USDA’s latest Crop Production and World Supply and Demand Estimates report predicts a record corn crop of 13.37 billion bushels for the 2010/11 marketing year. Yield is projected at 163.5 bu./acre, which is 2.7 bu./acre above the 10-year trend. Carryout stocks are estimated at 1.818 billion bushels, up 5% over 2009. Exports are predicted at 2 billion bushels, compared to 1.95 billion bushels for the 2009/2010 marketing year. Corn usage for ethanol is estimated at 4.6 billion bushels, compared to 4.4 billion bushels this marketing year. Domestic corn feed and residual use are projected at 5.35 billion bushels compared to 5.374 billion last year. Corn prices are estimated to range from $3.20 to $3.80/bu. in 2010/2011. Soybean production is estimated at 3.3 billion bushels, down 49 million from last year’s record production. Soybean yields are projected at 42.9 bu./acre, down 1.1 bu./acre from 2009. Soybean ending stocks for 2009/2010 are unchanged at 190 million bushels. Average soybean price is projected at $8.00 to $9.50/bu. Wheat production is estimated at 2.043 billion bushels, down 173 million bushels from last year. Wheat usage is projected to be up 3% with higher expected domestic use and exports. Exports are projected to increase by 35 million bushels to 900 million bushels. The season-average farm price is estimated at $4.10 to $5.10/bu.
New Performance Standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter — USDA announced new performance standards aimed at reducing the prevalence of salmonella and campylobacter in young chickens (broilers) and turkeys, as well as a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle. According to USDA, “The standards announced today are the first-ever standards for campylobacter and mark the first revision to the salmonella standards for chicken since 1996 and for turkeys since the first standards were set in 2005. The performance standards set a level in percentage of samples testing positive for a given pathogen an establishment must achieve and play a key role in reducing the prevalence of foodborne pathogens and preventing harm to consumers.” President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group has set a goal of having 90% of poultry establishments meeting the salmonella standard by the end of this year. USDA estimates after two years of the new standards, 39,000 illnesses will be avoided each year under the new campylobacter standards and 26,000 fewer illnesses each year under the revised salmonella standards.
The American Power Act — Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced their climate change bill, “The American Power Act,” which will reduce carbon pollution by 17% in 2020, and by over 80% in 2050. Senator Kerry indicated the bill “only covers about 2% of America’s businesses, only 7,500 entities in America come under this bill. Small business is exempt. Agriculture is exempt.” The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association and other agricultural groups indicated they are in the process of reviewing the bill and want to see the Environmental Protection Agency analysis when completed.
White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity — First Lady Michelle Obama released the White House task force report on childhood obesity, which highlights the growing epidemic and makes recommendations to combat the issue. It is estimated that one in every three children ages 2-19 is overweight or obese. Medical expenses for adults that are attributed to obesity are currently estimated at $147 billion, compared to $40 billion in 1998. The report outlined public and private sector plans with a goal of reducing childhood obesity rate from 17%, currently, to 5% by 2030. Some of the recommendations include:
• Update federal nutritional standards for school meals and improve the nutritional quality of USDA commodities provided to schools.
• Increase resources for school meals.
• USDA should work to connect school meals programs to local growers, and use farm-to-school program, where possible.
• Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that children consume to 75% of the recommended level by 2015.
• Reduce the amount of added sugar that children consume.
• Encourage food companies to develop new products and reformulate existing products so they meet nutritional standards based on the dietary guidelines and appeal to children.
• Restaurants and vending machine operators should begin displaying calorie counts on products.
• Provide economic incentives to increase production of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as create greater access to local, healthy food for consumers.
• The food and beverage industry and the media and entertainment industry should jointly adopt meaningful, uniform nutrition standards for marketing food and beverages to children.
• Media and entertainment companies should limit the licensing of their popular characters to food and beverage products that are healthy and consistent with science-based nutrition standards.
• Increase by 50% the number of high school students who participate in daily physical education classes by 2030. Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-up — USDA has announced that landowners nationwide are invited to apply for USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) that was authorized in the 2008 farm bill. CSP offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial forestland. The deadline to be considered is June 11. Congress limited CSP enrollment to 12.7 million acres per year nationally. For more information on CSP, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html.
P. Scott Shearer