Congress passes Free Trade Agreements

Congress has passed all three pending free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

The House passed the South Korea pact, which includes the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, on a 278-151 vote.  The Panama FTA was approved by a 300-129 vote.  Colombia, the most controversial of the deals, passed on a 262-167 vote.   

In the Senate, the FTA with South Korea was approved 83-15, Panama 77-22 and Colombia 66-33.

Link to NCGA reaction

Link to NCBA reaction

Link to NWGA reaction

Brownfield’s Bob Meyer contributed to this report.

Indiana harvest update

Nice weather has helped progress harvest for one Indiana Farmer.  Bob Suiter farms in West Central Indiana and says the biggest challenge they’ve had on their farm this year is weather.  After battling the challenges of a wet spring, and numerous planting delays, he says the spring ended up long and drawn out and thought for sure harvest would be as well.

Suiter tells Brownfield with the recent weather they have been able to play catch up in the field.  As for the crop, he says it definitely has been better than they expected.  Suiter notes had this weather happened ten years earlier, yields would have been 100 bushels per acre less than they saw this year.  He says that is a testament to the genetics and the advancements in seed technology.


In the field we were at yesterday, corn was about 17 percent moisture and averaging 185 bu/acre.

Move to roll-back restrictions on co-op stock sales

A bill to reduce the requirements for cooperatives to sell stock has passed out of the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions. Authored by Representative Al Ott, the bill would roll-back provisions of a 2009 update to the federal Uniform Securities Law which Ott says significantly narrowed and made more restrictive a state-level securities registration exemption for cooperatives. The Forest Junction Republican says the restrictions resulted in confusion, delays, and substantial legal costs that are proving to be a deciding factor in whether or not a new cooperative moves forward.

Assembly Bill 228 now moves to the full Assembly with a vote expected next Tuesday.

Top 50 dairy cooperatives

Hoard’s Dairyman has published its annual list of the top 50 dairy cooperatives in the country. In 2010 just under 79 percent of the nation’s 192.8 billion pounds of milk was marketed through those 50 cooperatives, down from 79.6 percent in 2009 and the lowest market share those co-ops have had since 2007.

Dairy Farmers of America continues to be the biggest dairy co-op in the country with 37.8 billion pounds of milk, more than double any other co-op and 19.6 percent of the total milk produced in the country last year. California Dairies is second with 16.9 billion pounds of milk; Land O’Lakes is third with 12.87 billion pounds; Northwest Dairy Association of Seattle is the fourth largest handling 7.3 billion pounds of milk followed by New York’s Dairylea Co-op with 6.25 billion. Those top five cooperatives handled 42 percent of total U.S. production in 2010, down from 45 percent in 2009.

AMPI, Family Dairies USA, Foremost Farms USA, Manitowoc Milk Producers and Select Milk Producers of New Mexico round-out the top 10. The nation’s largest organic cooperative, Organic Valley/CROPP is number 26 with 1.15 billion pounds of milk.

DFA has more than three-times the number of members than any other dairy co-op with 9,168 while Select Milk Producers had the most milk per producer; the New Mexico co-op gets 4.4 billion pounds of milk from just 67 members for an average of 65.9 million pounds per farm.

LightSquared vs. GPS debate continues

The LightSquared versus GPS debate continued before the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday. LightSquared vice president of regulatory affairs, Jeff Carlisle told the committee construction of the wireless network will support 15,000 jobs a year for the next five years and most of those jobs will be with small businesses. Plus, upon completion, the network will provide affordable broadband access to small businesses.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen farm groups have sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting additional targeted testing to make sure the LightSquared system will not interfere with Global Positioning Satellite systems. The radio wave spectrum LightSquared will use is right next to the band used by GPS and initial tests found widespread interference. LightSquared says they have fixed the problem, the farm groups want to be sure.

The FCC granted conditional approval to the wireless system last January before the problem was discovered. LightSquared says it can remedy the problem with filters and by using the end of the spectrum furthest from the GPS band. The FCC ordered another round of tests by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to be completed by November 30th. Carlisle says if the FCC does not give the project the green-light after that, LightSquared may take legal action. He says if GPS receivers are picking up signals outside their band, they are not entitled to protection from interference.

Farm groups signing the letter to the FCC were: The American Farm Bureau, American Sugar Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Potato Council, National Sunflower Association, U.S. Canola Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and USA Rice Federation.

Brugler looks at objective yield numbers

USDA’s updated corn and soybean production numbers were both down 1% from September, and according to one analyst, the objective yield numbers show a potential for further reductions.

Alan Brugler of Brugler Marketing tells Brownfield better than expected anecdotal yields probably won’t hold up, “They way I’m interpreting that is producers had gotten very negative about their own production prospects because of the weather back in the summertime and also their experience last year.”

Brugler adds, “USDA used a composite of both those producer expectations and their objective yield plots. If you look at the objective yield plot data that came out today [Wednesday], USDA lowered the average test weight for the corn nationally and they also reduced the number of pods per square in their soybean sample, so they’re basically saying in their objective yield plots, the grain wasn’t there.”

Following the USDA numbers, the wheat complex closed down sharply, corn was modestly lower, and soybeans were mostly firm.

Alan Brugler goes over the numbers (3 Minutes, 37 Seconds, MP3)

Some slight changes in USDA’s dairy outlook

The monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand estimates from USDA on Wednesday nudged U.S. milk production a little higher for this year and a little lower for 2012. The Outlook Board puts production at 195.9 billion pounds in 2011 and 198.4 billion next year. Cheese prices were trimmed 1 to 2 cents from the September estimates now put at between $1.81 and $1.82 for 2011, $1.665 and $1.755 for 2012. Butter also 1 to 2 cents lower, $1.94 to $1.97 this year, $1.60 to $1.72 next year. Nonfat dry milk prices for this year were unchanged from last month while the 2012 price was 2 to 3 cents lower. Dry whey prices unchanged to a penny higher for 2011 while the 2012 price estimate is 4 cents higher than the September estimate.

The Class III milk price estimates for 2011 and 2012 were reduced 10 to 20 cents now pegged at between $18.15 and $18.25 for this year, $16.30 to $17.20 next year. Class IV for 2011 unchanged to a dime lower, $19.05 to $19.25 while the 2012 price is 20 to 30 cents lower than last month at $16.30 o $17.30. The all milk price estimate for 2011 is 15 to 20 cents lower at $20 to $20.10 while the 2012 price was reduced 5 to 15 cents putting it between $17.75 and $18.65 per hundredweight.

Read the full WASDE report here:

Soybeans manage mostly firm finish

Soybeans were mostly firm on speculative and commercial buying. USDA lowered the production estimate, and tightened ending stocks. Still, after the strength Tuesday, beans struggled at times, seeing spillover pressure from corn and wheat. In any event, at this point, the trade wants to see some fresh demand, especially from China. Soybean meal was higher and soybean oil was lower on product spread adjustments. According to DTN, South Korea bought 2,000 tons of non-GMO U.S. yellow soybeans.

Corn was modestly lower on fund and commercial selling. USDA lowered the production guess, limiting losses, but did raise U.S. and world ending stocks, including a cut in export demand. The Ag Department also increased the global crop projection to a new record of 860.1 million tons. Past that – the trade’s watching harvest weather and export demand, especially from China. Dow Jones Newswires reports Beijing bought 1.5 million tons of corn from an unspecified origin, with no USDA confirmation of purchase as of yet. Ethanol futures were mostly firm.

The wheat complex was sharply lower on fund and commercial selling. USDA increased domestic ending stocks, most analysts were expecting a decrease, and also raised the world supply estimate. USDA lowered demand for U.S. wheat in most categories, including big cuts for exports and feed use. European wheat was sharply lower on USDA’s global stocks estimate. Taiwan’s Flour Millers’ Association bought 43,820 tons of U.S. wheat (dark northern spring at $417.28 per ton with $39 per ton for freight and hard red winter at $395.26 per ton, cost and freight). Japan issued a sell-buy-sell tender for 50,000 tons of feed wheat and 200,000 tons of feed barley. Kazakhstan’s Ag Ministry reports grain harvest is 93.7% complete at 25.7 million tons. Australia’s Bureau of Statistics states August exports and domestic consumption were down 12% on the month but up 3.2% on the year at 1.92 million tons, and Commonwealth Bank Australia raised its production outlook to 25.2 million tons, an increase of 1.7 million tons from the August estimate. France’s AgriMer pegs 2011/12 production at 33.8 million tons, compared to 35.7 million in 2010/11.

This October is first ‘Farm to School’ month

This October is the first National Farm to School Month – a recognition put in place by a Congressional resolution last November.

“It’s helping to get kids connect with where their food comes from to help them make healthy food choices later in life as well as just have an understanding of our food system and how food gets from the field to their lunch tray.”

Vanessa Herald, the Great Lakes Region coordinator, tells Brownfield that Farm to School activities are taking many forms.

“What’s great about Farm to School is it’s incredibly grassroots,” says Herald, “So, people all over the country are creating a variety of programs whether they’re serving local food in the cafeteria or starting a school garden. And these are parents, volunteers, students, teachers, food service directors starting these programs.

To find out what’s going on in your state or region, go online to Farm to School.

Arkansas weed specialist speaks from experience

The prevailing opinion is that Iowa may be only a couple of years behind Arkansas in glyphosate resistant weeds. University of Arkansas weed science associate professor Jason Norsworthy was in Iowa giving a warning of sorts. Norsworthy sees plenty of water hemp where he’s from. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of it that escapes the efficacy of the herbicide glyphosate; more than last year; less than is expected next year. That resistance to glyphosate is creeping northward and Norsworthy says it’s worthwhile for growers, no matter where they are, to consider rotating chemistry and herbicide technology. He says where he’s from, there’s even more mechanical weed control, in other words, cultivation.

AUDIO: Jason Norsworthy (3 min. MP3)