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Commodity Communicator Weekly

May 10, 2013

AG COALITION OPPOSES BIOTECH LABELING
Yesterday, a coalition of agriculture and food industry producers delivered a letter to all members of the Senate and House of Representatives conveying opposition to legislation which would require special labels for food and beverages that contain ingredients derived from biotechnology or genetically engineered plants. American Farm Bureau Federation signed the letter.

Current law only requires labels for food derived from modern biotechnology if there are “material” differences in the food, such as changes to nutritional content or inclusion of known allergens. This longstanding policy protects consumers by ensuring labels are accurate, meaningful, and science-based. Requiring labels on all foods improved through modern biotechnology would be costly and lead consumers to draw inferences not based on science. Moreover, mandatory process-based labeling for biotech food ignores the opportunity that private marketing efforts have to voluntarily label.


SENATE AND HOUSE FARM BILLS RELEASED

Chairwoman Stabenow on Thursday released the mark of the farm bill to be debated by the Senate Agriculture Committee next week. The House Agriculture Committee has released its draft bill for next week’s markup. Both committees have indicated they continue working on certain provisions, so further updates on the actual wording on certain provisions will be sent as soon as available.

Keep in mind that the Senate Ag Committee has not yet received the latest Congressional Budget Office scores yet, so items can still change.  Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) however has said that the bill will save $23 billion over the next ten years.  This is the same amount as the bill that passed the Senate in 2012.

  • Direct payments, the Average Crop Revenue Election Program and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program are eliminated.
  • The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program, which was part of last year’s Senate bill is included but the price band is set at 88 percent instead of 89 percent.  In addition, prices will be calculated on a 12-month time frame, rather than the first five months of the marketing year. Under ARC, the producer would have to make a one-time, irrevocable decision to have individual or county coverage.  ARC payments for individual coverage will be the sum of 65 percent of the planted eligible acres of the covered commodity and 45 percent of the eligible acres that were prevented from being planted to the covered commodity.  ARC payments for county coverage are based on the sum of 80 percent of the planted eligible acres of the covered commodity and 45 percent of the eligible acres that were prevented from being planted to the covered commodity.
  • The Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) remains in the bill from last year.  SCO allows producers to purchase a crop insurance policy on top of their individual crop insurance coverage to cover all or part of a producer's deductible.  
  • The Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for cotton producers is included.  Economic adjustment assistance will be made to domestic users of upland cotton - regardless of the cotton’s origin at a rate of 3 cents per pound. It is used to acquire, construct, install, modernize, develop, convert, or expand land, plant, buildings, equipment, facilities, or machinery.  The Secretary is also directed to carry out “special competitive provisions for extra long staple cotton.
  • New to the Senate bill this year are target prices, now called the Adverse Market Payment program.  The payment rate is equal to the amount that the target price exceeds the actual price. The actual price is the higher of the national average market price for the marketing year for the covered commodity and the national average loan rate. If payments are triggered, they are to be paid on 85 percent of base acres. Target prices for all commodities except rice and peanuts are the same as those included in the 2008 farm bill.   The target price for rice will be $13.30/cwt, up from the current target price of $10.50/cwt. The peanut target price will be increased from $495/ton to $523.77/ton. Rice and peanut producers will be able to update their yields and peanut producers will also be able to update their base acres.
  • The bill reduces premium assistance under the crop insurance program for those with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) over $750,000.  In addition, the bill links crop insurance with conservation compliance.  The agreement reached between the 32 agriculture, crop insurance, conservation and environmental groups is still being drafted and was therefore now part of the bill.  We anticipate the agreement will be offered as amendment during Tuesday’s markup or will be included as part of the manager’s amendment.
  • The Dairy Security Act (supported by the National Milk Producers Federation) is in the bill.
  • The bill reforms conservation programs, combining 23 programs into 13.
  • The bill reduces acreage eligible to be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 25 million acres by 2018.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was cut by $4.1 billion, an almost identical amount to last year’s bill.
Following is a short summary of the House Ag Committee draft after a very brief review:
  • The House bill saves $40 billion, with $6 billion coming from sequestration cuts, $14 billion in combined Title I and crop insurance program savings, $20 billion in food stamp savings and around $6 billion in conservation savings.   
  • The House draft saves $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • Direct payments are eliminated (except for cotton).  The Average Crop Revenue Election Program and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program are eliminated.
  • Target prices are included in the draft at the same level as last year’s House Ag Committee bill.
  • The Price Loss Coverage shallow loss option for county revenue is included in the bill.  Payments are made on planted acres up to your historical base.
  • The Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for cotton producers is included.  However, a reduced Direct Payment program is included for 2014 and 2015. A 70 percent of base payment factor is used for the 2014 crop and a 60 percent factor for the 2015 crop.  Staffers indicate this delay is to ensure USDA has sufficient time to implement the program.  

USDA PLANS $10 MILLION CATFISH PURCHASE

United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service announced plans Wednesday to purchase up to $10 million in frozen U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including charitable institutions.
 
"We are proud the USDA is choosing U.S. Farmed-Raised Catfish to provide nutritious and safe meals to Americans in need," said Ben Pentecost, Catfish Farmers of America President. "The USDA's purchase will provide a tremendous economic benefit to the U.S. catfish industry while encouraging domestic consumption. We look forward to working with the USDA as they begin the purchasing process."

The USDA's Section 32 program allows the federal agency to purchase and donate meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables and fish to domestic nutrition programs for low-income Americans.

For More Information visit The Catfish Institute


AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: NEW MEXICO HORSE SLAUGHTER PLANT SHOULD OPEN
The Southern New Mexico plant that has been fighting for more than a year for permission to slaughter horses will open soon, unless Congress reinstates a ban on the practice, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday. In a telephone interview Tuesday, Vilsack said the department is working to make sure the process is handled properly for the opening of what would be the first domestic horse slaughter house in six years. "We are going to do this, and I would imagine that it would be done relatively soon," Vilsack said.


HSUS/UEP LANGUAGE NOT IN SENATE FARM BILL
Language that would have mandated how livestock farmers, specifically those in the poultry industry, care and house their livestock has been removed from the Senate mark of the 2013 Farm Bill. Several national organizations (including Farm Bureau) voiced strong opposition to the inclusion of language from an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States in the farm bill.


EWG TWISTS ANTIBIOTICS USE TO BLAME FARMERS

days after the release of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showing that medical doctors annually are prescribing enough antibiotics to give them to 80 percent of Americans, a group is set to issue its own report, claiming that antibiotics use in food animals is the main cause for people developing antibiotic-resistant diseases. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is using selective and incomplete 2011 government data on retail meat samples to blame America's livestock and poultry farmers for the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant illnesses in people. In fact, 2000 to 2010 data from the federal National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System show a very low incidence of pathogenic bacteria on meat and stable to declining rates of those bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.


ARKANSAS WATER PLAN MEETINGS (new additional dates have been added)
Arkansas Natural Resources Commission will hold 14 public meetings on existing and future water use and needs forecasting during June of 2013. The schedule for the public meetings on the Arkansas Water Plan is as follows:

  • June 3, Arkadelphia: Henderson State University- Garrison Center Auditorium, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 4, Fort Smith: Fort Smith Convention Center, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 4, Pine Bluff: Family Church, 8 a.m. (water plan presentation at 11 a.m.)
  • June 5, Little Rock: Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Auditorium, 1:30 p.m.
  • June 6, Harrison: North Arkansas College- Durand Center, Durand B, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 6, Stuttgart: Phillips Community College- Grand Prairie Center, Salon B, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 6, Russellville: Location TBA, Time TBA
  • June 11, Fayetteville: Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center, 3 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
  • June 12, Clinton: Annex Court House Room, 3 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
  • June 13, Searcy: Carmichael Community Center, 1 p.m.
  • June 17, Jonesboro: Arkansas State University Convocation Center, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 18, Forrest City: East Arkansas Community College Fine Arts Center                              Banquet Hall, 6:30 p.m.
  • June 19, Heber Springs: Community Center, 5:30 p.m.
  • June 20, Smackover: Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, 6:30 p.m.

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.


CASE IH EQUIPMENT DISCOUNTS

Members can receive an incentive discount from $300 to $500 when purchasing qualifying Case IH equipment from participating dealerships.  This discount is stackable, meaning it can be used with other discounts, promotions, rebates or offers that may be provided by Case IH or a Case IH dealership. Complete details at www.fbverify.com/case

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