TODAY ON AGDAY:
OCTOBER 14, 2011
Good morning, Clinton is on assignment. After nearly five years of lingering in Washington, three trade deals are nearly done. They now await the President's signature. Congress approved the trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Colombia on Wednesday. The agreements would eventually lower or eliminate tariffs American exporters face in the three countries. Major Ag groups say the FTA's will level the playing field against competing nations which have been gaining market share. For instance, Canada approved its trade deal with Colombia in August. The National Corn Growers Association says U.S. farmers lost more than a billion dollars in sales to Colombia in the two years since that country implemented a trade deal with Argentina and Brazil.
The livestock sector will also benefit. The National Pork Producers council says the deals will generate nearly 772 million dollars in new pork sales when the trade deals are fully implemented. The council says that's about eleven dollars for each hog marketed by producers. And the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says the deal with South Korea alone will remove a 40% tariff. As part of the negotiations, congress also approved the "Trade Adjustment Assistance" program - or TAA. The TAA would provide benefits to un-employed workers as a result of the trade deals. Negotiations over those benefits caused part of the delay in getting the trade deals sent to congress for a vote.
So, what's next? Panama and Colombia have already approved the FTA's. That was back in 2007. However, South Korea’s legislature must still approve the trade pact. There are some indications that the opposition party in Korea still has objections to the FTA.
In other news...USDA's crop production report this week showed the nation's corn crop is better than expected, but worse than last year. Farmers throughout the nation are - for the most part - finding bushels they had not expected due to the late planting and the hot, dry summer. But as Todd Gleason tells us in this report from the University of Illinois, it is still not as good as last year's corn crop.
It seems whenever USDA releases a report, we inevitably get emails or phone calls from viewers who question the validity of the data. There appears to be a big question about trust. So, our intrepid partners at AgWeb decided to find out what you think about USDA's data. AgWeb conducted an on-line poll. So, it's far from scientific. Nearly 70% of those who voted, said "USDA manipulates the numbers" to get what they want. 18% said the numbers are usually wrong because USDA uses outdated technology. About 7% said the numbers are wrong because they come from farmers and the industry. And less than 1% thinks USDA's data is correct. Again, this is an un-scientific survey. AgWeb says there were nearly 800 people who voted over a four day period. We'd like to hear from you as well. What do you think about USDA's data collection and reports? Email your comments to email@example.com.
There's another legislative idea on how to reform the U.S. dairy industry. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania unveiled the "Dairy Advancement Act". Casey says his bill offers the first real legislative alternative to the national milk producer federation's proposal. Casey says his measure would simplify the system and reward innovation. He says the plan does not include any ability to manage milk supply. It would also maintain the milk income loss contract program. The measure would also establish a two-class system - one for fluid milk. The other for products made from milk. Our reporting partners at dairy today have more details on their website.
IN THE COUNTRY; FARM TO SCHOOL:
It may not be on your calendar, but October is National Farm to School month. The program promotes healthier eating while boosting local economies. At least, that's the goal. Kent Faddis tells us how it works, in this report from the University of Missouri. More than 30% of Missouri’s population is classified as obese, including one is seven high school students. Food and your family is next.
KROGER ICE CREAM:
In food and your family Kroger is recalling ice cream sold in 10 states because it may contain peanuts not mentioned on the label. The nation's largest grocery store operator says people with peanut allergies could have a serious reaction. The store is recalling its "private selection extreme moose tracks ice cream". It was sold in 16 ounce containers with a sell by date of June 18th. It was sold throughout the Midwest and southeast United States. You can get more information at www.kroger.com/recalls.
We also want to remind you to submit your comments about the USDA's ability to collect and analyze data. A new survey reveals many farmers don't have much confidence in USDA. You can see the survey online at AgWeb. And don't forget so send your comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may use some of your comments next week on our show.