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Corn supplies down 32 percent, soybeans down 34 percent in Minn. as of Sept. 1

WILLMAR -- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest quarterly Grain Stocks report, Minnesota's supply of old-crop corn totaled 102 million bushels on Sept. 1, down 32 percent from a year ago. This would be Minnesota's lowest September corn supply since 1997.

Of the state's total corn supply, on-farm supplies accounted for 33 million bushels, down 42 percent from the previous year. Off-farm supplies, at 68.6 million bushels, were down 25 percent from a year ago.

Old-crop soybean supplies in Minnesota totaled 15.7 million bushels on Sept. 1, down 38 percent from one year ago. On-farm soybean supplies of 4.4 million bushels were down 17 percent from one year ago.

Nationally, old-crop corn supplies totaled 988 million bushels on Sept. 1, down 12 percent from a year ago. Soybean supplies totaled 169 million bushels, down 21 percent from last year.

Without passage of a new farm bill, many existing USDA programs have expired

Many of the programs and policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were authorized by the 2008 farm bill through Sept. 30.

That authorization included a number of programs that impacted millions of Americans. Examples include programs related to farm commodity and price supports, conservation, research, nutrition, food safety and agricultural trade.

Without action by Congress, USDA does not have the authority to deliver and fund many of its programs. Therefore, as of Oct. 1, many of USDA's programs have already expired, with additional programs expected to expire in the coming months.

Until a new farm bill is signed into law, local Farm Service Agency offices have been informed that they may continue to accept, process, and disburse loan proceeds for the Marketing Assistance Loan (9-month commodity loan) program and the Farm Storage Facility Loan program.

Offices have also been informed that all terms and conditions, including future funding, will remain in effect for any previously approved Conservation Reserve Program contracts. However, offices are not authorized to approve any new contract offers.

CRP participants receive $1.7 billion in annual land rental payments

During the month of October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency will issue $1.7 billion in annual rental payments for 29.5 million acres of farmland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

Included in the 29.5 million acres are 4 million acres of high-priority conservation practices that were enrolled under the continuous sign-up provisions. Filter strips, riparian buffers, unique wildlife habitat practices and wetland restorations are examples of high-priority conservation practices that can be automatically enrolled into the program without having to wait for an announced general sign-up period.

Farm Service Agency offices in Minnesota will issue nearly $109 million in annual rental payments for the 62,277 CRP contracts that are in effect on 32,755 Minnesota farms.

In terms of total acres enrolled, Minnesota ranks seventh in the nation with 1,557,800 acres. Texas leads all states with 3,358,288 acres. Other leading states include: Kansas - 2,525,004; Montana - 2,493,357; North Dakota - 2,388,883; Colorado - 2,175,143; and Iowa - 1,645,882 acres.

Locally, the Conservation Reserve Program would have to be considered the premier voluntary conservation program. Within an eight-county local area, there are 204,676 acres currently enrolled.

Kandiyohi County has the most acres enrolled locally with 37,967 acres. The number of acres enrolled in other local counties include: Pope - 35,947; Swift - 32,996; Stearns - 27,805; Yellow Medicine - 22,130; Meeker - 17,695; Chippewa - 15,564; and Renville - 14,572 acres.

Depending on the type of practice enrolled, Conservation Reserve Program participants enter into contracts with USDA for a period of 10 to 15 years.

All contracts have a Sept. 30 expiration date, with year of expiration depending on the year that the contract was approved, and the contract length selected by the participant. Therefore, a number of contracts are now in their final year and will be expiring on Sept. 30, 2013.

Nationally, there are 3.3 million acres that are scheduled to expire next fall, of which Minnesota has 129,340 acres.

In an eight-county local area, 12,883 acres will be expiring on Sept. 30, 2013. The number of acres expiring by county include: Kandiyohi - 1,211; Pope - 2,164; Swift - 2,311; Stearns - 3,091; Yellow Medicine - 1,230; Meeker - 759; Chippewa - 1,160; and Renville - 957 acres.

Minn. receives $600,000 in federal grants to enhance food safety

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently learned that it would receive $600,000 in grants from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enhance the state's food safety capabilities.

The three-year grants will help the Agriculture Department more quickly trace contaminated foods to grocery stores and other distribution points, which will also help bolster efforts to ensure that recalled products are quickly and fully withdrawn from the marketplace.

The grants should further improve Minnesota's food safety model, which is already regarded as a national leader. The grants will also enable Minnesota to share its project innovations with food safety officials across the country.

In its grant application, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture proposed to explore the use of web-based technologies to improve the flow of information between the food industry and regulatory agencies. This approach is expected to accelerate food investigations and recalls, meaning that fewer people will be at risk from contaminated food products.

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