|Ag Secretary Schafer Says New Farm Bill Top Priority|
US Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told attendees at USDA’s Outlook Forum in Washington that in making decisions in the agricultural community, people are looking less to Washington and to farm programs created by Congress and the USDA and more to the marketplace around the world and the political and the economic and climate conditions that shape those conditions.
“You know, it's just not your grandfather's or your father's farm anymore,” he said. “It's changing. It's growing—it's moving these days. Agriculture is changing rapidly and there's more and more changes coming.”
He said, though, at the top of his list is working with Congress to deliver a farm bill that the President of the United States can proudly sign.
“That means a bill that preserves a strong safety net for producers, and achieves real reforms in farm policy and it does it without imposing new taxes on the American citizens,” Schafer said. “We're making progress toward that goal, and I'm increasingly optimistic that we can see a farm bill that conforms to the Administration principles and meets the needs of Congress and the people of the United States, this year.
The Secretary also reiterated what he told delegates at the NCC’s recent annual meeting, saying “one of the most important things that we in the USDA can do is work to secure a level playing field for U.S. producers who want to participate in the global marketplace . . . And we're going to be working with Congress to win approval this year of the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. In that effort, I'm leading a delegation of members of Congress to Colombia here in just a few weeks. And we're trying to understand the importance of these free trade agreements and how they affect the economic well-being of the agriculture community.”
He said the pending agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and combined with the newly approved free trade agreement with Peru, opens the doors to $3 billion of additional agricultural exports from the United States annually.The Secretary also said the United States will continue serious participation in the Doha Round of trade talks—because the potential of this multilateral forum offers huge trade gains with so many nations around the world. “At Doha, we will press for a deal this year that is fair to all parties,” he said.
|CRP Habitat Projects Announced|
Agriculture Secretary Schafer announced that USDA has approved the second round of conservation projects under the new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice titled "State Acres For wildlife Enhancement," or SAFE.
USDA unveiled 30 SAFE projects that will benefit threatened, endangered and other high-priority species in 16 states covering up to 160,100 acres.
"These habitat restoration projects represent the best of President Bush's Cooperative Conservation Initiative because they assist farmers and ranchers to voluntarily conserve habitat across our great nation to help a wide range of wildlife which have the greatest need," he said. "Because SAFE helps marginal, ecologically sensitive acreage, prime cropland can remain in production at a time when commodity prices are high."
USDA-approved SAFE projects in Cotton Belt states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
USDA posted a fact sheet online that contains descriptions of the 30 SAFE projects at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/safepr208.pdf.
Last month, USDA announced the first approved projects under SAFE that included 45 projects in 18 states encompassing up to 259,776 acres. USDA unveiled the SAFE conservation practice last year, and since then the Farm Services Agency (FSA) and its partners have been developing targeted projects to address specific goals. Through SAFE, USDA seeks to enhance 500,000 acres of high-priority wildlife habitat through CRP.
Like other continuous CRP practices, SAFE targets smaller parcels of the most environmentally sensitive land to achieve maximum environmental benefit. FSA state offices will announce sign-up for all approved SAFE projects soon. At that time, landowners may enroll by visiting their local FSA service center.
Under SAFE, state and local agencies, non-profit organizations and other conservation partners determined geographic areas where enrollment of farm land in CRP would benefit threatened, endangered or other high priority species. Project partners then developed conservation proposals that included enrolling land in the designated geographic areas in CRP using existing CRP practices for the benefit of specific species of concern.
To be accepted by FSA, SAFE proposals had to be approved by qualified wildlife professionals and include a wildlife monitoring and evaluation plan. More information about SAFE is at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/safe08.pdf.Under CRP, farmers and ranchers enroll eligible land in 10- to 15-year contracts with USDA's Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC). FSA administers CRP on behalf of CCC. Participants plant appropriate cover such as grasses and trees in crop fields and along streams. These plantings help prevent soil and nutrients from running into regional waterways and affecting water quality. The long-term vegetative cover also improves wildlife habitat and soil quality.
|JCIBPC Meeting Set|
The Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee (JCIBPC), chaired by Curtis Stewart, a Dumas, AR, ginner, will hold its annual meeting in Memphis on Feb. 27 at the Hilton Memphis Hotel.
Among the items to be considered are the adoption of a “certificate of analysis” (COA) provision for packaging materials (see Jan. 25 Cotton’s Week), a review of the “Specifications for Cotton Bale Packaging Materials” and requests from packaging material firms regarding the committee's ’07 experimental and compatibility test programs.The committee will take action on requests for a seamless woven polypropylene bag, two light weight 100% cotton bale bags, a modified spiral sewn woven polypropylene bag and a comparability test for plastic (PET) strap. A packaging material survey will be presented along with staff reports covering ongoing polyolefin bale bagging breathability research, bale shape concerns and continued efforts to prevent cotton lint contamination.
|Endosulfan Assessment Comments Sent|
The NCC submitted comments to EPA supporting the use of endosulfan insecticide for control of cotton insect pests, particularly in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Marketed as thiodan or thionex, endosulfan belongs to a unique chemical class (chlorinated hydrocarbons) with a unique mode of action.
The NCC’s comments urged the Agency to realize the limited number of active ingredients that are available for managing piercing/sucking insect pests. Endosulfan has particular benefits because it has insecticidal activity for multiple pests that may be present in the cotton fields.
EPA also was urged to realize that different species of piercing/sucking insect pests may occur through out the growing season, and that certain products may not be available mid-to-late season due to prior use and seasonal rate restrictions. EPA was asked to realize the value of different modes of action/against piercing sucking insect pests as a means to manage resistance development. The agency also was urged to not view a reduction in use as a lack of need, but as judicious use of chemical control with other components of a sound IPM strategy.EPA released the revised risk assessment in Nov. ’07. The previous risk assessment was released in ’02. The NCC has continued to support the safe use of endosulfan as an important component of a sound integrated pest management strategy that seeks to avoid the development of resistance in piercing/sucking insects.
|Select Beltwide Recordings Available|
Participants in the ’08 Beltwide Cotton Conferences now may access conference presentations via the Confex Podium Service. Oral presentations recorded with the author’s consent and uploaded images of author-submitted posters are included in this service.
These presentations can be accessed at http://ncc.confex.com/ncc/2008/techprogram/MEETING.HTM.
A registration identification number from an individual’s ’08 Beltwide meeting name badge is needed to enter the system. Registration identification numbers were sent to conference attendees via an email from the Confex Podium Service on Thursday, Feb. 21. Attendees also may email Debbie Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org if they need assistance obtaining their registration identification numbers.
BASF sponsored the Confex Podium Service. Complete ’08 Beltwide Cotton Conferences proceedings are scheduled to be mailed by mid-May.
|US Cotton Promoted in Europe|
Cotton Council International (CCI), Cotton Incorporated and Supima promoted US cotton at the Texworld and Premiere Vision trade shows in Paris.
CCI and Cotton Incorporated jointly exhibited at both shows and featured the latest initiatives in the Supply Chain Marketing program. At the Texworld show, the COTTON USA booth also featured a Supima section.
These two shows represent the largest combined exhibition of the world’s leading textile mills and offer an exceptional setting to promote US cotton. Key European and international brands and retailers visited the US cotton booths, including Marks and Spencer, Bruehl, Max Mara, Bueltel, TMG, Hermann Buehler, Arcadia, JC Penney, Mango and Stefanel.
|Sales Surge, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending Feb. 14 were 508,900 bales (480-lb.). This brings total ’07-08 sales to approximately 10.3 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were slightly more than 8.0 million bales. Total new crop ('08-09) sales are 416,800 bales (480-lb).
Shipments for the week were 232,000 bales, bringing total exports to date to 6.7 million bales, compared with the 4.4 million bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
|Prices Effective Feb. 22-28, '08|