Borlaug to Keynote Texas Commodity
Symposium in December
The fifteenth annual Texas Commodity Symposium will be held Wednesday, Dec. 2, in Amarillo in conjunction with the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in the Grand Plaza Room at the Amarillo Civic Center. The free event will begin at 9:30 a.m.
The symposium, which is hosted by the Corn Producers Association of Texas, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Peanut Producers Board and Texas Wheat Producers Association, will conclude with the annual Ag Appreciation Luncheon, presented by the symposium and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Ag Council.
Julie Borlaug, the associate director for the Norman Borlaug Institute for Agriculture at Texas A&M University, will present the symposium's keynote address during the Ag Appreciation Luncheon. Borlaug will speak on the role of Genetically Modified Organisms, food safety and food security at both a domestic and international level. The Norman Borlaug Institute designs and implements science based agricultural development and training programs that guide the phases of agricultural industry from production to consumption to fight hunger and poverty among smallholder agricultural communities of the developing world.
"As the granddaughter of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, Ms. Borlaug has a strong foundation of understanding agriculture's role in sustainably securing food resources for the world's growing population," TGSA Executive Director Wayne Cleveland said.
Additionally, the symposium will examine a variety of issues that impact producers and the agribusiness sector. Featured topics this year include an update on transportation regulations, an agricultural issues panel, and program updates from NRCS and FSA.
The event is made free of charge for attendees because of the generous support of symposium sponsors, including ARMTech Insurance Services, Bayer CropScience, DuPont Pioneer, High Plains Journal, Monsanto, and National Peanut Board.
For sponsorship opportunities or more information, please call (800) 647-CORN (2676) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, November 6, 2015 From Farm Policy Facts
Commodity prices are down sharply. Input costs are climbing. Farm incomes are in free-fall. Farm laborers are in short supply. Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on growers. Foreign competitors are manipulating markets with subsidies. Ag lenders are growing nervous.
And one of the only things helping producers weather it all right now is the safety net found in the recently passed Farm Bill that is just now starting to kick in.
Yet anti-farmer forces continue to push for "little tweaks" to the bill. Make no mistake, these tweaks are not benign technical corrections. They are designed to significantly weaken farmers' main line of help right now, and once the door is cracked for damaging tweaks to farm policy, expect the flood gates to open for wholesale changes.
Some of these calls come from expected places. For example, the Environmental Working Group and Heritage Action would love to tweak crop insurance, thus making it unaffordable, unavailable, and ineffective for farmers.
But other calls for reopening the Farm Bill are emanating from surprising places.
Earlier this month, a group of food manufacturing lobbyists sent a letter to Congress urging a "very modest reform" to the U.S. sugar policy in the Farm Bill.
Sugar policy is primarily built on the provision of loans that sugar processors – mostly farmer-owned cooperatives – must repay in full, with interest. Because the loans are fully paid back after the crop is marketed, sugar policy has operated without taxpayer cost nine of the last 10 years and is projected to cost $0 over the life of the current farm bill.
The "very modest reform" being proposed by policy opponents is to erect artificial loan limits as a way to deny a significant number of sugar processors – and by extension, their farmer members – access to the backbone of the Farm Bill's sugar safety net. In other words, rendering U.S. sugar policy worthless and leaving all sugar farmers vulnerable to a market grossly distorted by foreign subsidies.
Not exactly "very modest."
To make their case, the group told lawmakers that sugar processors are the only processors with access to nonrecourse loans, so there is no threat to other commodities.
Yet according to USDA's Farm Service Agency, cooperatives and marketing associations are eligible to receive such loans on behalf of their farmer members for many crops, including barley, canola, chickpeas, corn, crambe, dry peas, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rice, safflower, sesame seed, soybeans, sunflower seeds, upland cotton, wheat, and wool.
Apparently there's no need to let stubborn things like facts get in your way when you're championing to gut farm policy for all farmers while undermining long-established cooperative law.
Whatever the crop, our view is the same. The Farm Bill is needed now more than ever, and no thinly veiled plot by anti-farmer forces to pry open the Farm Bill is acceptable.
An attack on one farmer's policy is an attack upon all as far as we are concerned. And agriculture's ability to pull together last week to beat back a sneak attack on crop insurance during the budget process shows how fiercely farmers are willing to fight for one another.
Do not reopen the Farm Bill.
Midwest, Western Farmers See
High Plains Cotton Operations
Friday, November 6, 2015 From the National Cotton Council
Midwestern and Western farmers observed cotton and other agricultural operations in the Lubbock, Texas area earlier this week as part of the National Cotton Council's Multi-Commodity Education Program.
Launched in 2006, the MCEP is coordinated by NCC's Member Services and local leaders and organizations. The program is supported by The Cotton Foundation with a grant from Deere & Company.
The exchange is designed to provide the program's participants with: 1) a better understanding of production issues/concerns faced by their peers in another geographic region and 2) an opportunity to observe agronomic practices, technology utilization, cropping patterns, marketing plans and operational structure. Other program benefits are the continuing dialogue among American farmers, regardless of their crops or locations, and the creation of strong and lasting relationships between this nation's current and future producer leaders.
The 2015 tour's producer participants included: Gary Beck, Munich, ND; Jed Bower, Washington Court House, OH; Pete Friederichs, Foxhome, Minn.; Morey Hill, Madrid, IA; Mark Jackson, Rose Hill, IA; Greg Kessel, Belfield, ND; Dan Kolar, Billings, Mont.; Mitch Konen, Fairfield, Mont.; Kristen Kreuger, Kalispell, Mont.; Doyle Lentz, Rolla, ND; Dwight Little, Teton, ID; Vince Mattson, Chester, Mont.; Drew Parsley, Warroad, Minn.; E.L. Reed, Chillicothe, MO; and Ben Toeckes and Kurt Voss, both of Townsend, Montana. Also participating were John Gibson, the NCC's Member Services director, Memphis; and Susan Everett, a NCC Member Services representative in West Texas.
After an orientation to the National Cotton Council on Sunday, the participants spent the next day in Lubbock at Plains Cotton Growers for an overview of that organization and of High Plains cotton production. They also visited the AgriLife Research & Extension Center, the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Ginning Laboratory, Hurst Farm Supply and Lubbock Cotton Growers Cooperative before touring the Idalou Coop Gin in nearby Idalou.
On Tuesday, the participants visited the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's Cotton Division facility in Lubbock before touring Seaton Farms in Meadow and Birdsong Peanuts in Brownfield and then getting a presentation on the Cotton Board's producer funded research and promotion program.
The next day, the group again began their activities in Lubbock by getting a presentation on cotton merchandising at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and a briefing on cottonseed processing and products at PYCO Industries. High Plains Water District staff presented on water rights and rules and the group learned about cotton warehousing and shipping at Farmers Coop Compress before traveling to the Red Rock Dairy in nearby Amherst for a presentation on whole cottonseed use in feed rations. The tour concluded with a wine tasting at the Caprock Winery in Lubbock.
FSA County Committee Elections to Begin;
Producers to Receive Ballots Week of Nov. 9
Thursday, November 5, 2015 From the Farm Service Agency
Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2015 FSA County Committee elections on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 7, 2015, to ensure that their vote is counted.
"County committee members represent the farmers and ranchers in their communities," said Dolcini. "Producers elected to these committees have always played a vital role in local agricultural decisions. They are essential to the daily operation of nearly 2,200 offices across the country. It is a valued partnership that helps us better understand the needs of the farmers and ranchers we serve."
Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility.
Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.9 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.
Farmers and ranchers will begin receiving their ballots the week of Nov. 9. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. FSA has modified the ballot, making it more easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA office. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7, 2015. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2016.
For more information, visit the FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or FSA office. Visit http://offices.usda.gov to find an FSA office near you.