FarmPolicy

April 24, 2014

Uncertain Tax Policy Hurts Agriculture

In response to questions from Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explains how uncertain tax policy creates greater risk for agriculture producers. From today’s Ways and Means Committee hearing on the benefits of permanent tax policy.

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Farm Bill- Policy Issues; EPA; Ag Economy; and, CFTC- Tuesday

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

A news release yesterday from USDA indicated that, “The [USDA] announced today that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Quick implementation of the programs has been a top priority for USDA.”

And Daniel Looker reported yesterday at Agriculture.com that, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington, DC, Monday that farmers should be able to begin comparing the farm bill’s new commodity programs this summer ‘so that producers will have a good three or four months to analyze and assess these programs to make the best possible decision for their particular operation.’

“Vilsack told Agriculture.com that he expects that farmers will be able to sign up for programs before the end of this calendar year.

“Vilsack said that online decision-making tools and materials for Extension educators should be available in a month or two.”

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Farm Bill- Policy Issues; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

Ron Hays, of The Oklahoma Farm Report and Radio Oklahoma Network, spoke on Saturday with House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) about the Farm Bill and farm policy variables at an agriculture town hall during the Oklahoma City Farm Show.

An audio replay and summary of the Chairman’s remarks from Saturday can be found here , while an unofficial FarmPolicy.com transcript of a portion of Saturday’s conversation with Ron Hays and Chairman Lucas is available here.

Chairman Lucas walked the crowd through a brief overview of the development of the 2014 Farm Bill including some of the political realities that contributed to “a two and a half year process of passing a Farm Bill” that “should have taken six months.”

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USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Iowa Press Program Friday

From the Iowa Press, April 4- “USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is the guest on this edition of Iowa Press. He discusses the latest concerns in rural America as well as political issues surrounding the 2014 elections.

“Joining Vilsack at the Iowa Press table are moderator Dean Borg; Kay Henderson, news director for Radio Iowa; and James Lynch, political writer for The Gazette.”

A video replay of the program is available below, and a transcript can be found here.

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WSJ– Cargill: ‘A Longterm Mistake’ to Label GMO Foods

From The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Online, April 4- “Cargill executive chairman Gregory Page discusses the impact of global warming on the nation’s food supply, rising food prices and the battle over labeling genetically modified foods. He spoke with WSJ’s Sara Murray at the ECO:nomics conference.”

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Drought Conditions Worsen, “Double-Whammy” for U.S. Wheat

The U.S. Drought Monitor indicated this week that drought conditions persist in California and are worsening in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. Bloomberg news reported today that the drought conditions coupled with freezing temperatures earlier in the year have been a “double-whammy” for wheat producers. The adverse weather conditions have contributed to rising prices for consumers.

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Farm Bill- Policy Issues (Hearings); Tax Extenders; Ag Economy; and, CFTC- Friday

Farm Bill- Policy Issues: House Ag Committee Hearing

The House Ag Committee held a hearing yesterday “to review the state of the rural economy,” and heard from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

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Rep. Adrian Smith Questions U.S. Trade Representative

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) questions U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about what the Administration is doing to address non-tariff trade barriers in China, Japan, Canada, and in future trade agreements. This exchange took place today at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on trade.

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Sharp rise in FAO Food Price Index

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its monthly Food Price Index today. The index was up for the second month in a row. FAO Economist Michael Griffin explains some of the details of today’s report.

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Farm Bill- Policy Issues; Ag Economy; EPA; and, Political Notes

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

Farm broadcaster Don Wick, of the Red River Farm Network, interviewed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack yesterday where the discussion focused on the Farm Bill.  An unofficial FarmPolicy.com transcript of yesterday’s interview is available here, while an audio replay can be heard here.

Mr. Wick asked Sec. Vilack about recent Farm Bill stakeholder meetings and what was gleaned from the discussions.  Sec. Vilsack noted that, “I think what we learned was, number one, people are anxious to get this implemented, and number two, that we have correctly identified the first thing that needs to get done, which is disaster assistance for our livestock producers, and number three, that producers are very anxious to get information about the other choices that they’re going to have to make in terms of crop insurance coverages and in terms of the safety net programs, which is why our focus, after we get the livestock disaster assistance programs up and going on or before April 15th so people can make application for the resources they need for losses they incurred in 2011, ’12 and ’13, we’re going to focus our attention on getting the informational materials out to folks across the country so that they can begin familiarizing themselves with the programs and begin making informed decisions about what they need to do.”

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House Budget; Ag Economy; Regulations; Biotech; and, Biofuels

House Budget Proposal

Ed O’Keefe reported in today’s Washington Post that, “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced a budget proposal Tuesday that would cut more than $5 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, primarily by effectively repealing President Obama’s signature health-care law and greatly reducing funding for social programs.”

The Post article noted that, “Congress approved a bipartisan two-year budget agreement late last year, but Ryan said he drafted a separate proposal because the current plan ‘is nowhere near what we need’ to cut spending.”

Mr. O’Keefe added that, “But any fighting between Democrats and Republicans on spending will not result in the deadline-driven fiscal crises of recent years. Although the GOP-controlled House is expected to debate and pass Ryan’s plan, it will serve only as a political show vote because Democrats, who control the Senate, do not plan to propose or vote on a budget plan.”

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Focus on the U.S. Ag Economy; Biofuels; Immigration; and, CFTC

Agricultural Economy: USDA Reports- Planting Intentions, Grain Stocks

A news release yesterday from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) indicated that, “Producers surveyed across the United States intend to plant an estimated 81.5 million acres of soybeans in 2014, up 6 percent from last year and an all-time record high, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by [NASS].  If realized, soybeans will surpass the previous record of 77.5 million acres planted in the United States set in 2009.”

The release added that, “Corn growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres in 2014, down 4 percent from last year and if realized the lowest planted acreage since 2010. Expected returns for corn are anticipated to be lower in 2014 compared with recent years [related graph].”

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U.S. Hog Numbers Decline, PED Virus a Significant Concern

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs estimates on Friday. As U.S. pig numbers declined to the lowest levels in seven years, concern about the PED virus is capturing the attention of USDA’s Chief Economist Joe Glauber.

Jesse Newman and Kelsey Gee explored the PEDv issue in more detail in today’s Wall Street Journal.

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Climate- Policy Issues; COOL; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Immigration; Biotech; and, EPA

Climate Issues- White House Proposal, and Farm Bill Issues

Justin Gillis reported on the front page of today’s New York Times that, “Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.”

Chapter Seven of the report, which is available here, is titled, “Food Security & Food Production Systems.”

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An Updated Look at Agricultural Prices

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its monthly Agricultural Prices report on Friday. Some commodity prices, like corn (graph) and soybeans (graph) have decreased over the past year, while some livestock related prices, like cattle (graph) and milk (graph), have been on the rise.

The livestock sector has benefited from these trends as production input costs for feed have decreased, while prices received for many livestock related products have increased.

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ERS: Family farms dominate U.S. production of major field crops and hogs, poultry, eggs

From USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), March 28.

ERSGraph

Family farms—whether using the ERS definition based on majority ownership of the farm business or the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) definition based on the predominance of family-supplied labor—account for a large share of U.S. agricultural production. However, their relative production within commodity groups varies. Family farms were particularly important in the production of major field crops (corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat), where they accounted for 62-96 percent of U.S. production in 2011, and in hogs, poultry, and eggs, where they accounted for 68-96 percent of production. Family farm production shares are lower in every major commodity category when focusing on the share of farms where the principal operator and spouse provide most of the labor used on the farm (the FAO standard). Large farms, often family owned but heavily reliant on hired farm labor and contract service providers, account for a large share of U.S. production, particularly in high-valued crops (fruit, nuts, vegetables, and nursery) and dairy. For example, family-owned and operated farms account for 75 percent of dairy production, but the operator and spouse usually provide less than half the labor on those farms. This chart can be found in “Family Farming in the United States” in the March 2014 Amber Waves.

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