|House Panel Okays Border Bill|
The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill intended to strengthen border security and toughen enforcement of immigration laws within the country. The bill, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner (R-WI), represents a response to Members who have demanded that the government crack down on illegal immigration. The committee approved it on a 23-15 party-line vote, and the full House will consider it the week of Dec. 12.
The committee rejected, 13-22, an amendment by Rep. Berman (D-CA) that would have added a “guest worker” program to the legislation. Berman’s amendment would allow illegal immigrants to register for temporary visas permitting them to live and work in the country legally.
President Bush has said a guest worker program should be part of any immigration overhaul. Chairman Sensenbrenner said he did not include a guest worker provision because the full House had not reached a consensus on the issue. However, it is likely there will be a provision that would express House support for a guest worker program. Other possible contentious floor amendments may include an amendment to end “birthright” citizenship and to build a fence along the entire Mexican border and assign the military to guard it.
The bill’s provision with the most significant impact on agricultural employers would force employers to check job applicants’ immigration status through a national database. This provision would be phased into place depending on the number of employees.
|US-Peru Complete FTA Negotiations|
United States and Peruvian negotiators finalized a free trade agreement but it is not clear whether the Administration will recommend that Congress consider the US-Peru pact separately if the Andean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations are not completed in the future.
The US has been negotiating with Peru, Ecuador and Colombia in a broader context of the Andean FTA, but Peru recently decided to continue negotiations even after talks failed to develop a comprehensive agreement in November. No specific dates have been set to resume discussions with Ecuador and Colombia.
The agreement with Peru reportedly provides immediate duty-free access to four-fifths of US ag exports to Peru and the balance to be phased-in over terms up to 10 years for the most sensitive products. Peru will gain duty-free access for two-thirds of its ag exports and the balance will be phased in over a period of up to 18 years. The provisions for textiles and apparel do not include any trade preference levels, so all products provided preferential access must meet a yarn-forward rule of origin.
|House Approves US-Bahrain FTA|
The House approved legislation implementing a US–Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on a bipartisan vote of 327-95.
Along with passing the trade provisions, Members noted Bahrain’s support of the United States in the “global war on terror.” The Administration wants a Middle East Free Trade Area by ’13.Negotiations on the Bahrain FTA were completed in May ’04. The Agreement will require Bahrain to reduce tariffs on essentially all but a few ag imports to zero immediately. The US textile industry expressed concerns about the FTA and the ability of US Customs to enforce the agreement’s provisions on textiles and apparel. The agreement provides duty free access to US markets for products containing US or Bahraini yarn and fabric; however, it also provides a temporary transition period for products that do not meet these requirements. The Senate is expected to approve the legislation in the near future.
|Sales, Shipments Surge|
Net export sales for the week ending Dec. 1 were 476,200 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’05-06 sales to about 9.1 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’04-05 marketing year were about 7.9 million. Total new crop (’06-07) sales are 153,700 bales.
Shipments for the week were 288,000 bales, bringing total exports to date to 3.8 million bales, compared with the 2.4 million at the comparable point in the ’04-05 marketing year.
|USDA Raises Crop Estimate|
In its December report, USDA estimated the ’05-06 US crop at 23.7 million bales. Upland production was estimated at 23.0 million bales and ELS production at 674,000 bales. Harvested area was estimated at 13.7 million acres implying non-harvested area of 511,000 acres based on USDA’s acreage number. The resulting abandonment rate is roughly 3.6% for the ’05-06 crop. The national average yield per harvested acre was estimated to be 832 pounds, 114 pounds above the five-year average.
On a regional basis, the Southeastcrop is estimated at 5.13 million bales, based on harvested acres of 3.01 million and a regional average yield of 820 pounds, 150 pounds above the 5-year average for the region. In the Mid-Southexpected production is 7.51 million bales. Harvested area is estimated to be 3.89 million acres with an expected yield of 926 pounds per harvested acre. The Southwestupland crop is an estimated 8.54 million bales. Expected harvested area is 5.79 million acres and the region’s average yield is 708 pounds. Upland production in the Westis an estimated 1.85 million bales with an expected harvested area of 723,000 acres and a regional yield of 1,228 pounds, 117 pounds less than the region’s five-year average.
The ELS crop is an estimated 674,000 bales. Harvested area is pegged at 265,000 acres with an average yield of 1,221 pounds per harvested acre.
Full state-level results can be found at http://risk.cotton.org/ayp05.htm.
|Higher Stocks Projected for ’05-06|
In its December report, USDA gauged US ’04-05 cotton production at 23.25 million bales. Estimated mill use was increased 170,000 bales to 6.69 million, based on the latest estimates from the Census Bureau, while exports were unchanged at 14.41 million bales. As a result, projected total offtake increased 170,000 bales to 21.10 million. This generates an ending stocks value of 5.54 million bales. The estimated stocks-to-use use ratio is 26.3%.
For the ’05-06 crop, USDA projects 23.70 million bales, up 540,000 bales from the November report. US mill use was unchanged while exports increased 200,000 bales to 16.40 million resulting in total offtake for ’05-06 of 22.40 million bales. Ending stocks for ’05-06 are projected to be 6.90 million bales for a stocks-to-use ratio of 30.8%.
Meanwhile, the report sees ’04-05 world production estimates unchanged from November’s report. The beginning stocks estimate was raised 120,000 bales to 40.72 million resulting in a world supply of 161.13 million bales. Estimated world mill use was increased 140,000 bales to 108.80 million. The estimated world ending stocks for ’04-05 is now pegged at 51.51 million bales. This has a corresponding stocks-to-use ratio of 47.3%.
For the ’05-06 marketing year, USDA projects world production at 112.29 million bales, up 580,000 bales from the November report. World mill use was raised 450,000 bales from the November report to a projected 114.85 million bales. Consequently, world ending stocks on July 31, ’06 are projected to be 50.92 million bales, for a stocks-to-use ratio of 44.3%.
|CFTC Measure Approved|
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reauthorization legislation was approved by the House Agriculture Committee. The CFTC was last reauthorized by enactment of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
The legislation approved by the committee reauthorizes funding subject to annual appropriation for CFTC and includes provisions, which address several regulatory issues that have arisen since ’00 including futures market volatility and increasing natural gas prices.
The Agriculture Committee will coordinate with other committees of jurisdiction in moving the legislation to the full House. The Senate previously has approved it’s version of a CFTC reauthorization bill.
|USDA Outlines Energy Saving Practices|
USDA has developed a fact sheet outlining USDA Rural Development’s nearly $290 million investment in renewable energy since the start of the Bush Administration.
The investment in bioenergy/biomass ventures includes more than $172 million in value added and business ventures and $114 million in renewable electric utility upgrades and expansions. These programs range from rural business enterprise and opportunity grants to guaranteed loans that encourage investment in renewable energy.
The goals of USDA's Bioenergy Program are to encourage increased purchases of eligible commodities for the purpose of expanding production and supporting new production capacity for bioenergy. USDA's Bioenergy Program pays US commercial bioenergy producers, both ethanol and biodiesel, to increase their annual production from eligible commodities. The program also offers support to biodiesel producers for base production (not based on increase) at 15% the rate of increased production.
The fact sheet also explains how conservation practices such as no-till and irrigation water management can save farmers millions of gallons of fuel and water consumption and costs. For specifics on other conservation practices, go to http://www.usda.gov/2005/12/0535.xml.
|Deputy Undersecretary Butler Resigns|
Dr. Jim Butler resigned as deputy under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Dr. Butler, who joined USDA in ’01 as deputy under secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, will assume the role of deputy director general of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.
"Dr. Butler has served America's farmers and ranchers with distinction for more than four years at USDA, working to secure our agricultural products from disease and to assure our trading partners that America has the safest food supply in the world,” Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. “Throughout his tenure, Jim Butler's professionalism and knowledge have helped to resolve global agricultural issues. I am very pleased that he will continue his public service by providing leadership to an important international agricultural organization."
|Johanns Names Cotton Board Members|
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the appointment of 13 members, 12 alternate members and one consumer advisor to the Cotton Board. The Cotton Board consists of 34 members, their alternates and one consumer advisor and is authorized by the Cotton Research and Promotion Act of ’66. Members of the board represent cotton producers, importers and consumers.
The members, alternates and consumer advisor will serve a three-year term ending Dec. 31, ’08. One importer alternate member term will end Dec. 31, ’07.
The re-appointed members are: Robert McGinnis, West Memphis, Ark.; Thomas Parker, Lake Providence, La.; John Baxter, Watson, Ark.; Harley Metcalfe, Greenville, Miss.; H. Allen McLaurin, Laurel Hill, NC; Rodger Glaspey, Fresno, Calif.; Gail Strickler, New York, NY; and William Donelan, Ramsey, NJ. The re-appointed alternate members are: Ernest Arnold, Marked Tree, Ark.; Robert Gammill, Tyronza, Ark.; George LaCour, Morganza, La.; William Heaton, Lyon, Miss.; David C. Cornelius, Crosbyton, Tex.; and George R. Herron, Taylors, SC.
The newly appointed board members are: Steve Cantu, Tranquillity, Calif.; Barry Evans, Kress, Tex.; Maureen Gray, Lyndhurst, NJ; Linda Tipton, Bentonville, Ark.; and William Sheely, Burlington, NC. The newly appointed alternate members are: Catherine Fanucchi, Bakersfield, Calif.; David Grant, Garysburg, NC; Michael Hubbard, Gastonia, NC; David Levey, Menomonee Falls, Wis.; Debi Gregg, Hunting Beach, Calif.; and Joseph Harris, Anaheim, Calif. The re-appointed consumer advisor is Billie J. Collier, Knoxville, Tenn.
The cotton research and promotion program is designed to advance the position of cotton in the marketplace. It is funded by assessments on all domestically produced cotton and imports of foreign-produced cotton and cotton-containing products. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service monitors the program.
|Prices Effective December 9-15, 2005|