September 15, 2003
News in Brief
$15.25 Million for Risk Management Initiatives
In separate Federal Registers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) recently published notification on requests for proposals for $15.25 million in partnership opportunities to conduct targeted research, education and outreach projects. Applicants have 45 days from the dates of publication to apply.
RMA reported that the agreements are part of an overall effort outlined by Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman to identify and develop new risk-management tools and strategies, provide educational opportunities to underserved producers and ensure the financial soundness of the crop insurance delivery system.
The partnership opportunities are divided into four categories: (1) Research and Development - $4 million; (2) Community Outreach ? $3.5 million; (3) Commodity Partnerships for Risk Management Education ? $3.5 million; and (4) Crop Insurance Education in Targeted States - $4.25 million.
Additional information about these opportunities as well as the Federal Registers can be accessed at: http://www2.rma.usda.gov/news/pr/2003/06/618partnerships.html
Final Rule Regarding Meat Grading Hourly Fee Increase Published
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on July 3, 2003, posted the final rule in the Federal Register for hourly fees charged for voluntary federal meat grading and certification services performed by the Meat Grading and Certification (MGC) Branch.
This action will adjust the hourly fees to reflect the increased cost of providing service and to ensure that the federal meat grading and certification program operates on a financially self-supporting basis.
The increase will raise the hourly fees charged to users of the MGC services from $45 to $55 for commitment applicants (a user of services who agrees to pay for five continuous 8-hour days) and from $52 to $64 for non-commitment applicants (a user who does not commit to a certain number of service hours). The agency provides voluntary federal meat grading and certification services to 450 businesses, and it is estimated that monthly revenues will increase by $401,000 because of this fee structure adjustment.
Australian Flocks Lowest in More Than 50 Years
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in late July released final data confirming what many had suspected for months: that the national Australian sheep flock ? with 106.2 million head -- as it its lowest level since 1948.
While preliminary estimates for 2003 are not expected until November, the drought is likely to have lowered the flock by at least another 6 million in the year to June 2003, to 100 million. The main contributor to the decline is severe drought, which has prompted producers to shift resources away from wool to other enterprises.