SWCA & Rep. Randy Neugebauer Discuss
SURE Program Implementation With USDA

Friday, May 22, 2009                          By Shawn Wade

      As a dry Winter stretched into a planting season punctuated by hit-or-miss Spring rainfall, producers across Texas are beginning to take an active interest in the development of the Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) program included in the 2008 Farm Bill.

      With few details readily available, member organizations of the Southwest Council of Agribusiness penned a letter to recently named Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service James Miller to help identify some of the more pressing concerns producers have about the new program.

      The fact that there is still so much to do in regard to creation of the SURE program's rules is also a growing concern for producers. It is also a daunting task for the USDA staff detailed to think through and create an entirely new set of regulations for an extremely complex program.

      With only a couple of weeks left until the first anniversary of the 2008 Farm Bill's passage by overwhelming majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the time when the new program is designed to begin taking applications is only a few short months away.

      Picking up on the SWCA's message, Lubbock Congressman Randy Neugebauer arranged a meeting earlier this week with Under Secretary Miller to discuss the issues brought up in the SWCA letter as well as issues related to the Administration's USDA budget proposals, crop insurance and the carbon cap and trade proposal.

      ON a conference call with members of the SWCA Board of Directors Rep. Neugebauer reported that his meeting went well and that Under Secretary Miller and USDA staff appeared open to the input of the agriculture community on SURE and that they continue to work hard on the new rules.

      The SWCA letter highlighted the following recommendations for implementing the SURE program:

•     Define "Farm" by "units of common management to allow each unique landowner/tenant share rent business arrangement to stand on its own for purposes of the program.

•     Base price election for calculating SURE guarantees on the actual crop insurance price election purchased by the producer on the insured unit to encourage producers to purchase better insurance coverage.

•     Net out the cost of crop insurance premiums from crop insurance indemnities counted as revenue to further encourage producers to buy better insurance coverage and not penalize growers who incur a higher cost of insurance.


PCG's Verett Joins "The Hand That Feeds U.S."
Contingent For New York Media Blitz

Friday, May 22, 2009                          By Shawn Wade

      Following a successful launch last week, The Hand that Feeds U.S. took the initiative and introduced itself to the first of many national media outlets while making the rounds in New York City.

      Intending to touch base with as many members of its intended audience as it could on May 21-22, the group was led by former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest of Lubbock and included Texas farmers Steve Verett of Lubbock and Linda Raun of El Campo. In addition to his involvement with his family farming operation, Verett is Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

      During their trip the contingent sat down for face-to-face meetings with urban journalists, including reporters from the New York Times, CNN, FOX News and Marketplace radio.

      "We met with media outlets that have not always been favorable to production agriculture or farm policy, but that's the whole point of this campaign," said Combest. "These meetings went a long way in building a lasting relationship with key reporters and ensuring they have accurate information about America's farmers at their fingertips."

      The Hand that Feeds U.S., is a project of FarmPolicyFacts.org and includes a website (http://www.thehandthatfeedsus.org) and a web-based electronic newsletter (with links back to the website).

      The effort is focused on building better working relationships between media agriculture information sources as well as delivering factual information directly to urban media sources about the agriculture industry and the challenges facing farm families that feed and clothe us.

      To view the initial The Hand that Feeds U.S. newsletter go to: http://www.enewsbuilder.net/thehand/



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USDA Announces Clearance of GLYTOL™ Cotton
Technology From Bayer CropScience

Friday, May 22, 2009                         

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted approval for the GlyTol™ cotton technology developed by Bayer CropScience. Cotton varieties with the GlyTol™ trait are tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate. The USDA's decision follows approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

      With the approval USDA in hand, Bayer CropScience is moving forward and preparing for a commercial launch of GlyTol™ in the United States in 2010 according to Monty Christian, Director of Global Cotton Marketing at Bayer.

      According to information released by the company Bayer CropScience plans to spend the 2009 season familiarizing U.S. growers with the features, advantages and benefits of the new technology and the varieties in which it will be offered at launch.

      The company initially plans to offer two high-yielding, high-quality GlyTol™ cotton seed varieties suited to the Southwest region of the United States. Varieties suited to other U.S. cotton-growing regions will be introduced in the coming years.

      The launch of GlyTol™ technology in the United States was originally planned for the 2009 season. However, because of a number of factors, including the narrowing planting window in the U.S. southwest and the timing of the USDA's approval, commercial launch is now planned for 2010.

      GlyTol™ glyphosate-tolerant technology gives cotton growers season-long in-plant tolerance to glyphosate herbicide and offers them the freedom of greater flexibility in their weed management decisions. The GlyTol™ trait provides robust tolerance to applications of glyphosate, and gives growers the flexibility to select any brand of glyphosate herbicide labeled for use on cotton without concern for crop safety.

      GlyTol™ glyphosate-tolerant technology for cotton is the latest in a series of innovative weed and insect management solutions being developed by Bayer CropScience. Bayer CropScience is committed to further improving cotton and has a well-filled development pipeline of plant traits to be launched in the coming years.

      These include traits addressing increased yields, increased tolerance to unfavorable environmental conditions such as drought, and improved fiber quality. Cotton is one of the key crops at Bayer CropScience, which ranks second in the world cotton seed market.


Two Seminars To Discuss "After CRP"
Land Use Alternatives With Landowners

Friday, May 22, 2009                          By Kay Ledbetter

      Two conferences designed to explore the opportunities and alternatives available to landowners with expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts have been scheduled in Amarillo and Lubbock.

     "After CRP: Wildlife, Farming and Grazing" conferences, sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, will run from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on June 17 and June 18, said Ken Cearley, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in Canyon.

     The conferences will be alike, varying only by regional differences, he said. Each will offer three general continuing education units toward pesticide applicator re-certification.

     The June 17 conference will be at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Amarillo, 6500 W. Amarillo Blvd. The June 18 conference will be at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Lubbock, 1102 E. F.M. 1294.

     "If you're thinking about the future management of the land that you currently have under a CRP contract, or you are starting to consider various alternatives and would like to know what others exist, these conferences will provide some answers," Cearley said.

     They both will address: compliance issues, cost-assistance programs, land management and economics with wildlife in mind, the economics of farming and grazing alternatives, impacts on land value and the effect on future eligibility for federal farm programs.

     In addition to CRP contract holders, those contemplating or involved in buying or selling CRP land, agency personnel, educators and others with an interest in sound land management will likewise benefit from the program, Cearley said.

     Conference partners include Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

     Registration will be $40 through June 12 and $50 at the door. Lunch, refreshments and conference materials will be provided with registration.

     Participants may register online at http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu or by phone by calling 979-845-2604. For more information about this conference, contact Cearley at kcearley@ag.tamu.edu or call