Agribusiness
Braley Leads Bipartisan Coalition to Launch Farm Bill Discharge Petition Effort PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 06 August 2012 08:35

Group of four urges colleagues to commit to signing discharge petition

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) today led a bipartisan coalition of Rick Berg (R-ND), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Peter Welch (D-VT) to launch an all-out effort to recruit members to sign a discharge petition that could force a House vote on the 2012 Farm Bill in September.

Rep. Braley said, “Producers battered by this summer’s drought are counting on the Farm Bill to help them through this tough time.  It’s time to get this important bill moving forward.  Rural America is depending on the Farm Bill for our future and can’t wait forever to know the path forward.”

In a letter sent to House colleagues, the bipartisan group urged a commitment to signing the discharge petition as quickly as possible:

“Please join us in committing to sign a discharge petition to bring H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act to the House Floor for a vote,” the letter reads.  “As you know, the Farm Bill has yet to be brought up and it is unclear whether it will come up prior to the Farm Bill’s September 30th expiration date.”

A bill must receive an up or down vote in the House if at least 218 members sign a document known as a “discharge petition.”  On July 24th, Braley took the first steps to initiate a discharge petition on the Farm Bill by introducing a resolution outlining a process to circumvent House leaders’ hold on the bill.

Because House rules require a waiting period between the time a bill is referred to a committee and when members can sign a discharge petition on it, Braley’s Farm Bill petition won’t be officially opened for signatures until after members depart for an August recess.

The Farm Bill is critically important for America’s farmers and the economy and would provide certainty and a safety net for farmers struggling through this summer’s drought.  The hot weather and lack of rain have left farmers vulnerable to weak crops and struggling livestock.  Over half of the counties in the United States have been declared disaster areas due to the drought.

Text of the letter follows; a scanned copy can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/GXD

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Commit to the Farm Bill; Commit to Discharge Petition

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in committing to sign a discharge petition to bring H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act to the House Floor for a vote. As you know, the Farm Bill has yet to be brought up and it is unclear whether it will come up prior to the Farm Bill’s September 30th expiration date.

The House Agriculture Committee approved the FARRM Act by a vote of 35-11 with bipartisan support, but it has yet to be reported. We have heard from various agricultural groups and their message is loud and clear – they want and need a five-year Farm Bill.

According to House Rules, for unreported legislation a discharge petition cannot be filed until 30 legislative days after it has been referred to the committee of jurisdiction. In the case of the House Farm Bill, it was referred on July 9th, so the discharge petition will be able to be filed on or around September 13th, since pro forma days during the August work period will count towards the 30 day requirement.

This petition will move to discharge the Committee on Rules from the consideration of H. Res. 739 entitled, a resolution providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 6083).

Because the discharge petition cannot be filed until after the August work period, we are taking the step of simply seeking commitments from those who are willing to sign it once it becomes available at the Clerk’s desk.

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. Failure to provide certainty will have a devastating impact on the agriculture industry.

Please show your support to our nation’s farmers by committing to sign on to this discharge petition. Feel free to contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it in Rep. Braley’s office if you have any questions or your boss would like to commit to signing this discharge petition. Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,                    

Bruce Braley               

Member of Congress                      

 

Rick Berg                          

Member of Congress

Chris Gibson                        

Member of Congress                      

 

Peter Welch

Member of Congress

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Media Advisory: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Announce Results of 2012 USDA Farmers Market Directory PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 06 August 2012 07:59

National Farmers Market Week Begins August 5

 

WASHINGTON-August 2, 2012-Tomorrow, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will announce the latest findings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2012 National Farmers Market Directory. Each year the annual report shows the total number reported of farmers markets operating throughout the United States. Last year, USDA reported that 7,175 markets were operating across the country. Also, Merrigan will announce this year’s top ten states reporting farmers market growth. This announcement launches National Farmers Market Week which is August 5-11.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C.  20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).

 
ISU Extension Calendar Aug 3, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 06 August 2012 07:58

 
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.

 
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