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January 27, 2014

Farm Bill This Week?

There's still hope on Capitol Hill that a Senate-House conference committee can finalize a new farm bill early this week (week of January 27) - as farm bill conferees have been summoned back to Washington by this morning for possible action on the bill. House and Senate Ag Committee staffs have completed nearly all items in the farm bill - according to the Hagstrom Report - and the House is likely to move to consideration of the bill this week without a public conference committee meeting - so a majority of conferees from the House and Senate would have to sign the bill privately by this afternoon (Monday). The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet at 5 o'clock tonight - but it's unclear whether the farm bill will be filed and considered at that time. House Republicans are scheduled to begin a retreat Wednesday. The Senate is in session all week. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has included the farm bill conference report on his schedule for possible consideration Wednesday.

NRCS Land Use Update Shows More Cropland, Less Erosion

A recently released study conducted by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service finds that cropland erosion has decreased and crop land acreage has increased between 2007 and 2010.

The report, National Resources Inventory summary, features data on how U.S. non-federal rural lands are being used. Data come from 800,000 sample locations across the country.

Among the highlights of the survey are the promising erosion statistics. Despite a growth in agricultural land use and more extreme weather events, cropland has been able to stave off erosion issues.

"We expected to see an increase in the erosion, but our numbers told a different story," said Dr. Patrick Flanagan, national statistician for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

According to the report, soil erosion on cropland decreased 41% between 1982 and 2010. Water (sheet and rill) erosion declined from 1.67 billion tons per year to 982 million tons per year, and erosion due to wind decreased from 1.38 billion to 740 million tons per year.

As noted, even while erosion decreased, cropland acreage overall increased by more than 2 million acres. The increase is a recovery from a steady decline noted over the past 25 years.

Most of the gain came from land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program counterbalanced to some degree by losses of cropland to pasture, development, and other rural land, the report said.

Meanwhile, about 13 million acres of prime farmland has been lost primarily to development since 1982, the survey said. More broadly, the NRI summary found that about 43 million acres of land were newly developed between 1982 and 2010, bringing the total of developed land to about 113 million acres.

Louisiana Rice Council and Louisiana Rice Growers Association Joint Annual Meeting CANCELLED

Due to a Winter Storm Watch issued by the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Lake Charles -- the Jan. 28th event has been cancelled.

The trade fair was to open at 4:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 5:45 at the International Rice Festival Building in Crowley.

The winter storm watch states that there is the potential for:

At least 1Ž4 inch of ice accumulation
At least 2 inches of snow or sleet accumulation.

A mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain is possible across the area during the day Tuesday. Officers of the two organizations decided Sunday night to cancel the event in the interest of member safety. Local weather forecasters are predicting dangerous road conditions throughout the day Tuesday.

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