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Commodity Communicator Weekly

July 12, 2013


USDA EXTENDS ACREAGE REPORTING DEADLINE FOR FSA TO AUG. 2, 2013

Risk Management Deadline Remains Unchanged

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia has announced an extension of the FSA acreage reporting deadline. Farmers and landowners have an additional 18 calendar days to submit their annual report of acreage to their local FSA county office with the deadline extended from Monday, July 15, 2013, to Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. Only the FSA reporting deadline has been extended. The acreage reporting requirement for crop insurance has not changed and remains July 15. For full news release click here.


USDA FORECASTS NEAR-RECORD RICE IMPORTS FOR 2013-14 MARKETING YEAR
In the July Supply/Demand Report released on Thursday, USDA increased their estimate for rice imports by 1 million bushels to 23.5 million bushels. That is near the all-time record for rice imports into the United States. The report also showed a reduction in beginning stocks of 1.5 million bushels and production of 10.4 million, resulting in the lowest U.S. supply total in 13 years.


HOUSE PASSES FARM BILL MINUS NUTRITION TITLE

Despite opposition from Farm Bureau and over 500 other agriculture organizations, The House passed a farm bill that does not include a nutrition title. The bill also replaces the permanent farm law of 1949 with the 2013 commodity title, removing a major incentive to passing timely farm bills. A four members of Arkansas’ delegation voted for passage of the bill. At this time, a farm bill without a nutrition title looks unlikely to pass the Senate but would likely be headed for a Presidential veto if it did.


CATTLE HERD AT 60-YEAR LOW
A third year of drought in Texas, the biggest U.S. cattle producer, is leaving the national herd at a six-decade low and Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) and Cargill Inc. fighting to boost margins amid excess slaughterhouse capacity. Almost half the pastures in Texas are in poor or very poor shape because of hot, dry weather, according to the Department of Agriculture. With more than three years of rising feed costs, farmers have had less incentive to maintain herd size. USDA reports that commercial cows slaughter during the first half of this year may be the largest for that period since 1996.


MEAT GROUPS CHALLENGE USDA OVER COOL

A total of eight meat and livestock organizations have filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to block implementation of a mandatory country-of-origin labeling rule which was finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May. In their complaint, the meat and livestock organizations explained that the final rule violates the Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest.


CAMPAIGN TO TAKE RFS OFF THE MENU
The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) has launched “Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu,” a new grassroots campaign focused on repealing the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the corn ethanol mandate. Coalition members joined with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. to expose the harmful economic effects of the RFS on American consumers, diners, and small business-owners and operators. For more info click here.


‘CHINESE POLICY TO DETERMINE WORLD COTTON PRICES’  – ICAC

All in all, China’s cotton policy remains the main driver of world cotton prices. With the recent acknowledgement of the market distortion created by its national cotton reserve programs, Chinese policymakers are already planning to experiment with a direct subsidy in Xinjiang. At the provincial level, in an effort to stop the rapid decline of cotton planting in Hebei, cotton farmers were paid a direct subsidy in April this year.

Since 2010/11 world cotton production has exceeded world cotton consumption. While the 2012/13 global ending stocks are expected to be approximately split evenly between China and the rest of the world, China is projected to hold close to 60% of the global stocks by the end of 2013/14. For more information click here.


VILSACK ANNOUNCES USDA CLIMATE CHANGE EFFORTS
. . . . The centerpiece of President Obama’s new climate change strategy, unveiled on June 25, is to limit emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants. The plan’s other two legs would prepare the country for the impacts of climate change and lead international emission reduction efforts. The President plans to implement his plan through executive orders and, thus, avoid congressional approval.

As a follow up to the President’s announcement, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack held a conference call on June 28 with agricultural stakeholders. USDA will establish seven “Regional Climate Hubs” to work in partnership with producers and foresters. The Secretary called them “service centers for science-based risk management.” Working with other agencies, the hubs will serve as a source of regional data and information for hazard and adaptation planning in the agriculture and forest sectors.

The department also will release the “Carbon Management and Evaluation Tool” (COMET-FARM), a free online tool that will help producers calculate how much carbon their conservation actions can sequester (www.comet-farm.com). In addition, USDA plans to increase its climate-related research, including developing more drought-resistant seed technologies and promoting cover-cropping and multi-cropping which help curtail soil erosion and conserve water.

Vilsack also noted that USDA is working to 1) reduce food waste, which piles up at landfills and emits heat-trapping methane gas and 2) encourage farmers to make renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades.

For more information click here.


SORGHUM CHECKOFF, USDA-ARS TEAM UP TO ENHANCE SORGHUM GENETICS
The Sorghum Checkoff will fund a five-year, $1.21 million project with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) station in Lubbock, Texas, that will continue and expand research ARS has conducted on sorghum cold and drought tolerance and the identification of unique sorghum genetics. The project will seek to continue drought and cold tolerance research, while also working to develop and mark key genes in sorghum, such as Tri-Seed.  The effort will be led by Lubbock USDA-ARS Laboratory Director, John Burke, Ph. D.

“Dr.  Burke and his team have become leaders in public sorghum research, working intimately with private industry and other public institutions to release game changing genetics to the sorghum industry,” said Stewart Weaver, Sorghum Checkoff chairman and sorghum grower from Edmondson, Ark. “This is another great example of how producer dollars are being used to enhance sorghum genetics.”


SEARS COMMERCIAL PROGRAM
. . . Offers members special pricing on name-brand items like Craftsman garage storage and lawn tractors; Sealy and Sears-O-Pedic mattresses; NordicTrack exercise equipment; Kenmore outdoor grills, televisions and more. For program details, http://www.arfb.com/member_services/sears/


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