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USDA opens new ag trade office in China

WILLMAR -- Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the opening of a new agricultural trade office in Shenyang, the capital of northwest China's Liaoning province. The new office will become the fifth USDA agricultural trade office located on mainland China.

China is the world's second largest economy behind the United States. China is also the second largest market for U.S. agricultural exports, importing about $13 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products during the 2009 fiscal year.

In addition to continued demand for traditional products such as soybeans and cotton, there has also been a strong demand for high-value and high-quality products such as meat, nuts, dairy products, beer and wine.

The importance of agricultural exports to our nation's economy has never been more evident than during our most recent economic downturn. Agriculture is the only major sector of the American economy with a trade surplus, which is expected to reach $30.5 billion this year.

According to USDA, every billion dollars in agricultural exports supports more than 8,000 jobs and generates an additional $1.4 billion in economic activity.

Meanwhile, the outlook for agricultural exports looks very encouraging, as USDA recently announced that it was raising the forecast for agricultural exports during the 2010 fiscal year to $107.5 billion, the second highest year on record and $11 billion higher than the previous year.

In the interest of promoting U.S. agricultural exports, USDA will now have 102 agricultural trade offices staffed in 82 countries around the world.

The primary mission of those offices is to assist in marketing and promoting of U.S. agricultural, fish and forestry products, and to assist in trade development in their respective regions. They do so by providing a starting point for U.S. companies, cooperatives, farmers and processors interested in exporting their products.

Final DCP/ACRE direct payments issued for 2010

During the month of October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency will issue approximately $3.8 billion in final direct payments to more than 1.1 million producers enrolled in either the 2010 Direct and Counter-cyclical Program or the Average Crop Revenue Election Program.

At the time of sign-up, program participants could request to receive up to 22 percent of the direct payment in advance. Since market prices have no effect on the direct payment rates, these payments are automatically considered earned or guaranteed by the 2008 farm bill. For that reason, many producers did request the advance direct payment.

Producers who requested and received the advance direct payment will receive a final payment rate equal to 78 percent of the total direct payment rate, or $0.2184 per bushel for corn; $0.3432 for soybeans; $0.4056 for wheat; $0.1872 for barley; and $0.01872 for oats.

Any participant that did not receive an advance direct payment will receive the entire direct payment rate of $0.28 per bushel for corn; $0.44 for soybeans; $0.52 for wheat; $0.24 for barley; and $0.024 for oats.

Producers and landowners who elected to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election Program will see, as required, a 20 percent reduction in the direct payment rates.

Organic cost-share deadline is Oct. 30

Minnesota farmers and processors seeking certified organic status have until Oct. 30 to apply for the 2009-2010 Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

The program reimburses up to 75 percent of an organic operation's certification costs, with a maximum payment of $750. Qualifying expenses include those incurred between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010.

Applicants much submit a one-page application form, documentation of organic certification and copies of invoices for all certification-related expenses.

Application packets were mailed to more than 800 organic certified operations in August. Those who did not receive the materials may obtain the application form at:, or by calling 651-201-6012.

Funding for the organic cost-share program is made available through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Turkey production down 2 percent

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the number of turkeys raised in the U.S. in 2010 will total 242 million, down 2 percent from 247 million in 2009.

Minnesota continues to be the nation's top turkey producing state, raising 47 million turkeys in 2010. The next closest state is North Carolina with 31 million turkeys.

Other major turkey producing states include: Arkansas - 28 million; Missouri - 17.5 million; Indiana - 16 million; and Virginia - 15.5 million.

Together, these six states are expected to account for 64 percent of turkeys produced in the U.S. in 2010.

Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.