July 1, 2008

Page From the Past

By Anonymous

From the archives of Rural Cooperatives 50 Years Ago...

From the May & June 1958 issue of News for F armer Cooperatives

Poultry industry sees exempt trucking

Lower rates and better service - these are the principal benefits arising from the interstate trucking of fresh- and frozen-processed poultry under the agricultural exemption clause. This statement is based on information revealed in a nationwide study of poultry processors and motor carriers conducted jointly by the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service and the Farmers Cooperative Service.

The exemption refers to the 1935 Motor Carrier Act, as amended, which contains a clause stating that agricultural commodities are exempt from economic regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

In April 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a decision by the District Court of the Southern District of Texas that both fresh and frozen dressed poultry came under the agricultural exemption clause.

Farmer cooperatives have an interest in this exemption and its effect on their operations. These co-ops market 6 percent of the entire U.S. volume of broilers and other poultry, excluding turkeys. In 1956, this amounted to 213 million pounds (ready-to-cook weight). Farmer co-ops also marketed 16 percent of the total U.S. production of turkeys in 1956.

30 Years Ago...

From the May & June 1978 issues of Farmer Cooperatives

Co-op farm exports help pay for petroleum imports

Seventy-three cooperatives directly exported agricultural commodities valued at more than $2 billion in 1976. That represented 9.2 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports.

USDA Cooperative Services conducted a survey of export activity in part to respond to a flood of requests for factual information about the nature and extent of participation by co-ops in international trade. The data will also aid other marketing research work aimed at increasing cooperative export activity.

Interest in cooperative exports is the greatest it has ever been. One reason is widespread understanding of the critical need for a high level of exports to pay, at least in part, for increasingly costly imports of petroleum. Secretary Bergland has brought attention to the desirability of greater cooperative participation in the huge international grain trade.

The top four commodities exported, based on value at U.S. ports, were the same for co-ops as for all U.S. agricultural exports: feed grains (87 percent of which was corn), wheat, soybeans and cotton. The four crops accounted for 65 percent of total U.S. exports and 68 percent of cooperative exports.

Data from the 73 direct-exporting co-ops document the foothold co- ops have in international trade, demonstrating the potential for a greater export role in the future.

10 Years Ago...

From the May/June 1998 issue of Rural Cooperatives

Freshwater Farms: Generating more jobs from Mississippi catfish

Delta Pride Catfish may be the world's biggest catfish processor, but it's certainly not the only one. Catfish production is a major industry in Mississippi, and one Delta county in particular, Humphreys County, is known as the catfish capital of the world.

"The biggest cash crop in Humphreys County is catfish production," says Freshwater Farms president Larry E. Shurden. "We've got more than 30,000 acres of catfish ponds."

Headquartered in the heart of Humphreys County, Freshwater Farms Inc. is a small, but growing, catfish marketing and processing company. "This year, we'll do $22 million in sales," says Shurden. "In two years, we expect to do $30 million."

With the help of a $2.5 million USDA Rural Development Business and Industry loan guarantee, Freshwater Farms opened a state-of-the- art catfish processing plant in 1997 near Belzoni. The company borrowed another $3 million from state, federal and local sources to build the 50,000-square-foot plant.

Freshwater Farms now employs 210 local workers and processes some 25 catfish products, including whole fish, fillets, nuggets, strips and steaks. Some 70 percent of the company's catfish is individually quick-frozen, and the rest is fresh ice-packed. But the company has plans for moving into the value-added arena.

The survival of Freshwater Farms is critical to Humphreys County. About half of the County's population of 11,000 lives within a few miles of Belzoni, where many work for the catfish sector.

Copyright Superintendent of Documents May/Jun 2008

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