TODAY ON AGDAY:
April 7, 2011
Good morning. It's a big win for American agriculture and potentially worth billions of dollars. After years in limbo it appears the U.S. now has a free trade agreement with Columbia. Government officials announced the deal on Wednesday. Once its ratified by congress the pact opens the door for more U.S. agricultural goods. In total, the Obama administration says the deal could boost annual U-S exports to Colombia by more than a billion dollars. For agriculture, the agreement would make more than half of all American Ag exports duty free...and it would end almost all tariffs within 15 years. Colombia is the third-largest economy in central and South America. Profarmer Washington editor Roger Bernard says it's a big win but still needs to make it through congressional red tape. The national association of wheat growers is pleased with the announcement. It says without it, U.S. producers stood to lose sales currently valued at 100 million dollars a year. That's due in part to a free trade agreement between Canada and Columbia that goes into effect on July first.
Also out of Washington...the estate tax exemption is under attack. Its renewal was a big win for farm and ranch owners late last year. Now it appears a bipartisan group of lawmakers are attempting to permanently repeal the tax. The estate tax is an ongoing concern for farmers who are often taxed twice because of the capital intense nature of their business, and often those business assets are included in a person's estate.
This group of lawmakers also wants a permanent end to the so-called death tax.
Another welcome bit of news for farmers from inside the beltway - the senate voted to repeal the expanded 10-99 reporting requirements that were passed as part of last year's health care overhaul. The measure required businesses, including farms, to file tax forms for every vendor selling them more than 600 dollars in goods each year. It was set to start in 2012. Concerns quickly emerged that the filing requirement could create a paperwork nightmare for businesses and the IRS.
CATTLE OF FEED
In our beef today report, our partners at beef today magazine are eagerly awaiting the monthly cattle on feed report. It's due out this Friday afternoon. Many industry analysts expect to see fewer cattle entering feedlots than the year before. If that holds true it could be the first indication of how tight supplies really are in the U.S. Cattle producers may start holding on to young calves in order to rebuild the national herd-- which is at fifty year lows. Cattle prices however aren't making that an easy decision.
In parts of the southern plains and southwest, holding on to those cattle may be tough.
Extremely dry conditions has producers already planning for a struggle this year. Pastures and rangelands don't have enough moisture to kick start grass production and there's not enough hay to last the summer. Experts warn it can go from bad to worse quickly. Not only feed but water may be an issue this summer. In areas here drought decimated winter wheat fields, many producers are already giving up on growing a crop and turning cattle in to graze.
The corn market backed off of its near record numbers Wednesday. Closing down a few cents. In this morning's analysis, Al Pell and Bill Biederman of Allendale incorporated discuss the market's shifting focus from old crop to new.
ITC: PARTY FOR THE PLANET
It's likely the signs of spring are starting to present themselves in your neck of the woods.
In the bluegrass state, trees are budding, and flowers blooming. At the university of Kentucky this is no more apparent than at the arboretum. As the state's official botanical garden its planning for a big year. Jeff franklin with the college of agriculture reports that a children's garden will open next month for its inaugural season. Thanks Jeff. Up next a new study says baby boomers care about eating healthy and growing almonds is getting more costly. Food and your family, right after the break.
BABY BOOMER MARKETING
In food and your family
Food marketers are finding new opportunities for growth as the expanding baby boomer generation looks to make healthier lifestyle choices. A new report from the market research firm, packaged facts, shows that the growing segment of consumers aged 50 to 65 are looking to whole, natural and organic foods. And with higher incomes, they are also more likely to pay higher prices in order to enjoy those foods. From 2010 to 2015 the number of Americans aged 50 and over is expected to grow by nearly 11 and a half percent... accounting for 73 percent of the total population.
Another slice of agriculture is now facing production challenges. Growing the ever popular almond is getting tougher. A recent UC study shows it now costs nearly 3-thousand dollars to produce an acre of almonds, up nearly 20% from five years ago.
Experts say the increase is due to higher water, energy, labor, and equipment costs.
Fortunately, improved yields and the ability plant trees closer have helped producers stay profitable.