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Most read articles
|0407 PD: PD In the news|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Monday, 02 April 2007 19:10|
Cooperatives Working Together accepts 343 herd retirement bids
The next herd retirement effort conducted by Cooperatives Working Together will remove more than 1 billion pounds of milk, or 0.6 percent of the nation’s dairy supply, in an effort to help strengthen and stabilize farm-level milk prices. The USDA projects a 2.3 billion pound increase in milk production for 2007. CWT’s action would reduce that projection by 45 percent.
CWT recently announced it is tentatively accepting 343 bids from 39 states, representing 54,000 cows which produced 1.03 billion pounds of milk last year. In late March, CWT auditors will begin visiting the farms with accepted bids to check their milk production records, inspect the herds and tag each of the cows for slaughter. All farmers will be notified no later than April 15 as to whether their bids were accepted. A total of 1,397 bids were submitted to CWT in this round, a larger sum than the combined number of bids submitted in rounds 2 in 2004 (736 bids) and 3 in 2005 (651 bids).
“The combination of economic indicators that we’ve been monitoring told us that this was the right time to act,” Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF, which administers CWT, said. “As a result of the strong response to this next round, we were able to select bids at a much lower cost per hundred pounds of milk removed, and spend less of our overall budget, than we had anticipated. This will provide more funding going forward for future herd retirements, and for our very active export assistance program.” Farmers must send their animals directly to slaughter shortly after the auditing process on their farm is complete, Walt Wosje, CWT’s Chief Operating Officer, said.
Wosje also said that the program again applied its regional safeguard limits, so that no region of the country will suffer a disproportionate loss of milk supplies. Under CWT’s guidelines, safeguard thresholds have been established for five separate regions of the country, limiting the total milk withdrawals possible in each. The only safeguard limit reached was in Region 2, the Southeast. The two Western regions will contribute 68 percent of the milk removed in this round – a proportion similar to previous rounds.
Kozak noted that the average herd size and average milk output per cow for this round’s accepted bids were similar to national averages. He said that further bid information, including the average price of accepted bids, won’t be released until all the on-farm visits have been completed.
—From CWT news release
Judge issues injunction against sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa
A U.S. District Court judge recently issued a preliminary injunction against the continued sale and planting of alfalfa seeds with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene. The injunction is part of a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety and others against the USDA.
In this case, the court had previously ruled that the USDA failed to follow procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act in granting non-regulated status to Roundup Ready alfalfa under the Plant Protection Act. The judge ordered the USDA must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The March 12 injunction order allows continued harvest, use and sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa, but placed limits on the purchase and planting of seed.
According to the court order, growers who intended to plant alfalfa with the genetically modified gene and who had already purchased the seed as of March 12 were permitted to plant the seed until March 30. Further sales of Roundup Ready alfalfa seeds have been prohibited until further arguments by interested parties in the case are heard. A court date of April 27 has been set for further review of the injunction.
Estimated milk production for 2007 drops
Rapidly rising feed prices have continued to raise costs for dairy producers. Corn and soybean meal prices have risen, but probably more important for dairy producers, have been high prices for alfalfa hay. Hay prices are expected to rise further as supplies tighten, but should decline later this year as supplies increase with expected improved conditions this spring. Relief in the form of higher milk prices for 2007 could improve profitability for the most efficient producers.
The change in this month’s forecast is a result of lower-than-expected production per cow in the first quarter of this year.
Production per cow is expected to be 20,260 pounds, and total 2007 production is expected to reach 184.1 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above 2006.
Prices for all major dairy products this year are forecast above 2006 levels. Forecast higher prices for dairy products point to significantly higher prices for all milk classes.
The Class III price is projected to rise to an average $14.10 to $14.70 per hundredweight (cwt) for the year. The reported all-milk price is expected to be sharply higher in 2007. It could reach $15.50 to $16.50 per cwt by the fourth quarter and will likely average $15.05 to $15.65 per cwt for the year.
—ERS, Livestock, Dairy, & Poultry Outlook, March 19, 2007
Survey shows majority of dairy producers approve of beef checkoff program
While milk may be a dairy producer’s No. 1 commodity, 68 percent of dairy producers participating in a recent survey said they approve of the $1-per-head beef checkoff program they contribute to as beef producers, according a survey commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. This level is similar to the 70 percent of beef producers surveyed who said they approved of the beef checkoff.
Additionally, 66 percent of dairy producers surveyed said they were informed about the Beef Checkoff Program, with 21 percent of those saying they were very well informed about it.
According to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, nearly a quarter of the beef supply in the U.S. comes from dairy beef.
New website helps manage dairy nitrogen
A free, interactive website is now available to help dairy producers better manage nitrogen on their farms. It’s the result of cooperative work by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cornell University and the University of Vermont, funded by a USDA Fund for Rural America grant.
Though nitrogen is an essential nutrient for crop and animal production, feeding too much of it in livestock rations, or applying an excess as fertilizer or manure to crops, can increase its runoff into surface and groundwater, or its loss into the air. And since commercial feeds and fertilizers are significant, and expensive, sources of nitrogen, maximizing nitrogen use efficiency is very important to dairy producers and the public.
The website can be accessed at www.dairyn.cornell.edu. There, users will find 58 linked pages of mixed-media content covering management of crops and soils, feed storage, dairy herd nutrition and manure use.
The website is part tutorial, with interactive diagrams to aid in the review of information. Instruction is provided on sampling and testing manure, soil and crops for nitrogen. Information is also available on interpreting test results and calculating the amount of plant-available nitrogen present in a manure sample.
Case studies on the website illustrate how farms have made changes to reduce nutrient imbalances and losses by taking a whole-farm approach to nutrient management. According to the USDA, the website aims to help producers account for manure nitrogen and improve farm profitability.
Cellulosic ethanol companies receive grants
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced five companies will be awarded cellulosic ethanol grants to help with the construction of cellulosic ethanol biorefineries.
Many of these companies were waiting for the DOE announcement before moving forward with planned projects. The following companies have been awarded grants:
Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC of Chesterfield, Missouri, up to $76 million. The proposed plant will be located in the state of Kansas. The plant will produce 11.4 million gallons of ethanol annually.
BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. of Irvine, California, up to $40 million. The proposed plant will be in southern California. The plant will be sited on an existing landfill and produce about 19 million gallons of ethanol a year.
Iogen Biorefinery Partners, LLC, of Arlington, Virginia, up to $80 million. The proposed plant will be built in Shelley, Idaho, near Idaho Falls, and will produce 18 million gallons of ethanol annually.
Range Fuels (formerly Kergy Inc.) of Broomfield, Colorado, up to $76 million. The proposed plant will be constructed in Soperton (Treutlen County), Georgia. The plant will produce about 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and 9 million gallons per year of methanol.
The grants are designed to help ethanol producers with the up-front capital costs associated with construction of cellulosic ethanol biorefineries.
Currently, 114 ethanol biorefineries are in operation with the capacity to produce more than 5.6 billion gallons of ethanol. An additional 78 biorefineries are under construction and 7 expanding that will add more than 6 billion gallons of new capacity when complete. No commercial cellulosic ethanol biorefineries currently exist.
Corn ending stocks third lowest since 1975
Total supplies of corn in 2006/2007 are expected to be 12.5 billion bushels, unchanged from February predictions but down from 13.2 billion in 2005/2006. Total use is expected to be record high in 2006/2007 as strong demand for ethanol and exports push up use.
Total use is forecast at 11.8 billion bushels, unchanged from last month, but up from 11.3 billion in 2005/2006. Feed and residual use of corn in 2006/2007 is expected to be nearly 6 billion bushels, unchanged from last month, but down from 6.1 billion in 2005/2006 as feeders used more spent grains from the distilling of ethanol. As a result of the record use and lower supplies in 2006/2007, ending stocks are expected to be the third lowest since 1975/1976.
—Economic Research Service, Feed Outlook, March 13, 2007
Bill would clarify definition of manure within Superfund law
A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, recently introduced legislation to clarify a law that impacts America’s farmers and ranchers.
The bipartisan legislation would clarify that livestock manure, which many agricultural producers utilize in their traditional farming practices, is not classified as a hazardous waste under CERCLA, otherwise known as the “Superfund law.” If normal animal manure is found to be a hazardous substance under Superfund law, then virtually every farm operation in the country could be potentially exposed to liabilities and penalties under the Superfund law, an outcome Congress never intended, according to Chairman Peterson.
—House Ag Committee Press Release March 6, 2007
NOAA predicts a higher possibility for above-average temperatures this spring
Scientists at NOAA highlighted near-term flooding in portions of the Midwest and Ohio Valley and continued drought in the Southwest as areas of concern from April through June in the agency’s 2007 Spring Outlook.
The upper Midwest is currently in the middle of its snowmelt. Warmer than normal temperatures in recent weeks have increased the risk of flooding due to ice jams over portions of eastern South Dakota, eastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. In addition, high soil moisture over northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania and extreme southwestern New York state could lead to flooding if additional heavy precipitation occurs.
Scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center said that precipitation during the December 2006-February 2007 U.S. winter season was above average in much of the center of the nation. Meanwhile, large sections of the East, Southeast and West were drier than average.
Much of southern California just experienced its driest fall and winter in more than a century. In addition, Florida is approaching its dry season. Abnormally dry winter weather over the southern half of the peninsula has brought fire danger indices to abnormally high conditions. PD
—From March 15 NOAA news release