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Articles from 2004 In September


Driving Fat Out of Food

Over half of the trans fat in consumers' diet comes from the food service sector. To address the need to provide healthier alternatives for diners, Dow AgroSciences has a low trans fat canola solution.

On showcase this week during the Culinary Institute of America/Harvard School of Public Health Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat for Chain Restaurants, Hotels, Supermarkets and Volume Food Service, Dow is touting its Natreon canola oil. The oil is a natural, highly-stable, virtually trans fat free, low saturate solution to partially hydrogenated oils currently used in most restaurants and processed food products.

There is consensus among some of the nation's top nutrition scientists that reducing trans and saturated fats is a major public health concern in the United States today. It is estimated that trans fats alone cause about 30,000 deaths per year.

"Natreon canola oil offers a complete package. It is highly stable and functional and can substantially improve the nutrition profile of food products today," says David Dzisiak, global business leader, Oils/Oilseeds for Dow AgroSciences. Saturated and trans fat could be reduced by more than 75% in one serving of french fries or in a typical cracker, when Natreon is used in place of partially hydrogenated oil.

Because Americans eat twice as much saturated fat as trans fat, it is important to recognize the need for a trans free oil that is also low in saturated fats. Like traditional canola oil, Natreon contains about 7% saturated fat, the lowest of any vegetable oil. Natreon has more than 70% monounsaturated fat for health and stability and has a higher omega-3 fatty acid content than most of the partially hydrogenated oils it can replace.

Natreon was developed by conventional plant breeding techniques and is a non-genetically modified product. In addition to its health attributes, fry studies have shown that Natreon outperforms partially hydrogenated soybean oil in stability, fry life, reduced polar compound formation, and important sensory attributes. The response among chefs was excellent as well, noting the clean, light taste that lets the flavor of foods shine through. With new and improved products like this natural, high-stability canola oil, healthier menu choices can be available immediately.

CAFTA Support Hinges on HFCS Tax

The acceptance of a Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is in jeopardy over the Dominican Republic's decision to impose a 25% tax on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

In a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, three corn industry organizations expressed strong opposition approved by the Dominican Republic Congress taxing all beverages sold in the country that are sweetened with HFCS.

Under terms of the U.S.-Dominican Republic FTA, U.S. exports of HFCS already would not receive duty-free access to that market until the 15th year of the agreement. In addition they also are covered by a safeguard provision put in place by the Dominican Republic.

The letter was sent by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) states, "In light of these circumstances, the undersigned organizations strongly oppose the inclusion of the Dominican Republic in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)." The letter calls on the Bush administration to suspend all action on the Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Earlier this week the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also sent a letter saying AFBF supports the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, but due to the new tax, the organization's support of an FTA package including that nation would be "difficult."

NCGA President Dee Vaughan said the association strongly supports free trade agreements that increase access for corn growers and U.S. agriculture. "However, when agreements are negotiated in bad faith, they are not worth the paper they are written on," he says.

"The Dominican Republic has been a valuable customer for U.S. feed grains and we strongly hope this issue is resolved quickly and efficiently," said Paul Williams, USGC chairman. "We do not want this situation to impede progress of the CAFTA as it's a strong agreement for U.S. agriculture and provides for further expansion of demand in the region."

The CRA, NCGA and USGC have called on the Dominican Republic to repeal the provision and call upon other CAFTA countries to work with the United States to resolve the dispute. Leaders of all three organizations noted that failure to do so may not only jeopardize the Dominican Republic FTA, but could complicate overall passage of the CAFTA, an agreement that the corn industry otherwise supports.

Column: Cotton trade dispute ruling may require changes

On September 8, 2004 the World Trade Organization (WTO) Disputes Panel released the final report on Brazil's complaint against the U.S. cotton program. The result was a mixed bag giving both sides something to crow about.

One of the key findings for U.S. agricultural programs is the ruling "that income support provided to U.S. cotton farmers and others that is fully decoupled from production and prices - that is, a recipient does not have to produce cotton to get the payments and can choose to produce nothing at all - has not suppressed or depressed world cotton prices. Under the 2002 Farm Bill these decoupled payments are called contract payments and are used for other program crops like corn, soybeans and wheat.

The other rulings in support of the U.S. were findings that U.S. payment programs did not increase the U.S.'s share of the world cotton export market; certain U.S. export guarantees were consistent with U.S. WTO obligations; and U.S. programs did not seriously prejudice Brazil's interests from 2003-2007.

On the other side, the panel's report includes rulings that supported parts of Brazil's initial complaint: 1. Export credit guarantees for "unscheduled commodities" (such as cotton and soybeans) and for rice are prohibited export subsidies. 2. Some U.S. domestic support programs (i.e. marketing loan, counter-cyclical, market loss assistance and Step 2 payments) were found to cause significant suppression of cotton prices in the world market in marketing years 1999-2002. 3. Step 2 payments to exporters of cotton are prohibited export subsidies and Step 2 payments to domestic users are prohibited import substitution subsidies. In addition, several other WTO rulings have been released in recent weeks. Not too long ago U.S. agricultural programs and Farm Bill discussions were a matter of domestic policy and the greatest worry farm belt legislators has was garnering enough urban votes to make sure the legislation was adopted. Today with international trade agreements on the front burner, the ball game has suddenly changed and trade commitments may be as important as the votes of key urban law makers.

As the next farm bill comes up for discussion it is certain that some of the current provisions like LDPs and counter-cyclical payments will need to be reexamined.

Given the necessity of food and the importance of farming to many countries, another question is whether agriculture can be lumped into trade agreements along with sewing machines and DVD players.

Daryll E. Ray holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, and is the Director of UT's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC). (865) 974-7407; Fax: (865) 974-7298; dray@utk.edu; http://www.agpolicy.org. Daryll Ray's column is written with the research and assistance of Harwood D. Schaffer, Research Associate with APAC.</

Cotton industry hosting CBI apparel makers

U.S. cotton industry hosting key CBI apparel makers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Leaders from 30 apparel manufacturing companies in six CBI region countries are visiting U.S. textile operations to learn how to source U.S. yarns and fabrics.

Cotton Council International, in cooperation with Cotton Incorporated, is hosting the COTTON USA CBI Manufacturers Tour, one that involves participants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Haiti.

This COTTON USA Sourcing Program is one of many activities of CCI, the overseas market promotion arm of the Memphis-based National Cotton Council. U.S. textile mills hosting the CBI participants on the Tour Include:

Alice Mills, Inc., Easley, S.C.; NY; American & Efird, Inc., Mount Holly, N.C.; Ameritex Yarn, LLC, Burlington, N.C.; Arca Knitting, Inc., Hialeah, Fla.; Buhler Quality Yarns Corp., Jefferson, Ga.; Carolina Cotton Works, Inc., Gaffney, S.C.; Cheraw Yarn Mills, Inc., Cheraw, S.C.; Four Leaf Textiles, LLC, Shelby, N.C.; Frontier Spinning Mills, Sanford, N.C.; National Textiles, LLC, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Parkdale Mills, Inc., Gastonia, N.C.; R.L. Stowe Mills, Inc., Belmont, N.C.; Ramtex, Inc., Ramseur, N.C.; Spectrum Dyed Yarns, Inc., Kings Mountain, N.C.; Swift Spinning Mills, Inc., Columbus, Ga; Tuscarora Yarns, Inc., Gastonia, N.C.; and Wellstone Mills, Greenville, S.C.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the U.S. cotton textile industry to highlight its commitment to quality and efficiency and to boost its exports into a very important market," said CCI President Robert W. Norris, a Bakersfield, Calif., cooperative official. "On the eve of the removal of textile quotas (Jan. 1), all of these host U.S. textile firms are committed to surviving and thriving as they supply high quality competitive raw materials quickly to the CBI region."

Norris said the CBI participants – some of the largest knitters and apparel makers in that region – attended a seminar in Atlanta Sept. 28 and were to divide up and visit the 17 U.S. textile manufacturing operations in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Research specialists from Cotton Incorporated, North Carolina State University and TC(2) will conduct the seminar, which will cover: producing better knit fabrics; producing better knit apparel; and innovations in dyeing and finishing. Participants also will hear an outlook on U.S. textile and apparel trade policy.<</p>

The Plant Variety Protection Act: Information for Texas small grains producers

Enforcement of the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) in small grains has gained a lot of attention the last couple of years. Numerous individuals, including sellers, seed conditioners, and buyers, in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other states have been prosecuted for not abiding by the PVPA.

A considerable amount of confusion exists about the PVPA and its implications on Small Grain producers in Texas. A clear understanding of the PVPA, Title V, and utility patents and their implications is essential for everyone involved in the purchasing, conditioning, or selling seed.

The following should shed some light on the issue.

Laws:

Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) - enacted December 1970 provides legal intellectual property rights protection to developers of new varieties of plants that are sexually reproduced (by seed). The 1970 PVPA provides the Plant Breeders with property rights over new variety releases. Farmers may save seed to plant their own holdings (land owned, rented, or leased) or sell that amount of seed to a neighbor, if plans for that seed change. All seed sales must comply with state laws, including Title V.

1994 Amended PVPA - an amendment to the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970. The 1994 PVPA prohibits the sale of all farmer-saved seed without the permission of the variety owner. The length of protection under the PVPA act increased to 20 years for most crops, including wheat and oats. It applies to all varieties protected after April 4, 1995.

Major amendments to the PVPA in 1994:

- Prohibits the sale of all seed of a protected variety without the permission of the variety owner. - - Requires protected varieties to be sold by variety name. - - Increased the protection length from 18 to 20 years. - Title V – an amendment to the Federal Seed Act. Title V allows seed to be sold by variety name only and as a class of certified seed. Non-certified sales are prohibited. Seed certification is based on the requirements of the Texas Department of Agriculture. For practical purposes, Title V also protects most varieties protected by the PVPA.

Utility Patents – a means of protection for certain varieties containing specific genes, usually developed through genetic engineering or biotechnology. Farmers may not save, clean/condition, or sell any seed protected under a utility patent. Examples include Clearfield Wheat, Roundup Ready crops, Bollgard, and others.

What is the purpose of the Plant Variety Protection Act?

Access to new varieties with increased yield potential, higher quality grain, better disease and insect resistance, and tolerance to herbicides play a vital economic role in Texas wheat production. Improved genetics are estimated to account for well over 60 percent of the yield increase that has occurred over the past century. The primary purpose of the Plant Variety Protection Act was to encourage further development of new non-hybrid varieties in crops such as wheat, oats, and other self-pollinating crops.

Allowing Plant Breeders to determine who can sell seed of new varieties provides them with the ability to recoup the monies expended in the variety development process and re-invest in future development. Prior to PVPA, little, if any, financial incentive existed for breeders and seed companies to invest in developing non-hybrid crops. Additionally, passage of the 1994 amended PVPA has allowed the United States to participate in the international plant breeder’s rights treaty. As a result, the proprietary rights on varieties are now respected in many countries worldwide.

What varieties are protected by Plant Variety Protection Act?

Nearly all varieties released by private companies since 1970 are protected by the initial PVPA or the 1994 amended PVPA. Most public release varieties (varieties released by universities) are also protected by the PVPA. Variety protection under the PVPA expires 20 years after protection has been granted. All varieties protected under the PVPA (1970 and 1994) can be found at the following web-page (http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/pvplist.pl).

From a practical standpoint, most varieties planted today are protected under the 1994 PVPA, meaning the variety owner’s permission is required prior to any seed sales.

All varieties protected under the PVPA must be clearly marked on the seed tag or bulk label indicating the type of protection (1970 PVPA, 1994 amended PVPA, and/or Title V). The seller is responsible for to informing the buyer if a variety is protected.

What can or can’t be done with seed from a PVPA variety?

A farmer can save seed protected under both the 1970 and 1994 PVPA for planting his or her own holdings (land owned, rented, or leased). Under the 1970 PVPA, a farmer can sell only the amount needed to plant his own holdings. However, under the 1994 PVPA, no seed can be sold, unless the variety owner grants permission.

Infringement of the owner’s rights under the 1994 PVPA include:

- Selling, offering, delivering, consigning, exchanging, or advertising for sale a protected variety. - - Dispensing the variety to another person without informing that person the variety is protected. - - Inducing a third party to commit any of the above acts. - - Selling a PVPA variety as VNS (Variety Not Stated.) - What restrictions are associated with conditioning seed?

Any actions taken as a step in marketing farmer-saved seed are infringements of the rights of the variety owner. A third party can clean and/or condition seed for any farmer, as long as the volume of seed cleaned does not exceed the planned planting acreage of the farmer. However, conditioning, storing, or delivering an unreasonable amount of farmer-saved seed for sale is in violation of the PVPA.

It is strongly recommended that anyone conditioning farmer-saved seed obtain written documentation from the farmer stating the seed conditioning is not in violation of the PVP laws or patents. A farmer having seed cleaned and conditioned by a third party is not in violation of the PVPA, as long as the seed volume does not exceed a planned planting acreage.

What does Title V variety protection mean?

The owner of the variety has the option to choose Title V protection or not. Title V protection means that sales of non-certified seed of Title V protected varieties is illegal. Title V of the Federal Seed Act also protects most small grains varieties that are protected under the PVPA.

Can a Protected Variety be sold or bought as Variety Not Stated (VNS) wheat seed?

No. The PVPA states that a protected variety must be sold by the variety name only. Sale of a protected variety as VNS is an infringement of the PVPA. For seed to be sold as VNS, the wheat seed must be from a variety not protected by the 1994 PVPA. As mentioned previously, it is the seller’s responsibility to inform the buyer if a variety is protected.

What are the repercussions for violating the PVPA?

The owner of the variety may bring civil action against persons infringing on his or her rights as stated in the 1970 and 1994 PVPA. The damages awarded by a court must at least compensate the variety developer for the infringement but can be up to triple damages, when willful infringement is found. Additionally, violation of any provisions of the Federal Seed Act, including Title V, is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000.

Additional sources of information on PVPA:

1. The Plant Variety Protection Act. Colorado State University – Cooperative Extension. By M.A. Brick and J. Stanelle. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00301.html.

2. Seed Protection: Rights and Responsibilities. http://www.plantboard.org/seed_pdfs/protec.pdf.

3. Plant Variety Protection Office. http://www.ams.usda.gov/science/pvpo/PVPindex.htm.

Cooperative effort adds value to gin trash

Cotton’s trash could be an environmental treasure. A joint effort between Cotton Incorporated, the USDA and Ellis Brothers Gin in Alabama is on the verge of bringing to the market a product that may change the way folks look at gin waste, and adding value to something that once was a nuisance.

By turning cotton gin waste into landscaping mulch, the developers are hoping to capitalize on the need to reduce soil erosion at road and house construction sites.

In California, for example, laws regarding water runoff and soil erosion control require a cover over bare dirt left for more than 14 days.

Responding to the requirements, road and house builders often use blankets made of recycled paper, wood or coconut husks to hold the water and soil in place. A good rain often washes these products away, however.

In contrast, the cotton waste product mattes itself to the soil and reduces erosion. “Research has shown that we can reduce soil erosion by a factor of 10 compared to mulch made from wood products,” says Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing at Cotton Incorporated.

“There’s no question, this is very, very exciting,” he says. “The products we are competing against have a retail price of $200 to $250 per ton. I’m convinced that cotton waste product can be made for a cheaper price.”

The cotton waste project is another spin off from the cottonseed coating work done at the USDA Gin Lab in Lubbock, Texas.

Through the years, various efforts have failed to find a use for cotton gin waste. The problem is its abrasiveness. It’s used in cattle feed, but that’s a “low-end business,” Wedegaertner says.

By dyeing the cotton gin waste, it looks like shredded bark, he says, and can be used for hydra seeding mulches. This avenue is a high-end market and one that is rapidly expanding.

“By next spring, we may very well have a commercial product coming out of Ellis Brothers Gin in Centre, Ala., for use by the hydra seeding industry in Atlanta,” Wedegaertner says.

“We are right on the cutting edge of a developing technology and we want to be right in the middle of it as it develops,” Wedegaertner says.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com

Future mulled at Italian Farm Machinery Convention

As it adjusts to consolidation and other changes in agriculture, the farm equipment industry must not only cope with tightening competition but also anticipate needs of a more diverse clientele, one, two, or maybe three years ahead of sales.

Jeffery Huckings, president of Woodland Tractor and Equipment Co., Woodland, Calif., says that will be a way of life, since competing brands of wheeled tractors and even combines have become commodities sold "like Maytag washing machines."

In response to their retail customers, "dealers want a new tractor now, and they expect manufacturers to deliver, almost in real time, on the day it’s ordered," said Huckings, a panelist during the recent 12th Italian Farm Machinery Convention at Monterey.

The event, held by the Italian Trade Commission, was attended by representatives of nearly two dozen Italian manufacturers and more than 40 North American distributors.

Huckings, who is president of the Far West Equipment Dealers Association with members in seven western states and is also a farmer, said clients expect service and parts availability from anywhere in the world in 24 hours or less.

Distributors and manufacturers, he said, have to work closely with dealers to be prepared to furnish equipment, parts, and service as needed so dealers can reduce "flooring" of inventory and carrying costs.

And this must be done against a backdrop of other pressures on the industry, one example being users keeping equipment longer, which has caused declining trade-in values that make acquisition of new units more expensive.

Changing customers

With the proliferation of "weekend farms" and "ranchettes," dealers must often sell to a changing customer base of non-ag professionals, both men and women. Sales personnel used to selling to only farmers need to be trained become proficient in dealing with this new type of customer.

As one reflection of this trend, in 2003 more than 50 percent of all tractor units were in the less-than-40-horsepower range, and that, he added, is where the sales growth is anticipated.

Dealers have reached the point where their cost increases are challenging limits that consumers will accept, Huckings warned. "California is a good example. Our personnel costs are higher than anywhere in the country, so we’ve had to look at high-profit products."

Dealers are also looking for ways to reduce their unit and parts inventories and can no longer order equipment and have it sit for months before a buyer is found. Instead, they are asking distributors and manufacturers to deliver on demand.

As a result of the new sales climate, for his company an order for $40,000 of specialty grape or orchard equipment offers greater profit margin than a $150,000 tractor, he said.

Complaints of malfunctions must be handled quickly and when customers are not at fault, costs of repairs need to be borne by manufacturers and distributors.

"Dealers cannot be burdened with re-design or repair of machinery at a lesser rate when they need to have mechanics for customer work out in the field on emergency repairs," Huckings said.

Field demonstrations and training of marketing and sales personnel must be priced appropriately for the functions they perform. "Either it saves money for users over other available methods, or it won’t be sold. Prices to dealers have to give them enough margin to support the product with service personnel."

Less stock inventory

Huckings predicted dealers of tomorrow will sell with less stock inventory, less transactional cost per sale, greater service support, and greater turn over of inventory and will rely, expect and demand that their manufacturing and distributing partners do their part.

According to another panelist, Kenny Dozier, sales manager of Pringle Tractor Co., Salinas, three prominent changes are driving the industry are governmental and environmental regulations, consolidation of farming operations, and the new intensive farming innovations that are evolving his Central Coast service area.

Growers, he said, face a new regulation, whether air pollution or water run-off, practically every month and this is changing the types of equipment they need.

Consolidation of the farming, he said, has improved his business because of the uniformity that is becoming more common. Where once the Salinas Valley had some 600 viable farmer-customers, each with his own idea of what cultivator he wanted, today the several dozen remaining corporate operations want standardization of equipment, with parts readily available for use. Dealers have had to adjust with improved inventory of parts, and they need to serve fewer contacts to make to sell for the same amount of acreage.

"But that also increased the level of expertise required of the salesman, who now looks to the distributor or manufacturer for help in improving his skills."

Customary cultural practices in the Salinas Valley for many years required equipment first for two, 40-inch beds and later for four, 40-inch beds in a single pass. "But just in the past few years three, 80-inch beds have come into play and that’s proved to be an opportunity for us."

Marketing changes

David Rankin, president of Rankin Equipment Co., Yakima, Wash., said the past 25 years has brought dramatic changes with markedly fewer growers and dealerships.

"The markets the dealers serve have changed too. The typical dealer is now serving not only the farm market but also weekend farming, municipal, and landscape and turf markets. Many have become involved in consumer products with rentals, ATVs, and even snowmobiles. We have to take these changes into account and adapt to changing times in the products we build, sell, and service."

Douglas Edney, vice president of Edney Distributing Co., Lakeville, Minn., said bigger and fewer farms in his area have been an opportunity for his company to diversify product lines.

"A few years ago our business was l00 percent farm equipment, but now it’s about 60 percent farming equipment, and the rest is lumber industry equipment or compact consumer products like rototillers and ATVs.

"It’s been a bit of a challenge to get manufacturers to realize this, but they are starting to recognize it, and we are beginning to focus our marketing more."

As dealers become larger, he said, they prefer to deal with fewer suppliers, who, in turn, are expected to offer more options for basic farm equipment items.

Bell honored for agriculture service

STUTTGART, Ark. — It’s not a retirement, Dick Bell hastened to point out, after associates and friends said all manner of nice things about his 27 years of leadership at Riceland Foods.

“I just am starting a different agenda,” he said at a reception in his honor at the 9,000-member cooperative that he and his team turned into an international powerhouse in the processing and marketing of rice.

The company posted a record $951.1 million in sales for the fiscal year ending July 31, and also set records for earnings and payments to its farmer members.

Although he officially stepped down as president and chief executive officer at the end of July, Bell will continue in an advisory capacity on strategic issues, particularly those related to farm legislation, international trade, and agriculture-related research.

“Dick already had an outstanding record in government, and he had many job offers to choose from,” said Tommy Hillman, who served as chairman of the Riceland board from 1993-2001. “It is our good fortune that he agreed to come to Riceland.”

Before joining Riceland, Bell served as assistant secretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodity programs, as president of USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, and as chairman of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

Earlier in his career, he was a foreign service officer at American embassies in Ottawa, Canada; Brussels, Belgium; and Dublin, Ireland.

“His efforts on behalf of Riceland and agriculture at both the state and national levels have been of great benefit to all,” Hillman said. “He is respected in state legislatures, in Congress, and in corporate boardrooms across this country for his dedication in striving for what’s best for agriculture.”

Besides all that, he said, Bell “is a great person to work with — a true gentleman. I never, in 27 years, saw him lose his temper or get angry. Every CEO is known for something, a trademark. Dick’s trademark is character and integrity.”

The consummate workaholic, Hillman said, Bell is “a true technician, devoted to facts and figures. When he’s preparing for a presentation, his office and conference room are filled with knee-high stacks of papers and information, all of which he digests into the most effective, understandable analysis of the issue.”

Hillman also commended Bell for his “tireless work on behalf of education, research, civic, and charitable” efforts. “I doubt we’d have had the Phillips Community College branch here in Stuttgart had it not been for his pushing it so strongly.”

R.E. “Romey” Short Jr., who served as Riceland’s chairman 1978-85 and was part of the team that recruited Bell, said, “Dick has been a driving force in making Riceland the leader in the industry and in helping Arkansas to become the number one rice-producing state.

“He has always put the interest of Riceland’s members foremost. Ours is a unique organization, and we’re honored to have had a person of his caliber at the helm.”

Tommy Hoskyn, elected to the Riceland board in 1981 and elevated to chairman in 2001, said Bell “from the very first day had a vision of what he wanted Riceland to be, and he never lost sight of that goal.

“His years of government service in Washington and internationally gave him a broad base of knowledge and experience for dealing with legislative issues. Dick is one of the best-informed persons on farm policy in the nation, and he has been generous over the years in guiding many of us to involved in the political process.”

Arkansas State Senator Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle, presented a citation, “the highest honor our Senate can bestow,” praising Bell for his service to agriculture in Arkansas and the nation. He also presented citations on behalf of the secretary of state and governor.

In his brief remarks before urging everyone to “have some cake and punch,” Bell, who’d told the directors he didn’t want any fuss over his departure, laughed that “it’s almost worth it to see Ford Baldwin in suit and tie.” (Baldwin, retired Arkansas Extension weed scientist, is a consultant for Riceland.)

“When I walked through these doors 27 years ago, I frankly didn’t expect I’d be staying,” Bell said. “I figured I’d be going back into government service. But this has proved to be the best of both worlds — a great agribusiness organization and continued involvement in policy and politics.”

The organization has achieved its outstanding success, Bell said, “because of talented, capable leadership and a team of very dedicated employees. I’m proud to be associated with them.”

Bell said it is also a point of personal pride that “in 27 years, I never missed a single board meeting — 168 of them — and I attended more than 300 of our regional dryer board meetings.”

In addition to spending more time with his family and grandchildren, Bell will continue involvement in service on boards of Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Foundation Fund, the Stuttgart Regional Medical Center, Easter Seals Arkansas, the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, and the Grand Prairie Early Childhood Development Council.

Water policies help economic growth

NATCHITOCHES, La. — A key message heard by more than 60 people gathered to discuss issues facing citizens in the Natchitoches, La., area is that policies on water use are important to economic development.

Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the meeting at Northwestern State University provided a forum for participants to interact and exchange ideas with leading water management experts from Louisiana, according to Mimi Stoker, coordinator of the meeting and an LSU AgCenter watershed educator for the Red River and Sabine watersheds.

“The summit was planned to inform the public about the current water situation and the water projects being conducted in the state,” said Stoker.

State Rep. Taylor Townsend said navigation on the Red River through northwestern Louisiana holds many economic opportunities for the area.

As an outdoorsman, he emphasized the need for landowners to consider enrolling marginal cropland in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s environmental programs. The programs help landowners enhance conservation efforts and develop wildlife habitats.

Townsend also stressed that the state legislature depends on scientists and professionals to help write public policy that addresses water issues.

“Water is important in economic development,” said Bill Branch, LSU AgCenter water specialist. “It is needed to grow crops, process food commodities, support industrial growth, for navigation, household use and many other uses.

He pointed out that people enjoy living near water bodies — citing evidence of the migration to and homebuilding in areas like Toledo Bend Lake and Poverty Point Reservoir.

The water impoundments provide storage for water during heavy rainfall, thus reducing the impact of flooding, assisting in recharging aquifers and providing numerous recreational opportunities.

Three major aquifers are being overdrafted — even though 84 percent of the water used in Louisiana comes from surface water resources such as rivers, lakes and bayous according to the latest USGS survey.

“We have an abundant supply of surface water and need to find additional ways to use it,” said Branch. “This will help conserve ground water and provide additional resources to support economic growth.”

Surface water can be lifted from an impoundment for less than one-half the cost of lifting water 50 to 60 feet from a well, said Branch, and most community wells are much deeper than that.

The two largest agricultural industries in the state, forestry and poultry, need high-quality water to wash products and to use in manufacturing processes.

Water is important to the forest industry in the manufacturing of various products and in preserving raw products from harvest until being processed. The forest industry is the largest agricultural segment and the second largest manufacturing industry in the state. It returned more than $3.7 billion to the state in 2003.

Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, said more than 90 percent of the loggers and landowners use the best management practices adopted by the industry and approved by the state and federal agencies. These practices help landowners manage their forestry lands in an environmentally friendly way and improve the water quality.

“The roots of trees in the soil on forest lands help filter water as it moves across the land and improves the water quality,” he said.

Vandersteen said Louisiana also is first in cooperation on water quality and conservation issues. He said government leaders, industry representatives, universities and private landowners fully cooperated to develop the first Master Logger Program — which teaches forest professionals how to maximize both environmental conservation and profitability. Today, there are more than 1,200 master loggers in Louisiana.

The poultry industry is the second largest agricultural industry in the state and returned $1.2 billion last year.

Pilgrim’s Pride, which has plants in Natchitoches and Farmerville, uses water to wash birds and carry byproducts to other locations in the plant. It needs high-quality water to produce a high-quality food product.

Tim Wier, director of environmental engineering at Pilgrim’s Pride, said the company uses about 2.5 million gallons of water per day to operate the processing facilities. But the company has reduced the amount of water required to process a bird from 9 gallons to 4 gallons in the past 15 years and continues to work on further reductions.

In other comments during the summit, LSU AgCenter water quality specialist Fred Sanders discussed the Master Farmer Program, which is designed to teach producers of other commodities how to operate in the most environmentally friendly manner.

Sanders and other LSU AgCenter specialists said developing plans for water conservation and use are important to the state.

For more information on the use of water in Louisiana, contact Bill Branch at 225-578-6919 or bbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu.

John Chaney writes for the LSU AgCenter. (318–473–6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu).