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Commodity Communicator Weekly

January 3, 2014

USDA PROPOSES DEREGULATION OF 2,4 D RESISTANT CROPS…..On Friday, the USDA proposed to deregulate two varieties of soybean and a type of corn genetically engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D.  USDA in its draft environmental impact statement, it concluded that the plants produced by Dow AgroSciences “are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.” If the department finalizes its decision, the plants can enter the market.

CHEERIOS GO GMO FREE…..Original Cheerios sold in the U.S. are now made without genetically modified ingredients, a move that responds to consumer concerns over GMO ingredients. The company has been in the process of sourcing conventional sugar and corn starch and making other necessary changes for about a year.  Production started several weeks ago; however, there are no plans to do the same for other varieties of Cheerios since some contain corn, and “the widespread use of [GMO] crops” would make sourcing ingredients for those products “near impossible,” the spokesman adds.

CONFEREE SAYS 'TWEAKING' NEEDED BEFORE FARM BILL COMPLETE…..Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) said the new farm bill is essentially finished and only in need of some “tweaking” as lawmakers prepare to return to Capitol Hill next week after their holiday break, but notably did not commit to a January goal for completion as many lawmakers have.

Congress is expected to quickly take up the legislation when lawmakers return next week. The lead negotiators said before heading home for the holidays in December that they had largely reached an agreement on a final farm bill to put before the full 41-member conference committee. However, scant details have been released. The conference committee is expected to be pulled in for what has been said will be a three-day meeting to iron out the final details before a vote.

THE 2014 RFS..…The administration is expected to finalize its 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard, though given the controversy over the proposal, which seeks to lower the ethanol blend mandate back to 2012 levels, it’s unclear which way EPA will go.  

Food, livestock and petroleum groups - support the 2014 proposal, arguing that high corn prices have increased the cost of food and that higher blend requirements will hurt engines.

Corn growers and ethanol makers – oppose the 2014 proposal, arguing higher blend requirements are needed to promote research and growth in the sector and help rural communities.

SENATORS SEEK TO GET OSHA OUT OF SMALL GRAIN FARMS…..A bipartisan group of 43 senators have called on OSHA to immediately stop their unlawful regulation of family farms, and have also directed OSHA to issue updated guidance correcting their misinterpretation of current law. The request was made in a joint letter to Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who oversees OSHA.
Since 1976, Congress has exempted small, family-run farms from OSHA regulations, but in a 2011 memo OSHA asserted that on-farm grain storage and handling was not part of farm operations. The memo essentially expanded OSHA’s regulatory scope to nearly every farm in the country without going through the established rule making process that allows Congressional review and public comment, in defiance of the law. Copy of the Letter

KIDS…..Child obesity is declining among participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, according to a new report released by USDA.  About 15.3 percent of one-year-old children in the WIC program were considered overweight in 2012, compared with 16.8 percent in 2008. For children between the ages of two to four, 14.0 percent were considered overweight in 2012 compared to 14.7 percent in 2008. The study also found that breastfeeding among WIC participants increased by four percentage points in two years.

US POULTRY FORECASTS…..The latest USDA estimates for poultry meat and egg production in the US for 2013 and 2014 have been published in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. The new estimate for broiler meat output in 2013 has been revised downwards from last month and now stands at 37,766 million tons, while the figure for turkey meat production this year is now 5,835 million tons.

No change has been made to 2014 broiler production since last month; it stands at 38,900 million pounds. However, the turkey production forecast has been reduced to 5,915 million tons, based on the latest hatchery data.

The egg production forecasts have reduced slightly for both 2013 (to 7,933 million dozen) and 2014 (8,065 million dozen).
At 7,391 million pounds, the 2013 broiler export forecast is lowered slightly based on exports to date but the forecast for 2014 is unchanged at 7,550 million pounds.  Turkey exports are raised for 2013 from 745 to 767 million pounds but the forecast for 2014 is unchanged at 780 million pounds.

Price forecasts for broiler and turkey meat and egg prices have been raised in the latest report for both 2013 and 2014.

USDA PROPOSES DEREGULATION OF 2,4-D RESISTANT CROPS…..The Agriculture Department is proposing to deregulate two varieties of soybean and a type of corn that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the pesticide 2,4-D in addition to other chemicals.

USDA in its draft environmental impact statement released this morning, concludes that the plants produced by Dow AgroSciences “are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.” If the department finalizes its decision, the plants can enter the market.

U.S. PERMANENTLY RELAXES RULES AIMED AT HEALTHIER SCHOOL MEALS…..U.S. regulators said on Thursday they were permanently relaxing school meal rules that were designed to combat childhood obesity by reining in calories and portion sizes but aroused complaints the policies caused students to go hungry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had initially loosened the rules in late 2012, suspending daily and weekly maximum amounts for grains and meat or meal alternatives. That allowed school districts to service larger portions without penalty.

LOWER GAS PRICES PREDICTED AT THE PUMP FOR 2014…..Drivers in the U.S. will probably pay an average of 5 cents a gallon less in 2014 than 2013 as refineries produce more fuel, according to AAA.

U.S. gasoline production jumped 4.3 percent to 9.72 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 20, the most in data going back to 1982. Refiners have ramped up operations to benefit from a flood of less-expensive domestic crude oil as U.S. output reached the highest level in 25 years.

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