Time of essence in farm bill consideration

Senator Charles Grassley is anxious to work out details of the farm bill so that it can be considered by the so-called Super Committee. In a conference call Tuesday, Grassley explained that delays may mean more cuts in farm programs or no farm program at all.

“We would also expect, since we came up with a figure that leadership of the House, at $23 billion, says that they can live with, we better take it and be satisfied with it, or maybe end up being a lot worse next year,” said Grassley, during the call with reporters.

Grassley says that if the Super Committee has nothing by November 1, it’s up to that committee to write farm legislation. If that’s the case, Grassley fears the result, because Max Baucus is the only Senate Ag Committee member on the Super Committee.

AUDIO: Senator Charles Grassley (11 min. MP3)

Detroit automakers on-target with FFVs

The Renewable Fuels Association says General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are on track to meet their pledge that 50 percent of the new vehicles they make in 2012 will be flex fueled (FFV). FFVs can run on any blend of ethanol up to 85 percent. The Association says there are currently around 9 million FFVs in use and called for continued investment in blender pumps and other infrastructure “to maximize the benefits of using a homegrown, renewable fuel.”

Wisconsin Farm Bureau membership increases

A good year for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, membership in the organization at the end of its fiscal year in September stood at 44,123 members, an increase of 1,416 from the previous year and marks the fourth consecutive year of membership growth. Voting membership increased 495 to 23,221 and Associate membership increased 921 to end the year at 20,902.

52 of the 61 county farm bureaus had an increase in voting membership while 49 of the 61 had overall membership increases for the year.

Dumping milk in New Zealand

A leak in a major gas line supplying the upper north island of New Zealand has prompted Fonterra to shut down 15 milk processing plants resulting in the dumping of about 8 million gallons of milk per day. There are two coal-fired plants on the island but they can handle about 1.3 million gallons per day at best. It is not known what caused the leak in the White Cliffs area and it is not known how long it will take to fix it. All industrial users on the island have been asked to stop using gas.

This comes at a time just when the new milk production season is off to a great start in New Zealand. Dairy Market News reports thanks to favorable winter weather and good springtime conditions, pasture growth is excellent and milk production in New Zealand is running 13 percent above year-ago levels. In fact, USDA’s yearly milk production estimates for New Zealand are being adjusted higher.

Grains, oilseeds narrowly mixed

Soybeans were mostly lower on technical and fund selling, along with spillover from the outside markets. The Dow was lower, but crude oil was up sharply and the dollar flattened out after early gains as the broader market prepared for a Wednesday E.U. meeting. Past that – there was no fresh demand news and no real surprises in USDA’s weekly harvest update. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower on the adjustment of product spreads. The Soybean Processors’ Association of India, via Dow Jones Newswires, estimates India’s 2011/12 soybean crop at 11.94 million tons, up from earlier guesses thanks to improved yields.

Corn was mixed in consolidation trade. Corn was also looking at a lack of fresh news and commercial interest has been declining over the last few sessions. USDA’s weekly numbers did show harvest delays in parts of the Eastern Cornbelt but the overall pace remains well ahead of average at 65% complete as of Sunday, compared to the five year average of 51%. Ethanol was mixed, mostly higher.

The wheat complex was mixed on the mostly firm dollar and a lack of fresh supportive news. Taiwan bought 43,950 tons of U.S. wheat (18,850 tons dark northern spring, 13,800 tons of hard red winter, and 11,300 tons of western white), but Japan appears to be mostly covered for the time being, and China’s expected to increase acreage this year; also, over the past two weeks, according to DTN, Beijing has purchased roughly 500,000 tons of Australian wheat. Still, there’s a lot of concern about dry weather in the Southern Plains and its continued impact on the hard red winter crop. European wheat was up ahead of the debt crisis meeting scheduled for Wednesday. Egypt issued a tender for at least 110,000 tons of wheat, including Ukrainian origin for the first time since 2008, and Jordan bought 100,000 tons of hard wheat from Ukraine. Russia’s Ag Ministry reports 96% of the expected grain area is harvested with the running total at 95 million tons.

Biodiesel sales hit another record

U.S. biodiesel sales hit another record. The EPA reports that 119 million gallons of biomass-based diesel were sold during September, marking the six month in a row of record high sales. The National Biodiesel Board says that’s an eight-percent increase from August. Year to date biodiesel sales for 2011 have reached 686 million gallons.

Boxed beef values close higher but pork was down

The feedlot cattle trade is at a standstill on Tuesday and bids and asking prices are not clearly defined. Packers are watching their margins and producers have their eye on the direction of the futures trade and the sharply higher beef prices . Trade could be delayed until late in the week. Asking prices appear to be around 123.00 plus live and 194.00 plus dressed. The slaughter totaled 131,000 cattle, 1,000 more than last week and last year.

Boxed beef values were higher on good demand and moderate offerings. Choice beef was up 2.21 at 186.79, and select was 1.23 higher at 168.56.

Live cattle contracts settled 30 to 115 points lower on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. The weaker stock and outside markets weighed on livestock futures. The market showed some recovery from early sharp losses due to the sharply higher boxed beef values at midday.  October settled .85 lower at 122.10, and December was down .90 at 121.97.

Feeder cattle ended the session 20 to 120 points lower on spillover weakness from the live pit. Trade volume was extremely light across the complex. October settled .20 lower at 139.65, and November was down 1.00 at 141.80.

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Noem says dust rule bill provides certainty

Testimony on the bipartisan dust bill that would prevent the EPA from regulating farm dust as part of the Clean Air Act was heard by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee this morning. Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota sponsors the bill. She says it would separate rural dust from urban dust, which scientific research shows causes health problems. “There hasn’t been that kind of scientific research and data that has shown the detrimental effects of this ‘nuisance’ dust which we’re addressing in this piece of legislation.”

Noem says the bill will give the Environmental Protection Agency certainty. “I think this piece of legislation – the EPA should have no problem with. I really do. I think they should be very supportive of this because it simply says that they’re not going to change their standards for a year, which they’ve already said that they’re not going to do.”

And she says it would provide that much needed definition – that rural dust and urban dust are not the same thing, “And, I think it would be very helpful to them and their processes and how they evaluate the ways that they approach enforcing the Clean Air Act to have that definition in place because they’re very different and the research behind them shows that.”

Although the EPA has said it will not regulate farm dust, Noem says, this bill would prevent the issue from going to court, as so often environmental regulations do, and would keep courts from deciding what happens on the farm. The legislation, she says, would provide much needed certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Mr. Chairman, this bill provides certainty. It provides certainty to a risky business that a lot of farmers and ranchers engage in and the people in rural areas are trying to keep their doors open and provide for their families. And,” Noem adds, “This shows them that we’re going to give them the certainty they need to be protected from those types of sudden regulations that may come up because of lawsuits and environmental issues.”

AUDIO: Portion of hearing on Dust Bill, House Energy & Commerce Committee (5:00 mp3)

Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (H.R. 1633)

Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: October 25, 2011

Dec. corn closed at $6.50 and 3/4, down 1/4 cent
Nov. soybeans closed at $12.25 and 1/2, down 1 and 1/4 cents
Dec. soybean meal closed at $322.20, up 70 cents
Dec. soybean oil closed at 51.50, down 29 points
Dec. wheat closed at $6.36 and 1/4, down 6 and 1/4 cents
Oct. live cattle closed at $122.10, down 85 cents
Dec. lean hogs closed at $87.85, down 97 cents
Dec. crude oil closed at $93.17, up $1.90
Dec. cotton closed at 100.05, up 211 points
Nov. Class III milk closed at $17.60, down 27 cents
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,706.62, down 207.00 points

Monsanto’s ‘Grow Communities’ program in second year

The Monsanto Fund is encouraging farmers to sign up for the second year of its “America’s Farmers Grow Communities” program.

The program is offered to farmers in more than 12-hundred counties.  One winning farmer is randomly selected from every eligible country to receive 25-hundred dollars for his or her favorite local, nonprofit organization. 

Monsanto community outreach coordinator Annie Kayser says local 4-H and FFA chapters were some the biggest recipients last year.

“Farmers really understand the need to cultivate the ag youth within their communities, so those are some of the top ones,” says Kayser.  “We also see volunteer fire departments—they actually jumped up to our number one spot last year with receiving the most donations.”

Last year, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program provided more than four-point-two million dollars to organizations in local communities.

You can sign up at growcommunities.com or by calling 877-267-3332.

AUDIO: Annie Kayser (4:10 MP3)