USDA is forecasting that net farm income will increase to $62 billion in 2010, up $6.7 billion or 11.8% from 2009. This is projected to be the fifth highest income earned in U.S. agriculture. USDA estimates that livestock receipts will increase $11.5 billion. Hog receipts are estimated to increase as a 2.8% decline in pork production is offset by a $3.77/cwt. increase in pork prices. USDA said, “Now that the U.S. economy has stabilized and is showing signs of improvement, consumers are expected to increase their consumption of animal products, thus firming up market prices and improving the earnings of livestock producers, led by dairy farmers and cattle producers.” USDA estimates that direct payments to crop producers will total $4.8 billion compared to $4.95 billion last year. Countercyclical commodity payments are estimated to be $895 million compared to $1.23 billion in 2009 – a 27% drop.

Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — President Barack Obama established an 18-member Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The commission is asked to put forward proposals to “balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt” by 2015. It will also examine the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures over the long term. The commission is to make its recommendations by Dec. 1. Senate and House leaders have agreed that Congress will vote on the recommendations by the end of the year. Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, will co-chair the commission.

Humane Society Watchdog — The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has revised its HumaneWatch.org. CCF has started this watchdog project to analyze the activities of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS has been leading state and federal efforts on animal rights.

More Congressional Retirements — Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) is the 11th senator to announce plans for retirement after the 2010 election. Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI) have also announced they are retiring after the election. To date, 14 Democrats and 18 Republicans have announced plans to retire from the House of Representatives. More retirements are expected this spring.

Organic Trade Association Legislative Manager — The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has named Will Telligman to fill the new position of legislative and advocacy manager. Telligman most recently served as legislative affairs coordinator for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

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