~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday February 6, 2008!A service of Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, American Farmers and Ranchers & Midwest Farm Shows
-- President Bush to drop by the USDA this morning to "swear in" Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer...
-- National Conservation Districts Take Swipe at Bush over Conservation Spending in his Budget for FY2009.
-- But in Oklahoma- Conservation Leaders Sing the Praises of Governor Henry for including "emergency" spending to repair conservation infrastructure...
-- Live and Direct from Reno- Our coverage begins with a call for an increase in the Beef Checkoff.
-- Senate Names Conferees- What Deals Were Cut to Make the Team?
-- Oklahoma Set to Host the 2008 Beef Ambassador Competition in October.
-- OSU & Langston Students Invited to USDA Ag Outlook Conference by Secretary Schafer.
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President Bush to drop by the USDA this morning to "swear in" Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~While Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer was sworn in last week before the State of the Union address by Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House has decided to do a public version of that ceremony with President George W. Bush dropping by the USDA to do the honors.
This event will be happening in just a few hours, shortly after 10 am Central time. We do not anticipate that Bush will offer any real comments of substance relating to farm policy issues- like the farm bill negotiations- but rather this is expected to be the swearing in and some very brief remarks by the President.
There will be a webcast of the event for all to see. We have the link to the USDA home page and from there, you will need to click on the link that will be available shortly before the event.
National Conservation Districts Take Swipe at Bush over Conservation Spending in his Budget for FY2009.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NACD Acting President Steve Robinson, a corn, soybean and wheat producer from Marysville, Ohio, called the Bush Administration Budget Proposal for FY2009 a disappointment. "The fiscal year 2009 budget proposal released yesterday by the Bush Administration falls short of our goals for conservation on America's working lands. On behalf of the National Association of Conservation Districts, I want to express our concern that the proposal does not meet the continued demand we face to help landowners meet regulatory requirements and place conservation practices on their land."
Robinson adds ""America's landowners and managers have shown a growing interest in participating in conservation efforts. However, the proposed budget cuts access to conservation planning and technical assistance and reduces funding for programs. These cuts, coupled with the fact that Congress has not reauthorized the Farm Bill, put conservation districts and their landowner customers in a difficult spot, limiting their ability to implement needed conservation practices and programs."
Another group unhappy with the level of conservation spending in the Bush Budget is the American Farmland Trust, whose President is Ralph Grossi. "Their proposed FY 2009 Budget provides inadequate funding for key conservation programs and contains cuts to environmental, bioenergy and nutrition programs-programs U.S. agriculture needs to be competitive in the future and to protect the country's natural resources that our sector is so dependent on."
Both groups acknowledged that this is just the start of the process and that they plan on working with Congress to get a better deal for conservation programs they believe are important to America's natural resources. We also talked with Jay Truitt here at the NCBA Convention about these funding levels in the Administration budget and he dismissed them, saying that the House Budget Committee will take these and rework it from the inside out and he expects more money- not less for several key conservation programs in the days ahead- assuming Congress can get their budget work done this election year.
But in Oklahoma- Conservation Leaders Sing the Praises of Governor Henry for including "emergency" spending to repair conservation infrastructure...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Scotty Herriman, President of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, is singing the praises of Governor Brad Henry who he says has exhibited true leadership in calling for emergency funds to repair conservation infrastructure after the floods of 2007 in many locations around the state.
"The announcement Monday of the Governors support for emergency funding for conservation to deal with the damages of the catastrophic floods of 2007 is really exciting," Herriman said. "This show of leadership and support by the Governor is greatly appreciated."
Earlier this week, Governor Brad Henry unveiled his Executive Budget for the fiscal year that begins July first.. Part of this budget included support for supplemental funding for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to repair damage to flood control dams, terraces, waterways, riparian areas and other parts of the conservation infrastructure resulting from the devastating rains of 2007. This endorsement of emergency funds mirrors legislation filed by Senator Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) and Senator Randy Bass (D-Lawton) that would appropriate up to $30 million for conservation projects statewide.
The fact that you have support from Both Republicans and Democrats speaks volumes about the importance of this issue," Herriman said. "This is an issue that must be addressed for the health, safety and economic well being of all Oklahomans; rural and urban; Republican and Democrat."
Live and Direct from Reno- Our coverage begins with a call for an increase in the Beef Checkoff.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We have begun to post on our dedicated page at our website items of interest from the 2008 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. One of the Oklahomans that we saw quickly after we got on the scene here in Reno was Bob Drake, a current board member of the Cattlemen's Beef Board, the group that oversees the beef checkoff at the national level.
We talked with Drake about what we sees as some of the most important issues that may surface this week in Reno- including a couple of issues that have a great deal of relevance to the checkoff. Drake is hopeful that the policy side of this cattle gathering- the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, will officially go on record at this meeting regarding an increase in the amount collected for each head of cattle that is sold in the United States. He says the value of the beef checkoff dollar has eroded badly over the last couple of decades, and he knows, "I know we need another dollar."
Drake says one of the issues that has just surfaced proves his point that we need more resources for the checkoff and that is the "hidden" camera in the processing plant in California that apparently shows abuse by the workers of downer cows. He calls the video a "set up" and says the checkoff is able to offer a differing view of how the industry as a whole properly treats animals during harvest.
We have a hunk of audio that you can click on and listen to linked below with Drake on the checkoff increase and the camera incident with the HSUS on our Convention page, Bovine Blog at WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com. And, we have the audio linked directly below for you to listen to as well.
Senate Names Conferees- What Deals Were Cut to Make the Team?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It was an interesting team that was assembled by Senators Tom Harkin and Saxby Chambliss to represent the Senate in the farm bill negotiations on the Conference Committee earlier this week. And it's most interesting that Harkin in his comments on the Conferees acknowleged that it is not a two way negotiation- but that the Administration has succeeded in their demands for a seat at the table in crafting a bill that the President will accept.
"This group of Senators represents diversity in terms of geography, leadership posts and expertise. I know that we will work well together and meld together a farm bill that fits our country's needs," said Chairman Harkin. "I look forward to working with Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Colin Peterson as well as the new Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer in reaching our goals of a farm bill that makes important investments in conservation, renewable energy, nutrition and rural development."
The Conferees include Democrats Harkin, Max Baccus of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Republicans will include Chambliss of Georgia, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
Oklahoma Set to Host the 2008 Beef Ambassador Competition in October.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Several ladies from the Oklahoma Cattlewomen were participating in the American National Cattlewomen meetings here in Reno yesterday- and we talked with several of them, including Tammi Didlot, who is really excited about the upcoming National Beef Ambassador Contest that will have its finals this fall in Oklahoma City.
Didlot tells us that the contest is evolving and that it will feature multiple elements of skill this year- versus being simply a speech contest in the past. She adds that it is an opportunity to showcase Oklahoma to the participants of this national event- and that the Oklahoma Cattlewomen have received tremendous support from the agricultural community in helping put together a memorable experience for these young contestants.
We have our conversation with Tammi linked on our Bovine Blog page on our web site- and we will be adding a lot more there as the day wears on. Click on on the link below to jump to that page and click on the audio link we have with Tammi- and be watching later on Wednesday morning for comments with Jay Truitt, who we interviewed late Tuesday evening as he arrived here in Reno for the event- Jay, of course, is the head of the Washington office of the NCBA.
OSU & Langston Students Invited to USDA Ag Outlook Conference by Secretary Schafer.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced the selection of 17 university students invited for discussions of agriculture's future at USDA's 2008 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The conference, "Energizing Rural America in the Marketplace," will be held Feb. 21 and 22 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
The university juniors and seniors majoring in agricultural-related studies at Land Grant universities were selected based on their essays, "Agriculture as a Career" and recommendations from their deans.
Three of the seventeen are from Oklahoma institutions- Travis Jett and
Lindsey Price from Oklahoma State University were selected as was Eric
Lang of Langston.
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