Normal Trade Relations with Russia Progressing

U.S. normal trade relations with Russia moved ahead in the U.S. Senate after House action last month to allow producers to benefit from Russia’s recent accession to the WTO. The Senate moved to join the House to phase out Cold War era trade sanctions against Russia and grant the world’s ninth-largest economy Permanent Normal Trade Relations – or PNTR.

Trade Consultant and former Clinton USDA Trade Adviser Paul Drazek on Russia’s WTO membership without PNTR…

“If we had a complaint against Russia for one reason or another, we would not have access to a dispute settlement mechanism that we would normally go through to get the WTO to rule that Russia is in violation of its commitments.”

Commitments not to raise tariffs above negotiated rates and not bar products on trumped up food safety claims.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sees the passage as progress for US agriculture:

“We had the Senate pass Russia normal trade relations which is a great opportunity for agriculture. It’s a victory for all who are interested in free trade. It will give us the opportunity to significantly expand trade opportunities in Russia. And to do it in a way that we can compel Russians to play by an appropriate set of rules and not make decisions on agricultural products in an ad hoc way.”

For pork producers in particular, this could eliminate the artificial trade barriers imposed by Russia against pork, reopening that market.

South Carolina Grain Markets Stumble

In South Carolina cash grain markets on Friday, 2 Yellow Corn was 13 to 15 cents lower, 1 Yellow Soybeans were 19 cents lower, 2 Red Wheat had too few bids to trend, New Crop 1 Yellow Corn had too few bids to trend, and New Crop 2 Red Wheat was steady to 12 cents lower.

Corn at Country Elevators—7.12 at Kingstree; 7.17 at Lynchburg; corn at Processors—7.53 at Orangeburg 2; 8.34 at Monetta; 8.07, *6.77
at Sumter; and 7.53 at Cassett.

Soybeans at Country Elevators—13.97 at Anderson; 13.72 at Kingstree; 14.12 at Lynchburg; 13.82 at Orangeburg. Soybeans at Processors—14.47 at Kershaw;

And Wheat at Country Elevators—*8.23 at Anderson; 7.12 at Kingstree; *7.73 at Lynchburg; and Processors—*7.75 at Sumter 2; 7.75 at

Dairy a Key Component to Farm Bill Negotiations

If there's no farm bill before the end of the year, legislation will revert back to the 1949 version including the original Dairy Industry Act. Some have speculated that could result in milk prices skyrocketing to 6 to 8 dollars a gallon because federal price supports would nearly double.

Steve Maddox, a member of the National Dairy Board, doesn't see that happening….

“Its the only way you can get that money out of the market place is actually selling to the government. Milk on the shelves would dry up and exports would stop and all of the processing plants would be making product for the government to buy. That realistically is not going to happen.”

If the so-called "dairy cliff" is reached in January, the high price the government would be paying for milk could prompt action, according to Ranking House Ag Committee Member Collin Peterson.

Peterson thinks having the government gouged for a price like that would quickly prompt congressional action.

Congressional Leaders a No-Show to Farm Bill Discussions

Five farm groups – including American Farm Bureau and American Soybean Association – invited House GOP and Democratic Leaders to meet about getting a last-minute farm bill. AFBF Deputy Director Dale Moore says only one showed up…

“So far the only taker has been Mr. Hoyer, but we know this is a very busy time for leadership and we are just trying to get our word out there however we can.”

Steny Hoyer is the number two House Democrat and told House GOP Leader Eric Cantor just before meeting with farm leaders…

“I would hope the farm bill could be moved. I will be talking to some of my ag community today and they are very hopeful that there is not a stop-gap but a farm bill of sufficient length. We need to pass that or milk prices will spike dramatically.”

Hoyer said the farm groups were urging that House Leaders put the Senate-passed farm bill on the House floor. But Cantor won’t even put the House Committee-passed version on the floor – saying only they will deal with the issue in and around the farm bill before leaving this year and repeating there aren’t enough votes to pass the House bill. Moore says it may now take divine intervention to get a five-year farm bill done.

Still Time to Vote for Carolina Finalist in USFRA’s “Faces of Agriculture”

And finally…time is running out to vote in the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance ‘Faces of Agriculture’ campaign. Both North & South Carolina are represented in the 10 finalist. North Carolina’s Bo Stone of Rowland, is a conventional farmer of row crops and his family’s P&S Farms also have a pork operation. South Carolina’s Eric McClam of Columbia is owner of City Roots, a three-and-a-half acre farm near downtown Columbia that focuses on organic fruit and vegetable production. To vote click here, deadline is December 15th. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.