~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Thursday February 26, 2009A service of Johnston Enterprises, KIS Futures and American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company!
-- Congressman Frank Lucas Calls USDA Chief Vilsack Out Over Direct Payment Criticism
-- Tom Buis Leaving NFU- Joining Ethanol Maker Growth Energy
-- Cattlemen Disappointed Over Dust Reg Court Decision
-- Cattle Rustler Caught in Roger Mills County
-- Ag Issues Forum- Oklahoma Producer Showcases Top Flight Garfield County Operation
-- Best of the Best for Ag in the Classroom- Audry Harmon of Morrison
-- Consultant Phil Needham Says We Can Grow More Bushels of Wheat on the Same or Fewer Acres
-- Let's Check the Markets!
Here's your morning farm news headlines from the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network, Ron Hays. We are pleased to have American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company as a regular sponsor of our daily update- click here to go to their AFR web site to learn more about their efforts to serve rural America!
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Congressman Frank Lucas Calls USDA Chief Vilsack Out Over Direct Payment Criticism
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~On Wednesday afternoon, Ranking Member Frank Lucas sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, expressing great concern about the Obama administration's position on eliminating direct payments to producers. Tuesday night, in his address to a joint session of the 111th Congress, President Obama called for ending direct payments. This comes just days after Secretary Vilsack made a speech to a joint meeting of the National Association of Wheat Growers and the U.S. Wheat Associates Boards advising farmers that they should be thinking about developing other sources of income rather than direct payments.
"I have real concerns about this administration's position on eliminating direct payments to our producers, which would be detrimental to their livelihoods. Our farmers and ranchers are some of the hardest working people in the U.S. and they are struggling to make a living in a difficult economy. Yet, it's clear that both Secretary Vilsack and President Obama don't understand the problems facing our agriculture community. And, they absolutely don't understand how important rural communities are to our economy," said Ranking Member Frank Lucas.
We have the letter that Congressman Lucas sent to Secretary Tom Vilsack on our website- as well as an extensive interview that our own Ed Richards conducted with him on not just the Direct Payment concern, but also the stimulus and rural America, COOL and the EPA wanting to get into the "dust regulation" business. Click on the link below for that story and audio you can take a listen to.
Click here for more on the Frank Lucas correspondence with USDA's Tom Vilsack.
Tom Buis Leaving NFU- Joining Ethanol Maker Growth Energy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~National Farmers Union President Tom Buis announced yesterday he will be stepping down as NFU President, effective March 15, to serve as CEO of Growth Energy. His successor will be chosen by Farmers Union delegates at the upcoming national convention March 8-10 in Washington, D.C.
"Representing America's family farmers, ranchers and rural citizens has been a privilege and an honor," Buis said. "I've had the opportunity to meet farmers from all corners of the country and am continually impressed with their optimism, hard work and dedication to feeding, and now fueling, our nation."
"It was not an easy decision, but I am excited to take on this new
challenge and continue advocating for our nation's family farmers and
ranchers," Buis said. "The production of renewable energy from our farms
is the greatest economic opportunity for rural America that I've seen in
my lifetime. Home-grown renewable fuels create jobs, reduce our dependence
on foreign oil and protect our environment. I am looking forward to
advancing this cause and addressing the myths and the facts when it comes
to renewable fuels."
Click here for more on the Tom Buis from NFU to Ethanol Exec
Cattlemen Disappointed Over Dust Reg Court Decision
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week issued a decision to deny a petition for review of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule that regulates dust under the Clean Air Act. The petition was filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and other groups. "We are very disappointed with the Court's decision," NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies said. "There is no scientific evidence that agriculture dust causes adverse health effects, and its regulation under the Clean Air Act is completely unjustified."
The regulation of agriculture dust means that activities ranging from soil tilling, cattle movements in feedyards, driving on unpaved roads, and planting and harvesting crops could all come under the regulatory strong-arm of the EPA. "Our producers already carry out stringent dust control measures each and every day," says Thies. "But the requirements imposed by EPA's rule are simply unnecessary and unattainable. In today's tough economic times, this unwarranted and burdensome government interference could prove to be devastating for America's cattle producers."
EPA released a final rule on regulating particles in the air under the
Clean Air Act in October 2006, which says that states should focus on
regulating dust in urban areas instead of rural areas because of a lack of
scientific data on health or environmental affects of agriculture dust.
However, the EPA stopped short of exempting agriculture dust from
regulation. Consequently, NCBA filed an appeal of the rule in the D.C.
Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held on September 15,
NCBA has a background paper on dust and the Clean Air Act- Click here to read it
Cattle Rustler Caught in Roger Mills County
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A suspected cattle thief was taken into custody Tuesday evening as a result of the combined efforts of Oklahoma Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Investigative Services agents, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force, the Oklahoma Department of Insurance and two county sheriff departments. Alan Gammon was arrested yesterday at approximately 6 p.m. at a Durham, OK ranch by the Roger Mills County Sheriff's department, said Col. Mike Grimes, Director of the ODAFF Investigative Services Division. Gammon was wanted for the theft of cattle from Murray County.
"This is a case that involves a man who was given the responsibility of taking care of another person's ranch and livestock and later selling cattle that didn't belong to him and keeping the money," he said. "When the owner returned and discovered some of his cattle were missing, the suspect went on the run. He is essentially a gypsy cowboy and moved from ranch to ranch making it very difficult to locate him. We are very grateful for the cooperation and assistance we received from other law enforcement agencies and appreciate the working relationship we have with them."
Authorities had sought Gammon since last May and only this week learned that the suspect was hiding in Roger Mills County. Grimes said his department was afraid Gammon would run again if he learned law enforcement officials had located him so they asked the county sheriff's department to make the arrest. "They had him in custody 30 minutes after we made our request," he said. "He will now be extradited to Murray County where we will question him about some other cases in which he is a suspect."
Ag Issues Forum- Oklahoma Producer Showcases Top Flight Garfield County Operation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~At the Ag Issues Forum presented by Bayer Crop Science, Bill Steinert of Fairmont, Oklahoma was one of five producers that sat on a panel that described their 2008 results and plans for 2009. Steinert has quite an operation in Garfield County, along with his wife Rhonda and two adult sons. They have no full time hired help, just a couple of parttimers. On their farming partnership, they rotate wheat, corn, soybeans, winter canola, cotton and a few sunflowers. They also run 3000 stockers annually and have 150 mama cows.
Steinert tells us he is a great believer in rotation- which he says helps keep their family labor and machinery busy. In 2009, Bill and Rhonda will actually have more acres of corn than wheat, although he always wants to come back to wheat, once he has been able to clean up the weeds in those fields.
We sat down and talked at length with Bill about his family farm operation and his experiences in dealing with crop rotations, winter canola(he has had problems in making it work so he has no acres of canola this spring) and with milo- another crop that he has had problems with. Click on the link below and you can jump to our story on the web- and take a listen to a farmer who has worked hard- and also worked smart in growing their operation and including family in its makeup.
Click here for more on the Steinert Farms Operation in Garfield County
Best of the Best for Ag in the Classroom- Audry Harmon of Morrison
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture saluted their Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year yesterday morning at Morrison Elementary's Wednesday Wildcat Wake-up. Mrs. Audry Harmon, kindergarten teacher at Morrison Elementary is the 2009 Teacher of the Year. She will receive a trip to the Ag in the Classroom National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, courtesy of funding from long-time agriculture supporter, Docia Jackson, along with accommodations from legislators, and will represent Ag in the Classroom at our State Summer Conference and around the state.
Audry constantly looks for way to teach her students about agriculture. She says, "Even though we live in a rural area, several of my students do not know a lot about agriculture." Audry has created an art in agriculture unit using AITC lessons that correlate to the important Priority Academic Student Skills. She uses lessons such as "Beautiful Bovine" and "Bovine Oversteps Boundaries" to teach comparison. Her use of Ag in the Classroom to teach important concepts is superb.
Mrs. Harmon has helped with Ag in the Classroom curriculum development, attended workshops, and taught Ag in the Classroom to a California 4-H group as well as Farm Bureau Women and Young Farmers and Ranchers groups. Mrs. Harmon is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and has taught 9 years. Audry is married to Burton Harmon, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, North Central Oklahoma Field Rep. They have three sons.
Click here for more on Audry Harmon winning Ag inthe Classroom Teacher of the Year- including a snapshot of the proud winner!
Consultant Phil Needham Says We Can Grow More Bushels of Wheat on the Same or Fewer Acres
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~How many heads of wheat per square year do you have at harvest time? That needs to be somewhere between 500 and 650, according to crop consultant Phil Needham, who says that many producers in our part of the country fertilizer at the wrong times, get the wheat plants too thick and end up producing "100 bushel straw and 30 bushel wheat."
He offered his perspective on how he has helped farmers in the state of Kentucky intensify their wheat management practices that has resulted in an impressive increase in wheat yields in that state. It's a state that grows soft red winter wheat- and he says that most farmers who he works with are disappointed if they cannot hit 100 bushels of wheat per acre. The average in that state has climbed since intensified wheat management has been introduced in that state in the late 1980s- rising from around 40 bushels per acre to nearly 70 bushels per acre.
Needham says many of these same practices can work here in the central plains where hard red winter wheat is grown as well. We talked with him about his strategy after his presentation at the Ag Issues Forum Presented by Bayer Crop Science this week as the Commodity Classic was getting ready to kick off. Jump to the website by following the link below and you can listen to our brief conversation with Needham about what he sees as the things that have to be addressed to see wheat yields rise.
Click here for more on Growing Wheat Yields Here in HRW Country
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Let's Check the Markets!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Last Wednesday, it was the OKC West Market in El Reno where we first noticed the wave of selling that has dominated the feeder markets in the region for the last week. Yesterday, things seemed better as the Canadian County market sold 5,509 cattle. Yearling and calf prices were higher and market reporters Tina writes "Demand good for all classes and much improved for feeders. Cattle futures sharply higher Tuesday giving some hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. Cattle futures closing just slightly lower today as corn ended higher. Several feeder cattle coming off wheat as we are approaching The Ides of March." For the prices at El Reno yesterday- click here.
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