AgDay Daily Recap - September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011 06:08 AM

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011

The agriculture industry is adding-up the figures and it appears president Obama's deficit reduction plan includes 32-billion dollars in cuts to farmers. The president unveiled his recommendations on how to reduce three trillion dollars from the deficit. Half would come from tax increases. According to our policy observers at Pro Farmer, the proposal includes cuts to about 32-billion dollars in major U.S. farm programs, mostly in direct payments. There would also be some cuts to crop insurance programs and a reduction in conservation programs. Congressman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma - who chairs the House Ag Committee - says "The President's policy priorities reveal a lack of knowledge of production agriculture." Lucas was critical of the president's plan to extend the "sure" program, saying it has not worked as intended on most crops. And from the president's own party, senate budget committee chair Kent Conrad of North Dakota said everyone has to contribute to deficit reduction, but farmers and ranchers are feeling a dis-proportionate share.

The National Corn Growers Association said in a statement - quoting now - 'We are deeply concerned by proposals that would directly undermine a farmer's ability to purchase adequate insurance coverage at a time of heightened volatility in commodity markets." The president gave his recommendations to the "super committee". The committee must come-up with a plan to save 1.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years by Thanksgiving.

In machinery minute...precision Ag is all a buzz. But the truth be told not as many farmers are utilizing these high tech tools one might expect. A new report from the USDA says adoption of most high tech systems still sits below 50%. The USDA economists looked at the use of things like variable rate applicators, GPS maps and yield monitors over ten years. At the top of list are yield monitors--just less than 50% of corn and soybean acres are harvested using yield monitors. Adoption is even lower for other systems.  In the corn belt, GPS maps and variable rate technology were used on 24% of corn acres in 2005 and just 17% of soybeans in 2006. The adoption of guidance systems like auto-steer is showing some of the strongest trends.
By 2009 roughly 35% of wheat producers were using it on the farm.

As we've been reporting, exports of U.S. agricultural products continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy. And you can include agricultural machinery. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says exports of U.S. made tractors and combines continued to grow in 2011 and ended the first half of the year with a gain of 15%. AEM data shows South America took delivery of 579 million dollars worth of U.S. agricultural equipment, an increase of 56% from a year ago. Asia's export purchases gained 13%, Australia grew 20%, and exports to Europe gained 19%. Canada remains the top recipient - just shy of two billion dollars. That's up 4% from a year ago.

From equipment for export to equipment for home, this year at farm fest we ran into the Wood Mizer--a portable saw mill capable of converting downed trees into cabinet grade lumber. The saw comes in different sizes and prices—3,000 dollars for residential to 125,000 industrial size. Stanky says there's always a commercial market for high quality lumber. Exports from America remain strong.

The USDA is seeking comments on a rule that would lower the somatic cell count at individual dairies. The proposal would push the SCC count to 400,000. The 400,000 number would be required in order to export products to Europe. According to the USDA that means all U.S. dairies would need to meet the requirement regardless of where milk gets shipped. They say even fluid milk can end up in dairy products that get exported and manufacturers won't want to take the risk of not meeting the standard. There would be some exemptions including seasonality. Comments from the industry are due back by November first. After all of the paperwork--if approved the final regulations could be ready by 2013.

After a summer-time hail storm shredded the corn and soybean crops of a central Nebraska farmer, he decided to switch crops, hoping to still get something from the fields. 800 acres of corn and soybeans were all but wiped out on the Smith Farms near North Platte, Nebraska. The 45 minute hail storm in mid-June devastated what looked like a promising crop. But since it was still early in the season, they chose to re-plant sunflowers. Otherwise, they would have been fighting weeds this summer. Sunflower harvest begins in late October or early November in this part of Nebraska. Smith says the crop is in great shape right now. "NASS" figures show Nebraska ranks 7th in sunflower production in the nation.

In Agribusiness this morning, Pepsi Co says it's stepping down a link on the food chain. The soda and fast food giant signed a memo with china's ministry of agriculture to work with farmers in that country. Pepsi agreed to help farmers learn the latest techniques in agriculture--including everything from irrigation, fertilization even crop management. The sides are planning demonstration farms to showcase examples. Last year Pepsi said it would invest 2.5 billion dollars in its Chinese business--which it says includes plans for agricultural development.

Bill Biedermann

The Show-Me State has a diverse selection of agricultural products - well beyond corn and cattle. Take shrimp, for instance. A swine and soybean producer from the southwest corner of the state is growing shrimp on his farm. Linda Russell from AgDay affiliate KY3-TV talked with the farmer about his unusual venture and his upcoming first harvest. James is planning on building a nursery this winter so he can grow his own shrimp larvae. Eventually, he'd like to supply other shrimp farms in the state. Food and your family is next.

PLAY 60:
In food and your family this morning, having healthy children is every parents dream. That's why schools and a few star athletes are touting a program that combines healthy eating with plenty of exercise. It's called fuel up to play sixty and it focuses on getting students sixty minutes of physical activity every day. Inside at the table, fueling up means eating healthy foods like low-fat and fat free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Even pro athletes are getting on board and sharing the message.

Healthy eating is important no matter where you are. And American's are still eating a large number of meals outside of the home. We told you yesterday the number of restaurant visits isn't going up, leading to questions about an improving economy. While visits may not be growing, they're still a big part of the American eating experience. A new study by living social says the average U.S. adult eats about five meals per week in a restaurant. The most popular is lunch. On average Americans eat out for lunch more than 2.5 times a week.

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