September 15, 2006
Website helps locate E85 pumps
The National Corn Growers Association and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition have teamed up to provide a tool that allows flex fuel vehicle owners to pinpoint gas stations that sell E85 simply by entering a zip code or location. The tool is available at www.e85refueling.com.
The website allows visitors to map the station. Organizers say the website is particularly a good tool for people traveling across the country. Currently, there are more than 700 E85 stations in 37 states.
So far, 14 locations are listed for Texas, including the five new H-E-B outlets along Interstate 35 in Waco, Killeen, Austin, Buda and Schertz that were announced in August with the help of Texas Farm Bureau.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced the availability of $780 million in assistance to help farmers and ranchers manage drought and weather-related production challenges.
This includes a new $50 million program for livestock producers impacted by drought, redirecting nearly $30 million in unused conservation funds to drought, and accelerating the delivery of an estimated $700 million in counter-cyclical payments.
While any help will no doubt be appreciated during this very dry year, many remain hopeful more funding will become available before year end.
"We have a lot of farmers and ranchers hurting in this drought this year," said Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke. "While this assistance will come as a welcome relief to some, much more is still needed, both here in Texas and across the country. We hope our Congressmen keep that in mind as they return to Washington from summer break."
The money simply "won't go that far for a drought that really is unprecedented in Texas history," Texas Farm Bureau Public Relations Director Gene Hall told reporters from the Associated Press. "We are very appreciative of the assistance and hopefully it will be able to help the livestock producers who've been exceptionally hard hit by the drought."
According to drought damage estimates by the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, drought losses in Texas alone had already topped $4.1 billion as of the beginning of August, with roughly $1.6 billion of those losses falling on cattlemen.
"Everyone in Texas is hoping and praying for something resembling normal with our September rains. If that doesn't happen, things will go from very bad to much worse," Hall said.
The $700 million, however, isn't new money to help farmers, Roger Haldenby of the Plains Cotton Growers (PCG) told the Associated Press. PCG serves 41 counties in the nation's lead cotton-producing state.
In fact, the money will basically be arriving a month early. The dollars are what cotton producers, grain and peanut farmers normally receive in counter-cyclical payments in October, he said.
In recent months, agriculture interests from around the nation have been trying to persuade Congress to help drought-stricken states.
The Senate originally passed a $4.1 billion spending plan to assist farmers and ranchers affected by drought losses, but the measure was opposed by House leaders and President Bush and ultimately died in committee in June.
County leaders are urged to write their Congressman now.
To assist in this effort, visit the Texas Farm Bureau home page at www.txfb.org and click on the "Legislative" icon in the far left menu bar. This will direct you to a new page where you can type in your zip code at the far right menu bar and let your voice be heard.
Biodiesel hotline now available
As truckers and other motorists increasingly demand homegrown biodiesel, a new toll-free number will help them find retail availability anywhere in the United States. The National Biodiesel Board recently announced the launch of 866-BIODIESEL. The Biodiesel Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Biodiesel Hotline staff has access to mapping software linked to a database that is populated and kept up to date with retail outlets carrying biodiesel. Information including blend percentage of biodiesel to petro-diesel is available from the database. Visit www.biodiesel.org for more.
U.S. ag exports forecast at record highs
U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal years 2006-07 are forecast at record highs, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced recently.
He said horticulture products, corn and soybeans are expected to account for most of the expansion. Exports are expected to reach a record $68 billion in fiscal 2006, eclipsing the old record of $62.5 billion set in fiscal year 2005. For fiscal year 2007, USDA forecasts U.S. agricultural exports will reach a record of $72 billion, $4 billion above this year.
"These export numbers clearly illustrate the importance of opening and maintaining export markets for U.S. agricultural products," Johanns said. "Growing sales boost farm income and create close to a million jobs, benefiting the entire American economy."
Foreign demand for corn remains strong even though the amount used for domestic ethanol production continues to grow. Reduced South American shipments and rising foreign demand led by China should increase U.S. soybean shipments. Beef exports are forecast to rise largely due to the resumption of sales to Japan. Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have had a huge impact on U.S. agricultural exports. In 2005, U.S. agricultural exports to both Canada and Mexico totaled $19.6 billion. They are forecast to reach $23.7 billion by 2007, accounting for one-third of all U.S. agricultural exports.
"I remember being in a cafe and having the owner say, `When do I get my subsidy?' I told him, `You are getting your subsidy. Those guys (farmers) are coming in here to spend money they wouldn't have if it weren't for farm subsidies.' "
Statement by U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) during a speech Aug. 29 to the Wichita Ag Council on the need to educate Americans on the economic importance of agriculture and farm programs.