During June and July, Washington was consumed by the theatrical negotiations among our government leaders in their efforts to avert defaulting on the nation’s debts on August 2. The size and timing of the spending cuts and a pitched battle over tax increases as part of the package have created major political challenges in achieving a solution. Most members of Congress, however, have a clear determination that a solution must be achieved, because the ramifications of inaction will negatively impact our nation and every citizen in a significant way.
Roundup Ready Sugarbeets
On Thursday, March 17, the Center for Food Safety’s newest lawsuit was transferred from the U.S. District Court for Northern California to the U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
On March 28, the U.S. Department of Justice moved to consolidate the transferred case with the Grant vs. Vilsack case in which we are plaintiffs. On the same day, the Center for Food Safety withdrew their request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the planting of the 2011 crop, while reserving the right to re-file it at any time.
As always, check with your local processor for the latest information on litigation activity.
Price Election Modification
On February 28, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced a $5.50 increase in the price election from its initial December announcement of $41.50 ($43.75 in California), to $47.00 per ton for all growing areas. Beet growers deeply appreciate RMA’s review and consideration of more-recent marketing data from our cooperatives that clearly justified an increase.
A very special thanks to John Doxie, president of United Sugars Corporation, for joining ASGA President Mauch and Vice President Erickson to personally meet with RMA Administrator William Murphy and his associate administrator, Barbara Leach, along with key members of the Kansas City RMA staff, to the update them on the unique dynamics in the current sugar market.
— Tucson, Arizona—
The hearts and minds of our nation and the world have been focused on Tucson since that fateful and tragic morning of January 8. As grower-leaders from our beet growing regions arrive in Tucson for our annual meeting (February 6-8), our thoughts and prayers continue for the fallen victims of this senseless tragedy.
Our board of directors was looking forward to a breakfast meeting with Congresswoman Giffords to express our thanks for her support of a strong domestic sugar industry in the last farm bill, and to give her the opportunity to meet those growers who help supply the sugar needs of her constituents and our nation. We salute her service to our country and the burdens of sacrifice that she and her family must now endure.
— Roundup Ready Beets --
We hope that USDA will have announced by the end of January what action they will take regarding the planting of Roundup Ready® sugarbeets for 2011. Since the public commenting period ended on December 6, 2010, APHIS staff at USDA has worked very hard and thoughtfully to address issues that have been raised and to finalize the draft Environmental Assessment for planting Roundup Ready beets this spring.
On December 21, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals extended its stay (pending appeal) of Judge Jeffrey White’s November 30 injunction requiring destruction of sugarbeet stecklings (seedlings) currently being grown under permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The stecklings are intended for research and breeding purposes, as well as for basic seed and hybrid seed production for 2012 and future years.
The Appeals Court consolidated the permit litigation with the appeal of Judge White’s August 13, 2010, decision vacating the deregulation of biotech sugarbeets, and expedited the briefing and hearing schedule so that the appeals can be heard on February 15, 2011. To allow for consideration of the appeals, the stay of Judge White’s injunction has been extended to February 28 or such other time as the Ninth Circuit orders.
The beet sugar industry’s growers, processors, technology providers and seed producers are pleased that the Court of Appeals will now have sufficient opportunity to consider relevant legal precedents and unrebutted evidence that the planting of these permitted steckling fields is authorized by law and would cause no harm. We are hopeful that this expedited appellate process will bring more certainty to our industry early in 2011.
— Crop Insurance --
On January 11, a team of sugarbeet grower representatives met with Risk Management Administration (RMA) officials to discuss the following four key issues.
1) The initial price election for the 2011 crop was established in late November at $41.50 per ton ($43 in California). We clearly believe that this price is too low and asked that the estimate be revised significantly upward (upper $40s range). A final decision by RMA will be made by mid-February.
2) The replant coverage will be 1.5 times the price election for 2011. While this is an improvement of a half ton over the 2010 crop, it remains inadequate to cover growers’ actual replant costs. The ASGA, in conjunction with your state or local association, will be working to get much better third-party cost numbers to clearly justify higher replant compensation.
3) RMA also needs to work on the quality adjustment factor in the insurance policy. The quality deductions in the FCIC insurance policy are often much smaller than those in grower-cooperative contracts, resulting in under-coverage.
4) Finally, field piles, or “clamps,” have been used to increase harvest efficiencies and reduce costs — and could ultimately be very helpful in reducing losses for the grower, the cooperative, insurance agents and the government. Statistical information is being compiled on existing clamps for RMA to digest in the months ahead. Under current provision of the policy, sugarbeets are considered “harvested” once they are topped and lifted.
— Damaged Cane Crop --
The sub-freezing temperatures in Florida in mid-December damaged sugarcane that was being harvested. Damage assessment usually takes some time to evaluate, and it will likely be late January before accurate assessments can be made.
In the January WASDE report, USDA estimated and made an initial reduction of 100,000 tons of raw sugar for the 2010/11 crop. With production and inventories of raw sugar cane stockpiled early in the year, there is time to determine whether more sugar is needed once all the factors are adequately assessed.
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Roundup Ready Litigation ~ Sugar Market ~ 2012 Farm Bill Hearings ~ 2010 Elections ~ 2010 ASGA Cleavinger Intern ~ Mark Your Calendars
On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the Roundup Ready® alfalfa case. As you will recall, the beet sugar industry filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to present our industry’s views on key legal issues in the case.
Roundup Ready Litigation ~ 2010 Acreage Intentions ~ Supply & Demand ~ Crop Insurance ~ Dietary Issues
Roundup Ready Litigation
Since we are actively involved in ongoing litigation, very little can be written or discussed publicly about the case. A strong reminder is extended to all growers that no interviews should be conducted until this case is completed.
2012 Farm Bill
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is sending signals to American agriculture that all segments of farm and food policy need to roll up our sleeves and start work on the 2012 farm bill.
This Issue's Topics Include: Roundup Ready Lawsuit ~ Crop Insurance ~ 2010 Elections
Roundup Ready Lawsuit
On January 19, the plaintiffs in the Roundup Ready® lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court (9th Circuit)
for a preliminary injunction to stop the “further planting, cultivation, processing, or other use of Roundup
Ready sugar beets or sugar beet seeds, including the flowering of any sugar beet seed crop, until the environmental impact statement (‘EIS’) has been completed and finally approved as required by the
National Environmental Policy Act (‘NEPA’)”. They have requested a March 5 date for Judge Jeffrey
White to hear their argument.