Archive for August, 2009

Ag Commissioner Stulp Clarifies Budget Cuts

At the meeting of the Colorado Ag Council on Friday, Comissioner of Ag, John Stulp said that for the 09-10 budget year his department would remain fully funded.

Clarifying the Governors budget plan, he said that the proposed $680,000 cut to the department’s Inspection and Consumer Services Division will be backfilled with money from the state’s Ag Management Fund. Money from the fund would normally be used to fund conservation grants and as a contingency fund for the state fair. No full time employees would be let go this year.

The Comissioner also warned ag council members that the department would seek to raise fees on services provided by the Inspection and Consumer Services Division in the upcoming legislative session. The legislation would raise fees that would normally be subsidized by general fund money. Some services provided by the Division would be raised by 25-50%.

Rep Kathleen Curry told those present that she would not immediatly support a fee increase unless it was supported by the ag community as a whole.

Meat Groups Blast Time Article

Meat industry groups are airing discontent with the Aug. 31 Time magazine cover story “The Real Cost of Cheap Food” that is loaded with inaccurate information and has no hint of objectivity.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the only meat industry group quoted in the article, lashed out with a press release outlining the steps it took to provide information to Bryan Walsh, the article’s writer. The vast majority of the information was not included in the final piece. The Cattlemen indicated they were called late in the reporting and writing process, and that the writer discussed the angle of his story only when pressed for details.

Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute, wrote a letter to the editor of Time. “In a world of 7 billion people and expanding, where malnutrition, hunger or outright famine are commonplace, it’s dumbfounding that Time magazine would take one of the great American success stories—the efficient agricultural production of an abundant variety of healthy, safe and affordable foods for consumers in the U.S. and throughout the world—and turn it into an unrecognizable story of exploitation, manipulation and greed,” Boyle wrote.

In AFBF President Bob Stallman’s letter to the editor of Time, he called the article “a vicious attack on modern farmers and the processes they use to care for the land, their animals, their neighbors and communities, all while producing safe, affordable, healthy and abundant food for consumers.”

Farm Bureau members are encouraged to write a letter to the editor by clicking here.

Animal Well-being Commission Formed

Leaders from academia and the beef industry are announcing the formation of an independent advisory group to focus on beef cattle health and well-being. The North American Food Animal Well-being Commission for Beef (NAFAWC-Beef)—which includes world-renowned experts in animal well-being—will advocate for increased research funding for animal well-being, facilitate the communication of research results in a more timely manner, advance best management practices in cattle health and welfare, and serve as an unbiased, science- and production- based group to address concerns about animal well-being.

NAFAWC-Beef will help direct research efforts, field studies and assessment tools for the North American beef industry in relation to beef cattle well-being in order to provide science-based recommendations for cattle management practices.

The commission’s public outreach efforts will focus on a number of groups across all levels of the beef chain, including: farming and ranching organizations, consumer groups, beef harvesting companies, veterinary groups, food retail and restaurant groups, and animal welfare groups.

The 21 inaugural members were selected for their expertise in animal care and handling. Members are as follows:

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Western Farm Production Expenditures Up 11.1 Percent

Farm production expenditures in the Western Region of the United States totaled $68.7 billion in 2008, up 11.1 percent from the revised $61.8 billion reported for 2007, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The United States production expenditures were $307 billion, up 8.3 percent from the revised 2007 total of $284 billion.

In 2008, the national average production expenditure per farm increased 8.5 percent, totaling $140,075 compared with $129,062 in 2007. On average, U.S. farm operations spent: $21,398 on Feed, $17,337 on Farm Services, $13,550 on Labor, $12,912 on Livestock and Poultry and Related Expenses, $10,265 on Fertilizer, Lime, and Soil Conditioners, and $10,220 on Rent. Farmers and ranchers in the West Region accounted for 22.4 percent of the nation’s total farm expenditures in 2008.

On August 6, 2009, the Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA released the first estimate of national and State farm sector accounts for 2008 and updates to 2007 and earlier estimates. The updates incorporate revisions by the National Agricultural Statistics Service to several key reports used in the ERS farm income accounts. The revisions stem from a comprehensive review of previously published data in light of information from the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

To reference ERS data sets, check out NASS online.

U.S. Beef Now Entering EU Under New Quota

Containers of U.S. beef began entering the European Union last Friday under the duty-free, high-quality beef quota that was negotiated earlier this year. The quota is part of a compromise agreement intended to address the long-running dispute over the EU’s ban of beef from cattle raised with growth promotants. (Find more details on the agreement in this July 31 USMEF news article.)

The final hurdle for U.S. beef shipments entering the EU under the new quota was cleared when the EU corrected the erroneous address it had published for FSIS in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Vilsack Holds Teleconference with Farm Broadcasters

Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack this morning held a teleconference with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters about the remifications of Cap and Trade legislation on agriculture. The seceratary began with a short statement discussing the USDA and the Obama administration’s analysis of the legislation on our industry and then went directly to questions from the group.

The talking points from the administration were the same as they have been for several weeks and conversely the skepticism from the broadcasters about the legislation was palpable. Many broadcasters did not seem at all reassured by Vilsack’s statment, “We should not be affraid of this.”

We say be afraid, be very afraid.

You can listen to the call below courtesy of Colorado Farm Broadcaster Brian Allmer of the Brian Allmer Radio Network.

Trent Loos Responds to TIME Hitpiece on Ag

From Feedstuffs, Ag broadcaster and commentator Trent Loos responds to the Time article on modern agriculture.

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