Corn Growers Pleased to See House Ag Committee Progress on Farm Bill

WASHINGTON (May 16, 2013) – National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson released the following statement in response to the House Committee on Agriculture’s farm bill passage late Wednesday night:

“We greatly appreciate the work by House Committee on Agriculture’s Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the Committee to move forward in the process to develop a five-year farm bill. NCGA is assessing similarities and differences between the legislation and our grower-developed policy.

“While we are pleased the process is moving forward, NCGA remains extremely concerned with the Committee’s decision to adopt a fixed-target-price program that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy. It is also disappointing the Committee failed to use this opportunity to ensure a Revenue Loss Coverage program that is a genuine risk management option for producers.

“We understand this is only the second step in a long process, and we do applaud the House Ag Committee for holding a markup. Now, we call upon Speaker John Boehner to quickly take up the bill in the full House. We look forward to our continued work with members and staff on this important piece of legislation and urge Congress to pass a farm bill this year.”

House Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill, ASA Calls on Full House to Bring Bill to the Floor

ST. LOUIS (May 15, 2013) – The American Soybean Association (ASA) applauds Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the members of the House Agriculture Committee for passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act earlier today. The bill, which passed the Committee on a 36 to 10 vote, will now head to the House floor for consideration. ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., commended the Committee and called on the full House to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

“ASA is very pleased that the farm bill is moving forward, and we applaud Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson, as well as the entire Committee, for their work on the bill,” said Murphy. “The House bill contains several key ASA priorities including provisions to strengthen crop insurance and continue our overseas marketing programs. We remain concerned with the bill’s inclusion of a price-based program under which payments are tied to current plantings, and the potential planting distortions this program could cause if market prices fall. That said, we believe these differences can be ironed out, either on the House floor or in conference with the Senate.”

Murphy noted that ASA was particularly pleased that Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) offered and spoke to an amendment that would have decoupled payments under the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program from current-year plantings in order to avoid production distortions. Rep. Gibbs made clear in his remarks that the PLC program, as included in the draft Committee bill, could distort plantings during periods of low prices, and he argued that all crops should be supported at a consistent level, based on market prices. In withdrawing his amendment, Rep. Gibbs made clear his intention to raise these issues again when the bill moves to the House floor.

“We appreciate Rep. Gibbs’ efforts to highlight the potential distortions that could result from a program based on target prices that are coupled to current-year plantings. The avoidance of such distortions has been a core ASA priority from the beginning, and we commend the Congressman for bringing up this concern during Committee markup.”

Rep. Gibbs was successful in including a second amendment that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to report annually on the impact of the PLC and Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) programs on the planting, production, price, and export of commodities, as well as on the cost of these programs. ASA supported this provision as a means for monitoring Title 1 programs, particularly if payments based on high support levels are tied to current-year production, which could distort planting decisions.

Consumer Report’s report on pork and other things

by George Looby, DVM
The January issue of Consumers Report featured an article summarizing the findings of a group of investigators from the magazine who conducted a representative sampling of pork products from several sources to determine their level of bacterial contamination. It is recognized that while the animal is alive, most edible parts are sterile but during and after slaughter the potential for contamination rises significantly. Today’s packing house environment is far superior to that which existed years ago but the potential for contamination still exists with the need for speed on the processing line sometimes compromising good sanitation despite. [Read more…]

Integrating shade into grazing pastures

CN-MR-1-Integrating shade1977by Tamara Scully
Silvopasture is the managed integration of trees and livestock, utilizing the land both to produce a tree crop and to graze livestock. This multi-tasking can result in diverse income streams, with money from timber, nuts, syrup or other tree by-product, plus income from livestock production. Silvopasturing enhances both systems: the forest and the animals. It is one of five recognized agroforestry practices in the United States.
Unmanaged woodland grazing can be extremely detrimental to the ecosystem, and may not add any value to a livestock production system. A few scattered trees in a pasture can cause more harm than good. But neither of these scenarios represent a silvopasturing practice.

[Read more…]

Educating farmers on soil health

CN-MR-1-Educating farmers 1by Laura Rodley
Dysfunctional soil in your fields can’t attend a self-help program. It needs your help to bring it back to life, following nature’s system of using microbes and nutrients in organic matter to bring it back to life. Benefits include higher crop yield, less petroleum-based product use, less pesticide use, and a way to keep water in the soil through crop cover rather than irrigating, cutting down erosion, and a reverse of drought conditions in pockets throughout the country.
How do you do that? By planting cover crops that are rolled over and by not tilling, or reducing tilling, and keeping your soil always covered which forms a detritusphere, or armor. [Read more…]