November 26, 2015

Secretary Vilsack Responds to Lower Farm Income Forecast

Following updated farm income forecast numbers for 2015, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the following statement:

“As one growing season comes to an end and another lies on the horizon, USDA continues to seek out new and innovative ways to expand opportunity for America’s farming families and support markets that will boost farm income. Roughly one in three American farm products are exported, but there is significant and as yet untapped opportunity in markets in Asia and Europe. By the end of the year, I will have met with key leaders in those regions to promote the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and further negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as well as expanded access in China. Expanded trade will help to drive higher commodity prices, additional farm income and agribusiness jobs that ultimately generate more cash flow in rural economies and support local businesses on main street.

“Thanks to its ability to remain competitive through thick and thin, American agriculture continues to enjoy some of the strongest years in our nation’s history, supporting and creating good-paying American jobs for millions, and positioning the United States as a reliable supplier of high-quality goods for domestic and foreign markets alike. Overall, today’s projections provide a snapshot of a rural America that continues to remain innovative, stable and resilient in the aftermath of the worst animal disease outbreak in our nation’s history and as the western United States unloosens itself from the grip of historic drought. For example, today’s projections indicate a rise in specialty crop receipts in 2015, while final farm income for 2014 was revised upward by $1.9 billion since August and $13.5 billion since February. Today’s estimates also indicate that new 2014 Farm Bill safety net programs are working as intended and helping producers protect their operations from changes in the marketplace.

USDA and the Obama Administration will continue to stand with America’s farming families, small businesses and rural communities as they build a brighter future for our country on the land that they love.”

Full Forecast:


Groups Applaud FDA for GMO Guidance

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives applauded the decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reject a petition for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
“In denying this petition, the FDA once again looked at the research on GMOs and reaffirmed what every reputable scientific study on these products has found—that GMOs are safe and not different in any meaningful way from foods produced without this breeding technology,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “This decision opens the way for further congressional action on legislation that will provide a verifiable, process-based and federal voluntary GMO labeling standard that will expand consumer choice in the marketplace and provide consistency and certainty across the country. Legislation should also prevent states from creating their own labeling standards, such as Vermont has done, that have no basis in science and would create an untenable, 50-state patchwork of standards.”

The American Soybean Association welcomes guidance issued by the Food and Drug Administration that establishes guidelines for the uniform, voluntary labeling for non-GMO foods. Establishing a uniform standard for voluntary labeling has been a key part of ASA’s push to reduce consumer confusion about which foods do and do not contain ingredients derived from biotechnology.
“ASA is happy to see the guidance from FDA today that affirms that voluntary rather than mandatory labeling is the correct science-based and health policy,” said ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan. “This concept has been at the heart of our work on a legislative solution that would provide more clarity to consumers, and we’re encouraged to see that part of the process move forward.”
ASA also pointed to news out of the White House that the administration has rejected a petition calling for the mandatory labeling of GMO’s as indication that the discussion on biotechnology in the consumer marketplace is moving according to science, rather than misconception.

The National Corn Growers Association also thanked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for issuing science-based, reasonable guidance on voluntary labeling for foods with ingredients from genetically engineered sources. This guidance, which importantly stresses that the Agency only has purview to require mandatory labels in the case of material difference, addresses consumer interests with a clear outline of recommendations for food companies wishing to label their products.

“The FDA’s approach to voluntary labeling of food products would provide American consumers with truthful information in a clear manner that respects regulatory processes already in place,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “In maintaining a science- and process-based approach to mandatory labels while laying out a thoughtful, conscientious path for voluntary labeling, the FDA stood firmly both with the people who grow our food and those who buy it. A voluntary labeling system, like the one outlined, provides information that would allow consumers to make choices based in facts and not in fear.”


Market Turn Prompts ARC/PLC Payments in NoDak

USDA North Dakota Farm Service Agency Executive Director Aaron Krauter says approximately 26,000 North Dakota farms enrolled in the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill are receiving financial assistance for the 2014 crop year.

The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns.

“These new safety-net programs provide help when price and revenues fall below normal, unlike the previous direct payments program that provided funds even in good years,” said Krauter. “The county-based option of ARC protects against lower revenue from a combination of price and yield. For example, corn producers experienced a 30 percent drop in price below the historical benchmark price established by the ARC-CO program. Payments by county can vary because average county yields will differ.”

Crops receiving assistance in North Dakota include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, dry peas, soybeans, and wheat. In the upcoming months, payments will be made for other crops after average prices for the marketing year are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Payments to participants in ARC-County or PLC for minor oilseeds, including canola and sunflowers, and chickpeas will occur in December. ARC-Individual payments will also begin in November.

Statewide, approximately 50,500 farms enrolled in ARC-County and 36,500 farms participated in PLC.