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Commodity Communicator Weekly

April 17, 2014

USDA BEGINS SIGNUP FOR LIVESTOCK DISASTER ASSISTANCE. . . . .Ranchers across the country who suffered losses from drought, blizzards and other natural disasters over the past two years can begin signing up for assistance under one of four programs approved by Congress in the 2014 farm bill. The programs are retroactive to October 2011, when livestock disaster assistance programs in the previous 2008 farm bill expired. Overall, the USDA expects to spend roughly $1 billion through the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program. “Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss,” the USDA said. “Details are available from any local FSA office.” Signup for the Tree Assistance Program also begins today. The program mainly gives aid to orchardists and nursery tree growers who have suffered losses from natural disasters.

 COTTON CASE LIKELY HEADED BACK TO WTO. . . . .A long-running dispute between the United States and Brazil over U.S. cotton subsidies is probably headed back to the World Trade Organization for new ruling, but the two sides may be able to solve one part of the matter on their own, a senior Brazilian official said yesterday.

 "Probably what's going to happen is an implementation case in the WTO where we're going to question whether the new farm bill" brings the United States into compliance with an earlier ruling against its cotton subsidy program, Brazil's Deputy Finance Minister Carlos Marcio Cozendey said in remarks at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

 That could set the stage for Brazil to retaliate against the United States, a step Cozendey said the South American country would prefer to avoid.

 HOW CHINA IS JAMMING U.S. SOYBEAN SALES. . . . .“Biotech seed companies have been increasingly unwilling to market their products in the United States, but not because of problems with sales in this country. Rather, the blame falls squarely on China, where the approval process has all but ground to a halt,” reports Politico Pro’s Bill Tomson.

 “Six new soybean traits — seeds that would help farmers control weeds, increase yields and increase the nutritional value of soybean oil — have been approved by the U.S. Department Agriculture for planting in the United States since 2007. But China’s National Biosafety Committee has yet to give the thumbs up. Out of fear that China could detect the new biotech seeds in the millions of tons it imports and then reject the shipments, the seed companies are hesitant to commercialize their new traits.

 “It’s not a decision the seed companies are making lightly. The risk of upsetting the largest soybean importing country in the world is just too great. About 33 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are exported to China. China bought $13.4 billion worth of U.S. soybeans last year, according to USDA data.”

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