~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Monday April 28, 2008!A service of National Livestock Credit, KIS Futures and American Farmers & Ranchers.
-- Farm Bill Framework Announced on Friday- Are We Closer to a Deal?
-- Commodity Title Details are Elusive- But Appear to Show Decreased Spending for Title One.
-- The Winners- Cellulosic Ethanol and Conservation- The Loser- Grain Based Ethanol.
-- Conservation Interests Continue to Push for $30 Million for Infrastructure Repairs in Oklahoma.
-- Seaboard Cuts the Ribbon on new Biodiesel Plant and Issues Sustainability Report This Last Week in Guymon.
-- This Week- FFA and the Eastern Oklahoma Ag Trade Show!
-- Temps Held Above Freezing this Morning
-- Checking the Markets...
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Farm Bill Framework Announced on Friday- Are We Closer to a Deal?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Answer to the question above is probably "yes" although it's still not clear where the White House is on what has been tentatively agreed to up to this point. By Friday afternoon, word was out that negotiators had an agreement on Ag taxes and farm spending. Senate Ag Chair Tom Harkin says the principal negotiators have come together on a bipartisan level to reach a tentative agreement on ag policy that utilizes 10-billion dollars above baseline. According to Harkin - the tentative agreement maintains strong farm income security - permanent disaster - will solidify the future of the Conservation Security Program - now the Conservation Stewardship Program - invests heavily in renewable energy - and will lead to more fresh fruits and vegetables in the nation's elementary schools.
The pricetag of the farm bill will apparently come in around $10 billion above the budget baseline over a ten year period- with the bill itself only authorizing the policy itself for five years. In a tax trade-off with the House - nutrition funding is increased by $10.3 billion dollars - and - commodities and the permanent disaster program are pared. All in all - Senator Harkin calls it a balanced agreement - but he notes specific details and funding still must be worked out - and are subject to ratification by the full conference committee.
It was expected that the Conference Committee would meet late today- but that has been changed to Tuesday morning- with the actual time and location to announced sometime this morning. The principals that have stayed behind closed doors for almost this entire process are hoping for a rubber stamp from the Conferees and grudging approval by the White House to bring this farm bill saga to a close by sometime in the first half of May.
Commodity Title Details are Elusive- But Appear to Show Decreased Spending for Title One.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Exactly what the cuts will be on the Commodity Title remain to be seen- it appears that Direct Payments will take a cut- a cut that will happen the first four years- with the current Direct Payments as seen in the 2002 Farm Law restored in the fifth year of the measure- that the word from House Ag Committee Chairman Colin Peterson. It is still not known exactly how payment limits will be structured- and what the final cut may be to crop insurance. We know that there is a permanent disaster payment program in the measure- but it will be at a reduced level from the original talk of a pricetag of $5.0 billion annually.
There are concerns as we wait and see on exact details in these areas. In a statement on Friday- the American Farmers & Ranchers voiced worry about the direct payment for wheat farmers as well as cuts to crop insurance hitting farmers here in the southern great plains especially hard. President of the AFR- Ray Wulf- says current higher commodity prices are all relative- ""The White House and those in Congress that continue to talk about high commodity prices are not considering exorbitant input costs and are showing how out of touch they really are. Farmers need a safety net and they need one now."
One lawmaker who is offering some early concern from what the principals have developed is Jerry Moran- First District Congressman from Western Kansas. Moran says he's pleased to see progress - but notes serious concerns. He notes he'll know more soon - but says it doesn't appear the priorities in the farm bill reflect those of farmers and ranchers - with funding redirected out of programs that support producers and into non-ag programs. Moran says he supports nutrition programs. He just doesn't believe the funding should come at such a tremendous cost to the programs that help the nation's farmers and ranchers produce the food and fiber that feeds and clothes Americans.
The Winners- Cellulosic Ethanol and Conservation- The Loser- Grain Based Ethanol.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Beyond a lot more money for nutrition and substantial cuts in the Commodity title- it looks like Conservation programs will see an increase- up to four billion dollars more over the life of the bill. As we mentioned earlier- the program that Senator Tom Harkin considers his baby- the Conservation Security Program- being renamed the Conservation Stewardship Program- will likely see increases. There seems to be a little more money for EQIP- but demand in that program continues to outstrip demand.
The tax package - down to $1.4-billion - is fully paid for by paring the ethanol tax credit six-cents - boosting the cellulosic credit to a dollar - jettisoning a biodiesel extension in this bill - which may come back in another bill - and other tax savings to help offset race horse, timber and more tax breaks. The ethanol import tariff will apparently remain unchanged.
The ethanol blenders tax credit reduction will save a billion dollars- while $400 million of that is moved over to support cellulosic ethanol with a tax credit of $1.01 per gallon for the fuel that is produced from switchgrass and other cellulosic materials. Chairman Peterson says that this shows the world that we are serious about moving from grain based ethanol to cellulosic ethanol.
Conservation Interests Continue to Push for $30 Million for Infrastructure Repairs in Oklahoma.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Mike Thralls, was out guest on Saturday on our In the Field with Ron Hays segment seen on KWTV News9. We talked with Mike about the need for some thirty million dollars to help repair and improve flood control dams and other conservation improvements that were damaged and/or destroyed during the heavy rainstorms experienced in 2007.
No money will be available through the General Appropriations process from the state of Oklahoma this year- that is for certain- but now the focus is turning in the final weeks of the 2008 legislative session to a bond issue that could result in some or all of this request being fulfilled for Conservation work that badly needs to be done.
After we recorded our TV segment, we sat down and did a little more indepth audio conversation about what is needed- and the hopes for getting it this year- and we have that conversation linked below. Click on the link and check it out.
Seaboard Cuts the Ribbon on new Biodiesel Plant and Issues Sustainability Report This Last Week in Guymon.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based pork processor Seaboard Foods has released its first sustainability and stewardship report. The 28-page report provides information about the company's six key core commitments to quality, customers, employees, community, animal care and environmental stewardship.
Rod Brenneman, president of Seaboard Foods and High Plains Bioenergy, unveiled the report to those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony this past Thursday for the High Plains Bioenergy biodiesel plant in Guymon. The 30 million-gallon-per-year biodiesel plant sits next to Seaboard Foods' pork processing plant in Guymon, and uses the processing plant's pork fat to make biodiesel.
Corporate citizenship and sustainable business practices highlighted in
the report include:
This Week- FFA and the Eastern Oklahoma Ag Trade Show!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We have a couple of public appearances planned for this week. We will be in and around the 82nd annual convention of the Oklahoma FFA- primarily on Tuesday as we cover this annual gathering of the Blue and Gold with some 10,000 expected to be in attendance.
In addition to covering this news making event- we will also be participating in a couple of venues- including the State Speech Finals as a judge as well as serving in our traditional role as the producer and voice of the Stars Over Oklahoma pageant that takes place on Tuesday evening. In this session, the Oklahoma FFA will announce their Star Farmer, Star Agribusinessman and Star in Ag Placement for 2008- three of the highest awards given to a FFA member. I can't tell you who won- not yet anyway, but I am always so impressed with the young men and women who make it as District Stars- and this year is no exception- the three state winners are truly deserving of being recognized for their achievements.
On Wednesday April 30- we will be driving over to Poteau to be a part of the Eastern Oklahoma Ag Trade Show. We have been asked to be their luncheon speaker and will be updating those in attendance about the latest on the farm bill and more. It looks like a great program and we look forward to seeing lots of our Eastern Oklahoma friends at this event on Wednesday.
Temps Held Above Freezing this Morning
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We got a little colder than what we had expected based on our conversation with Gary England last week- but we did NOT get to the freezing mark based on the Mesonet stations around the northwestern quarter of the body of the state early this morning. That was the key thing that we asked Gary about last week- and he predicted correctly- that we would not see temperatures this morning with a "2" in front of them.
It appears that Oklahoma City set a record low for this date at 35 degrees- but in checking our major wheat producing counties- nobody got cold enough for damage to the 2008 wheat crop overnight. That's good news for this Monday morning!
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Checking the Markets...
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