USDA Looks at 150 Years

USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien was in Raleigh earlier this week to participate in 4th District Representative David Price’s annual Farmers’ Briefing. With a farm bill on the line, in an election year no less, with a congress that can’t seem to agree on anything, O’Brien looked back on the political climate when USDA was created 150 years ago:

“Amazing thing to think about that at the time that at the USDA was created, at the time the Homestead Act was created, at the time the Morrill Act was passed creating land grant universities, was created was during the Civil War.”

As far as getting a farm bill passed under what’s generally considered adverse circumstances, O’Brien is hopeful:

“We think about the challenges that are presented to us today, and how difficult it is for congress to pass laws, and to really move the ball forward. But, we know in the past leaders have stood up and know how to get things done when they have to get things done, and hopefully that’s what will happen with this farm bill this year.”

Warmer Weather Brings Faster Crop Development

Warm conditions across the South mean those corn crops already planted will be vulnerable – according to USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey – who says the warm weather will cause the crops to emerge and develop quickly. Already 20-percent of the corn crop is planted in Texas, eight-percent in Georgia and four-percent in South Carolina…

“With the warm weather and the areas with abundant moisture, there will be a rapid development of the corn crop. So, again we’ll be keeping an eye on the north for any signs of cold air, certainly no appearance of that at this point, but if things change we’ll have to keep an eye on corn, wheat and other crops.”

Including blooming fruit trees in the Southeast – which Rippey says are way ahead of schedule. For Georgia peaches – Rippey says 69-percent of the crop was blooming by March 11th. Only three-percent of the peaches had bloomed at that same time last year.

Release of Strategic Oil Reserves

The US and Britain are said to be making moves that COULD put the brakes on rising gas prices. Sources in Britain tell the Reuters news service the two countries have reached agreement to release some of the strategic oil reserves, though the timing is still very much in question. Energy analyst Bob McNally, who was the White House energy advisor under President George W. Bush, says it's bad move…

“We can’t be frittering away the Strategic Reserves in a useless attempt to try to stabilize global oil prices.”

Presidential Candidate Names Ag Advisors

Republican Presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has named several well-known figures in farm policy circles to his Agriculture Advisory Committee. Co-chairing advisory committee are Nebraska GOP Senator and former USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Johanns says the 11-member panel looks forward to providing counsel to Romney on farm issues and to welcoming a new era of agricultural policy under a new president. Calling agriculture an integral part of the U.S. economy – Romney says as president – he will work to ensure a steady, safe and affordable food supply for all Americans.

Today’s Farm Fact:

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing depends on farmers to produce paper currency—75% of every bill is made of cotton. 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.