Buckeye Farm News
A detailed discussion of the H1N1 influenza virus was held on OFBF’s radio program Town Hall Ohio. Dr. Tim Buckley from Ohio State University’s College of Public Health and Dr. Richard Slemons of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine discussed the implications the virus had on human and animal health. Part of the discussion centered on how modern confinement swine farms were designed to prevent animals from getting sick by limiting contact with humans and wildlife.
Dick Isler of the Ohio Pork Producers Council explained how the media’s use of the term “swine flu” instead of H1N1 caused pork prices to slide, even though the disease had not been traced to the swine industry. To hear the show, visit www.townhallohio.org.
Congressional report: Farmers and ethanol not to blame for high foood prices
A recently released Congressional Budget Office report states that higher energy costs have a greater effect on food prices than the use of renewable ethanol fuel. The report estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008, food prices increased by about 5.1 percent. Corn prices from expanded ethanol production only contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 of a percentage point of that amount. AFBF President Bob Stallman said the report “came as no surprise to Farm Bureau,” which had called for hearings looking into a number of factors that led to last year’s food price increase. According to USDA, farmers receive less than two dimes out of every dollar spent for food in the United States. Eighty percent of the costs of food, including processing, transportation, packaging, distribution and retailing are all added after the commodity leaves the farm.
Farm Bureau: Market should dictate any climate change legislation
Farm Bureau recently submitted a questionnaire to the House Agriculture Committee emphasizing support of a market-based incentive program rather than a government-mandated program to address the issue of climate change. AFBF was among other farm groups to receive the survey from the committee to seek guidance before hearings on climate change legislation. AFBF President Bob Stallman said Congress should not enact a carbon tax, and that a cap-and-trade program should be voluntary. He added that legislation mandating carbon emission reductions to levels not justified by sound, peer-reviewed science should not be enacted, and that any legislation to reduce carbon emissions must make sure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits.
Taking a look at crop insurance
AFBF President Bob Stallman recently testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management during a hearing to review the effectiveness of the federal crop insurance program. He told the committee crop insurance generally works well as a risk-management tool, but there are gaps such as shallow losses, problems marrying production records for different USDA agencies and delays in implementing a new combination insurance program that could benefit farmers. The 2008 farm bill cut $6 billion from crop insurance over the next decade, and the Obama administration proposed another $5.2 billion in cuts, though Congress has balked at that proposal. Subcommittee members and witnesses said they were opposed to more crop insurance cuts.
USDA conducting first-ever organic farming survey
USDA is taking its first in-depth survey of organic farming this spring. An eight-page questionnaire will be sent to known organic farmers asking which crops and livestock are produced, how they are grown and where they are sold. Questionnaires will be mailed in early May with responses due by mail or Internet by June 17, with results published by the end of this year. Results are to help shape future decisions regarding farm policy, funding allocations, availability of goods and services, community development and other key issues. The survey will also focus on those transitioning to organic production. The 2007 Census of Agriculture counted 20,437 farms with land in organic production and sales of $1.7 billion.
Farm Bureau for increasing Ethanol Blend Level
American Farm Bureau is encouraging the federal government to increase the ethanol blend level from 10 percent to 15 percent in order to promote environmental protection, help create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil. AFBF said increasing the blend level to 15 percent is critical to the sustained health and expansion of corn and cellulosic ethanol production in the United States. The statement was made in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson during a request for public comments on a proposed waiver of the Clean Air Act to raise the ethanol blend level.