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Free trade at all costs?

(Friday, March 11, 2005 -- CropChoice news) --

1. Free trade at all costs?
2. Say no to factory farms: Health and prosperity of rural communities at stake
3. An End to Days of High Cotton? GOP Constituents Caught in Battle Over Subsidies
4. China working on strains of 'super corn'
5. Small farms doing better than many thought, says U. of Maryland dean of agriculture
6. Locally grown food greener than organic, British study says
7. Robert Taylor Appointed OCM Economics Fellow
8. OCPA Says WTO Cotton Ruling Impacts Canadian Corn
9. Cargill launches MaizeWise whole-grain corn product line
10. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service says Food Alliance certification complements federal Conservation Security Program
11. Farmers study future without confined feeding operations
12. Bush seeks farm cuts of $18 billion

1. Free trade at all costs?

By Lou Dobbs, CNN, March 3, 2005

The Bush administration is trying to push the Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress quickly and quietly.

The White House, however, couldn't find the votes for this so-called free trade agreement before his re-election in the fall, and the president likely doesn't have the votes for it now. And that's a good thing for American workers.

CAFTA advocates say the agreement would open up free trade between the United States and the Dominican Republic and five countries in Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

But this agreement represents the same free trade at all costs policy that has led to a 70 percent increase in the trade deficit since 2001. We're not signing trade agreements to open new markets for our exports. Instead we're continuing to enter into outsourcing agreements with countries that cannot possibly buy our goods.

If you add up the gross domestic products of the six CAFTA economies, the total market comes to about $85 billion, according to the latest available figures. That's only slightly larger than the economy of New Haven, Connecticut and less than a fifth of the size of New York City. As such, expanding trade with this bloc cannot possibly be a serious growth driver for the $11 trillion U.S. economy.

The CAFTA trading partners are simply too poor and too small to serve as major consumer markets for anything made in America, if indeed we still are manufacturing anything in this country. But with 40 percent of workers in Central America earning less than $2 a day, CAFTA will pit the working poor of these countries against American workers, especially textile workers and small farmers. U.S. multinationals don't exactly have a great track record when it comes to keeping jobs at home in the face of cheaper labor overseas.

More than 35 percent of all U.S. goods exports to the six CAFTA countries consist of turnaround exports, which are unfinished textile, apparel and other materials that are not ultimately consumed in these countries. These "round-trip" imports are assembled by low-wage workers and exported right back to the American marketplace.

As a result, U.S. exports to CAFTA countries generally produce greater imports to our market, which further swells the worsening record trade deficit. In fact, turnaround exports have contributed to the U.S. trade deficit with the six CAFTA nations rising by nearly 60 percent from 1997-2004, according to the U.S. Business & Industry Council.

And at least three of the six CAFTA countries are in such a weak financial position they couldn't possibly boost imports. The Dominican Republic is currently receiving a $665 million standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to help the country emerge from its economic crisis of 2003. The program is set to last until mid-2007, and the country will be under pressure to increase exports and curb imports. Unless, of course, those imports are turnaround imports that are shipped right back into the U.S. market.

Honduras and Nicaragua are also receiving special debt relief from the IMF because of their great indebtedness and high poverty rates. While they're not austerity programs like the Dominican Republic's, neither country has much capacity to sharply increase net imports.

"Americans know a bad trade deal when they see one," says Ernest Baynard, executive director of Americans for Fair Trade. "They've already had to live through one for 10 years under NAFTA."

U.S. workers have lost nearly 900,000 jobs as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, most of them in the higher-paying manufacturing sector, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

But NAFTA's effects are even more evident in our exploding trade deficit. Exports to Canada and Mexico have more than doubled since 1993, but imports to our neighboring countries have risen by 173 percent, from $151 billion to $412 billion. As a result, the trade deficit with Canada and Mexico has ballooned from $9.1 billion in 1993 to $110.8 billion last year.

CAFTA may bring lower prices to consumers, but it would most likely lead to more jobs being shipped to cheap foreign labor markets. And a new poll on CAFTA shows American consumers do not want to give up their jobs for lower prices, according to the nonprofit organization Americans for Fair Trade. In fact, 74 percent of those polled said they would oppose CAFTA if it reduces consumer prices but eliminates jobs for American workers.

"The only people who stand to gain from CAFTA," Baynard adds, "are people who are offshoring jobs already or want to offshore jobs."

That is something we simply cannot afford. Working Americans know all too well the high cost of free trade. I can only hope Congress has learned that lesson as well.

2. Say no to factory farms: Health and prosperity of rural communities at stake

By Brad Trom , Grand Forks Herald, February 28, 2005

One of the most important issues confronting agricultural communities in the United States - perhaps the most important issue - is the future structure of the livestock industry. The issue is whether animals will be raised on diversified, sustainable family farms or produced in large, energy- and capital- intensive confinement facilities such as factory farms that concentrate the animals and their wastes in vast quantities and concentrate economic control in the hands of absentee investors.

At stake is the prosperity and health of rural communities, access to economic opportunity for farm and rural families, the future of this country's rural environment and far-reaching questions of food safety and affordability. Family farmers and other rural residents are upset, angry and fighting back as factory farms pollute air, water and soil; uproot social structures; drive farmers out of business; and threaten the quality of life.

Environmental, health-related issues

The amount of raw feces and urine generated by factory farms is enormous. For example, three hog factory corporations (operating in Iowa) produce about 4 million pigs annually and generate the waste equivalent of 10 million people, which is more than three times greater than the population of Iowa. These corporations have built most of their facilities in 20 of Iowa's 99 counties. This type of concentration greatly increases the risk of ground and surface water pollution.

Manure spills, leaking manure lagoons and pits, and the overapplication and reckless spreading of manure are major threats to the purity of our streams, rivers and ground water. In the past few years, dozens of manure spills and "incidents" have been reported in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. Thousands of fish and other forms of aquatic life have been killed, testing has found "manure basin seepage" in ground water, and some drinking wells have been contaminated.

Newspaper stories in March 2001 said scientists had found that antibiotics fed to livestock (and applied to cropland in manure) were washing into streams, where they could contribute to a rise in antibiotic- resistant bacteria and pose serious health risks to humans.

In addition, recent studies show that factory farms give off toxic gases (primarily hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) that cause nausea, headaches, bronchitis and more serious respiratory problems. During the past several years, studies in Iowa, North Carolina and Minnesota have found that factory farm air pollution can make neighbors sick.

  • In 1997, a University of Iowa study found that residents living within two miles of a 4,000-head hog factory, compared with a group in an area with no large-scale confinement units, reported significantly more respiratory problems.
  • In 1999, a University of North Carolina study found that neighbors of a 6,000-head hog factory, compared with a group in an area with no large-scale confinement units, reported more headaches, runny noses, sore throats, excessive coughing, diarrhea and burning eyes.
  • Based on two years of monitoring the air around a factory farm, the Minnesota Department of Public Health declared in spring 2000 that factory farm emissions pose a risk to public health.
  • In February 2002, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa released a joint report that said hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from large-scale animal confinement facilities can pose a health risk to humans and that Iowa should develop air quality standards to stop factory farm air pollution.
  • In January 2004, the American Public Health Association passed a resolution urging government officials to adopt a moratorium on factory farms. Air quality near a factory farm is so poor that nearby residents experience respiratory problems, nausea and severe headaches.

Economic issues

Factory farm proponents (commodity groups, industry officials and politicians) have promoted industrialized livestock production as a more efficient way of raising animals and creating economic development. Some bankers are using this rhetoric to refuse credit to hog producers unless they sign a contract to raise thousands of hogs for a corporation. But various studies have documented the positive effects of independent livestock production (family farmers) and the costs associated with hog factories and the growth of industrialized agriculture. These findings include:

  • An April 2000 Illinois State University study concluded, "The results reject the hypothesis that large hog farming contributed to the vitality of local economies. On the contrary, the several models developed here consistently indicate that large hog farmers tend to hinder economic growth in rural communities."
  • A 1999 University of Missouri-Columbia study found that hog factories tend to depress the sales value of nearby real estate and homes.
  • A 1994 University of Missouri study found that independent hog producers create three times as many jobs as those who do contract production for corporations. For every 12,000 slaughter hogs produced by contract growers, nine jobs are created while 27 are lost.
  • A 1996 University of Iowa study drew a connection between factory-style hog production and loss of income in rural areas. It found that counties with a relatively high number of hog factories were more likely to have higher poverty rates and greater dependence on government welfare programs. The study showed that the economic health of our rural communities depends on the number of hog farmers in the area, not the number of hogs raised.
  • Research at Virginia Tech (undated) showed that adding 5,000 sows to the local economy through many independent producers, as opposed to a few corporate operations, provided 10 percent more permanent jobs, a 20 percent larger increase in retail sales and a 37 percent larger increase in per capita income.
  • Researchers at Iowa State University who reviewed a dozen studies comparing corporate farms to family farms concluded that a change toward corporate agriculture produces social consequences that reduce the quality of life in rural communities.
  • In the United Kingdom, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust state: "The one thing that this crisis has demonstrated (as a result of the Foot and Mouth epidemic which wrought havoc in our countryside) is that the public now wants to see farming and food production change. There is a desire to see a farming future that does not rely on factory systems, that looks after the environment and that emphasizes quality rather than quantity. Britain's rare and traditional breeds are ideally placed to help fulfill these ideals, as we look forward to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture in the 21st century."

The preamble of the policy statement of Minnesota Farmers Union states: "We are dedicated to strengthening the family farm system and are resolutely opposed to an industrialized type of corporate farming." The policy statement then says, "A family farm is owned or operated by a farm family, with the family providing the majority of the labor needed for the farming operation, assuming the economic risk and making the management decisions."

Moreover, an editorial writer for Successful Farming noted several years ago that many of the problems facing rural areas today, including increased poverty, can be linked to the growth of industrialized agriculture and its emphasis on fewer and larger farms. She went on to say, "If society wants a means of producing food, then a few large farms in one way to do it. But if society wants a clean, thriving rural place to live and work and raise children, they you have to rethink this formula."

3. An End to Days of High Cotton? GOP Constituents Caught in Battle Over Subsidies

By Dan Morgan, Washington Post, Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A Bush administration proposal that would cut billions of dollars in subsidies to big cotton growers has struck at a core GOP constituency, setting off a battle in Republican congressional ranks that pits budget cutters and prairie-state populists against traditional agricultural interests.

The Bush plan threatens an elaborate government safety net that is the handiwork of such legendary southern Democrats as Lyndon B. Johnson (Tex.) and James O. Eastland (Miss.), as well as a new generation of Republican leaders from the region. The move reflects growing pressure to hold down soaring federal deficits and a recognition that even a business woven deeply into the history, economy and politics of the South must come to terms with dramatic changes underway in global trade.

Underscoring that reality, the World Trade Organization in Geneva ruled Thursday that U.S. cotton subsidies violate global trade rules because they exceed limits agreed to in 1944. If the United States does not correct the situation, Brazil, which brought the complaint, could retaliate against U.S. products.

As part of its 2006 budget proposal, the Bush administration would trim benefits for growers of most staple crops, including wheat, corn and soybeans. But economists and officials say the hardest hit would be the big producers of cotton in Republican strongholds of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Large-scale operators in California and Arizona would also be affected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that cotton farmers will gobble up a quarter of farm subsidy payments this year, with most going to a few hundred big growers.

Already, the initiative has scrambled GOP politics in Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), whose small corn and soybean farm receives federal subsidies, said he strongly backs the president and his willingness to take on "southern agriculture in Washington."

Cotton interests, which have long fielded one of the most effective lobbies here, have begun to move up their big guns. These include Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), chairman of the Senate agriculture committee. Both have expressed strong reservations about changes in the current farm program, which does not expire until 2007.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who represents the cotton trading center of Memphis, has yet to spell out his position. Grassley's fellow Iowan, House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R), opposes changes in farm subsidies this year.

The president's decision to take on the farm lobby has caught many by surprise. He gave no hint of it during his reelection campaign, which was based on winning the South and most of the upper Midwest farm states. The president himself comes from a major cotton-producing state.

To lobby against the proposals, 17 farm and commodity organizations have hired former representative Larry Combest (R-Tex.), who helped write the existing farm bill while chairing the House Agriculture Committee in 2002. In effect, Combest is returning as a private citizen to prevent the partial dismantling of his principal legislative legacy. Among the organizations in his coalition is the National Cotton Council, now chaired by Eastland's son, Woods E. Eastland.

"It's taken the agricultural community totally by surprise," said Combest, who once owned a Texas cotton farm. He predicted "huge, overwhelming contacts by commodity groups to elected representatives to tell them how unfair they think it is to move forward with this proposal."

Farm subsidies are projected to reach $17.8 billion this year, but would be trimmed in a number of ways that would total $5.7 billion in cuts over 10 years. The top payments to an individual farmer would be capped at $250,000 a year, compared with the current $360,000. Loopholes that enable big farms to easily circumvent the limits through creative accounting, side companies and partnerships would be curbed.

Despite the limits, for example, Colorado River Indian Tribes Farm of Parker, Ariz., collected $2.4 million in payments in 2003 related mainly to cotton production, and Perthshire Farms, a huge Mississippi cotton operation, took in $2.1 million, according to the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that publishes and analyzes USDA data.

The administration also is calling for new limits in what has long been the centerpiece of farm programs: the provision that guarantees farmers will not take a financial hit if they cannot sell their crop for more than a fixed support price -- 52 cents a pound in the case of cotton. Growers can get a government loan against the crop, and if prices do not exceed the support level the government takes over the crop and forgives the loan.

Efforts to pare back agricultural subsidies generally have gone nowhere because of the farm lobby's immense grass-roots influence.

But this year, strong pressure for change is coming from fiscal conservatives at the White House and in Congress, who insist that the farm sector contribute to deficit reduction.

An even bigger factor may be free traders in the business community and the administration who view farm subsidies as an impediment to new trade deals benefiting U.S. companies abroad. Developing countries contend that bloated U.S. farm subsidies encourage agricultural surpluses and depress prices for farmers, such as struggling cotton producers in poor West African nations. They are demanding changes in U.S. farm policy as a condition for a new round of trade agreements.

Oxfam, a global antipoverty organization, has endorsed Grassley's push for subsidy cuts. "We speak for folks who live on less than a dollar a day," said Charles Moore, an Oxfam official.

Although the Bush administration defended U.S. cotton subsidies before the WTO appeal board in Geneva, Thursday's decision could strengthen the administration's hand in Congress. But trade officials say that even if Congress adopted the Bush recommendations, subsidies would not be cut to the level needed to meet the WTO's ruling.

Another force behind reducing farm subsidies is the Republican Party's small but potent populist wing in Congress that has been fighting for revisions to channel more of the subsidy money to smaller farms and conservation programs.

"I think the measure of the seriousness is this: The president is willing to take it on. This is real stuff," said Grassley, who has introduced payment-limit legislation with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, former governor of the major farm state of Nebraska, said one reason the administration came to believe that subsidies should be limited is that "very large sums of money were going to a very few."

Two-thirds of the nation's 2.1 million farmers receive no subsidies, either because the crops they grow are not eligible or because they are too small and marginal to qualify. In the case of cotton, the proportion of federal aid going to large operators is unusually lopsided. One percent of those receiving subsidies collected 28 percent of the money paid out between 1995 and 2003, according to the Environmental Working Group. In Mississippi, seven farms out of 10 receive no subsidies.

Nevertheless, large cotton farmers say they need the aid to cover high costs and compensate for depressed world prices.

About $16 billion of the $103 billion in farm subsidies paid out between 1995 and 2004 went to cotton growers, according to the Environmental Working Group. But in the past several years, the cotton industry has become the largest recipient, according to USDA figures, because the aid increases as world prices drop.

"It would put us out of business not to have these subsidies because the price is so low the farmer can't get a fair return," said Ellington F. Massey, a third-generation Mississippi farmer who grows cotton on 7.3 square miles of rich Delta soil east of the Mississippi River. "We're always one year away from going broke," he said of his 4,500-acre spread.

The decline of the U.S. textile industry has forced cotton farmers and merchants to find buyers abroad for two-thirds of their annual production. That puts them in direct competition with lower-cost growers in developing nations, including some of the poorest in Africa.

It costs an average 65 cents for a farmer in the United States to produce a pound of cotton; the adjusted world price in late February ran less than 40 cents. This has made U.S. cotton growers unusually dependent on the government. A program called "Step 2" essentially subsidizes cotton exports and protects home producers from foreign competition.

Step 2, which has cost taxpayers more than $2 billion since 1990, pays a rebate to textile mills that buy U.S. cotton when foreign cotton is cheaper. Brokers who sell U.S. cotton abroad for less than what they paid at home can get the government to reimburse them for the difference.

By taking advantage of a raft of federal subsidies and legal loopholes, cotton farmers can boost their income to more than 70 cents a pound -- double the recent world price. Given this dependence, the stakes for the cotton industry in the coming battle are high. Without the safety net, some analysts contend, many of the 25,000 U.S. cotton growers would switch to crops such as soybeans or vegetables or quit farming.

Cotton's benefits, however, are actively defended in Washington. The political fund of the National Cotton Council distributed $332,000 to a mix of 124 Democratic and Republican congressional candidates in the recent election.

The council, which says it represents a "dirt to shirt" coalition of 443,000 farmers, gins, merchants, textile mills and warehouse operators, has a long history of prevailing on Capitol Hill. Cotton interests helped block a tough payment limitation in 2002. They were led by A. John Maguire, the top Washington lobbyist for the National Cotton Council, who Combest said "has been a key player in every farm bill I've been associated with over the last 20 years."

But Grassley has made clear that cotton lobbyists have a tough fight this year.

"We have a farm program for two reasons, and cotton doesn't fall into either. One is food security for the American people and the other is national defense," Grassley said. "Napoleon said an army moves on its stomach. I can't eat cotton."

4. China working on strains of 'super corn'

[Technology India]: BEIJING, March 2 : Agronomists in China claim to have developed a strain of "super corn" designed to provide a dramatic boost to acreage yields, state media report.

The People's Daily said researchers working with four new species of hybrid maize reached yields of 13,500 kilograms per hectare last year.Zhao Jiuran, the director of the Corn Research Center, a unit under the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, was quoted as saying China was closing in on the goal of developing strains capable of raising the per hectare yield to 15,000 kilograms, a volume qualifying it as "super corn."Citing an unnamed source in Beijing's grain wholesale market, the report said new species now being cultivated are approaching super corn yield output.

The high-yield, high-quality new "super corn" strain will be of great significance in boosting China's food grain production, which is regarded as another major breakthrough in the agro-scientific research following the development of "super rice".Local experts forecast China will be capable of producing an additional 6 billion kilograms of corn per year if the new species is planted on 2.66 million hectares.- -- Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

5. Small farms doing better than many thought, says U. of Maryland dean of agriculture

Bruce Gardner, NY Times

The increasing size and industrialization of American farms have been decried as responsible for depopulating the countryside and causing economic and social ills. President Bush's proposed budget has encouraged the belief that help is on the way, in the form of more stringent limits on farm program payments.

The plan, under which payments to some producers would drop by five percent and the current $360,000 annual ceiling on payments would drop to $250,000, has earned praise from rural populists, who see it as a step to reduce the subsidization of large as compared to small farms.

However, two questions must be raised: Will the limits on payments really help small farms? And, more fundamentally, is it a good idea to subsidize large farms less than small ones?

To answer these questions fairly, one must consider some surprising news: small farms are actually surviving and even flourishing to an extent no one guessed 20 or 30 years ago.

The United States had six million farms in 1944, and by 1970 that number had declined to three million, a rate of loss of almost three percent each year. If the pattern had held, we would have just over a million farms today. Instead we have 2.1 million, and the rate of decline has slowed to a trickle, with today's total essentially the same as that of 1990.

What made this moderation of the trend possible? In large part, the integration of the farm and nonfarm labor markets. Yes, all the improvements over the last 75 years in rural transportation, communications and education first led to an accelerated movement of people from farm to city. But a more recent trend has seen many people commuting to nonfarm jobs while they remain living on the farm. According to the Agriculture Department, nonfarm jobs now account for more than 90% of farm households' incomes.

In many cases, one family member focuses on the farming enterprise while others --- spouses, siblings, grown children --- work off the farm. In other situations, no one works full-time at farming --- the operation is a side job for the entire family, in some cases a refuge from urban stresses. While complete statistics are hard to come by, the data indicate that these arrangements are proving viable to an extent far greater than was thought possible 30 years ago.

Government statistics show that the rise of these nontraditional farms has been accompanied by a marked improvement in the economic condition of the agricultural population. Until the 1960's, farm household incomes remained stubbornly below those of nonfarm households, averaging about 60% of the nonfarm average.

But, beginning in the 1960's, relative farm incomes began to rise --- and by 1990 they had achieved income parity with the rest of Americans. The Agriculture Department's latest estimate, for 2003, is that farm households had average incomes 15% higher than average nonfarm levels.

Federal figures show that both large farms and small ones are increasing as a fraction of all farms, with the proportion of mid-size farms decreasing. This would lead one to expect a rise in income inequality among farm households, with the middle-sized farmers falling behind. So perhaps the biggest surprise is that incomes are actually becoming more equal.

Consider the relative net income of farmers classified by the Agriculture Department as at the bottom fifth in terms of gross sales and government subsidies. In 1950 they made about a third less than did the average farm household. But by the mid-1990's, those farmers in the bottom fifth were within ten percent of the national average. Similarly, in 1950 the top five percent of farmers had two and a half times the average farm household's income; this figure was reduced to one and a third times as much by the mid-1990's.

So how should this good news change our thinking about the proposed changes in federal payments? First, the new limits are unlikely to give any significant boost to small farms. Large farms will likely go on producing just as much as they are producing now, because these payments are almost entirely fixed per farm, and do not vary with the amount the farm produces.

So the market conditions facing small farms will not improve. On the other hand, if large farms produce less of the bulk program crops that are subject to the limits (cotton and rice are the main ones affected), they will produce something else on their land, and that something else may well be the high-value crops that are more prevalent on today's small farms than on large ones.

As to the question of whether it is good policy to promote small farms, the main reasons advocates give are that small farming makes rural areas more vital by resulting in more people per square mile, and that small farms are closer to the bucolic ideal so many of us grew up with.

While that traditional farming image has as much appeal in agriculture as in many other endeavors, and while I share the sentiment, I have to side with those who question the wisdom of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize it.

Large farms simply produce commodities at lower cost, and shouldn't be thought the worse for it. After all, special subsidies for smaller stores in country towns would help them compete with Wal-Mart, too, but even the chain's greatest enemies haven't suggested such a policy.

The promising trends in terms of farm numbers, increasing incomes and decreasing inequality don't mean there are no economic problems in American agriculture. But they do mean that the industrialization of agriculture has not crowded out small, specialized farm operations. Even in the age of Monsanto and Cargill, there is still a role for Mom and Pop. [ March 7, 2005 ]

Bruce Gardner, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, is the author of American Agriculture in the 20th Century: How It Flourished and What It Cost.

6. YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY HIDDEN COSTS OF TRANSPORT: Locally grown food greener than organic, British study says

Though organic farming is relatively easy on the environment, buying locally grown food, even the pesticide-sprayed variety, is usually more earth-friendly than buying organic, a new study contends. Published in the journal Food Policy, the study found that the transportation of food over long distances -- anywhere outside a 12-mile radius -- can cause more harm than the growing of food with non-organic methods. Researchers calculated the hidden costs of farming and food transport and found that the U.K. would save some $4 billion a year in environmental and traffic costs if all food consumed was locally grown, and an additional $2.1 billion a year if all food were grown organically. The study authors called on supermarkets to label items with the number of "food miles" they travel to get to the store. "The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes, and food businesses," said study coauthor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex.

Source: BBC News, 02 Mar 2005

7. Robert Taylor Appointed OCM Economics Fellow

Organization for Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506
Date: March 7, 2005
Contact: Michael Stumo, 402.817.4443

Lincoln, NE ~ Dr. C. Robert Taylor has accepted an appointment as an OCM Economics Fellow. He is an Auburn University agricultural economics professor specializing in industrial organization in the livestock sector.

Dr. Taylor's qualifications and publications may be viewed at the OCM website "experts" page:

"I am honored to accept the OCM Economics Fellow appointment," said Taylor. "We live in times of historic high concentration levels in the agribusiness and retail supermarket sectors. Market failure and economic power imbalance risks have never beengreater. Retail price spreads in beef, for example, have increased to levels not seen in the past. Focusing economic research on the price, power and market access problems within in the agriculture sector is very important."

Dr. Taylor's areas of interest include econometric market power analysis in the cattle, hog and poultry sectors. He also has written about similar problems in other agricultural input, production and processing markets. Dr. Taylor serves on the Agricultural Systems Journal Editorial Board, and has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Review of Agricultural Economics, and American Journal of Agricultural Economics. He has testified several times before the U.S. Senate. He also served as an expert in the historic Picket v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. trial, proving Tyson utilized captive supply cattle contracts to depress cattle prices.

"We are pleased and excited to have Dr. Taylor working on the market problems in agriculture," said Keith Mudd, OCM President. "As the Plaintiffs' expert in the Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats case, he is the only agricultural economist in America to have examined millions of cattle transactions from internal meat packer data as well as detailed weekly slaughter plant profit and loss data. His conclusions show captive supplies in cattle cost Rural America money every day of every year since the early 1990s. He has shown that market power in the poultry industry reduces the income of broiler growers well below what they would earn in a fair, competitive market. We must help continue Dr. Taylor's work to provide fairness, prosperity and economic liberty to independent agriculture.

The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is an agricultural free market and competition think tank seeking honesty, prosperity and economic liberty for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

OCPA Says WTO Cotton Ruling Impacts Canadian Corn


OMAHA (DTN) -- Ontario Corn Producers Association's (OCPA) Brian Doidge says of particular interest to corn is that the WTO Appellate Body upheld its earlier decision that U.S. direct payments are trade distorting and therefore cannot be included in the "green box" of support programs.

"In essence, the WTO has confirmed that U.S. subsidy programs cause "depression" of world market prices resulting in "serious prejudice" against other producers, says Doidge in his weekly corn commentary.

"The WTO ruling makes it harder for provincial and federal politicians and bureaucrats to continue to deny that U.S. subsidies artificially distort markets and depress grain prices in Ontario. And since the WTO agrees that US subsidies artificially depress prices, the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program (CAISP) cannot work for grain producers in Ontario because it only stabilizes producers at artificially low levels. In essence, the WTO agrees with us that CAISP cannot overcome the serious prejudice cause by U.S. subsidies."

DTN AgDayta subscribers can see more in MARKET NEWS, DTN AgDaily News.

9. Cargill launches MaizeWise whole-grain corn product line (Bakingbusiness.com, March 9, 2005)

MINNEAPOLIS ? Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients has introduced MaizeWise, a new line of whole-grain corn and corn-bran products that will expand food manufacturers? choices in delivering healthful, corn-based products to their customers, Cargill officials said Monday. The MaizeWise line includes three whole-grain corn and two corn-bran products that can be used in many applications including cereal, pasta, breads, tortillas, taco shells and extruded snacks.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended half of Americans? daily grain servings come from whole-grain foods and cited fiber?s role in reducing type II diabetes and coronary artery disease risk. As a result of these findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is promoting daily consumption of at least three servings of whole grain and an intake of 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.

"MaizeWise helps address a growing recognition of the important role that whole grains and fiber play in our diets," said Rex Winter, president of Cargill D.C.I. "As a result, food manufacturers are seeking ingredient solutions that provide these nutritious components as part of their product formulations."

MaizeWise whole-grain corn products can be used as a direct replacement for existing corn meal, masa or corn flours in pursuit of the F.D.A.-approved whole-grain claim, or blended with other ingredients, according to Mike Van-Houten, Cargill D.C.I. research and development manager.

The products deliver 100% of whole-grain nutrition, are specially treated for enhanced storage stability and come in a spectrum of flavors, Mr. Van-Houten said.

"MaizeWise corn bran is an insoluble fiber that can dramatically boost dietary fiber at low-to moderate inclusion rates, while providing minimal impact to flavor, texture and processing characteristics for a wide variety of food products," Mr. Van-Houten said.

10. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service says Food Alliance certification complements federal Conservation Security Program

NRCS News Release

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced an innovative public-private partnership with Food Alliance that combines federal payments and market incentives for farmers and ranchers who are true conservation stewards.

The Conservation Security Program (CSP) rewards private landowners for environmental stewardship. At Tier Three, the highest level of qualification, payments can run as high as $40,000 a year with contracts negotiated for 5-10 year periods.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has reviewed Food Alliance’s certification standards and issued an opinion that Food Alliance certified farms and ranches are "very likely" to qualify for CSP payments. This is exciting for a number of reasons.

  • NRCS’s endorsement significantly recognizes the credibility of Food Alliance’s functional definition of sustainable agriculture and the work that has gone into developing our certification standards over the last eight years.
  • The alignment between the standards for CSP and Food Alliance certification makes it possible for federal incentives and market incentives to work together—a powerful combination.
  • In Oregon, the NRCS is also offering Food Alliance farms and ranches an expedited application process in recognition of the value provided by a third-party certification inspection. NRCS field offices will be issued guides to allow them to translate Food Alliance certification records directly into the CSP application. This promises to cut the administrative burden significantly.

Food Alliance is strongly encouraging all of its certified farms and ranches to apply for CSP, with the potential that payments for successful contracts will more than cover the costs of certification. Securing CSP payments will be a significant advantage for participating producers, for the rural businesses they patronize and for their communities.

The market for certified products is growing rapidly. Food Alliance certified farms and ranches are reporting increased sales, new markets and some price premiums. Coupled with NRCS’s endorsement of Food Alliance certification and the possibility of federal payments under CSP, there has never been a better time to be a Food Alliance certified farmer and rancher.

Food Alliance is committed to partnering with the NRCS to support and promote CSP. We think this program offers major benefits to agriculture and a chance for real environmental improvement on agricultural lands.

Food Alliance | 1829 NE Alberta, Suite 5 | Portland, OR 97211 | Ph 503.493.1066 | Fax 503.493.1069

11. Farmers study future without confined feeding operations

By DANYA CAIN, dcain@tribtown.com

Changes in confined animal feeding operations are imminent.

That was the message Monday night from guest speaker David Zartman at the annual Indiana Forage Council meeting.

The premise of his lecture, part of the Indiana Forage Council's annual meeting, is that the confinement system is not an enduring system, Zartman said.

"The change is coming," Zartman said. "Whether or not I've said it right tonight or not, it will be enormous. If CAFOs survive, they won't be as we know it."

Zartman, a professor of animal science at Ohio State University, predicted that in one human generation CAFOs would move out of the country. Where they go, Zartman said, so do the feed grains supplying those operations. Pastoral farming will replace CAFOs, he said.

"If grazing is your game," Zartman said, "you're in the right game."

That's good news for some.

"Grazing will be a big future in agriculture," said farmer Norbert Schafer of Madison.

Zartman attributes the end of CAFOs and their operation methods to three factors:

  • The growing environmental movement.
  • A push for animal rights.
  • And a depleting supply of laborers willing to work in CAFOs.

The growing trend in organic and whole foods are key to surviving in the future, he said.

A growth in selective consumers, who prefer locally grown, natural or organic foods, coupled with the drive for purer water and cleaner air are factors, he said.

The next generation of voters will have a greener agenda, because of a different social structure and cultural mix, he said.

"CAFOs will not fit that picture," Zartman said.

A change in CAFO operations is the future and a lifestyle change is part of the picture, added one Washington County farmer.

"Forget about what Mom and Dad raised and (how they) worked the farm," said Dan Fennell, "and try to get into a lifestyle that's going to be the future."

Although the details of change for CAFOs are sketchy, Tony Stephanus of Deputy contends Zartman is right. Stephanus said smaller farms might re-emerge as a result.

"(The) system is self-correcting itself," Stephanus said.

Zartman also urged those in attendance to concentrate on winter grazing and renovating stressed pastures.

12. Bush Seeks Farm Cuts of $18 Billion

Posted by Senior Editor
http://www.theconservativevoice.com/userinfo.php?uid=56 on 2005/3/5

Washington - President Bush's agriculture budget cuts are more than twice as deep as he had originally said, according to a non-partisan review of the budget, Senator Kent Conrad, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said today.

When the President released his budget last month, he said he was seeking $7.6 billion in farm program cuts over the next 10 years. However, a just-released analysis of the White House budget by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows a far deeper cut of nearly $18 billion. The cuts are outlined in the President's budget for Fiscal Year 2006, starting on October 1.

"It is absolutely clear the proposed cuts for farm country are far more severe than we were first led to believe," Senator Conrad said. "Farm cuts of this magnitude would hurt not only farm families, but the Main Street businesses throughout North Dakota. All North Dakotans should be asking, 'What on earth did we do to deserve this?'"

The President's budget calls for sweeping and painful cuts in loan deficiency, counter-cyclical and direct payments. It also includes a new tax on sugar producers and a requirement that farmers pay more for crop insurance. The President's plan would cost North Dakota farmers and ranchers at least $20 million a year.

"I don't know how someone can pull $18 billion out of U.S. farms and still claim to be pro-farmer," Senator Conrad said.

The proposed cuts would go beyond the immediate pain felt by farm families. The cuts would undercut America's negotiating position at the World Trade Organization. Senator Conrad says the cuts would constitute unilateral disarmament in trade talks with our European competitors. "They support their farmers at a level five times ours. The President's budget cuts undermine our attempts to level the playing field for our producers," Senator Conrad said.

To learn more about Senator Conrad's positions on North Dakota issues, please visit his Web site at www.conrad.senate.gov. http://www.conrad.senate.gov.