Congress has completed action on the fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations bill. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. The bill totals $121.2 billion in discretionary spending ($23.3 billion) and mandatory program spending ($97.8 billion). A key item in the bill is the provision to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to proceed with a rule that would allow importation of processed chicken products from China. A prohibition had been placed on USDA for the past two years on proceeding with the rule. This prohibition had become a major trade problem with the Chinese.

Other key items in the bill include a one-year extension of child nutrition programs (school lunch, school breakfast, etc.). These programs were to expire on Sept. 30. Congress sent a warning to USDA by cutting the funding for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The conference report accompanying the bill states, “If significant progress is not made, we will consider eliminating funding for the program.” (National Hog Farmer Oct. 2 edition of this e-newsletter contains more details on the bill.)

Record Corn Yield and Soybean Crop — USDA is predicting the highest corn yield and the largest soybean crop in U.S. history for the 2009/2010 marketing year that began on Oct. 1. USDA predicts corn yields will average 164.2 bu./acre. This is an increase of 10.3 bu. compared to last year. Total corn production is estimated at 13.0 billion bushels. USDA predicts the largest soybean crop in U.S. history of 3.25 billion bushels. Soybean yields are estimated to average 42.5 bu./acre. This would be the third-largest soybean yield on record.

Congress to Review Economic Conditions of the Pork Industry — On Oct. 22, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry will conduct a hearing on the economic conditions facing the pork industry. Witnesses will include USDA, pork producers and industry officials.

No Final 2008 Counter-Cyclical Payments for Corn and Soybeans — USDA announced that it will not issue final 2008 counter-cyclical payments to farmers enrolled in the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program for corn, grain sorghum, oats and soybeans because average commodity prices remain above levels that trigger these payments.

2010 Signup Begins for DCP and ACRE — USDA announced that enrollment for the 2010 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) and the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program has begun and will continue through June 1, 2010. The June 1, 2010 deadline is mandatory for all participants. USDA will not accept any late-filed applications. For more information on DCP or ACRE, producers may contact their Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or www.fsa.usda.gov.

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