AgDay Daily Recap - October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011 04:53 AM

OCTOBER 04, 2011

Good morning, three un-finished free-trade agreements have now made it to "The Hill". Late Monday, the White House submitted to congress the pending FTA’s with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Major Ag groups have been pushing for this step. The deals were reached four years ago, but have lingered in Washington. The White House decided to move forward after receiving assurances Monday that the house would vote to expand benefits for workers who lose jobs from the trade deals. Free trade agreements eliminate tariffs on the sale of goods and services across international boundaries. Ag groups - like the National Cattlemen's Beef Association - say they're cautiously optimistic.

While congress gets to work on those agreements, down south, harvest is starting to move along in the nation's cotton belt. As of Monday, 16% of the nation's cotton had been picked. That's two points behind the average pace.

In North Carolina, 9% is now headed to the gin. Frank Howey is assessing his first-ever cotton crop. Howey says attractive prices last December enticed him to attempt a crop this year, so he planted 215 acres. It rained five days last week, which didn't help an already tough year.

Now to the corn harvest, 21% is cut. That's up six points from last week and two points behind average. Tennessee and Missouri had the biggest weekly gains - up 16 points. Soybean harvest has reached 19%. That's up 14-points from the previous week. The Dakotas had big gains from last week. North Dakota’s soy harvest is up 38. South Dakota is up 28. Winter wheat planting has reached 42%, a gain of 16 from last week. That's still behind average. Kansas wheat growers saw a 23 point climb in their sowings. And it's just four points behind the average.

Because of delays in the harvest, small grains growers in the northern plains and Pacific Northwest are being re-surveyed. The USDA hopes to get a better gauge of the crops. NASS is asking farmers to verify and update the acreage, yield, production and stock estimates for barley, oats, durum and other spring wheat. As a result of this re-surveying effort, it may release an updated forecast for small grains in its November ninth report.

In North Dakota, a small amount of cereal grains crops have yet to be harvested. And as farmers turn their attention to fall, they're thinking about next year. Nick Dreyer from affiliate KMOT-TV takes us to an elevator that did not have as much grain to market this year. But what they had was good quality.

The dairy industry is gathering this week for the 45th World Dairy Expo now underway in Madison, Wisconsin. As you would expect, our reporting partners at dairy today have set-up shop up there. The team will be providing regular updates on

Meanwhile, one of the largest dairy processors in the state has expanded its operations to keep-up with demand for mozzarella cheese. Foremost farms doubled its production capacity at the Appleton plant. It now produces 130-million pounds of mozzarella--twice its production figures from 2010. Wisconsin produces 26% of the nation's mozzarella. And demand isn't letting-up. That one plant in Appleton receives two million pounds of milk every day. The Wisconsin milk marketing board says that equals about 18-million dollars a month in cheese sales.

A new study by Cornell University looked at milking frequency in early lactation. Cows were milked four times daily starting day one through either day 7 or day 21 of lactation. It found that cows milked more frequently during that time increased milk production by nearly five pounds per day for the next seven months. The researchers say farm management, nutrition and genetics all play a role in how much of a response dairies will see. And don't forget, for the very latest news affecting the dairy industry, including production and policy issues, check out

In agribusiness, equipment maker AGCO says it's buying GSI Holding Corp. GSI makes grain storage and protein production systems. It's based in Assumption, Illinois. The 940-million dollar deal should close by the end of the year.

Corn prices in September saw their biggest monthly drop in five decades. On Friday Chicago contracts traded limit down after USDA reported more old-crop corn than the previous month...December is under six dollars. As of September 1st, the nation's corn stockpiles are 1.3 billion bushels, up 23% from previous estimates. Farm director Al Pell continues the conversation in this morning's analysis.

Mike Florez

Autumn's a good time of year to plant new ornamental plants, shrubs and trees. That means nurseries are busy right now. Tennessee has one of the biggest nursery industries in the country. In this report from UT, chuck Denney shows us how tree producers work constantly to produce beauty.  Thanks chuck. Up next another European country enacts a fat tax on unhealthy foods and the USDA is buying pistachios. Food and your family is next.

In Food and Your Family Denmark is following in the footsteps of Hungary.  It's now the second country in Europe to impose a so called fat tax. The new tax seeks to limit the amount of fatty foods Danes eat. Products include saturated fats including butter, milk, pizza, oil meat even pre-cooked foods.  For example the fat tax would increase the cost of butter by 3 dollars. In an effort to save money, many residents are stocking up, buying out stores and filling up freezers. Denmark already taxes soda and has taxed candy for nearly 90 years. Hungary was first to implement a fat tax--it went into effect on September first.

And pistachio growers have a new customer, the USDA. For the first time ever the department of agriculture is buying surplus pistachios for its food and nutrition programs. The American pistachio grower says USDA bid for six million pounds of roasted, unsalted, in-shell nuts. That amounts to about 4% of domestic supply. In 2010 growers had a record crop, this year those numbers are expected to be slightly lower. The pistachios will go to needy families and senior citizens.

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