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Commodity Communicator Weekly

January 31, 2014

ANRC ANNOUNCES STATE WATER PLAN REGIONAL MEETINGS. . . . .The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission has announced the next round of meetings for the state water planning process. The dates and locations are as follows:

February 18 – Fairbridge Inn & Suites, 3006 South Caraway Rd., Jonesboro
February 19 – Extension Building at Fairgrounds, 210 Warren St., Mountain View
February 20 – Lake Point Conference Center, 171 Lake Point Lane, Russellville
February 24 – National Park Community College, 101 College Dr., Hot Springs
February 25 – Four States Fairgrounds, Ag Learning Center, 3700 East 50th St., Texarkana

The Arkansas Farm Bureau submitted ten individuals, two for each region, as agriculture representatives. Those individuals are listed below:

East Region – Terry Dabbs and David Gairhan
North Region – Greg Baltz and Gene Pharr
South Central Region – Derek Helms and Grant Pace
Southwest Region – Dennis Ritchie and Ray Rodgers
West Central Region – Robert Stobaugh and Dan Wright

Anyone interested in the water planning process is encouraged to attend these meetings. If you attend and believe you have additional information to contribute to the discussion, feel free to visit with one of your regional representatives to ensure your perspective is presented.

A map depicting the water resource planning regions is included on the following page.   Water Resources Planning Regions.pdf

To view the agendas for each region, click on the following link: ANRC - Water Plan Regional Meetings   

OBAMA IS READY TO SIGN FARM BILL. . . . .White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded one question about the farm bill conference report in a press gaggle held during an Air Force One flight to Pittsburgh, Pa., Wednesday.  “We are pleased by the progress that we've seen. As you know, the president made clear last fall that this was something that he believed Congress needed to and could act in a bipartisan way to get done.  Obviously we're not there yet.  Final legislation has not reached his desk.  So we await that happening and hope it does.  If the bill, as it is currently designed, reaches his desk he would sign it.”

REID TO BLOCK TPA. . . . .While Senate Majority Leader Reid stands ready to help push the farm bill along, he won’t be as helpful when it comes to President Obama’s big trade initiative.  Reid said he opposes a bill that would fast-track the Pacific Rim and European Union pacts through Congress with limited debate and no amendments — which the White House says is crucial to gaining concessions from other countries to finalize those deals. Reid made it abundantly clear that he has voiced his concerns to Obama’s administration, as well as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

. . . . .EPA is floating a pair of draft guidances on pesticide drift — one on assessing ecological and drinking water risks and a second on drift considerations in standard operating procedures for sprayers, according to a Federal Register notice.  The guidance is meant to better protect against accidental contamination from pesticide drift. Comments will be accepted on the documents until March:

AFBF CHALLENGES CLEAN WATER ACT. . . . .The American Farm Bureau Federation has filed its opening brief in its latest challenge to EPA’s Clean Water Act rules governing nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay. In the more than 70 page brief, filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the group argues that EPA lacks the authority to establish pollutant limits for individual sources and require states to achieve those limits in a set time frame because of provisions of the water law that leave such details up to states. The brief asks the court to overturn a September 2013 ruling from the U.S. District Court for the middle District of Pennsylvania upholding EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load for the bay watershed.  

. . . . .The Center for Food Safety has launched a campaign aimed at stopping USDA from approving three pending petitions to allow Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans on the market, arguing that by doing so the department is condoning a huge increase in the use of the chemical, which has been linked to environmental and human health problems, and is furthering weed resistance problems. “Dow Chemical has a long and troubling history selling dangerous chemicals and poisons, and now they are targeting our food supply,” Andrew Kimbrell, CFS’ executive director, says in a statement today announcing the campaign. “Monsanto isn’t the only bad actor out there; companies like Dow Chemical have gotten a free pass — but no longer. We are launching this campaign to give people the chance to fight back, to speak with one voice and stop Dow Chemical’s ‘Agent Orange’ crops.” CFS has dubbed the genetically engineered crops “Agent Orange crops” because 2,4-D was an ingredient in the Vietnam War-era defoliant, though it was not the main and most toxic ingredient.

IMMIGRATION. . . . .A draft of House Republican leadership principles for immigration reform became public during a GOP retreat this week.  The principles drew quick support from some agricultural groups, but brought to the surface the huge divides within the political arena over both substance and timing. According to the draft document’s “preamble,” immigration reform cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation, and House Republican leaders declared they will not go to a House-Senate conference that includes the comprehensive Senate bill approved last June.  Instead, the House will continue to seek a step-by-step approach, starting with securing U.S. borders and tighter law enforcement within the country. Under the guidelines, there would be no special path to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States illegally.  Rather, those persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their guilt, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families without access to public benefits.
The Senate bill approved last summer would guarantee that immigrants would be able to gain permanent legal status, known as a green card, in 10 years and citizenship three years later, provided they meet a series of requirements.  The Republican plan would allow opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for children brought into the United States illegally through no fault of their own, provided they meet certain eligibility standards, serve honorably in the military or attain a college degree. Reforms to the legal immigration system would be employment-based.  Visa and green card allocations would match the needs of U.S. employers and the desire for highly skilled individuals to work in the United States.  A temporary worker program would create enforceable, usable, legal paths for worker entry into the United States, to help meet the economic needs of U.S. producers, without displacing or disadvantaging American workers.  Employment verification and workplace enforcement would be accomplished by full implementation of an electronic employment verification system.  In addition, after reforms are implemented, there would be a “zero tolerance policy” for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future. The measure would also prevent a president from unilaterally stopping immigration enforcement.

PROPANE PROBLEMS. . . . .The bitter cold across the country may have provided some marginal benefits on the supply side of the cattle market, but it has become a serious problem for many poultry and hog growers. Parts of the country are currently experiencing severe shortages of propane. Propane demand has been very strong this fall and winter. The large grain crop led to strong demand for propane for drying operations in the Midwest this year. Exports of propane have also been very strong, with January exports this year up by over 200 percent compared to a year ago according to Department of Energy data. Finally, it has obviously been cold, and this has led to strong demand for propane from all users: commercial, residential, and agricultural. As demand has surged, the infrastructure for moving propane around the country (pipelines and rolling stock) has proven inadequate to this unexpectedly large task. The resulting supply bottlenecks have compounded the effects of strong demand. In response, prices for propane are soaring. According to the Department of Energy, the national average wholesale price of propane has more than doubled since the beginning of the year. The price averaged $1.686 per gallon for the week ending January 6; it averaged $3.547 for the week ending January 27. Note that these are national average wholesale prices. Anecdotes from the Midwest indicate that farmers are seeing delivered prices as high as $6. There have also been reports that in some areas propane is simply not available at all, with some poultry growers having to refuse delivery of chicks due to a lack of propane for heating. This is clearly a difficult situation for the affected growers.
Efforts to alleviate this problem have focused on addressing the supply bottleneck. There are a few steps that can be taken here. For example, hours of service regulations applying to propane haulers have been temporarily relaxed in affected regions to permit more efficient use of existing shipping equipment. It is further anticipated that pipeline and rail delivery infrastructure that was not available for much of the fall can be brought back into service for propane shipments in short order. Of course, on the demand side, nothing would help like a return to more normal temperatures. On the policy front, there isn’t much that can be done about that.

. . . . .Every year, the same soybean variety may be sold by several different seed companies under different brand names.  Two varieties that are genetically the same may not perform the same side by side in the field due to differences in environmental conditions and management practices among seed increase production fields.  How the seed is handled and processed between the time of harvesting in the seed increase field and planting in a grower’s field also influences overall seed quality, which in turn can affect the performance of two varieties that genetically are the same.  This issue has been discussed at length by the Arkansas Farm Bureau Soybean Division, and Dr. Jeremy Ross, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Extension Soybean Agronomist has responded with the creation of a Cross Reference Guide. This list of common soybean varieties is compiled to help soybean producers eliminate duplicate soybean varieties, and to help to spread risk by not inadvertently planting the same soybean variety from different seed companies. To access the Cross Reference Guide, use the following link.

LIFE LINE SCREENING. . . . .FREE osteoporosis screening and 4 ultrasound screenings only $135 for members.  Screen for stroke, aneurysm and heart disease.  Call 1-866-204-9860 or visit to make an appointment.  Priority Code: BLMA012

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