AgDay Daily Recap - January 4, 2012

January 4, 2012 04:32 AM

JANUARY 4, 2012

Good morning. A big night Tuesday as Iowans kicked off what looks to be a busy election year in 2012. The Iowa caucuses are the first in the nation. Giving Republicans the chance put their support behind a GOP candidate set to run against President Obama. And while it's elections that will likely fill time on the nightly news, it's legislation that America's farmers and ranchers will be watching.

2012 marks the year of the farm bill. Law makers are scheduled to pass the legislation this year with the current bill set to expire. Washington policy watchers say it’s likely to be contentious as more outside groups seek to have a say in the policy process. Then on top of that, it's an election year. Despite 361 days remaining in 2012, some experts doubt the farm bill will get finished.

Roberts says with direct payments under the microscope, a safety net like crop insurance will be the key. But, depending on what part of the country you're from, a safety net might mean something different. As Ken Moore with the Arkansas Farm Bureau reports, farmers in the Midwest may have the upper hand in getting what they want out of Washington.

Thanks Ken. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has repeatedly said what's he's looking for in the 2012 Farm Bill. In a recent speech the secretary boiled the bill down to three principals: a strong safety net, support for sustainable productivity, and the promotion of vibrant markets.

Vilsack also believes in renewable fuels. And while he's touting ethanol as way to reduce foreign oil purchases, it looks like that industry is doing some exports of its own. Brazil, the world's second largest ethanol producer has begun importing U.S. ethanol. The country is struggling to meet demand-- now 25% higher than supply. High sugar prices, and poor sugarcane harvests are forcing the purchase of ethanol from other countries.

Thanks Mike. 2012 may also be the year several important environmental lawsuits are settled. The National Corn Growers Association says two big cases could end up in federal court in the next 12 months. The first is over the EPA's total maximum daily load rules for the Chesapeake Bay. The second is a suit--also against the EPA -- alleging the agency didn't consult with the Fish and Wildlife service on hundreds of pesticide registrations.

Also in the litigious column--a federal judge has agreed to hear arguments against Monsanto regarding GMO patents. A coalition of organic farmers, seed businesses and ag organizations say they want the court's protection for family farmers who may have fields contaminated by Monsantos' seed genetics. The hearing is set for January 31st.

2011 TAX TIPS:
In agribusiness...the start of the New Year also marks the beginning of tax season.
So over the next few days we'll be sharing some tax tips from Paul Neiffer--a farm CPA and tax specialist. Today he begins with bonus depreciation.

Mark Gold

It's that time of year--time to put away the treats of the holidays for a new year of resolutions. And for many of us--that's a decision to get fit in 2012. In Tennessee, extension wants that to be everyone's goal. Which is why it's helping a special group of adults improve their health. Chuck Denney has more on a program that's getting results--both physical and emotional. Thanks Chuck. Straight ahead, American's are returning to fill orders at local restaurants. And we've got the top five issues influencing the food industry this New Year. Food and Your Family is coming up.

In Food and Your Family this morning, it appears more Americans are returning to their favorite restaurants. And that's good news for farmers and ranchers. The National Restaurant Association's performance index hit its highest point in five months. The RPI is a monthly composite index that tracks the health and outlook for U.S. restaurants. In November RPI hit 100.6. That's up from the previous month and shows the possibility of expansion. Restaurant operators reported their strongest same-store sales results in more than four years.

So what will be influencing the food industry in 2012? According to Food Navigator USA--the biggest influence will be the 2012 Farm Bill. Followed by foods for seniors, kid's nutrition, food safety, and the debate over natural foods. While natural is popular term, several lawsuits are pending regarding those claims and what defines "natural".

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