Cotton's Week: July 17, 2009

Cotton's Week: July 17, 2009

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Peterson Airs Food Safety Bill Concerns

At a House Agriculture Committee hearing, Chairman Peterson (D-MN) threatened to oppose a food safety overhaul bill unless the concerns of farm groups are addressed. On June 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved by voice vote, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2749). If enacted, the legislation would significantly expand the authorities of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate and oversee on-farm production activities.

During the hearing, witnesses from a wide range of interest groups expressed their concerns about user fees, food safety plans, recalls and record-keeping policies included in the legislation.

Agricultural organizations, including the NCC, have consistently communicated a number of concerns, including: a requirement that the FDA promulgate regulations covering for on-farm activities such as the safe growing, harvesting, and holding of raw agricultural commodities, manure use, and water quality; the requirement that each farmer maintain production and sales records showing every buyer to which the farm’s products are sold (with the exception of products sold directly to final consumers or restaurants); the authority for a federal official to have access to and copy all records, including production and sales records that may be related in any way to food or feed safety; a requirement that FDA levy fines which may be as much as $20,000 per day for an individual farmer; and, authorities that are duplicative of regulatory oversight activities currently employed by USDA related to agricultural production practices that FDA does not have the personnel, funding, knowledge, expertise, or time to regulate.

Chairman Peterson said unless these concerns are addressed he may conduct a markup of the bill and report it out unfavorably. He said he was to meet on July 17 with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman (D-CA) and immediate past-Chairman Dingell (D-MI) to discuss legislation modifications that would address agricultural interests’ objections.

NCC has urged its members to contact their Congressional Members during the August recess to inform them of the serious concerns with H.R.2749. The NCC believes this legislation should not be presented to the full House until it is modified by the Agriculture Committee.



Senate Climate Change Debate Continues

The Senate has begun discussions on its version of a climate change bill.

Following the narrow House passage of the Waxman/Markey bill (H.R.2454), Sen. Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has taken the lead in pushing climate change legislation in the Senate. Since July 7, she has held four hearings on the topic including one on economic opportunities for agriculture and forestry in climate change legislation. During thathearing, she stated she intends to use the Waxman/Markey bill, including the amendments negotiated for inclusion by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN), as a starting point.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, the only witness for agriculture on a panel of four, said the House-passed climate legislation will have little to no impact on global temperatures and without the adoption of similar actions by other countries, the US “will be embarking on a fool’s errand.”

The other witnesses represented the mining industry, USDA’s Climate Change Program and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), the Committee’s ranking member, challenged climate change legislation proponents with 1) a recently released economic analysis showing that the Waxman/Markey bill will cost Missouri corn farmers between $11,000-$30,000 per year and 2) a recently discovered EPA document which says there is insufficient evidence to claim CO² emissions are responsible for global warming. He also predicted that climate change legislation in its current form will fail because the public ultimately would perceive the legislation as a significant tax increase.

In spite of growing concerns, including 16 Senators who have written expressing their concerns, ChairmanBoxer has announced her intention to mark-up legislation in committee by September’s end.

Reports indicate the Administration has paired a top official with key Senators who have expressed reservations about the legislation. This effort is in addition to the one-on-one meetings that Chairman Boxer has been holding and her sessions with a group of about 30 Senators, known as the "Tuesday at 12" meetings, to develop a strategy to win the 60 votes needed for passage.

Six committees - Environment and Public Works, Finance, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, and Foreign Relations - have jurisdiction over the bill. Those Committees’ leaders have been meeting with Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) who is trying to combine their work into a single bill for Senate consideration this fall.

The fate of a bill could be determined by 15 moderate Democrats, many of who are from coal-dependent and farm states and are concerned that a vote for climate change legislation could hurt their re-election chances.

The Administration appears ready to take a more aggressive approach than it did in the House. Key administration officials began meeting with lawmakers months ago.

Chairman Boxer has received much of her support from environmental groups but that support is not guaranteed as compromises are made to win votes. Greenpeace, for example, opposed the House bill saying it had been weakened too much to appease farm state interests.



Direct Loans Availability Announced

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $760 million from the Supplemental Appropriations Act signed by President Obama is available for approved but previously unfunded USDA direct farm ownership and operating loans nationwide.

USDA already has provided $400 million to state offices for direct operating loans. These funds will clear a $150 million backlog of loans, which already had been approved for 2,200 family farmers. It also will provide additional funds for new loan applications. USDA has made the remaining $360 million available for direct farm ownership loans to be distributed directly by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Producers interested in applying for direct loans or other FSA products should visit their local FSA county offices. For more information, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.



EPA Amends SPCC Regulations

EPA recently amended the dates by which facilities must prepare or amend and implement their Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans to Nov. 10, ’10 – the same date EPA set for farms to prepare or amend and implement their SPCC Plans.

These amendments do not remove any regulatory requirement for owners or operators of facilities in operation before Aug. 16, ’02.

EPA considers that all farms and gins that have more than an aggregate 1,320 gallons of oil (of any kind including vegetable oil) and fuel on site, and have a reasonable expectation of a discharge into or upon US navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, are and have been covered by this regulation.

More information is available at http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/index.htm.



WHIP Comments Sought

USDA is amending the interim final rule for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) by expanding the definition of agricultural lands to include areas of a farm or ranch that currently are not under production. Thus, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the reopening of a comment period for wildlife habitat development on private lands.

NRCS is issuing the interim final rule with a request for comment to incorporate statutory changes included in the ’08 farm law which amended WHIP by narrowing the program's applicability to private agricultural lands, nonindustrial private forestland and Indian land; identifying habitat on pivot corners and irregular areas as “other types of wildlife habitat'” eligible for cost-share; increasing, from 15 to 25, the percentage of funds that may be used for agreements that have a term of at least 15 years; and instituting an annual $50,000 in direct or indirect aggregate payment limitations per person or legal entity.

Comments are due to NRCS no later than Aug. 14, ’09. A copy of the changes can be found at:  http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-16705.htm.



FSA State Executive Directors Named

The Obama Administration began naming individuals to serve as state executive directors for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Named thus far are:

  • Mississippi’s Michael Sullivan, a full time farmer since ’70 who operates a 2,000-acre row crop, poultry and cattle business with his brother. Sullivan is currently a member of the Mississippi Farm Bureau, Mississippi Cattlemen's Assoc. and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
  • Oklahoma’s Francie Tolle, the current legislative policy analyst for American Farmers and Ranchers, as well as co-owner of Tolle Farms in Deer Creek. She previously served as the director of Development at the Oklahoma State U. Foundation, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and worked with the Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture Food and Forestry as the state director of Agritourism. She also held the position of executive director with the Oklahoma Wheat Grower's Assoc.
  • Texas’ Juan Garcia who currently serves as the Agricultural Program manager/assistant state executive director (SED) for the FSA and acting SED since January. While at the USDA Soil Conservation Service, Garcia provided technical guidance to farmers, ranchers and organizations in the planning/implementation of conservation programs. He served as an FSA county executive director in Hidalgo, Nolan and Cameron counties and as a district director for the state’s southern and eastern districts. He was raised on a cotton, grain sorghum and cattle operation in Willacy County.
  • Virginia’s Michael Wooden, who has almost 27 years of USDA experience. He is currently a district director for the Virginia FSA where he handles debt management issues, and serves as both the civil rights coordinator and the communications coordinator. Previously, he served as a USDA agricultural liaison with Virginia State U. He was raised on a peanut and small grain farm in Surry County.


Southwest Producers Visit Mid-South

In the first of four ’09 NCC Producer Information Exchange (PIE) program tours, Louisiana and Mississippi cotton producers hosted their peers from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The Southwest cotton producers began their tour in the Newellton, LA, area with a visit to area farms, including NCC Chairman Jay Hardwick's operation. In the Lake Providence area they visited farms, the Louisiana Cotton Museum and the Panola Pepper Company. While in Mississippi, the group visited the Bayer CropScience Research Station in Leland, heard a presentation on Delta cotton production and agriculture, and toured the Stoneville Research Complex, the Delta Branch Experiment Station and area cotton farms. Their tour concluded with visits to Staplcotn Cooperative in Greenwood and Ray Makamson's farm in Itta Bena.

The Southwest producer participants included Texans - Corey Ayers, Whiteface; Chad Beaver, Fluvanna; Jason Butler, Littlefield; John Evridge, Midkiff; Brandon Hill, Levelland; Collin Klattenhoff, Miles; James Massey, IV, Robstown; Jere Mimms, Ransom Canyon; Thomas Moeller, Kingsville; and Mike Patschke, Lubbock; Oklahomans - Landon Hunt, Grandfield; and Ryan Vinyard, Altus; and Kansan - Roger Sewell, Pratt.

In this season’s other PIE tours, Mid-South producers will visit Texas on July 26-31; Southeastern producers will travel to California on Aug. 2-7; and Far Western producers will tour Georgia, Alabama and Florida on Aug. 16-21.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the PIE is now in its 21st year of helping its US cotton producer participants improve yields and fiber quality.



Sales, Shipments Steady

Net export sales for the week ending July 9 were 104,400 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’08-09 sales to approximately 14.2 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’07-08 marketing year were approximately 15.5 million bales. Total new crop (’09-10) sales are 1.1 million bales.

Shipments were 244,200 bales, bringing total exports to date to 12.4 million bales, compared with the 12.6 million bales at the comparable point in the ’07-08 marketing year. With less than one month remaining in the marketing year, weekly shipments must average roughly 310,000 bales to reach the USDA projection of 13.3 million bales.



Prices Effective July 17-23, '09

Adjusted World Price, SLM 11/16

48.46 cents

*

Fine Count Adjustment ('08 Crop)

 0.40 cents


Fine Count Adjustment ('09 Crop)

  0.20 cents


Coarse Count Adjustment

  0.00 cents


Marketing Loan Gain Value

 3.54 cents


Import Quotas Open

8


Special Import Quota (480-lb bales)

491,900


ELS Payment Rate

  6.23 cents


*No Adjustment Made Under Step I

 

Five-Day Average



Current 5 Lowest 3135 CFR Far East

65.23 cents


Forward 5 Lowest 3135 CFR Far East

66.14 cents


Coarse Count CFR Far East

65.88 cents


Current US CFR Far East

67.15 cents


Forward US CFR Far East

70.50 cents


 

'08-09 Weighted Marketing-Year Average Farm Price  
 

Year-to-date (Aug.-May)

48.94 cents

**

** Aug.-July average price used in determination of counter-cyclical payment 

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