~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Thursday September 25, 2008!A service of Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma and Midwest Farm Shows!
-- House Passes Ten Acre Base Rule Clarification by Voice Vote
-- Mark Keenum in Confirmation Hearing for FCA Job
-- OSU Distinguished Ag Alums Will Be Honored and Greeted October 17 at OSU
-- Smithfield Pledges to Go All USA Born and Raised Pork by Next Spring.
-- Next Wednesday- October First- is Deadline for Grant Applications
-- It's a Home Run for Coastal Cattle Producers!
-- More Calendar- Including the Rethinking the Cow Calf Business Seminars Planned for This Fall
-- Cash Cattle Trade at $99- Again (that plus all of our market links)
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House Passes Ten Acre Base Rule Clarification by Voice Vote
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to suspend for the 2008 and 2009 crop years a Farm Bill provision that required producers to have a minimum of 10-base acres to receive program benefits. The House today passed H.R. 6849 by voice vote in response to the US Department of Agriculture's plan to deny farm program benefits to hundreds of thousands of producers nationwide by refusing to allow for the aggregation of small base acreage.
"The USDA's decision to eliminate such a large number of base acres could affect hundreds of thousands of producers all across this country," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota. "Their selective interpretation of the Farm Bill is doing no favors for America's farmers and ranchers, who are rightly concerned that the Department is ignoring the Congress's clearly stated intent. With passage of this bill, we are making clear to farm country that the Farm Bill will be implemented as Congress intended."
On June 30, the US Department of Agriculture published a notice stating their intent to "not approve requests for farm combination reconstitutions of farms having base acres of 10 acres or less," despite Farm Bill report language stating that base acreages could be aggregated to allow for farm program eligibility if the sum of acres is over 10. The cost of H.R. 6849 is fully offset with spending reductions in order to meet Paygo requirements.
So what about the Senate? There has been talk about taking up this measure to save time- or to introduce a similar measure in the House- that talk coming from Senator Charles Grassley who was one of 24 Senators who asked USDA to change the policy interpretation themselves- and with USDA saying no to that- Grassley told reporters weeks ago(back in August) that a legislative fix is justified.. We have this story on our website, complete with some links to some of the background on this story, as well as audio comments from Charles Grassley- click below to get to that on our website, www.oklahomafarmreport.com.
Mark Keenum in Confirmation Hearing for FCA Job
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Senate Ag Committee held a hearing Wednesday - addressing the nomination of Dr. Mark Keenum to the board of directors of the Farm Credit Administration. Dr. Keenum, who currently serves as the USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services , has a long history of service to agriculture and government. Chairman of the Ag Committee, Tom Harkin, pointed out that - it wasn't too long ago he appeared before this panel for his nomination as Under Secretary. Harkin added, - the FCA must ensure that the Farm Credit System fulfills its mission to provide a dependable source of credit for agriculture in rural America. Senator Harkin added that in 2007, the Farm Credit system held 34% of the Farm Sector's total debt load.
Keenum, whose doctorate is in agricultural economics, testified, "with the turmoil our nation is currently facing in the financial markets coupled with the historic uncertainties of the agricultural economy, it is more imperative today than ever to ensure that the Farm Credit Administration continues its diligence of a strong surveillance system in its regulatory and examination activities to monitor and address these challenges."
On our website, we have this story, complete with audio of Mark Keenum's opening statement to the Committee. He talks about the state of farm finances here in the US in the context of the firestorm that continues to swirl around the general US Financial system.
OSU Distinguished Ag Alums Will Be Honored and Greeted October 17 at OSU
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There will be three receptions to honor the two living and one posthumous winners of the Oklahoma State University Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumni awards. All of these will be held on campus in Stillwater at OSU- and each are designed to be an informal, come and go time to congratulate all of the honorees.
These receptions will all be held on Friday, October 17, 2008.
The schedule planned by the University includes the following:
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM- Reception honoring Jo Neal Hampton- to be held in
410 Ag Hall This reception to be hosted by the Ag Economics Department and
the Plant and Soil Sciences Department.
Smithfield Pledges to Go All USA Born and Raised Pork by Next Spring.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~As a vertically integrated pork company, Smithfield Foods owns or controls by contract a large share of the animals it processes in the United States. Vertical integration provides an unparalleled level of traceability and food safety for Smithfield's customers and consumers. The company also has robust procurement programs based on independent swine producers that supply high quality, market ready pigs. This unique supply network enables Smithfield to offer its customers safe pork labeled as born, raised and processed in the USA in compliance with the soon to be effective Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL) program.
Given this system in place, effective April 2009 Smithfield currently intends to procure only hogs born and raised in the U.S. for processing at its U.S. fresh meat facilities and will label fresh pork for retail as born, raised and processed in the USA. Smithfield expects that any independent producer who wishes to be a valued supplier of live animals to Smithfield will work with the company between now and the end of March to create a fully documented and transparent supply of hogs born and raised in the USA.
This announcement means Canadian feeder pigs will not be an option if you intend selling hogs to Smithfield to be processed next spring and after that. It could prove to be most interesting if one of the beef processors wanted to follow suit and declare that they will accept only pens of cattle that can be certified USA only cattle. That might gain traction if the USA label actually translates into a premium in the meat case. Consumers will ultimately decide if that type of premium can be applied and stick- or not.
Next Wednesday- October First- is Deadline for Grant Applications
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The grant and loan application deadline for the next Oklahoma Agricultural Enhancement and Diversification program is October 1. State agriculture officials are urging all producers with innovative ideas to apply. Agricultural diversification grants of up to $5,000 are available as well as interest free loans in three categories: Cooperative Marketing Loans, Marketing and Utilization Loans, and Basic and Applied Research Loans.
"We're looking for producers are interested in either diversifying their current operations or entering some form of value-added or marketing venture," said Rick Maloney, Marketing Director for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. "Our hope is that we get some good applications from growers or producer groups interested in pursuing forms of value-added enterprises or marketing cooperatives." Among other things, OAED loans and grants have been used to create a variety of diversified enterprises such as agritourism venues, marketing cooperatives and food processing businesses. Maloney said board members who review and approve proposals for the funds hope to see some creative applications for the program.
Applications are available online from the ODAFF at the link provided below. When you get to the page we have linked- click on the "Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Evaluation Form" right in the middle of the page. For more information contact Jason Harvey at (405) 522-5563.
It's a Home Run for Coastal Cattle Producers!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The home run comes from Houston Astros slugger Carlos Lee, a native of Panama who owns a ranch in his native country- as well as a ranch south and west of Houston. Lee toured the coastline earlier this week in a helicopter with Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples- was struck by the hurt that is out there in ranch country- and donated $25,000 and 300 bales of hay to the ranch relief efforts.
"As a cattleman, this can happen to anybody," Lee said. "That's why I'm here today, to make a donation and to help. I'm going to donate $25,000 to this cause. That can help us get started. If everybody does a little bit at a time, I think we can help. If this happens to you, you want to feel like there's help out there."
Lee and Staples estimated they saw to 2,000 to 3,000 stray cattle from the air as they toured the hardest hit areas along the coast between Galveston and the Louisiana border.
More Calendar- Including the Rethinking the Cow Calf Business Seminars Planned for This Fall
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A whole series of meetings are planned in October and November in the northeastern quarter of the state that are being called "Rethinking the Cow Calf Business."
Until recently, the cow-calf industry in northeastern Oklahoma has been largely based on the availability of cheap fertilizer. The OSU Cooperative Extension meetings will focus on current budget realities, the true effect of high fertilizer prices and strategies for managing pastures and cattle more efficiently under current and likely future conditions.
We have details of these meetings on our Calendar at WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com. The first of the meetings is planned in Chandler on October 20.
There's a lot of other stuff on our calendar- the best calendar of agricultural happenings to be found for Oklahoma rural and agricultural interests. On the immediate horizon- we have the Tulsa State Fair livestock schedule on the listings- with the "open" shows planned for this first weekend of the Tulsa State Fair- with the junior shows to follow the middle of this coming week. Next Friday- October 3- will be the Premium Sale of the top market animals in the youth shows in Tulsa- we hope to see you there.
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Cash Cattle Trade at $99- Again (that plus all of our market links)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~For what I think is the fifth week in a row- we saw cash cattle trade develop at $99 midday yesterday in the southern plains. Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma feedlots all were a part of these moderate sales. The $99 price is a bit of a disappointment to feedlot operators- who have hoped for $100 or better for at least the last three weeks.
Meanwhile, OKC West in El Reno sold 4,177 on Wednesday- with yearling steers steady to a dollar higher. Eight weight steers brought from $101.50 to $108.50. Click here for the full OKC West report.
Here are some links we will leave in place on an ongoing basis- Click
on the name of the report to go to that link:
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