From: Ron Hays []
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 19:14
Subject: Oklahoma's Farm News Update
Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Thursday February 21, 2008!
A service of National Livestock Credit, KIS Futures & Midwest Farm Shows
-- Beef and More- We Continue our OALP Coverage in China...
-- Farm Bill Funding- Deal or No Deal?????
-- Speaking of the Farm Bill- Some Analysis with OSU's Dr. Larry Sanders
-- Tax Exemption Legislation for 4-H and FFA Livestock Prize Money Moving Forward in OKC.
-- Burn Ban Down to a Pair of Panhandle Counties...
-- Grain Sorghum Producers Headed for Big D Next Year to Join Up with Commodity Classic!
-- China Tidbits From Beijing...

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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Beef and More- We Continue our OALP Coverage in China...
Class thirteen of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program had a great Wednesday at three stops at businesses that have all blossomed since Class One visited China in 1984. Stop one was the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and meat market in China, the Beijing Xinfadi Farm Products Company. There we saw pork carcasses being carved up and the cuts being sold in plastic shopping bags to restaurants and small markets- the same was the case for the poultry, vegetables and fruits that we watched being handled. The had total sales of just over two million dollars in 2006.

We moved next to a flower and vegetable seed company that has blossomed since 1999- and sells products globally, including some into the United States. The owner of this enterprise gave us a tour of an amazing tourist stop for both Chinese families as well as foreigners, Flower World. While the outside exhibits are dormant or dead here in the middle of winter- the indoor greenhouse displays were nothing short of amazing- a least six different greenhouses were linked- each spotlighting a different climate and eco system. I have a picture from the desert climate greenhouse- small cactus plants forming the Beijing Olympic symbol- these folks hope to harvest a big crop of visitors during this year's summer games.

Finally, we headed to a late lunch and a stop at the Fu- Hua Meat Company- another non government enterprise that has sprung up in the last decade- it's a restaurant from the road- it's also a meat store that has been franchised to some 180 locations around China- but behind the home store and restaurant, you have their processing plant where they harvest some 80,000 head of cattle annually, plus 200,000 sheep.
Behind the processing plant- they have their "feedlot" which is actually concrete pens with feed bunks and some 5,000 cattle being fed- some tethered and some not- it was mostly Continental Breed cattle- Simmental and Charolais is what we mostly saw- and with the genetics of the cattle we saw- it was taking a long time for animals to be finished out. I asked Wendell Custer of the class to talk about his observations of this feeding operation Chinese style- and you can click below to listen to Wendell- we also have a link later to our webpage on WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com which is highlighting the OALP journey to China here in 2008!

Click here to listen to Ron and Wendell on the Beef Feeding Operation Visited by OALP.

Farm Bill Funding- Deal or No Deal?????
It's very quiet in talks surrounding finding a agreeable funding level for the 2007-2008 farm bill- with some folks saying that could be a good sign as a level is sought in order to be able to move forward and finalize policy based on the dollars that could be available.

DTN is reporting they talked with Secretary Ed Schafer who said there are a million details to be dealt with in getting a final farm bill to send through both bodies of Congress and on to the White House- so it's possible that we could see an extension into April.

Schafer adds that we really need to see the House and Senate get this funding deal done in "days or at least in weeks" in order to have a farm bill this year.

Speaking of the Farm Bill- Some Analysis with OSU's Dr. Larry Sanders
AT the recent American Farmers and Ranchers annual convention in Oklahoma City, they featured a farm bill panel with several experts on the subject- including Dr. Larry Sanders. We talked with Dr. Sanders about the different process that Colin Peterson and Tom Harkin have pursued in finalizing a 2007-2008 farm bill after both the House and Senate have passed their versions of new farm law.

He pointed out the closed door process of not settling differences between the two bills in an open Conference Committee is making this farm bill cycle much different this year- and he adds that the "unusual" proposal of the House Ag Committee leadership from a week or so back has come out of this effort to skirt what would be a conventional way of resolving differences between the two bodies.

He says that it is likely there will be a lower safety net- unless we see a straight extension of farm policy- it does look like less money for a safety net will be the final outcome and that means less help from Uncle Sam when things are unstable in the commodity markets- which is becoming more and more the norm with tight stocks and demand coming from multiple directions. You can hear our conversation with Dr. Sanders by clicking below.

Click here to listen to OSU Ag Policy Professor Dr. Larry Sanders visit with Ron on RON!

Tax Exemption Legislation for 4-H and FFA Livestock Prize Money Moving Forward in OKC.
Legislation declaring FFA and 4-H livestock awards to be tax-free cleared a House subcommittee on this week. House Bill 3081, by state Rep. Joe Dorman, provides that "any payment received by a person as an award for participation in a competitive livestock show event" will not be considered taxable income under Oklahoma law. Under the legislation, those payments will instead be treated as scholarship awards.

"Students don't make money on the animals they show," said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. "This is truly an educational opportunity given to these kids and it's ridiculous to require some 16- year-old 4-Her or FFA student to file taxes on a prize." The checks received by students involved in competitive livestock shows can range from a few hundred dollars at local events to tens of thousands at national events.

Carolyn Doyle, FFA Sentinel for the Elgin FFA, told state lawmakers the bill would allow students to make their dollars stretch further. "Most of the kids in our FFA chapter pay for their animals and feed, and any money we make at a show is usually the only income generated to pay for our projects," Doyle said. "If we have to pay income tax on those awards, we won't be able to do as much. FFA students are not getting rich off our projects and we want to be able to do more with our limited resources."

By declaring the prize money will be treated as a scholarship and therefore tax exempt under state law, legislators will indirectly exempt the prizes from federal taxation as well because of an existing federal tax exemption for scholarships and awards.
"The federal tax code clearly exempts scholarships and awards," Dorman said. "House Bill 3081 will dictate that these livestock show prizes will be classified as Scholarships and Awards and, therefore, nontaxable at both the state and federal level. That doubles the benefit for Oklahoma's FFA and 4-H students."

Burn Ban Down to a Pair of Panhandle Counties...
Citing weekend precipitation and the advice of fire experts, Gov. Brad Henry today modified the state's burn ban, lifting burn prohibitions for all but Cimarron and Texas counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The governor continued to urge caution in all outdoor burning.

"Even with the rainfall we have received, it is important for all Oklahomans to exercise caution and good common sense when it comes to outdoor burning, particularly when winds are gusty," said Gov. Henry. "I will not hesitate to reinstate the ban if conditions warrant it."

The governor's office announced the decision this week after reviewing precipitation totals and other fire data compiled by forestry officials in the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. The agency recommended the ban be modified, citing the significant rainfall this weekend, but urged Oklahomans not to burn outside when winds are over 15 mph. Violations of the ban are misdemeanors punishable by as much as a $500 fine and one-year imprisonment.

Grain Sorghum Producers Headed for Big D Next Year to Join Up with Commodity Classic!
The 2008 Commodity Classic is in Music City USA next week- primarily on Thursday, Friday and Saturday- and jet lag and all- we plan on making a couple of days of the 2008 event as corn, soybean and wheat farmers gather. Meanwhile word comes officially that the National Sorghum Producers will be part of the premier annual event for agricultural crop producers when it meets in Grapevine, Texas in 2009.

The 2009 Commodity Classic will be held Feb. 26-28 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas. "We are very excited to take part in Commodity Classic in 2009," said NSP President Dale Murden. "We recognize that farmers grow diverse crops and Commodity Classic gives producers the opportunity to network and learn about corn, soybeans, wheat, and now sorghum all at the same time."

Joint programming, crop-specific education, Learning Center sessions, What is New sessions, a dynamic General Session, and a large tradeshow with hundreds of booths highlighting equipment, products and services that are important to farmers are key Commodity Classic attractions for producers, their families and agribusiness partners. "The National Sorghum Producers will work in conjunction with the other commodities to offer joint programming as well as sorghum-specific education and networking. An NSP-only meeting will be held either directly before or after the Classic," Murden added.

Click here for details about next week's Commodity Classic over in Nashville

China Tidbits From Beijing...
It struck me yesterday as we made multiple stops around the huge capital city of Beijing that the clothes being worn by Chinese adults has drastically changed since my first travels to China in 1984- then you saw government officials in poorly fitted suits- and the average worker mostly in drab green "Mao" style outfits. There were a few folks dressed in clothing that we would judge more like we were wearing in the mid 1980s- but those folks were few and far between. You did see babies and children dressed in brighter colors and western garb.

Well, baby there's no more "Mao suits" running around in this town. Western Civilization has made its mark on the fashions in this center of the Communist world- and Mao may be doing flips in his grave.

It's still a festive city that we have been staying in the last few days- as there are still decorations everything for the Chinese New Year celebration- and multiple fireworks shows through the evening hours- some you can see- and most that you simply are hearing thundering through the center of Beijing.

We next head to the ancient city of Xian- and will be there into the weekend. I am running short of time for this report- but will have more assorted observations in our Friday email- I do appreciate your interest in hearing about our travels through this most populated country in the world- it has changed so rapidly in the last couple of decades- yet there are constant reminders of where they have come from. We do have several pictures and some audio up- check it out on our website.

Click here for our coverage from the OALP Class 13 travel to China.

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