The Justice Department's meeting in Iowa with US farmers to discuss what has become a growing challenge for many of them. It's seed prices. The rub being that the industry for bioengineered seeds is controlled by a handful of seed manufacturers and the government wants to know whether this has become an anti-trust matter. Neil Harl, a farmer and retired economist at Iowa State University, says with multiple m mergers in recent years, industry consolidation has become an issue.
We estimate that one of the companies, either directly or indirectly can influence about 90% of the germplasm in the major food crops and that’s a pretty awesome level of concentration.
President Forms Export Promotion Cabinet
President Obama has signed an Executive Order establishing an Export Promotion Cabinet. The EPC is an Administration initiative designed to improve conditions that directly affect the private sector's ability to export. The Export Promotion Cabinet is charged with monitoring the National Export Initiative.
Senators Want Japanese Restriction on Beef Lifted
19 U.S. Senators, including Ag Committee chairman Blanche Lincoln and Senator Mike Johanns, have introduced a resolution pressing Japan to lift its partial ban on U.S. beef. The resolution states Japan should immediately expand market access for U.S. beef products and urges the Obama Administration to insist on increased market access from Japan.
Bambi is a Pest
Wildlife feasted on North Carolina field crops last year, running up a tab of $29.4 million, according to a statewide survey by the N.C. Agricultural Statistics Division.
Wildlife damaged $19 million worth of soybeans and $5.6 million worth of corn, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in announcing the report. Damage to wheat, peanuts and cotton totaled $4.8 million.
The wildlife damage survey used a random sample of 1,200 North Carolina soybean, cotton, peanut, corn and wheat growers. The survey targeted only these field crops and was not designed to measure wildlife damage to other crops, such as vegetables, fruits and nursery plants. It was a cooperative effort of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, N.C. Soybean Producers Association, N.C. Small Grain Growers Association, N.C. Peanut Growers Association, N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and the state Wildlife Resources Commission.
USDA Tightening Guidance on Pork Contracts
Guidance currently in place for loans to contract poultry operations meant to protect them from questionable business practices will now be expanded to include contract pork operations. In making the announcement, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack explained - USDA currently provides guidance to county offices on the analysis and evaluation of applications for direct and guaranteed loans for contract poultry operations, and how those loans are serviced. The purpose is to avoid making loans that may exacerbate integrator business practices that have left some producers suddenly without contracts and unable to pay back their FSA loans.
Jeff Orrock, National Weather Service Warning Coordinator and meteorologist says that the National Weather Service is constantly updating their internet tools. One of their latest enhancements is precipitation tracking--You go to weather dot gov, weather g-o-v, and click on the water tab; it makes sense, to click on the “water” tab. It takes you to river information, if you’re interested in river flow and the river forecast for the area, and you can zoom into North Carolina and there’s also a tab for precipitation and you can zoom in to just Central or Western or Eastern North Carolina, and you can choose a date.
You can also put a different spin on the data when you can click on the links that give the departure from normal; what’s been the percent of normal rainfall over the last 30 or 60 days, or whatever. Say, if you have the idea that you’ve been wetter than normal that allows you to actually see how wetter than normal you’ve been. It was great for tracking the drought. We were looking at percent of normal rainfall and we were looking at that weekly; what’s been the trend this week, what’s been the trend over the last 30 days, over the last 60 days, and it allows you to map it out over a pretty high resolution map. You can see even down to the county level who’s been getting more rainfall than others. It’s a pretty useful interface.
The data that’s found at weather dot gov then is compiled with that of interactive websites like cocorahz dot org--The volunteer networks, the people that send in their data through the cocorahs system, comes into the weather service and it’s part of our mainstream data. Of course, we have to quality control it like we do all data. We’ll go through there and look at the reports and its part of our mainstream data, we use it every day. It’s been a great asset.
Jeff Orrock, National Weather Service Warning Coordinator and meteorologist says that the National Weather Service in Raleigh, NC.