Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns visited the Farm Progress Show Wednesday and talked about everything ranging from South Korea beef trade resumption to energy.
Johanns expects South Korea beef trade to resume in a month, approximately the beginning of October. He forecasts Japan will end up importing $200 million worth of beef, down drastically from pre-BSE levels, but at least U.S. beef is being sold.
At the show he announced the award of $17.5 million in energy grants. USDA awarded $17,510,887 in Section 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program Grants to 375 recipients in 36 states. Many of the projects announced will increase energy efficiency or produce renewable energy.
He again highlighted his drought assistance proposal initially announced Tuesday featuring $780 million in aid. In private conversations with the secretary, he mentioned that drought aid is always hot in the fall, especially in an election year. He continues to stand-by his stance that the farm bill was written to eliminate emergency drought packages.
In addition, Johanns also did a live broadcast with WGN's Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson and fielded questions from farmers including his take on future farm policy. His message to growers was that USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative office is not giving up on WTO talks. However, an extension of the current farm bill doesn't benefit farmers.
In private conversations with National Corn Growers Association leaders, he thanked them for their work the group is doing on revenue-based insurance, telling NCGA President-elect Ken McCauley he appreciates NCGA thinking outside of the box on future farm policy. Johanns added an extension is always easier said than done. He believes good farm policy also includes good energy policy, especially as more corn ends up as ethanol.