Archive for March, 2009

National Ag Day Celebration a Success!

IMG_0045 by you.The celebration of National Ag Day in Colorado was deemed a huge success by many people attending the celebration at the state capitol. In honor of the contributions that agriculture makes to our national economy, our national identity, and to our world, Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien, Speaker of the House Terrance Caroll, and other legislators took part in an antique “Tractorcade” at the Capitol last Wednesday.

 The Tractorcade began at Cheeseman Park and made its way down 14th Ave. to the Capitol with the help of DPD parade escorts. The bipartisan group of honorary drivers included, Lt. Gov. O’Brien, Speaker Terrance Carroll, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Wes McKinley, Sen. Jim Isgar, Rep. Randy Baumgardner, Sen. Chris Romer, and Sen. Greg Brophy. After taking a short ride around the Capitol parking lot, the drivers parked their tractors and attended a press conference to honor the day.  View pictures from the event on the CFB Flickr Page.

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AFBF Congratulates New Trade Chief

AFBF released a statement today, congratulating Ron Kirk on his confirmation as the United States trade representative. “AFBF looks forward to working closely with Ambassador Kirk on trade issues important to U.S. agriculture. Resisting protectionism and expanding markets are essential in this time of global economic challenge,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said.

“With more than 30 percent of U.S. agricultural revenues derived from exports, world trade is vital to American agriculture. Passage of pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; pursuing real market access gains through the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations; and enforcing standards and agreements in world trade will help expand U.S. agriculture’s markets around the world,” Stallman said.

Corn Prices Projected to Hit $5

With U.S. farmers planting less corn and more soybeans, grain analysts are predicting the price for corn will reach $5 per bushel in 2009.

 The reduction in acres planted to corn is projected down by 3 million from the 86 million planted last year. Soybean plantings, however, may go up 4.3 million to a record of 80 million acres.

“Corn surely gains on soybeans and next year the corn market has to buy acres back from beans … this year is the year of corn,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource. Basse has predicted the Chicago Board of Trade corn prices will trade in the range of $3.50 to $5 per bushel this year.

Non-Ambulatory Cattle Rule Issued

USDA  announced Saturday a final rule requiring a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel.

Under the new regulations all cattle that are non-ambulatory disabled (“downer”) cattle at any time prior to slaughter at an official establishment, including those that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem (pre-slaughter) inspection, must be condemned and properly disposed of according to FSIS regulations. Inspection program personnel must be notified by processors when cattle become non-ambulatory disabled after passing the ante-mortem inspection.

Cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled from an acute injury after ante-mortem inspection will no longer be eligible to proceed to slaughter. Instead, FSIS inspectors will tag these cattle as “U.S. Condemned” and prohibit them from proceeding to slaughter. These cattle now must be humanely euthanized. 

“This rule is designed to enhance consumer confidence and humane handling standards and will provide clear guidance that non-ambulatory cattle will not be allowed to enter the human food supply. It is a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Ag Committee Letter Calls For No Farm Bill Changes

The House Agriculture Committee’s budget views and estimates letter, sent to the chairman of the House Budget Committee Thursday, calls for no changes in the 2008 farm bill as part of the budget process.

 “The current economic crisis is having broad impact on our nation and the benefits provided by that broadly supported legislation are essential to the well-being of millions of Americans. We urge the Budget Committee to take these points into consideration while crafting a responsible budget resolution for the coming fiscal year,” said Chairman Collin Peterson.

 “I encourage the Budget Committee to honor the commitments made to our producers in the 2008 farm bill,” said ranking member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “At a time when our country is facing an economic crisis and commodity prices are plunging, it is important that we do the best we can to provide our farmers and ranchers with the safety net they need to continue to produce the safest, most abundant food supply in the world.”

Important to Let the Public Know About Ag

Liz Doornink, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, addressed attendees at the 2009 Maryland Dairy Convention in Frederick recently. She told them that farmers should seize every opportunity to tell their story. Doornink encouraged her audience to always find time to let people know about agriculture to counter negative impressions about what farmers do. Doornink and her family own Jon-De Farm Inc., a 2,400-acre dairy farm in Baldwin, Wis. The farm has 1,550 cows and grows corn and alfalfa.

“In order to save our industry, save our right to production choices, we need to tell our story. Your story and your voice are important. In order for my children to become fifth-generation dairy producers, I need to ensure that our country understands what we do, how we do it and why we do it,” Doornink said.

“Each time you send a letter, give a tour, speak in a classroom or share with a friend, you are implementing public relations that will benefit your family and your business. Don’t wait for someone else to do the job,” Doornink said.

Conyers Introduces Equine Cruelty Bill

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has introduced H.R. 503, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, to prohibit certain conduct relating to the use of horses for human consumption. The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and AFBF sent a letter to all members of the House strongly opposing the bill.

 H.R. 503 makes it a federal criminal offense to knowingly move, sell, purchase or transport a horse for human consumption. Unlike similar legislation introduced in previous sessions of Congress to strictly ban equine processing for human consumption, this legislation establishes a precedent for criminal prosecution for slaughtering a livestock animal.

 The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to care for horses confiscated as a result of this legislation. H.R. 503 will not improve horse welfare, but it will punish horse owners, further restrict property rights, and, perhaps most importantly, set a dangerous precedent for criminal prosecution of livestock processing, according to AFBF.

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