Ben Dunsmoor reported today at Keloland Television Online that, “The stalled Farm Bill took center stage as South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Democratic challenger Matt Varilek squared off in their first debate Wednesday at Dakotafest in Mitchell.”
UPDATE- (“Noem, Varilek debate farm bill“) by David Montgomery, posted Wednesday at the Argus Leader Online stated that, “Democratic House candidate Matt Varilek hammered Rep. Kristi Noem over the stalled progress of the farm bill at their first debate Wednesday.
“But Noem swung right back, accusing Varilek of supporting expansive government and a cap-and-trade program.”
The article added that, “[Varilek] repeatedly returned to the farm bill, accusing Noem of not supporting an effort to force a vote and of not being vocal at meetings of the House Agriculture Committee.
“‘We might not be in this situation if my opponent had been more focused on ag issues longer ago,’ Varilek said.”
Mr. Montgomery noted that, “Noem defended her record, arguing she was working hard to pass a farm bill and it was the fault of Congressional Democrats the bill hasn’t yet passed. She accused Varilek of lying and making up facts.
“‘There was so much spin in that story that Matt almost fell out of his chair,’ Noem said after Varilek criticized her position on forcing a vote on the farm bill. While Noem chose not to lead that effort, she said Wednesday she plans to support it if there’s still no progress when Congress reconvenes in September.”
Marc Lifsher reported in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “Major food growers and processors are pumping millions of dollars into an increasingly hefty war chest to fight a November ballot measure that would require labels on genetically engineered foods. In all, they’ve collected $25 million, the most for any ballot initiative this fall.
“Anticipating the need for a high-dollar media campaign to fight the measure, agribusinesses, biotech corporations and manufacturers of some of the bestselling grocery products are bankrolling the effort.
“Details of the campaign remain secret, but public reports of campaign finances show that contributions have more than doubled in the last week. Although the No on Proposition 37 campaign’s biggest expense thus far has been about half a million dollars for political consultants and media experts, campaign officials said a major advertising campaign is in the works.”
In addition, today’s LA Times article included this graphical summary (click on the image for full, complete view):
For more background on GMO issues, see this FarmPolicy.com update from August 16.
Financial Times writers Gregory Meyer and Javier Blas reported yesterday that, “Grain prices lurched higher as a widely publicised tour of drought-stressed US fields estimated corn and soyabean yields well below official forecasts…On Tuesday, September corn rose 1.4 per cent to $8.26½ per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, less than 20 cents below the contract’s all-time high.”
The FT writers added that, “Separately, Christopher Mahoney, head of agriculture at Glencore, said US corn production would probably be lower than the USDA’s current estimate of 273.8m tonnes (10.8bn bushels). Final output could drop to as low as 260m tonnes (10.23bn bushels), he warned.
“‘We have not seen [a drought-related problem] like this in the past,’ he told investors in a conference call, comparing the situation to ‘the Dust Bowl years of the mid-30s’.
“Mr Mahoney suggested corn consumers will need to ration more than currently envisaged by the USDA, particularly in the feed and export sectors.”
Meanwhile, Ian Berry and Own Fletcher reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “On Tuesday, corn reached a record closing high, and soybeans are only a few cents shy of all-time highs.”
Speaking recently to Brownfield Ag News, Purdue University Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt described some of the impacts higher corn prices will have on the livestock sector:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to update its production estimates again on September 12.
Biofuels: Renewable Fuel Standard
Reuters writer Ayesha Rascoe reported yesterday that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it has begun weighing requests to suspend the U.S. ethanol mandate, which requires refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline, and is seeking public feedback.
“The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas asked the agency last week to temporarily waive the U.S. quota on ethanol made from corn, because the worst drought in 50 years has driven corn prices higher and hurt livestock producers who depend on the grain for feed.”
The article added that, “By law the agency has until November 13 to make a decision on the waivers, meaning EPA could act on the requests after national elections on November 6.
“Aimed at reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, would require 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be made from corn this year.”