Monday, April 7,  2014

Today's Update!


Crop Insurance Premium Caps?


Less than two months after President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, two U.S. senators are already eager to change it - including one who voted for the $956 billion package on Feb. 7.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and Tom Coburn, M.D., R-Okla., have introduced legislation that would cap crop insurance premium subsidies at $70,000 per farm each year. They say the new limit would resulting in savings that would reduce the deficit by approximately $1 billion over 10 years and would impact less than 1.3 percent of producers, according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office Report.

"Crop insurance subsidies are yet another example of egregious government spending that needs to be reeled in," Senator Shaheen said. "We need to protect taxpayers from footing the bill for a crop insurance program that benefits large companies that need it the least and at a level that is disproportionately more than what any New Hampshire farm receives."

Sen. Shaheen voted for the farm bill, formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, this year, but Sen. Coburn did not.

 "Crop insurance premium subsidies should go to those who need assistance rather than those who don't," said Senator Coburn, who has previously co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, to apply means testing on crop insurance purchasers. "The way to address trillion dollar deficits is one billion - or million - dollars at a time. This reform takes us $1 billion in the right direction by ensuring that the wealthiest farm operations are not receiving unnecessarily large federal subsidies."

Unlike federal commodity programs - which are totally funded by taxpayer dollars, farmers pay to insure their risks at various levels of protection under the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Crop insurance premiums are subsidized at an average rate of 62 percent.

But farm organizations have long argued that transitioning to programs like crop insurance - where farmers have more "skin in the game" is a better form of risk management - for both farmers and taxpayers - than traditional "ad hoc" disaster programs which have paid out billions of dollars in previous farm bills.

During the current farm bill debate, a coalition of farm organizations and environmental groups partnered to keep payment limits away from crop insurance in the farm bill - in exchange for applying conservation compliance requirements on any grower who purchases a policy. They argued that it was good for farmers and good for the environment to keep any grower - regardless of size or income - in the crop insurance program.  



New Clean Water Act Rule Blasted


Industry groups and more than a dozen GOP senators are urging the Obama administration to reconsider plans to regulate many of the nation's streams and wetlands, saying the proposed rule hurts economic activity and oversteps legal bounds.

The senators faulted the Environmental Protection Agency for announcing a proposed rule before the government's peer-reviewed scientific assessment was fully complete. They are calling on the government to withdraw the rule or give the public six months to review it, rather than the three months being provided.

The senators' move puts them among several groups - from farmers and land developers to Western governors worried about drought management - in expressing concern about a long-running and heavily litigated environmental issue involving the Clean Water Act that has invoked economic interests, states' rights and presidential power.

 "We believe that this proposal will negatively impact economic growth by adding an additional layer of red tape to countless activities that are already sufficiently regulated by state and local governments," the letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy said.

Alisha Johnson, the EPA's deputy associate administrator for external affairs and environmental education, said the EPA's draft scientific assessment, used to inform the proposed rule, was being reviewed and wouldn't be complete until the end of this year or early next year. The EPA rule will not be finalized until the scientific assessment is fully complete, and will take into account public comments, she said.

At issue is the federal Clean Water Act, which gives the EPA authority to regulate "U.S. waters." Two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 limited regulators' reach but left unclear the scope of authority over small waterways that might flow intermittently. Landowners and developers say the government has gone too far in regulating isolated ponds or marshes with no direct connection to navigable waterways. 



Scientist Searches For Controls For Weeds In Rice 


LSU AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster continued his work in 2013 on dormant hybrids and red rice outcrossing by starting a new project using several different herbicides to eliminate undesired plants in a field.


"These weedy rice plants, I believe, are more efficient than normal red rice at competing for nutrients, light and space," Webster said.


The test included dividing a weed-infested field in three sections and planting one in soybeans and another in Clearfield rice and leaving the third fallow.


The sections of the field were treated with various herbicides, including glyphosate, Zidua, Outlook and Newpath.


"We'll make our final counts and see how well we did in year four," Webster said.


Research started on a new aquatic weed herbicide, benzobicyclon, from Gowan that shows good activity on ducksalad and cattail, Webster said. "It looks like it's going to have activity on sprangletop."


Webster said Nealley's sprangletop is becoming more of a problem for rice farmers, so he started a greenhouse project to study what can be done to control the weed.


Webster's work has been expanded to include north Louisiana. He said although much of his research there duplicates what he is doing in south Louisiana, he's also been examining 16 herbicides in four tests to best determine the optimum time to apply herbicides that control broadleaf and sedge weeds.


The use of Permit for late-season or salvage control of sesbania, jointvetch and nutsedge is working well, he said, but he advises avoiding Permit Plus on those plants because it appears the herbicide tends to delay rice maturity.


Webster said the use of Command, post-emergence, plus a crop oil concentrate is showing good results on small grasses and jointvetch.


He also is evaluating the herbicide Sharpen for control of small grasses, broadleaf weeds and rice flatsedge. It has excellent activity on sesbania and jointvetch, he said.


Sharpen works well at the 1-ounce rate, but 2 ounces per acre can be very injurious to rice and in some cases reduce stands if it is applied during cool, wet conditions.


Webster said he has been working on burndown weed control chemicals, including Yukon, a mixture of Permit and dicamba.


He also is continuing a research project at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station South Farm to determine the distance that jointvetch and hemp sesbania weeds compete with neighboring rice plants.


Webster said checkoff money paid by farmers and allocated by the Louisiana Rice Research Board has been invaluable to his projects.


"LSU AgCenter research on the new BASF herbicide Provisia that will be used with a new herbicide-resistant rice to complement Clearfield would not have been possible without checkoff funding," Webster said.


"Weed and herbicide research is inherently expensive and requires thousands of hours of work every year," he added. "Without the funding, we couldn't have accomplished what we have, and that would mean the results that benefitted farmers would either be delayed or would not have been possible."



Friday's   Closing Market Prices


Nov  Soybeans                  1208.4 up 5

Dec Cotton                         7992 up 48

North & South

   Delta Cotton                    8840 up 142

Sept  Corn                          506.6 up 5.2

Sept   Rice                          1431 down 8.5

Sept  Wheat                        685.2 down 5

#16 Sugar May                    2475 up 117

April   Live Cattle                 143-45 down 170

April Feeder Cattle              177-95 down 87.5

Don Molino & Neil Melancon 

Please contact us with any questions or feedback regarding information you would like to receive in this e-letter. 


Don Molino

Senior Farm Broadcaster


(225) 291-2727, ext. 210