Senate, House agriculture committees in deal to avert milk price spike

From: Reuters

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Farm-state lawmakers have agreed to a one-year extension of the expiring U.S. farm law that, if enacted, would head off a possible doubling of retail milk prices to $7 or more a gallon in early 2013.

The extension would end a 32-month attempt to update farm subsidies dating from the Depression era, when farmers were crushed by low prices and huge crop surpluses, to meet today’s high-wire challenges of tight food supplies, high operating costs and volatile markets.

IN Farm Bureau hires retail ag business specialist

From: WBAA Public Radio from Purdue

By Mike Loizzo

A new member of the Indiana Farm Bureau staff hopes to help small farms and those focused on specialty crops. Bob White was hired as IFB’s retail agriculture business specialist.

He has a background in agricultural finance and natural resources, as well as economic and policy development. However, White says he needs to hear from members who want help.

“Tell your regional manager or tell your county farm bureau president or board member, ‘Hey, this issue is bothering me. Is it bothering other folks the same as it is me?’” he says. “Maybe I can help, maybe I can’t, but that’s the way we get started.”

NGFA Delivers Letters to Congress on CRP Reform

From: Farm Futures

Organizations urged Congress to consider extending the mandatory CRP penalty-free early out language

The National Grain and Feed Association announced this week its release of a pair of letters to the leaders of the congressional agriculture committees urging that they build upon the Conservation Reserve Program provisions adopted by the House Agriculture Committee when resuming consideration of a new five-year farm bill.

The letters – one signed by eight national agribusiness trade associations and the other by 20 state and regional grain and feed associations affiliated with the NGFA – commended both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for including important reforms to the CRP in their respective versions of the 2012 farm bill.

Farmer’s Forum: New year brings chores and 2012 Census of Agriculture

From: NJ.com/Star-Ledger

By Warren Reporter

I could just be imagining this, but I swear that as I made my way to the shop early Christmas morning, I heard a huge collective sigh of relief making its way over the mountain. The “crazy” season is beginning to wind down. 2013 is just a few days away and we start all over again. If you are reading this column, than it is evident the Mayan prediction was not an accurate one and you will likely be liable for all the money you put on your credit cards these last six weeks or so. Perhaps the Mayans were predicting the end of the political nonsense going on in Washington D.C. where our elected representatives have learned to stop drinking the sacred waters of the Potomac River and have now switched to drinking only carbonated soft drinks made with pure cane sugar.

2012: Agricultural year in review

From: Agri-News serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa

By Kent Thiesse

As we reach the end of the year, it is a good time to reflect on what happened agriculturally in the region and across the United States in 2012. This will be a two-part article, with a review of 2012 crop production and weather conditions this week, and a review of livestock production, input costs, and grain prices next week. Following are some highlights regarding crop production and weather conditions for 2012.

Ag Chem Security Credit expires on Dec. 31

From: Agricultural Retailers Association

This a reminder to make sure ag retailers file the Agricultural Chemicals Security Credit form this quarter, before this credit expires next week on Dec. 31. Form 8931 distributed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows those individuals who are eligible to receive a 30 percent tax credit on any investments made towards facility security.

The Agricultural Retailers Association continues to advocate daily for the extension of this credit but given the uncertainty of what Congress will decide, it is best to utilize this credit now, ARA suggested to its membership with this announcement.

Rep. Kind: We Must Act Now to Avoid ‘Dairy Cliff’

From: Wisconsin Ag Connection

The so-called looming fiscal cliff isn’t the only urgent matter of business on people’s minds in rural America. Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind says he is pushing his colleagues to move quickly to avoid going over the ‘Dairy Cliff,’ as well on December 31.

The La Crosse Democrat says recent reports indicated that House leadership will not take up a Farm Bill before the end of the 112th Congress, which could wreak havok on the way milk prices are determined.

Ag, energy prices send rural index to 5-year high

From: Omaha.com

By Emily Nohr

The Midwest economy is the healthiest it’s been since before the recession, according to an economic indicator survey of 192 rural bankers.

For December, the Rural Mainstreet Index climbed to 60.6, its highest reading level since June 2007. The index is up from November’s 57.5 and also is the fourth consecutive month of growth.

The index is based on a scale of 0 to 100. An index above 50 indicates growth, and below indicates decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who along with Greeley, Neb., banker Bill McQuillan created the survey, said December’s levels were boosted by strong agriculture commodity prices and lower energy prices.

Farmers Hustle to Avoid Fiscal Cliff Blowback

From: Reuters

As the United States inches closer toward the “fiscal cliff,” Iowa farmer Brian Van Meetern is hurriedly selling his grain before year’s end and buying a new $50,000 sprayer for his farm.

Van Meetern, who works at an accounting firm during the winter, might have to pay a higher income tax and get a lower deduction in depreciation for farm equipment in 2013 if there is no deal in the budget battle before the new year.

Eastern Shore poultry farm wins pollution case

From: Gazette.net

Judge rules against environmentalists

by Margie Hyslop

Environmental activists failed to prove that an Eastern Shore farm that raises poultry for Perdue polluted the Pocomoke River, U.S. District court Judge William Nickerson has ruled.

Aided by the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, the Waterkeeper Alliance and Assateague Coastal Trust sued farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson and poultry giant Perdue Farms Inc., based in Salisbury, seeking $300,000 in penalties for what they argued were violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

The dispute started with a pile of material, photographed in 2009, near a drainage ditch on the Hudsons’ farm outside Berlin, Md.