National Headlines

Neonics and Endangered Species

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Three common neonicotinoid insecticides were ruled “likely to adversely affect” thousands of endangered species and critical habitats, according to draft biological evaluations released by EPA today, Aug. 26.

These findings could result in additional changes to the labels of the three neonicotinoid insecticides, if EPA decides they are necessary to protect these species and habitats after it consults with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service in the months ahead. The products in question are imidacloprid (such as in Gaucho, from Bayer), clothianidin (such as in Poncho, from BASF) and thiamethoxam (such as in Cruiser, from Syngenta). These insecticides are also available from other companies.

All three are common ingredients in corn, soybean, wheat or cottonseed treatments, among other agricultural uses. EPA had granted interim registration decisions for all three back in January 2020, but those registrations are not finalized until the agency has wrapped up these biological evaluations and decided if additional safety measures are required for their use.

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Chlorpyrifos Post-Mortem

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — After decades of litigation, EPA announced a plan to pull chlorpyrifos off the market last week.

If you missed the breaking news story, see it here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…. But if you saw it and still have questions — When does the ban start? What products are affected? Is it final? — you’re in the right place.

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide better known to farmers and pesticide applicators by various brand names such as Lorsban and Vulcan. It was a popular insecticide option for farmers for many years, particularly in the fight against soybean aphids. Its use has waned in the past decade, but it remained an option for growers fighting twospotted spider mites in beans, rootworm in corn, aphids in wheat and cutworms and plant bugs in cotton. It’s also used in alfalfa and several fruit and vegetable crops.

On Aug. 18, the Biden EPA announced its intention to publish a new rule that will revoke all residue tolerances for the insecticide, essentially making it illegal to use on food and feed crops.

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DTN Ag Summit Registration Open

The whole DTN family is happy to announce that registration is open for the 2021 DTN Ag Summit, Dec. 5-7 in Chicago. This year’s theme is Power Up Your Business, and we’re putting together a dynamic lineup of speakers and discussion sessions to get you ready for 2022 and beyond. Our events will again be at The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.

You can find the registration page, and full information about this year’s agenda at https://web.cvent.com/….

If you’ve attended a past Summit then you know you’ll be challenged and informed by some of the top minds in agriculture. You also know we don’t settle for bringing in the “usual suspects” making the farm meeting circuit. Our Summit planners put in the extra effort to find new voices and new thinking to make this premier farmer-focused event truly unique.

This year we’re pleased to have secured former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad as our kick-off speaker.

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Pipelines Seek to Hit Net-Zero Ethanol

OMAHA (DTN) — After years of battles over oil pipelines, two companies are pitching carbon dioxide pipelines that would crisscross six states and combine to sink as much as 24 million metric tons of carbon emissions into geologic formations — if they can convince landowners and others their pipelines will help the local ag economy.

The proposed pipeline projects reflect a new strategy in the way ethanol plants can lower their overall carbon footprints. The pipelines will also change the way agriculture has interacted with pipelines. Farmers and landowners will be asked for right-of-way access that may financially benefit the ethanol plants where they sell their corn.

The competing Midwest carbon pipelines were launched within weeks of each other, both with major financial backing and a separate collection of ethanol companies lined up as customers and partners. The pipelines offer ethanol plants more favorable market access in low-carbon fuel markets, the possibility of selling carbon offsets, and federal tax credits for sinking carbon into the ground.

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Kinze Unveils Planter, Tillage Upgrades

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa (DTN) — A company known for innovation and eye-catching agricultural art at its Iowa headquarters and manufacturing plant recently unveiled new technology and features for planters and tillage equipment for 2022.

It’s almost impossible for drivers on Interstate 80 near Williamsburg to miss Kinze Manufacturing’s towering sculptures such as nine blue production and custom-made model grain carts stacked on top of each other and the vertical four-wheel-drive red-and-green tractor “pulling” a 60-foot planter that rotates a few hundred feet in the air. Another unusual sight may have caught the eyes of motorists on Aug. 19.

“Folks driving by will be surprised to see a planter running in August,” Brad Niensteadt, Kinze lead product specialist for planters and planter technology, quipped during the company’s media day. “We will just say it’s really late-planted, double-cropped soybeans.”

Joking aside, there’s a reason why a Kinze 3665 Blue Drive planter was seeding soybeans in the company’s demonstration field even though surrounding soybean fields are about six weeks away from harvest.

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EPA to Propose Lower RFS Blend Volumes

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) — The Biden administration will apparently kick the can down the road on ethanol blending requirements for 2021 and propose blend volumes lower than 2020 levels, according to reports coming out of Washington, citing unnamed officials.

Reuters and the Oil Pricing Information Service (OPIS) first reported EPA would not issue specific ethanol blending requirements for 2021, known as “renewable volume obligation,” or RVO. The move comes after the Trump administration last year passed on proposing blend volumes for 2021 and the Biden administration chose to do the same.

Reuters reported EPA will propose blend volumes below 2020 levels for refiners, according to unnamed sources in the article.

EPA is required under the law to set blend volumes for cellulosic, biodiesel and advanced biofuels, as well as total blend volumes. In 2020, total biofuel blend volumes topped 20.09 billion gallons.

The news reports and social media posts on the EPA decision came just as the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) was ending its annual meeting in Minneapolis.

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Late-Season Corn Disease Alert

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — August is edging toward September, but some corn diseases just won’t let up.

Tar spot on corn and Southern corn rust remain stubbornly on the move in cornfields in the Midwest. Both diseases are worth scouting for, since they move fast and can require management decisions this fall or in the future, Darcy Telenko, Purdue University plant pathologist, told DTN.

TAR SPOT SETTLING IN

The Eastern Corn Belt saw good conditions for tar spot, which can move fast when plenty of moisture and summer heat is around. The disease has been reported throughout northern Indiana, southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, parts of central Illinois and across eastern Iowa. See the map tracking its spread here: https://corn.ipmpipe.org/….

Tar spot, which was first confirmed in the U.S. in Indiana and Illinois in 2015, is becoming an annual problem and can cause major yield loss in severe infestations, Telenko noted.

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Corn Yield Check Up

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — It’s the time of year to take pre-harvest yield checks. Not only are in-field checks a good way to see if your crops measure up, but you can get a read on maturity levels and possible harvest problems lurking. Just remember yield numbers prior to harvest are a snapshot in time.

“When a lot of these early yields are being revealed by crop tours, some of the crop is still only at the R3, R4, R5 growth stages,” said Purdue University corn agronomist Dan Quinn. “Even at R5 that corn plant still has about 30-days left to go and still has to pack on about 50% of its kernel weight.”

There are several formulas that can be used to figure yields and one may fit a region better than another. Central Nebraska farmer Ethan Zoerb has pulled estimates and found some to be far from the mark.

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SDS Catching Eyes

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Few souls would ever willingly spend their birthday sorting through wilted soybean leaves and splitting sickly stems, but it’s a good thing Daren Mueller is one of them.

That’s how the Iowa State University plant pathologist discovered that, yes, many of those wilting yellow soybean patches surfacing across Iowa this month are from the dreaded Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), despite the state’s drier-than-average season.

Mueller’s weekend scouting trip confirmed some of the things he and his academic colleagues have learned about the disease in the past decade: The fungus that causes the disease is present all season long, often causing less visible yield damage in drier years. Two commercially available seed treatments can help reduce the disease’s symptoms and yield loss but won’t eliminate it. And native varietal resistance remains your best tool — but that can slip sometimes when new soybean traits are launched.

“Every time a new trait comes to market, such as herbicide-tolerant traits, breeders start by putting them in the highest yielding, best standing varieties, rather than focusing on individual disease resistance,” Mueller noted.

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‘Hippie’ Cows

Josh Nelson refers affectionately to his Highland cattle as “long-haired hippie cows.” They are definitely head-turners. But there’s a lot more to the breed than meets the eye.

On Nelson’s central Iowa operation, Cardinal Creek Farm, these cattle provide a consumer-direct revenue stream the fifth-generation farm family intends to keep building on. With Highland beef, Nelson said one of the first things new buyers mention after trying it is how tender and lean it is compared to supermarket beef. Those genetics are one of the big advantages of this breed.

“It’s all about how the Highland grow,” said Nelson. “Compared to your Angus, Highland cattle are much slower maturing. Their rate of gain is probably half of Angus. You finish them at an older age, around 2 years, when they’ll average about 1,100 pounds on the hoof. The meat isn’t as marbled as what a lot of people are used to seeing, but it’s incredibly lean and really tender.

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ACE Counters Electric Vehicle Push

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) — Dave Sovereign, president of the American Coalition for Ethanol Board of Directors, opened the ACE annual meeting Thursday making the case that ethanol producers and others need to help consumers “look behind the curtain” when it comes to electric vehicles.

The petroleum industry has been ethanol’s major foil in court battles and politics over the past two decades, but the debate over lower-emission vehicles with a push by the Biden administration is leaving biofuel supporters feeling the new president and his team are leapfrogging the low-carbon benefits that can come from biofuels.

“Everyone seems to be talking about electric vehicles,” Sovereign said, but he pointed out that right now, less than 2% of the vehicles on the road are electric.

Sovereign, a farmer from Cresco, Iowa, and chairman of Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, said everyone wants that “clean, green car” but “sometimes people aren’t seeing that a large portion of electricity is being generated by coal.”

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Late-Season Insect Alert

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — The summer growing season may be heading into its final stages, but some insects are still hard at work.

Fall armyworms are marching in unusually high numbers, threatening a host of crops, initially in southern states and now farther north. In the meantime, sugarcane aphids are picking up in sorghum fields in the Southern Plains and a big year for corn rootworms is still unfolding in the Corn Belt.

Here’s a look at these pests, with reminders from Extension entomologists on how best to manage them.

FALL ARMYWORMS STILL MARCHING

Fall armyworm, infamous for its ability to “march” into fields and strip them bare, has lived up to its name this summer. Ravenous armies of this caterpillar have hit pastures, rice, sorghum and soybean fields in several Southern states such as Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, and they’re not finished yet.

Most recently entomologists farther north in states such as Indiana, Kansas and Kentucky have been alerting corn, soybean, forage and turf growers to the threat.

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Ag, Biofuels Groups Want E15 Rehearing

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Agriculture and biofuels groups asked for a rehearing on a July 2 court ruling that, if allowed to stand, will end year-round sales of E15, in a petition filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association on Monday petitioned the D.C. Circuit for a rehearing before all judges in the circuit, arguing in the petition the future of the ethanol and agriculture industries depends on the ability to expand availability of ethanol blends above E10.

Monday was the deadline to petition the court for an en banc hearing before all 11 judges on the circuit.

“If allowed to stand, this court’s decision to vacate EPA’s rulemaking to allow E15 to be sold year-round will have devastating consequences for the market expansion of homegrown biofuels,” the groups said in a statement.

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CFTC Alleges Fraud in Ag Commodity Case

OMAHA (DTN) — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed a civil enforcement action against a Nebraska commodity marketer and grain merchandiser, accusing the man and his business of operating an unregistered agricultural commodity pool and misappropriating most of the money.

The CFTC complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Nebraska seeks an injunction and restitution against Terry Michael Svejda of Blair, Nebraska, and his company, Centurion Capital Management Inc., of fraudulently soliciting at least $790,050 from 27 people to invest in a commodity pool, Decadian LLC, for agricultural commodity contracts, but the CFTC alleges roughly 80% of the funds were misappropriated.

Centurion Capital Management Inc. is a company in Omaha, Nebraska, as the sole manager of the Decadian commodity pool, but never registered with the CFTC as a commodity pool operator or registered Svejda as an associated person for Centurion. Svejda is Centurion’s president, secretary, treasurer and sole director.

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USDA Crop Progress Report

This article was originally posted at 3:05 p.m. CDT on Monday, Aug. 16. It was last updated at 4:20 p.m. CDT on Monday, Aug. 16.

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OMAHA (DTN) — After holding mostly steady and even rising slightly the past few weeks, national corn and soybean conditions fell last week as the drought in Northern and Western regions of the U.S. continued to stress crops in those states, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report Monday.

After rising 2 points the previous week, U.S. corn condition dropped back down 2 percentage points to 62% good to excellent as of Sunday, Aug. 15, NASS said.

“The stark contrast of the Eastern Corn Belt and northern and northwestern tier was evident, with Illinois, Indiana and Ohio corn rated from 72% to 81% good to excellent, while Minnesota is just 35% and the Dakotas from 20% to 24% good to excellent,” said DTN Senior Analyst Dana Mantini.

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Bayer Petitions US Supreme Court on Roundup Case

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Bayer AG has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a landmark Roundup case, arguing in a petition filed on Monday that a federal appeals court committed errors in the case brought by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma victim Edwin Hardeman.

Bayer said in its petition to the Supreme Court the U.S. (SCOTUS) that the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco committed two errors worthy of review.

The company said state-law failure-to-warn claims at the center of the case were preempted by federal law and the admission of expert testimony departed from federal standards, leading to what Bayer said was “unsupported testimony” on Roundup’s safety profile.

In 2019, a jury awarded Hardeman $80 million in damages after the ruling his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by his use of Roundup. The damages later were reduced to $25 million. Bayer has faced thousands of similar lawsuits connected to the glyphosate-based product.

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NCBA Looks at Taxes as Senate Weighs In

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (DTN) — In the middle of the U.S. Senate’s flurry of amendments and votes this week on a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation resolution was a unanimous vote to protect farmers and ranchers from proposed higher taxes on capital gains.

The U.S. Senate voted 99-0 to accept an amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., that would protect owners of businesses, farms and ranchers to pass on land without imposing capital gains on the appreciation and value from the prior generation. Changing the law on stepped-up basis would “hit generationally owned enterprises hard, particularly in rural communities, and it could force families to sell off part of the farm or business just to pay the new tax,” Thune said when he brought his amendment to the floor.

Thune had rallied all 50 Senate Republicans in July to join a letter to President Joe Biden on the stepped-up basis issue. His amendment preserves the stepped-up basis for all family-owned farms and ranches, Thune said.

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2021 DTN Digital Yield Tour — National

ROCKVILLE, Md. and MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — The U.S. should expect to see an overall average corn yield of 176.5 bushels per acre (bpa) and soybean yield of 51.5 bpa, according to the final day of the 2021 DTN Digital Yield Tour.

Those numbers would be at or near record levels for the U.S., which set a corn yield record of 176.6 bpa in 2017 and a soybean record of 52 bpa in 2016. They are also slightly higher than USDA’s most recent August estimates, which trimmed the U.S. corn yield to 174.6 bpa and soybeans to 50 bpa.

For the past week, DTN has partnered with Gro Intelligence for its digital crop tour of the major corn- and soybean-producing states. Gro’s real-time yield models, which update daily, use satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data to create county and state-level yield estimates.

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Ruling Keeps Alive Iowa 2012 Ag-Gag Law

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Animal rights groups do not have a First Amendment right to lie in order to gain access to agricultural facilities to conduct undercover investigations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled this week, in overturning an Iowa district court’s ruling against the state’s 2012 so-called “ag-gag” law.

The ruling gives new life to the Iowa law designed to protect agricultural facilities.

In 2017, a coalition of animal, environmental and community advocacy groups led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, challenged the law’s constitutionality. In January 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines struck down the law, ruling that the ban on undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses violated the First Amendment.

The state has since passed a number of other laws designed to prevent undercover investigations at animal and other facilities.

The Eighth Circuit said the law’s access provision was consistent with the First Amendment because agriculture facilities could be awarded compensation for damages that are not necessarily physical in nature.

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Border Crossings Hurting Farms, Ranches

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Since June, farm bureaus in all 50 states and Puerto Rico have been asking the Biden administration to do something to control the flow of immigrants into the United States through the southern border.

On Wednesday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the situation has worsened for farmers and ranchers dealing with the situation.

Duvall joined a number of state farm bureau representatives from the border states as well as members of Congress this week on a tour of farms and ranches fighting an influx of immigrants on their land.

“What we’ve seen is how serious the situation is for farmers,” Duvall said during a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday.

“Is heartbreaking to see and hear some of the stories that I’ve heard this week. Of course, you know, they’ve experienced people coming across our border for decades, but never at the level that we’re seeing it today.

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