This past week the United States and Brazil reached an agreement regarding the ongoing World Trade Organization dispute related to cotton. Brazil has agreed to forego $830 million of WTO approved retaliation for U.S. cotton subsidies in return for cash, a modification of our export loan program, and perhaps, the right to send more meat to the U.S.

The U.S. government is agreeing to recognize the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina as being free of foot and mouth disease and to study whether fresh beef can be imported from Brazil, according to Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain of the University of Missouri.

I thought it might be good to share information regarding what we already import from Brazil. According to Dr. David Andersen, Extension Livestock and Food Products Marketing Specialist, there are 34 countries eligible to export beef and poultry products to the U.S.

Dr. Anderson points out that a country is eligible to export to the U.S. if USDA Veterinary Services and APHIS personnel evaluate the countries' disease risk and, finding it sufficiently low, allow trade to occur following completion of the federal rule-making process (APHIS).

Brazil is eligible to export processed beef, pork, lamb/mutton, and goat to the U.S. Last year Brazil exported about 199 million pounds (carcass weight) of beef to the U.S. out of total beef exports of an estimated 3.4 billion pounds, according to Dr. Anderson. The U.S. accounted for about 5.8 percent of total Brazilian beef exports.

Exports from Brazil were equivalent to about 17 percent of its 19.7 billion pounds of production in 2009.

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (our largest suppliers, in order) accounted for 81 percent of U.S. beef imports in 2009. Brazil was the U.S.*s fourth largest supplier of beef, followed by Nicaragua.

Brazil's share of total U.S. beef imports was 7.6 percent in 2009.

Over the last 20 years, Brazil*s share of U.S. beef imports has ranged from 0.3 percent in 1991 to 9.2 percent in 2007, according to Anderson.

According to Anderson, it is going to be a while before any significant change occurs on the level of beef imports from Brazil.

The amount of beef coming from Brazil to the U.S. has been relatively small and all of that is processed. Exports from Brazil (and any other country) will depend on relative prices and exchange rates, among other factors, between all potential markets. There is a lot of rule-making and evaluation still to come before any changes occur regarding exports of fresh beef from Brazil to the U.S, said Anderson. Bottom line, it is too soon to tell how much this settlement will add to U.S. meat imports.

Weeds rob valuable moisture

Along with good soil moisture this spring, has come the abundance of weeds, which can certainly reduce forage production in our pastures as they rob valuable soil moisture and nutrients from our desirable forages. With that in mind, controlling those weeds becomes the issue. A recent study done by Dr. Greg Clary (AgriLife Extension economist) and Dr. Larry Redmon (AgriLife Extension agronomist), found that producers can save about $3.70 an acre with the proper use of a herbicide.

The study was made using a 40-horsepower tractor with either a 6-foot rotary mower or a 30-foot boom sprayer applying GrazonNext at one quart per acre.

The bottom line, the proper use of a herbicide can be more economical than mowing or shredding.

There are many general broadleaf weed control options beside GrazonNext including Grazon P+D, Cimarrons (Plus, Max, Extra), RangeStar, Chaparral, PastureGard, Weedmaster, Gunslinger, Hi-Dep, Weedone LV4, Esteron 99, ForeFront, Milestone, Surmont, Gunslinger, just to name a few.

As always, when using herbicides, producers should follow label directions for application rate, timing of application, grazing restrictions, and cleanup and disposal.

Wet weather promotes fungi in wheat

The week of cloudy, wet weather has promoted conditions in our wheat fields that is ideal for the growth of Black Head Molds or Sooty Head Molds. Last week, Dr. Ron Duncan, Small Grains Specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service and I were examining wheat fields around the county and we found this fungi, giving heads a dirty or sooty appearance, called Sooty Head Mold.

These fungi are considered to be a saprophytic or possibly weak or opportunistic parasites, but they can accelerate senescence and many contribute to kernel smudge.

Control measures are rarely justified. During harvest, clouds of dark spores are common in fields in which this fungi is present, so it could be a dirty harvest.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5217.