USDA has lowered its forecast of corn and soybean production and stocks in its “Crop Production 2010 Summary.” Corn production totaled 12.4 billion bushels, down 5% from last year’s record high. This is a reduction of 93 million bushels from its earlier projection. Corn yield for 2010 is estimated at 152.8 bu./acre, down 11.9 bu./acre from 2009. Corn ending stocks are estimated at 745 million bushels. The stock-to-use ratio is projected at 5.5%, the lowest level since the 1995-1996 marketing year. USDA estimates the average corn price for the year ending in September in the range of $4.90 to $5.70. Soybean production is estimated at 3.33 billion bushels, down 1% from the record of 2009. The average soybean yield for 2010 is estimated at 43.5 bu./acre. Soybean prices are estimated at $11.20 to $12.20/bu.

New Standards for School Meals — USDA published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served for the school lunch and breakfast programs. The proposed changes would increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk in school meals. Also, schools would be required to limit the levels of saturated fat, sodium, calories and trans fats in meals. The proposal would change the minimum amount of meat/meat alternate for school lunch. This would be 1.6 ounce to 2.4 ounce daily average over five days compared to the current 1.5 ounce to 3 ounce daily average over five days. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "The United States is facing an obesity epidemic and the crisis of poor diets threatens the future of our children and our nation. With many children consuming as many as half their daily calories at school, strengthening nutritional standards is an important step in the Obama administration's effort to combat childhood obesity and improve the health and well-being of all our kids."

EPA to Delay Greenhouse Gas Permitting Requirements — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would defer for three years greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic sources. EPA plans to obtain additional independent scientific analysis and begin rulemaking on how these emissions should be treated in determining if a Clean Air Act permit is required. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “EPA’s action today will provide the agency with the time it needs to ensure that greenhouse gas policies properly account for the emissions and carbon sequestration associated with biomass. In many cases, energy produced from biomass will provide significant reductions of greenhouse gases relative to fossil fuels.”

Revenue Assistance Eligibility Outlined — USDA announced the sign-up period is now open for eligible producers for the 2009 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program. SURE is for producers who suffered losses during the 2009 crop year. According to USDA, for a farm or ranch to be eligible it must have:

•At least a 10% production loss on a crop of economic significance;

•A policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops;

•Been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the agriculture secretary under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50% of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster.

Sign-up deadline is July 29, 2011.

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