Wheat Growers Counter Farm Bill Think-tank Claims
With the Agricultural Act of 2014 (“farm bill”) set to expire in 2018, Congress will soon begin to negotiate and draft the next iteration of the massive piece of legislation that authorizes federal funding for all farm support and food programs. The R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Heritage Foundation, and other like-minded groups held a Farm Bill policy reform Summit in Washington recently, proposing policy changes to the Farm Bill.
Lawmakers are faced with a uniquely difficult environment. Last time the farm bill was drafted, net farm income was at a record-high level, whereas now it has been significantly reduced. Meanwhile, there are very real spending concerns that lawmakers must address to put our farm support system on a path toward sustainability. In response to the Summit, David Schemm, President of National Association of Wheat Growers and Sharon Springs, Kansas farmer, said “the most misleading argument made by these groups is that crop insurance is a federal subsidy or handout. Quite the opposite. A farmer might go many years paying premiums for a policy and rarely get an indemnity.”
“Earlier this year, within a short span, my crop was impacted by a late season blizzard, disease, and a hail storm” Schemm explained. “Crop insurance didn’t allow me to make a profit, but rather recover some of my loss and enabled me to farm another year. I can personally say that a farmer would much rather get a return on their crop from the market rather than becoming eligible for an indemnity on insurance because of disaster.”
Beltwide Cotton Conference Returns to San Antonio
The 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conferences is set for January 3-5 at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas and is coordinated by the National Cotton Council (NCC) – bringing together university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel/agents, consultants, and industry sales/support personnel. The annual event provides insight on current research and emerging technology – to help attendees improve production, processing and marketing efficiency.
Scheduled topics selected by the consultant community include looking ahead to Bollgard III use, a review of year one of Dicamba use, thrips control, bacterial blight, nematodes, cotton root rot and fungicide seed treatments. Also included will be a regulatory update and presentations on growing cotton economically and on contamination prevention.
There will also be a special workshop, “Risk & Reward: Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Agricultural Producers.” The session is supported by a grant from the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Dr. James Robbins, the workshop coordinator and an Extension specialist at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said 80 percent of commercial UAS systems are expected to be used in agriculture. Because most initial users are uneasy about this emerging technology, he said, “the workshop will focus on risk-based training for both current and future users and include reports on aircraft systems and a workflow demonstration.” The aim is for participants to 1) achieve an improved understanding of flight regulations, types of platforms & sensors, data processing, potential agricultural uses, and liability issues related to UAS and 2) be equipped to make improved decisions to match the best UAS with their needs.
For more information: www.cotton.org/beltwide/.
U.S. Beef Exports Increase While Pork Falls
U.S. beef exports posted another outstanding performance in August, remaining well above last year’s pace, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). August pork exports increased from the previous month but were down slightly year-over-year.
August beef exports totaled 112,069 metric tons (mt), up 5 percent from a year ago and the largest of 2017. Export value was the second-highest on record at $679.1 million – up 20 percent from a year ago and trailing only the record-high value ($688.8 million) reached in October 2014. For January through August, beef exports increased 10 percent in volume (823,433 mt) and 16 percent in value ($4.65 billion) compared to the first eight months of 2016.
Exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total U.S. beef production in August and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts only, compared to 13.7 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, last year. For January through August, beef exports accounted for 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.2 percent) and 10.1 percent (steady with last year) for muscle cuts. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $290.05 in August, up 13 percent from a year ago. Through August, per-head export value was up 9 percent to $275.81.
House Ag Members Talk Trade with Canada
Members of the House Agriculture Committee led a congressional delegation to Ottawa, Canada last week to focus on agricultural trade. The group met with Canadian officials ahead of the next round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations which begin this week.
“Our goal over the past two days was to ensure our Canadian counterparts understand that U.S. production agriculture has a keen interest in getting NAFTA done and done right” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-R). “We have had productive conversations over the weekend with Canadian officials and are eager for negotiations to resume in Washington next week. As I’ve said before, U.S. production agriculture will continue to stay at negotiators elbow throughout this process to ensure their interests are taken into account. This is too important to screw up.”
“The trade relationship between the United States and Canada, especially as it relates to agriculture, plays an integral role in each country’s economy” said Rep. David Rouzer (NC-R). “Spending time with our Canadian counterparts gave us an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the deal for U.S. agriculture. I look forward to continuing these conversations to improve NAFTA on behalf of our producers and farm families.”
“On so many fronts, we enjoy and respect our relationship with our Canadian neighbors; especially on trade” said Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-3). “Overall NAFTA has been favorable for trade to both nations. It has created wealth on both sides of the border. My goal as a member of the Ag Committee is to impress the importance of making those areas that work well, better and those areas that need improvement to correct as quickly as possible. The newly renegotiated NAFTA agreement will bolster trade and lead to increased prosperity for both nations.”
“Given that Oregon is one of the top ten trading states in the U.S. and the number of jobs dependent on trade, I felt this mission to be very important” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-D). “Whether it is the Columbia River Treaty, Pacific fishing, softwood lumber, dairy, wheat or wine it is important for our Canadian friends to know that we need a fair deal. It became obvious to me as we ended our visit that both sides will continue to support one another vigorously, but that the Canadians feel no urgency to come to the table in any of the above. A stronger approach is needed.”