WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

COMPILED BY THE RED RIVER FARM NETWORK

A Smaller Farm Bill ‘Pie’ in ’07 — Seventeen farm and commodity organization representatives testified on federal farm policy before the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday. Chairman Bob Goodlatte opened the hearing, saying the pie will likely have smaller pieces in the next farm bill. "Whether or not the actual dollar amount set aside for ag spending next year remains the same as the previous farm bill remains to be seen," said Goodlatte, "However, I assure you that the number of groups expressing interest in this farm bill is growing daily; the result is a larger amount players competing for a slice of the same pie."

NCGA Seeking Changes in Farm Bill — National Corn Growers Association President Gerald Tumbleson said his group is in the final steps of refining a revenue-based safety net. "This concept factors in price, yield and variable production expenses," said Tumbleson, "This revenue based proposal will replace the marketing loan and the counter cyclical programs."

Specialty Crop Group Voice Their Farm Bill Position — Much of the focus in farm bill policy is on program crops, however producers of specialty crops are affected by farm legislation. Jim Wysocki, President of the National Potato Council, spoke on behalf of 75 specialty crop organizations at the House farm policy hearing. Wysocki says specialty crop growers have never relied on traditional farm programs to sustain their industries. The potato grower hopes for increased funds for export market development. "Without further commitment to export market development by the federal government and focused efforts to reduce tariff and non tariff trade barriers, the US specialty crops industry will continue to lose market share." Wysocki wants increased market access and technical assistance for specialty crop producers expanded in the next farm bill.

Barley Group Concerned About Treatment in Farm Bill — Northwood, North Dakota farmer Richard Groven testified before the House Ag Committee this past week. Groven, who is the vice president of the National Barley Growers Association, cited a recent FAPRI report that found marketing loan benefits clearly favor traditional row crops over cereal grains. "In the Northern Plains, average marketing loan benefits the last five years were $4 an acre for wheat; $8 an acre for barley; $12 an acre for soybeans and $21 an acre for corn." The barley organization supports continuation of the marketing loan program, but at equitable levels among the program crops.

The Cost of Disaster Bill Remains a Worry — According to lobbyist Mark Rokala of Cornerstone Government Affairs, lawmakers are struggling with the cost of a disaster package. "If there is a disaster package, I’m sure they’ll require budget offsets." Cuts in conservation, commodity programs or ag research are possibilities. Rokala says it appears the disaster bill will not come up for a vote before the election. The party in control of Congress after November 7th will have a "huge impact" on disaster assistance.

Budget Offsets Demanded — Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte indicates House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner are demanding budget offsets for any disaster assistance effort. Goodlatte says there have been no assurances that funding would be available from outside the resources of his committee and agriculture programs have already been cut to the bone. Those supporting the disaster package say it should be considered emergency spending. That was the case for the Hurricane Katrina disaster bill.

Ten More SD Counties Named Primary Disaster Areas — The counties are Brookings, Brown, Charles Mix, Davison, Grant, Gregory, Hamlin, Hanson, Kingsbury and Miner. Contiguous counties are also eligible for low interest emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency.

SDSU Lands Drought Center — South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds announced that SDSU will be home to the sixth university-based research center. The 2010 Research Center for Drought Tolerance Biotechnology will join five other centers in the state investment for specialized research. The new center will foster the development of new commercial varieties in corn, wheat, oilseeds, and possibly short season soybeans. Rounds will seek almost $3 million for the creation of the center in the 2007 legislative session.

Informa Economics Expects Corn Acreage to Top 83 Million Acres in ’07 — That’s up 3.7 million acres from this past year. Soybean acres are projected to total 71.8 million acres, down 3.1 million from 2006. Wheat acres are predicted to increase 4.6 million acres, reaching 62.5 million acres.

More Corn in ’07 — According to a Farm Futures magazine survey, US farmers plan to boost corn acreage by seven percent next year, to 85 million acres. The survey also indicates total wheat acreage could increase at four percent for the 2007 crop.

Grain Storage is Tight — The shortage of grain storage in the US continues to be a problem for corn and soybean producers. With another large corn crop expected, farmers are finding temporary storage for the new crop grain. "Farmers are getting their ducks in a row and will make the market bid up for this corn," said Joe Victor of Allendale, Inc.

Lawmakers Upset with Schwab — During last week’s meeting of the Cairns Group, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab reportedly said the United States may propose larger cuts to domestic farm supports if other countries made concessions to help revive global trade talks. North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan says the statement represents a "surprising indifference to the well-being of family farmers." South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson said additional subsidy cuts are "simply unacceptable."

Five and Five Plan Proposed — Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile has unveiled his ‘five and five’ deal in a last-ditch attempt to revive the WTO ag trade negotiations. Vaile wants the European Union to agree to better its offer to reduce farm import tariffs by five percent, in return for the US cutting subsidies by another $5 billion. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said she would not endorse any specific goals, but that the principles underlying the Aussie plan were acceptable. The EU’s top negotiator at the WTO rejected the plan, saying the cuts required of the US were too small.

House Ag Committee Endorses 25 x 25 Vision — The 25 x 25 plan would have 25 percent of the nation’s energy coming from renewable fuels by 2025. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson says the United States can even surpass that goal. "We have demonstrated in Minnesota what this will do, not only for the country, but for the rural area," said Peterson, "I think the opportunity that we have in renewable energy is the most exciting thing to happen to agriculture in 100 years."

A Possible Dust-up Over EPA Rule — The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final rule on quality standards for particle pollution. The rule centers on particulate matter or dust. Farmers and ranchers may see additional regulations for the dust produced while planting and harvesting; when driving on unpaved roads; or produced by cattle in feedlots. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the rule is not based in science and is reviewing it to determine the impact on producers.

Mandatory Price Reporting Bill Goes to President’s Desk — The measure passed, by unanimous consent, in the US Senate. A companion bill passed the House over a year ago. Mandatory Price Reporting requires packers to report their daily price and volume information. The program is reauthorized for four years.

Milk Up — US milk production last month was up 1.6 percent from a year ago. Production per cow was up nine pounds, and the nation’s cow herd was up 88,000 head from a year ago. Minnesota’s August milk production was up 0.9 percent.

Hay Stocks Near Record Lows — By May of 2007, hay stocks could be at all-time record lows. Jim Robb with the Livestock Marketing Information Center says hay reserves will all depend on winter conditions. LMIC estimates carryover stocks to be at 16.1 million short tons on May 1st, That is 5.2 tons less than May 1st of this year. The tight supply of hay could lead to record high hay prices this winter. "Think in terms of it being a valuable commodity, at least compared to normal in most of the United States, hay is very valuable this year."

SD Railroad Board Approves $2 Million Loan for Aberdeen Brown County Regional Rail Authority — The money will be used to build eight miles of track at the Aberdeen Energy Ethanol plant. Construction on that ethanol plant is expected to begin next spring.

Pew Center for Global Climate Change Says Farmers Have a Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions — The report says farmers could reduce total US greenhouse gas emissions by five to 14 percent through carbon sequestration. Pew says agriculture needs incentives to change their management practices.

Dupont Crop Protection and Dow AgroSciences Reach Deal on Corn Herbicide — Under the deal, Dow AgroSciences will supply Dupont with acetochlor and acetochlor plus atrazine premix herbicides for preemergence use in corn. Pending regulatory approval, Dupont will have the new product available in 2007 under the name Breakfree.

 

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