From: Ron Hays []
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 17:01
Subject: Oklahoma's Farm News Update
Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday February 20, 2008!
A service of Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, KIS Futures & American Farmers and Ranchers.
-- "If the Chinese want it- they will buy it"
-- Chairman Peterson Meets with Farm Groups- No Deal Yet.
-- State Lawmakers Honored by Farm Bureau...
-- Smithfield to Reduce Sow Numbers Immediately...
-- Tidbits from Beijing...
-- The Blessings of Good News- Even When You Are in China!
-- Pollard Farms "Performance Genetics" Angus Bull & Commercial Female Sale is set for March 1st

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 KIS Futures as a regular sponsor of our daily E-Mail. KIS Futures provides Oklahoma Farmers & Ranchers with futures & options hedging services in the livestock and grain markets- Click here for their website or call them at 1-800-256-2555.

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"If the Chinese want it- they will buy it"
That's the word that Class 13 of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program got from the top USDA official posted to China- William Westman, the Minister- Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the US Embassy in Beijing. Westman told class members that the Chinese have as an overriding concern the need to keep their people fed- and not in any mood to question the Communist Party, firmly in control of virtually everything here in China.

Westman says the key to understand the opportunity in China is the rising Middle Class which will consist of 300 million people over the next few years. He says the Chinese have big challenges in providing food for their people- he cited the limited amount of arable land and adequate water. He also spoke of how Chinese agriculture is now very much a small scale industry and the decisions are driven by dictates from top to bottom- he says that the many farmers locally are told in local meetings what they need to be planting and they go out plant what has been dictated.

This is in contrast to what OALP Class One saw in the 1980s- the norm then was huge Communes owned by the state producing very inefficiently- with farmers given small plots of land around their homes to grow food for themselves and those farmers would often have excess to sell on the black market. The Commune model has been abandoned to some extent- but the state still owns the land- no private property ownership in this still Communist controlled country.

Westman and Jorge Sanchez, an ag attache working under Westman here in China, put together a powerpoint presentation on the current state of Chinese agriculture- both as a producer and as a customer of US farm goods. We have linked that file for you below- you will need Powerpoint to be able to open this file.

Click here for the FAS China Presentation from the OALP Travels to China 2008.

Chairman Peterson Meets with Farm Groups- No Deal Yet.
The negotiations continue but there is still no deal done yet for the amount of funding that all parties will accept in crafting a new farm bill. House Ag Committee Chairman Colin Peterson talked with Mike Adams on the national syndicated show AgriTalk, then later met with farm groups in a closed door meeting in Washington regarding where things now stand.

Peterson hopes that a funding deal will be complete yet this week while Congress is in recess- and he continues to promise House Conferees will then be appointed and meetings will be held to get to the policy aspects of the measure.

Peterson told Adams that he wasn't sure he could have voted for the initial framework that he offered last week to try to break the logjam of farm bill negotiations- but that with the response coming from all concerned- he's feeling better about getting a number that all parties will agree to soon. An update on this fight over funding for the farm bill is linked on our website page, the 2007 Farm Bill found on WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com- click below to take a listen to that update.

Click here for the latest update on the Farm Bill Funding talks...

State Lawmakers Honored by Farm Bureau...
State Senator Ron Justice and Representative Gus Blackwell received Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Meritorious Service Award February. 19. The state's largest farm organization bestowed the award based on a lawmaker's consistent support for rural issues. "These guys have a passion for helping rural Oklahoma," said Mike Spradling, OFB president.

Legislation (SB709) authored by Sen. Justice defining animal manure as non-hazardous received the national Distinguished Award for Legislation of the year from the Agricultural and Rural Development Summit participants in January. The bill was passed and signed by the governor last year.

Sen. Justice's district includes parts of Canadian, Caddo, Blaine and Grady Counties.
Rep. Blackwell is currently Speaker Pro Tempore and his district includes Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper and parts of Ellis and Woodward Counties.
"To be recognized for helping agriculture in Oklahoma is a great honor for me," Blackwell said. Both lawmakers said rural Oklahoma is the backbone of the state's economy and is vital to a healthy future.

Smithfield to Reduce Sow Numbers Immediately...
The nation's largest hog producer, Smithfield Smithfield Foods, Inc., has announced plans to reduce its U.S. sow herd by four to five percent, or 40,000 to 50,000 sows. This ultimately will result in production of 800,000 to one million fewer market hogs annually. The company will begin phasing in these reductions immediately. Smithfield currently raises 18 million market hogs annually.

"Given the economics for raising hogs today, we cannot continue on the current path; something has to change," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer. "Grain costs continue at record levels, with the potential of escalating, given the current U.S. government policy favoring corn for ethanol. Today the economics are very challenging and we believe that these increased costs will translate eventually into still higher food costs for the American consumer. In the meantime, Smithfield is taking immediate action to improve the efficiencies of our live production operations."

Tidbits from Beijing...
I was told by some of the members of Class 13 of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program that they knew there was a lot of value in chicken feet, based on an earlier briefing they had with some Tyson officials- but it was still interesting to hear from William Westman- the top USDA official here in China that the most value meat cut imported into China are the Chicken Claws- the Chinese love them! At this point- they have not tried to share that love of them with our group- which I think most of the class is okay with.

One of the things I mentioned yesterday that I thought was interesting was the fact that the number of personal cars is on the increase in China- I am seeing farm more cars jamming the streets of Beijing that we saw in 1984 with Class One. In face, they have freeways flowing in and around the city- unheard of twenty years ago. I am not sure of the name of the Chinese made autos- but we have seen lots of cars made by Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, VW, Mercedes Benz and Ford. The cars here are all sizes- but the average car size is much closer to what you see in the US compared to Europe. From the gas stations that we have passed, it looks like the price of gas figures out to be around $3.50 USD per gallon.

When we were last in Beijing all those years ago- we saw little western style commerce- but that has all changed as we ate a Peking Duck dinner last night at a restaurant that sits in a building above five stories worth of flea market type stalls. You want a "Tumi" briefcase- no problem- or a "Rolex", or a name brand shirt or whatever, they have got it and are super aggressive in wanting to sell it to you. This type of entrepreneurship was unheard of just a couple of decades ago- although we saw some of this further south in China to a limited degree with Class One.

There is no doubt that China is rising rapidly- whether it is skyscrapers rising in this city and many others around the country, to the rise of enterprise when the government gives individuals half a chance to their rising incomes and the desire they have to eat better- which is the point of this trip- to learn and understand better what is a huge market for US farm products- if we can learn how to sell them on the idea that it's to their benefit to buy American.

The Blessings of Good News- Even When You Are in China!
We actually heard it first from Dr. Jim Trapp of Oklahoma State University as we were traveling to the Great Wall on Tuesday morning Chinese time- the word that Gary Sherrer was gotten a medical report that is nothing short of fabulous- Gary has been battling cancer for several months now and has just heard from the Doctor that the mass they have been working on is gone- he will be taking a couple of additional treatments as insurance- but the report cheered our spirits over here in Asia.

As we check our email later in the day- we got word from Dr. David Porter that a lot of folks at OSU and in Oklahoma agriculture want to celebrate with Gary, who serves now in the Dean's office in the Division of Agriculture at OSU (he's also a former Secretary of Agriculture for Oklahoma). To celebrate, some folks have set up a special fund that folks can donate to in honor of Gary.

Dr. Porter writes "We have formed a team "Cowboys vs. Cancer" comprised of friends and family of Gary Sherrer. Also, five professors from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences will be competing in the upcoming Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon as a relay team to honor Gary. We would like to ask for your support and join the team in the fight against cancer by donating to the American Cancer Society on behalf of Gary. We have set up a website for this purpose."

Here's the link to the website for more information to support this celebration with Gary Sherrer.

Pollard Farms "Performance Genetics" Angus Bull & Commercial Female Sale is set for March 1st
The ninth annual Pollard Farms Bull and Commercial Female Sale will be held at the ranch near Waukomis Oklahoma on March 1st at 12:30 pm.

This year's offering includes 120 service age bulls. These bulls will range in age from yearlings to 4-year- old bulls. Additionally, 100 commercial bred heifers will sell. 70 of these females will begin calving March 10th, with the balance calving this fall.

For details contact the Pollard Farms crew at (580) 758-1464 or view the catalog online by going to the link that we have for you below.

Click here for the Pollard Farms Website and info on their March First Bull Sale.

Our thanks to American Farmers & Ranchers, KIS Futures and Farm Credit of East Central Oklahomafor their support of our daily Farm News Update. For your convenience, we have our sponsors' websites linked at the top of the email- check them out and let these folks know you appreciate the support of this daily email, as their sponsorship helps us keep this arriving in your inbox on a regular basis!

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