DECEMBER CROP TOUR NEWSLETTER IS READY... The December issue of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour newsletter focuses on the South American growing season, an update on the U.S. drought and conditions in Australia. The newsletter is available at this link.
U.S., CANADA WON'T BOW TO RUSSIA... USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. will not certify that beef and pork exports to Russia are ractopamine-free. He says USDA has no intention of setting up a testing program for ractopamine in pork and beef exports and that USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse carried the "message of U.S. opposition" to
Russia during a trade mission there this week. "We've fought long and hard... in the last many years to get where we are on ractopamine," Vilsack says."We're not wanting to take a step backwards and suggest that we're going to abandon our view about this."
The U.S. stance against Russia's demand for ractopamine testing of meat exports follows a similar announcement from Canadian officials earlier this week.
The World Health Organization's Codex Alimentarius guidelines allow small amounts of the additive in meat shipments.
A RECORD 2.8 MIL. ACRES OF CRP WERE CLEARED FOR EMERGENCY HAYING/GRAZING IN 2012... Roughly 2.8 million acres under 57,000 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts were utilized for emergency haying and grazing this year, USDA said Thursday, compared to just over 1 million acres in 2011. In 2005, producers utilized roughly 1.7 million CRP acres for emergency haying and grazing, the previous record. USDA estimates of the gross value of forage provided in 2012 at $140 million to $200 million. Click here for more.
EPA UPDATES CLEAN AIR STANDARD; NO CHANGE FOR FARM DUST... The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a court-ordered update to its national air quality standards for fine particulate pollution today, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The standards on the existing daily standard for fine particles and for coarse particles (including dust from farms and other sources) remain unchanged.
PROGRESS UPDATE ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER ROCK REMOVAL... The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected two contractors to remove rocks from the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill. in an effort to keep the river open for barge traffic as long as possible. Rock removal work could begin as early next week and a pre-construction meeting is scheduled with the contractors for Dec. 14.
Forward progress on the rock blasting is welcome, as blasting the rocks will take an extended time according to an American Waterways Operators spokesperson, and the river is expected to drop to levels that will halt river traffic around Christmas, barring significant rainfall. The Army Corps has rejected federal lawmaker requests that it release more water from the Missouri River to keep the Mississippi River open.
'CHARTER ACT' COULD DELAY DAIRY PRICE HIKE... USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday said if there is no farm bill accord, dairy policy reverts to a 1949 law that in time would significantly boost milk prices as USDA would pay producers $38.54 per hundredweight compared to a market now running near $16.22. The result could be a doubling in consumer prices for milk.
"I will do what the law requires me to do," Vilsack said. "Consumers shouldn’t have to have higher milk costs because Congress can’t get its work done." He continued that it can be worked out if there is some "give and take" among lawmakers, but said it's obvious the "pace needs to pick up."
But Vilsack failed to mention that there is a way for him to delay actual implementation of those lofty dairy support levels. The last time there was the "fiscal cliff" issue with farm programs, a Republican-led USDA was ready to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to keep dairy support prices at current levels and then issue a proposed rule seeking comments on implementing the 1949-prescribed support levels. That could be done again.
IOWA FARMLAND VALUES SURGE 24%... Iowa farmland reached a record $8,296 an acre as of November 1, a rise of $1,588 an acre, or 23.7%, from 2011, according to the annual Iowa State University (ISU) Land Value Survey. This marks the third year in a row values have increased by more than 15%, says Dr. Mike Duffy, leader of the survey. For perspective, Iowa land values rose at a rate exceeding 30% a year for the consecutive years of 1973, 1974 and 1975. A 25% annual increase then followed in 1976. Duffy says an
eventual correction is inevitable, but because farmers are better positioned than the 1980s, he believes it "won't be a crash, but a slow decline." Click here for more insight from "Your Precious Land."
INPUTS MONITOR ADVICE... Pro Farmer Inputs Monitor subscribers today were advised to book winter diesel needs and a portion of spring needs. Click here for more.