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June 1, 2005 050601

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Table of Contents
Logan Hawkes
April soy crush below expectations
Ag land values have doubled since 1998
USDA forecasts accurate, but room for improvement
2004 Production Costs
Don't jump gun on spraying for rust
Early corn growth problems
USDA official 'optimistic' on budget issues
News from the Top of the Hill
USDA closes 2005 conservation program sign-up
Commodity programs: Is there reason for them?
Administration approves 3 safeguard cases against China
Minnesota Web Site offers harvest updates
Ethanol speeds its way to history at Indy 500 race
ASA and Doane launch SoyRAP


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Letter from the Editor
Logan Hawkes
06/01/05    Crop News Weekly
Are you ready for the summer? Like it or not, the season is upon us, and my - how the weather has changed. The NWS has updated its 2005 tropical storm forecast, and are now looking hard at early indications that this could be an uncomfortably warm year - perhaps a record breaker. But we think that ever year, don't we? There is one thing about the weather that is certain - it happens.

We're loaded inside this week's edition of Crop News Weekly. On the upside, I guess you've heard the big winner at the Indy 500 was... (drum roll please) ...Ethanol. Yes, Indy driver Jimmy Kites ran the Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing IndyCar around the track at a speed of 220 miles per hour, going down in history as the fastest corn machine jockey ever. Catch the future of ethanol fuel at the races with full coverage inside. Also this week, agricultural land values/acre in South Dakota jumped 20.3% from 2004 to 2005, and have doubled in the past seven years. Similar numbers can be found all across the Midwest. Elsewhere in the news, Illinois corn and soybean producers spent more per acre to grow their crops in 2004 than the previous year. Total costs per acre to produce corn increased 6-9%. Will it continue? And another piece of the spraying-for-rust puzzle: many farmers plan to spray at first bloom. Is this right or wrong? Back to the subject of corn, many corn fields this year suffer from poor early plant health according to some experts. Can you guess the reasons? Finally this week, USDA leaders have not given up on stricter limits on farm program payments even if they have promised to work with Congress to find different ways for agriculture to contribute to deficit reduction. Find out more inside.

You'll find these and other stories in this issue of Crop News Weekly. Thanks for joining us, and happy reading.

From our Magazines
April soy crush below expectations
Richard Brock
05/31/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
The April soybean crush came in well above a year earlier, but below trade expectations, according to Thursday morning's monthly Census Bureau Fats and Oils Crush Report. The Census Bureau also revised its estimate of the March crush downward, along with March 31 processor stocks of soymeal. Soyoil stocks were revised upward. The Bureau pegged the March U.S. soybean crush at 139.4 million bushels, vs. 112.5 million a year earlier. Trade estimates averaged 141.7 million bushels in a range from 140 million to 142.7 million.


Ag land values have doubled since 1998
South Dakota State University
05/31/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
Agricultural land values/acre in South Dakota jumped 20.3% from 2004 to 2005, and have doubled in the past seven years. South Dakota State University (SDSU) economist Larry Janssen says those are among the chief points SDSU's latest farm real estate survey reveals. Since 1991, SDSU has gathered the data by surveying ag lenders, Farm Service Agency officials, rural appraisers, assessors, realtors, professional farm managers and Extension agricultural educators. Janssen authored the report with the help of SDSU graduate research assistant Erik Gerlach and SDSU Extension Farm Financial Management Specialist Burton Pflueger.


USDA forecasts accurate, but room for improvement
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
05/31/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
A study of the USDA's corn and soybean production forecasts over a 34-year period concludes that such projections "perform reasonably well in generating crop production forecast for corn and soybeans." Still, the study, done at the University of Illinois (U of I) at Urbana-Champaign, finds room for improvement. "In particular, the USDA may want to consider expanding the scope of the subjective yield surveys to incorporate a wider range of market and industry participants," says Darrel Good, U of I Extension marketing specialist and professor of agricultural and consumer economics, who co-authored the study with his colleague, Scott Irwin.


2004 Production Costs
The University of Illinois Extension
05/31/05    The Corn & Soybean Digest
Illinois corn and soybean producers spent more per acre to grow their crops in 2004 than the previous year, according to a University of Illinois (U of I) Extension study. "Costs per acre to produce corn were higher in all different geographic regions in Illinois compared to 2003," says Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist. "Across the state, total costs per acre to produce corn increased 6-9%. The main reason was higher costs per acre for fertilizer, seed and fuel. "Like corn, total costs per acre to produce soybeans increased in all the state's geographic areas over the 2003 figures," says Lattz.


Don't jump gun on spraying for rust
Alan Blaine
05/27/05    Farm Press Daily
There are several schools of thought regarding Asian soybean rust I feel need clarifying. I hear that many farmers plan to spray at first bloom. Preventive control is the best method for controlling diseases, but paying attention to what is found will be better than trigger spraying this growing season. Although rust has been found in Florida and Georgia, prevailing winds appear to be in our favor in Mississippi. Spraying prior to bloom or prior to pods beginning to form probably will be premature this year.


Early corn growth problems
Erick Larson
05/27/05    Farm Press Daily
Many corn fields suffer from poor early plant health, particularly during cool springs like we have experienced this year. These growth problems can be intensified by a multitude of factors, but can normally be attributed to nutritional limitations and/or poor root development. Many initially believe poor growth results from inadequate or poor nitrogen availability, but this is rarely the case. Nitrogen is very mobile in the soil and corn requires relatively little nitrogen until rapid growth begins, so nitrogen fertilizer placement and amount rarely limit early-season corn growth.


USDA official 'optimistic' on budget issues
Forrest Laws
05/26/05    Farm Press Daily
USDA leaders have not given up on stricter limits on farm program payments even if they have promised to work with Congress to find different ways for agriculture to contribute to deficit reduction. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner met with Delta Council leaders for 90 minutes prior to the organization's annual meeting in Cleveland, Miss., May 6, but apparently did not tell the farmers, merchants, lenders and other businessmen what they wanted to hear about payment limits. Speaking at a press briefing after the business roundtable meeting, Conner said he was optimistic a "reasonable solution" can be found on the administration's budget proposals.


News from the Top of the Hill
Scott Shearer
05/27/05    National Hog farmer
Supreme Court Votes Beef Checkoff Constitutional - The United States Supreme Court in a vote of 6-3 upheld the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. This decision overturns an earlier decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eight Circuit, which had declared the beef checkoff unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment regarding freedom of speech. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) said, "This is a victory for all producers who want demand-building efforts in beef safety, nutrition and promotion continued." Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said, "This is certainly a win for the many producers who recognize the power of pooled resources. As this administration has always contended, USDA regards such programs, when properly administered, as effective tools for market enhancement." The case against the checkoff was brought by the Livestock Marketing Association, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, and three individuals.

COOL Delayed - The House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2006 agricultural appropriations bill this week. The bill delays implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) until 2007. Next week's column will provide more details on the appropriations bill.

Biodiesel Tax Incentive - Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jim Talent (R-MO) have introduced S. 1076, which would extend the tax credit for biodiesel production through 2010. Similar legislation (H.R. 2498) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND). The legislation provides for a federal excise tax credit of $1/gallon for biodiesel made from feedstocks like soybean oil and animal fats and 50 cents/gallon for biodiesel made from recycled oils. Hulshof said, "Extension of this incentive will provide the certainty needed to encourage the expanded production and use of biodiesel." The current tax credit expires in 2006.

Agriculture Calls for Increase in Natural Gas - The Agriculture Energy Alliance has called upon Congress to enact comprehensive energy legislation that "integrates the use and development of domestic natural gas and stabilizes natural gas prices." The American Farm Bureau Federation said, "Congress must support new legislation to increase the supply of natural gas, lower its price, and provide relief to farmers and other producers in our economy. We must diversify our fuel supply, drill in new areas, and allow permits for new port terminals to import liquefied natural gas. Or else we must agree to watch our farm and fertilizer manufacturing sectors continue to erode." The increase cost of natural gas has caused 20 U.S. fertilizer plants to close in recent years. The Agriculture Energy Alliance is a coalition of 60 farm groups and agribusinesses.

CAFTA and Sugar - A major issue in the efforts to pass the Central America - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) is the strong opposition of the sugar industry. This opposition has caused a number of normally pro-trade Congressional members to oppose CAFTA-DR. The sugar industry continues to advocate that sugar be excluded from the agreement. There is concern within the agriculture community that this type of exclusion would have negative impacts on the rest of agriculture. The Agriculture Coalition for CAFTA-DR sent a letter to Congressional members stating, "We are deeply concerned that efforts by most of the U.S. sugar industry to obtain a full exclusion from CAFTA-DR or other accommodations will open the door to the withdrawal of important concessions for some of our products. We are also concerned that any exclusions in this agreement will leave the way for exclusions and counter-exclusions in future agreements, resulting in a downward spiral to the lowest possible level of mutual agreement - deals in which only non-sensitive commodities are included." The Administration continues to oppose any changes to the agreement. Congressional leaders would like to have Congress consider CAFTA-DR this summer. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) held a press conference this week urging Congress to pass CAFTA-DR and its importance to American agriculture.

WTO Vote - The House Ways and Means Committee voted down a joint resolution (H.J. Res. 27) that would have required the United States to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). This vote had added significance this year with the continuing negotiations of the Doha Round. Congress is required every five years to vote on the United States' WTO membership.

Cook Those Burgers - A recent poll indicates that only 13% of consumers knew what the proper internal temperature should be when cooking hamburgers (160 degrees F.). Only 6% of consumers knew poultry burgers should be cooked to 165 degrees F. The American Meat Industry Foundation, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation have released a new brochure that offers tips for safely handling and cooking ground meat and poultry. The brochure is available at www.meatsafety.org.

USDA closes 2005 conservation program sign-up
05/27/05    Southwest Farm Press
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today reminded producers that the sign-up period for the 2005 Conservation Security Program (CSP) ends on Friday, May 27, 2005. This nationwide sign-up that began March 28 is available to approximately 235,000 farmers and ranchers in 220 selected watershed locations. "CSP is a unique program that offers payments for enhancing natural resources, rewards those farmers and ranchers who are model conservationists and provides incentives for other producers to meet those same high standards of environmental performance," said Johanns. "I encourage all interested producers in these watersheds to register by the sign-up deadline."


Commodity programs: Is there reason for them?
Daryll E. Ray
05/24/05    Western Farm Press
Some have long said federal commodity programs are relics of the past and should be eliminated forthwith or, in the worst case scenario, eliminated over time through a buyout or gradual reduction in payments. Others say, well, if taxpayers are going to spend all those billions dollars on agriculture, let's get farmers to do something for their payments. Translation: Shift taxpayer dollars away from commodity programs and toward whatever payment-basis is consistent with the policy objective of the speaker.


Administration approves 3 safeguard cases against China
Forrest Laws
05/23/05    Western Farm Press
Alarmed by 1,000 percent-plus surges in Chinese textile and apparel imports, the U.S. government approved three safeguard cases against China. The cases cover cotton shirts, cotton trousers and cotton and man-made fiber underwear. The approvals, announced on May 13, came much faster than anticipated by the textile manufacturing and labor organizations that sought them because of concerns that Chinese exports would skyrocket after textile and apparel import quotas expired Jan. 1.


Minnesota Web Site offers harvest updates
05/25/05    Hay & Forage Grower
For a quick look at how Minnesota's alfalfa crop is growing and maturing, visit the Minnesota Crop eNews Web Site. Starting May 16, the University of Minnesota Extension Service is taking twice-weekly al-falfa scissors-cut samples and PEAQ readings from alfalfa fields. A summary of results will be posted at the Web site. It also offers a form to order PEAQ sticks, for $10 each, through the Midwest Forage Association.


From the News Wire
Ethanol speeds its way to history at Indy 500 race
05/31/05    NCGA News
Ethanol took center stage at the Indianapolis 500 this weekend when driver Jimmy Kites ran the Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing IndyCar around the track at a speed of 220 miles per hour, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes. Kites made history with the car during the Miller Lite Carb Day activities May 27; it was the first time in more than 50 years a race car ran on ethanol -- but it won't be the last. The Indy Racing League's Indy Car Series will use the corn-based fuel as its fuel source beginning with a 10 percent blend in 2006 and moving to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007.


ASA and Doane launch SoyRAP
05/24/05    American Soybean Association
The American Soybean Association (ASA) has teamed-up with Doane Agricultural Services Company (Doane) to launch the Soybean Rust Advisory Program (SoyRAP), a new online resource designed to be the foremost web site for advice about the prevention and treatment of soybean rust. "While there are many web sites that will tell you where soybean rust has been confirmed, SoyRAP tells you how this might impact the crop in your area, what you should do to protect your soybeans and how this might impact the soybean market," said ASA Chairman Ron Heck, a soybean producer from Perry, Iowa.


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