Mid-morning with Michael Scuse

April 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

Again, I’ll put these notes into paragraphs later, but for now… here are the ones from the mid-morning session:

Michael Scuse, Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA

“The farm service agency deals with all of the programs that are contained in the farm bill, which go out ot help our producers directly.   From the disaster programs as well as your traditional programs, and we have 2241 county offices throughout the united states.   I have 20,300 staff around the world.  The farm service agency – one arm of FSA that people arent’ that familiar with is our lending side.”  Last year we loaned out 5.2 billion to 36000? farms.  Also partnership with banks through our guaranteed lending programs.  Farm Credit is one of our largest partners in the guaranteed lending program.  14 of top 20 banks that participate are farm credit banks.

We’re converting to corn into ethanol – using about 4 billion bushels of corn now for ethanol production.

We do need to have more energy independence than we currently have.  Work being done with algea, sweet potatoes, alternative crops, etc., to make ethanol.

Risk management agency – crop insurance program – last year we insured 78 billion worth of crops on 258,000,000 acres.  That number will go up considerably over the next year b/c of the dollar amount our commodities are currently work.  Anticipating a huge increase in insurable crops for this current year.  Risk management agency administrates their crop insurance program, but much is done through private companies throughout the US.  Just concluded the negotiation of the standard reassurance agreement, which is the agreement those companies work under.  We were able to save $6 billion as we go through the next 10 years.  $4 billion of that was put into deficit reduction.   $2 billion went back into additional programs for the risk management agency.  Some of that money also went into FSA to offset program costs.

Looking at expanding the risk management agency portfolio – believe one of the most important management tools and the best tool we have right now to mitigate risk.  If you look at the next farm bill going forward, we believe crop insurance will play an even bigger role because we don’t have the type of money going into the farm bill as we have in the past.  We need to be able to insure more crops, so we have a board constantly looking to provide new products out there to help farmers & ranchers.  Ex:  sweet potato industry wanted a pilot program in Louisiana, and felt this program would help them get the acreage for the program.  Ex:  sesame seed growers came and wanted a program to insure the sesame seed growers.  If we did this program, sesame seed acreage would go from under  50,000 to over 100,000 acres.

 

“The foreign ag service is very interesting to me, because I am a farmer.  We need to make sure we have markets for everything we grow.”

Double exports by 2014, major undertaking.

As we build trade, if you break down those barriers, all ag sectors in all countries will benefit.  For example, NAFTA, some people are opposed to the NAFTA treaty.  When we signed that treaty, we were doing 10 billion worth of trade.  Today we’re doing 31 billion.  All three countries have expanded their trade.

We’re projecting $135.5 billion in ag trade this year.  That’s what we’re going to export.  That’s $20 billion more than the last record in 2008.  So we’re not just going to break that record; we’re going to shatter that record.  It’s not just based on commodity prices.  It’s also based on volume.

We have 75 offices around the world that deal with trade in 156 countries.  These offices give us very important information.  Weather? What are the cropping conditions?  What are the marketing conditions?  If we have a product in ports at those countries that for some reason have a hold on them and can’t get in, these offices work with those officials to get those products in the country.  When there are barriers put up for our agricultural products, they make us aware of those barriers and the issues around those barriers, so hopefully we can work with those governments to overcome those barriers.

By 2050, we’re going to need to increase food production throughout the world by 70 percent.  Today, there will be almost 1 billion people who go to bed hungry.  Another 1 billion people will go to bed tonight without the proper nourishment.  One-third of the population of the world has a problem pertaining to food.

The average age for American farmers is 57, and that age keeps creeping up.  We need to do something to bring that number down.  We loaned out over 2 billion dollars last year to young producers.  At the risk management agency, we just came out with a good performance discounts.  We also found a way to get that money to young producers and ranchers.  There’s more than can be done.  We need to work with Congress to find a way to transfer from one generation to the next generation.  How do you get that equity from a generation that wants to retire to a generation that’s just starting?

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Entry filed under: Agriculture's Promise 2011.

Morning Session with Chuck Conner – Ag’s Promise Ag Communication Award Winners Presentation

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