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Talking Beans.
January 09, 2004

"Who's Laughing Now?" campaign update
The Northarvest Bean Growers Association will be launching the "Who's Laughing Now?" advertising campaign in Boston Jan. 6. Boston is a significant market for dry beans and is a symbolic one. It is also known as Bean Town. The kickoff on Jan. 6 Ð which is national Bean Day Ð will include a press conference, radio advertising, billboard, truck sides and transtop boards. All will be using a little humor about beans to power the message that beans are a healthy, nutritional, good-tasting food.

Mexico floats program idea
Mexico government officials are reportedly talking about establishing a support program for small dry bean producers in the states of Durango and Zacatecas. The program would pay growers with less than 10 hectares 18 cents per pound for their dry beans. The program would cover approximately 60,000 metric tons of beans from the 2003 spring and summer crops. That would be about 10% of the production from the states of Durango and Zacatecas and 5% of the total Mexico crop.

Small Mexican farmers say they have suffered unfairly under the North American Free Trade Agreement. They don' feed dry beans to livestock and must sell them commercially. However, they have few storage options to use when prices are low, and their transportation costs are high. Some Mexico officials have suggested extending trade protections for dry beans beyond 2008, the year in which the current tariff rate quota will be eliminated under NAFTA.

New pinto line
USDA Agriculture Research Service and the University of Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Stations recently released a new pinto line, TARS-PT03-1. It offers a new source of resistance to soil-borne fungi that cause root rot, including Fusarium solani and combinations of F. solani, Rhizoctonia solani and Pythium species. It also offers moderate resistance to common bacterial blight. The line is available to plant breeders.

South Africa outlook
South African farmers may plant more dry beans. A summer plantings intention survey showed acreage of dry beans may rise from 58,000 hectares to 63,000 hectares. This means that with average yields, production would rise from approximately 70 metric tons to 76 metric tons.

Navy beans approved for Iraqi food aid
USDA recently approved navy beans for food aid to Iraq. The decision is significant since great northerns dominated the Iraqi market for many years. In October, USDA bought 15,000 metric tons of food aid - which many thought were destined for Iraq. But in December USDA shipped them to Ethiopia. Does this mean USDA may buy many more navy and great northern beans to send to Iraq in the coming months? Many think so. In any case, USDA food aid purchases are running ahead of last year. Food aid purchases between September and December totaled 46,650 metric compared to 17,350 metric ton during the same period last year. Also, for the first time in many years, USDA has purchased more dry beans than peas and lentils for food aid.

Mexico harvest report
The National Dry Bean Council has published its Mexico harvest report.

Highlights include the following observations:
"It was the opinion of our team that Mexico will have a higher than average yielding bean crop this year (in the state of Zacatecas), with quality being somewhat suspect in the pinto and Flora de Mayo varieties.

"Chihuahua growers have had a difficult growing season.  Dry weather in July delayed and prevented plantings.  September rains caused late growth and resulted in a late set of pods.  October rains have damaged the quality.  Yields should be just below normal if the last 40% of the crop matures frost free.  If not, yields will be well below normal.  Harvested hectares will be half of 2002 crop and overall quality will be poor.

"SAGARPA tells us that the trend, for pinto acres in Chihuahua, is declining.  Irrigated acres are moving to higher value crop such as cotton, alfalfa, corn, nuts, apples, fruit, and vegetable crops.  This trend is also true for the dry land production.  Oat plantings are replacing pinto acres.

"As the team visited SAGARPA offices in Durango and Zacatecas, both government officials commented the base price program that has been established by the Mexican government.  The program consists in paying 5.00 pesos per kilo for a range field quality No. 1 and 5.75 pesos per kilo for a range field quality No. 2. The beans will have to comply with the standards in order to receive the price.  The product will be delivered to private warehouses and the cost of the product will be paid in full to the producer."

You can find the complete report on the Northarvest Web site, Click on grower information, market development.


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
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