The thoroughness of this report demonstrates just how serious we are about addressing this incident and providing assurance to our trading partners that our system is among the best in the world. I believe our actions fully address the facts that led to this incident and provide added protections on a broader scale to prevent similar problems in the future.
I am encouraged by the resumption of grain movement along the Mississippi River just one week after grain transportation was virtually halted by Hurricane Katrina, ... Clearly, there is much work to be done but I am confident that remaining obstacles will be overcome to resume all activity in a timely manner. We are assuring our international customers that we expect minimal disruptions.
Approximately 16 million acres subject to CRP contracts expire in 2007. Fulfilling President Bush's directive to allow eligible farmers and ranchers to re-enroll or extend their CRP contracts helps ensure that the quality of soil, water, air and wildlife benefits of CRP continue across the nation for years to come.
I toured the area this morning with (House Speaker) Dennis Hastert, ... Corn is about what you'd expect. You peel one husk, and there are maybe four or five kernels. You peel another, and there is no ear at all. You peel a third, and maybe two-thirds of the kernels are there. We'll have a better handle on what the yields are once harvest gets underway.
Also announced was the establishment of a new USDA council to create a market-driven credit program that will establish credit transfers for clean water, greenhouse gasses and wetlands. Johanns envisions people selling such credits as easily as corn or soybeans. ... It fits perfectly with the president's vision of a cooperative conservation approach.
USDA will re-enroll acres that have contracts expiring through 2010, including 16 million acres set to expire in 2007. Re-enrollment contracts will be offered for acres that provide the highest level of environmental benefit, ... The vast majority of contracts that are not re-enrolled will be offered extensions.
I'm pleased that USDA can offer assistance to farmers and ranchers who have sustained losses from Hurricane Katrina, ... This agriculture disaster designation will enable eligible producers to apply for low-interest emergency loans from USDA to help cover their losses. This announcement is a part of our commitment to help farmers and ranchers to rebuild their operations.