AgDay Daily Recap - March 5, 2012

March 7, 2012 03:50 AM

MARCH 5, 2012


Good morning. As congress continues work on the next farm bill, four commodity groups say they will press lawmakers to make sure there is an affordable crop insurance program in that legislation. The groups represent corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers.

During Commodity Classic, they released a joint statement on their top policy issue. They pledged to work with the Congressional Ag Committees to create farm programs that provide risk-management tools to growers when they are facing a loss beyond their control. They acknowledge that the nation has record high federal deficits and that difficult decisions will need to be made. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says agriculture won't be spared.

Meanwhile, House Ag Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas announced a series of farm-bill field hearings that will take place in March and April. The hearings are slated for New York, Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas. On the senate side, Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow has a hearing on nutrition set for Wednesday of this week.

Meanwhile Secretary Vilsack announced at Commodity Classic that he is dispatching a team to China next month to focus on trade with that country. China was the leading importer last year purchasing 20 billion dollars’ worth of U.S. agricultural goods. Soybeans was the top imported commodity. The Ag Trade mission is aimed to provide insight to U.S. Ag leaders by meeting with Chinese policy makers, business people, and importers. Vilsack himself will not be going. Instead, it'll be an under-secretary and a group of 40 business leaders.

China is now the number one importer of U.S. ag goods. That demand helped push ag exports to a new high in 2011. Beef exports also hit a new high...and without the help of China. What will 2012 bring for the livestock sector? AgDay regional reporter Michelle Rook says the industry is optimistic about the potential for further growth. U.S. meat export officials say they're watching the progress of the European debt crisis because that could have a major negative impact on beef exports if it doesn't get resolved.

Despite improving moisture levels in Texas, the winter rains still have not been enough to restore water tables in central Texas. That means Texas rice farmers who get water from the Colorado River basin won't have water this year to irrigate. On Friday, the lower Colorado River authority announced it will not release water for rice growers in three southeastern Texas counties that rely heavily on irrigation for their crops. According to the latest drought-monitor map, a third of the state is now drought-free.

In Agribusiness...the continuing rise at the fuel pump. On Friday, triple-a reported the nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline at $3.74. That's a dime higher than the previous week and 32-cents higher than a year ago. We're seeing similar increases at the diesel pump. In the past week, the national average diesel fuel price increased six cents to reach $4.06 a gallon. That's 34 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time. The west coast saw the largest increase in the nation.

Joe Vaclavik

Trumpeter swans have made a triumphant return to parts of the Midwest, like Iowa and Minnesota. And with a mild winter, there's a lot of open water for the birds to enjoy. Joe Wilkinson from the Iowa DNR looks at the amazing comeback of the giant waterfowl. Joe says trumpeters are the largest waterfowl in North America, tipping the scales at 27 pounds or so when mature. Well, here's a strange twist - "un-healthy" health foods. That's next in Food and Your Family.

In Food and Your Family, you've had two months to get a jump start on your new year's resolution by eating healthier. But oddly enough, some of those healthy foods could make you ill. A growing number of people are finding they're allergic to healthier foods.
In this report provided by Ohio State University Medical Center, Clark Powell tells us why for some, eating healthy may not be the solution for living longer.

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