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UPI Farming Today

By GREGORY TEJEDA, United Press International   |   Jan. 29, 2002 at 1:15 AM
Cuba embargo costs farmers $1.24 billion

The four-decade-old trade embargo against Cuba is costing the United States $1.24 billion per year in agricultural exports and as much as $3.6 billion overall, says a Republican-influenced foundation.

Losses to the U.S. economy were determined by agricultural economists working for the Cuba Policy Foundation, a Washington-based group led by former GOP senior diplomats.

"If the embargo were lifted, the average American farmer would feel a difference in his or her life within two to three years," said C. Parr Rosson, one of two Texas A&M University professors who wrote the study.

The study found that 10 states -- Arkansas, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Mississippi, Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri -- account for $673 million of the agricultural losses.

Their study came just days after Illinois Gov. George Ryan, while visiting Cuba to promote his state's business interests and meeting with President Fidel Castro, said he wants to see the trade embargo lifted.

It also came as former Agriculture Secretaries John Block and Dan Glickman wrote a letter to President Bush, urging him to support an end of the embargo.

"Current U.S. policy has not given relief to the Cuban people," the two wrote. "Now, it's just as clear: Our policy is also harming American farmers during these tough economic times."

The trade embargo was approved in the early 1960s as a way of putting economic pressure on Castro's communist regime.

Instead, it has cut off what once was a significant market for U.S.-made goods and U.S.-grown crops. Cuba has managed to get its products from other countries, although often at greater expense.

Several agriculture groups in recent years have said they would like the trade embargo repealed but political hard-liners in Congress have refused to support such a move.

Sally Grooms Cowal, president of the Cuba Policy Foundation, said she hopes the combination of the study and influence from government officials can persuade Congress to act.

"I challenge the pro-embargo lobby to tell farmers that it's right to make them bear the economic burden of a policy that has failed for 40 years," she said.


Illinois eliminates antibiotic residues in milk

Dairy officials in Illinois were pleased with reports no antibiotic residues were found during December 2001 in raw bulk tank milk tested at each farm.

Illinois already had among the lowest levels, with an average of 0.06 percent of loads testing positive for residues, below the national average of 0.1 percent. Milk that tests positive must be dumped to prevent it from being sold to the public.

Antibiotic residues can contaminate milk when dairy farmers use the drugs to treat animals. For the past five years, University of Illinois and state Public Health Department officials have worked together to educate farmers and the industry about the problem, and how to prevent it.


Calif. dairy farmers dealing w/ Johne's Disease

Dairy farmers in California are cooperating with a program meant to educate about Johne's Disease and provide procedures to be followed in the event of an outbreak.

The California Farm Bureau is overseeing the program that deals with Johne's Disease, which is a contagious intestinal ailment that can affect cattle.

Officials say cattle less than 6 months old are most susceptible to the disease, which can travel through manure. The disease is difficult to control because animals cannot be effectively tested until they are older adults.


Monsanto, Central Garden settle lawsuits

Monsanto Co. and Central Garden & Pet Co. are settling lawsuits they filed against each other related to the distribution of lawn-and-garden products for Monsanto during the 1990s.

Lawsuits had been filed in Missouri by Monsanto and California by Central Garden, and Central will pay Monsanto $5.5 million for products shipped under the distribution arrangement. A Central subsidy also will purchase $2 million of Monsanto products during the next 30 months.

Due to the settlement, Monsanto will record a net one-time non-recurring charge of $20 million after-tax to its fourth-quarter 2001 financial statements.


Dairy industry faces new regulatory challenges

"Balancing phosphorus inputs and outputs through integrated feed, fertilizer and manure management is quickly becoming the principal regulatory challenge facing the U.S. dairy industry," said Mark Powell, an agro-ecologist at the Agricultural Research Service's dairy forage research center.

Powell spoke to the Wisconsin Fertilizer, Aglime & Pest Management Conference.

"Feed consultants and veterinarians need to know that their dietary phosphorus recommendations could very well be the most critical element of a farmer's ability to comply with nutrient management regulations, especially for farmers having limited cropland area upon which they can spread manure," he said. "The link between dietary practices and water quality impairment needs to be incorporated into whole-farm nutrient management planning."

(by E.W. Kieckhefer)


U.S. ethanol production hits record levels

Ethanol production in the United States reached record levels last year in concert with increased demand, the Renewable Fuels Association reported Monday.

Production in 2001 climbed to 1.77 billion gallons, up 10 percent from the year before and 20 percent above 1999's mark of 1.47 billion gallons.

"The ethanol industry continues its impressive production expansion," RFA President Bob Dinneen said in a statement.

"Ethanol demand was up throughout the country in 2001, led by California's markedly increased demand for ethanol, increased ethanol blending in areas with tight refining capacity, and heightened consumer demand for domestic fuels following Sept. 11," Dinneeen added.

The bullish times are expected to continue, Dinneen said, noting that construction on 20 new ethanol production plants began last year.


Grains down on CBOT

Soybeans closed slightly higher but other grain futures closed lower Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybeans rose slightly due to Agriculture Department export inspection figures that were higher than originally expected. Holding price hikes in line were weather conditions in parts of southern Brazil that are likely to improve the quality and value of that region's crop.

Corn fell on inspection figures that fell below estimates.

Wheat was off on weather conditions in the U.S. Plains that likely will hurt the crop's value. Concerns about Argentine farmers getting back into wheat growing also hurt U.S. interests.

Oats as the market continued to consolidate from recent higher levels.

The prices:

Soybeans: Mar 4.31 up 1/4, May 4.35 1/2 unch, Jul 4.39 1/2 up 1/4, Aug 4.39 unch.

Corn: Mar 2.07 1/2 off 1 1/2, May 2.14 1/2 off 1 1/2, Jul 2.21 off 1 1/2, Sep 2.27 off 1.

Wheat: Mar 2.91 1/4 off 7 3/4, May 2.94 3/4 off 6 3/4, Jul 2.95 1/2 off 7, Sep 2.98 1/2 off 7.

Oats: Mar 1.91 1/2 off 1 3/4, May 1.78 3/4 off 1 1/2, Jul 1.60 1/2 off 1 1/4, Sep 1.41 off 1.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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