~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday December 16, 2009A service of Johnston Enterprises, P & K Equipment/ P & K Wind Energy and American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company!
-- Bigger Budgets Cuts Now a Reality for Oklahoma Department of Ag and Other State Agencies
-- Manure to Dairy Deal for Dairies- Could This Work for Swine and Beef Lagoons as Well?
-- Speaking of Vilsack and Energy- He Tells Copenhagen Audience that Rural Economies Can Benefit From Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts
-- Judge Frizzell Hands Oklahoma AG Another Loss in Poultry Poop Case
-- Death Tax May Go Away for One Year in 2010 As A Result of Congressional Inaction
-- Jeff, Adam and Conrad- The Latest Updates
-- Cattle on Feed Coming Friday
-- 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 are pleased to have American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company as a regular sponsor of our daily update- click here to go to their AFR web site to learn more about their efforts to serve rural America!
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Bigger Budgets Cuts Now a Reality for Oklahoma Department of Ag and Other State Agencies
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Office of State Finance is ordering 10 percent budget cuts across state government after revenue collections in November fell short of projections for the eleventh consecutive month. Preliminary reports released Tuesday show collections to the revenue fund totaled $316.4 million last month -- more than 30 percent below the prior year and 25 percent below the estimate.
In the case of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, they have been able to absorb the cuts by starting to be cautious almost a year ago in hiring practices and in raises for Department employees according to State Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach. But more recent cuts that will be compounded with this latest announcement means tougher measures have been put in place and more are likely to be coming. The ODAFF has eliminated out of state travel and has a hard hiring freeze as employees leave the department. Peach says they do assess "critical need" positions and will fill those to help meet the regulatory obligations of the agency. Furloughs have not been used in ODAFF as of yet, but are likely early in 2010, according to Secretary Peach. And he acknowledges the new Fiscal Year is sure to be a challenge as well.
We have more with Secretary Peach on these cutbacks- he says some of the programs they are having to cut back on have federal matches tied to them so a dollar of state funding cut actually averages out to about a $1.51 being lost by the agency. Click on the link below for more on this budget story as you can hear the conversation we had with Terry Peach on that page.
By the way, we did talk about two success stories within the Department with Terry Peach- Agritourism and the ODAFF's efforts in Social Media. You can hear about the budget pain as well as these successful efforts by the agency when you go and listen to our conversation with Secretary Peach.
Manure to Dairy Deal for Dairies- Could This Work for Swine and Beef Lagoons as Well?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Speaking at a key note event at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced an agreement between USDA and U.S. dairy farmers. Vilsack said this historic agreement will - help accelerate the development of manure to energy systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Secretary, - the U.S. dairy industry has committed to a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas by the year 2020. USDA can support this goal through program modifications, added program enhancements, and better marketing of anaerobic digesters to dairymen. The Secretary added that this agreement will make many far reaching steps and common sense improvements to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with Dairies.
We have this story featured as our Beef Buzz this morning as we wonder if this work with Dairy operations could have an application with the Swine and Beef Cattle operations in the southern High Plains as well. My Daddy also spoke of the "smell of money" when I was growing up and we shoveling out by hand the concrete pens we had for our small hog operation in Kentucky. If we can get GHG credit and produce energy along the way- that will smell pretty sweet, as least to those producers benefiting.
Speaking of Vilsack and Energy- He Tells Copenhagen Audience that Rural Economies Can Benefit From Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today spoke at the key note event, Clean Energy Investments: Creating Opportunities for Rural Economies, at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. "Rural economies will benefit from incentives in comprehensive energy legislation that reward production of renewable energy and sequestration of greenhouse gases," said Vilsack.
Secretary Vilsack shared how the Administration is actively partnering with rural communities to create solutions for curbing greenhouse gases and preventing the worst impacts of climate change. At the event, farmers revealed how a viable carbon offsets market - one that rewards farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for stewardship activities - will play a very important role in helping America reduce its dependence on oil.
Our story linked below has the full text of the Secretary's comments- you can read them by clicking on that link.
Judge Frizzell Hands Oklahoma AG Another Loss in Poultry Poop Case
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Tulsa World has the best coverage on this story and they broke the story yesterday midday that "A federal judge ruled in favor of several poultry companies Tuesday by throwing out the state's claim that poultry litter is solid waste as defined by federal statute." Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson admitted that the State's case was dealt a heavy blow and was quoted as saying that "It's been two good days for the polluters and two bad days for the watershed."
The defense team for the 11 Poultry Companies that are the litigants argued that the state had not proven its case of phosphorus pollution nor its possible causes if such pollution existed. In response to a defense motion, Frizzell ruled against one of the state's claims, that poultry litter is solid waste as defined by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The law governs the handling of solid waste and hazardous waste.
Oklahoma is suing the poultry companies, claiming that they are legally responsible for the handling and disposal of poultry waste that the state says has damaged portions of the Illinois River watershed. The trial began in late September. Providing that Frizzell does not throw out the state's case, the poultry companies' defense team could begin presenting its case this week.
The really interesting part of the story are the more than 45 comments
that mostly Tulsa folks have chimed in with. In defense of Edmondson one
reader writes "Chicken poop is not solid waste according to Judge
Frizzell. When I was a kid I used to scoop chicken poop up with a shovel
and carry it over to our garden and spread it in a thin layer here and
there. Now I used a shovel, I didn't use a watering can. Now I ask you
Judge was I using the wrong implement? "
Death Tax May Go Away for One Year in 2010 As A Result of Congressional Inaction
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Congressional leaders do not have an agreement on preventing the estate tax from expiring as scheduled on January 1. With final legislative vehicles moving this week, Representative Earl Pomeroy admits, there is a - substantial prospect - the tax will lapse. Pomeroy is the sponsor of House legislation on the issue.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel supports an estate tax extension for a few months. He says - anything to make certain it doesn't expire. If Congress fails to act by year's end, the estate tax disappears next year but snaps back in 2011 at one-million dollars per person exemption and a 55 percent tax rate. At this point in the Senate- Democratic Leadership are at odds with the Republicans and 11 Democrats who support a higher exemption than the current 3.5 million dollars, and lower rates than 45 percent.
There's a chance the Defense Appropriations bill could include an extension of estate tax rates and exemptions - and Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley says he - along with a few other Senators are hoping to push for an exemption to rise to $5 million eventually and indexed for inflation. Grassley believes the fact that the estate tax will disappear next year if Congress fails to act will provide some leverage for the effort.
Jeff, Adam and Conrad- The Latest Updates
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Our friend Jeff Krehbiel can most certainly use your prayers this morning as he had to check into Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City because of a high fever and apparently a very low white blood cell count. As many of you know, Jeff has been battling cancer and is recently completed his first round of treatments- we saw him Saturday at the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Meeting in OKC and he continues to have confidence that God and he will beat this disease. Jeff is a past President of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers and currently serves as a member of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.
The Oklahoma Beef Council has officially said goodbye to Adam McClung as their Director of Industry Relations. Adam has returned to Arkansas, where he is accepted the position of Executive Director of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association. Adam stated that job this week.
And finally a note on Conrad- former Senator Conrad Burns. Senator Burns is not well- currently in Intensive Care at a hospital in Washington, DC where he has been working as a Lobbyist since his defeat for reelection to the Senate. Conrad was one of the real Characters in the US Senate during his tenure- and is a friend as he was a farm broadcaster in my early years in the industry up in Montana. He was a huge advocate of farmers and ranchers during his time at the US Capitol. If you know the Senator and want an address to send him a note- email me and I will get that to you.
Cattle on Feed Coming Friday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Joe Victor with Allendale gives his their guess regarding this Friday's Cattle on Feed numbers that will be coming from the US Department of Agriculture after the markets wrap up for the week at 2 PM Central time.
Allendale says November Placements are expected to be 3.6% smaller than last year. This breaks the four month run of higher Placements. Cattle feeders were discouraged by falling fat cattle prices and rising corn prices. Finished cattle prices fell from the end of October $87 level down to $83/$84 at the end of November. Corn prices averaged 21cents higher in November than October. Cattle placed in November will be marketed from April through August.
Allendale anticipates a Marketing total 2.9% larger than November of 2008. This ends four months in a row of below last year level Marketings. Due to the fall placement trend, Marketings will remain over last year through March. Total Cattle on Feed as of December 1 will be 0.4% higher than last year. Cattle on Feed will remain above last year level for two more months- if Allendale's expectations are correct.
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Let's Check the Markets!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We've had requests to include Canola prices for your convenience here- and we will be doing so on a regular basis. Current cash price for Canola is $8.10 per bushel, while the 2010 New Crop contracts for Canola are now available are $8.25 per bushel- delivered to local participating elevators that are working with PCOM.
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