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|Senate Ag Committee Members Named|
Senate leaders appointed members to serve on the Agriculture Committee for the 110th Congress.
Senate Republican leader McConnell (R-KY) named Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Thune (R-SD) as new members of the Committee to serve with returning members Sens. Chambliss (R-GA), ranking member; Lugar (R-IN); Cochran (R-MS); McConnell (R-KY); Roberts (KS); Coleman (R-MN); Crapo (R-ID); and Grassley (R-IA).Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) named Sen. Harkin (D-IA) as chairman and the following members to serve on the Committee: Sens. Leahy (D-VT), Conrad (D-ND), Baucus (D-MT), Lincoln (D-AR), Stabenow (D-MI), Nelson (D-NE) and Salazar (D-CO), who will be joined by new members Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA) and Klobuchar (D-MN).
|Payment Eligibility Concerns Discussed|
Cotton and rice producer leaders met key Congressional staff to discuss an anticipated challenge to payment eligibility provisions when new farm law is developed.
NCC representatives Jay Hardwick (LA), ACP Chairman; Jimmy Dodson (TX); Bruce Heiden (AZ); Dan Branton (MS); Rickey Bearden (TX); David Dunlow (NC); and Wavell Robinson (GA) were joined by rice producer leadership for visits with House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff.
The sessions allowed producers to hear firsthand: 1) which provisions of current law relative to payment eligibility appear most likely to be challenged, 2) what concerns are being raised by those who may initiate and support the proposed changes and 3) how best to communicate the basis for opposition to proposed changes.The producers also visited USDA and were briefed by Farm Service Agency officials who are compiling information to be included in the 1614 database. That database, so-named because it is in section 1614 of the ’02 farm law, requires USDA to develop a database to “track the benefits provided directly or indirectly to individuals and entities under Title I and II and the amendments made by those titles.” The database may be completed and released in the near future.
|USDA Mails Storage Amendment|
USDA’s Kansas City office on Dec. 15 mailed amendment 2 to the Cotton Storage Agreement to Warehouse Operators. The amendment is necessary to implement the Aug. 30 adjustment made to the cotton regulations, which define the minimum acceptable shipping standard and require operators to report, on a weekly basis, the number of bales made available for shipment. The amendment must be signed and returned by Jan. 5, ’07. An electronic version is available at: http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eforms/formsearchservlet.
Formatting and transmission requirements for the weekly shipping report are available at the following Electronic Receipt Provider web sites: for EWR, Inc: www.ewrcotton.com/ewrinc; for FAMBRO: www.fambrolsa.com. For assistance or additional information, contact Paul Rodriguez at 816-926-6662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Sales, Shipments Healthy for Week|
Net export sales for the week ending Dec. 7 were 208,400 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’06-07 sales to slightly more than 5.7 million. Total sales at the same point in the ’05-06 marketing year were approximately 9.5 million bales. Total new crop (’07-08) sales are 211,000 bales.
Shipments for the week were 205,200 bales, bringing total exports to date to 2.6 million bales, compared with the 4.1 million at the comparable point in the ’05-06 marketing year.
|USDA Report Sees Strong Yields|
In its December crop report, USDA estimated a ’06-07 US crop of 21.3 million bales. Upland production was estimated at 20.6 million bales and ELS production at 729,000 bales. Harvested area was estimated at 12.8 million acres implying non-harvested area of 2.5 million acres based on USDA’s acreage number. The resulting abandonment rate is roughly 16.1%, but the national average yield per harvested acre was estimated to be 798 pounds -- 39 pounds above the five-year average.
On a regional basis, the Southeast crop is estimated at 4.83 million bales, based on harvested acres of 3.24 million and a regional average yield of 716 pounds, seven pounds above the five-year average for the region. In the Mid-South, expected production is 8.28 million bales. Harvested area is estimated to be 4.19 million acres and the expected yield 950 pounds per harvested acre. The Southwest upland crop is estimated at 6.02 million bales. Expected harvested area is 4.53 million acres and the region’s average yield is estimated at 638 pounds. Upland production in the West is an estimated 1.44 million bales with an estimated harvested area of 541,000 acres and a regional average yield of 1,278 pounds, 47 pounds less than the region’s five-year average. The ELS crop is estimated at 729,000 bales. The ELS harvested area is pegged at 324,000 acres with an average yield of 1,080 pounds per harvested acre.
|USDA Reduces US Cotton Offtake|
In its December report, USDA projected US ’06-07 cotton production at 21.30 million bales. Projected mill use was decreased 100,000 bales to 5.10 million, based on lower than expected activity to date, while exports were decreased 200,000 bales to 16.00 million as export sales and shipments to China continue to be behind year-ago levels significantly. As a result, projected total offtake decreased 300,000 bales to 21.10 million. This generates an ending stocks value of 6.30 million bales. The projected stocks-to-use use ratio is 29.9%.The USDA report raised ’06-07 world production 140,000 bales to an estimated 115.86 million from November’s report. The beginning stocks estimate was raised 420,000 bales to 54.23 million. Adding those stocks with imports of 41.69 million bales results in a world supply of 211.78 million bales. Projected world mill use was increased 120,000 bales to 121.00 million. The projected world ending stocks for ’06-07 is now pegged at 51.49 million bales. This has a corresponding stocks-to-use ratio of 42.6%.
|MSMA Comment Period Extended|
In response to a request from the manufacturers of the organic arsenical chemicals, which include MSMA, EPA is again extending the public comment period – for a new deadline of Jan. 16 (See 10/27 Cotton’s Week).Many comments have been submitted from both the agricultural community and environmental groups. Comments may be sent to the EPA public docket at www.regulation.gov using the docket ID number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2006-0201.
|EPA Clean Water Rule Challenged|
On Nov. 27, EPA issued a final rule intended to clarify when a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, is required for pesticide applications.
In response to recent appeals court decisions that raised questions of a pesticide applicator’s legal obligation to hold a NPDES permit (in addition to an applicator’s license), the Agency’s action sought to further delineate between the regulatory jurisdiction of the CWA in relation to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Under the CWA regulation, NPDES permits are not required when pesticides are applied in accordance with the FIFRA. NPDES permits, according to the EPA regulation, are not required when, “pesticides are applied to control pests that are present over or near water in order to target the pests effectively.” However, the rule did not specifically exempt agricultural production applications made in accordance with FIFRA.
The NCC and other commodity groups, including the Delta Council, the Southern Crop Production Assoc., and CropLife America are filing legal challenges against the rule on the basis that the EPA document only outlines aquatic uses (direct applications to bodies of water) and forest canopy applications, and does not explicitly state that all agricultural production applications do not need a CWA permit.
Jay Vroom, president/CEO of CropLife America, a crop protection trade association that has filed suit against the rule in the District of Columbia circuit, explains that, “Broadening the rule would provide needed assurance to farmers and ranchers who follow the FIFRA in applying pesticides that they will not need a NPDES permit.”Currently, agricultural allies have filed challenges in several US circuit courts while environmental groups have filed in the 9th US circuit in favor of more expansive NPDES permit requirements for all pesticide use.
|CFTC Commissioner Resigns|
Fred Hatfield, who has served since Dec. ’04 and was former staffer for Rep. Tony Coelho (D-CA) and Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), resigned effective Dec. 31 to join the law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP. His term was set to expire in ’08.
In a related matter, the nomination of Jill Sommers to serve on the Commission has been blocked by an objection by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA). Sommers’ nomination was cleared by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Dec. 8, but Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) objected to Senate consideration because she had not been given an opportunity to discuss Sommers’ views on oversight of electronic trading in energy markets.
Feinstein has been a longtime advocate for legislation to increase recordkeeping and transparency of energy trading over electronic platforms. Because the 109th Congress has adjourned sine die, Sommers’ nomination must be resubmitted by the Administration to the new Congress in January in order to be considered. With the resignation of Hatfield and Congress’ failure to confirm Sommers, the CFTC will function with 3 commissioners: Chairman Rueben Jeffery and Walter Luken, Republicans; and Michael Dunn, a Democrat.
|Prices Effective Dec. 15-21, '06|