~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday November 12, 2008!A service of Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma and Midwest Farm Shows!
-- Money Woes Could Make Republicans First Effort as Majority in Oklahoma Senate Tough
-- Tired of Being the "Bad Guys," Ethanol Makers Organize to Respond
-- Speaking of High Food Prices- National Farmers Union Asks "What's the deal?"
-- Beef Hormones Discussed by USTR and the EU
-- GROW, NAFB and OFB All on our mind
-- Agritourism Workshop Planned for Alva Next Week
-- Farm Bureau Wants Governor Brad Henry to Endorse 25 by 25
-- Let's Check the Markets!
Here's your morning farm news headlines from the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network, Ron Hays. We salute our longest running email sponsor- Midwest Farm Shows, producer of the annual Tulsa Farm Show scheduled for December 11-13 here in 2008, as well as the springtime Southern Plains Farm Show in Oklahoma City. Check out details of both of these exciting shows at the official website of Midwest Farm Shows by clicking here.
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Money Woes Could Make Republicans First Effort as Majority in Oklahoma Senate Tough
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The 2009 State Legislative session is only a matter of weeks away- and we talked with Paul Jackson of the American Farmers & Ranchers about how they see the upcoming session impacting agricultural and rural interests in Oklahoma. Paul is going to be assuming a lot of the agricultural lobbying duties for AFR in the new legislative year- as Bob Wright will be concentrating on insurance related issues for their insurance business. Jackson says that he is confident that AFR and the other agricultural groups will be able to work well with the Republican majorities on both sides of the capitol in 2009, saying they always had an excellent relationship with both Representative Chris Benge as House Leader as well as Senator Glenn Coffee, who the Republicans have tapped to lead the Senate in the coming year.
Money will be the trump card on almost all pieces of legislation this upcoming session- as the current economic meltdown at the national and international level could hit Oklahoma's revenues hard and it will mean that the state's rainy day fund- now pretty well full, could be tapped for certain obligations during the course of this session. Paul also believes this will mean limited opportunities to see any new projects receive funding in 2009. We will know a lot more once the state equalization board starts telling us how many dollars they predict will be available for lawmakers to spend.
Organization efforts for the new legislative year are now underway-
with the regular session to begin on February 2.
Tired of Being the "Bad Guys," Ethanol Makers Organize to Respond
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~An aggressive voice for renewable fuels. That's what the new organization Growth Energy intends to provide. The creation of the group was announced Tuesday by the CEOs of a few leading ethanol producers - including POET and Green Plains Renewable Energy.
During the announcement - POET CEO Jeff Broin- said big food and their Washington lobbyists have been trying to blame the rising cost of food on American ethanol producers and the cost of corn. But now that the price of corn has dropped more than 50- percent since summer - he says ethanol producers want the industry to explain to the American people why food prices remain high.
They have a website up and operational and on the front page of this site- they say of their new group "Growth Energy is a new, proactive group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America's economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Through smart policy reform and a proactive grassroots campaign, Growth Energy promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating American jobs at home."
Speaking of High Food Prices- National Farmers Union Asks "What's the deal?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Just as the new renewable fuels group Growth Energy was calling on the food industry to explain continued high food prices despite the falling price of corn - National Farmers Union President Tom Buis was asking Congress to hold hearings to re-examine the case for those high food prices. Hearings held earlier this year led many to conclude the high prices were a result of high commodity prices. But Buis says it's becoming quite clear that contrary to claims of food processors, retailers and others - commodity prices have very little impact on the cost of food.
According to Buis - it's equally clear processors and retailers are pocketing the economic benefit of declining farm commodity prices and reduced energy costs without passing the savings on to the consumer. National Farmers Union uses the example of 19-dollar a bushel wheat in February - with bread selling for $2.79. Wheat has since dropped to $7.63 a bushel - while a loaf of bread has increased to $2.99.
In a letter to leaders of the Joint Economic Committee and House Small Business Committee - Buis says previous testimony blaming the rising cost of ag commodities and renewable fuels for increased retail food prices is finally being proven inaccurate. He urged the committees to hold new hearings with the same witnesses - including representatives from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Bankers Association and National Restaurant Association.
Beef Hormones Discussed by USTR and the EU
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~US Trade Representative Susan Schwab met in Brussels on Tuesday with EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton to discuss a number of bilateral trade issues, including EU import restrictions relative to beef hormones and poultry treatments in the context of their role in successfully concluding world trade talks.
"With leadership and determination, a Doha deal is within our grasp as the details of a final agreement could be agreed within weeks," Ashton said in a statement issued by USTR. Ambassador Schwab said, "At this critical time it is all the more important that we not only avoid retrenchment in market opening, but move ahead with an ambitious and balanced Doha Round that creates new trade flows and generates economic opportunities worldwide."
Turning up the heat on the long-standing EU ban on beef from animals administered certain growth- promoting hormones, Schwab announced last week that USTR is considering modifying the list of European products subject to increased tariffs, as allowed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) settlement rulings in the EU beef hormones dispute. "We have been trying to resolve this dispute with the EU without changing the composition of tariffs," Schwab said at the time. "It is now time to revisit those tariffs to see if modifications would be appropriate."
GROW, NAFB and OFB All on our mind
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Biofuels Conference, GROW, gets underway today in Oklahoma City- this will be the first of these that we have missed as we are in Kansas City for the second of those sets of letters you see in the headline above- NAFB. On the GROW conference, there will be updates on where we stand in the quest to find a way to bring cellulosic ethanol to a place where it can be a practical and useful reality. The experts generally agree that we have the technology to do cellulosic ethanol- the question is how do we position plants that are close enough to adequate feedstocks that will allow them to run efficiently on a year round basis? I doubt that question will be answered this week at the GROW conference in downtown Oklahoma City- but there will still be a lot of very good information at this annual event.
The second of those letters, NAFB, stands now for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting- and the annual conference of this professional group that I have been a part of for 34 years gets underway at the same venue that has been held at for all of those years- the Crown Center Westin in Kansas City. We will hear from Ag Secretary Ed Schafer later this morning- and will be talking to dozens of ag leaders and agribusiness experts over the next couple of days. Our Thursday "Trade Talk" is a huge interview fair where we can move from booth to booth and interview everybody from Tom Buis of National Farmers Union to the CEOs of Agribusiness firms to Chicago Board of Trade floor traders to government officials- it is a crazy day and one we always have a lof of fun being involved in.
Finally we listed OFB as the third set of letters above- and we wll be flying back to OKC Friday to cover the 67th annual meeting of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau on Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning. We will get to hear from Ag Secretary Ed Schafer for the second time in three days on Friday when he arrives in OKC for the Farm Bureau meeting- plus others on their program. We look forward to seeing many of those of you who read this email and hear us on the radio at this annual gathering this coming weekend.
Agritourism Workshop Planned for Alva Next Week
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A workshop on how to get involved in Agritourism will be happening November 19 in Alva at the Northwest Technology Center- we have details in our Calendar listings which we have linked below- and you can also contact Barclay Holt at 580-327-0344 for more information.
We appreciate Barclay and his folks for letting us know about their workshop- and would invite you to let us know when you have an event going on in your organization that should be on our Calendar page. A listing on our calendar is free- we would appreciate getting all of the particulars in an email- what it is, when it is being held and where and a contact number for more information. If you have a flyer or brochure in the PDF format- attach that and send it to us as well. And, if you have more information on a website, send us the link. I would suggest you get this info to us four weeks in advance of the date at least- so that gives us the chance to have it on the calendar listing longer which means more people are likely to see it- good for you. Email me at the address listed below- phone calls are nice and I love talking to one and all- but the actual information in an email gets it up on the website a lot easier for me- and helps me make sure I won't let something important to you slip through the cracks.
Click below and check out the current calendar listings- still lots of stuff going on in November and the early part of December- and we will start really inputting all of the January and early 2009 events in the very near future.
Farm Bureau Wants Governor Brad Henry to Endorse 25 by 25
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma Farm Bureau wants Governor Brad Henry to turn green and endorse the "25 by '25" renewable energy initiative supported by the group. In a letter to the governor, Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling encouraged the state leader to promote renewable energy in the state. "Our policy specifies the state set a goal that 25 percent of energy sold in Oklahoma be renewable energy by the year 2025," Spradling said.
"Oklahoma is rich in energy resources," Spradling said, "not only with our large oil and gas fields, but also with the opportunities that lie ahead with wind and solar power, biomass and hydroelectricity. Oklahoma truly is a leader in energy development. These advances provide many opportunities to all Oklahomans, especially those in the agricultural sector."
The farm leader adds that every land owner in this country can contribute to the initiative. "I believe our farms, forests, ranches and other working lands can provide 25 percent of the nation's total energy consumed in this country while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber."
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Let's Check the Markets!
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