USDA announced the establishment of the Wholesale Pork Reporting Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. The committee is to develop proposed language to amend the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) regulations to implement mandatory pork price reporting. In negotiated rulemaking, a proposed rule is developed by a committee composed of representatives of government and representatives of affected parties. Members on the committee will be represented by the American Meat Institute; Chicago Mercantile Exchange; Food Marketing Institute; Grocery Manufacturers Association; Livestock Marketing Information Center; National Farmers Union; National Livestock Producers association; National Meat Association; National Pork Producers Council; North American Meat Processors Association, American Association of Meat Processors and Southeastern Meat Association (one combined representative for all three meat processor organizations); United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The first meeting will be held Feb. 8-10, 2011, at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel, St. Louis, MO. For more information, contact Michael Lynch, USDA, at Michael.Lynch@ams.usda.gov.

Conservation Reserve Program Signup — USDA announced the next general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will be March 14 through April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP signup. Eligible landowners who participate in CRP receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1. The 2008 farm bill authorized a maximum of 32 million acres for CRP. USDA estimates that contracts on 3.3 million to 6.5 million acres are scheduled to expire annually between now and 2014. For more information, go to: www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Dietary Guidelines Released — USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new guidelines focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood. The report encourages consuming less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains. It also encourages individuals to choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. USDA and HHS offered the following tips to help consumers translate the dietary guidelines into their daily lives:

•Enjoy your food, but eat less;

•Avoid oversized portions;

•Make half your plate fruits and vegetables;

•Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk;

•Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals (choose the foods with lower numbers); and

•Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

According to the report, one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. The updated dietary guidelines are issued every five years by USDA and HHS.

Senate Agriculture Committee & Farm Bill — Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says she would like to begin committee hearings on the 2012 farm bill this spring – an earlier timetable than the House Agriculture Committee. Also, the committee has two new Republican members: Senators John Boozman (R-AK) and John Hoevlen (R-ND).

No Earmarks in Senate — Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee announced there will be no earmarks in the Senate appropriation bills for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.