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Iowa Agency Seeks Ban on Applying Manure to Soybeans

Attempts by Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) to ban the application of liquid manure to ground planted to soybeans is another unnecessary prohibition that could negatively impact pork producers, according to Gene Ver Steeg, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Declares Ver Steeg: “The EPC is ignoring a recent Iowa State University suggestion that the number of pounds of nitrogen applied per bushel be reduced (not banned) from the current rate of 3.8 lb. to a range of between 3.1 lb. and 3.4 lb.”

Banning manure application to soybean ground will no doubt lead more producers to a continuous corn planting program rather than a corn-soybean rotation.

“In my estimation, this is not an environmental issue,” continues Ver Steeg. “It really comes down to economics. Research shows that applying manure to soybean fields can increase returns as much as $35 an acre. This is because soybean fields need the micro-nutrients, phosphorus and potassium supplied by animal nutrients.” Scientific studies show that soybeans use the nutrients in manure.

“State regulators should focus on proper application techniques, not an outright ban,” adds Tracy Blackmer, director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association.

Some state estimates show that probably 10% to 20% of the state’s livestock farmers actually apply manure to soybean fields. Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources plans to offer a notice of intended action for approval at the EPC’s November meeting. If approved, a public comment period would follow. A final vote by EPC is not expected until next year. The legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee could move to block or delay the measure.

Conservation Reserve Program Payments Released by USDA

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that the Agriculture Department is issuing $1.8 billion in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments to participating producers for fiscal year 2007. The payments give producers an average of $4,143/farm enrolled in the program.

“The Conservation Reserve Program works to conserve and preserve the soil, water and wildlife resources of our nation,” says Johanns. “These payments represent an investment in the nation’s land that will pay dividends in the form of a cleaner environment today and for future generations.”

Producers possessing about 739,000 contracts on 425,000 farms will receive an average of $48.88/acre. The number of contracts exceeds the number of farms because producers may have several contracts on a single farm.

There are 331,000 contracts (3.6 million acres) in CRP’s continuous sign-up program and 408,000 contracts (32.4 million acres) for general sign-up. Under continuous sign-up, producers may enroll high-priority conservation practices such as filter strips and riparian buffers at any time without competition.

Current enrollment stands at more than 36 million acres, making the CRP the largest public-private partnership for conservation and wildlife habitat in the United States.

CRP is a voluntary program by which agricultural producers can safeguard environmentally sensitive land, and in return, USDA provides producers with rental payments. CRP contracts typically run 10-15 years.

USDA also extends payments throughout the year. These payments include a 50% expense reimbursement for establishing cover and incentive payments for enrolling eligible, high-priority conservation practices. In fiscal year 2007, these payments are projected at $116 million for expense reimbursements and $79 million for incentive payments.

Market Toolbox Boosts Profits, Cuts Risk

The University of Nebraska’s Market Journal Toolbox helps farmers and ranchers maximize profitability while reducing risk to improve their bottom line.

The toolbox offers 16 video and PowerPoint educational sessions to provide critical information in agricultural marketing and risk management.

Segments run 30 minutes to an hour and are designed to provide materials farmers can put to use immediately, says Darrell Mark, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) livestock marketing specialist and one of the Market Journal Toolbox educators.

“Price volatility has increased substantially in the last decade,” says Mark. “Decreasing margins in production agriculture, increasing globalization and outside speculative investment interest has created a greater need for marketing and risk management skills.”

UNL Extension created the toolbox so farmers could increase their knowledge of key risk management tools, select contracts and risk management tools that complement each other, apply strategies to reduce exposure to price, basis and production risk, and improve grain and livestock selling prices.

Toolbox sessions include: Introduction to Toolbox, Cost of Production, Crop Insurance, Livestock Insurance, Government Programs, Cash Market Contracts, Futures Markets, Futures Hedging, Options Market, Hedging with Options, New Generation Grain Contracts, Combination Strategies and Evaluating the Alternatives.

The toolbox CD comes with written summaries and spreadsheets, checklist, glossary of terms and cost of production spreadsheets.

Cost for the 16-part toolbox is $349. To order, visit the “Market Journal” Web site at //MarketJournal.unl.edu and click on Market Journal Toolbox, or call (800) 755-7765.

Hockman Joins NPPC

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has named Dallas Hockman as vice president of industry relations, a new position that focuses on building relationships with pork producers, processors and allied industries. “Dallas has more than 26 years of experience in the sales and marketing arenas that will help NPPC continue to build upon relationships with key audiences in the pork industry,” says NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “He brings experience and a wealth of knowledge about the pork industry that will help NPPC keep U.S. pork producers and the industry proactive, competitive and sustainable.”

Hockman previously served as vice president and chief marketing officer at the National Pork Board, overseeing advertising, marketing and public relations activities.

Johnson Joins Pork Board

Joy Johnson joins the National Pork Board as vice president of marketing. She has 17 years of marketing experience, serving most recently as vice president of market strategy for Osborn and Barr Communications, an agricultural marketing agency.

Johnson’s duties will focus on domestic marketing of pork. She will manage the Pork Board’s demand enhancement staff, which promotes pork to a wide variety of audiences through market and consumer trend research, the “Don’t be blah” campaign, work of the Pork Information Bureau and activities in the retail, foodservice, niche and culinary markets.

More Bearish Pig Crop Reports Needed?

I guess we need a few more "bearish" Hogs & Pigs Reports to stimulate this hog market. Go figure.
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Last Friday's report had every year-over-year number larger than the average of market analysts' pre-report estimates (except those dealing with farrowing intentions). And Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Lean Hog Futures have been up every day but one, with the October and December contracts gaining $0.825 and $0.725, respectively, today.
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It is apparent that the guys actually putting dollars into this market had slightly different expectations than did the surveyed analysts. It doesn't mean either group is wrong. It just sends people like me who draw conclusions from the actual vs. expected numbers a clear signal to be a bit careful.
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Perhaps a more important result of this exercise, though, is the lower farrowing intentions have driven July 2007 CME Lean Hogs futures to a new contract life high, carrying other spring and summer contracts to very near contract life highs as well. Should those highs be eclipsed, producers should watch for topping signs to make some sale of 2007 production.
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The next eight contracts on the board have an average price of $64.93 as of Thursday's close. The rally in corn prices has taken some luster off of those hog futures prices, but they still offer profit margins for average or better producers.
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<b>Sow Slaughter Mystery Remains</b>
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The mystery of higher U.S. sow slaughter in the presence of a growing sow herd and gilt retention rates that, according to the University of Missouri data, are insufficient to balance the equation, continues. <i>National Hog Farmer</i> Editor Dale Miller told me this week of a possible explanation that he had heard -- increased imports of breeding gilts from Canada. That would certainly do the trick if such imports have been large enough.
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As can be seen in Figure 1, imports of breeding gilts from Canada are quite variable from week to week. The vertical lines have been inserted in the graph to help the reader clearly see the years being presented.
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While it's a thought worth checking into, it doesn't look as if it is an explanation for higher U.S. sow slaughter. From Jan. 1 through Sept. 23 of this year, 69,831 breeding gilts have been imported from Canada. That's an increase of just 1,022 head or 1.5% from the same time period in 2005.
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Since the increase in U.S. sow slaughter did not actually begin until the week of March 12, I did the same computations for March 12 through Sept. 23. The results: 55,785 this year -- 1,264 or 2.3% more than last year.
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Neither of those numbers is large enough to explain the increase of sow slaughter that has numbered 6,000 head in some weeks. It still looks like something fundamental has changed in the dynamics of the U.S. breeding herd. I still get mixed reactions to the "smaller death loss" idea, but I suspect that the shift is due to a combination of factors with lower death loss and higher turnover due to gilt productivity leading the way.
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<a href="http://nationalhogfarmer.com/images/1006mkt.doc" target="_new"><img align="left" valign="top" src="http://images.industryclick.com/files/17/graphlogo.jpg" vspace="0" border="0" hspace="3"></a><br><br> Click to view graphs.<br><br>
<font color="red">Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.<br>
Paragon Economics, Inc.<br>
e-mail: <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a></font>