WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Johanns Tours South Dakota Drought Area — During his drought tour of central South Dakota, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced an $800 million disaster package. The grants will be available to producers immediately, without congressional action. "USDA is committed to using every resource available to help farmers and ranchers who are facing drought." The program includes $50 million in block grants for livestock producers. The programs will be administered on a state level.

Area Counties Eligible for Disaster Package — Forty-two South Dakota counties qualify for almost $4 million in Livestock Assistance Grant Funds. Secretary Johanns also announced funding for the Emergency Conservation and Grassland Reserve Program. Thirty-three Minnesota counties and 27 in North Dakota also qualify for the Livestock Assistance Grant Funds.

Rounds Extends Appreciation to Administration — South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is thanking the Bush administration and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns for delivering a comprehensive drought aid package during a visit to the state. Rounds says this is an important step, but he still wants Congress to act on additional emergency drought relief.

More Crop Insurance Payments in ’06 — The Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency says crop insurance indemnity payments for 2006 losses are likely to be twice as big as last year. Eldon Gould estimates indemnity payments will reach $4.6 billion, compared to last year’s $2.3 billion.

Weather Aids Quick Harvest — For the most part, Drew Lerner with World Weather Inc. is looking for dry weather for the balance of the harvest season. "A ridge of high pressure will dominate the western part of North America during a fair amount of the next few weeks." Lerner says cooler, drier air will come out of Canada and will promote crop dry-down.

Soybeans Are Starting to Turn — In eastern South Dakota, the row crops are marching toward maturity. Garst Area Agronomist Roger Plooster says the late rains helped the crop. "We’ve gained a lot; number one, we went from have baby-sized beans to full-size beans," said Plooster, "That pretty much doubles your yield potential right there." Due to the dry conditions, Plooster is recommending growers harvest their corn early. The drought-stressed corn is vulnerable to stalk damage and ear droppage.

NCGA Seeking Farm Bill Reform — The National Corn Growers Association wants to improve the farm safety net. "Our goal is to take a look at a safety net that covers both price and yield within one program," said Jon Doggett, Vice President of Public Policy for the NCGA. Doggett said the safety net has to help farmers who didn’t have a crop last year or had a short crop and didn’t get the benefit of the high LDP’s. Doggett says corn growers want a total revenue package.

The Haves and the Have Nots — South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Larry Gabriel is asking the government to look at the imbalance in agriculture. In Gabriel’s mind, agriculture is now a story of the haves and the have nots. "The ag commodity growers being the haves; the specialty crop growers and livestock producers being the have nots." Gabriel points out that if livestock producers benefit from cheap corn, corn producers are on the losing end of the equation.

Fall Calf Run Will Begin Soon — A shortage of grass moved cattle to market early. Ranchers liquidated cow herds in June and July. Yearlings came to town in August. Joe Vetter of Herreid Livestock says their volume hit 13,000 head in August. The calf run will begin within the next two weeks. "The majority of the calves are going to be moving in October and November, in our area; locally, we’ll see a lot of calves move in the next three to five weeks." Larry Schnell at Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson expects the calf market to remain extremely strong all winter. "There’s just not that many calves out there and there’s almost no yearlings in a five-state region," said Schnell, "The calf market is just extremely, extremely good, especially, if they’re weaned."

Not As Good As Last Year, But Better Than the Norm — Shortages of feeder cattle in the Southern Plains has feedlots looking north for inventory. NDSU Livestock Economist Tim Petry, says this year’s feeder cattle prices should resemble 2005. "Prices are going to be very good again this year, probably not as good as they were last year, but from a historical standpoint, very good." Petry says the selling strategy will depend on the feed supply.

August Ham Prices Reach Highest Level in 10 Years — Erica Rosa, Director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center, says strong exports have driven prices higher. "USDA reported total hams in storage well below a year ago; that is due to strength in the export market," said Rosa, "In addition, we haven’t seen the typical buildup we normally see, based on slaughter rates."

Body by Milk — The people behind the milk mustache ad campaign have taken a new approach. The milk processor’s campaign will target teens and carry the ‘Body by Milk’ tagline. Four celebrities will be featured; singer Carrie Underwood, Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriquez, Olympic ice skater Sasha Cohen and soccer star David Beckham. The ads promote milk as a way to lose weight and build muscle tone. The ads will debut in the September issues of teen magazines and the myspace dot com website.

USDA Awards $17.5 Million in Renewable Energy Grants — Thirty-two of the grant recipients are from Minnesota; four are in North Dakota and two are in South Dakota. Among the North Dakota recipients is Northwood Mills LLC, which receives the maximum $500,000 grant for a 3 million gallon per year biodiesel plant. That plant will be in the second phase of the soybean crush plant, now under construction. That plant is scheduled to begin crushing next March.

Bush Marks Labor Day With Energy Speech — During the speech at a maritime training center, President George W. Bush said dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes the nation’s ability to grow. "The problem is we get oil from some parts of the world and they simply don’t like us." During the 11 minute speech, Bush said advancing technologies, like ethanol, must be supported.

Prairie Ethanol Should be Operational by Mid-November — The Mitchell, South Dakota facility will use 21 million bushels of corn and produce 60 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Permit Granted for Wind Farm — The Federal Aviation Administration has completed the permitting process for the MinnDakota Wind Energy Project, near Brookings. PPM Energy, an electric utility company, plans to build a 150 megawatt wind farm, nearly four times larger than South Dakota’s largest existing wind farm. The project would pay out approximately $6 million in lease payments over ten years.

Dupont & Bunge Expand Collaboration — For the past three years, Dupont and Bunge partnered on food and nutrition projects. Tuesday, the pair announced their collaboration will now include industrial applications, biofuels and other opportunities. Bunge Dupont Biotech Alliance Business Manager Troy Hobb says the focus is on three key areas. "The first of that is nutrition; second thing we are going after is sustainability; third is functionality; all our efforts around the alliance and our research efforts are designed to bring these three key elements to the market." Dupont and Bunge also launched the Treus brand name. Soybean oil, previously marketed as Nutrium Low Linolenic Soybean Oil, will now carry the Treus name.

YieldGard VT is the Name for New Monsanto Insect Control Technology — The initial products will include a rootworm and Roundup Ready 2 combination and another product than adds corn borer protection. The new products are targeted for a limited introduction in 2007.

Monsanto Brings St. Louis Greenhouse to Farm Progress Show — Drought-tolerant corn, YieldGard with stacked traits and dicamba soybeans are among the new technologies Monsanto showcased at the Farm Progress Show in Amana, Iowa. "We had to have special area of the facility to do this because we had to be 660 feet from any other corn plant to prevent cross pollination of these regulated products," said Dave Rhylander, Monsanto Director of Traits, "We’re off in a separate area of the Farm Progress Show, away from everybody else; we put up a ten foot fence around the plot with barb wire on the top; since May, we’ve had 24 hour/seven day a week security." Rhylander says drought-tolerant corn is likely four years away, depending on weather or regulatory setbacks.

NCGA Hires SD Native — The National Corn Growers Association has named DaNita Murray its director of public policy for trade and biotechnology. Previously, Murray was a special assistant to USDA’s undersecretary for food safety. Murray was a legislative assistant to former South Dakota Congressman Bill Janklow. The SDSU graduate is a native of Milbank, South Dakota.

 

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