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D ry n e S S c o n c e r n S have intensified in recent weeks in much of Illinois and a large portion of the western Corn Belt. ....3 A Will county farmer is breaking new ground in raising money for the American Cancer Society. .............................................4 Ag exportS could play a key role this year in deter mining whether commodity prices remain at profitable levels. ..........................5 Monday, June 11, 2012 Two sections Volume 40, No. 24 Stage set for open, limited (?) farm bill debate BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek The Senate has set the stage for open but controlled farm bill debate, as ag lawmakers seek program provisions agreeable to both midwestern and southern farmers. A farm bill “cloture” measure, aimed at limiting the time devoted to anticipated Senate floor amendments, cleared handily by a 90-8 vote last Thursday. While the measure should help prevent crippling extended debate on individual issues, cloture does not preclude a possible “flood” of proposed amendments, National Corn Growers Association policy director Jon Doggett stressed. Doggett cited three prime areas for heated floor debate — commodity program, crop insurance, and “food stamp” spending. Thirty amendments had been filed as of late last week, and he sees “a certainty there will be more.” The White House last week offered a “not-so-subtle signal that its going to fight for SNAP (federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – food stamp) funding,” he said. Further, key southern senators are “pursuing some accommodation” for rice and other growers facing elimination of direct payments and a proposed new revenue safety net they believe to be of greater benefit to corn and soybean growers, Doggett noted. Also at issue are potential proposals to place “draconian” new income/eligibility limits for farm program recipients or possible “anti-ethanol” amendments forwarded by recently outspoken Senate biofuels critics, Doggett said. “(The cloture) vote indicates strongly that the Senate wants to move forward on the farm bill,” he told FarmWeek. “It gives us an indication they’re going to move through the amendment process, perhaps quickly. It indicates that on some points of contention, negotiations now going on could bear fruit and remove Survey says changes to sow housing systems will be costly BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek Periodicals: Time Valued The number of food companies that have pledged to source pork from suppliers who do not use sow gestation stalls has jumped in recent months. Kroger Co. last week joined the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, and other companies that have asked pork producers to start phasing out the stalls. However, just because food companies have made new policies regarding pork production doesn’t mean producers simply Listen to Rita Frazer’s interview with Chris Novak about the sustainability of pork production at will be able to flip a switch and convert to an all-open-housing system overnight. In fact, a new survey released last week at the World Pork Expo found the elimination of gestation stalls would take years; it would be very costly for producers, packers, and eventually consumers; and such a change won’t necessarily improve the welfare of all hogs. “A lot of retailers are talking about switching (from gestation stalls to open pen systems), but they aren’t talking about a price premium (to cover the cost of such a massive change to the production system),” said Ron Plain, University of Missouri Extension economist who sur- veyed the industry about its current production practices. Plain surveyed pork producers with 1,000 or more sows, which account for 3.6 million of the nation’s 5.7 million hogs, and found only 17.3 percent of sows currently spend a portion of gestation in open pens. The pork operators also indicated current plans would put a range of just 20.7 to 23.8 percent of sows in open pens in the next two years. Meanwhile, a number of sows spend time in both open pens and stalls during gestation. Pigs also are mixed at packing plants, which will make a stallfree claim even more difficult to achieve in the near future. “If a restaurant or grocery store wants to say all its ham or sausage comes from pigs whose mothers were raised in open pens, we’ll need some type of sorting system to track the pigs all the way from the growth process on the farm through slaughter and retail,” Plain said. “There’s going to be a cost associated with that.” R.C. Hunt, president of the See Housing, page 11 FarmWeek on the web: some opposition to the bill.” Meanwhile, the administration endorsed Senate Ag Committee proposals that “provide certainty for rural America and (include) needed reforms and savings.” The new farm bill “should promote rural development, preserve a farm safety net, maintain strong nutrition programs, enhance conservation, honor our World Trade Organization (trade) commitments, and advance agricultural research,” it stated. According to Doggett, “supplemental policy” is a likely approach to building farm bill support among Southern inter- ests. The Senate measure already proposes a separate revenue program for cotton growers, though more commodity carve-outs could challenge program budget constraints. Nutrition program debate could prove a more dicey proposition: The administration’s statement deemed SNAP “a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net,” and pushed for continued, full SNAP funding. Farm groups suggest up to $4 billion in cuts could be made in food program administration without hurting benefits for needy Americans. See Debate, page 4 curled corN Corn curled like that in this Saline County field is becoming a common sight across Illinois as a prolonged period of dryness has the crop seeking ways to protect itself. This field was planted April 2 and has received only about 1.75 inches since then. (Photo by Randy Anderson, FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Saline County) Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web:

FarmWeek June 11 2012

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