Agribusiness
Aug 2, 2012 Pasture Walk Focuses on Efficiency PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 06 August 2012 07:50
Pasture improvement and rotational grazing are key topics for many beef and dairy producers, but one of the big challenges is getting the most forage out of each acre. Scott Cherne uses intensive rotation, in-paddock water lines, legumes and haying to optimize each acre of pasture on his farm near Guttenberg. Cherne’s pasture will be the feature of a pasture walk on Wednesday, August 29, at 6:00 pm. This pasture walk is co-sponsored by ISU Extension & Outreach, the Iowa Beef Center, Southern Iowa Forage & Livestock Committee, and the Northeast Iowa Grazers.

Cherne has over 1 ½ miles of buried water line providing water access in all paddocks. He also has created his own water tanks from old anhydrous tanks. Cherne usually harvests an early hay crop from most of his pastures to contribute to winter feeds, and also to ensure adequate pasture growth in the peak summer grazing time. Frost seeded legumes also help increase forage growth by fixing nitrogen and reducing fertilizer needs. A light supper will be provided following the pasture walk, provided by the Clayton County Cattlemen and the Southern Iowa Forage & Livestock Committee.

The Cherne pasture is located at 33166 Kilm Rd, Guttenberg, IA. From Guttenberg, take Hwy 52 south to County Rd C7X (Garber Rd), turn right (west) about two miles, then turn left (south) on Osterdock Rd about 3 ½ miles to Kiln Rd. Continue west on Kiln Rd about 2 miles. From Colesburg, go north on Colesburg Rd about 2 miles, then turn right (east) onto Osterdock Rd about 6 miles. Turn left (west) onto Kiln Rd, about 2 miles.

Pasture walks are informal educational programs designed to demonstrate one or two key areas of pasture management, as well as answer any questions you might have. Each has a slightly different focus and producers are invited to attend any that are of interest to improving their own pasture management.

All producers who are dependent on forage production are invited to attend. If you have questions, or need detailed directions to the farm location, contact Denise Schwab in the Benton County Extension office at 319-472-4739.

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the RFS, ethanol and corn PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:56

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

The Renewable Fuels Standard, Ethanol, and the U.S. Corn Crop

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

 

Mr. President,

The President and CEO of Smithfield Foods, Larry Pope, took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal again to blame all that ails him on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Some may recall that he did the same thing back in April of 2010 when commodity prices were rising.  At that time, he perpetuated a smear campaign and blamed ethanol in an attempt to deflect blame for rising food prices while boosting Smithfield’s profits.  And now he’s at it again.

I may start referring to Mr. Pope as Henny Penny from the children’s folk tale Chicken Little.  Every time Smithfield has to pay a little more to America’s corn farmers to feed his hogs, Mr. Pope starts up with the same argument that the sky is falling and it’s all ethanol’s fault.

Mr. Pope’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal might lead some to believe that he’s very knowledgeable about the ethanol industry.  But there are many areas where he’s not.  He continues to perpetuate the myth that ethanol production consumes 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop.  Mr. Pope states, “ethanol now consumes more corn than animal agriculture does.”

Everyone with a basic understanding of a livestock farm, a corn kernel or an ethanol plant knows that’s not true.  According to USDA, 37 percent of the corn supply is used in producing ethanol. But the value of the corn does not simply vanish when ethanol is produced.  One-third of the corn re-enters the market as a high value animal feed called dried distillers grains.

I would imagine that millions of hogs raised by Smithfield every year are fed a diet containing this ethanol co-product.  Mr. Pope appears unaware of its existence.  When the distillers’ grains are factored in, 43 percent of the corn supply is available for animal feed.  Only 28 percent is used for ethanol.

This is the inconvenient truth for ethanol detractors.  They prefer to live in a bubble where they believe that ethanol is diverting corn from livestock use.  That’s just not the case.

Mr. Pope also proclaims, “Ironically, if the ethanol mandate did not exist, even this year’s drought-depleted corn crop would have been more than enough to meet the requirements for livestock feed and food production at decent prices.”

I’d like to ask Mr. Pope, why do you think that is?  Why did farmers plant 96 million acres of corn this year?  Why have seed producers spent millions to develop better yielding and drought resistant traits?  The answer is simple:  Ethanol.

If not for ethanol, farmers wouldn’t have planted 96 million acres of corn this year.  Without ethanol, I doubt we’d have seen investment in higher yielding and more drought tolerant corn plants.

I’m sure Mr. Pope is an intelligent man.  But he’s woefully uninformed on the issue of what the ethanol industry and the demand for corn has done for the size and genetic improvement of the corn crop.

It’s easy to understand Smithfield’s motive.  They benefit from an abundant supply of corn, just not the competing demand for it.  What is Smithfield’s primary problem?  Again, the answer is simple:  cost and profit.  They still want to pay $2 for a bushel of corn.

This is an important point that I hope people understand.  For nearly 30 years, until about 2005, companies like Smithfield had the luxury of buying corn below the cost of production.  Corn prices remained at about $1.50 to $3.00 a bushel for nearly 30 years.  Farmers routinely lost money.

The federal government then provided economic support for the farmers.  Producers like Smithfield had the best of both worlds.  They were able to buy corn below the cost of production, and let the federal government subsidize their business by guaranteeing a cheap supply of corn.

In the view corporate livestock producers, subsidies are just fine if they allow them to buy corn below the cost of production.  Anybody could look like a genius with that business model.

Mr. Pope also continues to overstate the impact of corn prices on the consumer.  Agriculture Secretary Vilsack recently stated that farmers receive about 14 cents of every dollar spent on food at the grocery store.  Of that, about three cents is the value of the corn costs.

A research economist at the USDA recently stated that a 50-percent increase in the price of corn will raise the total grocery shopping bill by about one percent.  To put it in perspective, the value of corn in a four-dollar box of corn flakes is about ten cents.

Mr. Pope also exaggerated the impact of ethanol on food prices in 2010, and he’s doing it again today.  He’s using the devastating drought to once again undermine our nation’s food, feed and fuel producers.  And he’s doing it to make more money.

Repealing the Renewable Fuels standard won’t bolster Smithfield’s profits.  Because of the flexibility built into the renewable fuels mandate, a waiver won’t significantly reduce corn prices.

A recent study by Professor Bruce Babcock at Iowa State University found that a complete waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard might reduce corn prices by only 4.6 percent.  The report states, “The desire by livestock groups to see additional flexibility in ethanol mandates may not result in as large a drop in feed costs as hoped.”  And, “…the flexibility built into the Renewable Fuels Standard allowing obligated parties to carry over blending credits from previous years significantly lowers the economic impacts of a short crop, because it introduces flexibility into the mandate.”

The drought is enormous in both scale and severity.  But we won’t know the true impact until September, when the harvest begins.  The latest estimates from USDA indicate an average yield of 146 bushels per acre.  That would result in a harvest of 13 billion bushels.  This would still be one of the largest corn harvests.

I would suggest that those claiming the sky is falling withhold their call for waiving or repealing the Renewable Fuels Standard.  It’s a premature action that will not produce the desired result.  And it would increase our dependence on foreign oil and drive up prices at the pump for consumers.

 
U.S. Soybean Farmers Celebrate Partnership with China PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 12:26
Checkoff helps mark 30th anniversary of growing trade with biggest export partner

ST. LOUIS (July 31, 2012) – China imported 895 million bushels of whole U.S. soybeans last year –more than half of all U.S. soybeans exported. In honor of this important relationship, a delegation of U.S. soybean farmers representing the United Soybean Board (USB), the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) plan to recognize the past 30 years of developing this partnership.

“U.S. soybean farmers go beyond providing our Chinese customers with a reliable supply of high-quality soybeans,” says Vanessa Kummer, USB chair and a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. “We have a partnership devoted to helping China reach its food-security and -safety goals in the 21st century. The soy checkoff, and my fellow soybean farmers representing ASA and USSEC, honor the anniversary of this valued and important partnership.”

U.S. soybean farmers started laying the foundation for today’s strong trade relations with China in 1982. Ever since, the United States has been a committed partner with China in meeting its long-term goal of sustainable food security.

“The creation of the partnership mutually benefits both Chinese soy customers and U.S. soybean farmers,” says ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “Since ASA opened its Beijing international marketing development office in 1982, China has quickly risen to become the largest customer of U.S. soy – importing more than $11 billion today. We look forward to continuing our partnership.”

U.S. soybean farmers’ activities to help expand Chinese agriculture and agribusiness have played a part in China’s increasing production of meat, poultry and fish products. The effort to modernize and develop China’s animal-agriculture industry contributes to its food security and supports the animal-production goals outlined in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan.

“As we celebrate this important milestone, we look forward to further growth of this partnership and providing China with an exceptional product,” says Roy Bardole, USSEC chairman and soybean farmer from Rippey, Iowa. “We remain committed to providing China, and our other customers around the world, the highest-quality soybeans.”

A Chinese delegation highlighted the promising future for this relationship earlier this year by committing to purchase more than $6 billion worth of U.S. soybeans during signing ceremonies in Des Moines, Iowa, and Los Angeles. Altogether, these commitments total more than 13.4 million metric tons, or 492.3 million bushels of U.S. soy, and set a new record for U.S. soybean purchase commitments made in one signing trip.

In conjunction with the formal recognition of the 30-year partnership between the U.S. soybean sector and China, the U.S. group plans to tour a soy crushing plant in northern China, visit Jianguo Poultry Company and participate in a round-table discussion with Chinese soy leaders.

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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Braley Pressures House Agriculture Chairman to Release Farm Bill and Allow a Floor Vote PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 12:08

Braley sends letter to Ag Committee Chairman Lucas urging him to report Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today requested that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas push harder to get a multi-year Farm Bill to the House floor for an up-or-down vote.

In a letter sent to Lucas, Braley requested that he immediately “report” the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act from the Agriculture Committee.  The Committee passed this version of the Farm Bill on July 11th.  However, Chairman Lucas has refused to “report” the bill, a crucial procedural step that is necessary before the House can begin consideration of the bill on the floor.

“Iowa farmers need the certainty of a multi-year Farm Bill, especially given the worsening drought,” Braley said.  “The longer the House waits to vote on a new Farm Bill, the more farmers risk losing the farm safety net when the current Farm Bill expires on September 30th.  I urge House leaders to act immediately to allow a vote on the Farm Bill.”

House Leadership has refused to take up the FARRM Act, meaning Congress likely will not consider a multi-year Farm Bill before a month-long August recess.  Continued delays could allow the Farm Bill to expire on September 30th, meaning the Farm Bill would revert to the outdated 1949 version of the law.

Braley has led the charge to pressure House leadership to allow a vote on the Farm Bill as soon as possible by taking steps to launch a ‘discharge petition.’ If 218 members sign the petition, House Leadership would be forced to hold a vote on the Farm Bill.

Braley’s letter to Chairman Lucas can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/Ga1

Below is the text of Braley’s letter to Chairman Lucas:

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July 30, 2012

 

The Honorable Frank Lucas

Chairman

House Committee on Agriculture

1301 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 

Dear Chairman Lucas:

As you know, House Leadership has recently announced they will be bringing up a one-year extension of the Farm Bill this week. While a short-term extension is preferable to no action at all, I have heard serious concerns from many agricultural groups in my state about taking this approach. We need to continue to push for consideration of a multi-year Farm Bill on the House floor.

I was pleased when on July 11th of this year your Committee approved the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act by a vote of 35-11 with bipartisan support. Although I don’t agree with all of the provisions in this bill, I was encouraged that there was progress on moving this. I was looking forward to having an open debate on the House Floor on this bill and then having this go to conference to come up with the best language possible.

What concerns me is that although your Committee ordered this bill to be reported almost three weeks ago, the Committee report has yet to be completed. House Rule XIII, clause 2(b), makes it “the duty of the chair of each committee to report or cause to be reported promptly to the House a measure or matter approved by the committee and to take or cause to be taken steps necessary to bring the measure or matter to a vote.”

In your July 11th press release on the approval of the FARRM Act, you were quoted as saying, “Today marked an important step forward in the development of the next Farm Bill.” I would appreciate an explanation as to why after the passing of almost three weeks, you have yet to fulfill your duty to report this for Floor consideration. While I understand you can’t control what Leadership decides to bring up on the House calendar, you can show your commitment to our nation’s farmers and ranchers, who need the certainty of a five-year Farm Bill.

 

The need to extend assistance for farmers gets more urgent every day, given the worsening drought that is blanketing more than half the country. Just like millions of small businesses across the country, farmers need certainty and confidence in the federal programs that affect their lives. In the United States some sixteen million jobs depend on the success of American agriculture, and the Farm Bill has a huge impact in my home state of Iowa. Agriculture and related industries account for one in six jobs there and contribute $72 billion into the state’s annual economy. Failure to pass a long-term Farm Bill will have a devastating impact on the agriculture industry.

As the agriculture industry across the country faces the worst drought in decades, I’m particularly concerned that failure to act on a five-year Farm Bill could only exacerbate the current challenges faced by thousands of farmers. Farmers feed our nation, and we need to make sure to provide them the tools they need so that they can continue to deliver safe, affordable food to the table. Every American has a stake in this bill.

Please respond to my office promptly on when the FARRM Act committee report will be released. I stand prepared to work with you in a bipartisan manner to pass a bill that provides long-term certainty.

Sincerely,

Bruce Braley

Member of Congress

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