USFR Weekly Recap - February 5-6, 2011

February 7, 2011 03:07 AM
 

THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
EPISODE #1956
FEBRUARY 5-6, 2011

JOHN’S OPEN: HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. WE SEEMED TO HAVE JUST TWO TOPICS FOR THE NEWS THIS WEEK: EGYPT AND WEATHER. FOR THOSE OF US IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LATTER, THE COVERAGE WAS BARELY ENOUGH. ASIDE FROM THE MIND-BOGGLING AMOUNTS OF SNOW, AIRPORT SHUTDOWNS AND UNPRECEDENTED SCOPE OF THE STORM, IS WAS THE BAND OF ICE THAT FROZE MANY OF OUR HEARTS - AND HOMES. WE WERE LUCKY - OUR POWER WAS OFF JUST 12 HOURS, AND WE APPRECIATED ANEW THE SEEMING EXTRAVAGANCE OF A STANDBY GENERATOR. WE CALLED NEIGHBORS TO OFFER SANCTUARY, BUT TRAVEL WAS REALLY TRICKY. IT IS EASY TO TAKE ELECTRICITY FOR GRANTED, BUT ONE BAD ICE STORM WILL MAKE YOU THINK TWICE BEFORE COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR POWER BILL. TIME NOW FOR THE HEADLINES.....HERE'S AL PELL

THE STORM: THANKS JOHN. THE BLIZZARD OF 2011 HAS MOVED ON, BUT NOT BEFORE LEAVING A MEMORABLE MARK OVER HALF THE COUNTRY. ON THE HEELS OF IT, THE COLD IS PENETRATING INTO THE DEEP SOUTH.

OKLAHOMA SNOW: IN THE PLAINS, HEAVY SNOW, BITTER COLD, AND HIGH WINDS CREATED CHALLENGES FOR RANCHERS AND THEIR HERDS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS TUESDAY'S STORM SET NEW SNOWFALL RECORDS IN CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA FOR A 24 HOUR PERIOD. OTHER STATES HAD SIMILAR SNOW-RECORDS SHATTERED. THE BIG CONCERN NOW IS THE BITTER COLD.

WHEAT CONDITION: EVEN BEFORE THE STORM ARRIVED, WINTER WHEAT IN THE PLAINS WAS ALREADY IN ROUGH SHAPE. THE USDA SAYS MORE THAN HALF OF THE TEXAS CROP IS RATED POOR TO VERY POOR. IN OKLAHOMA, 40% OF THE WHEAT CROP IS IN THAT CONDITION. THE USDA REPORTS JANUARY WAS THE SIXTH DRIEST PERIOD SINCE 1921. AND IN KANSAS, 37% OF THE CROP IS CALLED POOR TO VERY POOR. WHILE THE STORM PROVIDED BADLY NEEDED MOISTURE FOR THE REGION, THERE'S CONCERN ABOUT WINTER-KILL.

NCBA: THIS WEEK'S STORM DELAYED SOME OF THOSE HEADED TO DENVER FOR THE NCBA CONVENTION, BUT ORGANIZERS STILL SAY THERE WAS A NEAR-RECORD CROWD OF ATTENDEES. ABOUT 5,000 PEOPLE BRAVED THE STORM FOR THE CATTLE INDUSTRY CONVENTION AND NCBA TRADE SHOW. THE GATHERING FOCUSES HEAVILY ON SETTING THE POLICY AGENDA FOR THE YEAR. AT THE TOP OF THE LIST...RATIFYING FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS AND OPENING EXPORTS TO CHINA. THERE'S ALSO DISCUSSION ABOUT THE SHRINKING LIVESTOCK HERD IN THE U.S. THE LATEST USDA CATTLE INVENTORY REPORT SHOWS BEEF REPLACEMENT HEIFERS DOWN 5% FROM A YEAR AGO. WITH RISING FEED COSTS, FOGLESONG SAYS SOME PRODUCERS ARE CHOOSING TO TAKE THEIR HERDS TO MARKET EARLIER.

CRP SIGNUP: FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR, THE AG DEPARTMENT IS OFFERING A GENERAL SIGNUP FOR THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM, OR CRP. ACKNOWLEDGING THE VOLATILITY IN GRAIN MARKETS, AG SECRETARY TOM VILSACK EMPHASIZED THESE ACRES WON'T GO INTO EFFECT UNTIL THE FALL. LAND CAN BE ENROLLED FOR A PERIOD OF UP TO 15 YEARS. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A CRP CONTRACT, AND IT'S SET TO EXPIRE THIS FALL, YOU CAN MAKE A NEW CONTRACT OFFER. IF SELECTED IN THIS GENERAL SIGNUP, YOUR CONTRACT WOULD BECOME EFFECTIVE OCTOBER FIRST. SIGNUP BEGINS MARCH 14TH AND WILL RUN THRU THE 15TH OF APRIL.

ROUNDTABLE: MIKE FLOREZ AND BRIAN BASTING

JOHN’S WORLD: SINCE MANY OF US HAD A LITTLE MORE TIME AT HOME THIS WEEK, WE CERTAINLY HAD PLENTY TO ENTERTAIN US ON TELEVISION OR THE INTERNET. I WAS STRUCK BY HOW UNEXPECTED SO MANY OF THE EVENTS WERE. NOBODY SAW THE TUNISIAN UNREST COMING - INCLUDING OUR STATE DEPARTMENT. AND UP UNTIL ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGO YOU COULD HAVE MADE SOME VERY LUCRATIVE BETS OF EGYPT OUSTING ITS GOVERNMENT. I KNOW - I WAS BOOKING A VACATION TRIP THERE EXACTLY AT THAT TIME. I WON'T EVEN MENTION THE STORM WE ARE STILL RECOVERING FROM. WHICH GETS ME TO OUR PREDICTION PROBLEM. I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT WE ARE LOSING ANY FEEBLE ABILITY WE EVER HAD TO FORECAST WITH CONFIDENCE INTO THE FUTURE. CURIOUSLY IT IS THE EVENTS WE DON'T FORESEE THAT ARE MOST DISRUPTING. WHILE FORECASTERS PROVIDE US WITH PROJECTIONS ON PRICES, POLITICS, AND CULTURAL TRENDS, IT TURNS OUT WE ARE ALMOST AS GOOD INDIVIDUALLY AT GUESSING THE FUTURE OF POSSIBILITIES WE ARE AWARE OF. WHAT DOES US IN - AND I THINK MORE FREQUENTLY THAN BEFORE - ARE EVENTS THAT NEVER CROSS OUR MIND. PARTLY THIS IS DUE TO OUR GLOBAL INTERLINKAGE, SO FLOODING IN AUSTRALIA MEANS HIGHER CORN PRICES HERE. IT DOESN'T HELP TO SPOUT CONTRADICTORY ADVICE LIKE, "EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED". BUT WHAT CAN HELP, I BELIEVE IT TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO ANALYZE AND REACT SLIGHTLY FASTER. WITH MODEST PREPARATION AND SOME IMAGINATION WE CAN REDUCE THE SHOCK AND AWE PERIOD AFTER SUCH EVENTS, AND BEGIN OUR RECOVERY OR BETTER YET, PROFIT-TAKING ACTIONS.

2ND HALF:
JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. THE STARTLING NEWS FROM EGYPT REACHED DEEP INTO FARM COUNTRY THIS WEEK AS WHEAT MARKETS, DAIRY PRODUCERS AND OTHER SECTORS HASTILY CHECKED EXPORT FIGURES. PROBABLY BECAUSE WE CAN'T GET OUR EYES OFF CHINA, EVENTS LIKE THE ONGOING UPRISING WILL CONTINUE TO ROIL OUR MARKETS IN THE FUTURE. IT IS ALSO BECOMING APPARENT THAT SEVERAL TRENDS ARE MERGING ON AGRICULTURE AND BECOMING MORE EXPLOSIVE AS DEMAND GROWS EVER CLOSER TO OUR BEST ABILITY TO SUPPLY. WEATHER, POLITICAL TURMOIL, AND REGULATORY CHANGES ARE LESS DISRUPTIVE WHEN MOUNTAINS OF COMMODITIES WEIGH ON MARKETS.  THOSE MOUNTAINS ARE GONE AND MAY NEVER RETURN. LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE HEADLINES AND AL PELL....

DIETARY GUIDELINES: THANKS JOHN. MOM ALWAYS SAID TO EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES...AND THE GOVERNMENT AGREES. ON MONDAY THE USDA AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES RELEASED THEIR 2010 DIETARY GUIDELINES WHICH ARE REVISED EVERY FIVE YEARS. WITH MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF CHILDREN AND MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF ADULTS IN THE U.S. CONSIDERED OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE, THE REVISED GUIDELINES PLACE STRONGER EMPHASIS ON REDUCING CALORIE CONSUMPTION AND INCREASING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. THE GUIDELINES HAVE ALSO REDUCED THE RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE OF SALT TO ABOUT 1,500 MILLIGRAMS, OR LESS THAN A HALF A TEASPOON. SO WHAT CAN YOU EAT? THE GUIDELINES SAY YOUR PLATE SHOULD BE HALF-FULL WITH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. IT ALSO RECOMMENDS MORE WHOLE GRAINS, LEAN MEATS, POULTRY, SEAFOOD AND FAT-FREE OR LOW-FAT MILK. IT SAYS CUT THE SALT, SATURATED AND TRANS FATS, ADDED SUGARS AND REFINED GRAINS.

GE SALMON: ALASKA'S TWO SENATORS HAVE RE-INTRODUCED A BILL THAT WOULD BAN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SALMON. CALLING THE PROPOSAL "IRRESPONSIBLE", SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI SAYS FEDERAL REGULATORS MUST FIRST CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL IMPACT ON ALASKA'S WILD SALMON INDUSTRY. A MASSACHUSETTS BASED COMPANY DEVELOPED A MODIFIED FISH. THEY TOOK GENES FROM CHINOOK SALMON AND INSERTED IT INTO ATLANTIC SALMON. AQUA-BOUNTY TECHNOLOGIES SAYS THEIR FISH GROW TWICE AS FAST AS THE TYPICAL SALMON USING TEN-PERCENT LESS FEED.

DAIRY EGYPT: THE PROTESTS IN EGYPT HAVE IMPACTED GLOBAL MARKETS AND EXPORTS, INCLUDING SOME OF THOSE TIED TO AGRICULTURE, LIKE CHEESE. ACCORDING TO THE U.S. DAIRY EXPORT CORPORATION, EGYPT IS A VERY GOOD MARKET FOR U.S. DAIRY PRODUCERS. THE TRADE GROUP SAYS THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA - WHICH INCLUDES EGYPT AND TUNISIA - IMPORTED 319 MILLION WORTH OF U.S. DAIRY PRODUCTS IN 2010.

HEARTLAND: IT'S BEEN A TOUGH GO IN RECENT MONTHS FOR BUSINESSES BIG AND SMALL. IN RURAL AMERICA, ECONOMIC CHALLENGES HAVE FORCED MANY RETAILERS TO SEARCH OUT NEW WAYS TO KEEP THE DOORS OPEN. IN THIS REPORT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, JEFF FRANKLIN SHOWS US HOW COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE HELPING SMALL-TOWN RETAILERS SURVIVE AND THRIVE...JEFF TELLS US THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THE MERCHANDISING CLASS HAS BEEN OFFERED BY THE UNIVERSITY.

TPOY WINNER: EACH YEAR AT THIS TIME, OUR PARTNERS AT TOP PRODUCER MAGAZINE COMB THROUGH A IMPRESSIVE PILE OF ENTRIES IN ORDER TO SELECT THEIR TOP PRODUCER OF THE YEAR. 2011 IS NO EXCEPTION. THEY NARROWED THE LIST TO THREE FINALISTS - ALL WITH OUTSTANDING CREDENTIALS. OUR CONGRATULATIONS TO INDIANA FARMER JIM KLINE FROM KLINE FAMILY FARMS. MUCH LIKE GOLF WHERE WINNERS AT THE "MASTERS" ARE FITTED FOR THE COVETED GREEN JACKET, KLINE RECEIVED HIS TOP PRODUCER JACKET DURING A CEREMONY LAST WEEK IN CHICAGO. CLINTON GRIFFITHS TAKES US INSIDE THIS AWARD-WINNING OPERATION. THANKS CLINTON...WE'LL MEET THE OTHER TWO FINALISTS IN THE COMING WEEKS - ONE FROM MICHIGAN, THE OTHER FROM TEXAS. UP NEXT THIS MORNING, WE'RE OFF TO THE KEYSTONE STATE FOR TRACTOR TALES PLUS WE'LL HAVE OUR COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE...PLEASE STAY WITH US.

TRACTOR TALES: WE ALL KNOW EQUIPMENT USED IN THE FIELD THESE DAYS IS POWERFUL. BUT WHEN YOU WANT TO ADD A LITTLE MORE HORSE-POWER TO YOUR CLASSIC TRACTOR, WHERE DO YOU GO? AT THE PENNSYLVANIA FARM SHOW IN HARRISBURG LAST MONTH, AL RAN IN TO A COMPANY THAT CAN HELP. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS COMPANY, HEAD ONLINE TO WWW.KEYSTONETURBOLLC.COM ...WE'LL BE SURE TO POST A LINK ON OUR HOME PAGE FOR INSTANT ACCESS.

CHURCH SALUTE: WE VISIT BOTH COASTS THIS WEEK ON OUR COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE. FIRST WE HONOR THE ZION UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN ZION, MARYLAND FOR THEIR TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF MINISTRY. THE CHURCH IS LOCATED ON THE SAME CORNER AS THE ORIGINAL LOG STRUCTURE THAT SERVED THE FOUNDING METHODIST SOCIETY, AND HAS BEEN EXTENSIVELY RENOVATED OVER THE YEARS. THEY MARKED THEIR BICENTENNIAL LAST NOVEMBER. WE THANK RUTH BROWN FOR SENDING IN HER CHURCH. NEXT WE TRAVEL TO THE HOLY TRINITY ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN FRESNO, CALIFORNIA FOR OUR SECOND COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE. THOMAS HAGOPIAN WROTE TO SAY HE THOUGHT HIS CHURCH WOULD BE A CHANGE FROM OUR MORE FAMILIAR DENOMINATIONS. IN FACT, I THINK IT MAY BE THE FIRST OF ITS KIND. FOUNDED IN 1895, IT WAS THE SECOND ARMENIAN CHURCH IN THE U-S AND CONTINUES TO SERVE AS THE CULTURAL HUB OF THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY. THE CHURCH HOLDS AN ANNUAL BLESSING OF THE GRAPES, A RITUAL THAT DATES BACK TO PAGAN TIMES, AND NOW HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH OBSERVANCE OF THE ASSUMPTION. AS ALWAYS WE WANT TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR HOME CHURCH AS WELL... SALUTES CAN BE SENT TO THE ADDRESS ON THE SCREEN. STAY WITH US - THE MAILBAG IS NEXT.

MAILBAG: TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....A PERTINENT QUESTION ABOUT CRP PAYMENTS FROM HANS SACRISON IN KALISPELL, MONTANA. "YOU INDICATED SOME OF THE FARM LAND (WASTE LAND) ON YOUR FARM WAS UNDER CRP OR A SIMILAR PROGRAM. YOU SAID YOU WOULD NOT FARM THIS LAND IN ANY CASE. MY QUESTION: WHY SHOULD THE TAXPAYERS PAY YOU NOT TO FARM LAND YOU WOULD NOT FARM ANYWAY?" WHY INDEED? YOU HAVE PUT YOUR FINGER ON A TROUBLING ASPECT OF FARM PROGRAMS IN GENERAL. IF, AS WE OFTEN SAY, FARMERS ARE THE BEST ENVIRONMENTALISTS, WE SHOULD NOT NEED MONETARY ENCOURAGEMENT TO DO THE RIGHT THING. AND IN TRUTH A LOT OF FRAGILE ACRES ARE VOLUNTARILY KEPT OUT OF PRODUCTION TO PREVENT EROSION. BUT TO GET FILTER STRIPS ALONG WATERWAYS BUILT CORRECTLY, FOR EXAMPLE, AND TO ENCOURAGE ABSENTEE FARMOWNERS TO PROTECT THE SOIL, SUCH PAYMENTS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. OF COURSE, WE COULD ALSO ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS BY REGULATION -SIMPLY MAKING IT THE LAW. BUT IF YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED THERE IS CONSIDERABLE PUSHBACK ARISING FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION, SO LEGISLATORS DECIDED TO USE THE CARROT INSTEAD OF THE STICK. THERE IS ANOTHER SUBTLER ADVANTAGE TO PAYING FOR RIGHT ACTIONS. THOSE PAYMENTS ARE LEVERAGE TO ENCOURAGE OTHER ACTIONS. SO STOPPING THE CONSERVATION RESERVE MIGHT HAVE SOME CURIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
FINALLY, WE SHOULD NOTE THAT WE MAY BE ABOUT TO FIND OUT HOW NECESSARY SUCH GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS ARE AS BUDGET CUTTERS NEED TO FIND BILLIONS TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT. AS ALWAYS, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, SEND COMMENTS TO MAILBAG@USFARMREPORT.COM OR LEAVE US A VOICE MAIL AT 800-792-4329.

 

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