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AgDay Daily Recap - January 11, 2012

12:43PM Jan 11, 2012

JANUARY 11, 2012

Good morning. Big news out of the USDA Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture announcing plans to close or consolidate 259 offices, facilities and laboratories across the country. That move includes 131 FSA offices. It’s part of an effort to save roughly 150 million dollars a year in the Ag Department's budget. Vilsack says he expects many of the reductions to be in place by mid-summer. The Food Safety and Inspection service is also reducing its footprint by a thrid...going from 15 to 10 offices. However the number of employees will remain the same. That division is in charge of meat, poultry and egg product safety.

Even though USDA announced closing offices, it still has major work to do this week. On Thursday USDA will release several key reports. USDA will issue the final corn, soybean and cotton production numbers. All eyes will be on the production and acreage numbers for corn. The quarterly grain stocks report will also be released that morning, showing total supplies of grains and oilseeds on hand as of December 31st. These two reports will set the tone for the markets in 2012. As always, we suggest you click on for complete coverage and analysis of the reports leading-up to and after the release.

The first of what could become a long list of lawsuits has now been filed against bankrupt commodities firm MF Global. On Monday, four farmers and ranchers from Montana filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Missoula, Montana. It alleges MF Global improperly raised customers’ brokerage accounts to cover the firm's losses. The suit specifically focused on the company's officers, namely former CEO John Corzine. The suit also named MF Global's auditor - Price-Waterhouse-Coopers and its chief banker JP -Morgan Chase. On October 31st MF Global declared bankruptcy. Since then the company has disclosed the disappearance of more than a billion dollars from the segregated accounts of its customers.

In Machinery Minute, the association of equipment manufacturers released its report showing total sales of tractors and combines in the U.S. last year. For the month of December sales of larger horse-power were up about twelve percent from December 2010. But four wheel drive sales were down 15% for the month. Year to date sales in both categories had a slight increase over the previous year. Larger two wheel tractors were up about 2% for the year. Four wheel drives were up 3.5% for the year.

If you're a smart-phone or tablet-user, there's a new app available that can help cotton growers make some in-field decisions about seed varieties. During last week's Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Farm Director Al Pell talked about the variety selector tool which was developed by Bayer Crop Sciences. The app is available from the Apple "app" Store and the android marketplace. You can also learn more at Bayer's Cotton Sites – and

Thomas Grisafi

As we mentioned Tuesday, the national western stock show is underway in Denver, Colorado. Also meeting this week, some of the fastest talking characters in the west, the Colorado Auctioneers Association is holding its 54th annual convention. And a highlight of the event is the Colorado State Bid-Calling Championship. Our friend Anne Herbst with the Denver Post was on hand this year where she witnessed history being called.  Thanks Anne...and congratulations to the winner. We'll have more national western coverage from Anne throughout the week. Up next, Food and Your Family.

In food and your family - there's another academic report which supports the idea of a "fat tax" on sugary soft drinks. And this report seems to offer tangible figures. The researchers say a penny-per-ounce-tax on soft drinks - that's twelve cents on an average can of pop - would reduce consumption by as much as 15% over ten years. The scientists say it would prevent nearly a quarter a million cases of diabetes each year. They said it would also reduce coronary events by 95,000 cases. The study was conducted by Columbia University in New York. The research is relevant in New York because the state is looking at ways - including this soda tax - to fill a nine-billion dollar budget gap.

And if you have a teen or tween you know their passion for food--especially the foods they like. Researchers with Technomic say getting this group in a restaurant may require a specific marketing plan. Researchers say those youngsters have a big influence on where their family and friends eat. Many times their input helps decide food choices for a group. Two suggestions for restaurants hoping reach this crowd---offering new and exciting foodservice concepts different from typical eating establishments and providing things like a kids menu specifically for their age.

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