Texas Sorghum Insider

February 21, 2013

CRP Sign-up – Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and USDA Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Executive Director James B. Douglass announced that FSA will hold a general sign-up for the 45th Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) beginning May 20 and ending June 14, 2013. CRP helps to protect erosion, lends extra land for cattle to graze on during the drought, provides significant water quality benefits, and expands and enhances wildlife habitats. The U.S. currently has about 27 million acres enrolled, with more than 3 million of these acres enrolled in Texas. There are 3.3 million acres set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013 across the nation and more than 362,000 of those acres are set to expire in Texas. The average rental payment in Texas for the 43rd CRP sign-up was $37.58/acre, totaling a rental payment to Texas CRP landowners of $28,832,402. Producers who are accepted in the sign-up can receive cost-share assistance for planting covers and receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract (10-15 years). CRP also offers other enrollment opportunities on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis. Those sign-up dates will be announced at a later time. To sign-up for the general CRP during the allotted dates, visit your local FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov.

Sequestration and Agriculture – Government sequestration, or forced government-wide spending cuts, will aim to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next decade. If congress takes no action by March 1, sequestration will come into effect and Federal budget cuts of about $85 billion would start. That would include nine percent of all non-defense spending and 13 percent of the Pentagon budget in the next seven months. More than $500 billion would be cut from the Defense Department and other national security agencies, and the rest would come from the domestic side including national parks, federal courts, the FBI, food inspections and housing aid, where Medicare providers would see a two percent slash. Protected in the sequestration is Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Programs, food stamps, military personnel, and Veteran’s Administration. On the agriculture side, Senate Democrats will offer a sequestration package that aims to eliminate the direct payments for a savings of $27.5 billion, avoid all sequestration-related USDA cuts including meat inspections, and fund disaster assistance and all the programs that were left out of the extension of the Farm Bill, stated Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow in mid-February. Stabenow’s provision plans to fill in the holes to support all of agriculture left from the Farm Bill extension on New Year’s Eve ; however, if Stabenow’s package becomes law, half of the money to avoid the cuts would come from decreases in spending and half would come from what Stabenow described as “closing tax loopholes on the wealthy and well-connected,” – Republicans have said they are opposed to any increases in taxes. Stabenow plans to vote on this sequester measure package in the coming week, but before the possible March 1 sequestration. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) endorsed the package and stated that if sequestration were to happen, “farm commodities and conservation programs would be cut by some $7 billion, reducing every USDA discretionary program by five percent.” Stay tuned…

WASDE Grain Sorghum Changes – USDA’s February 8th WASDE report showed significant changes in the U.S. grain sorghum crop. Kansas State University (KSU) analyzed the data and reported that the grain sorghum usage projections changed dramatically reflecting uncertainty in “new crop” MY 2012/13. The Food, Seed and Industrial use went up 20 million bushels (mb), exports went up 5 mb’s, and Feed and Residual went down 25 mb’s, leaving “new crop” MY 2012/13 at a total use of 250 mb’s, and ending stocks at 21 mb’s. The February 8th report also projected the MY 2012/13 grain sorghum crop to have a total planted area of 6.2 million acres, with 5.0 million of those acres being harvested (a ratio of 79.4%). The projected yield went down from the 2011/12 at 54.6 yield/harvested acre to 49.8 yield/harvested acre. WASDE predicts the average farm price per bushel will be between $6.70 and $7.60 or $7.15/bushel.