UPI Farming Today

By GREGORY TEJEDA, United Press International  |  March 17, 2003 at 1:15 AM
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Reps want Mexico to resolve syrup issue

Members of the House are urging Mexico's ambassador to try to find a solution to the continuing dispute between the two countries over tariffs on corn syrup.

Thirty-one representatives sent a letter to Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer, seeking immediate action to reach a deal to end the dispute.

Mexico has been charging a special, high rate on high fructose corn syrup imported from other countries, particularly the United States.

As a result, U.S. exports of the syrup (used in soft drinks) have been virtually shut down for the past 15 months.

Officials say Mexico had provided a market for 1.5 million metric tons of the syrup, which was made from 20 million bushels of corn grown on 142,000 acres of U.S. farmland.

"It is clear that both U.S. and Mexican farmers and processors in this sector have a lot to gain from a negotiated solution," the letter reads. "We believe it is possible, and necessary, to make every effort to finalize the outstanding issues that remain and announce a good deal that will benefit stakeholders on both sides of the border."

The Corn Refiners Association and the National Corn Growers Association both said they support the efforts of the members of Congress, since they want the issue resolved so that U.S. exports can resume.

"Corn growers stand ready to reach an agreement and resume a normal trading relationship with Mexico," corn growers President Fred Yoder said. "This is the right thing to do and we should not delay any longer."

Corn refiners President Audrae Erickson said Mexico's "protectionist" actions need to end, for the financial benefit of both countries.

"The longer it takes to reach a settlement, the more the corn industry suffers," Erickson said. "We appreciate the Congressional support to bring the negotiations to an end and re-open this important market."

Corn farmers don't want budget cuts

While many farmers support the effort to engage in war against Iraq, they don't want the United States to pay for it from agriculture funds.

The National Corn Growers Association made its opposition clear to efforts to reconsider various agriculture-related programs to try to find more federal funding for the war effort.

A House budget committee is considering reopening the farm bill approved by Congress and President Bush last year as one source of more funding. Association President Fred Yoder said he is concerned with cuts in federal funding from agriculture interests.

The association's "policy is clear that the farm bill should not be opened, and we oppose efforts to do so," Yoder said.

Farmers union defends organic standards

The National Farmers Union's board is pleased with lawmakers who are supporting their efforts to reinstate former standards for what constitutes organically grown crops.

The union praised Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., both of whom are leading an effort to repeal a recently passed law they say would allow non-organic foods to receive the Agriculture Department's "organically grown" label.

"Legislative language granting a waiver for organic livestock producers to use conventional feed damages the very framework of the organic standards, and the legitimacy of the organic farming industry," the union wrote, in a letter to the congressmen.

Farmers to rally for fuel standard

The National Corn Growers Association is organizing a rally to be held this week in Washington to support the concept of a reformulated fuel standard that would require increased use of ethanol, a motor fuel made from a corn blend.

The rally will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the National Press Club and at the Capitol. Officials from the corn growers, the Renewable Fuels Association, Shell Oil Co. and the American Petroleum Institute will participate in the event.

Among the lawmakers supportive of the two-day event are Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Reps. Tom Osbourne, R-Neb., collin Peterson, D-Minn., and John Shimkus, R-Ill.

N.C. firm to build biological facility

The In Ovo Co. held groundbreaking ceremonies Friday for construction of a new biological manufacturing facility near the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport -- about 90 miles from Raleigh, N.C.

The facility will be used to manufacture the company's in ovo coccidiosis vaccine when it gets approval from the Agriculture Department.

The vaccine is meant for use in poultry to keep chickens healthier so they turn into better tasting poultry products.

Grains mixed on CBOT

Grain futures were mixed at the close Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybeans were slightly lower on beliefs Thursday's price gains were overdone.

Corn fell on lack of any inspiring information.

Wheat was mixed with influence from Thursday's price gains tempered by weak seedling figures from the Agriculture Department.

Oats were mostly higher.

The prices:

Soybeans: Mar 5.77 3/4 up 1 3/4, May 5.74 1/2 off 3/4, Jul 5.71 1/2 off 1 1/2, Aug 5.59 3/4 off 2.

Corn: Mar 2.30 off 5 1/4, May 2.33 off 2 1/2, Jul 2.34 3/4 off 2, Sep 2.36 1/4 off 1 1/4.

Wheat: Mar 3.11 up 1/2, May 2.99 1/2 off 3 3/4, Jul 2.95 3/4 off 6, Sep 3.00 1/2 off 6 1/4.

Oats: Mar 2.17 1/2 off 1/4, May 1.76 up 2 1/2, Jul 1.65 1/4 up 2 1/4, Sep 1.56 up 1/2.

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