National Headlines

Weatherproof Your Corn

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — If you find yourself wishing for a normal corn-growing season this year, Bob Nielsen has bad news.

“I think we actually need to redefine normal weather,” the longtime Purdue corn agronomist said. “Today, normal weather consists of an unpredictable number of unpredictable extreme weather events, each occurring unpredictably with unpredictable severity.”

Corn growers need to focus their energy on weatherproofing their fields, Nielsen told growers during Purdue’s virtual Crop Management Workshop held Jan. 28.

“When we get extreme weather, the negative effects of it are often amplified by other yield-limiting factors that may exist in the field,” he explained. Those include problems such as poor drainage and compaction, which can make a heavy rainfall or a flash drought more damaging than they need to be.

“While we cannot control the weather, if we can identify and manage these other yield-limiting factors in the field, this will help us improve the overall resilience of crops to the vagaries of Mother Nature,” Nielsen said.

Continue reading

Read More »

Vilsack Nomination Moves to Full Senate

OMAHA (DTN) — Tom Vilsack’s nomination to U.S. agriculture secretary advanced unanimously out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on Tuesday and will now head to the full Senate for approval.

Vilsack, who served for eight years in the Obama administration, would be returning to USDA at a time when agriculture is in recovery mode with higher commodity prices and expanding commodity purchases from China. Agriculture is also facing some headwinds, including a struggling ethanol industry.

During his virtual testimony before the committee on Tuesday, Vilsack outlined how agriculture has changed since he left USDA in 2016, and how farmers fit into the future of the country.

“The world and our nation are different today than when I served as agriculture secretary in a previous administration,” Vilsack said.

“Then, a great recession challenged us. Today, the pandemic, racial justice and equity, and climate change must be our priorities.

Continue reading

Read More »

ADM Motions to Dismiss Ethanol Case

OMAHA (DTN) — Six ethanol companies alleging in a lawsuit Archer Daniels Midland manipulated the market have until Wednesday to file a response to ADM’s motion to dismiss the case.

In November, Wisconsin producers United Wisconsin Grain Producers, Didion Ethanol, Ace Ethanol, Fox River Valley Ethanol, Badger State Ethanol and Iowa producer Pine Lake Corn filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana.

There are three other similar lawsuits pending in the same court, including a complaint filed by Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Nebraska issued an order for a change of venue in the Green Plains case to the Illinois court.

In January, ADM argued in its dismissal motion the cases involving producers suing producers don’t qualify as an antitrust case.

The new lawsuit alleges ADM violated a number of state and federal laws, including monopoly provisions of the Sherman Act and violations of the Illinois Anti-Trust Act, the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Wisconsin Deceptive Practices Act and tortious interference with contractual relations under Wisconsin and Iowa law.

Continue reading

Read More »

Meatpackers Face Close COVID Scrutiny

OMAHA (DTN) — A House subcommittee has launched an investigation into COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants owned by Tyson Foods Inc., JBS USA and Smithfield Foods Inc., as well as the response from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

When COVID-19 started showing up in packing plants across the country early last year, packing plant closures caused cattle markets to crash even as meatpackers raised prices on retailers. Farmers faced a backup of livestock on the farm, leading to billions of dollars in losses, and packers scrambled to safeguard plant workers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, more than 50,000 meatpacking plant workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 270 workers have died from the virus, according to the House subcommittee.

On Monday, Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, in a series of letters asked for additional information from executives at the three companies, as well as from OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary James Frederick.

Continue reading

Read More »

Senate Control Delaying Work

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said Thursday that the confirmation hearing for Tom Vilsack, President Biden’s nominee for Agriculture secretary, scheduled for Tuesday, may depend on Senate leaders reaching agreement on a resolution for organizing the Senate.

In a call to reporters on her agenda for the 117th Congress, Stabenow said that she hopes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will reach an agreement by this weekend or Monday.

Stabenow, D-Mich., said that she and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the incoming ranking member, “are assuming that we will have our committee members” by Tuesday, but if they have not been announced she and Boozman “will have to figure out” what to do as other committees have when they have held confirmation hearings.

Stabenow said the number of members of the committee has not been determined, but it will be half Democrats and half Republicans.

Continue reading

Read More »

Winter Calving

When it comes to calving, Russ Daly will take zero degrees Fahrenheit and sun over 40 degrees F with wind and rain anytime. That warmer temperature may sound better, but the South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian knows the likelihood of hypothermia in a newborn calf is going to be much higher under wet, windy conditions.

Daly, based at Brookings, fields questions every year from producers about calf care in harsh winter conditions. The thing he emphasizes most is to be aware not only of outside temperatures but of other environmental and management conditions that can lead to calf loss. The key is preparation and awareness — which can mean different things for different parts of the country.

While Daly’s average January temperature in Brookings may be 12.9 degrees F; in Cropwell, Alabama, where veterinarian and cattle producer Ken McMillan works, it’s more like 43.8 degrees F. Despite the geographic distance, the two share a lot of common concerns and recommendations when it comes to winter calving.

Continue reading

Read More »

Water Rule, ESA Under Review

Water Rule, ESA Under Review 01/27 15:20

Biden Administration Set to Review Several Regulations Important to Ag

The Biden administration is reviewing a number of regulatory actions taken
by the Trump administration, including several rules that affect agriculture.

Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The ushering in of the Trump administration back in 2017
launched large-scale deregulation at the federal level, including agriculture.

Just a week in office, President Joe Biden already has announced a review of
a number of federal regulations, including Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection
Rule, changes made to the Endangered Species Act, National Ambient Air Quality
standards for particulate matter, Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, and
action to keep chlorpyrifos-based pesticides on the market despite pushback
from environmentalists.

In an executive order signed Wednesday to deal with climate change, the
White House noted that among the first actions Biden took in office was an
“immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water
and communities.”

Continue reading

Read More »

Ag Climate Solutions Sought

Ag Climate Solutions Sought 01/28 17:30

President Includes Plans for ‘Climate-Smart’ Ag Practices and Carbon
Sequestration Opportunities

Provisions dealing with agriculture were just a small part of a sweeping
executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Wednesday dealing with climate
change. Still, a wide-scale push by the federal government could lead to more
widespread adoption of carbon climate-smart farming practices.

Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Agricultural groups on Wednesday largely said they were
willing to work with President Joe Biden and his administration on voluntary
climate strategies after the president signed an executive order pushing the
federal government to combat climate change.

Among the specifics in the president’s executive order is a directive that
the secretary of Agriculture gathers input from farmers, ranchers and others on
ways to use USDA programs to “encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural
practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and
create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”

Continue reading

Read More »

Senate Ag Can Get to Work

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Tuesday she hopes that a Senate organizing resolution will be completed within the next days so that she can take over the committee, arrange for a confirmation hearing for Tom Vilsack, President Joe Biden’s nominee as Agriculture secretary, and move on to climate legislation and reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

In a virtual fireside chat to the International Dairy Foods Association Dairy Forum, Stabenow, who chaired the committee from 2011 to 2015 when the 2014 farm bill was written, said, “I am looking forward to return as chair of the committee” and that she is committed to maintaining a bipartisan approach on the committee.

Stabenow noted that she had gotten along well with former Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who retired, and expects to have the same relationship with Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who is expected to become the Republican ranking member on the committee.

Continue reading

Read More »

Biden Seeks Ag Climate Solutions

OMAHA (DTN) — Agricultural groups on Wednesday largely said they were willing to work with President Joe Biden and his administration on voluntary climate strategies after the president signed an executive order pushing the federal government to combat climate change.

Among the specifics in the president’s executive order is a directive that the secretary of Agriculture gathers input from farmers, ranchers and others on ways to use USDA programs to “encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”

OTHER KEY ASPECTS OF ORDER

The provisions on USDA were just a small bit of the sweeping order from the Biden administration. Other key aspects called for halting new permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. The executive order encourages the development of green infrastructure as well. It also commits to conserving 30% of lands and oceans through reaching out to farmers, fishermen, tribes, states and others.

Continue reading

Read More »

Court Orders EPA on 500M RFS Gallons

OMAHA (DTN) — EPA will have to file a progress report every 60 days to a federal court on the agency’s efforts to restore 500 million gallons of biofuels illegally waived from the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2016.

A coalition of agriculture and biofuels group had filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to force the EPA to fully comply with the mandate immediately.

The coalition, which includes the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and National Sorghum Producers, said in a statement on Wednesday they hope the court will hold EPA’s feet to the fire.

“While we are disappointed by the court’s order on our motion, we are glad to see that the court is holding EPA accountable by requiring it to submit a report every 60 days on the status of the court’s remand on the improper waiver,” the groups said.

Continue reading

Read More »

Dakota Access Pipeline to Stay Open

OMAHA (DTN) — The Dakota Access pipeline will remain operational, though a federal court this week ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law by conducting work without an easement.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, however, the pipeline could continue operating while the Corps of Engineers completes an environmental impact statement on the project. The court ruled the Corps had violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Dakota Access pipeline was constructed underneath Lake Oahe, which was created when the Corps of Engineers flooded thousands of acres of Sioux lands in the Dakotas by constructing the Oahe Dam on the Missouri River.

The lake provides several successor tribes of the Great Sioux Nation with water for drinking, industry, and sacred cultural practices. According to the Mineral Leasing Act, the pipeline could not traverse the federally owned land at the Oahe crossing site without an easement from the Corps.

Continue reading

Read More »

H-2A Guest Workers Given Exemption

OMAHA (DTN) — Following pressure from farm groups and farmers themselves, the State Department late Thursday issued a statement declaring that H-2A workers from South Africa may qualify for “national interest exemptions” that would allow them to work in the country.

The State Department bulletin stated H-2A and H-2B program “essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority.” With that, the State Department added, “Therefore, we intend to continue processing applications for individuals who provide temporary labor and services essential to the United States food supply chain, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions.”

The announcement comes after farmers and agricultural organizations had raised concerns that President Joe Biden’s order signed Monday creating a temporary ban on travel of noncitizens into the United States from South Africa, as well as other countries.

Farmers became vocal after the ban went into effect.

Continue reading

Read More »

US Ag Exporters Come Up Empty

OMAHA (DTN) — While U.S. agricultural exports rose in the second half of the year, there is mounting evidence that shipping companies are leaving U.S. ports and returning to Asia with empty cargo containers rather than filling them up with American agricultural products.

As first reported by CNBC, agricultural shippers that rely on a supply of cargo containers have seen orders for hundreds of millions of dollars delayed or outright canceled by shippers. Due to demand for Chinese imports, shippers would rather deliver empty containers back to China where they are quickly loaded with more profitable cargo to send back to the U.S.

Members of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) have launched inquiries into practices by shippers at ports in California, New Jersey and New York to determine if shipping companies are refusing to load U.S. export cargo at ports, which would be a violation of the Shipping Act of 1984.

Continue reading

Read More »

Biden Targets Trump Deregulation of Ag

OMAHA (DTN) — The ushering in of the Trump administration back in 2017 launched large-scale deregulation at the federal level, including agriculture.

Just a week in office, President Joe Biden already has announced a review of a number of federal regulations, including Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, changes made to the Endangered Species Act, National Ambient Air Quality standards for particulate matter, Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, and action to keep chlorpyrifos-based pesticides on the market despite pushback from environmentalists.

In an executive order signed Wednesday to deal with climate change, the White House noted that among the first actions Biden took in office was an “immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water and communities.”

When it comes to the regulation of water on farms and ranches, the pendulum has swung back and forth since 2015 when the Obama-era waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule drew pushback from states, farmers and ranchers and other industries across the country.

Continue reading

Read More »

Soybean Cyst Nematode Continues Move

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — A new survey shows soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is continuing to spread across the United States and into Canada.

New areas reporting SCN infestations are indicated by the blue areas on the map accompanying this article.

SCN moved into 55 additional counties in the U.S. in 11 states during the past three years. It has also been found in 24 new counties and rural municipalities in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The new regions paint a disturbing picture since most of the major soybean growing areas are already battling the pest (see red on map).

Greg Tylka, Iowa State University nematologist and co-leader of The SCN Coalition, gathered the new data on SCN’s spread by surveying plant health professionals at universities and departments of agriculture across the U.S. and Canada.

SNEAKY PEST

SCN is a sneaky adversary because despite being widely distributed and causing significant yield reductions, SCN often goes unnoticed in fields as yield losses are not always accompanied by visual symptoms.

Continue reading

Read More »

ADM Highlights China Demand

OMAHA (DTN) — Looking at the next 18 months to two years of global grain and oilseed demand, Archer Daniels Midland Co. executives on Tuesday said they see an environment of heavy demand that will bring more acres into production.

Juan Luciano, ADM’s CEO, talked about demand on a quarterly earnings call with analysts. Despite an unprecedented year due to the pandemic, ADM reported fourth-quarter earnings in 2020 of $687 million, up from $504 million for the same quarter a year ago. ADM also announced a 37-cent-per-share quarterly cash dividend.

Among the drivers of growth were global demand for agricultural commodities, especially from China, which pushed higher export volumes and margins. “We expect 2021 to be a very, very strong year with oilseeds and ag services,” Luciano said.

Responding to a question on longer-term demand for grains and oilseeds, Luciano said ADM sees “an environment of real demand, real effective demand” going forward because customers do not have a lot of inventory and have been “hand-to-mouth” with buys.

Continue reading

Read More »

AFBF Asks NASS for Change

OMAHA (DTN) — The American Farmer Bureau Federation issued a report Thursday challenging USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to “rebuild farmers’ trust” in the agency’s constant supply of crop and livestock data by increasing transparency, accelerating the use of new technology and potentially collaborating with Farm Bureau to help aid data-collection efforts.

The accuracy of monthly NASS reports is a constant source of discussion and speculation among farmers — more often when prices are lower than higher — and at times can lead to anger among producers who perceive the agency as overestimating production. In at least one instance in 2019, NASS staff were threatened while on a Midwest crop tour, causing NASS to pull its staff off the tour.

AFBF put together a farmer-led working group that spent more than four months looking at NASS’ processes and methodologies — including holding some workshops — to develop recommendations for the agency’s data collection and release of monthly reports.

Continue reading

Read More »

Federal Court Stays EPA Action on SREs

OMAHA (DTN) — A federal court will review EPA’s latest decision to grant three small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard, pending a full review of the action.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order Thursday morning following EPA’s decision on Tuesday to grant two of 32 exemption requests for 2019 and one for 2018 that was previously denied.

“We took this action immediately to prevent the agency from doing further economic damage to an industry already reeling from the impacts of COVID-19,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a statement on Thursday.

“To avert additional harm to the ethanol industry, EPA must be prevented from returning any compliance credits to the unidentified refiners who were given these last-minute exemption handouts.”

RFA said the two 2019 exemptions will amount to another 150 million gallons of lost renewable fuel demand. The 2018 exemption is expected to result in a loss of 110 million gallons of biofuel demand and was previously denied by the agency.

Continue reading

Read More »

US Propane Supply

OAKHURST, N.J. (DTN) — Gulf Coast PADD 3 propane/propylene supplies have fallen for over three months amid strong export demand, leaving stocks at their lowest level in over 20 months and contributing to the lowest nationwide stocks in more than eight months, the latest Energy Information Administration data show.

During the week profiled exports continued higher, up 133,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.480 million bpd, up 257,000 bpd from the same week in 2020. For the four weeks ended Jan. 15, EIA reported U.S. propane/propylene exports at 1.384 million bpd versus 1.180 million bpd in the same period in 2020.

Total domestic propane/propylene supply posted a 12th consecutive weekly draw, sinking 6.23 million barrels (bbl) to 59.818 million bbl, the lowest level since the week first week of May 2020 bbl while 25.8% below the corresponding week in 2020.

Gulf Coast PADD 3 propane/propylene stocks tumbled 9%, falling 3.036 million bbl to 31.924 million bbl, the lowest level since March 15, 2019 at 31.180 million bbl.

Continue reading

Read More »