USDA released its crop planting intentions report for 2009, indicating that crop farmers plan to plant 76 million acres of soybeans compared to 75.5 million in 2008. This would be the third-largest planted area on record. However, many trade analysts had expected higher numbers. Producers also intend to plant 85 million acres of corn, down 1% from last year. This would be the third-largest acreage since 1949. Wheat acres are expected to decline 7% from last year to 58.6 million acres. Cotton acres are expected to be at the lowest level since 1983 at 58.6 million acres.

Higher Ethanol Blends — A group of 59 food, livestock and others sent a letter to the Obama administration opposing any increase in the current cap on the amount of ethanol permitted to be blended in gasoline. The groups said they oppose any effort to raise the blend until “independent and comprehensive testing has been completed that indicates that such mid-level ethanol blends (whether E12, E15 or E20) will not pose a risk to all gasoline-powered engines, to public health, to the environment and to consumers.” Those signing the letter included American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, American Meat Institute, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Chicken Council, National Restaurant Association, National Turkey Federation and Sierra Club.

USDA Extends Sign-Up for DCP and ACRE — USDA announced the sign-up deadline was being extended to Aug. 14, 2009 for both the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP) and the forthcoming Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “Extending the DCP and ACRE sign-up deadline will help ensure that America's farmers have enough information and time to determine whether to participate in the ACRE Program. The DCP and ACRE programs play a critical role in the farm safety net and it is vital that we act to support the hard work of the farmers we depend on.”

FDA Fails to Trace Products — The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did a review on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to trace products. In a study, OIG found that only five of the 40 products purchased could be traced through each stage of the food supply chain back to the farm or border. The ability to trace the remaining food products through each stage of the food supply was limited because:

  • “Food facilities often did not maintain lot-specific information;
  • “Some products were labeled with lot-specific information, and
  • “A number of food facilities mixed raw food products from a large number of farms.”
Pork Producers on Capitol Hill — Over 150 pork producers from throughout the country were on Capitol Hill this week visiting members of Congress on key issues of importance to the pork industry. Some of the items addressed were antibiotics, child nutrition, food safety, trade, and the economic crisis that producers are experiencing.

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