AgDay Daily Recap - April 18, 2012

April 18, 2012 05:07 AM

APRIL 18, 2012

Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. One day after a fire forced USDA to delay the release of its weekly reports, the agency is now back and running. The Ag Department says the fire was small, but required power to the building be shut-down. That caused a delay in the release of several regular, weekly, reports. The data came out Tuesday afternoon. We'll begin with winter wheat. 64% of the nation's crop is called good to excellent - a gain of three points. About a third of the crop is already headed. In the central plains and pacific northwest, about three quarters of the crop is good to excellent. In Texas, only about a third gets good numbers. Spring wheat planting is also advancing quickly. Across the northern tier, nearly 40% is planted - double last week's figures and well ahead of the five year average. And now to corn...USDA says 17% is seeded, up ten points from the previous week. All the top-corn states are all ahead of the average pace. And Tennessee leads the pack with 80% in the ground. Its five-year average is 25%.

USDA says 41% of the Illinois corn crop is now planted. The five year average for this week is just 6%. National reporter Tyne Morgan takes us to our next stop on the interstate 80 planting tour - Henry County, Illinois.

As farmers return to fields, most are optimistic for a bumper crop. That wasn't the case last year for farmers in northwest Missouri. Flood waters ruined thousands of acres. Kent Faddis with the University of Missouri shows us how farmers there are recovering. Last year's flooding caused more than 600 million dollars’ worth of damage. This year however, the Army Corp of Engineers says it has capacity for flood waters along the 2,300 mile river. Right now there's about 16.3 million acre feet of storage space for floodwaters to fill. Officials say a lack of snowpack in the northern plains and mountains should mean below normal runoff this spring.

Jim Hemminger

Like most producers, Texas farmers will give you the shirts off their backs. Or in this case - the produce off their land. They're reaching out to help neighbors in need through a unique partnership with the state's food-bank network. Amanda hill has details in this report from the Texas Farm Bureau. The Capital-Area Food Bank of Texas provides food to 19 regional food banks through-out the state.

The organic foods industry continues to expand rapidly across the globe. But a new study looks at how well the system produces compared to conventional methods. A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural systems looked at nearly 400 organic versus conventional comparisons in 43 different countries. It found that on average organic systems yield 20% less than its conventional counterpart. And in some places that yield gap was 30%. The author says there's still room for industry to create yield improving inputs that comply with organic standards.

And in the nation’s capital members of the house are looking for ways to slow the rapidly expanding food stamp program. According to House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucus, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is set to cost 80 billion dollars in 2012. Costs have more than doubled since 2007. Currently one in 7 Americans receives benefits from the program.
A new proposal would cut those benefits by 34 billion dollars. Lawmakers plan to add it to a spending package that would replace automatic cuts scheduled to take effect in January of next year.

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