~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Tuesday February 19, 2008!A service of National Livestock Credit, American Farmers and Ranchers & Midwest Farm Shows
-- Greetings from China!
-- Truck Weight Measure Promoted by State Ag Secretary Terry Peach
-- When it comes to a Farm Bill Deal- It's all about the money, honey!
-- Texas Cattle Feeders & Other Lone Star State Groups File "Friend of the Court" Brief Challenging Drew Edmondson
-- Growers Get Status Update of Biotechnology in Wheat
-- The Fallout Over the Downer Cow Video Continues with Huge Ground Beef Recall This Past Weekend...
-- Random China Thoughts- all in English!
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Greetings from China!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It's just after 6:00 AM in Oklahoma on Tuesday- but the 19th is about over here in Beijing- and it's been a good full day for Class 13 of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program. One of the highlights of a trip to China is walking on the Great Wall of China- and the class got up early to roll out into the countryside to do just that- on a relatively mild morning.
The afternoon provided the first real glimpse into agriculture here in the most populated country in the world- as we heard from the top USDA official in China, William Westman , the Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs of USDA's Foreign Ag Service. We talked about both China's farm production, with Westman telling the OALP group that the Communist leaders in this country "are concerned about losing control of the ongoing battle to feed their people every day." He adds that it is not just having 1.3 billion mouths to feed everyday- but that it all relates back to keeping their society stable. Jorge Sanchez, one of the ag attaches under Westman in the country summed it up this way- "the Government knows that the key to stability is to "maintain peace in China- by keeping food in people's stomach's and keep them quiet."
After our embassy trip was over, I sat down with Tim Bartram- a class 13 member and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association to talk about what he has seen and heard thus far- and what he feels he has gotten out of the class as he and his classmates near the end of their two year program.
Truck Weight Measure Promoted by State Ag Secretary Terry Peach
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We caught up with State Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach at this past weekend's American Farmers and Ranchers Convention in Oklahoma City- and he told us that at the NASDA meeting in Washington earlier this month- he was able to champion the increase in truck weights that farmers can drive without the need for a commercial license and other regulations. The NASDA is the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and Peach brought up the legislation in a committee that he chairs, the Rural Development Committee- it passed unanimously out of that committee and then passed without dissent by the full group.
We also talked state legislative issues with Secretary Peach- and he updated us on the progress of the construction of a new state of the art testing lab for the ODA- he also indicated that he has had some very constructive meetings for Legislative leadership about the lawmakers providing the funding needed- about $2.5 million, for new equipment for when the lab is ready and open. Peach expects the lab will be up and ready to go around the end of this year- late November or early December.
We also talked with Terry about what I like to call the "mood of the ship" which is what he perceives as the attitude he sees right now in Oklahoma farm and ranch country. You can listen to his answer and our entire conversation with Secretary Peach by following the link provided below.
When it comes to a Farm Bill Deal- It's all about the money, honey!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~With Monday being President's Day- it remained on the quiet side of things in the negotiations between the House, the Senate and the Administration. You may recall that this past week, we saw the House Ag Committee Leadership get a blessing from the White House on a framework with spending of six billion dollars over the budget baseline for a ten year bill. Farm Groups and the Senate were horrified with that number- and called for $12.3 to $12.5 billion worth of spending over the budget baseline over that same ten year period- saying the lower level was too tough on the Commodity Title of the bill.
Negotiations are ongoing and there is no final agreement. However, three separate sources have confirmed that the House made a counter-offer to the Senate during the last 12-24 hours that would allow for between $9-10 billion in farm bill funding above the baseline. About $6 billion of that is being described as "new" funds and $3.5 billion of that amount would be directly related to timing shifts.
There are some indications that House and Senate Ag Committee leaders may hold a closed door briefing with the farm groups as early as today- Tuesday- even with Congress officially out of town for the President's Day recess.
Texas Cattle Feeders & Other Lone Star State Groups File "Friend of the Court" Brief Challenging Drew Edmondson
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A Friend Of The Court Brief Filed By TCFA and other agriculture organizations asks a federal court to deny the Oklahoma attorney general's request for a preliminary injunction to stop poultry producers from spreading chicken litter on land in the Illinois River watershed. The brief argues that the attorney general's effort amounts to attempting "regulation through litigation" and represents "a perilous departure from established principles of agricultural regulation historically undertaken by legislatures and regulatory authorities."
A hearing is scheduled this week. Joining TCFA in filing the brief: Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Pork Producers Association and Texas Association of Dairymen.
Growers Get Status Update of Biotechnology in Wheat
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~One highlight of last week's wheat meetings in Washington, D.C., was a very thorough and thought- provoking presentation from Dr. William Wilson of North Dakota State University on the status of biotechnology, or genetic modification (GM), as it relates to wheat.
The presentation, given at a joint meeting of the NAWG and U.S. Wheat Boards of Directors and available on NAWG's Web site, provided a number of key take-aways of crucial importance to the wheat industry, including:
There have been substantial negative shifts in the wheat supply curve
in both the United States and Canada meaning that at a given price
producers will supply less wheat, and prices will have to be higher to get
the same planted acreage.
The Fallout Over the Downer Cow Video Continues with Huge Ground Beef Recall This Past Weekend...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered a class II recall of 143-million pounds of beef products produced since February 1, 2006, by Hallmark/Westland Meat Company. The Department has been investigating the company since an animal rights group released video depicting inhumane treatment of livestock at the establishment. In a statement, USDA said all cattle processed by the plant passed antemortem inspection. However, when some cattle later became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, the plant should have summoned the inspector again, and it did not do so. USDA officials stressed the plant did not comply with inspection procedures, but food safety was not at issue.
Bo Reagan with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association adds "We support USDA's recall as a precautionary measure. At the same time, we can say with confidence that the beef supply is safe. We have multiple interlocking safeguards in place in every beef processing plant in America so that if one is bypassed, the other systems continue to ensure the product we serve our families remains safe. The ban on non-ambulatory or 'downer' cattle is one of many steps in a robust system to produce safe beef, but it is not the only step taken to ensure the safety of the beef supply. The beef we eat is safe because there are multiple safety hurdles before it arrives at our grocery stores or restaurants."
Meanwhile, the US Meat Export Federation says they are monitoriing the reaction internationally to what they call a proactive enforcement of a cattle handling issue. USMEF spokesman Jim Herlihy told Meatingplace.Com that "we understand that situations like this can trigger emotional responses in markets that are not fully aware of the overlapping safeguards that are in place in the United States, so USMEF will continue to closely monitor reactions among our trading partners."
Random China Thoughts- all in English!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Just a few brief thoughts this evening Chinese time and early Tuesday morning Oklahoma time- as some of you know, this is my second time to China- the first being with Class One of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program back in 1984. It's truly amazing how different Beijing looks today versus 24 years ago.
It's true what you have read about smog in this city- it's pervasive. There are also lots of people, a lot more personal cars than when I was last here- still a lot of bicycles and an amazing number of cranes dotting the landscape. Beijing has transformed from a drab dull capital of the most populated nation on earth to a dynamic brightly lit megacity- it doesn't hurt that everywhere we look- we see decorations from the just concluded Chinese New Year celebration.
The American influences are here- they were not in 1984- examples include KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks and Coca Cola. I thought it was interesting that there are a lot of billboards around- and I have yet to see any of them touting the virtues of this government as we saw back in the 1980s- one that I remember called on families to honor the "One child per family" policy that began in 1978- no billboards for that and other government policy- just billboards selling stuff.
We will have more random thoughts and other reports from our China experience over the next few days- and I have linked out website page spotlighting China coverage at www.OklahomaFarmReport.Com
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