AgDay Daily Recap - October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011 05:32 AM

OCTOBER 21, 2011

Good morning, Clinton's on assignment at the national FFA Convention in Indianapolis. He'll be back on Monday. Topping our news, after more than four years, it appears three free-trade agreements will soon be law in this country. President Obama is expected to sign Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia this afternoon at a White House ceremony. Most major Ag groups have been very supportive of the FTA’s, saying American agriculture has been losing market share in those countries. The trade deals open new markets for the U.S. by boosting exports. The FTA's will eventually lower or eliminate tariffs that American exporters face in all three countries.

The growing demand for food in china has forced the once-sustainable country to the export market. For the last five years china has been the United States' number one customer for soybeans. Last year they purchased about 60 million bushels of corn and were aggressive buyers of U.S. DDGs. But earlier this year the Chinese government initiated legal action against DDG imports. The government feels DDG imports are displacing corn in the domestic market. AgDay's Michelle Rook looks at where the case is at and if it has any merit. An interim determination could come any day now, but a final determination on the case is expected by the end of December.

The corps of engineers says it will re-build a breached Missouri levee higher than it had planned. But it's still lower than what some farm groups say is necessary to protect farm land that sits along the Mississippi River. You'll remember this past spring, the core intentionally breached the "birds point" levee near New Madrid, Missouri. The core said it was necessary to flood 130-thousand acres of farmland to protect Cairo, Illinois. The core says it will re-build the levee to a height of 51 feet. But now their plans includes the use of temporary barriers - called bastions - which would take the levee to 55 feet if flooding gets that high. That's still well below the 62 feet that once stood there. The Missouri Farm Bureau has been a vocal critic of the core's plan. And they say anything under 62 feet is not acceptable.

Richard Brock

Chances are you have a pumpkin or two sitting around your house as a jack-o-lantern or autumn decoration. Well, there's a garden display in Tennessee that goes well beyond that. Some pretty handy gardeners took thousands of pumpkins, gourds and squash to create a work of art. In this report from UT, Ginger Trice takes us for a walk through the fall mosaic. I stop by and see the fall display, it's open to the public through November 27th. Up next, Food and Your Family.

A group representing cantaloupe growers in California says consumers should not be turned-off to the melon because of the in-actions of one grower in Colorado. The California cantaloupe advisory board is responding to the results of an FDA report. That report says Jensen farms had dirty equipment in their packing facility, which may have led to an outbreak of listeria. The CCAB says there are well-established practices through-out the melon industry to ensure safety during the washing and packing of cantaloupes. The trade group says the outbreak underscores the importance that food producers - no matter the size of the farm - must adhere to proven food safety practices. The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and the California Melon Research Board have committed an additional 200,000 dollars in research funding over the next four years specifically earmarked to find new ways to improve the safety of melons. The California Cantaloupe Industry has begun a review of practices to assure customers that the cantaloupes are safe.

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 reporting partners at AgWeb decided to find out what you think about USDA’s data. The editors conducted an on-line poll. And to be clear, it's far from scientific. As we've shown you before, those big USDA reports are processed under the security of "lock and key". Still, a vast majority of you who took-part in an AgWeb poll expressed distrust. 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. And less than 1% thinks USDA's data is correct.

From the AgDay inbox - Jim Hixson writes "... I would join the group that believes that USDA numbers are definitely self-serving in order to manipulate the market either by choice internally or by direction of the administration currently in power." Viewer Dan James says "My wife and I have been involved with grain markets all our adult lives and we are 75 and 73 years of age. We have absolutely no trust in the USDA grain reports. They manipulate the numbers around every which way to come up with a report that will make the farmer's share of the end costs of food be as little as possible. It is just like robbing the farmer but without a gun." And Jim Sipmin writes "We have zero faith in any of the USDA numbers. I feel they manipulate the numbers to arrive at 'reasonable' carryout ideas. They have many flaws including their stocks calculations, production estimates, and feed numbers"

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