AgDay Daily Recap - March 6, 2012

March 7, 2012 04:03 AM

MARCH 6, 2012


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spent the day in Nebraska touting changes to the agency's new conservation reserve program. Currently 30 million acres across the country are enrolled in a program Vilsack says is vital to America's future. That's a message he shared at last week's Commodity Classic in Nashville. Vilsack says he doesn't have all the answers but thinks incentives for selling to beginning farmers could be created through the tax code. And there's the possibility of adjustments in crop insurance to help protect beginning farmers from disaster in their first few years.

Republican Presidential Candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were making last-minute appeals in advance of today's "Super Tuesday Vote". Ten states across all regions of the country are holding GOP nominating contests today with a lot of delegates on the line. While at Commodity Classic, I talked with Secretary Vilsack about his political future. One of the most important states on-the-line today is Ohio where several polls show a neck-and-neck race between the two-leading republicans.

In news from our partners at Dairy Today - the state of Indiana may become a state to watch when it comes to farm run-off mandates. Livestock producers in the state of Indiana will face tougher manure regulations this summer. New regulations will require farmers and ranchers with 300 or more dairy or beef cattle or 600 or more swine in confinement will need more holding capacity. Effective July 1, producers with those moderate-sized herds will be required to have 180 days of manure storage, up from the current 120-day limit. In addition, no manure can be spread from these operations on snow-covered or frozen ground. Dairy Today Editor Jim Dickrell says acceptable levels of phosphorous are also being reduced.

Jim just finished a week-long tour of the state. He says if smaller livestock operations are applying manure during winter, proposed new rules may require them to cut their levels in half. He says the key to the changes is to maintain complete and accurate field records of manure applications, and don't forget, for the very latest news affecting the dairy industry, including production and policy issues, check out

In Agribusiness - new economic data from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute - or FAPRI - shows net farm income declining this year. FAPRI presented its annual baseline report to congress on Monday. The economists project net farm income will hit 95 billion in 2012. That's down 3 billion from a year-ago. The group says given normal weather, a bigger U.S. corn crop could lead to lower prices this fall. FAPRI projects planted corn acres at 93.5 million acres, short of USDA's most recent projection of 94 million. It says a return to a normal yield would result in an average cash price of $4.81 a bushel down from $5.96 for the current year. At Commodity Classic, I talked with one analyst about the impact of a big corn crop.

Alan Brugler

A group of high school students in Utopia, Texas are restoring history and opening doors for the future. And they're doing it by getting their hands dirty. Nathan Smith with the Texas Farm Bureau has more. Good job guys. Food and Your Family is next.

How government regulations on U.S. farmers could cost you in the wallet. Details in Food and Your Family. While at Commodity Classic last week, the United Soybean Board presented research on what it calls excessive regulations on agriculture. The USB says those regulations could shrink livestock inventories, hurt export markets and threaten the U.S. food economy, USB says current and proposed regulations could raise U.S. livestock and poultry production costs by as much as 25%. The Soybean Board says those increases would mean consumers pay nearly 17-billion dollars more a year for meat, milk and eggs. For eggs alone, USB says, requiring cage-free housing for laying hens would increase the cost from a $1.68 to $2.10 more per dozen. That would be a total cost of 2.6 billion dollars to U.S. consumers.

And finally this morning, the pork industry is taking a big step towards educating non-ag consumers about modern pork production. And they're using a well-known dairy operation to help get the point across. You may have seen or heard about Fair Oaks. It's a commercial dairy in northwest Indiana. In addition to its 20,000 cows, it has a visitor center where people can watch the birth of a calf. They also see how modern milk production takes place. Now, there's a campaign to build a "fair oaks pig adventure center". The pig adventure would be built on land adjacent to the dairy. The plans right now include a 2,400 head sow farm. The National Pork Board has agreed to donate a million dollars to the pig adventure center. They pledge a second million if there are enough private donors. Total cost of the project would be about ten million dollars. Construction would begin this spring.

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