The House agriculture committee has chosen chairmen for its various subcommittees and is expanding the number of issues over which it has jurisdiction.
Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chose five of his Republican colleagues Tuesday to preside over specific issues related to agriculture.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is in charge of conservation and rural development and also is being given authority to study issues of biotechnology and pesticides.
"Advances in biotechnology over the next 20 years will be the greatest factor in increasing U.S. (farmers) competitiveness in the world marketplace," Lucas said.
Lucas said he wants to focus during the next two years on ensuring biotechnology scientific advances are fostered, making the results made available to all farmers and keeping food products safe for the public.
"Scientific advances in agriculture biotechnology will not only increase production for producers, but also lower costs and increase food nutrition for consumers," Lucas said.
Currently, oversight of issues related to pesticides and biotechnology are shared by the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Lucas said he wants to ensure that the perspective of farmers is more adequately reflected in federal government policies related to the issue.
Lucas, who operates a cattle ranch in western Oklahoma, is the only returning Agriculture subcommittee chairman.
The other new chairs include:
-- Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who will oversee general farm commodities and risk management issues;
-- Rep. Bill Jenkins, R-Tenn., who will oversee specialty crops and foreign agriculture programs;
-- Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., who will oversee operations oversight, nutrition and forestry programs; and
-- Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who will oversee livestock and horticulture issues.
Calls could boost dairy cow milk production
Hunters attract ducks and other birds with their artificial "calls" and one of the nation's leading makers of condensed milk used to advertise it provided "milk from contented cows."
So Brenda McCowan, a specialist in animal behavior at the University of California veterinary school, decided to find out whether cows can understand the "voices" of hungry calves and respond to their "bawling."
She recorded the bawling of calves at two commercial dairies and then played those tapes in the barns where milking cows were housed. She found that tapes increased milk production in the cows by 2 percent in the milking immediately following the playing of the tapes.
McCowan says this indicates such bioacoustical assistance can be a non-chemical alternative for increasing milk production.
(by E.W. Kieckhefer)
Lamb trade spreads disease
Researchers in Britain fear the frequent transport of lambs awaiting slaughter could cause a new outbreak of the foot-and-mouth virus.
Officials told the London Telegraph that frequent transport between several different locations in a short period of time exposes the livestock to many points where they could become infected by the disease.
Britain Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials said new measures meant to improve the ability to trace livestock will reduce such a threat. The last foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 prompted the slaughter of 7 million animals and economic destruction for many farmers.
U.N. program averts Sahel food crisis
The United Nations' world food program is seeking international donations for emergency food relief to five countries in western Sahel where hundreds of thousands of people face starvation.
Program officials say they need $28 million in donations to purchase food rations to feed 420,000 people who are suffering food shortages due to three consecutive years of drought in Mauritania, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Mali and Senegal.
Officials say the poor harvest by local farmers is causing families to skip meals to cope with food shortages. That is causing increases in child mortality rates.
Canada allows genetically modified papaya
Canada is approving the imports of genetically modified papayas from Hawaii.
Officials gave approval for two types of papaya that were genetically altered by University of Hawaii researchers to resist virus-caused papaya ring spot disease.
Canada used to import up to 8 percent of Hawaii's papaya production but has been slashed to about 3 percent in recent years because of diseased fruit. Officials hope acceptance of the genetic crop will boost the total back to the 8 percent level.
Grains futures up on CBOT
Grain futures were higher at the close Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybeans rose on weather conditions in Argentina.
Corn rose on perceptions traders needed to correct overdone price declines from Monday.
Wheat received a boost from corn.
Oats were mixed.
Soybeans: Mar 5.73 1/4 up 6, May 5.68 1/2 up 5 1/4, Jul 5.65 1/4 up 4 3/4, Aug 5.57 3/4 up 3 3/4.
Corn: Mar 2.38 1/2 up 3 1/2, May 2.41 up 3, Jul 2.44 up 3, Sep 2.42 3/4 up 1 3/4.
Wheat: Mar 3.17 up 6 1/2, May 3.13 up 4 3/4, Jul 3.11 up 3 1/2, Sep 3.13 1/2 up 3.
Oats: Mar 2.06 up 1 3/4, May 1.99 3/4 up 3/4, Jul 1.86 up 1 1/4, Sep 1.66 off 1.