif., resident, 16-year-old Ryan Mayfield. Ryan rightfully took me to task for painting all Mendocino County residents with a broad brush in recent commentaries about efforts to organically certify marijuana production in Mendocino County and the county's dubious distinction of being first to ban biotechnology. He let me know in clear, precise fashion that there are people in Mendocino County who did not carry medical marijuana cards and also realize the benefits of GMOs.


    Stenholm blasts WTO, U.S. economic policy failures
    Ron Smith
    05/10/05    Southwest Farm Press
    Stenholm said he "used to believe in free trade," but has come to the conclusion that countries will always be involved with trade and with agricultural trade issues. Charlie Stenholm remains a powerful voice in Washington. Some six months after he lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives he continues to stump for the benefit of U.S. farmers, now as an agricultural consultant with a Washington D.C. law firm. In that capacity he recently addressed a group of old friends, members of the Texas Cotton Association, at their annual meeting in Austin.


    From the News Wire
    Senate energy policy set for markup this week
    05/16/05    NCGA News
    The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will begin marking up comprehensive energy legislation tomorrow, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes. "The NCGA is encouraged the Senate will begin the energy markup," said NCGA President Leon Corzine. "Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has been instrumental in moving the energy bill process forward. We believe the political will exists in our nation's capitol to enact sound energy policy as lawmakers realize how high and unstable energy costs affect farmers." Samantha Slater, NCGA director of public policy, said the markup could prove to be a long process, but one that should culminate before Congress recesses for Memorial Day break.


    U.S. soybeans on center stage for Presidential visit
    05/16/05    American Soybean Association
    The American Soybean Association (ASA) and its 25,000 grower members are pleased that U.S. grown soybeans were center stage today when President George W. Bush visited a biodiesel production facility in West Point, Va. The Virginia Biodiesel Refinery, LLC uses the oil from soybeans produced in the state to make soy biodiesel. The President toured the facility in support of America's need to become less dependent on foreign oil. "Biodiesel is one of our nation's most promising alternative fuel sources and by developing biodiesel you're making this country less dependent on foreign sources of oil," President Bush said.


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