March 10, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 10
GFB OFFERING NEW FUTURES MONITORING SERVICE AS A MEMBER BENEFIT
Georgia Farm Bureau is now providing up-to-date futures market information via automated text message in its Futures at a Glance program. Futures at a Glance, provided at no cost to GFB members, gives daily futures prices for the spot and harvest months on cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and relevant pricing months for feeder cattle. Each update is sent by text message to the member’s cell phone with information on the latest commodity prices. Comparable services normally cost $100 or more annually. “With the rapidly changing conditions in the market, it’s more important than ever for agricultural producers to have current information to use in making business decisions for their farms,” said GFB President Zippy Duvall. “This is a service that will help make Georgia farmers more knowledgeable and aware of the marketplace.” The GFB Commodities/Marketing Department provides marketing opportunities for grains, soybeans and corn as well as other feed ingredients for GFB members, and also administers the GFB Certified Farm Market program. The information provided through the Futures at a Glance program will be shown using symbols and numbers. The symbol for cotton is CT, corn is CN, wheat is WT, soybeans are SB and feeder cattle is FC. Those symbols will be followed by a two-letter month designation (for example, December will be shown as “DC”), a positive or negative number indicating market movement and the current trading price. For grains, an additional 2, 4 or 6 at the end of the trading price indicates fractions of cents; 2 refers to 1/4 cent, 4 is 1/2 cent and 6 is 3/4 cent. For example, a message reading CNSP+104@4012, would translate to corn for the month of September is up 10 1/2 cents to $4.01 1/4. Futures at a Glance will provide the morning, midday and closing prices for the markets. The service is available to all Georgia Farm Bureau members. Those who sign up for it assume the normal text-messaging costs charged by their cell phone providers. To enroll in the program, contact your county Farm Bureau office, fill out the required form and have the county office staff return it to the home office. For more information about Futures at a Glance, please visit the GFB Website at http://www.gfb.org/commodities/futures_glance.html?fuseaction=events.foodweek or call the GFB Commodities/Marketing Department at 1-800-342-1196.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 4 HOUSE AG COMMITTEE REJECTS PROPOSED CUTS TO CROP PAYMENTS The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture last week voiced opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposed cuts in crop payments to higher-income farmers and federal support for crop insurance under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, also known as the 2008 farm bill. In a budget views and estimates letter to House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (DS.C.), Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Minority Member Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) noted that while net farm income may increase in 2010 over the previous year, it’s still likely to be substantially lower than in 2008. This is compounded by the declines in farm asset value that have corresponded with the current economic crisis. “We believe that it would be unwise to reopen the FCEA to reduce program benefits,” Peterson and Lucas wrote, “especially through proposals similar to those that, during the FCEA debate, were considered and rejected.” The farm bill allows crop payment eligibility for producers with adjusted gross income of up to $750,000 from on-farm sources and $500,000 for off-farm sources. Obama proposed phased reductions to the income limits, trimming the on-farm limit to $500,000 over the next three years and the off-farm limit to $250,000. Obama also suggested reducing the cap on annual directpayment subsidies to $30,000, a $10,000 drop from the $40,000 allowed in the farm bill. The farm bill received widespread support from more than 1,000 organizations and passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities, in part because its sponsors took steps to ensure that spending increases were offset by reductions in other areas, the letter said. USDA ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION PLAN MEETS RESISTANCE The USDA’s revamped plan leaving administration of a national animal identification system to state departments of agriculture is meeting resistance from the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee. Saying she did not think the system would work, committee chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said she wouldn’t agree to fund the $14 million plan for 2011. The USDA announced the plan last month at a mid-year meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the system would provide flexibility because it would be carried out by states and tribal nations. The plan would only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce and would encourage the use of low-cost technology. The USDA initially worked to implement the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which called for livestock producers to register their animals in a way that allowed them to be traced back to the farm within 48 hours in the event of a food-borne disease outbreak. After a 15city listening tour, during which he determined there was insufficient support nationwide for NAIS, Vilsack opted to scrap it in favor of the plan relying on state-level administration. IN SYMPATHY Georgia Farm Bureau extends its heartfelt sympathy to GFB North Georgia Vice President Bernard Sims and his wife, Janet, in the loss of their son, Jeff, 43, who died following a heart attack March 5. Jeff is survived by his wife, Bonnie; daughter, Madison; sons, Luke and Noah; brother, Kevin; sister, Cindy Parris and grandmother, Bessie F. Houston. Condolences may be sent to the Sims at 1608 Burning Bush Rd., Ringgold, Ga. 30736.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 4
BRAZIL ANNOUNCES RETALIATORY TARIFFS ON U.S. GOODS In the ongoing trade dispute over the U.S. cotton program, Brazil released on March 8 a list of U.S. goods that would be subject to increased import tariffs as retaliation, under authorized by a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel. The new tariffs will amount to $590 million annually and go into effect in April. The cotton components subject to tariffs account for $147 million of the total tariff amount. U.S. cotton exports to Brazil will carry the most severe increase in tariffs, rising from 6 percent to 100 percent. According to the Georgia Cotton Commission, Georgia is the second-largest cottonproducing state behind Texas with more than 900,000 acres of cotton planted in more than 100 counties in 2008, and cotton-related industries provide more than 30,000 jobs in the state. Statistics on the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences website indicate that about 40 percent of Georgia-grown cotton is exported, meaning the Brazil tariffs could have a profound impact on the state’s already struggling economy. An additional retaliation of $238 million on services and intellectual property is also authorized, but specific tariff lines have yet to be announced. Some observers believe those tariffs, known as “cross retaliation,” are being planned in hopes that other sectors of the U.S. economy will push for changes in the cotton subsidy programs. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) contend that the U.S. has eliminated the objectionable provisions in its cotton and export credit programs through language in the 2008 Farm Bill. Lincoln and Chambliss expressed hope that a settlement between the two countries could be reached. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during her visit to Brazil last week that she hoped for a negotiated settlement. Brazil, the world’s second-largest cotton exporter, received authorization in August 2009 from the WTO to levy the tariffs in retaliation for the U.S. government subsidizing its cotton producers, a practice which Brazil brought into dispute in 2002, saying that it was causing economic harm to cotton producers in developing countries. GEORGIA EPD WILL NOT ISSUE DROUGHT DECLARATION The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has assessed rainfall amounts and stream flows and has determined that for the eighth straight year a drought declaration is not necessary for the lower Flint River Basin, in accordance with the Flint River Drought Protection Act. EPD Director Allen Barnes noted that stream flows and groundwater levels are above normal and a higher-than-normal amount of rainfall is forecast over the next three months. The Flint River Drought Protection Act was established to protect stream flow in the lower Flint River and its tributaries during a severe drought. According to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor, Georgia’s conditions are currently normal. CORRECTION An item in last week’s Leadership Alert regarding southern pine beetle prevention funds included an incorrect web address for more information. The correct address is http://www.gatrees.org/forestmanagement/spb.cfm.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 UPCOMING EVENTS
GA PEACH COMMISSION REFERENDUM Through March 16 Statewide Georgia peach producers are encouraged to vote in the referendum for the Georgia Peach Commission that runs from Feb. 15 to March 16. If you are a peach producer and did not receive a ballot, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture Commodities Promotion Division at 1-800282-5852. The commission oversees peach production research and promotion of the Georgia peach crop. GEORGIA AGRICULTURE AWARENESS DAY March 16 Georgia Depot (beside Underground Atlanta) Atlanta Gov. Sonny Perdue and his Agricultural Advisory Council will host a celebration of Georgia agriculture. Exhibits, food and entertainment will begin at 11 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., Gov. Perdue will name the state winner of the Environmental Stewardship Award for Agriculture and the grand prize winner of the Flavor of Georgia Food Contest. Call 229-391-6882 for more information. PUBLIC MEETING ON FDA PRODUCE SAFETY STANDARDS March 25 UGA Tifton Conference Center 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tifton Fruit and vegetable growers are encouraged to attend this meeting to give their input on the nationwide safety standards the Food and Drug Administration is establishing for growing, harvesting and packing fresh fruits and vegetables. Topics will include worker health and hygiene, composting, wildlife/environmental concerns and water quality. Meals will be provided. For more information contact the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association at 1-877-99GFVGA or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-687-2976. To register, visit www.producesafetyproject.org. GEORGIA TOBACCO COMMISSION REFERENDUM Ballots must be returned by March 25 Statewide Georgia tobacco producers are urged to vote in the referendum for the Georgia Tobacco Commission as required every three years by state law. If you are a tobacco producer and did not receive a ballot, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture Commodities Promotion Division at 1-800-282-5852. The commissionâ€™s main research objective continues to be researching production practices and treatments that will reduce symptoms of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. PEANUT PROUD FESTIVAL March 27 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Downtown Square Blakely Join the fun with a 5K Run, peanut parade, food vendors, recipe contest, educational exhibits, antique farm equipment display, arts and crafts and speeches by Georgiaâ€™s 2010 gubernatorial candidates. For information, call 229-723-2802 or visit www.peanutproud.com. GFB PREMISE LIABILITY WORKSHOP March 30 GFB Home Office 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Macon This free workshop will provide a general outline of premise law, how to recognize and limit liability problems, different types of insurance coverage and what to do in the event of an accident. Please RSVP by March 26 by calling 800-342-1196 or emailing email@example.com.