National Headlines

Labor, Infrastructure and Supply Chains

OMAHA (DTN) — More than 50 agriculture groups wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to highlight disruptive factors facing the U.S. agricultural and food supply chain, ranging from labor and infrastructure needs to calling on USDA not to idle farm ground.

The Department of Transportation had requested information to prepare a report for President Joe Biden on ways to address the country’s current supply chain challenges.

The letter comes with increasing concerns about the U.S. supply chain and inflation. The American Farm Bureau Federation released some perspective on how COVID-19 has created “pandemic inflation” that is “reshaping the details of supply and demand, the selected shortages coming out of those changes, and those shortages having cascading impacts through the many supply chains that make up our productive economy.”

Farm Bureau’s analysis concluded, “It will take time and investment (and labor, a story for another day) to build out the capacity to fine tune our supply chains again.

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Health Monitoring Planned in Mead, NE

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — A group of university scientists and public health researchers are searching for funding to launch long-term human health and environmental monitoring studies in Mead, Nebraska, after an ethanol plant leaked pesticide-laced contaminants into the environment for several years.

The source of the pollution were corn seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides, which the ethanol plant, AltEn, accepted from most major seed companies until it was shut down this spring by the state. The plant did not dispose of the pesticide-contaminated distillers grains and wastewater properly, and pesticides have leached into neighboring streams and surface water, injuring wildlife and raising concerns of human health effects in the surrounding Saunders County. (See more here:…)

“We decided we needed to conduct a broad investigation into what kind of health effects are actually happening,” said Eleanor Rogan, a professor and chair at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) College of Public Health.

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Cattle Contracts Library

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (DTN) — Calling the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 “no silver bullet,” but “consensus-based,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., told a House Agricultural Committee the legislation is necessary for price discovery in today’s cattle industry.

The House Agricultural Committee on Thursday advanced a bill on a voice vote to create the new cattle contract library, to help producers understand terms of contracts, and to see the number of contracts committed to individual packers.

Johnson co-sponsored the bill, HR 5609, with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. Johnson made his case for the bill, which would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, noting that price discovery is critically important to any functioning market.

“You can’t have price discovery if you don’t have transparency,” said Johnson before the committee. “This [price discovery] used to be easy in the cattle market, when a majority of cattle went to the sale barn and everyone could see exactly what the bids were.

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Brazil Soy Planting Outpaces Last Year

Last year’s grain marketing year, which encompasses the soybean growing season in 2020-21 and the double-cropped (safrinha) corn growing season in 2021, was characterized by the influence of a La Nina pattern. We at DTN have documented this almost continuously throughout the past year.

South American producers, of course, lived through the immense challenges and those are undoubtedly on their minds as the current season started, when La Nina was forecast to return. Starting their soybean planting early, especially with regards to last year, is a strong motivating factor in the face of this so-called double-dip La Nina — a La Nina that follows another La Nina.

Soybean planting progress has already eclipsed 22% of expected acreage as of Oct. 14 according to AgRural in Brazil as a whole. That marks the second-fastest start to the season on record. Last year at this time, it was only at 8%. Mato Grosso, the county’s largest production state for soybeans, has almost reached the half-way point at 45% complete according to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (IMEA).

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Corn King Hula Aims To Go Higher

CHARLES CITY, Va. (DTN) — People ask this Charles City, Virginia, farmer the question the way they’d ask someone else how their day was going, a default icebreaker.

“Everyone comes up and asks, ‘You gonna break the record?’ ” said David Hula, the reigning king of corn.

He’s a mix of meticulous and curious as a farmer, attuned to every detail and willing to try nearly anything not just once but twice.

“If it makes good walking sense, I’ll try it again,” he said. “There might be a reason it didn’t work, something we did.”

That’s what Hula’s always examining: “Something we did.”

He raised 616.195-bushel-per-acre corn in the 2019 National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest, a record-breaking, bin-busting, earth-shattering, bar-raising mark. And, as he steered his John Deere S770 through a field of dryland corn not far from his southeastern Virginia headquarters in early September, he was still trying to figure out exactly what went so right with that crop.

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Pension Funds Sue Over Bayer-Monsanto

OMAHA (DTN) — A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that pension funds can move ahead with a class-action lawsuit against Bayer AG for allegedly making misstatements and failing to meet a standard of due diligence when Bayer acquired Monsanto and its liability risks over glyphosate.

The ruling out of the U.S. District Court for Northern California involves The Sheet Metal Workers National Pension Fund, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 710 Pension Fund and a pair of pension funds for the City of Grand Rapids Michigan. The pension funds maintain Bayer did not conduct proper due diligence in the $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, especially around Monsanto’s legal risks.

In August 2018, just two months after the Bayer-Monsanto merger was finalized, a San Francisco jury awarded a school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, $250 million in punitive damages, finding that Roundup had caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bayer and Monsanto at the time maintained the safety of glyphosate and argued that it did not cause Johnson’s cancer.

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Here’s How to Get Started in Farming

ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa (DTN) — When James Hepp was growing up in Rockwell City, Iowa, he discovered his strong interest in agriculture. He handled most of the field plot work for the Rockwell City-Lytton FFA chapter in high school and enjoyed working for local farmers.

Hepp dreamed about farming someday, but figured it wasn’t in the cards. His family operates an auto repair shop. His wife, Paige, grew up on a farm near Treynor, Iowa, but her brother-in-law farmed the family’s land.

“Farming looked cool, but my family didn’t have direct ties to agriculture,” said Hepp, 31. “I figured I could get some type of job in agribusiness, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to farm.”

All that changed in 2019. Keith Sexton, a local farmer Hepp had worked for part-time as a hired hand, was looking toward retirement. The two had established a good working relationship that evolved into a crop-share arrangement for 1,300 acres of corn, soybeans and cereal rye cover crop seed.

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Ag Pushes Back on Chlorpyrifos Ban

OMAHA (DTN) — More than 80 agricultural groups are asking EPA to delay any attempt to revoke the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos as agricultural groups criticized EPA’s move to ban the pesticide for use on food and feed crops.

Laying out a formal objection sent Tuesday to EPA, a coalition of “growers, retailers, co-ops, applicators, refiners, crop consultants, and other agricultural stakeholders” told EPA the agency should stay, or delay, then eventually rescind the rule that revokes the use of chlorpyrifos on food and feed crops. The agricultural groups stated they believe the agency’s decision to revoke all tolerance levels for chlorpyrifos “is inconsistent with federal statute, the agency’s own record on chlorpyrifos, and sound, science-based and risk-based regulatory practices.”

The force and the extent of the coalition’s letter is likely to be used to help make the case for litigation against the rule, especially if EPA does not move to halt the rule or rescind it.

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More Active Weather Pattern Next Week

A compact system is going to be moving through the Corn Belt through Oct. 21 and will produce scattered showers from South Dakota through Michigan which could be moderate in some cases, especially in South Dakota and Minnesota. Snow is also forecast from eastern Wyoming and into western South Dakota yet again this week.

Last week, 1 to 2 feet of snow fell in some of these areas. This week, amounts are likely to be only a couple of inches. But the impact to harvest does not look to be very wide-reaching.

Part of that is because harvest progress is so far ahead already in these areas. In the USDA’s latest report, corn harvest has reached 51% in South Dakota, 53% in Minnesota, 32% in Wisconsin, and 32% in Michigan. All four states are well ahead of the average pace. And in soybeans, progress is even more substantial. Harvest progress has reached 86% complete in South Dakota, 91% complete in Minnesota, 59% in Wisconsin, and 39% in Michigan.

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Farmers Embrace Bioinsecticides

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Frank Appleberry has a list of things to apply each spring to his crop fields in Tillar, Arkansas: preplant fertilizer, preemergence herbicides and oh, don’t forget the liquid blend of pulverized caterpillars, teeming with live viruses.

It sounds unconventional, but for a growing number of American farmers, this type of bioinsecticide is proving a regular and reliable tool to control Helicoverpa zea, the multi-crop pest known as soybean podworm, sorghum headworm, corn earworm and cotton bollworm.

These bioinsecticides are made from a strain of naturally occurring nuclear polyhedrosis viruses (NPVs), recently categorized as Group 31 insecticides. They are sprayed on row crop foliage like a normal insecticide. From there, things get a little gruesome, but only for the targeted caterpillar pests.

After ingesting the bioinsecticide, the caterpillar dies within a week, and the virus turns its corpse into a virus-replicating factory. The blackened, jelly-like remains of the worm overflow with more viruses, ready to infect more caterpillars, who in turn produce more virus.

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Fall Grazing Differs by Plains Location

OMAHA (DTN) — Fall grazing conditions across the High Plains differ considerably, depending on the location.

Northern Plains grazers should be careful not to overgraze this fall after rains finally fell in the last couple of months. Those in the Central Plains will need to be careful baling corn residue, while Southern Plains producers might be able to graze wheat acres, only beginning later thanks to dry conditions.


Drought stressed pastures and rangelands in some regions of the Northern Plains have greened up and are even lush after rains fell in late August and September. Now is the time to evaluate grazing systems to see if the grass could be utilized this fall, or if grazing now could affect 2022 forage production, according to a recent North Dakota State University Extension (NDSU) news release:…

The short answer is it depends on what grass species is going to be grazed, according to Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist.

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Farmer to Plead Guilty to Insurance Fraud

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — A northwest Minnesota farmer charged with crop insurance fraud is prepared to enter a guilty plea, according to a court document filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on Thursday.

Lake Park, Minnesota, corn and soybean farmer Kevan Jon Nelson was charged in September after allegedly reporting false information to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation in 2018.

A plea agreement teleconference hearing is scheduled for Monday.

“The defendant has agreed to plead guilty to the offense pursuant to a plea agreement,” attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice said in a court document filed on Thursday. “The conduct to which the defendant will plead guilty occurred in 2018 and 2019. However, investigation has spanned conduct in other years.”

On Sept. 30, 2021, lawyers for Nelson filed notice of the defendant’s consent to a video conference for a change of plea hearing. The teleconference was agreed to for several reasons, including the need for Nelson to continue harvest.

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Ag Keeps Looking to CPTPP

OMAHA (DTN) — Agricultural groups are frustrated over the lack of any new trade talks by the Biden administration, especially in Southeast Asia as other countries now increasingly want to join the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Pork producers, dairy farmers, corn farmers and grape growers highlighted trade concerns Thursday in an online event led by Farmers for Free Trade. While agricultural exports are at record levels, ag groups want the Biden administration to reengage on the Pacific trade deal once called TPP but now dubbed CPTPP.

U.S. agriculture just closed a record fiscal year 2021 at the end of September with USDA projecting final sales will come in at $173.5 billion, a $33.81 billion increase from FY 2020. USDA forecasts fiscal year 2022 sales will hit $177.5 billion. Sales in FY 2021 were buoyed by $37 billion to China with Canada coming in at $23.6 billion and Mexico at $22 billion in U.S.

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John Deere Workers Agree to Strike

OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers could face challenges getting in their orders for John Deere equipment as the tractor giant’s union workers agreed at midnight Wednesday to go on strike.

United Auto Workers International issued a statement that John Deere members went on strike at midnight after talks with Deere & Co., at Moline, Illinois, had failed to reach an agreement.

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s agricultural implement department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

UAW President Ray Curry said, “The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere.”

The union’s call for a strike affects more than 10,000 workers at 14 Deere facilities nationally. UAW said union members had set up pickets.

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KS Bean Crush Plant To Be Built

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Kansas farmers will have access to the state’s third soybean-crushing facility starting in 2024, as Kansas City, Missouri-based Bartlett announced on Tuesday plans to begin construction on a plant in Montgomery County.

Currently there are just two soybean crushing plants in Kansas, including one operated by Cargill Inc., in Wichita and a second by Bunge North America Inc., in Emporia.

Bartlett announced in a news release it would build a plant with an annual handling capacity of about 38.5 million bushels (mb), with plans to launch construction in 2022. The company said the $325 million plant would produce soybean meal and refined soybean oil, feedstock used in producing renewable fuels, food products and animal feeds.

The company said the plant was expected to create about 50 permanent jobs and process about 110,000 bushels per day.

The board of county commissioners in Montgomery County recently granted approval for the company to receive county-issued industrial revenue bonds to help fund the project.

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USDA Wants Court to End Wetlands Case

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Attorneys for USDA are expected to file a motion to dismiss a wetlands lawsuit brought by Minor County, South Dakota, farmer Arlen Foster, according to a discovery document filed in federal court. A USDA motion to dismiss the case is expected to be filed by Nov. 8.

Back in May, Foster filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. The lawsuit alleges the agency unlawfully refused to reconsider a wetlands determination when Foster presented new evidence in 2020 that may have proven the land in question was not a wetland. USDA has maintained that a puddle in the middle of one of his fields is a wetland.

USDA attorneys said in a recent court filing Foster had not pursued all administrative remedies prior to filing the lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies in obtaining a final agency decision regarding the NRCS response challenged in count four,” USDA said in a court document.

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Moderate to Heavy Precipitation Ahead

Rain, snow, severe weather, wind, freezing conditions — this system is going to have a whole bevy of impacts for agriculture across the country through Saturday. And it has already started.

A deep trough of low pressure has been building in the western United States since Oct. 10. It brought some snow already to portions of the Intermountain West and has bled some of that snow into the front range across Wyoming and southern Montana as well. That is just the first sign of a big storm to come.

The trough is starting to develop a strong low-pressure center in Colorado that will move northeast through the Northern Plains through early Thursday. A cold front extending to its south will sweep across the Central and Southern Plains with scattered showers and thunderstorms. As the system moves north into Canada, it will diminish, however, but stall its cold front from the Ohio Valley southwest into Texas.

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Mexico Rejects GM Corn Trait

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Mexico’s health safety regulator, Cofepris, rejected a Bayer GM (genetically modified) corn trait for import last week because it contains glyphosate tolerance, the latest move by the country’s government to position itself in opposition to GM technology and glyphosate use.

The rejection will not affect current U.S. corn exports to the country and appears to be largely symbolic, since part of the trait singled out by the Mexican government — HT3 x SmartStax Pro — has already been discontinued by Bayer. The company is pivoting away from HT3 corn to a new weed control trait, HT4 corn, which is also under review by Mexico and other international importers.

See more here:…

But the move is in line with the current stance of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who issued a presidential decree in December 2020 vowing to phase out glyphosate use and human consumption of GM corn in Mexico within four years.

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Three Storms to Watch in Week Ahead

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) — Fall is a season to expect big changes. We have not really seen that so far this season. Well-above-normal temperatures have made the beginning of the fall more like an extension of the summer. However, there’s a change next week.

There’s a storm system coming up that looks to be large, dynamic and full of impacts to agriculture. It would be best to keep eyes on the weather forecast and hasten fieldwork because, in some areas, if you do not get out soon, you may have to wait awhile.

First, a trough currently in the Western states on Oct. 8 will produce two storm systems as it leaves the Rockies for Oct. 9-12. Scattered showers will move through the Plains and western Midwest and could have some pockets of moderate rainfall. The second of those systems could produce some severe weather across the Southern Plains Oct. 10-11.

But the big storm, the strongest of the three, will develop as a large trough of low pressure digs into the Intermountain West Oct.

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Cybersecurity and Ag – 8

Editor’s Note: For the past three weeks, DTN/Progressive Farmer has been posting a special series called Cybersecurity and Ag to examine the threat cyberattackers pose to agriculture and explore what farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses can do to protect themselves from these high-tech criminals. This is the eighth and final story in the series.


At the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed. Cybersecurity is both a race and a series of common-sense moves to make one target (you) less desirable than another. Here are six key ways to stop most hackers from stealing your data:

1. PASSWORDS MATTER. Use password protection for phones, laptops, PCs and tablets. Avoid weak passwords. They should never include family or pets’ names or your place of birth. And be careful answering all those fun Facebook questions about your favorite high school teacher or the name of your pet. This information can be a valuable clue to help hackers figure out your most commonly used passwords.

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