Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership

Class XIII Visits High Plains

Friday, October 26, 2012                        By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Program’s Class XIII spent four days learning about agriculture on the High Plains this past week, and water issues certainly were at the forefront of discussion.

      The group met in Lubbock on Tuesday, where they heard from PCG’s Steve Verett and other commodity organizations before touring the Animal and Food Sciences building at Texas Tech, the USDA-AMS Cotton Classing Office, and the Monsanto site at the Lubbock Business Park. That evening, a reception was held for the group at the Merket Alumni Center where TALL alumni and others who had an interest in the program had an opportunity to meet the class members.

      Wednesday morning, the group began their day at Lubbock Cotton Growers with gin manager Jerry Butman, and saw the gin in operation. After that, the group visited Burt and Shelley Heinrich’s nearby cotton field which has a drip irrigation system, and toured the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute. Their last stop in Lubbock was at the American Museum of Agriculture where Dr. Mike Gilbert with Bayer CropScience addressed the group.

      The Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Halfway was the next stop, where Jim Bordovsky explained current projects and Carmon McCain with the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District talked about water issues in agriculture. From Halfway, the group departed for Spandet Dairy in Hart, owned by TALL XII alumna Ilona Schilderink. There, the group toured the dairy and enjoyed dinner where Rick Kellison with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation was the keynote speaker.

      The class spent the remainder of the week in the Amarillo area. Some of the tours included the White Energy Ethanol Plant; Caviness Beef Packers; Advanta US; Mc6 Cattle Feeders; wind farms near Vega; and Pacific Cheese in Amarillo. The group enjoyed another reception at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday evening.

      Friday’s events consisted of a tour of the High Plains Food Bank, the Timber Creek Veterinary Clinic, and lunch at the Bar Z Winery where they heard from Ken Horton, executive vice president of the Texas Pork Producers Association; Harold Grail, board member of the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District; Texas Rep. Four Price; and Wayne Hughes, EVP of the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association.

      The two-year TALL program, led by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is an intensive study of agriculture worldwide which equips people in the agriculture industry to become leaders in their fields. The course focuses on international communications, ecology, government, policy, economics, social issues and education opportunities. For more information about TALL, see http://tall.tamu.edu.


Drought Outlook and Assessment Forum

Scheduled for November 1 in Abilene

      The NOAAs National Integrated Drought Information System, National Climatic Data Center, and National Weather Service will host a one-day drought outlook and assessment forum from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, November 1, at the West Central Texas Council of Governments, 3702 Loop 322 in Abilene. A catered lunch and refreshments will be provided.

      The forum's primary focus will be in the region encompassed by the Abilene and San Angelo Council of Governments and surrounding areas of west central and west Texas, bringing together a range of weather, water, and climate information providers as well as representatives from federal, state, and local entities and water management officials. They will (a) assess the current drought status, its historic nature and the fall and winter weather and climate outlooks, particularly with respect to the possible impact of El Nino conditions; (b) identify current drought impacts from a water management and water supply perspective; and, (c) to identify and evaluate any data, information, product or service needs that can be provided in order to support improved response to short and long term drought conditions.

      Please RSVP to Victor Murphy at victor.murphy@noaa.gov by Monday, October 29 to indicate your attendance. Additional meeting information will be posted and updated on the workshop webpage at http://www.drought.gov (choose the "Southern Plains" region from the drop down menu at top left).



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Ginning Sessions Offer Timely Reports

at 2013 Beltwide in January

Friday, October 26, 2012   From the National Cotton Council

      The 2013 Beltwide Cotton Ginning Conference will offer ginner attendees multiple reports with practical applications. The conference is one of 11 technical conferences to be held at the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, January 7-10, at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk hotels in San Antonio. Registration and hotel information for the forum is at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide.

      The 2013 Cotton Ginning Conference's two sessions are planned for Wednesday, January 9, from 1:30-6 pm and Thursday, January 10, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. The program will include reports covering new equipment/developments, energy use and the newly designed grid bars to improve fiber quality. Among other presentations will be a focus on the removal of John Deere round module wrap and the quality issues associated with the 2012 crop as well as updates on several ongoing projects, specifically, moisture measurements and gin emissions sampling. The final program will be posted on the National Cotton Ginners Association website at http://www.cotton.org/ncga/index.cfm.

      NCGA President Lee Tiller encourages ginners to attend the ginning conference, which provides a forum for researchers and industry representatives to exchange information on new technology to improve gin operation efficiency and the preservation of fiber quality. Industry issues are addressed by researchers and industry experts covering areas such as innovative management strategies, energy conservation, environmental regulations and compliance, labor law compliance and safety. A joint session with the Cotton Engineering Systems Conference will include the most recent cotton ginning and harvesting research results.

      Tiller said all ginners attending the Beltwide are welcome and encouraged to attend the NCGA's committee meetings being held during the forum. The meetings will begin at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, January 8, and conclude at noon on Wednesday, January 9. These meetings will focus on safety, labor, legislation and technology.


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Brazilian Ambassador Addresses WTO Dispute

Friday, October 26, 2012   From the National Cotton Council

      At a recent meeting organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador Roberto Azevedo, Brazil’s permanent representative to the WTO and chief negotiator, said that after two days of discussions with US officials, there has been no progress in resolving the longstanding WTO case against cotton and export credit guarantees.

      Azevedo also told those in attendance that the Framework Agreement, negotiated between the U.S. and Brazil in 2010, under which Brazil agreed to delay any retaliatory action against US exports while new farm legislation is developed, will be extended for a brief period. Although he warned that Brazil is prepared to apply prohibitively high tariffs to select US products and possibly ignore intellectual property rights if there is no resolution by early 2013.

      According to Azevedo, the cotton and export credit guarantee program provisions included in the Senate and House agriculture bills do not fully address Brazil’s objections. He contended that the new provisions are as distorting and damaging to Brazilian farmers as current law—a questionable contention since the new cotton program is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to be 50% less expensive than extending current law.

      Azevedo said Brazilian officials are willing to discuss “some parameters to the support that would be acceptable.”

      In interviews following the meeting, Azevedo made several additional points. He said Brazil is willing to work "on the basis of what is on the table" when it comes to the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) as well as the general crop insurance and marketing loan program proposals contained in House and Senate legislation. He emphasized that Brazil seeks to alter some provisions of the proposed programs to make them more acceptable.

      He suggested that the U.S. should determine how a three-party negotiation can “operate in a reasonably efficient manner.” In order to prepare for the possibility of retaliation, the ambassador said Brazil has formed a technical working group that will evaluate options for retaliation in the event the dispute is not settled through negotiation. The technical group is examining issues related to intellectual property rights because the WTO has granted Brazil the right to cross-retaliate under certain circumstances.

      The level of retaliation against U.S. exports and intellectual property is adjusted annually using a WTO formula. The most recent data would allow significantly lower retaliation than earlier data and would not allow cross-retaliation. Azevedo has previously suggested Brazil is entitled to use older data to calculate retaliation. It has been estimated that using the older data could provide Brazil nearly $1 billion in overall retaliation rights and as much as $269 million in cross-retaliation. Using more recent data would allow far lower levels of retaliation of approximately $500 million for goods and no authority for cross-retaliation.

      Earlier in the week, Brazilian officials addressed the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body in Geneva and stated that Brazil has decided not to terminate the Framework Agreement in place since 2010 and would not implement retaliatory actions as authorized by the WTO. The Framework is set to expire when Congress passes “successor legislation” to the 2008 Farm Bill. Since the 2008 law expired without being replaced or extended, there have been questions about Brazil’s next action. At the DSB meeting, Brazil noted that it is following the on-going discussions in Congress over new farm legislation.

      In a statement to the DSB (see http://www.cotton.org/issues for the full statement) Brazil said some of the proposals “do not seem to be in line” with the WTO panel’s findings in the dispute, and may even increase trade-distorting subsidies.