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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News as heard inside the BARN for January 15th…

Posted by Brian Allmer on January 15, 2013

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

“It’s Official: Vilsack to Remain Secretary of Agriculture”

The announcement has been made that Tom Vilsack will continue his service in the Obama Administration as Secretary of Agriculture. According to Vilsack – he and the President share a deep appreciation for rural America and its unlimited potential in the years ahead to feed a growing world population, revolutionize America’s energy, further protect our natural resources and create more jobs here at home. He says the administration will continue to urge Congress to pass a Farm and Jobs Bill that will help continue USDA’s wide range of efforts to support that work. Looking ahead to a promising future in the nation’s small towns and rural communities – Vilsack says he is pleased to continue working alongside President Obama to grow more opportunity in rural America.


“Vilsack Highlights Opportunity in Farm Bureau Address”

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation on Monday – U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the unlimited potential of rural America. He also challenged rural Americans to embrace a proactive message that highlights this opportunity for the rest of the nation. The Secretary urged farmers and producers to take advantage of innovation, job creation partnerships and to share their story of a modern, innovating, inspiring rural America to new audiences. He said rural communities, organizations and leaders must reach new audiences to strengthen the understanding of the agricultural sector. Citing the recent failure of Congress to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill – Vilsack challenged rural America to ensure its voice is more clearly understood in Washington and around the country. He said USDA will continue taking new steps to help rural communities strengthen their economies – while providing a chance to regain population. He committed to doing all he can to work to secure the sort of comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that will continue growing the rural economy.

According to Vilsack – rural America is leading innovation in the U.S. today. By harnessing the potential of that innovation – Vilsack said there is unlimited opportunity to grow the rural economy. He highlighted a number of ways in which USDA is working to create new markets for innovation. Vilsack said his goal at USDA in the coming years is to work to promote rural investment through research and collaboration. He said it’s important to create new ag products that provide a renewed opportunity for the next generation of American farmers. According to Vilsack – USDA is particularly focused on developing new foreign and domestic markets and promoting conservation and recreation in rural communities. He added there’s a need to continue strengthening the biobased economy.

During his remarks to Farm Bureau members – Vilsack set new goals for USDA. He promised the department would build on its successes since 2009 by establishing more local and regional markets and food hubs, assist additional companies in producing biobased products, establish additional conservation certainty agreements and take steps to strengthen ecosystem markets.


“Weather a Big Factor for Crop Markets in 2013”


Dr. Chad Hart told growers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting that weather and the potential for a rebound in demand are the top two factors that will influence crop markets in 2013. During a session on the outlook for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton – the associate professor and extension economist at Iowa State University said prices for corn and soybeans will remain historically high. According to Hart – we aren’t done feeling the effects of the weather system that’s hit us the past couple of years.

Hart said the decline in corn demand had to happen. He says the question for 2013 is – can we move forward? He said a slight increase in demand for corn for feed suggests we can push past the pinch of high prices. He added that better-than-expected yields and the moderating of prices bode well for upping demand. Hart said the corn export market has been cut in half because of higher prices – but climbing prices have had little effect on international demand for soybeans.

Cotton prices – according to Hart – are depressed largely because of the large reserve of cotton. Until China’s cotton market moves – he said it will be hard for cotton to gain upside traction.


“Drought and Feed Costs the Keys to Livestock Markets in 2013”

If conditions don’t improve – Dr. David Anderson with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service says drought and high feed costs could continue to restrict livestock markets this year. Anderson – a professor and economist – spoke to livestock producers from across the country during an issues conference at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting. When it comes to livestock markets – Anderson says everything starts with where we are with drought and pasture conditions. He says costs – in particular – will be based on what happens with the drought in the coming year. Production costs for cattle, pork and poultry were higher last year as corn prices reached up to eight-dollars a bushel because of the drought. Anderson projects as more acres of corn are planted in 2013 – lower prices and decent yields may bring the market back into equilibrium – provided the drought subsides.

Higher retail prices and a weak domestic economy have resulted in a decline in per capita consumption of meat the past five years. He says the key for how high market prices can go in 2013 will largely hinge on demand. Anderson notes the decline in meat consumption has nothing to do with the consumer’s taste for meat. He says Americans still enjoy eating meat – but we’re producing less and have booming export markets. Those export markets – Anderson says – will continue to be a strong outlet for livestock producers in 2013. He says America’s farmers and ranchers stand at the ready to fill increased demand from around the world as the global economy improves and dietary preferences continue to shift to include more meat.


“Grassroots Policy Discussions Begin for NFU in D.C.”

National Farmers Union’s Policy Committee is working to revise the organization’s policy this week. NFU President Roger Johnson says the members of this committee play a vital role in carrying on the tradition of grassroots policy formation in the organization. He says the committee will review the organization’s current policies and offer changes and additions for the delegates to vote on at the upcoming NFU convention. Johnson says this policy is what NFU will advocate for during the course of the next year.

Committee members will hear from White House, USDA and Capitol Hill staff during the week to ensure they have a broader working knowledge of current legislative issues as they revise NFU’s organizational policy. Since a five-year farm bill has not been approved by Congress – Johnson says the committee and NFU convention delegates have another opportunity to have their voices and priorities heard. He says the policy will undoubtedly focus heavily on the farm bill and ensuring certainty for America’s family farmers and ranchers.

This week’s work is part one of a two-step process. Step two takes place during NFU’s convention in March. At that time – any NFU member can propose changes to the policy. The committee considers those proposals and submits a final copy of the suggested policy to the state delegates at the convention for their consideration, amendment and adoption.

The 111th Anniversary Convention of NFU takes place March 2nd through the 5th in Springfield, Massachusetts. Visit www dot nfu dot org slash convention ( for details.


“Students Can Apply for FFA’s I-CAL Program, Trip to Brazil”

Collegiate FFA is accepting applications for the 2013 International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership program – or I-CAL. Twelve students pursuing degrees in the agricultural field will travel to Brazil this spring. The trip is tentatively scheduled for May 19th through June 1st. It will allow selected students the opportunity to study global agriculture and international marketing. The students will learn about current international trade and cultural issues and gain awareness of how international markets for agricultural products operate. Students will later give educational presentations to local groups and organizations about their experiences.

I-CAL was developed as a partnership with the U.S. Grains Council and the Grains Foundation. Prior FFA experience is not required for those who wish to apply. The deadline for applications is five o’clock Eastern time on January 30th.

For more information and to download an application form – visit www dot FFA dot org slash collegiate (


“Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Elect New Chair”

Zach Hunnicutt of Nebraska has been elected Chairman of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee for 2013. He will take the position next month and serve for one year. Hunnicutt farms with his wife Anna – raising irrigated corn, popcorn and soybeans. He earned a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hunnicutt and his wife are both active in social media – working to tell agriculture’s story and helping bridge the gap between consumers and farmers and ranchers. Hunnicutt says he intends to continue to build on the efforts of young farmers to connect with people outside of agriculture. He says he’s able to reach out to people from the seat of his tractor with social media and it’s effective. He would also like to help younger growers ramp up their involvement in the policy development process in their counties and states. Hunnicutt would also like to get state Young Farmer and Ranchers committees to collaborate more.


“DuPont Invests in My American Farm Resource”

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s My American Farm program engages youth, teachers and parents with online games and hands-on activities that teach core content subject areas like math and science – while reinforcing key agricultural themes. On Sunday – DuPont and the foundation announced a donation to the virtual education resource. The 250-thousand dollar donation from DuPont Pioneer will support new games and resources – outreach to K through 12 stakeholders and a mobile application to increase access and use of the online educational portal.

DuPont Pioneer Vice President of Policy and Outreach Susan Bunz says the company actively promotes science education with the goal of attracting more students to study and pursue careers in the sciences – including agriculture. She says they know it’s important to grab their attention early to ensure youth remain engaged throughout their school years. According to Bunz – the My American Farm program supports that goal in a meaningful way.

Children can learn math, social studies, language arts and science in the context of agriculture and food production by playing fun interactive games at www dot myamericanfarm dot org ( The program also provides high-quality educational resources for educators.


“Speakers for Ag Outlook Forum Announced”

USDA has announced speakers for the 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum. Managing Risk in the 21st Century is the theme of this year’s event – scheduled for February 21st and 22nd in Arlington, Virginia. The keynote address will be presented by U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. Former Senator Tom Daschle will also speak. USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber will present the economic outlook for agriculture and moderate a panel on the role of crop insurance in risk management, reinsurance and the changing face of the U.S. and foreign crop insurance. Adam Sieminski – U.S. Energy Information Administration Administrator will address the energy market outlook. For a full program schedule and to register – visit www dot usda dot gov slash oce slash forum (

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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