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Buckeye Farm News
Brunner, Fisher, Portman candidates for U.S. Senate
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, both Democrats, recently declared their candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican George Voinovich, who will retire at the end of his term. Fisher, who is backed by Gov. Ted Strickland, immediately resigned as director of the Ohio Department of Development. The Democratic nominee will likely face former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman of Cincinnati, who earlier announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
Obama putting off NAFTA renegotiations
President Barack Obama recently warned against a “strong impulse” toward protectionism while in a global economic recession. He said his election-year promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on behalf of unions and environmentalists will have to wait. In a news conference, Obama said he wants to find a way to keep his campaign pledge to toughen labor and environmental standards, but stressed that nothing should disrupt the free flow of trade between neighbors. American Farm Bureau opposes any effort to rewrite NAFTA.
Corn farmers launch educational coalition
Corn farmers from 10 states, including the Ohio Corn Growers Association, and the industry’s trade group — the National Corn Growers Association — have formed the Corn Farmers Coalition to educate policymakers in Washington.
The coalition launched a Web site (www.CornFarmersCoalition.org), an advertising campaign and a statistical abstract.
“Washington needs to know that corn farmers are using some of the most advanced technologies on the planet to do more with less — to grow more corn using fewer resources every year,” said Mark Lambert, director of the coalition. “American corn farmers, the majority of them small business people, are among the most productive in the world.”
The coalition will meet with reporters, think tanks and members of Congress to talk about what’s ahead: how U.S. farmers, using the latest technologies, will continue to grow enough corn in an environmentally friendly way to meet all our needs; the prospects for making the farm bill more responsive to the market; and the future of renewable fuels, a vital issue for our economy and national security and a key issue for the new administration.
COOL law in effect March 16
The final rule for the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program will go into effect as scheduled on March 16. The rule has been under regulatory review by USDA pursuant to a Jan. 20 memorandum from the president’s chief of staff. The COOL regulation requires country-of-origin labeling for muscle cuts and ground beef (including veal), pork, lamb, goat and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng sold by designated retailers. These commodities must be labeled at retail to indicate the country of origin. The final rule outlines requirements for labeling covered commodities and the recordkeeping requirements for retailers and suppliers. For complete information on the COOL statute and regulation, go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/cool.
USDA forecasts 20 percent drop in farm income
USDA’s Economic Research Service has projected net 2009 farm income to be $71.2 billion, 20 percent lower than the preliminary estimate for 2008. Also, net cash income is predicted to be $77.3 billion, down by 17 percent from 2008, although it remains above the previous 10-year average of $71.8 billion. The report is forecasting a decline in total expenses for the first time since 2002, although total expenses are still expected to be 9 percent higher than in 2007. The forecast also projects the first decline in crop receipts since 1999, but receipts are still expected to be the second-highest on record.
Study suggests ethanol plants do not change farmland use
A recent study conducted by the University of Illinois revealed that ethanol plants do not change farmland use in either total acreage farmed or crops raised. “(The study) demonstrates that the often cited link between new ethanol plants and the conversion of non-agricultural land to corn is highly questionable,” said Rod Weinzierl, executive director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, which commissioned the study. “Corn ethanol is not a central driver in the conversion of non-corn farmland to corn production.”
Payment limit comment period extended
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has extended the comment period for the 2008 farm program payment limitation and payment eligibility rulemaking process to March 29, as requested by a coalition that included American Farm Bureau. The extension allows farmers to better assess the impact of the rule on their operations and to more appropriately comment before the rule is made final for the 2010-2012 crop years. No modifications will be made for the 2009 crop year with sign-up already under way.