Three North Carolina representatives of the FFA are on an agriculture tour of China. Josh Bledsoe, State Leader for Agricultural Education as well as the state FFA Advisor:
“Well, these students are state FFA officers from most of the states across the nation, and each year the national FFA coordinates this trip for the state officers, really to expose them to international agriculture and international culture.”
The tour included such stops as a tea plantation, and a silk farm. North Carolina’s representatives are State FFA Pres, John Stewart, NC State from Knightdale HS in Wake County, Hannah Russell, NC State, SW Randolph HS in Randolph Co., and Caroline Tart, NC State, Rosewood HS in Wayne Co.
Expectations of Bigger Production Changes Not Met in USDA Report
USDA reported 2011’s final agricultural numbers late last week. USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber:
“The changes that were made in this report and new numbers; the biggest difference is we have brought down harvested on some of the grains, and then a big adjustment on some abandonment on cotton.”
Glauber says yields came out higher than a lot of people expected.
Food vs Fuel Debate Refuses to Rest
Early last week, a Purdue University Ag Economy Professor said expect higher food prices and put the blame on the renewable fuel ethanol. Late in the week crop prices fell like a rock because of USDA reports – but the professor says high feed corn prices are responsible for high food prices because of shortages.
Steve McNinch is a board member of Growth Energy :
“If you look at world feed grain prices, you know we had the drought cause some damage to the feed grain crops in the United States, but around the world there’s absolutely no shortage of feed grain.”
McNinch is frustrated with this controversy:
“See crude oil prices over $100 a barrel and the increased chatter about Iran threatening to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, what is wrong with making our own fuel in the United States. Nobody seems to have a problem with sending our corn to China, why wouldn’t we want to use corn here in the United States to make our own fuel and become less dependant on foreign countries.”
But consumers are always going to point to higher commodity prices:
“Part of the thing that everybody needs to realize is commodity prices in general has risen, and the cost to grow those crops has risen right a long with it.”
No Threat to Food Safety with Consolidation of FSIS Offices
USDA has announced a new blueprint for the Food Safety and Inspection Service – which will consolidate 15 district offices into 10 by the end of Fiscal Year 2013. However – Food Safety Under Secretary Dr. Elisabeth Hagen says the safety of the U.S. meat, poultry and egg supply won’t be diminished:
“There’s no risk to food safety at all. I think that some of the initial reports out there suggested that by going from 15 offices to 10 that we would actually have less inspection going on, or that we would have fewer inspectors on the job, and that’s just absolutely not true.”
Hagen says the consolidation effort is about improving technologies and customer service. Everything USDA does is about consumer protection, Hagen says, and the consolidation won’t put consumers at risk.