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Anti-Hunger Group Criticizes Grain Reserve Proposal

August 26, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An anti-hunger group, Bread for the World, says the Senate should take another look at an administration-backed plan to abolish two grain reserve programs operated by the U.S. government.

Before beginning its August vacation, the Senate Agriculture Committee tentatively adopted the framework of a new farm bill, including a provision to repeal the current authority for the ″farmer-owned reserve″ for wheat and feed grains, and a food security reserve of wheat to help meet hunger emergencies abroad.

In their place, the committee plan calls for a single food assistance reserve of up to 500 million bushels of wheat and feed grains for humanitarian purposes.

Bread for the World, which describes itself as ″a Christian citizens’ movement″ and a Washington-based lobbying group on hunger issues, says the committee plan would mean ″bad policy and hardships for farmers, consumers and recipients of food aid around the world.″

The farmer-owned reserve was set up years ago so that farmers could store grain, mostly wheat and corn, under price support loan and keep it from the market until cash prices rose enough to trigger release of the grain. In that way, surplus grain could be isolated from the market, thus helping boost prices.

According to the Agriculture Department’s most recent accounting of Commodity Credit Corp. activity, about 1.25 billion bushels of grain - 641 million bushels of wheat and 613 million bushels of feed grains - were locked up in the reserve as of June 30.

In addition, about 150 million bushels of CCC-owned wheat make up the food security wheat reserve, which can be used in emergency situations to supplement regular aid such as Food for Peace.

Bread for the World says the 500 million bushels allowed in the Senate plan lack many of the safeguards included in the two existing reserves.

″The maximum level of the proposed reserve is less than 5 percent of the total U.S. annual usage of these grains and is grossly inadequate to protect against short grain supplies in the future,″ said John Pender, a Bread for the World analyst.

″In 1983, for example, a drought reduced U.S. corn yields by 30 percent, and well over one billion bushels of reserves were used to maintain corn supplies.″

However, supporters of the plan argue that the huge stocks of grain in the existing reserves - a total of more than 1.4 billion bushels - is a sword over the market system. With a smaller reserve, they say, there would be more ″free″ grain and less of a threat from government stockpiles.

Pender said that the scaled-back reserve would hurt farmers in the short term by adding to the glut of grain already on the market, and in the long run by contributing to instability in the marketplace.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Norfleet L. Sugg of Pinetops, N.C., is the new chairman of the Agriculture Council of America, a Washington-based policy analysis group representing farmers and related industries.

Sugg, who is executive secretary of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association, succeeds Jack Felgenhauer, a Spokane, Wash., wheat farmer. The changeover was announced at a recent meeting of the group’s board of directors.

Newly elected to three-year terms on the board were James Gillen, Merck & Co., Rahway, N.J.; Donald Jacoby, J I Case International, Racine, Wis.; Keith Nelson, a member of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Pawnee Rock, Kan.; and Myron Sorenson, a member of the Idaho Wheat Commission, Malad, Idaho.

Directors who were re-elected to three-year terms included: Sydney Beck, a peanut producer and national president of Women Involved in Farm Economics, Pansey, Ala.; and Warrent Lebeck, a consultant to the First National Bank of Chicago, and former president of the Chicago Board of Trade.

R.W. (Bud) Porter, Deere and Co., Moline, Ill., was elected to fill the unexpired term of Fred W. Thorne of Deere.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new procedure called ELISA is being proposed as an official test for pseudorabies in hogs, says the Agriculture Department.

The disease, which does not affect humans, is not related to rabies but includes similar symptoms in infected animals. It can cause severe losses among swine herds.

Bert W. Hawkins, administrator of the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the new test will ″give us another tool for helping to determine the pseudorabies status of swine.″

Official tests are used for determining whether certain animals can be moved across state lines.

The test’s name, ELISA, stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. Hawkins said it is at least as sensitive as three other official tests for the disease and is quicker and more convenient to administer, under certain circumstances.

Public comments on the proposal can be sent by Sept. 20 to: Thomas O. Gessel, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Room 728 Federal Building, 6505 Belcrest Rd., Hyattsville, Md. 20782.

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