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Commodity Communicator Weekly

May 31, 2013

. . . .note: wheat and feed grains and dairy division meetings have changes.

2013 Summer Division Mtg Dates.pdf

The chances of getting meaningful immigration reform are better today than they have been in at least six to seven years.  So says Craig Regelbrugge, national co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform.  The bill, S.744, could reach the Senate floor in early June.  The situation in the House is more uncertain.  The Senate bill addresses the key needs of agriculture, he adds.  “We need a (worker) visa program that actually works,” he says. “And we need a bridge to the future,” allowing workers a chance to stay in the country and pursue a path to citizenship.

Some questions remain, including how many agricultural work visas will be granted.  The Senate bill would cap the number at 112,333 in the first year, but allow for future increases, including discretionary adjustments by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  The visas would allow the workers to stay in the country for three years, with the possibility of extensions, as long as they remain in agriculture for a certain period of time ? perhaps five years.  But political headwinds exist. One group, Numbers USA, is running TV ads against immigration reform and some conservative politicians may find it difficult to vote for change unless they hear from key constituencies, such as law enforcement, religious groups and the business community.   
The Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, which Regelbrugge represents, is a member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition.


The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year.
Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in CSP should submit applications by June 14 to their local NRCS office to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding. The deadline was extended from May 31.  Full Article

USDA NRCS ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR EDGE OF FIELD WATER QUALITY MONITORING IN SELECT WATERSHED PROJECT AREAS. . . . . Farmers and landowners in Arkansas have until June 14, 2013, to submit applications to receive financial assistance for a new project to monitor edge of field water quality on agricultural lands in targeted watersheds throughout the state. Applicants can sign up at their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service field service center. Full Article


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: (Russellville meeting has been set.)

  •  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, 9 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: Lake Point Convention Center, 9 a.m. (water plan presentation at 11:30 a.m.)
  • 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.


The finalists for the State Dairy Foods Contest have been selected.  

In the Main Dish Category: Violet Mefford from Newton County, Alexandria Hunter from Clark County, Sarah Bunch from Independence County and Carley Allen from Johnson County.

In the Party Idea Category: Abigail Sanders from Johnson County, MaKayla Mosley from Van Buren County,  Natalie Gohman from Pope County and  Thane Stidham from Crawford County.

The above listed finalists will be participating in the State Contest June 5, 2013 at the State Fair Grounds in Little Rock.  

We want to thank everyone for participating in the county level contests.  Every recipe that was received was outstanding.

The camp is open to youth outside of the state of Arkansas.  Arkansas youth will need to go to to register.  Out of state youth will need to register through Steve Jones, using the attached form.  Entry deadline is, today, May 31, 2013

Dairy Camp 2013.pdf

The $4.7 billion purchase of Smithfield Foods by China’s largest meat producer, Shuanghui International, could be good news for U.S. hog farmers, potentially giving them a bigger export market, according to John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. China is a “real up-and-comer in the world economy and a market with tremendous growth potential for U.S. agricultural products,” Anderson explained.


The Midwest Dairy Association has launched the  Dairy Farm PinTourist Contest on Pinterest. The contest gives everyone the opportunity to go beyond the dairy aisle to “see” what life is like on the farm, and the care and pride dairy farmers take in producing wholesome, nutritious dairy foods. One lucky pinner will be randomly selected to win a $200 grocery store gift card and Midwest Dairy prize package ($30 value).

The World Organization for Animal Health has upgraded the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy to negligible risk. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a  USDA statement that he was pleased with the decision, calling it “a significant achievement that has been many years in the making for the United States, American beef producers and businesses, and federal and state partners who work together to maintain a system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protect our public and animal health.”
Vilsack said that the negligible risk classification provides a strong foundation for increased exports of U.S.-origin beef and beef products. He also noted that USDA will continue to press U.S. trading partners to base decisions on science, consistent with international standards. Last year, exports of U.S.-origin beef and beef products totaled $5.5 billion.


USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Wednesday that test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicated the presence of genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. Further testing by USDA laboratories indicated the presence of the same wheat variety that Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. APHIS launched a formal investigation after being notified by an Oregon State University scientist that initial tests of wheat samples from an Oregon farm indicated the possible presence of the biotech wheat plants. There are currently no biotech wheat varieties approved for sale or in commercial production in the U.S. or elsewhere.

The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern, according to USDA. The Food and Drug Administration completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this biotech glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004.  APHIS news release

The National Farm Medicine Center at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation has introduced an interactive Web tool that allows farmers to map their farms to provide information about hazards and physical layouts to emergency responders. Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders, or Farm MAPPER, trains first responders to scan QR code stickers, placed on mailbox poles or nearby objects, with a smart devices to receive secure, farm-specific information, in hopes of saving both time and lives in emergency situations.  For more information on the pilot program, visit

USDA has issued a Country of Origin labeling rule to comply with a June 2012 World Trade Organization decision, which found that previous COOL requirements discriminated against Canadian and Mexico livestock imports. The new rule modifies the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (born, raised or slaughtered) occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. The rule is effective immediately.
According to analysis by AFBF policy experts, the new rule issued by USDA will not satisfy the Canadian government’s challenge to beef and pork COOL. The Canadian government is likely to raise further objections to the WTO ruling.    COOL final rule and background info

The sign-up deadline for the Grassland Reserve Program is June 3 and can be completed at your local Farm Service Agency office or Natural Resources Conservation Service office. GRP assists landowners and operators in the protection of grazing uses by conserving and restoring eligible grassland resources on private lands with the goal of enrolling 1.2 million acres.
For more information click here.     Brownfield Ag News article

. . . . .Vance Publishing is asking for nominations for their 40 Under 40 Awards, which recognize innovative young leaders in the agriculture industry. Nominees must be 40 years old or younger and nominated by a colleague or fellow agriculture professional. The deadline for submissions is July 30. Visit for contest information.

In a statement issued Tuesday, USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward addressed a growing concern about competition in markets that have traditionally been dominated by U.S. grown rice. Discussing the decision of a U.S. based mill to import rice from Vietnam, Ward said:

“USA Rice Federation joined with producer voices throughout the growing regions to register its disappointment and concern.  But the fact is, this is a private commercial decision, much like the economic choice of which crops a farmer will plant or their right to sell domestically or export to foreign mills -- and it is a wake-up call from the market that rice imports are no longer about specialty varieties like jasmine or basmati or brokens for pet food.  The challenge is broader than Vietnam or the United States. Rice from Vietnam has appeared in Haiti -- the second-largest individual country market for U.S. rice.  Pakistan is exporting milled rice to Mexico, the number one U.S. market, and some reports indicate potential Vietnam sales to Mexico as well.  With mounting evidence that these challenges to traditionally strong export markets for U.S. rice will continue, the U.S. rice industry has to take action.
USA Rice has taken up the challenge of protecting and strengthening the rice industry against these new threats, much as we've done for years, most recently with the response to arsenic.”

“USA Rice has a plan that all segments of the industry agree is needed to ensure the future viability of U.S. grown rice."

Americans rightfully expect that all food on the table, whether grown in the United States or imported, be wholesome and safe.  USA Rice recently met with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to be vigilant in enforcing U.S. food safety standards on all imported rice.  We are exploring all options to ensure the safety of rice in the U.S. market.
Research shows that U.S. consumers like knowing where their food comes from, and USA Rice developed the "Grown in the USA" rice promotion logo to help consumers identify and choose U.S. grown rice.   This logo, which can be placed only on packages containing 100 percent U.S. rice, is now used by companies representing more than 80 percent of domestic rice shipments.  We continue to aggressively market this logo.
To counter the threat from Asian suppliers in Mexico, plans are in the works to develop a "Grown in the USA" logo for rice marketed in Mexico.  USA Rice recently began a promotion program in Haiti in direct response to Vietnam's presence there.  The key messages are the quality and safety of U.S. rice, as well as its preferred taste and texture.  


USA Rice has long been at the forefront of scrutinizing the compliance of key rice-exporting countries like Thailand and Brazil with their obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO).  We have now added Vietnam to the list.  When we find problems, we immediately urge the U.S. government to take swift action at the WTO, and Vietnam will be no different.  In addition, USA Rice continues to push for greater export market access with Congress and the administration, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S. - EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
USA Rice formed a Task Force in early 2011 with all segments of the industry represented to conduct a multi-year effort to bolster the marketability and competitiveness of U.S. long-grain rice in domestic and international markets by providing guidance to breeders on desirable varietal characteristics.  These efforts must continue so that rice growers have access to high yield varieties that meet the quality demands of end users and consumers.

The competitive threat from Vietnam is only the most recent challenge facing the U.S. rice industry.  Here are just a few examples of how USA Rice has advanced the common interests of rice producers, millers and merchants:
•    USA Rice is leading the industry action plan to address the arsenic issue.
•    USA Rice is the recognized leader in this farm bill and previous legislation - crafting legislation that provides a workable safety net for U.S rice producers.
•    USA Rice's template for administering the new U.S. market in Colombia (82,555 metric tons this year) netted $3.2 million for rice state research in 2012, with provision for guaranteed future funding  for years to come.
•    USA Rice continues to press for access to the China market by coordinating closely with APHIS on a workable phytosanitary protocol while at the same time, developing relationships with Chinese importers interested in importing U.S. rice.
•    USA Rice led the industry's recovery from the Liberty Link contamination of 2006 and contributed materially to a series of court decisions that resulted in the $750 million out of court settlement for U.S. rice farmers.
•    USA Rice is the only rice organization that systematically promotes the 55 percent of U.S. rice that remains in the domestic market.”

. . . . . Members can purchase a child safety seat for $25 each and a booster seat for only $15.  Order forms are available at your local Farm Bureau office or you can order online at

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