Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman Monday urged her counterparts from 180 nations around the globe to speed up their efforts to eliminate hunger in impoverished parts of the world.
"Widespread hunger and malnutrition exact an enormous cost in terms of human suffering and lost potential," said Veneman, while attending the World Food Summit in Rome.
"All members of the global community, working individually and in partnership, must significantly accelerate and more effectively focus our efforts," she said.
Veneman said the United States will focus on trying to boost agricultural productivity in developing nations, end famine and alleviate severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
She wishes other countries would assist the United States with its efforts.
"Increasing agricultural productivity is a way to boost both food availability and access in developing countries," Veneman said. "Accomplishing this will require, above all, that countries adopt market-based policies that help stimulate, rather than hold back, their farming sectors."
Currently, the United States is the largest food aid donor in the world, with global school feeding programs providing meals to 9 million children in 38 countries.
Washington supports the development and dissemination of new technologies to spur productivity and improve nutrition, and Veneman said funding is being provided for programs to combat HIV and AIDS around the world.
The Agriculture Department Monday said it would release 275,000 metric tons of wheat to be exchanged for an equal value of corn, beans and vegetable oil through the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.
The United States also imports more than $450 billion in products from developing countries each year and Veneman said such trade is beneficial to the economies of struggling nations.
"Open markets and free exchange will do a far better job of getting food to people if governments do not place unnecessary barriers on the trading system," said Veneman.
"We will work closely with others to ensure that the trading system plays the fullest possible role in enhancing food security for the worlds people," she said.
The University of Illinois is developing a new center to oversee research about various diseases that can hurt soybean crops.
The center will be at the Urbana, Ill., universitys National Soybean Research Laboratory. It will focus on collecting, maintaining and studying a wide range of bacterial, fungal, nematode and viral pathogens.
Initial support for the soybean center came from the United Soybean Board, the American Seed Trade Association and the Agriculture Departments agricultural research service.
"Assembling an extensive and genetically diverse collection of soybean pathogens in one location would provide an invaluable resource for identifying new genes for resistance in soybeans and understanding the genetics of the pathogens that cause major soybean diseases," plant pathologist Glen Hartman said.
Organic Valley and Waterkeeper Alliance officials are developing a partnership to gain consumer awareness and support for the survival of organic farming and clean water.
Their effort, to be called "Pure Farms, Pure Water," was made by the two groups to help families understand the connection between organic farming and clean water supplies.
"Unless we act today to enable organic farming to survive and thrive across America, we will put at risk our ability to leave our children the clean water, breathable air and fertile soil they and future generations deserve," Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said.
A study of biotechnology is finding that diseases and pests that otherwise would destroy crops are being controlled at a lower cost than pesticides.
The National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy conducted a study of 27 crops, and found that hardier crops developed through biotechnology can help U.S. farmers reap an additional 14 billion pounds of food, while also improving farm income by $2.5 billion and using 163 million fewer pounds of pesticides.
The study found that six crops currently developed through biotechnology -- soybeans, corn, cotton, papaya, squash and canola -- produce 4 billion more pounds of food and fiber on the same acreage, improve farm income by $1.5 billion and reduce pesticide volume by 46 million pounds.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 98 percent of the corn crop is planted, compared to 92 percent last week, 99 percent at this time last year and 99 percent average for the past five years. Ninety percent of the crop is emerged, compared to 75 percent last week and 95 percent last year. Fifty-nine percent of the crop is in excellent or good condition, with 32 percent fair and 9 percent poor or very poor.
For soybeans, 85 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 70 percent last week, 85 percent last year and 88 percent the past five years. Sixty-six percent is emerged, compared to 39 percent last week and 70 percent last year. Sixty percent is excellent or good, with 34 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.
For winter wheat, 88 percent of the crop is headed, compared to 82 percent last week, 89 percent last year and 91 percent the past five years. Nine percent is harvested, compared to 5 percent last week, 9 percent last year and 9 percent the past five years. Twenty-nine percent is excellent or good, with 31 percent fair and 40 percent poor or very poor.
For spring wheat, 93 percent is emerged, compared to 77 percent last week, 90 percent last year and 90 percent the past five years. Fifty-nine percent is excellent or good, with 33 percent fair and 8 percent poor.
For barley, 95 percent is emerged, compared to 80 percent last week, 93 percent last year and 93 percent the past five years. Sixty-four percent is excellent or good, with 32 percent fair and 4 percent poor or very poor.
For oats, 96 percent is emerged, compared to 85 percent last week, 96 percent last year and 96 percent the past five years. Fifty-nine percent is excellent or good, with 30 percent fair and 11 percent poor or very poor.
For cotton, 94 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 88 percent last week, 94 percent last year and 93 percent the past five years. Eighteen percent is squared, compared to 10 percent last week, 18 percent last year and 16 percent the past five years. Forty-six percent is excellent or good, with 38 percent fair and 16 percent poor or very poor.
For sorghum, 74 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 58 percent last week, 77 percent last year and 75 percent the past five years.
For sunflowers, 76 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 50 percent last week and 70 percent last year.
For rice, 96 percent of the crop is emerged, compared to 92 percent last week, 97 percent last year and 95 percent the past five years. Sixty-eight percent is excellent or good, with 25 percent fair and 7 percent poor or very poor.
For peanuts, 96 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 91 percent last week, 95 percent last year and 92 percent the past five years. Fifty-nine percent is excellent or good, with 33 percent fair and 8 percent poor or very poor.
Grain futures were mixed at the close Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybeans fell on warm and dry weather conditions across the Midwest that allowed a significant amount of fieldwork to be done.
Corn rose on reports Argentina was selling fewer metric tons compared to this time last year.
Wheat rose on weather forecasts calling for rain later in the week.
Oats fell on widespread rain in Canada that is helping that nations crop at the expense of U.S.-grown oats.
Soybeans: Jul 5.00 1/2 off 7, Aug 4.93 off 5 1/4, Sep 4.80 off 4 1/2, Nov 4.74 1/4 off 3.
Corn: Jul 2.06 3/4 unch, Sep 2.14 up 1/4, Dec 2.23 up 1/2, Mar 2.31 1/2 up 3/4.
Wheat: Jul 2.78 1/4 up 3 1/4, Sep 2.86 1/2 up 3, Dec 2.95 1/2 up 2 1/2, Mar 2.99 up 3.
Oats: Jul 1.80 3/4 off 15 3/4, Sep 1.40 1/4 off 11 3/4, Dec 1.33 1/2 off 6 3/4, Mar 1.38 3/4 off 4 1/4. |end| Content: 04001000 04009000 11002000 11005000 11006000