Ag Notebook: COOL lawsuit intervention, soybean breakthroughs
August 5, 2013
U.S. Cattlemen's Association to Lead Intervention In COOL Lawsuit
Leo McDonnell, director emeritus of the United States Cattlemen's Association, has announced that USCA will lead COOL supporters in intervention in the lawsuit filed on July 8 by plaintiffs seeking an injunction to vacate the Department of Agriculture's Final Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Rule and asking the court to halt the implementation and enforcement of the revised COOL regulations.
McDonnell issued the following statement on behalf of the USCA board of directors:
"The USCA board has consulted with legal counsel in order to understand what the industry's best options are to assist with the defense of COOL in this case. Based on those discussions, the USCA board has unanimously chosen to intervene in this case and will lead a national effort to coordinate and network other key industry groups and associations into the process. This is an extremely important move and it must happen rapidly. It is our responsibility to intervene in this lawsuit to ensure that the court hears from the U.S. cattle industry and receives facts and arguments that will have a more meaningful impact coming from the industry itself."
Feedstock Flexibility Program Final Rule Published
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The Farm Service Agency announced the final Feedstock Flexibility Program rule went on public display last week and will be published in the Federal Register on July 29.
Congress created the FFP in the 2008 Farm Bill, allowing for the purchase of excess sugar to produce bioenergy in order to avoid forfeiture of sugar pledged as collateral by processors when securing short-term commodity loans from USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation.
Upon loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral (sugar) to the government to satisfy the loan.
The last time sugar forfeitures occurred was in 2004 but atypical market conditions have necessitated USDA to take a number of actions this crop year to manage the sugar supply at the least cost to the federal government. If needed, FFP is an additional tool to manage the domestic sugar surplus.
As part of continuing efforts to manage the surplus, USDA is currently operating a purchase of sugar from domestic sugarcane processors under the Cost Reduction Options of the Food Security Act of 1985, and simultaneously will exchange this sugar for credits offered by refiners holding licenses under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program.
For further background on FFP and other sugar programs administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency, go online to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.
NFU Reaction to Hearings on the 'Future of the CFTC'
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding the two hearings held this week by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management on the future of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission:
"Farmers and ranchers — and the cooperatives and other business that serve them — are end-users of commodities. Markets should be functional, stable, transparent and competitive, so that our members can use them to manage risk and price their products.
"NFU agrees with the members of the subcommittee: well-functioning markets are essential to grow the economy. But we strongly disagree with some of the members' arguments that in order to help markets work better, the Dodd-Frank Act and many other market regulations should be repealed. Instead, Dodd-Frank must be fine-tuned and perfected, and regulators like the CFTC be provided the resources needed to do the job.
"I find it difficult to understand why the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee would reduce funding for CFTC for Fiscal Year 2014 if they truly believe we need a marketplace that serves the interests of end-users."
Soybean breakthroughs coming on strong
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the nation's farmers will deliver a record 3.42 billion bushels of soybeans this year. The USDA is also forecasting that this year for the first time Brazil will overtake the United States as the world's leading producer of soybeans.
That means the pressure is on American soybean farmers.
In the past several decades, there's been gradual improvement in soybean yields.
In 2012, American farmers brought in 39.6 bushels of soybeans per acre, according to the USDA, compared to 31.5 bushels per acre in 1982.
But increased demand from China along with competition from Brazil are keeping scientists and farmers focused on how to maximize their yields. And a recent breakthrough in soybean science may provide some much-needed answers.
In 2010, his team completed the soybean genome sequence, which is a roadmap that shows every piece of soybean DNA.