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Texas Agriculture Archive

February 20, 2004

USDA announces 2004 loan rates


USDA has announced the 2004 national and county loan rates for corn, grain sorghum and soybeans, as authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill.

"This is the earliest we have announced the marketing assistance loan rates for these commodities," said Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

The 2004 county loan rates also continue the market-oriented approach established in 2002 following enactment of the Farm Bill. The relative levels of the county loan rates for each commodity reflect the most recent information available about price relationships around the country and will enhance the market orientation of the corn, grain sorghum and soybean loan and loan deficiency payment (LDP) programs.

In establishing this year's rates, USDA continued to focus special attention on minimizing neighboring-county loan rate variances that are not justified by current market forces.

The 2002 Farm Bill established specific national loan rates for each commodity. For corn and grain sorghum, the 2002 and 2003 national rates are $1.98 per bushel. Beginning in 2004, these rates will be $1.95 per bushel and will remain at that level through 2007. These changes are reflected in the county loan rates announced last week. The national soybean rate remains unchanged at $5 per bushel, as set forth by the 2002 Farm Bill.

Food Check-Out Day celebrated

The Texas Farm Bureau helped Texas farmers and food charities across Texas celebrate the eighth annual Food Check-Out Day, Feb. 5.

Food Check-Out Day is based on statistics of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is symbolic of the date when the average American earns enough income to pay for a year's supply of food.

According to USDA, Americans spend an average of 10 percent of their disposable income on food. For that "average American," this is accomplished less than 40 days into the year.

County Farm Bureaus across Texas partnered with the Ronald McDonald House and other local charities promoting special Food Check-Out Day events including: food drives, school visits encouraging agriculture education, and news conferences in some cities. For more about Food Check-Out Day activities, visit:

Food stores ban GMO
on private labels

According to a recent issue of the Natural Products Industry Insider, the two largest natural foods grocery chains, Wild Oats Markets Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc., announced they would no longer allow genetically modified (GM) ingredients in their private label products. Each store has hundreds of products that carry the store name.

Wild Oats reported that approximately 10 percent of its sales came from store brand products in 1999; Whole Foods reported approximately 12 percent came from private label items in the same year.

Whole Foods' decision to ban GM ingredients replicates similar bans in European supermarkets. According to Margaret Wittenburg, vice president of governmental and public affairs for Whole Foods, many of its private label products are already GM-free. The products will be labeled in the future to call attention to their GM-free status.

Spokesmen for both companies said they were not making a judgment as to whether GMOs are good or bad, but rather the decision was made in order to allow consumers "the right to choose."

Notable Quotables

"Food Check-Out Day has become an important day for communicating a critical message to the American consumer. Food is one of the most affordable components of our lifestyle. You might even say food is downright cheap, except for the fact that there's real value in America's food supply."

Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, commenting on the purpose of the annual Food Check-Out Day observance.