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Commodity Communicator Weekly

April 12, 2013

EPA ADMINISTRATOR CONFIRMATION HEARING UNDERWAY. . . . EPA administrator nominee Gina McCarthy answered questions Thursday at a Senate confirmation hearing about what is perceived to be the agency's deteriorating relationship with U.S. agriculture. EPA administrator nominee Gina McCarthy didn't pull any punches Thursday when asked during her Senate confirmation hearing about what is perceived to be the agency's deteriorating relationship with U.S. agriculture. "I think the EPA has bridges to build with the agriculture community," she said. "I want the opportunity to change that relationship with the ag community."

Even EPA's harshest critics in the Senate indicated during the hearing that McCarthy would be confirmed as the agency's next administrator. Yet she was faced with a number of questions about EPA's treatment of rural America and overall transparency with the American public.


UNIVERSITY RELEASES REPORT ON CORN PROGRESS AND PLANTING CONSIDERATIONS
. . . . .Last week the University released a report to help producers make decisions on what to do with their corn crop.  The take home message from the report was that we still have plenty of time to get corn planted without sacrificing yield.  Full report http://www.arkansas-crops.com/2013/04/02/corn-planting-progress-and-planting-considerations/


WHEAT STRIPE RUST UPDATE
. . . . .There have been numerous reports of wheat stripe rust from eastern Arkansas, and the levels are much higher that at this time last year. Varieties most frequently reported to have stripe rust include Ricochet and Beretta that account for a significant portion of the wheat acres. In past years, these varieties were susceptible early and then changed to moderately susceptible and moderately resistant as the season progressed and adult-plant resistance was expressed more strongly. Other varieties with stripe rust include Arcadia and Progeny 117 that were susceptible early and moderately susceptible to susceptible as the season progressed. Full Report http://www.arkansas-crops.com/2013/04/11/wheat-stripe-rust-update-april-11-2013/


HOUSE, SENATE, AG COMMITTEES SHED LIGHT ON FARM BILL MARKUP TIMELINES
. . . . .This week in Washington at the North American Agricultural Journalists meeting, Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) reaffirmed to the group her hope to hold a farm bill markup sometime in April. No official date has been set, but Stabenow indicated she would like to mark up the bill before Congress leaves April 24 for one-week recess.

On the House side, Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) indicated a farm bill mark up is not likely to happen until after recess the first week of May. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), chairman of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, said the House probably would not wait on the Senate for a farm bill markup in the House Agriculture Committee and expects a bill out of committee before the end of May.


ROBERTS BILL TO END DIRECT PAYMENTS TO PAY FOR CROP INSURANCE
. . . . .Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced legislation Tuesday that would eliminate direct payments to farmers and use the savings to pay for federal crop insurance. Roberts said the legislation would strengthen the farm safety net while saving taxpayers. The legislation would reauthorize the federal crop insurance program and expand coverage options for producers through a Supplemental Coverage Option based on an area yield and loss basis. Roberts noted that similar language was included in last year’s Senate-passed farm bill. He expects it to be included in the upcoming farm bill but offered it as a stand-alone bill in case a farm bill is not agreed upon.


SENATORS REACH DEAL ON AG IMMIGRATION WORKER WAGES
. . . . .Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said today Senators have reached a compromise on the agriculture portion of the immigration reform bill in regard to wages for foreign farm laborers working in the United States and a limit on visas for these workers. While Sen. Feinstein has not yet provided details on the reached agreement, the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform says there are still important issues to resolve. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the key negotiators on the Senate “gang of eight” working on the reform package, was optimistic the bill will be finished soon and introduced in the Senate.


HOUSE INTRODUCED RFS REFORM ACT
. . . . A group of House members introduced legislation calling for changes to the renewable fuel standard. Led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the legislation, called the "RFS Reform Act," would eliminate the corn-based ethanol requirements and would cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent. It would require the EPA to set cellulosic biofuel levels at production levels.


WELFARE NOT DIRECTLY LINKED TO SYSTEM CHOICE
. . . . .Research shows that the highest hen mortality was found in free-range and organic flocks, closely followed by barns; almost double that of caged flocks. The mortality of hens in cages over a 52-week laying period was 5.39% and the mortality in free-range hens was 9.52%, 77%. The variability in flock mortality or standard deviation (sd) was also higher, with cages at 3.05% and free range at 7.41%, a 143% increase. World Poultry, 4/1/2013


APCE COMMISSION INITIATES RULEMAKING ON REGULATION 2
– The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission (APC&EC) will hold four public hearings during April of 2013 to receive comments on proposed changes to Commission Regulation 2 (Arkansas Water Quality Standards) developed through the Triennial Review process. The schedule for the public hearings on Regulation 2 is as follows:

  • April 15, Jonesboro: Allen Park Community Center, 3609 Race Street, 6 p.m.
  • April 18, Fayetteville: Room 219, Fayetteville City Administration Building, 113 W. Mountain Street, 6 p.m.
  • April 22, El Dorado: South Arkansas Community College, East Campus, Workforce Development Building, 3696 E. Main Street, 6 p.m.
  • April 24, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Headquarters Building Commission Room, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, 2 p.m.
A copy of the draft regulation showing the proposed changes, along with related support documents, is available for viewing or downloading at the ADEQ’s Internet web site located at: www.adeq.state.ar.us/water/branch_planning?wqs_review.htm.

Oral and written statements will be accepted at the hearings, but written comments are preferred in the interest of accuracy. In addition, written and electronic mail comments will be accepted if received no later than 4:30 p.m. May 8, 2013. Written comments should be mailed to Doug Szenher, Public Outreach and Assistance Division, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118, or sent by electronic mail to: reg-comment@adeq.state.ar.us.


SPCC COMPLIANCE DEADLINE APPROACHING
. . . The deadline for complying with requirements of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) rule is rapidly approaching. The compliance deadline is May 10, 2013.

As a reminder, the compliance deadline only applies to new farms, i.e. those beginning operations after August 16, 2002. According to EPA, farms operating on or before August 16, 2002, should have already had an SPCC plan in place and should be updating their plans to conform with the new requirements.

Note: There is an ongoing legislative effort that would increase the SPCC Planning thresholds to 10,000 gallons for a single tank and 42,000 gallons total cumulative storage.

For those Farm Bureau members who do not want to run the risk of a legislative solution failing, SPCC planning services can be arranged by contacting ECCI at 501-975-8100.

For more information, go to: EPA - SPCC for Agriculture


AMENDMENT IN CR POSTPONES SPCC ENFORCEMENT DATE
. . . The recently adopted Continuing Budget Resolution included an amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that postponed the enforcement date for the EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) rule until the end of FY13 on September 30. The two senators also have legislation (S. 496) that would increase the threshold capacity for a single tank to 10,000 gallons and the cumulative storage volume to 42,000 gallons. The proposal would also place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if it exceeds the exemption level.


2013 NATIONAL VALUE ADDED AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE MAY 19-21, 2013
. . . .In these trying economic times, growers and agribusinesses are actively seeking ways to maintain, increase profits, and/or diversify their operations.  The 2013 National Value Added Conference provides a wonderful opportunity to enhance understanding, identify resources, and to network with other service providers as well as innovative entrepreneurs.  

The theme of the 2013 Conference is "Local Economic Development Through Entrepreneurship".  Please make plans now to attend the 15th Annual National Value Added Conference to be held in Rogers, Arkansas (May 19-21) at the Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas - Hotel, Spa & Convention Center.  Featured conference speakers include Joe Quinn, Wal-Mart Senior Director of Issue Management and Strategic Outreach, and Doug O'Brien, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development USDA.

Conference registration 

Conference Hotel

Conference Agenda


USDA ANNOUNCES SECOND SIGN-UP DEADLINE FOR BAYOU METO (MIDDLE) MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN INITIATIVE PROJECT . . . Farmers and landowners in portions of Arkansas, Jefferson, Lonoke and Prairie counties in Arkansas have until May 17, 2013, to submit applications to receive financial assistance to implement conservation practices through the Bayou Meto (Middle) Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI) project.  The ranking process will be completed by May 31, 2013.
 
A complete list of approved practices, information about the project, and the project area map is available at www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi.html.


FARM BUREAU APPAREL. . . . .Official Arkansas Farm Bureau –identified apparel and more now available. www.FBApparel.com for special requests and details contact John Speck 847-622-4892 or jspeck@promac.com.


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