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Commodity Communicator Weekly

May 24, 2013

USGS RELEASES REPORT ON GROUNDWATER DEPLETION. . . . .The United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report highlighting groundwater depletion situations nationwide.  The report showed that Eastern Arkansas had serious issues with groundwater depletion.  The report identifies withdrawals for agricultural irrigation to be the primary cause for depletion issues in this region, and the report specifically identifies rice production as being the most water intensive crop.  The report shows a rapid growth in groundwater use since 1980.  This report will certainly come into consideration as the State of Arkansas continues to update its water plan.

USGS Groundwater Depletion Report     

. . . . .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.

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ADDRESSING IMMIGRATION REFORM LEGISLATION. . . . .The Senate Judiciary Committee this week continues is marking up comprehensive immigration reform legislation.  The legislation (S. 744), the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,  is a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that includes border security, visa reform, migrant labor reforms, and citizenship reform.  The outline for the bill was crafted by a bipartisan group of 8 Senators that were hoping to develop a bipartisan solution to immigration issues facing the United States.  The bill also contains many provisions related to agricultural workers.
For more information on the legislation under consideration, click here.

. . . . .Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today reminded farmers and ranchers that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up beginning May 20 and ending on June 14.  Full press release.

. . . . . On Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m. EST, multiple protests are being coordinated by Occupy Monsanto in what they are calling, “March Against Monsanto.” Of course, it is expected that this protest will likely go beyond targeting Monsanto and biotechnology to include a whole host of perceived complaints about modern agricultural practices. The protesters are also targeting government agencies they describe as “enablers,” including the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

For its part, throughout this week, Monsanto will be posting a number of facts about its business and practices to the blog, Beyond the Rows, but those posts will not explicitly mention the March.

Our allies at the Biotechnology Industry Organization have issued the following thoughts in response to the planned protest:

•    Answers to questions people have about the science of agricultural biotechnology, about GMOs in food production and how people can be sure that these products are safe for humans and the environment should be based on facts and not fear so that the public can make informed opinions for themselves.
•    Products of agricultural biotechnology are looked at with more scrutiny by the government review process than any other products in the history of agriculture.
•    More than 600 scientific studies support the safety of genetically engineered foods. The National Academies of Science, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association—among others—have all concluded that GE foods do not pose any more risk to people than other foods.
•    Many of these scientific studies point to the benefits of genetically engineered crops, including a decline in the use of     chemical pesticides and fertilizers, an increase in natural resource conservation and the ability to produce more foods for a growing population in a sustainable manner.
•    Biotech crops have an impeccable safety record. Overall, biotechnology is helping to better heal, fuel and feed the world.

. . . . . The Agriculture Department has announced plans to prepare separate environmental impact statements to better inform decision-making regarding the regulatory status of crops genetically engineered to be resistant to herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman called the decision “troubling” in a statement.

“Most disturbing is that USDA has not provided scientific justification for why full environmental impact statements are needed, rather than the usual environmental assessments,” Stallman said. He also noted that prompt availability of new technologies, including herbicide-resistant crop varieties, helps America’s farmers continue their legacy of continuous improvement—growing more food using fewer resources than ever before.

…..USDA issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.  The final rule modifies the labeling provisions for muscle cut covered commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.
In June 2012, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed an earlier WTO Panel decision finding that the United States’ COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.  The United States has until this week to come into compliance with the WTO ruling in COOL.
The final rule will go into effect on May 23, 2013, the day it goes on display in the Federal Register.  Under COOL, retailers must provide their customers with information about the origin of various food products, including fruits, vegetables, fish and shellfish and meats.  Mandatory COOL requirements help consumers make informed purchasing decisions about the food they buy. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is responsible for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the COOL regulations.
To learn more about COOL visit

. . . . . Farm Bureau Bank offers credit cards, deposit accounts, vehicle loans, mortgage loans, business services, and student loans.  Visit the website at or call 1-800-492-3276 for more information.

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