Agribusiness
U.S. and South American Farmers Unite to Support Biotech PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:15
United Soybean Board Directors and South American Farmers Meet with European Union Officials
ST. LOUIS (July 17, 2012) – Farmers who produce 90 percent of the world’s soybean exports have joined forces to support biotechnology in the European Union.

Soybean farmers from the United States and their counterparts from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, though competitors in global soy trade, are presenting a united front in meetings with members of the European Union (EU) food and feed chain and representatives of the EU government. The farmers, part of a group formed in 2007 known as the International Soy Growers Alliance, plan to discuss the importance of biotechnology to feed a growing population and how slow government-approval processes and restrictions based on non-scientific reasoning cause trade disruption.

“This has been a very important meeting for us,” says Bob Metz, soybean farmer from West Brown Valley, S.D., and vice chair of USB’s Global Opportunities program. “The European Union is a very important customer for us and obviously a large population. They only produce about two percent of their protein needs in the European Union so they have a great dependence on the rest of the world for soybeans.”

USB and the soy checkoff help collect and disseminate information about the safety of biotech soybeans to keep decision makers informed. The EU has a lengthy approval process on new biotech varieties, which have not only affected soy exports to these 27 countries, but also to other European countries as well as countries that trade with the EU.

“We have delivered a very strong message as we stand together with our South American friends saying that the market is moving forward with biotech events, not only from the United States but from universities in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay as well,” adds Metz. “As these new traits come forward, the European Union really needs to find a way to accept these traits in a more timely fashion.”

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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USDA Announces 2.0 Version of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:14
Updated Compass offers new case studies, updated map data, and enhanced search functions

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2012—USDA today unveiled an updated version of its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. The KYF Compass is an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects through successful producer, business and community case studies.

"Local food is a rapidly growing trend in American agriculture. It offers additional market opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food business entrepreneurs while enabling consumers to develop a deeper understanding of where their food comes from and how it is produced," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "The new stories and data in the 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass offer a comprehensive look at the impact local food is having across the country."

The updated version includes new case studies and additional mapped data, including locations of farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processing facilities. The map also features enhanced search functions that allow for easier navigation.

To celebrate the release of the Compass 2.0, USDA and the White House Office of Public Engagement are co-hosting a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, July 17, at 3 pm EDT. The event will be moderated by Deputy Secretary Merrigan and White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson. The Hangout will feature women leaders in local food from around the country and can be viewed on www.Whitehouse.gov/live or on the White House Google+ Page. USDA will also host a follow-up #ASKUSDA Twitter chat on local food and the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative on Thursday, July 24, at 1:30 pm.

In September 2009, USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to coordinate USDA resources and expertise on local and regional food systems. In February, 2012, USDA first released the KYF Compass to document the ways in which USDA has collaborated across its 17 agencies and additional offices, enhanced transparency and met congressional mandates from the 2008 Farm Bill on local and regional food. KYF is not a separate USDA program or agency. It is a management initiative to increase inter-agency coordination.

For more information, visit the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer or join the conversation on Twitter by using the hash tag #KYF2.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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Schilling Supports Bipartisan Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 13 July 2012 12:20

Bill protects safety net, strengthens rural America, should continue forward

Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) released the following statement today after the House Agriculture Committee held 14 hours of debate and early this morning approved H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act by a vote of 35-11, with his support:

“As the Ag Committee has been working towards passage of the next farm bill, I’ve appreciated all the feedback from our area’s farmers and producers,” Schilling said. “Illinois’ 17th District is an agricultural powerhouse, and their input on the needs of the ‘final three feet’ has been invaluable to me as the Committee has worked to produce a farm bill that works for America and provides farmers and producers the tools they need to manage their risk and do what they do best, which is feed our country."

Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and members of the Committee joined Schilling at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg last March for a field hearing on the area’s priorities for the next farm bill.  Witnesses at that hearing expressed the importance of developing policy that appreciates and recognizes the risks involved with growing food and fiber.  They stressed the need for an effective safety net and a choice of risk management tools to enable farmers to continue producing a stable food supply and competing in a global marketplace.

The five-year FARMM Bill that passed the Committee this morning has a strong crop insurance title, and would save $35 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years.  Sixteen billion dollars in savings comes from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, which account for about 80 percent of farm bill funding.  

“The SNAP program is vital, and it’s important to me that those who are most in need continue to receive help,” Schilling said. “I’m grateful that Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson adopted ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans to ensure that this farm bill closes loopholes and eliminates waste, fraud, and abuse in SNAP law, such as preventing lottery winners from receiving benefits, while continuing to provide assistance to those that need it.  With 8.2 percent unemployment, the more people we can put back to work, the fewer people on programs like SNAP.  From day one, I have been focused on relentlessly advocating for polices that help put Americans back to work with good paying jobs.

“With the Ag Committee having passed this bill, it should be brought to the floor to ensure that farmers and producers have the certainty of a five-year farm bill and needy families have the certainty of continued assistance.”

At $136.3 billion, 2011 was a record year for U.S. agricultural exports.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, every $1 billion in AG exports provides for 8,400 related jobs for men and women here in America.

Background:

What is the Farm Bill? This 12 title bill sets forth policies on commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous issues.

How much money would the House Agriculture Committees Farm Bill Save? $35 billion ($16 billion from nutrition/SNAP, $14 billion from commodity programs and about $6 billion from conservation).

The Senate Farm Bill would save about $23 billion.

Where does the money go? Over a period of ten years, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that these programs receive $995 billion in budget authority.  $772 billion, or 78 percent, goes to food stamps.  While called “the Farm Bill”, this legislation is really a food and nutrition bill.

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To send Congressman Schilling an e-mail, click here

 
Loebsack Stands Ready to Support Iowa Farmers Affected by Drought-like Conditions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joe Hand   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:41

Encourages Eastern Iowa Farmers to Attend Drought Meeting July 18th

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today offered his support and assistance to Iowa farmers whose livestock and crops have been damaged by the recent heat wave and lack of rain across the state.  Loebsack has been traveling throughout Iowa, meeting with farmers and livestock producers and has heard firsthand of the worsening conditions, which provided him information to make USDA aware of the conditions on the ground.

“I have kept in close touch with Iowa farmers and livestock producers that have been hurting from the heat wave and lack of rain.  Iowans have lost livestock, are worried about the quality of the crop, and are seeing grazing land dry up. I have taken those concerns directly to USDA to let them know about what I’m hearing from farmers.  I am pleased Iowa farmers will have an opportunity to talk with the Governor about their concerns.  I stand ready to assist the Governor in pursuing assistance for farmers from USDA if necessary.  This is why I also pushed to have a livestock disaster aid program included in the new farm bill and I’m happy to say it’s been included in the proposal.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2012

 

9am                 Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold public meeting on dry and D1 Drought conditions

Mt. Pleasant High School gymnasium

2104 South Grand Avenue

Mount Pleasant, IA

 
Grassley seeks scrutiny of commodity broker regulatory system PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:36

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee to address the PFGBest broker scandal during a hearing scheduled for Aug. 1 about the loss of funds by farmers, grain co-ops and commodity brokers when MF Global’s broker-dealer unit collapsed late last year.

Grassley also is asking the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to provide information on what the CFTC did in response to red flags that were raised with the commission regarding PFGBest.

“We have to make sure regulators are doing their job, and congressional oversight is a very important means for doing so,” Grassley said.  “People need to have confidence in our commodity trading system in order for it to work for farmers and investors the way it’s intended.”

Click here for Grassley’s letter to Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts.  Click here for Grassley’s letter to CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler.  Below is the text of both letters.

July 12, 2012

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture
Nutrition and Forestry
Russell Senate Office Building 328A
Washington, D.C. 20510-6000

The Honorable Pat Roberts
Ranking Member, Committee on Agriculture
Nutrition and Forestry
Russell Senate Office Building 328A
Washington, D.C. 20510-6000

Dear Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts:

I know you are both just as concerned as I am with the recent events involving the brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group Inc., (“PFGBest”).  From the hearing the Senate Agriculture Committee conducted earlier this year on MF Global, it’s clear the members of the committee understand just how important our commodity markets are to U.S. agriculture and our economy.

In light of the troubling news reports about how long PFGBest had shown signs of trouble, it’s important the Senate Agriculture Committee look into the PFGBest matter in the same manner as what we have done regarding MF Global.  We have to make sure regulators are doing their job.

I appreciate the fact you have scheduled another hearing regarding MF Global for August 1, 2012.  I respectfully request that you broaden the scope of that hearing to include a look into the PFGBest matter, and ensure there is a witness from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) present at the hearing who is able to answer questions regarding PFGBest.

I thank you in advance for your consideration of my request.  Please feel free to contact me or my staff if you have any questions.

Sincerely,



Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator


July 12, 2012

Chairman Gary Gensler
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Three Lafayette Centre
1155 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20581

Dear Chairman Gensler:

The recent developments involving Peregrine Financial Group (“PFG”) causes me serious concern as to whether the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) is properly overseeing the activities of commodity brokerage firms.  With the events of MF Global fresh in everyone’s memory, we now are faced with yet another incident in which farmers’ and investors’ money may not have been properly safeguarded.

It is my understanding there was no ongoing CFTC investigation that precipitated the events of this week at PFG.  This is extremely troubling given that, according to press reports, there have been red flags for some time.  For example, it has been reported there were indications PFG was short of funds and/or had accounting irregularities as far back as February 2010.  It is critical for Congress to know what the CFTC did to look into these red flags.

Farmers and investors trust commodities brokers to safeguard their accounts and trust the CFTC to police the commodities market.  With the failure of MF Global and now PFG, the CFTC must be open and transparent with Congress and the American people to prevent the continued erosion of customer confidence in the integrity of the commodities markets.

As Congress examines the CFTC’s actions regarding PFG, please provide the following information to help us with our investigation - What steps did the CFTC take to oversee PFG from the beginning of 2010 to the present?  When answering this question, please include all information related to previous violations of PFG, suspicious activity by PFG, and what steps, if any, the CFTC took to respond to these red flags.

I look forward to receiving your response in a timely manner.  If you have any questions, please contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,



Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator

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