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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News as heard inside the BARN for August 28th…

Posted by Brian Allmer on August 28, 2013

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

“COOL on Trial”

Nine groups were asking a federal court in Washington, D.C. for a preliminary injunction to stop USDA from enforcing its new Country of Origin Labeling law Tuesday. The American Meat Institute was joined by two Canadian livestock producer groups, a Mexican livestock producer group, other domestic organizations – including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council – and the North American Meat Association in filing suit to block implementation of the rule earlier this summer. The groups argue that the new labels required for meat and poultry sold at retail constitute “compelled speech” – which is only allowed under the U.S. constitution when it serves a substantial government interest. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America were permitted to intervene in the case to defend the rule. Four additional groups – including R-CALF USA – just asked to intervene on USDA’s side on Monday.

USDA is due to start enforcing the amended COOL rule in November. The rule was issued by USDA in May and was designed to bring the U.S. into compliance with a World Trade Organization finding that the program violated the Technical Barriers to Trade Treaty. The rule would require labels to separately list the countries where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico have threatened to impose punitive tariffs to compensate for the harm they say the new rules continue to impose. In fact – last week Canada said it would seek permission to impose up to one-billion dollars per year in tariffs on U.S. products ranging from meat, apples and cherries to jewelry, furniture and mattresses. Canadian Ag Minister Gerry Ritz says the changes made by USDA will further hinder the ability of Canadian cattle and hog producers to compete in the U.S. Further – the Canadian government has requested the establishment of a WTO compliance panel to determine whether the U.S. has complied with the order to bring COOL into compliance with its international trade obligations. On the other side of the issue – U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Jess Peterson says the modifications will just require a slight modification in how segregation is handled. He says the only barriers are the ones COOL opponents are creating.


“Debt Limit Deadline Quickly Approaches”

The U.S. again is up against the debt limit – with borrowing authority expiring in mid-October. According to the Washington Post – the Obama Administration expects to only have 50-billion-dollars in cash on hand by that time and have no options to borrow more. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congressional Leaders that 50-billion would not cover the nation’s spending for long – with transfers paid to Social Security and Medicare as big as 30-billion in one day. Republicans are asking for new spending cuts in order to increase the nation’s 16.7-trillion-dollar debt limit. Some of those lawmakers are even requesting a delay of the Affordable Care Act – or getting rid of it completely. However – President Obama has said he will not negotiate on the debt limit – and not raising the limit again would lead to a default and hurt the country’s credit. Without raising the debt limit – Lew says investors will trillions of dollars in U.S. government bonds could refuse to lend the U.S. money – and that could undermine financial markets and disrupt the economy.

The U.S. hit the debt ceiling in May – and the Treasury has invoked different accounting techniques to keep borrowing money. This is yet another major deadline for the Obama Administration and Congress – but it’s not the only deadline fast approaching – as the extension of 2008 farm policy expires by the end of next month as well as the deadline to renew regular funding for government operations – which would cause a government shutdown if not renewed. The trouble is that Congress is only in session for nine-days in September. Ranking House Budget Committee Member Chris Van Hollen says playing around with the debt ceiling will create unnecessary economic harm – and he doesn’t think the American public will stand for it.


“Prevented Planting Standards for Prairie Pothole Region Clarified by RMA”

USDA’s Risk Management Agency has announced a new Special Provision statement to clarify acreage eligible for prevented planting in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area. The statement refers to prevented planting and acreage that is physically available for planting regions of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota for the 2014 crop and succeeding crop years. RMA Administrator Brandon Willis says the goal is to make Federal crop insurance policy more objective and to provide clarity for those producers facing prevented planting losses.

The statement – developed in response to recommendations from crop insurance companies, USDA’s Office of Inspector General and producers in the Prairie Pothole regions – will require that in order for acreage to be eligible for prevented planting payments – the acreage must have been planted and harvested – or incurred an insurable loss other than for excess moisture – in at least one of the last four years. That’s regardless of whether any of the years were abnormally dry. USDA says this creates a more objective means for determining acreage eligible for prevented planting than the current rule. However – once a producer is unable to plant and harvest on certain acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years – the producer will need to demonstrate the land is farmable by planting and harvesting – or incurring an insurable loss other than for excess moisture – two years in a row.

To be eligible for a prevented planting payment – a cause of loss that prevented planting must have occurred within the prevented planting insurance period for both new and carryover policies. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent for more information.


“USDA NRCS Report Shows Positive Impacts of Farmers’ Conservation Efforts”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released a report this week that shows farmers have significantly reduced the loss of sediment and nutrients from farm fields through voluntary conservation work in the lower Mississippi River basin. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers and ranchers work hard to conserve the land and water – and this report shows the tremendous impact they have had for the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. The report demonstrates how conservation work – such as controlling erosion and managing nutrients – has reduced the edge-of-field sediment losses by 35-percent, nitrogen by 21-percent and phosphorous by 52-percent. Vilsack says it’s important to keep up the momentum by providing scientific and technical expertise that supports conservation in agriculture – which can only occur if Congress passes a food, farm and jobs bill as soon as possible.

Although this report shows how conservation is making a positive impact – Vilsack says it also shows more conservation work needs to be done – especially in controlling surface water runoff and better nutrient management. Reports like the one released Tuesday give science-based insight into the techniques that most benefit water quality, soil health and other resource concerns – according to USDA. NRCS Chief Jason Weller says these assessments are part of the scientific backbone that helps USDA work with farmers to get the right conservation techniques on the right acres. For more information – visit www dot NRCS dot USDA dot gov (


“NRDC Believes Crop Losses, Need for Crop Insurance Could Be Reduced”

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the Federal Crop Insurance Program has failed farmers and taxpayers by ignoring water challenges. NRDC Agricultural Water Policy Analyst Claire O’Connor says the program was designed to be a safety net – not a subsidy for risky practices and less sustainable food production. Last year – the crop insurance program paid out a record 17.3-billion dollars in crop losses – and NRDC says much of that could have been prevented through water-smart strategies. Extreme weather conditions – such as drought – are expected to become more common – which would most likely mean more record insurance payouts. NRDC points to its study – Soil Matters – How the Federal Crop Insurance Program Should Be Reformed – which details crop losses in each county in all 50 states from 2012. That report shows the top 10 states with the largest payouts were Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. Currently – more than 282-million acres of cropland are insured under FCIP – which NRDC says is the most expensive farm subsidy program and serves as the primary risk management tool for farmers to prepare for potential crop loss.

Great Plains Farmer Gabe Brown says farmers can apply their own skills to build healthy soil, reduce the worst effects of climate change and rein in the skyrocketing costs of the crop insurance program. Brown says healthy soil is one of the most effective, time-tested insurance policies available. Best management practices he refers to include cover crops, no-till farming and improved irrigation scheduling.

To read the report – go to www dot NRDC dot org slash water slash your dash soil dash matters (


“Monsanto Initiates Educational Tool Through Follow A Field”

Monsanto has launched a new, interactive tool for growers to experience innovative soybean and cotton weed control with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean fields called the Follow A Field initiative. Growers can follow three different farmers in Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota as the test the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. Monsanto Roundup Ready Xtend Launch Manager Michelle Vigna says the Follow A Field program will allow the three chosen farmers to tell the story of how the system actually works on a farm. Vigna says the program’s goal is to prepare farmers, retailers and applicators to effectively use Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans with a diversified weed management plan – such as Roundup Ready PLUS Weed Management Solutions.

The three farmers will be visited four times during the growing season from burndown to harvest. Growers following each can share in their experiences and learn how diversified weed management practices incorporating dicamba and glyphosate could fit into their own operations. To find out more and follow one of the farmers – go to www dot Xtend Follow A Field dot com (


“Academy Educates Growers on Herbicide Application Best Practices”

BASF and Dr. Bob Wolf have educated thousands of growers on herbicide application best practices since 2012 through On Target Application Academy training sessions. The program is a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity that gives growers extensive hands-on training for better awareness of herbicide application best practices. The training also includes information on preventing and managing drift. Dr. Wolf says the changing weed management landscape is causing growers to employ a drift management plan that includes multiple strategies to ensure proper application. His top five recommendations for herbicide application best practices include selecting the correct nozzle, using appropriate pressure, watching application speeds, avoiding adverse weather conditions and staying abreast of other technologies.

The On Target Application Academy also educates growers on proper equipment setup and plant biology so they can achieve the most effective and sustainable weed control possible and mitigate off-target applications. BASF expects more than two-thousand growers will receive training through the On Target Application Academy this year. More events – offered at no cost to attendees – are planned for 2013 in Lubbock, Texas, Dodge City, Kansas and Starkville, Mississippi. Additional event days will be announced as they are secured.

If you have questions or have interest in signing up for an event send an email to basfotaa at padillaspeer dot com ( More information and schedule updates are available online at www dot agro dot basf dot us slash stewardship slash on dash target dash stewardship dot html (


“International Visitors Discuss, See Importance of Modern Farming Practices”

Thought leaders from Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Croatia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia heard the American corn farmer’s perspective on American agriculture this week. Hosted by the International Fertilizer Development Center in St. Louis, Missouri – participants received an overview of American ag from National Corn Growers Association President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels and Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields. Bertels and Fields focused on production techniques, crop conditions and biotechnology to help participants find which farming advances might be useful to them. As international ag leaders come to understand how modern techniques and technologies benefit the U.S. – Bertels says a greater acceptance is fostered internationally. He says visitors come away with a clearer picture of U.S. farming that has a ripple effect – opening markets and dispelling misperceptions across the globe. Fields says the story of biotechnology is truly amazing – and it’s one that must be told for farmers to meet the challenges of a growing global population.


“USDA Releases Climate Report”

USDA Tuesday released a report titled Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices. The report was produced by 38 scientists from academia, USDA and the federal government. All are experts in greenhouse gas estimation in cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors. An additional 29 scientists reviewed the report – which outlines a set of methods for measuring GHG emissions and carbon storage on the farm, ranch or forest. USDA is requesting public comments on the report – which must be received within 45-days. For more information and instructions for comment submission – visit www dot USDA dot gov slash OCE slash Climate underscore Change slash index dot htm (


“USDA Completes 500th Water and Wastewater Project”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino says the Recovery Act has brought improved water and wastewater services to nearly 1.7-million rural residents – creating jobs, stimulating local economies and helping ensure rural residents have the modern infrastructure necessary to continue being great rural communities to work and live in. Padalino announced the completion of the 500th water and wastewater project funded under the Recovery Act yesterday (Tuesday). Padalino is proud to celebrate this important milestone.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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