From: Ron Hays []
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2007 06:51
Subject: Oklahoma's Farm News Update
Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Friday September 7, 2007!
A service of Cusack Meats, Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma & Midwest Farm Shows
-- The Star of the Show- YF&R National Chair Chris Chinn of Missouri as the Senate talks Manure.
-- Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson Finds a Sympathetic Ear in California Senator Boxer...
-- And Staying stuck in the Manure- we turn to Dr. Michael Dicks!
-- Give us Payment Limits or Else!
-- State Vet Becky Brewer Says Beware of Blue Green Algae!
-- Multiple Groups Call for Competition Title in 2007 Farm Bill

Howdy Neighbors!

Here's your morning farm news headlines from the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network, Ron Hays. We are proud to welcome Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma as a regular sponsor of our daily email update. Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma has ten branch offices to serve your farm financing needs and is dedicated to being your first choice for farm credit. Check out their website for more information by clicking here!

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The Star of the Show- YF&R National Chair Chris Chinn of Missouri as the Senate talks Manure.
Thursday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works convened a hearing to learn about modern farm animal production and confined animal feeding operation. Farmer Chris Chinn told the committee - many people outside of agriculture and the livestock industry have concerns about the environmental and health impacts of livestock operations, But, she warned - some have gone so far as to demonize livestock operations. Chinn said - many of these livestock farms continue to be family- owned and -operated. Chinn was joined by a host of others in testifying before Senator Barbara Boxer and her Committee- the Committee that was previously chaired by Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma before the Democrats seized power int he Senate this past November. More on those other witnesses in a moment.

Chin continued, - the vast majority of farmers who operate confined animal feeding operations are involved in a family-based business, are highly educated college graduates, community leaders, and experts in science and technology. Most are trained in humane animal husbandry and environmental sciences and spend great amounts of time, money and other resources ensuring that their operations do not harm the environment.

An independent hog farmer from northeastern Missouri and chair of the AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, Chinn explained to committee members the steps her family takes to follow the Clean Water Act and implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan, an Environmental Management System and other environmental protection measures. She said - many operations are near the tipping point where needless regulation that accomplishes no real environmental or food safety goal will drive them out of business.

Chinn came across believable, knowledgeable and convincing as she was surrounded by those who were a lot less friendly to US farmers and ranchers. We captured a few of her comments and have them linked below- take a listen.

Click here to listen to Chris Chinn before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson Finds a Sympathetic Ear in California Senator Boxer...
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson was given the opportunity to defend and explain his decision to sue the northwest Arkansas poultry companies over what he called an industrial strength attack on the environmental health of the Illinois River watershed.

As he was questioned by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe later in the hearing, Edmondson says his lawsuit is only about toxins he claims are a part of the chicken litter being spread in excess in the Illinois River watershed- and told Senator Inhofe that other species of livestock have nothing to fear. He also agreed with Senator Inhofe that if he was successful in winning this lawsuit- he would be agreeable to asking the judge to craft the ruling very narrowly to show it applies only to poultry.

However, OSU Ag Economics Professor Dr. Mike Dicks, who also testified before the Committee, said the danger of getting a judicial ruling that CERCLA applies to manure is that it would short circuit efforts to find more and better uses for this natural resource- uses that could be a win win for all involved. We have Edmondson's testimony and the questioning that he participated in with both Senator Boxer and Senator Inhofe linked on our Featured Audio page of our website- we have that website linked below- you can take a listen to this audio by going there to the September 6th entry.

Click here for our Featured Audio Website page on WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com

And Staying stuck in the Manure- we turn to Dr. Michael Dicks!
As we mentioned above, OSU Ag Economist Dr. Michael Dicks talked with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the value of manure. He believes that government officials need a paradigm shift when it comes to animal manure. They should consider it a valuable asset and not a waste.

Dicks said the government can enact stringent regulations on agriculture but those regulations will only work if technologies are available and producers have the money to implement those technologies. "We don't need more regulations, but rather more incentives for producers," Dicks said.

He suggests support for research on using manure as an energy source. "Economic incentives to produce methane gas would be a step in the right direction," Dicks said. He noted farmers and ranchers are using the best current technology to the best of their ability. Before he headed to Washington, Dr. Dicks talked with Oklahoma Farm Bureau Communicator Sam Knipp about the value of manure- and we have that conversation linked below for you to take a listen to.

Click here to listen to Sam Knipp visit with Dr. Mike Dicks on what he hoped to communicate to the Senators on Manure issues.

Give us Payment Limits or Else!
I am not sure what the "or else" may be- but several Senators continue to carry the banner of wanting to lower the current ceiling on payment limits even further in the 2007 farm bill. Two that are making that call are Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota as they continue to put the pressure on the Senate Ag Committee to include what they call reasonable and legitimate payment limits in the 2007 Farm Bill.

Grassley says the payment limit reform included in the House-approved farm bill falls short of what is needed. In fact - he says there are enough loopholes in the bill that a person could actually increase the amount of subsidy received. That's why the two Senators have written a letter to members of the Ag Committee - promoting their own legislation that would set a limit of 250-thousand dollars for farm payments - and encouraging the addition of that legislation to the Senate farm bill.

Current payment limits - according to the Grassley- Dorgan letter - promote farm consolidation, artificially increase land prices and create barriers for a new generation of farmers eager to enter the industry. By allowing that to continue - the letter states - Congress is wasting taxpayer dollars, abusing the public's trust and undermining the very farm safety net family farmers depend on. According to the letter - the Dorgan-Grassley proposal is the best solution to these existing problems.

State Vet Becky Brewer Says Beware of Blue Green Algae!
Livestock producers and pet owners need to be on the lookout for signs of blue-green algae in lakes and ponds. Becky Brewer, State Veterinarian with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, said her office has received word of livestock deaths caused by toxins produced by blue-green algae from across the state. "It seems to be a very widespread problem right now and it is extremely important that everyone who has a pond or lake on their property be vigilant in watching for signs of a blue-green algae over-growth," she said. "Animals can die extremely quickly if they ingest the toxin released after an algae bloom."

Other signs can include bloody diarrhea and muscle tremors. Brewer said animals that do not immediately die from the toxin could also suffer liver damage. "The important thing is to keep an eye on the color of the water," she said. "If you notice a sudden bluish or greenish color to the water you need to get your animals away from it immediately and have the water tested." While the water is being tested, be sure to move animals away from the area or block access to the pond and offer alternative water sources. Recent rains and temperatures are believed to have contributed to the sudden increase in blue-green algae problems.

"When in doubt, lock them out," Brewer said. "That's the best advice we can offer."

Multiple Groups Call for Competition Title in 2007 Farm Bill
More than 170 organizations are urging Congress to adopt meaningful market and competition reforms in the 2007 Farm Bill. Included in the groups that signed the letter was the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture out of Poteau. This week, the Sustainable Agriculture coalition sent letters to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., that asked for improvements to the House version of the Farm Bill that would benefit Rural America.

"You have the opportunity to improve upon the House version and provide the leadership necessary to facilitate fair and transparent livestock and poultry markets, and balance the economic relationships among producers and meat processors," the letter states. "Modern technology allows independent livestock and poultry producers to be as innovative and efficient as the largest operations and the vertically integrated supply chains. The combination of technology and carefully balanced government rules to spur competition will increasingly spread the wealth of the food industry throughout America's rural communities.

We have a link to the full letter and the list of 170 groups and organizations that are making this call for a Marketing Title in the farm bill. They are making their pitch to the Senate in hopes that it can be inserted there and put the concept into play when the House and Senate come together in a Conference Committee later in the Farm Bill process.

Click here to read the full letter sent to Senators Harkin and Chambliss on Livestock Competition Issues.

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