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Articles from 2007 In May


President Signs Disaster Bill Into Law

For the full article, click on the headline above.

Democrats were unable to keep their troop restrictions in the emergency supplemental bill, but they were able to maintain nearly $3 billion in agriculture disaster assistance. On Friday, May 25, the President signed into law H.R. 2206 which includes the funding. The funding will provide relief to farmers and ranchers nationwide who experienced serious losses in 2005-2007. These measures passed by a margin of 280-142 in the House and 80-14 in the Senate Thursday evening, May 24th.

It was questioned whether the bill should have ever made its way to the President's desk. The editorial board at The Forum (North Dakota) made a claim that many agree with. "The ag provision had the enthusiastic support of Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. They should have pulled it out of the Iraq bill for two reasons.

"First, there was no chance the Iraq pullout legislation would be successful. Second, if the farm disaster provision has merit, it should stand on its own."

Concluding, the editorial stated that, "Don't misunderstand. The disaster money is needed, and has been needed for some time. Pomeroy and Peterson take second place to no one in Congress when it comes to supporting farmers and agri-business. But attaching a farm disaster provision to legislation they know has no chance of becoming law makes no sense. It seems to be little more than a political move designed to remind their constituents they are advocating for agriculture."

This new Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill is approximately $4 billion smaller than an earlier version that was vetoed by the President on May 1st. Some of those cost savings came from cuts to agricultural disaster assistance programs.

The legislation provides crop production loss assistance in a manner similar to previous disaster programs for quantity losses occurring from natural disasters and related conditions that occurred in 2005 or 2006 or 2007, with the losses for 2007 crops covered only if the crop subject to the loss was planted prior to February 28, 2007. A producer will choose one of the 3 years in which they could receive benefits. The quantity loss threshold for eligibility is 35% and the payment rate is set at 42% of the established crop insurance price.

Only producers with crop insurance coverage or those who signed up for the Non-insured Assistance Program will be eligible for assistance. The 95% crop value cap and deduction for crop insurance indemnities is in place. Quality loss assistance is based on the actual, local market discounts suffered by producers based on their crop sales receipts, or as established by the State Farm Service Agency Committee. Payments are to be made on 65% of the crop quantity subject to quality discounts at a payment rate equal to 42% of the market loss sustained and provided that the producer had crop insurance or NAP coverage.

Livestock producers who have been dealt a blow due to natural disasters over the past three years can still benefit from funding that was included for the Livestock Compensation Program (LCP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Producers residing in a county that experienced a USDA designated natural disaster in 2005, 2006 or 2007 can apply for disaster payments for only one of those three years. Funding for LCP was trimmed back to 61% of the levels paid out in 2003, this was a decrease from the 70% payment that was included in the vetoed supplemental. Similarly, LIP payment amounts must be at least 26% of the market value for livestock lost as a result of natural disasters. These LIP payments were reduced from a minimum of 30% of the market value that was included in the vetoed supplemental.

Gain Hands-On Experience at Spray Applicator Workshop

Small-acreage producers interested in making sure that they are applying sprays according to label rates and are achieving optimum spray coverage from their equipment are invited to attend a workshop June 14 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station, near Traverse City.

"Sprayer Application Technology for Small-acreage Producers" is geared to anyone who uses spray equipment for small areas (organic or non-organic), including nursery operators, greenhouse growers, and fruit and vegetable producers.

John Grande, director of the Snyder Research and Extension Farm, Rutgers University and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, will be the featured speaker.

Sessions will focus on various backpack sprayer designs, adaptations and calibrations. Participants will get hands-on experience working with various sprayers, viewing pressure regulation demonstrations, assessing nozzle types and accessories, and learning how to calibrate various types of sprayers. Spray efficacy of a variety of equipment will also be demonstrated.

Four types of sprayers will be demonstrated: gas engine air-assisted mist blower, gas engine hydraulic sprayer, hand-operated diaphragm pump and hand-operated internal piston pump sprayer.

Two private and commercial core pesticide applicator recertification credits are pending.

The cost to attend the workshop is $5. To register, call Roberta Dow, Michigan State University Extension water quality educator, at 231-922-4858 or send an e-mail to dowr@msu.edu.  

To learn more about Michigan's plant agriculture initiative at MSU, visit www.greeen.msu.edu.

Culver Vetoes Missouri River Management Legislation

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver's decision to veto a bill that would have strengthened Iowa's voice on Missouri River Management has surprised and seriously disappointed the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Culver vetoed the legislation on May 29.

"We feel very let down by Gov. Culver's sudden veto of a bill that gained overwhelming support from both the House and Senate," says Tim Burrack, a farmer who chairs ICGA's exports and transportation committee.

"Look at the flooding we've seen in the news reports from western Iowa this year," says Burrack. "It's been a pretty vivid reminder that river management involves a lot of issues in addition to the environment. That's why we need all facets of our government watching out for Iowans' concerns when decisions get made about the Missouri."

ICGA disappointed in governor's veto

Senate file 543, which passed the Iowa House (99-0) and Senate (50-0), would have ensured that Iowa's official decisions on the Missouri River took into account all points of view - navigation, flood control, electricity for communities, the Iowa economy and environmental concerns for wildlife and habitat.

It would have extended a practice originally outlined in 2001, which allowed the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa Utilities Board to work together on river issues.

Burrack credits ICGA members for pushing the issue during the 2007 Legislative session and gaining the support of both the House and Senate. "We want to thank the farmers of Iowa for contacting their legislators and the governor about this bill. The support from farmers, communities and the legislators were all there this year. That is why it is so hard to see this bill vetoed in the last moments. Iowa's corn farmers will be looking for a clear explanation of this decision."

Burrack says ICGA members can be assured the association will continue to work on the issue and will engage the administration in the hope of reaching a final resolution. Issues regarding the Missouri River and the Mississippi River range from flood control and navigability to the need for new locks and dams to transport Iowa's crops have been a key ICGA priority for more than a decade.

ISU Field Days at Research Farms Begin June 12

This year's field-day season at Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms around Iowa begins with garden field days June 12.

The demonstration garden field days theme is cool season gardens. Plants will include several varieties of radishes, beets, carrots, lettuce, collard, kohlrabi, spinach mustard, Swiss chard, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, pansies, pinks (dianthus) and snow, snap and pod peas. The field days are open to the public at no cost and take place rain or shine.

Directions to the farms are listed under the field day descriptions and on the Web at: www.ag.iastate.edu/farms/.  

Livestock Farm Visitor Policies

Visitors are asked to follow these policies when attending a field day at a farm with livestock (marked with an asterisk).

* There is a five-day waiting period prior to visiting ISU livestock farms if you have traveled outside the United States.
* If you have visited another livestock farm you must change clothing and footwear before visiting an Iowa State livestock operation.
* No food items are allowed to be brought to research farms.
* If you have any questions, call the Research and Demonstration Farms office at 515-294-5045.

Demonstration Garden Field Days
FARM/LOCATION...........DATE..........TIME
Muscatine Island............June 12.......6:30 p.m.
Armstrong*................... June 13.......6:30 p.m.
McNay*......................... June 14....... 6:30 p.m.
Horticulture Station....... June 18....... 6:30 p.m.
Northern........................ June 25....... 6:30 p.m.
Northwest-Sutherland... June 27....... 6:30 p.m.
Northeast...................... June 28....... 6 p.m.
Northwest-Rock Rapids.July 24........ 6 p.m.
(Lyon County Fairgrounds)

Other field days held during the growing season focus on crops, particularly corn and soybeans. At these events a variety of corn and soybean management topics are covered, including insect and weed management, soil fertility, tillage systems, water quality, planting dates, crop population, manure management and value-added crops.

* June 21--12 p.m., Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm
Lunch served at noon.
Topics: crop season outlook, fungicide use on corn, Asian soybean rust outlook, carbon sequestration impacts of moving CRP land to crops, Bt-rootworm hybrid results and rating corn roots. Jack Payne, vice president for Extension and outreach, will speak at noon.
Directions: From Crawfordsville, the farm is located one and three-quarter miles south, two miles east on G62 and three-quarters of a mile north on the Washington/Louisa county-line road.

* June 27, 9 a.m., Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm
Topics: water runoff, weather review, nitrogen management on corn and cellulosic ethanol.
Directions: The Sutherland farm is located 11 miles north of Cherokee on U.S. Highway 59 and a quarter mile east on county road B62.

* June 27, 5:30 p.m., Rhodes Farm*
Dinner served after the field day program.
Topics: thistle management, grazing system and weather effects on cattle behavior and pasture options on land competing with corn production.
Directions: The farm is located 1/2 mile north of the intersection of Highway 330 and Binford Avenue in Marshall County.

* June 28, 1:30 p.m., Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm
Meal at 5 p.m. Horticultural tour at 6 p.m.
Topics: weed management, corn rootworm management, managing soybean insects and fungicides for corn and soybeans.
Directions: The farm is located one mile west of the Highway 218 and B60 intersection in Nashua, one mile south and a quarter mile east.

* July 13, 9:30 a.m., Northern Research and Demonstration Farm
Directions: The farm is just south of Kanawha on county road R35. Refreshments will be served at 9 a.m. Lunch will be served at the conclusion of the program.
Topics: crop season review, corn planting date research, soybean management, tillage research update and insect and disease problems.

* Aug. 13, 5 p.m., Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm*
Directions: The farm is 11 miles southwest of Atlantic on Highway 6, half a mile south on M53 and three-quarters of a mile east.
Dinner to be served.
Topics: using high tunnels to extend the production season for tomatoes, peppers, raspberries and blackberries; pest scouting and marketing.

* Aug. 14, 5 p.m., Muscatine Island Research and Demonstration Farm
Directions: The farm is located at 111 North St., Fruitland or from Highway 61/92, turn east at G38/North Street.
Topics: vegetable production.

* Aug. 22, 4 p.m., Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm*
Topics: sustainable crop and grazing.
Directions: The farm is 2 miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, 1 mile east and a half-mile north.

* Aug. 23, 10 a.m., Agricultural Engineering/Agronomy Research and Demonstration Farm
Lunch served after program.
Topics: biomass production, corn biomass processing, long-term rotation research and corn research plots.
Directions: Located at 2237 240th St., rural Boone County. Go west on Highway 30 from Ames, one mile south on W Avenue and half a mile east on 240th Street.

* Aug. 28, 6 p.m., Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm
Topics: crop production.

* Aug. 29, 9:30 a.m., Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm*
Topics: crop production.

* Sept. 6, 1:30 p.m., Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm
Topics: crop production.

* Sept. 6, 1:30 p.m., Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm
Topics: continuous corn tillage, manure management, grain marketing, corn planting date research, and crop season review.

* Sept. 7, 10 a.m., Western Research and Demonstration Farm*
Topics: livestock and forage management.
Directions: Four miles east of Castana on County Road E-34.

* September date to be announced, McNay Research and Demo Farm*
Directions: Located near Chariton. South 4 miles on Highway 65 from the intersection of highways 65 and 34, then 2.5 miles east on a gravel road and turn north .75 mile. The headquarter is on the west side of the road.

Quilt Fungicide Application Rate Reduced

Syngenta says that Quilt fungicide can now be used in aerial applications with a minimum of two gallons of water per acre. The re-entry interval is now 12 hours, down from 24 hours previously.

The new spray water volume, reduced from a minimum of 5 GPA, helps increase efficiency for aerial applicators. A lower spray water volume reduces the volume carried on the plane, increasing the number of acres covered.

More information about Quilt fungicide is available from your local retailer, your local Syngenta sales representative, by calling 1-866-SYNGENTA (796-4368) or at www.quilt-fungicide.com.

Department of Justice Approves Cotton Acquisition

Monsanto announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that will allow it to complete its proposed acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Company. Monsanto plans to close its acquisition and resulting divestitures as soon as possible following the required approvals from the court and the DOJ.

"We believe our acquisition of Delta and PineLand will help us facilitate greater innovation within the cotton industry by accelerating the number of products available to cotton farmers and generating new value for our business," says Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant.

Under terms of the agreement, Monsanto will be required to divest certain assets including its U.S. branded cotton seed business. As a result of this requirement, Bayer CropScience has entered into an agreement to purchase Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, a leading cotton seed provider, from Monsanto Company for $310 million, the company announced Thursday.

Bayer is currently the second largest cotton seed supplier in North America, and with the purchase of Stoneville it acquires a turnover of about $45 million as per Stoneville's 2005-06 fiscal year. Bayer will also gain access to insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant Monsanto traits and to breeding and seed processing facilities.

Monsanto has also entered into a definitive agreement to sell its NexGen cotton seed brand and related business assets, to Americot for $6.8 million. As part of this agreement, Monsanto has agreed to sell to Americot certain conventional cotton parental lines that Delta and PineLand acquired from Syngenta in 2006.

The acquisitions are all subject to Department of Justice approval.

Monsanto to Acquire Delta and Pine Land, Divest NexGen and Stoneville

Monsanto announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that will allow it to complete its proposed acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Company. Monsanto plans to close its acquisition and resulting divestitures as soon as possible following the required approvals from the court and the DOJ.

"We believe our acquisition of Delta and Pine Land will help us facilitate greater innovation within the cotton industry by accelerating the number of products available to cotton farmers and generating new value for our business," says Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant.

Under terms of the agreement, Monsanto will be required to divest certain assets including its U.S. branded cotton seed business. As a result of this requirement, Bayer CropScience has entered into an agreement to purchase Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, a leading cotton seed provider, from Monsanto Company for $310 million, the company announced Thursday.

Bayer is currently the second largest cotton seed supplier in North America, and with the purchase of Stoneville it acquires a turnover of about $45 million as per Stoneville's 2005-06 fiscal year. Bayer will also gain access to insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant Monsanto traits and to breeding and seed processing facilities.

Monsanto has also entered into a definitive agreement to sell its NexGen cotton seed brand and related business assets, to Americot for $6.8 million. As part of this agreement, Monsanto has agreed to sell to Americot certain conventional cotton parental lines that Delta and Pine Land acquired from Syngenta in 2006.

The acquisitions are all subject to Department of Justice approval.

Cattle Groups React to Beef Merger

Latin America's largest beef packer, Brazil's JBS-Friboi, is set to acquire the third-largest beef packer in the U.S., Swift Co. The transaction would create the world's largest beef packer, and R-CALFUSA is not happy about it.

According to R-CALF Trade Committee Chair Eric Nelson, the acquisition could be trouble for U.S. beef producers. "U.S. cattle producers cannot expect to win the competition with Brazil in a marketplace that turns a blind eye to anti-competitive practices and does not include rules that recognize the unique characteristics of the U.S. cattle industry. In a free-for-all competition with Brazil under current market conditions, Brazil could drive our domestic prices into the basement, resulting in a mass exodus of U.S. cattle producers."

NCBA's Joe Schuele points out that since JBS is based in Brazil, its acquisition of Swift would not affect domestic market concentration. Additionally, Schuele points out that the U.S. packing industry won't get any more access to Brazilian beef imports, which are highly restricted, than before the merger.

"Cattlemen are pragmatic businessmen - they want to do business with good people," Schuele tells Farm Progress. How JBS fits the bill remains to be seen.

Cattle Groups Respond to JBS-Swift Acquisition

Latin America's largest beef packer, Brazil's JBS-Friboi, is set to acquire the third-largest beef packer in the U.S., Swift Co. The transaction would create the world's largest beef packer, and R-CALF USA is not happy about it.

According to R-CALF Trade Committee Chair Eric Nelson, the acquisition could be trouble for U.S. beef producers. "U.S. cattle producers cannot expect to win the competition with Brazil in a marketplace that turns a blind eye to anti-competitive practices and does not include rules that recognize the unique characteristics of the U.S. cattle industry. In a free-for-all competition with Brazil under current market conditions, Brazil could drive our domestic prices into the basement, resulting in a mass exodus of U.S. cattle producers."

NCBA's Joe Schuele points out that since JBS is based in Brazil, its acquisition of Swift would not affect domestic market concentration. Additionally, Schuele points out that the U.S. packing industry won't get any more access to Brazilian beef imports, which are highly restricted, than before the merger.

"Cattlemen are pragmatic businessmen - they want to do business with good people," Schuele tells Farm Progress. How JBS fits the bill remains to be seen.

Former Senators Dole and Daschle: Eliminate Direct Payments

Former Senate leaders Tom Daschle and Bob Dole suggested Wednesday that the nation's agricultural policy should be reformed, saying farmers should become more dependent on the marketplace.

Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, and Dole, a Republican from Kansas, proposed eliminating direct payments to farmers but retaining countercyclical payments, which pay farmers only when prices are low. They also suggested that farmers be encouraged to take part in emerging markets such as renewable fuels to help them stay afloat.

The former senators say their proposals could mean a net savings of $4.68 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

"If we're going to have a farm bill this year, we have to demonstrate that the farm bill can be written at a reduced cost to taxpayers," says Daschle, the Senate's top Democrat when Republican John Thune defeated him in 2004.

Daschle was a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and played a major role in writing the last six-year farm bill, passed in 2002. Congress is beginning work on that law's renewal this year.

Dole also was on the committee before he left the Senate in 1996. Lawmakers need to broaden their perspectives when crafting farm policy, he says. 

"Enabling farmers to access new markets will increase farm incomes while lowering our existing commodity subsidies," Dole says.

The former senators also backed a mandatory cap and trade program designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Such a system would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions but would let companies not meeting the cap buy credits from those in compliance.

Cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions, they say, would make way for the expansion of biofuels. That policy also would encourage increased use of wind and solar power, which could be developed on farm and ranch lands.

Other aspects of the proposal:

- Farm benefits would be capped at $250,000 a year for an individual. They are now capped at $360,000, but loopholes allow some people to collect millions of dollars above the limit;

- A "robust marketing loan program" that treats all farmers equally;

- Expansion of law that would require the use of renewable fuels, improve distribution of those fuels and require more flexible fuel vehicles;

- Expansion of existing conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle their land.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, praised parts of the report.

"The report gives us solid ideas for re-examining our farm commodity programs - particularly the direct payments - so we can better use our budget for countercyclical income protection and critical investments in the future for farmers and rural communities," Harkin said in a statement.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., did not have an immediate comment.

The report was published by the BipartisanPolicyCenter, a new group aimed at finding policy answers to the nation's biggest issues. The group is directed by four former Senate majority leaders: Daschle; Dole; former Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn.; and former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine.

Source: Associated Press