AgDay Daily Recap - March 16, 2012

March 19, 2012 04:23 AM

MARCH 16, 2012


Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. 577 warm temperature records were broken on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. It seems spring has arrived early. ..and that's our top story on AgDay. Warm temperatures have spurred much of nature to react as it's already spring. In southwest Michigan, fruit production is at least two weeks early. Michigan ranks third in total U.S. apple production. As AgDay's national reporter Tyne Morgan tells us, an early crop is blossoming into concern for one Michigan fruit producer. AgDay also spoke to Paul Peters, an apple and peach producer in west central Missouri, who says warm temps have caused fruit to blossom four weeks ahead of normal. And the threat of freeze or frost is still high. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says the only region not warmer or drier than normal is the Pacific Northwest. The Washington Apple Commission says fruit is on track for an average fruit flowering date. Washington is the top apple producing state in the country.

In Kentucky, the recovery process continues following the devastating storms from two weeks ago. Rural communities were hit hard. In addition to homes and barns, farmers lost miles of fencing which allowed livestock to run free. But as Jeff Franklin tells us in this report from the University of Kentucky, Extension agents are helping those in need.

In Washington Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow spoke at a committee hearing Thursday. She says the era of direct payments to U.S. farmers is over.
Instead she says farm policy should focus on crop insurance.

And after years of debate and deliberation, the U.S. Korea Trade Agreement is now in effect. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says ag exports should grow by nearly 2 billion dollars in the next few years. The agreement eliminates two thirds of all tariffs on U.S. Food and ag products.

Another issue associated with the mild weather this winter maybe the on-slaught of bugs this spring and summer. Machinery Minute has an on-line tool to help farmers track bug problems. It's called The tool will electronically track the number of insects in crops, so farmers can control crop damage. You can operate it from your smart phone. was launched last March. It was developed by Spensa Technlogies, which is a start-up company housed at Purdue University's Research Park.  There is a subscription fee. Check out the tool at

In other machinery news, the monthly sales tally shows a big decline in combine purchases last month. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers' monthly "Flash Report," shows combine sales for February down 54% from a year ago. Meanwhile, sales of all tractors for February 2012 were up 7% compared to the same month last year.  Sales on smaller tractors were down slightly. But larger 100-horse and four wheel drive tractors were up more than 10%.

Darren Frye

In spite of more rain than expected many in the southern plains are wondering whether they've seen the end of 2011's severe drought. It's an issue that has many producers looking for ways to conserve what little water there is. In Texas a USDA program is helping an American Indian tribe get more of its water into production. The USDA's Bob Ellison has more. Thanks Bob. Up next the debate of 'pink slime' makes it way to the lunch room and the healthy benefit for snap users when farmers markets accept food stamps. Food and Your Family is next.

The debate continues over lean finely textured beef. After getting the name 'pink slime' parents and consumers are demanding schools pull it from the menu. The USDA says schools as part of the national school lunch program will have the option to buy ground beef with or without lean finely textured beef. USDA maintains despite vocal concerns in communities across the country, the product is safe. Its meat that's been separated from the fat of beef trimmings during processing. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute both unscore the quality and safety of product.

A new report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says if food stamp users can use their government debit cards, they'll buy more food at farmers markets. The study was conducted by a farmers market in Philadelphia. It found that making it easier for vendors to collect "SNAP" payments with electronic systems would increase fresh produce sales by 38%. But the study also reports that it may not be cost effective for farmers or vendors to pay for such a system. The cost includes a wireless terminal, wireless service and transaction fees.

We'd love to hear from you! Contact us at 800-792-4329. Or drop an email to You can also check us out on some of that new technology, at

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