WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

NEWS BRIEFS ARE COMPILED BY THE RED RIVER FARM NETWORK

’02 Baseline Funding Should be Protected — South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth says agriculture must maintain the 2002 baseline funding for the next farm bill. "The strategy is to continue to point out that the farm bill in 2002 did not cost us as much as anticipated; we saved dollars," said Herseth, "This is a national security issue; we don’t want to have a dependency for foreign countries for our food, that we currently have for our energy." Speaking at the AMPI annual meeting, Herseth said the White House budget proposal delivered a multi-faceted blow to dairy farmers. She promised to go to the mat to protect the dairy industry.

US Goes to WTO Over Corn — The US has requested meetings with Canada through the World Trade Organization to discuss tariffs on US corn. The US is requesting a 60-day consultation period, which is the first step in filing a case with the WTO. In December Canada’s International Trade Tribunal imposed a duties on US corn.

Doha Update — EU Trade commissioner Peter Mandelson told the European Parliamnet Tuesday that it’s time for big developing countries, like Brazil and India, to make concessions to unlock World Trade negotiations. Mandelson reiterated that the EU could offer more access to farm markets if Brazil and India would agree to real cuts to their tariff on imports of industrial goods.

Schwab Sez — Deputy US Trade Representative Karen Schwab says the Bush Administration is concerned about a growing American trend toward trade isolation. Schwab says the narrow CAFTA victory and decision to scuttle the Dubai Ports World deal indicates American sentiment toward global trade is weakening.

Where’s Egypt? — In recent years, Egypt has been the top US export market for wheat. That’s not the case this year. US Wheat Associates President Alan Tracy says it is a matter of price. "When we got a lot of very cheap Black Sea wheat in 2002, it was too irresistible for them," said Tracy, "Our own crop was a little short and they got used to buying and using that cheaper wheat." In meetings in Egypt with bakery and mill operators, US Wheat representatives learned that changing Egyptian government policies could lead to higher imports of US wheat.

US EU Deal — The United States and European Union have signed a bilateral trade agreement. This deal relates to the EU’s expansion. Nearly two years ago, the European Union grew from 15 to 25 members. New members include Poland and the Czech Republic. This deal means the EU will open new country-specific tariff rate quotas for US exports of corn gluten meal, boneless ham, and poultry; the EU will also expand existing tariff rate quotas for pork, wheat, barley, corn, pasta, and beef.

UAE Talks — Trade negotiations between the US and United Arab Emirates should resume at the end of April. They’ve been working on a free trade pact for a year, but negotiations were postponed after the collapse of a deal for a state-owned Dubai company to manage US port terminals.

China Reauthorizes Brazil to Continue Biotech Bean Shipments — Previously, authorization was granted on an annual basis. Now Brazil has a five-year agreement with China that allows the shipment of biotech soybeans. China is the world’s biggest soybean importer.

Creekstone Believes the Customer is Always Right — Japanese consumers want all beef tested for BSE. Creekstone is willing to do that, but USDA won’t allow it. According to Creekstone Vice-President of Science and Technology Joe Meng, a lawsuit has been filed in federal district court to allow the testing. "We’ve kind of run out of patience; I guess, at this point and time, we feel like we’ve exhausted most of the alternatives and we don’t feel like we are doing anything that should interfere with ongoing negotiations."

Tokyo, Here We Come — A USDA technical team will be in Tokyo Tuesday and Wednesday seeking the resumption of beef trade. Sales of US beef were suspended January 20th when Japanese inspectors found an ineligible shipment of bone-in veal. USDA Acting Undersecretary Chuck Lambert will lead the team.

Where, Oh, Where Did the BSE Cow Come From? — The origin of the BSE-infected cow, found in Alabama, has been found. The cow had no ear tags, tattoos or brands and spent less than a year on the farm where she died. The cow was at 13 different locations during its life, with more than 30 movements. USDA has not confirmed the age of the cow or identify its origin.

Milk Tax Has Little Support — The White House budget proposal seeks a new tax on milk production and a five percent cut in commodity programs. The proposal has upset dairy producers, but National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak says the proposal doesn’t have any legs. "We haven’t issued a lot of negative press releases, because I don’t think it’s going anyplace," said Kozak, "It doesn’t make sense to get into a public war about something that not going to happen." Like a crystal ball, Kozak says the White House proposal offers a peek into the 2007 Farm Bill debate.

SSP Stockyards Will be Sold — Central Livestock Association is selling the South St. Paul Stockyards to a real estate developer. "The city of South St. Paul, over time, made it fairly clear that we did not fit in with their longterm plans," said Central Livestock Association CEO Jeff Reed. The property will be sold to Interstate Partners for $5.2 million. The deal is expected to close at the end of this year, "however, we have negotiated a lease that will keep us here until April of 2008." Central Livestock will eventually shift its business to its facilities in Zumbrota and Albany, Minnesota. In addition, CLA owns yards in West Fargo and Sioux Falls. Cooperative Resources International, which is the holding cooperative for Central Livestock Association, Genex and AgSource Cooperative, had profits of $3.8 million in 2005. CLA reports a loss of $172,000. The volume of livestock marketed through the South St. Paul auction has declined and expenses have continued to grow, impacting the financial outlook for CLA.

Strange Bedfellows — If you want to know the price outlook for sugar, watch the price of oil. Bill Hejl, President of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers, says sugar prices will follow the oil market for five to ten years. Brazil’s shift to ethanol production is a driving force. Hejl watchs the LMC sweetner analysis. "If oil is $60 a barrel, that justifies a 14 cent world sugar price." Hejl, who grows sugarbeets at Amenia, North Dakota, says ethanol has become so important, the world’s beet and cane growers organization took the word sugar out of its constitution.

CRP Signup — Landowners with CRP contracts expiring this fall have only three weeks to decide what they want to do with that land. The signup period extends from March 27th to April 14th. Next year, a larger number of CRP contracts will expire. Dairy farmers they must re-enroll in the Milk Income Loss Contract program. The sign-up period has been extended to May 17th.

China Biotech Meeting Coming to St. Paul — China’s highest ranking biotechnology official will deliver the keynote address at a biotechnology and renewable energy conference on April 12 in St. Paul.

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