TODAY ON AGDAY:
OCTOBER 20, 2011
FARM BILL GRASSLEY:
Good morning. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson say the government could save some serious money if it adopted their suggestion for a hard-cap on farm payments. The lawmakers told the deficit reduction committee that their plan saves more than 1.5 billion dollars. Their legislation is not new. They first proposed it in June. It would put a cap of 250,000 dollars per married couple, or 125,000 on an individual. The lawmakers say they want to better target farm program payments to small and mid-sized farmers. As we first reported last week, the house and senate Ag committees are proposing 23-billion dollars in cuts from the farm bill over the next ten years. The White House had suggested 33-billion. Senator Grassley says even though it's a large number the proposition is positive. According to a letter specific recommendations on what to cut are due on November first.
The American Soybean Association is opposing a bill passed in the senate that would allow the U.S. to impose duties on countries that manipulate their currency. China is the third largest export market for U.S. goods. The Ag department estimates those exports at nearly 70-billion dollars. Ag groups - like ASA - say if the U.S. implements duties against china, the country could retaliate. China is also the top customer for U.S. soybeans accounting for half of the bushels shipped out. The bill now moves on to the house. Wellman says they're urging members not to pass this bill because it could cause a trade war with China. Plus it would be counterproductive and not get the U.S. any closer to the goal of achieving a market-driven exchange rate. A group of governors from the United States are in China this week, trying to stir-up business for their home economies. Governors from Washington, Hawaii, Georgia, and North Carolina are meeting with their counterparts from China's eight provinces. Washington's governor says now is a vital time to be working diplomatically with China instead of intensifying debates.
BTR CATTLE PRICES:
A year of historic drought, heavy cow culling, declining herd numbers and strong export markets are working together to offer support to cattle prices. If grain prices continue to ease up and the U.S. economy turns positive-- those prices could be explosive. As Nick Dreyer of KMOT in Minot, North Dakota reports-- in spite of those positives, the industry still has concerns on its mind. Thanks Nick. You can get many more updates on the beef industry, including market and production information from our partners at www.beeftoday.com.
In agribusiness two of the biggest names in agriculture are back in court--this time facing each other. Dupont, parent company to pioneer is suing Monsanto for patent infringement. It says Monsanto is using a method of corn seed production that violates a 1994 patent. The process involves defoliating the plant after pollination to improve seed production. Monsanto says pioneer's claims are baseless and without merit--adding it doesn't use that technique on any of its fields. The suit was filed in district court in southern Iowa.
It’s that time of year when the blue and gold descend on Indianapolis for the National FFA Convention. This year marks its 84th year in cultivating the nation’s young people. Organizers expect more than 50,000 members and guests to attend this year's events. Ranging from high school freshmen to seniors, the kids will attend general sessions, competitive events, educational tours and much more. I'll be on hand today covering the event and then judging a competition later in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.
IN THE COUNTRY; BIOFUELS GRANT:
Biofuels continue to be a hot topic in the halls of Washington and the farm fields of rural America. Regardless the USDA continues to invest in what it calls next generation fuel crops. Just recently LSU Agcenter researchers received a grant to continue their work on biofuels made from sugarcane and sweet sorghum. The agcenter's Tobie Blanchard has the story. Thanks Tobie. Tobie says LSU will also be pitching in on this research--helping fund a pilot processing plant for converting the feedstock to biofuels and chemicals. Up next the FDA has clues to what caused the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in more than 2 decades.
CANTALOUPE LISTERIA UPDATE:
In food and your family the FDA says it has an idea about what caused the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in 25 years. The administration just released details of its investigation. That reports points to pools of water on floors and old hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's packing facility. If you'll remember, the outbreak was traced to Jensen Farms in Colorado. The FDA report found fruit coming off of farm fields were clean--listeria free--but somehow the bacteria got inside the packing house and spread. The CDC says more than 120 people were sickened and 25 people died from the tainted cantaloupe. The number of illnesses continue to grow--it can take up to two months for symptoms to surface.
And we have an update to the ongoing potato war in Washington. It seems the senate has now thrown its support behind the spud. This after the Ag department proposed rules earlier this year aimed at limiting servings of potatoes in school lunch rooms to two servings per week. The senate by voice vote agreed to an amendment blocking USDA from limiting servings of potatoes or other vegetables in school lunches. The amendment was raised by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. USDA can still dictate how those potatoes are prepared.
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