~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday February 11, 2009A service of Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, KIS Futures and American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company!
-- Deadly Weather Brings Rain Across the Center Strip of Oklahoma
-- Senators Write to Vilsack- Loosen Up on Actively Engaged Farming Rules for 2009.
-- 2009 Farm Program Signup- It Won't Be Easy
-- 2009 AFR Convention Coming Up Friday and Saturday
-- US Grains Meeting Hears Positive Perspective on CAFTA-DR
-- Lots Happening on Friday the 13th
-- HB2151 To Be Considered This Afternoon in Oklahoma House Ag Committee
-- 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 proud 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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Deadly Weather Brings Rain Across the Center Strip of Oklahoma
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Reports from southern Oklahoma have 15 dead in Lone Grove in Carter County as a massive twister roared through the town of 5,000 around 7:30 last night. Emergency personnel are taking up the task of searching for survivors or for additional bodies this morning as the sun comes up.
There was also damage in central Oklahoma in the Oklahoma City area as well as in Edmond- although no loss of life has been reported. The spring like storms did bring much needed rain to many locations, as the eastern two thirds of the state received from a half inch to well over two inches at the extreme. The wettest spot in our state this morning, based on Mesonet data, is Mayes County, where they topped three inches of precipitation in the last 24 hours.
We are seeing some rain rotate counter clockwise into the northwestern
parts of the state this morning- and we have rain in the forecast off and
on for next few days. It's a major help for our pastures and for the
winter wheat crop in those locations that receive rain. At this point,
some of the driest wheat has gotten little help from this system.
Senators Write to Vilsack- Loosen Up on Actively Engaged Farming Rules for 2009.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has broken ranks with other northern Democrats to join a bipartisan group of 22 other senators in asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to loosen the farm subsidy payment limitations interim rule that the Bush administration issued Dec. 29. Baucus was the only northern Democrat to sign the letter, which was organized by Senate Agriculture ranking member Saxby Chambliss. The letter was signed by 19 Southern, Midwestern and mountain state Republicans, three Southern Democrats and Baucus. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe was one of the almost two dozen Senators that signed the letter.
In the letter, the senators contended that the Bush administration went beyond congressional intent when it decided on the criteria for a farmer or landowner to be considered actively engaged in farming and therefore eligible for subsidies. "These unnecessary changes generate more legal questions and confusion regarding 'actively engaged' and we ask that those changes be withdrawn or clarified in a timely manner," the senators wrote.
Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have led
the campaign for strict rules on the amount of subsidies farmers can get
and on the criteria for actively-engaged farmers and landowners.
2009 Farm Program Signup- It Won't Be Easy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~While the Senators that sent the letter that we detailed above want changes and some easing in the signup for the 2009 farm program, don't expect that easing to come. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to a rice group in Washington yesterday- and he told them bluntly that the rules are out there to local FSA offices and that's what will be followed for the current signup that goes to the first of June.
USDA released a more than 300-page guidance booklet to county Farm Service Agencies late last week. The booklet is meant to clarify how new farm bill payment eligibility, payment limit and adjusted gross income rules will be implemented.
In contrast to the 300 pages just released to the FSA offices- the "how to" manual for the 2002 farm law on farm program signup was 75 pages. We are hearing reports that some farmers have had to make multiple trips to their local FSA offices- and stops at the offices of the CPAs and Lawyers they work with as well to complete the process. AND- it is likely the rules that you sign up under in 2009 will be changed in 2010 once the Obama Administration gets in place to put their fingerprints on them.
2009 AFR Convention Coming Up Friday and Saturday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The 2009 Annual Meeting of the AFR gets underway at the end of this week. Ray Wulf, President and CEO of the farm organization and multi state insurance company, writes in their convention program ""Standing Strong in '09" is the theme of the two-day 104th AFR Convention scheduled February 13-14, 2009 at the Biltmore Hotel Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The theme reflects our continued mission of growth and weathering difficult times our nation is experiencing. We as a nation will endure, survive and stand strong together."
The organization will hear from a whole host of state politicians- from Lt. Governor Jari Askins to Senate Ag Committee Chairman Ron Justice and House Ag Committee Chairman Don Armes. The group also has a variety of farm and rural subjects they will be covering. I would nominate as having the toughest subject to cover at the AFR meeting Mark Gregory and Chris Rice- they are discussing 2,4,D use and being a good neighbor during the Saturday afternoon session. Gregory is the southwest District Area Agronomist and Rice is his counterpart in the southeastern part of the state. The 2,4,D issue ignites passions on both sides- ranchers who do not want their use of the chemical taken away- and farmers of sensitive crops(especially cotton) that claim it's a matter of life and death for their crops that 2,4,D be greatly restricted and controlled at certain times of the year.
We have the program for the meeting linked on our website- click on the story below to preview the full lineup of speakers for the gathering of this general farm organization.
US Grains Meeting Hears Positive Perspective on CAFTA-DR
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Guatemala faces many of the same infrastructure challenges we do here in the United States. U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland explained the situation to the more than 200 U.S. farmers and agribusiness representatives at the U.S. Grains Council's 6th International Marketing Conference and 49th Annual Membership Meeting in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He said that country needs to expand the network of roads, increasing the capacity of its ports and diversify its energy sources.
McFarland said, - despite these challenges, one bright spot is CAFTA-DR, to which Guatemala is a signatory. The CAFTA-DR agreement has obliged its members to improve transparency and bolster investor protection, and has catalyzed needed reforms in areas such as customs administration, intellectual property rights and government regulation. He added, that in just three years, Guatemala has - increased trade among signatory countries significantly.
A sign of success for the United States is the fact that in the first 11 months of 2008, total U.S. agricultural and food exports to CAFTA-DR countries hit 34 billion dollars, which is up nearly 36 percent from the same period last year. U.S. feed grain exports were up nearly 42 percent. Under CAFTA-DR, more than half of U.S. agricultural exports enter Guatemala duty-free and remaining tariffs will be eliminated on nearly all products by 2020.
Lots Happening on Friday the 13th
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Besides the AFR Convention this Friday- Meridian Avenue on the west side of Oklahoma City will host at least two other events on our agricultural calendar.
Superior Livestock is bringing one of their regular video auctions to Oklahoma City as the Airport Holiday Inn will host the Prime Time Roundup Sale, beginning at 8 AM central. This sale will have 30,000 or more cattle being auctioned live on satellite via RFD TV. RFD TV is located on the Dish Network at Channel 231 and on DirecTV at Channel 345. Click here for more details on this sale and other sales coming up on Superior Video Auction.
Also coming up on Friday is the annual Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association Meeting- to be held on south Meridian at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Our friend Don Schieber is President of the group this year- and they have a good program talking about key issues important to crop production here in the state. Click here for our calendar listing on this meeting- which will take you to their full agenda.
HB2151 To Be Considered This Afternoon in Oklahoma House Ag Committee
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Despite testimony by the Humane Society of the US that condemned the legislation- the Senate Ag Committee passed by an 11 to nothing vote SB452- authored by Mike Schultz. This measure is designed to protect livestock and traditional agriculture practices- and is a direct response to California Prop 2 that easily passed in that state back in November.
The companion measure for this Senate bill in the House is HB2151- and it is being carried by House Ag Committee Chairman Don Armes- and his Committee will consider this measure this afternoon during their weekly meeting.
HB 1842, a measure offered by Dale Dewitt of Braman, has already moved
to the floor and passed- ready now for Senate consideration. Backers of
1842 say it would improve Oklahoma's "Right to Farm" laws, including the
establishment of a statute of limitations on lawsuits.
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