National Headlines

Stand Strong – 1

By Matthew Wilde

Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

Watching corn quickly grow in late May solidified Neal Wikner’s plans to continue a family tradition of using starter fertilizer.

His father, Clark, first put nutrients near corn seed during planting about 25 years ago. He wanted to give young plants a boost because cold and wet soils — a common early-spring occurrence in the Upper Midwest — slows root development and nutrient uptake.

Persistent rain this year delayed corn and soybean planting, and emergence throughout much of the Corn Belt by several weeks, according to government crop reports. Plant development also fell behind.

It took the Wikners, who farm near Farmersburg, Iowa, five days to plant 580 acres of corn in mid-May. Emergence occurred in about 10 days because of cool, wet conditions. Corn was slightly yellow initially, but stands were uniform. Plants quickly turned a healthy dark green and reached the V4 to V6 stage by the third week in June with no signs of stress.

Continue reading

Read More »

Democrats Talk Climate, Ag

By Chris Clayton

DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — In an evening-long event on climate policies, Democratic candidates said farmers and agriculture can be a solution to climate change, but criticized large scale agriculture and food production at the same time.

On Wednesday, CNN hosted a marathon town hall with pre-selected questioners asking 10 Democratic presidential candidates about climate change. Hurricane Dorian provided a backdrop for the town hall with updates on the storm hitting Florida.

Until the event, climate had only been a small slice of questions at Democratic debates. The Democratic National Committee rejected requests for a debate centered around the topic, so CNN gave each candidate roughly a half hour to talk about their plans.

Candidates were split among carbon taxes and cap-and-trade plans, but each said a larger policy such as those would be needed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The candidates largely agreed they would ban offshore drilling, and freeze or pull oil leases on federal lands.

Continue reading

Read More »

USDA Opens ARC-PLC Enrollment

By Chris Clayton

DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — USDA has opened enrollment for the main commodity programs in the farm bill, the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

Enrollment is open for the 2019 crop year and farmers have until March 15, 2020, to sign up for the programs for 2019.

Under the 2018 farm bill, farmers can sign up their individual crops in ARC-County or PLC, or sign up the entire farm in ARC-Individual. Those program elections will apply for the 2019 and 2020 crop years.

ARC and PLC have been largely on the backburner over the past year while USDA has been providing farmers with trade-aid support under the Market Facilitation Program. MFP, which began last year, was initially expected to be a one-time program, but USDA reopened the program for 2019 after trade talks with China stalled last spring.

ARC operates on a rolling average of revenue price guarantees for crops based on average county yields.

Continue reading

Read More »

USDA Weekly Crop Progress Report

By Brian Ethridge

DTN Marketing Editor

This article was originally posted at 3:06 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 3. It was last updated at 4:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

**

OMAHA (DTN) — Corn condition improved just 1 percentage point last week, while soybean condition remained unchanged. Development of both crops continue to be well behind normal.

As of Sunday, Sept. 1, the U.S. corn crop was rated 58% in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from 57% the previous week. That is the lowest good-to-excellent condition for this time of year since 2013, noted DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman.

Corn’s current condition rating is 10 percentage points behind last year’s good-to-excellent condition of 67%.

Corn development continues to lag behind the average pace. Nationwide, corn in the dough stage was estimated at 81%, up 10 percentage points from 71% the previous week but 12 percentage points behind the five-year average of 93%.

Continue reading

Read More »

Quantifying Trade Losses

By Chris Clayton

DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Nebraska farmers will lose roughly $1 billion in revenues this year for crops and livestock because of retaliatory tariffs, the Nebraska Farm Bureau cited Tuesday.

The report uses USDA estimated losses for most major commodities to come up with $943.2 million in losses, though that doesn’t include other potential losses for products such as beef, hides, skins or other exports not part of USDA’s Market Facilitation Program, said Jay Rempe, senior economist of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“If you added in some of these other commodities, (losses) could easily exceed $1 billion,” Rempe said.

Once labor income losses are added into the equation at an estimated $217 million, the total loss to Nebraska’s economy is around $1.16 billion because of retaliatory tariffs just on agricultural products.

Soybean losses in the Nebraska analysis make up the bulk of the losses at $588.5 million while corn losses are projected $251.3 million.

Continue reading

Read More »

KSU to Study Low-Lignin Alfalfa

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Research being done on low-lignin alfalfa could help producers in many ways. The benefits include having more flexibility on when they cut their alfalfa, growing the forage with less water, and earning higher prices as cattle can better digest the alfalfa.

Researchers from Kansas State University Extension, as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), received $500,000 from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for a two-year study. They will explore how the low-lignin alfalfa grows in different field conditions, such as in drought. In addition, feeding trails will be conducted to study increased digestibility, an advantage of the alfalfa.

“Animal performance, especially milk and meat, is heavily related to digestibility,” said Doohong Min, KSU assistant professor of agronomy, in a KSU press release (https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/…). “That’s why it’s so critical to lower the lignin content in alfalfa.”

WHAT IS LIGNIN?

Continue reading

Read More »

USDA Touts Locks, Dams ROI

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

ALTON, Ill. (DTN) — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is pushing for increased spending on locks and dams in the upper Mississippi River and Illinois River so U.S. agriculture can boost sales and remain competitive in the coming decades.

Perdue released a USDA study Wednesday stating that spending $6.3 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade the lock and dam system would boost agricultural sales as much as $142 billion through 2045.

“This is where we need to be folks, right here,” Perdue told a group of farmers, local officials and barge industry representatives at the Alton, Illinois, lock and dam.

The secretary frequently pointed to the “rate of return” from boosting investment to $6.3 billion in Corps of Engineers construction funds, which would boost GDP by $72 billion over time. Perdue added that global competitors are investing in infrastructure, and he noted that China is investing in Brazilian infrastructure.

Continue reading

Read More »

Trump Seeks Biofuels Plan

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — President Donald Trump will soon announce a plan to mitigate the effects of EPA’s small-refinery exemptions, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers Wednesday at the Farm Progress Show.

Perdue said Trump is expected to plan a Midwest trip soon — though no date is set — and will announce how the administration will offset the 31 refinery exemptions granted by EPA earlier this month.

“We’re working really hard to mitigate that as much as possible,” Perdue said at a listening session with four GOP Illinois congressmen and more than 200 Illinois farm leaders.

Later, as Perdue was on a stage at Farm Progress Show, he got a call from President Donald Trump and put it on speaker phone. The president did not talk about the small-refinery exemptions but he called farmers “patriots” and said a deal with China would be done “soon.”

Continue reading

Read More »

USDA to Probe Beef Pricing

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — USDA will investigate reports of possible market manipulation following a fire that badly damaged a Tyson beef plant in Holcomb, Kansas, on Aug. 9.

In the days following the plant fire, live cattle futures moved limit lower, adding strong pressure to cash cattle trade.

In a press statement on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said USDA will examine the market concerns.

“I have directed USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into recent beef-pricing margins to determine if there is any evidence of price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition or other unfair practices,” he said in a statement. “If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action. USDA remains in close communication with plant management and other stakeholders to understand the fire’s impact to industry.

“I have spent this summer visiting with cattle ranchers across the country, and I know this is a difficult time for the industry as a whole.”

Continue reading

Read More »

Trade Concerns at Farm Show

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — While farmers admire the latest agriculture machinery this week, leaders of national commodity groups at the Farm Progress Show are talking about demand and looking for the upside in pending trade deals.

Bill Gordon, vice president of the American Soybean Association and a farmer from Worthington, Minnesota, said of his first day at the show, “You can’t start a conversation in agriculture without talking about China and the tariffs on soybeans and what we’re trying to do to mitigate that and still sell to our No. 1 buyer of soybeans.”

ASA continues to focus on pushing the Trump administration on trade and demand issues, Gordon said. At the same time, ASA continues to send farmer delegations to China to talk to private soybean buyers.

“We still need trade, not aid,” Gordon said. “We appreciate the administration’s help with mitigation payments, but that’s not a long-term solution.

Continue reading

Read More »

Trump, Abe Signal Deal

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. (DTN) — President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Sunday that the two countries have reached a trade deal that will involve large Japanese purchases of U.S. corn and wheat.

In a report Saturday, Nikkei, a Japanese news organization, reported that Japan had agreed to grant the United States the same level of tariffs on agricultural products that other countries have gotten through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), from which Trump withdrew, in exchange for an exemption from Trump’s proposal to increase auto tariffs.

At a joint news conference on the sidelines of the G-7 meeting in France, Trump said, “We’ve been working on a deal with Japan for a long time. It involves agricultural and it involves e-commerce and many other things. It’s a very big transaction, and we’ve agreed in principle. It’s billions and billions of dollars. Tremendous for the farmers.”

Continue reading

Read More »

Conservation in Action

By Matt Wilde
Progressive Farmer Editor

DES MOINES (DTN) — More than 100 people from across the nation recently got an up-close look at the latest in conservation practices aimed at improving water quality from Iowa to the Gulf of Mexico.

Participants on the day-long Conservation in Action tour, hosted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), learned how a bioreactor under construction on the Bill and Nancy Couser farm near Nevada, Iowa, will remove nitrates from water before it leaves the property. It was one of many conservation practices showcased that improves water quality and soil health.

Tour attendees climbed on a pile of woodchips, some even picked up a handful to smell, as Keegan Kult, executive director of the Ag Drainage Management Coalition, explained how the wood refuse will help people and the environment.

The project is still being built, but woodchips will eventually fill a 20 foot-by-120 foot plastic-lined excavated chamber that will be covered with dirt.

Continue reading

Read More »

EPA Ignored OMB on Waivers

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The White House Office of Management and Budget showed EPA how to account for biofuel gallons lost to small-refinery waivers, but the EPA ignored the OMB’s suggestions, interagency review documents show.

Documents posted to regulations.gov on the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes show reviewers of the rule suggested EPA reallocate waived volumes of biofuels in the 2020 proposal.

In addition, the OMB provided a possible method for restoring 500 million gallons of blending obligations that were erroneously waived in 2016. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the 2016 gallons to be accounted for in future rulemaking, but the agency declined to do so in its latest volumes proposal.

President Donald Trump’s EPA has waived about 4.03 billion gallons of biofuels since 2016, as a result of granting 85 small-refinery waivers.

“EPA put a zero in for projected volume of gasoline for exempt small refineries and projected volume of diesel for exempt small refineries, ensuring your projected totals are not met and all actual outcomes or resulting biofuel requirements are biased to one side, lower,” an OMB reviewer said in interagency comments.

Continue reading

Read More »

Pulse Markets Hurt by FDA

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — When the co-owner of a Minnesota pet food manufacturer got a brief chance to speak to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Minnesota members of Congress at a farm show earlier this month, she told them the Food and Drug Administration is damaging both pet-food companies and pulse crop farmers.

“The FDA has just put a knife in the back of the pulse industry,” said Sarah Barrett, whose family operates Barrett Petfood Innovations in Brainerd, Minnesota. The company manufactures about 65 million pounds of pet food annually and mostly uses peas, chickpea (garbanzo) beans and other pulses.

Pulse crop farmers are coping with trade and tariffs like other farmers, but pulse crop producers and some pet food companies are also losing business because FDA is arguing it’s possible pulse crops in dog food are causing at least some dogs to have enlarged heart problems.

Continue reading

Read More »

Calls to Investigate EPA

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (DTN) — Iowa’s ethanol industry and officials are pushing back on EPA’s small-refinery waivers with demands for multiple federal investigations and demanding EPA follow court rulings.

Two months ago, Mike Jerke was standing next to President Donald Trump at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy as the president championed year-round E15. On Wednesday, Jerke, CEO of the 130-million-gallon ethanol plant, was standing next to a congresswoman calling for a federal investigation into EPA’s 31 new small-refinery waivers. Trump had promised to preserve and protect the Renewable Fuels Standard, Jerke said.

On Tuesday, EPA stated to Reuters there “is zero evidence” that granting small-refinery exemptions “has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers,” Reuters reported, quoting an email from an EPA spokesman.

Jerke said EPA’s 31 waivers would translate into 300 million bushels of lost corn demand. He added that the EPA’s unchecked use of small-refinery waivers “guts the RFS and breaks the president’s promise.”

Continue reading

Read More »

Anthrax Case Confirmed

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Anthrax, a disease which can affect both livestock and humans, continues to be an issue in different places across the country this growing season. At least two states have reported livestock cases in recent weeks.

Anthrax was reported in a herd of cattle in western North Dakota, according to a North Dakota Department of Agriculture press release from Aug. 12. This is the first case of anthrax this year in the state.

“Anthrax has been confirmed in a group of cows in a pasture in east Billings County,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

The case was confirmed by the North Dakota State University Diagnostic Laboratory based on blood and tissue samples submitted by a local veterinarian in the area.

PROTECT LIVESTOCK

The case is a reminder to livestock producers in the state to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially those in areas with a past history of the disease, according to North Dakota State Veterinarian Dr.

Continue reading

Read More »

More China Tariffs Hit US Ag

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — China will again increase tariffs on U.S. agricultural products as part of an announcement Friday by China’s government to raise tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. products.

Again caught in the middle of the trade battle between the two countries are soybeans, which will face a 5% higher tariff starting Sept. 1, Reuters and Bloomberg first reported Friday. That will put soybean tariffs at 30%. Pork and beef will face 10% higher tariffs as well on Sept. 1.

If the new tariffs go into effect, U.S. pork would face a 60% retaliatory tariff along with a 12% standard duty from China.

The tariff hike is a blow for U.S. pork producers, which had seen rising sales to China. The pork industry also has been anticipating even more demand from China because of African swine fever devastating China’s hog herd.

The National Pork Producers Council stated Friday, “Any escalation in the trade dispute with China is a major concern to U.S.

Continue reading

Read More »

Harvest Weather Forecast Favorable

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Harvest weather may be favorable in much of the Midwest in September and concerns about an early first freeze for many farmers may have diminished, DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said Wednesday during DTN’s harvest weather outlook webinar.

Anderson said despite concerns across the Corn Belt about an early freeze, DTN’s forecast calls for a normal or average first-freeze date in many regions.

In most central and Northern Plains areas, crops will “race the average” first freeze date, he said. In many areas where crop development is behind, Anderson said the first freeze date needs to lag by at least one week to help crops make up ground.

“If there is a freeze in the last 10 days of September, there will be crop damage,” he said. “In some areas, crops will have a chance of meeting maturity.”

The first freeze date in places like central Nebraska and central Iowa, for example, usually falls during the first 10 days of October.

Continue reading

Read More »

China Soybean Imports Down

BEIJING, China (DTN) — China is likely to finish the 2018-19 marketing year for soybeans importing less than official projections.

With the monthly soybean import volume of 8.64 million metric tons (317.5 million bushels) in July and an expectation of 9.1 million metric tons (334.4 million bushels) in August, China is expected to import 82.0 million (3.01 billion bushels) of soybean in 2018/19 crop year, less than the estimation of both USDA and China Ministry of Agriculture.

“The market was expecting an import of 9.41 million metric tons earlier, but as the demand for soybean meal and soybean oil are slow in the country, plus the uncertainty of U.S.-China trade relations, some crushers postponed their shipment and end up arriving only 8.64 million metric tons,” said Dr Jun Wang, professor of China Agricultural University.

USDA pegged China’s 2018/19 soybean import at 83 million metric tons while China Ministry of Agriculture’s recent estimate was 83.5 million metric tons.

Continue reading

Read More »

POET Cuts Production After RFS Waivers

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — One of the nation’s largest ethanol companies announced on Tuesday it will idle a 92-million-gallon plant in Cloverdale, Indiana, following EPA’s decision to grant 31 new small-refinery waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2018.

POET, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stated it has started the process of idling the Indiana plant “due to recent decisions by the administration” regarding the waivers. The company said in a news release that the move means the plant will “cease processing of over 30 million bushels of corn annually and hundreds of local jobs will be impacted.”

POET said it already has cut production at half of its plants, with the largest cuts coming at plants in Iowa and Ohio.

In addition, the company said numerous jobs will be consolidated across POET’s 28 plants and corn processing will be reduced by an additional 100 million bushels across Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri.

Continue reading

Read More »