~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Friday May 11, 2007!A service of Midwest Farm Shows
-- House Easily Passes Ag Disaster Aid- Administration Promises Veto if there are no offsets.
-- Wheat Crop Production Numbers will be released this morning at 7:30 am.
-- USTR does a little Toe-Stepping: Japanese officials dispute that they have erected Trade barriers to US Beef.
-- Oklahoma Farm Bureau dropping Auto Insurance Rates.
-- As reported here yesterday- Congressman Lucas unveils Rural America Energy Bill
-- Sorghum Team in Washington over the past few days.
-- Congrats to Ashley and Ruth!
Here's your morning farm news headlines from the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network, Ron Hays. Our email this morning is a service of Midwest Farm Shows, featuring the just concluded Southern Plains Farm Show in Oklahoma City, as well as the Tulsa Farm Show held each December. Check out details of both of these exciting shows at the official website of Midwest Farm Shows by clicking here.
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House Easily Passes Ag Disaster Aid- Administration Promises Veto if there are no offsets.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We expected the vote later today- but the House got busy and did a little work Thursday evening that included a pair of measures that the Bush Administration promises will be dead if they arrive in present form at George W Bush's desk. It was a big vote in favor of Ag Disaster Aid, 302-120.
The Ag Disaster Aid package provides $3.5 billion dollars for farmers and ranchers facing weather related losses in 2005, 2006 or early 2007. Obviously, not legislation that will make any producer that has lost a substantial part of his crop or herd whole, these ad hoc assistance dollars are designed to help those in production agriculture have the cash flow to make it to another crop production cycle.
We talked yesterday with Congressman Frank Lucas, who authored his own version of an Ag Disaster Aid package last summer, was pleased that the House Democratic Leadership was willing to give the farm aid package a vote on the floor and fully expected a large vote in favor of the measure. The Bush Administration was repeating their stance on the measure that has been there all along- that the package will only be supported if there are offsets elsewhere in the budget to pay for the outlays. It is expected that the Democrats will reattach the farm aid package to the war supplemental spending bill at some point- we have linked one of the stories out this morning about the vote from last night below.
Wheat Crop Production Numbers will be released this morning at 7:30 am.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We have supply demand data as well as crop production numbers that will be out this morning from USDA- with the numbers for our Hard Red Winter Wheat crop to be of great interest for us here in Oklahoma. The guess from the Oklahoma Crop Tour from a few weeks ago was 164 million bushels, while the Kansas Wheat Crop Tour predicted a 393 million bushel wheat crop for the Sunflower state.
The data that will be out this morning will be based on field surveys up through the first of May- and obviously, we have had a lot more rain since that time, allowing diseases to continue to work on the wheat plants out in our fields and raise some questions about both the quantity and the quality of this year's crop.
We will have a special audio report on the numbers released by USDA available by around 9 am central time- you can go to that link before then that we have provided below and check out a preview of the report.
USTR does a little Toe-Stepping: Japanese officials dispute that they have erected Trade barriers to US Beef.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~After the US Trade Representatives' Office laid their case out that Japan has stalled on allowing US beef back into their market in the aftermath of the discovery of a Canadian Dairy Cow in Washington state was found with BSE December 2003, Japanese officials fired back, not true.
The USTR laid their case out carefully in a report that showcased numerous nations that the Administration believes unfairly block our products and/or services from being allowed into their countries. The Japanese quickly fired back in a statement seen on an official government web site in Japan.
"Every country is allowed to introduce or maintain more severe sanctions than international standards if there is a scientifically justifiable reason," the Japanese government said in its comments, available on the Foreign Ministry's Web site. Before the ban on American beef three years ago, Japan had been the top destination for U.S. beef, importing $1.4 billion worth a year. The Japanese government will seek the "correct understanding" of the U.S. about Japanese positions expressed in the comments through bilateral forums, the ministry said its statement.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau dropping Auto Insurance Rates.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There's a little bit of relief coming for those who are customers of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Mutual Insurance Company, as they have announced this week that a rollback in auto insurance rates is forthcoming.
"We've seen a significant decrease in comprehensive claims during the past three years," said Darryl Sinclair, OFBMIC General Manager. Rate reductions may reach as high as 12.8 percent depending on the type of vehicle insured, policy coverages and location. "One of our major goals is to keep the cost of insurance protection affordable for policyholders," said Sinclair.
Farm Bureau stresses participation in safe driving courses and offers classes for Oklahomans throughout the state. Farm Bureau insurance agents are located in all 77 counties and offer many lines of insurance coverage to members including home, farm, auto, life, crop and commercial business.
As reported here yesterday- Congressman Lucas unveils Rural America Energy Bill
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas introduced his comprehensive "Rural America Energy Bill" today, in an effort to allow rural areas to play a larger role in making the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy. Lucas' eight-point plan seeks to expand the use of energy sources that can be utilized in rural areas, such as wind energy and cellulosic ethanol, and to help farmers participate in energy development, through small wind tax credits and dedicated funding for renewable energy projects. It will also work to reduce high feed prices and fund research on a pipeline system for ethanol. "Rural America wants to be out from under the thumb of the OPEC countries, and they want to play a larger role in helping make that happen," Lucas said. "These provisions will help increase our energy independence, as well as bring jobs and infrastructure to rural areas."
The bill, H.R. 2261, will revamp the USDA Bioenergy Program to promote cellulosic refineries. The program will provide payments for cellulosic ethanol production, to encourage the construction of cellulosic plants. "Cellulosic ethanol would allow Oklahomans to get in on the ethanol game that our neighbors to the north have been benefiting from for years," Lucas said. "Whether it is switchgrass, wheat straw or other forms of cellulosic, we can grow these crops abundantly in our state." The bill will also establish a transitional payment program for farmers who switch to cellulosic crops, to ensure a market for both ethanol producers and potential cellulosic farmers in the critical first years of production. Payments will be based on the number of acres planted to cellulosic crops. Lucas said once the technology and economic barriers are overcome, the potential for cellulosic in Oklahoma could be tremendous.
Lucas' bill also helps bring wind energy to rural areas, by extending the wind energy tax credit, as well as providing a tax credit for the installation of small wind turbines used to generate electricity for homes, farms, and small businesses. "Scientific measurements have proven what we know to be true in Oklahoma - the potential for wind energy is vast, "Lucas said. "Oklahoma and our Midwestern neighbors could be the Saudi Arabia of wind, and these tax credits will help us harness this power for generations to come." Lucas is ranking member on the agriculture subcommittee with jurisdiction over energy issues, and will be involved in writing the energy title of the Farm Bill this year. "We need to give the countryside a seat at the energy table," Lucas said. "This bill helps us diversify our energy portfolio and puts us on the path to energy independence."
Sorghum Team in Washington over the past few days.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~National Sorghum Producers President-Elect Toby Bostwick joined CEO Tim Lust and Washington Representative Mark Rokala on the Hill this week to communicate sorghum producer interests in the farm bill. In the next week or so, House Ag Committee Chairman Peterson is expected to release his Chairman's Mark of the conservation, credit, energy and research titles. But before that can happen, he and other Members of the Committee need to know how much money will be appropriated for the bill. The budget resolution, which sets the spending level for the farm bill, has not yet been agreed upon. The Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research, chaired by Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, is scheduled to meet before Memorial Day. NSP is asking that sorghum's loan rate be set equal to corn on a county-by-county level basis in the farm bill. The loan rate was set equal on a national average basis in the last farm bill and while an improvement over the prior bill, sorghum producers still need a real level playing field.
Crop insurance is also key as sorghum price elections need upward adjustment. To speak to this issue, NSP Director Bill Kubecka of Palacios, Texas will testify on behalf of sorghum producers at a crop insurance hearing next week. Leadership and staff are also communicating the importance of direct payments to sorghum producers while also sharing information about sorghum's unique role in the ethanol industry.
Congrats to Ashley and Ruth!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Two of the outstanding students in the College of Agriculture at OSU have been applying some of their "book learning" to positions they have had as students on the staff of the Food and Ag Products Center on campus in Stillwater.
Ashley Marquart was selected as the outstanding senior in the department of animal science. A native of Bell, Mo., the food science major works in the FAPC food microbiology laboratory under the supervision of Stanley Gilliland, FAPC food microbiologist. "Ashley is truly an outstanding student," Gilliland said. As a two-time Lew Wentz Research Scholar, Marquart presented her research at the 2006 Association of Leadership Educators Conference. Marquart will begin her food science career with Pennsylvania-based Schreiber Foods Inc. upon her graduation in May.
Ruth Bobbitt won top honors in the department of agricultural education, communications and leadership, where she was named outstanding senior. Bobbitt works as a graduate assistant in the FAPC communications office under the director of FAPC Communications Specialist Mandy Gross. Bobbitt also was recognized as one of the top 10 outstanding seniors of OSU and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. After finishing graduate school, Bobbitt wishes to continue farming in Lamont, Okla., while utilizing her talents for writing and design to work freelance for agricultural publications.
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