National Headlines

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Robots in the Field

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The “Silicon Prairie” is alive and well in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is good news with an ever-increasing world population to feed.

Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is pushing the boundaries of precision agriculture. These discoveries could alter the way farmers operate and monitor crops, allowing them to become even more efficient in the future.

FITBIT-LIKE SENSOR

James Schnable, assistant professor in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and colleagues from Iowa State University are working on creating sensors that can measure how much water an individual plant is using. This technology is similar to popular personal monitoring systems such as Fitbit.

These products use wireless-enabled wearable technology devices that measure such things as number of steps walked, heart rate and other personal metrics. These plant-mounted sensors will measure sap flow, according to Schnable.

Sap flow is an important indicator of how much water a plant is using as leaves open pores to allow carbon dioxide in.

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Report: Trump Ordered RFS Waivers

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
and
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Has President Donald Trump turned a 180 on his publicly stated support for ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard?

It’s a question ethanol and agriculture industry officials are asking after reports surfaced this week that EPA’s decision late last week to grant 31 additional small-refinery waivers to the RFS for 2018 came from the top — via a call from Trump himself to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The president sided with oil refiners over ethanol producers and corn farmers, just two months after reiterating his support for ethanol at a rally held at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to celebrate the approval of year-round E15 sales.

Trump essentially ended what was an ongoing review of the waivers program, leading biofuels interest groups to question whether the administration changed course on its biofuels policy.

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Smarter Imagery

By Matt Wilde
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

Images captured 5,000 feet above Greg Armes’ cotton fields are more than just pretty pictures.

The high-resolution photos taken by Ceres Imaging, based in Oakland, California, are intricate and colorful. The New Home, Texas, farmer often looks at them on his iPad or iPhone as he’s spraying or at home after a long day in the field.

The vibrant blues, greens, reds and yellows that stand out on the mobile devices are beautiful to Armes in a different way. The colors depict plant health and vigor.

He said aerial imagery paired with analytics provide vital information to make better in-season decisions to boost pounds and profit per acre. It’s something the first-time imagery user wasn’t able to do before.

“I’ll be able to fix problems before it’s too late,” Armes said. “In today’s farm economy, every acre has to pull its own weight.”

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DTN Yield Tour – IA, MN, WI

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter
And
Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — This year’s challenging growing season will trim production across the northern Corn Belt this year, as corn and soybean yields in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin slip lower in 2019.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how the 2019 corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

Gro’s models suggest Iowa’s corn crop will make an average yield of 187 bushels per acre (bpa), down 9 bpa from last year and also below USDA’s August estimate of 191 bpa. Gro pegs Minnesota’s average corn yield at 175 bpa and Wisconsin’s at 167 bpa, both down from last year’s crops, though slightly above USDA’s August estimates.

For soybeans, Gro forecasts Iowa’s statewide yield at 53 bpa, down 5 bpa from last year and also slightly below USDA’s August estimate of 55 bpa.

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DTN Yield Tour – IL, IN, OH

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor
and
By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — Corn yields in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio could be 12% to 15% below USDA’s forecasts from earlier this week, according to Gro Intelligence’s latest yield estimates.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how this year’s corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

The statewide average corn yield for Illinois, at 153 bushels per acre (bpa), is 28 bushels below USDA.

In Indiana, the corn yield estimate is 28 bushels below USDA at 138 bpa.

At 136 bpa, Ohio’s yield average is the lowest of the 10 states included in the DTN Digital Crop Tour. It’s 24 bpa lower than USDA.

The divergent estimates continue for soybeans, with Gro projecting Illinois yields at 46 bpa, Indiana at 46 bpa and Ohio at 42 bpa compared to USDA’s 55 bpa, 50 bpa and 48 bpa estimates, respectively.

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Jennings: Fight Ethanol Waivers

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — At the American Coalition for Ethanol’s annual conference in Omaha this week, the group’s CEO, Brian Jennings, urged an industry on the ropes to continue to look to the future and to not stand on the sideline while the EPA continues to grant small-refinery waivers.

Ethanol companies are losing money, and the Environmental Protection Agency is granting Renewable Fuel Standard exemptions to small refineries that now total more than 4 billion gallons of lost ethanol demand since 2016. At the same time, a potential 3-billion-gallon Chinese import market closed to U.S. producers, and doubts are growing about the future of the RFS, Jennings said during a speech Thursday. The industry isn’t doing enough in response, he said.

“We have to turn up the volume,” Jennings said.

During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, ethanol producers and farmers gave the president an earful about how small-refinery waivers are hurting their industries.

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DTN 2019 Digital Yield Tour – NE, SD

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — Considering the wet spring that plagued Nebraska and South Dakota this year, corn and soybean yields are holding their own, but growers say average yields conceal a wide variation of crop conditions.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how this year’s corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

On Tuesday, all of Gro’s estimates for corn and soybeans in South Dakota and Nebraska were lower than USDA’s yield estimates from Monday’s Crop Production report.

Gro’s models for corn show a statewide average of 182 bushels per acre in Nebraska and 149 bpa in South Dakota. USDA pegged those states at 186 bpa and 157 bpa, respectively.

Gro forecasts Nebraska soybean growers will harvest 56 bpa compared to USDA’s 58 bpa estimate, while South Dakota farmers will harvest 37 bpa compared to USDA’s 45 bpa estimate.

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DTN 2019 Digital Yield Tour – KS, MO

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — What’s worse — too much rain or too little? The 2019 season is putting that question to the test in Kansas and Missouri, where rainfall and flooding has challenged corn and soybean yields nearly as much as the drought that spanned both states last year.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how the 2019 corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

On Tuesday, Gro predicts an average corn yield of 138 bushels per acre (bpa) for Missouri, and an average corn yield of 144 bpa for Kansas. Both diverge from USDA’s August crop report, which pegged Missouri’s average corn yield much higher, at 160 bpa, and dropped Kansas’ corn yield down to 135 bpa.

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FSA: 19.3 Million Acres Unplanted

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers were unable to plant just under 19.3 million acres in crops this year, dominated by 11.2 million prevented planting acres for corn and 4.35 million acres for soybeans, according to a USDA Farm Service Agency acreage report released Monday.

The FSA report added further confusion to numbers released by the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) acreage estimates.

Running down the numbers on prevented planting, the 19.3 million acres is the most unplanted since USDA began reporting those figures in 2007. Last year, FSA reported just 1.8 million prevented planting acres. The top six states for prevented planting acres, all topping 1 million unplanted acres, accounted for 10.74 million unplanted acres, or about 56% of the total.

Those included:

— South Dakota with 3.86 million unplanted acres, including 2.84 million for corn and 850,864 for soybeans.

— Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas and Minnesota, in that order, also came in with more than 1 million acres total of prevented planting.

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Endangered Species Act Changes Finalize

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The federal government finalized three rules on Monday that make a number of changes to the Endangered Species Act, after introducing the proposal in 2017 as a result of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

Most notably, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed its blanket rule in the ESA that automatically grants the same protections for threatened species that are available for endangered species.

The final rules do not affect protections for species currently listed as threatened, but instead will receive protections tailored to species’ individual conservation needs.

Gary Frazer, assistant director for endangered species at USFWS, said during a news conference on Monday the ESA included protection for species for the “foreseeable future” but did not define the term.

“We’ll look out into the future as far as we can reliably predict,” Frazer said, “so long as we can determine threats and species’ reaction to those threats.

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Democrats Seek Rural Message

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

DES MOINES, Iowa (DTN) — The Iowa State Fair offers Democratic presidential candidates a chance this week to stump before a crowd and try to generate some momentum, if they can avoid a gaffe while in the state.

Former Vice President Joe Biden walked into a gaffe Thursday evening when he misspoke, saying “poor kids” are just as bright as “white kids.” Biden found himself trying again to explain that statement.

Biden, though, also told Iowans during a stump speech on the Des Moines Register State Fair Soapbox that he would get rid of a popular tax break that helps farmers and other landowners pass assets onto their children.

More than 20 presidential candidates are expected to speak at the soapbox during the Iowa State Fair, which included five just on Friday. As many as 17 Democratic candidates will also speak Saturday at a forum on gun violence in downtown Des Moines.

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DTN/Gro Digital Crop Tour

By Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief

OMAHA (DTN) — There’s an elephant in the room, and the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is getting ready to shine a spotlight on it.

Speculation about how the 2019 corn and soybean crops are coming along is probably as wide and varied as it’s ever been. That’s why we think this year’s digital tour, which is based on yield modeling data from around the Corn Belt, will play a critical role in putting a national perspective on what’s become a highly emotional environment about the health and prognosis of the 2019 crops.

The digital “tour,” based on Gro’s crop modelling platform, will be carried on DTN satellite, online and mobile venues Aug. 12-19.

Every year as crops hit their reproductive phases and we begin to glimpse at yields and crop quality, I’m reminded of the famous fable of the six blind men and the elephant, and of the poem of that fable by John Godfrey Saxe.

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Building Non-Chinese Demand

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — When North Carolina farmer Jacob Parker went on his first trade mission nine years ago, he thought it was probably going to be a waste of time.

“But I soon realized after meeting a few customers how important it is. They want to see the face of an American farmer. They want to see the person who actually produces the soybean,” he said on a press call with reporters from the sidelines of the 15th annual Southeast Asia U.S. Agriculture Cooperators Conference in Singapore.

The event, which is co-hosted by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, brings U.S. farmers such as Parker and end-users together to help build and solidify trading relationships. It’s a mission made even more critical by the ongoing trade war with China.

“U.S. soybean farmers have been impacted by export uncertainty and trade tensions, and while the short-term aid they have received is helpful, our farmers really need stability and long-term solutions,” USSEC CEO Jim Sutter said.

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EPA Stands Behind Glyphosate

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — EPA will no longer approve product labels that claim glyphosate causes cancer, the agency announced in a new guidance on Thursday.

“EPA will no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer — a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA,” EPA said in a news release.

“The state of California’s much criticized Proposition 65 has led to misleading labeling requirements for products, like glyphosate, because it misinforms the public about the risks they are facing. This action will ensure consumers have correct information, and is based on EPA’s comprehensive evaluation of glyphosate.”

California’s Prop 65 required products that contain glyphosate to include warning labels stating the chemical is known to cause cancer. The law was challenged and an injunction preventing its enforcement remains in place.

The vast body of science done on the chemical, however, has found no direct link between glyphosate and human cancers.

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