CFB President Don Shawcroft testified before the House Natural Resources Committee today in Washington D.C. During the hearing titled “Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices: Impacts on Businesses and Families,” Shawcroft told the assembled Representatives that Americans are experiencing sticker shock at the gas pump these days, but high fuel costs are hitting America’s farmers and ranchers especially hard.
“Most Americans are feeling sticker shock caused by high gasoline prices when they fill their automobile’s tank,” Shawcroft said. “But there is no term in the English language to accurately describe what farmers and ranchers feel every time they put diesel in the tanks of their farm equipment.”
Shawcroft cited numerous examples of the economic impact currently experienced by farmers and ranchers. He said the cost just for refueling a typical tractor can be more than $1,000.
Remarks made last week by the chairman of Nestle about the use of corn for biofuels production were not only wrong but dangerous, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said.
“It is scandalous, ludicrous and highly irresponsible for the chairman of a global conglomerate that tripled its profits last year to talk about higher corn prices forcing millions into starvation,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “Perhaps if Nestle is so concerned about food prices, its board will consider putting more of their $35.7 billion in 2010 profits back into poor communities. Just their profits alone represent more than half the entire farm value of the 2010 U.S. corn crop.”
Schott was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a meeting last Tuesday of the Council on Foreign Relations. Schott also challenged Brabeck-Letmathe to take the time to study facts and figures before making ridiculous comments about an industry that he clearly knows little about, nor bothered to study up on.
High vegetable prices are expected to ease in the coming weeks as farmers send more produce to the supermarket.
Prices shot up nearly 50 percent in February due to cold weather that destroyed much of the vegetable supply. Lettuce in Arizona, tomatoes in Florida and other crops were impacted.
Six Colorado residents have been appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the State Agricultural Commission.
Thomas K. Cameron, Palisade, (Democrat), to serve from the Fourth agricultural district; Ernest D. Ford, Center, (Democrat), to serve from the Third agricultural district; Barbara L. Marty, Henderson, (Republican), to serve from the First agricultural district; John W. Singletary, Pueblo, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member; and Alvin Kunugi, Blanca, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member.
The commission formulates policy for the Colorado Department of Agriculture and advises the governor and state legislature on agricultural issues.
EU agriculture ministers on Thursday rejected capping subsidies to Europe’s biggest farms but compromised on a fairer share-out of funds between farmers in eastern and Western Europe.
Meeting to discuss an overhaul of Europe’s generously subsidized farms program, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), 19 of the 27 ministers present agreed to the general outlines of a plan to revamp the scheme, several ministers said.
With debate continuing on how to reform the CAP “we have a good basis to look at a legislative package”, said Europe’s agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.
CFB and other Colorado Ag groups celebrated National Ag Day on Wednesday at the state Capitol in Denver. The Colorado House also passed a resolution supporting and celebrating Colorado Agriculture. The Colorado Ag Council donated $65,000 in cash and in-kind donations of food the the Food Bank of the Rockies.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, left, meets with Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, middle, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Remove barriers to trade, foreign markets, red tape and get out of the way. That was the basis of most of the comments at Governor Hickenloopers’ Economic Development Summit this week in Greeley. As part of his bottom-up economic development strategy, the Governor hosted a day-long Summit on rural and economic development at UNC in Greeley. Attending the meeting along with the Governor was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar.
Red tape and other barriers to business and commerce were a recurring theme throughout the many sessions on various aspects of economic development.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa opponents protest in front of the meeting hall.
“It’s difficult to differentiate red tape and what is an appropriate regulation,” Hickenlooper said in addressing the problem. To do that, he said, he wants to find ways to help business grow while holding the state at the highest level of accountability and ethics. He also wants to assure that the state is pro-business but is also intent on protecting the state’s natural resources.
Vilsack addressed the red tape and regulation complaints by noting the federal government has been given a reality check and that it must become more fiscally responsible and use resources more effectively to “create economic opportunities.”
Agriculture, Vilsack said, was the one bright spot in the recession the country is now starting to move out of. He noted that the export of agricultural products is expected to increase again this year after seeing the same from 2010. Those exports, he said, generate jobs.
(Image: Jim Rydbom, Greeley Tribune)