National Headlines

Democrats Turn to Rural Issues

GLENWOOD, Iowa (DTN) — Rural leaders in the Democratic Party took to Zoom and other livestream events on Tuesday to spotlight, among other things, problems with broadband and infrastructure in rural America.

The Democratic National Convention held events throughout Tuesday with its Rural Caucus and “Leaders of American Agriculture” where they highlighted former Vice President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. Democratic leaders put a heavy emphasis on rural broadband and health care while criticizing the Trump administration and President Trump directly on trade, biofuels, climate change and the pandemic response.

A western Pennsylvania soybean and hay farmer who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Monday. “The last year has been the biggest challenge, financially, that I can remember,” said Rick Telesz of Volant, Pennsylvania.

The tariffs China imposed on U.S. farm products in retaliation for the tariffs that Trump placed on Chinese goods have had a trickle-down effect, Telesz said.

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Cover Crops Help Growers in Wet Season

OMAHA (DTN) — Though a wet 2019 planting season led to producers foregoing planting millions of acres of crops, many farmers found ways to plant either early or on time into green cover crops, according to a report released Wednesday outlining results from the 2019-2020 National Cover Crop Survey.

The latest survey of 1,172 farmers by USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Conservation Technology Information Center and American Seed Trade Association, found that more than 90% of farmers reported cover crops allowed them to plant earlier or at the same time as non-cover-cropped fields.

The 2019 planting season between May 2018 and April 2019 was the wettest year on record. Just 67% of corn and 39% of soybeans were planted by June 2, 2019.

USDA estimated flooding delayed or prevented planting on 19 million acres of cropland in 2019.

About 71% of survey respondents reported improved weed control from planting into green cover crops, and 27% said early season diseases were better than a conventionally managed cover crop.

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Different Plans to Aid Rural Internet

OMAHA (DTN) — Improving broadband internet services to all rural areas is an extremely complex task with no easy answers. With more people working from home and children learning remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has shown this year how much work is still needed to fill in the gaps for something that is almost required by most people.

So how do you accomplish this massive undertaking? Two webinars last week a day apart presented plans which were about as far apart as the wide-open spaces without broadband internet.

A TALE OF TWO RURAL AREAS

In a United Soybean Board (USB)/American Soybean Association (ASA) webinar titled “2020 Rural Broadband Webinar”, Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, discussed the current situation with rural internet and what can be done to improve accessibility. According to Bloomfield, it’s really a tale of two rural Americas.

Some rural areas are covered by local telecommunication companies that are part of their communities, who are their neighbors and are willing to invest in their rural regions.

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Curbside Pickup of Farmland

INDIANOLA, Iowa (DTN) — The coronavirus has forced farmland brokers to get creative.

Typically they’re busy setting their fall auction line-up this time of year, but now they’re also having to take local rules on the size of permissible gatherings into account, said Murray Wise, with Murray Wise Associates, a national ag real estate marketing and auction company headquartered in Champaign, Ill.

In Ohio, for instance, gatherings are limited to 10 people, including auction employees, which limits the benefit of a public auction.

“So, now interested buyers are given a password to go online to a dedicated website and get information about the farm for sale,” Wise said. “Then, they submit a one-shot written bid for any of the tracts, individually, any combination of tracts or the total property.”

The buyer has to fill out a contract, bid submission form and a check for the earnest money, said Eric Sarff, vice president of Murray Wise Associates.

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Trump Approves Iowa Disaster Request

OMAHA (DTN) — President Donald Trump approved Iowa’s request for an expedited request for a disaster declaration, following last week’s devastating derecho that inflicted damage to crops, grain storage and other agriculture infrastructure.

Trump made the remarks to reporters Monday morning in Washington as he was leaving for a campaign stop in Minnesota. On Sunday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds requested a presidential major disaster declaration, requesting about $4 billion in federal assistance.

On Friday, USDA’s Risk Management Agency reported 57 Iowa counties were in the path of the storm, where an estimated 14 million acres of insured crops may have been affected. That includes 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig released more details on potential crop damage.

“Based on MODIS satellite imagery and storm prediction center preliminary storm reports, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship believes 36 counties in Iowa were hardest hit by the derecho,” the department said in a news release on Friday.

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Dicamba Decision Stands

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — On Monday, three dicamba registrants lost one of their last remaining legal options to overturn a federal court’s mandate ending the registrations of three dicamba herbicides.

On June 3, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision to vacate three dicamba herbicides, XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF) and FeXapan (Corteva Agriscience).

On July 20, all three companies petitioned for a broader group of Ninth Circuit judges to rehear that case. They argued that the judges’ initial decision was unfair, unconstitutional and required a full judicial review.

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court disagreed and dismissed those requests, known as petitions for “rehearing en banc.”

“The full court has been advised of the petitions for rehearing en banc, and no judge of the court has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc,” the judges’ order stated.

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DTN 2020 Digital Yield Tour — National

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — The U.S. could set new yield records in 2020, with Gro Intelligence forecasting a national average corn yield of 183.9 bushels per acre and soybean yield of 53.1 bpa.

The corn yield estimate is 2.1 bpa higher than USDA’s August estimate, while Gro’s soybean estimate came in 0.2 bpa below USDA. Neither estimate accounts for damage from the derecho on Monday, Aug. 10, which slammed more than 33.7 million corn and soybean acres across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana with hurricane-force winds.

Over the course of the past week, DTN has been pairing Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data, with on-the-ground commentary from farmers to conduct the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.

“It was another engaging digital yield tour between DTN and Gro Intelligence with record yields expected, and having to assess the impact of an unexpected weather event during the digital yield tour was a challenging but intriguing thing to assess,” Gro Intelligence Vice President of Agribusiness James Heneghan said.

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Winds Pummel Midwest Grain Facilities

ANKENY, Iowa (DTN) — As winds hitting 100 miles per hour turned grain bins into twisted pieces of steel Monday in portions of three Midwestern states, Stephanie Voxland’s phone blew up. Harvest, after all, won’t stop because grain facilities are damaged or destroyed.

“My phone started ringing as the storm was going on — that’s a true story,” said Voxland, president of Global Bin Builders based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “People called and texted me to ask availability and give me counts as bins were going down. They wanted me to save building slots.”

Grain storage facilities and handling equipment took a beating from a freak storm called a derecho, which resembles on inland hurricane. The violent weather event started in southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska Monday morning and gained strength as it cut a destructive swath through the middle one-third of Iowa and continued into Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, gradually losing steam.

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Millions of Ill. Acres in Derecho Path

OMAHA (DTN) — Mazon, Illinois, farmer Paul Jeschke already faces a harvest challenge this year when the Illinois River closes to transportation.

Add to that the loss of grain storage on his farm in Grundy County 75 miles southwest of Chicago in the northeast part of the state, and Jeschke is scrambling.

“We, along with I’m sure hundreds of other farmers across the Corn Belt, were severely hit by Monday’s storm,” he told DTN. “In our operation, we had three bins totally destroyed and three others severely damaged. That’s over half of our grain storage in a year when the Illinois River is closed during harvest.”

Jeschke is searching desperately for someone to repair or replace the bins.

“This is late in the season to try and order and build a bin before harvest, but we will be trying to do that,” he said. “We constructed two new bins to help hold the production that normally goes to market in the fall.

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Pence Rallies Iowa Farmers

DES MOINES, Iowa (DTN) — Defending red meat and preventing overburdening environmental regulations are among the lines in the sand President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will defend against Democratic candidates Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Vice President Pence also told a group of Iowa farmers and GOP political activists that the Trump administration has kept its promises to increase ethanol demand through the president’s executive order approving year-round E15. “Promises made, promises kept,” Pence told the Iowa audience.

Pence held a rally Thursday to kick off “Farmers and Ranchers for Trump” at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, drawing a group of farmers and some in agribusiness, as well as state GOP leaders. A group of farmers and officials got a chance to meet with Pence beforehand to talk about the devastation from this week’s storm. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the storm was “devastating and it’s widespread,” and affected 10 million acres of crop ground in the state, as well major grain-storage capacity in some areas.

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Iowa Farmers Face Harvest Challenge

OMAHA (DTN) — One thing has become clear as crop experts tour the damage left behind by the derecho that ripped through Iowa this week: Farmers will face a multitude of challenges come harvest.

Trevor Birchmier, a farmer and owner of Central Iowa Shortline of Maxwell, a farm store and equipment business, told DTN that about 2,400 acres of corn went down on his farm in addition to three 42-foot bins holding 40,000 bushels each.

In all, he lost a total of between 150,000 to 175,000 bushels storage.

Prior to the storm, his crop was doing well.

“We were looking incredible,” Birchmier said. “Barely got rain, but when it came, it was at the right time. Such a good spring and early part of the growing season. It got a great start. Our corn looked tremendous. We were looking forward to a heck of a bumper crop, probably one of our best.”

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DTN 2020 Digital Yield Tour — IA, MN, WI

By Emily Unglesbee

DTN Staff Reporter

and

Katie Dehlinger

DTN Farm Business Editor

MT. JULIET, Tenn. and ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Between drought and derecho, it feels like Iowa’s corn crop has been through nine rounds with Mike Tyson. But despite the body blows, the state’s corn will likely exit the ring with respectable yields intact, while its northern neighbors — Minnesota and Wisconsin — could set records, according to the third day of the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.

Powered by Gro Intelligence, the tour 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 Wednesday, Gro’s models for corn showed a statewide average of 197.6 bushels per acre (bpa) in Iowa, while USDA, which released its first state yield estimates at 11 a.m. CDT Wednesday, estimated Iowa corn yield at 202 bpa.

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How to Yield Check Crops

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Crop tours and USDA reports are starting to heat up as the calendar races toward harvest. Yield checks are a good way to see how your corn and soybean yields measure up.

The week kicks off the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence. The tour takes an in-depth look at how this year’s corn and soybean crop is progressing using real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

Yield checks, like virtual tours, are a snapshot in time to assess potential of the crop. There are several different formulas used to figure yields, but here is a popular and simple approach:

CORN

1. Measure and record the row spacing (inches) used in the field.

2. Walk past the end rows into the bulk of the field, then walk about 35 paces down the rows before taking a sample.

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Iowa Assesses Derecho Damage to Ag

OMAHA (DTN) — About one-third of Iowa’s estimated 30 million acres of cropland was hit hard by the derecho storm on Monday, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said on Tuesday extensive damage was inflicted to about 10 million acres in the central part of the state.

What was already a challenging year for Iowa farmers just became even more challenging, as an estimated tens of millions of bushels of commercial grain storage was damaged or destroyed along with millions of bushels of on-farm storage.

“We were already looking at a challenging year from a storage standpoint because of a large crop,” Naig told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“We already have producers dealing with supply disruptions, and the ethanol industry has dialed back. Then, to bring on a significant crop when there’s already a challenge — now to take significant storage out of these areas — you’ll have areas where there’ll be both damaged on-farm storage and commercial storage.

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Judge Orders Corps Work on Pipeline

OMAHA (DTN) — With the loss of a federal permit to operate the Dakota Access pipeline, a federal judge on Monday ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a resolution by the end of August.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Corps of Engineers to provide a status report to the court by Aug. 31, detailing steps taken by the Corps to resolve concerns with the pipeline.

“In the interim, the parties shall discuss in good faith mitigation measures that could lessen the likelihood and severity of any oil leak in or around Lake Oahe,” the order said.

The Corps is considering several options for the pipeline, while owner Energy Transfer LP is appealing a recent decision to vacate the permit.

A federal appeals court ruled on Aug. 5 that a district court overstepped when it ordered the pipeline closed and emptied of oil.

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DTN 2020 Digital Yield Tour — MO, KS

By Emily Unglesbee

DTN Staff Reporter

and

Katie Dehlinger

DTN Farm Business Editor

ROCKVILLE, Md., and MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — Aided by timely planting and good growing conditions, both Missouri and Kansas crop producers could be raising record or near-record crops this year, according to the second day of the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.

Powered by Gro Intelligence and sponsored by CLAAS, the tour 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, Gro’s models for corn showed a statewide average of 182 bushels per acre (bpa) for Missouri, just 4 bushels shy of a record, and 161 bpa for Kansas, a potential new record high. Gro’s forecasts for statewide average soybean yields also came in above or near record levels in both states, at 52.2 bpa in Missouri and 48 bpa in Kansas.

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DTN 2020 Digital Yield Tour — NE, SD

By Katie Dehlinger

Farm Business Editor

and

By Emily Unglesbee

DTN Staff Reporter

MT. JULIET, Tenn. and ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Beneficial planting conditions, favorable temperatures and timely doses of rain could help corn and soybean growers in Nebraska and South Dakota achieve record yields in 2020, according to the first day’s findings on the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.

Powered by Gro Intelligence, the tour 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 Monday, Gro’s models for corn show a statewide average of 198.7 bushels per acre (bpa) in Nebraska and 174.4 bpa in South Dakota. USDA will release its first state-by-state yield estimates in Wednesday’s Crop Production report.

Gro forecasts soybean yields at 63.2 bpa in Nebraska and 49.2 bpa in South Dakota.

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Derecho Smashes Grain Storage

OMAHA (DTN) — Grain bins were among the structures damaged by a widespread thunderstorm that slammed the Midwest on Monday, picking up speed and destructive power as it moved from Nebraska into Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The storm hit wind speeds in Nebraska as high as 70 miles per hour Monday morning. Then, the storm, classified as a “derecho” by meteorologists, continued to pick up speed as it swept across much of Iowa, hitting 99 mph, and then reaching speeds of more than 100 mph once it reached a large swath of Illinois and Wisconsin by midafternoon.

Damage assessments will become more detailed as the week progresses, but by Monday afternoon, Twitter was filled with photos and videos of smashed bins and scattered debris from the storm. Many bins on farms and at local elevators were empty — or close to it — as they were gearing up for an expected large corn crop at harvest.

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Packing Plants and COVID-19

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Rogelio Munoz Calderon worked for Tyson Foods in Dakota City, Nebraska, for 27 years and raised a family as a packing-plant worker in the northeast Nebraska town.

Munoz Calderon finally became a U.S. citizen last March, his son Christian said. “He was so happy and so proud.”

He died in May from COVID-19 at age 52, less than a week before Christian’s son was born. Christian, a former Tyson worker as well, brought a portrait of his father to the Nebraska Capitol on Thursday as the Nebraska Legislature became the first state in the country to hold a hearing on the toll taken on meatpacking plant workers during the epidemic.

“I’m here today to honor my father because the company never did, but they told us all we were doing something essential for the country,” Christian Munoz said.

The three-hour-plus legislative hearing was full of emotional details from workers, families, union representatives and advocates calling for the state to implement better worker protections.

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Ethanol Awaits Fate on Waivers, Aid

OMAHA (DTN) — The ethanol industry continues to wait for a decision from EPA on 86 pending small-refinery exemptions after the U.S. Department of Energy finished a review and sent those requests back to EPA.

During a news conference on Thursday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the small-refinery exemption program needs to be transparent.

A report from Hoosier Ag Today, citing unnamed sources, said the DOE had recommended EPA approve some of the pending 58 retroactive waiver requests to the Renewable Fuel Standard. The EPA still has a total of 86 pending requests for small-refinery exemptions, including a total of 28 for 2019 and 2020.

Cooper said the agency already has missed the 90-day deadline to issue decisions on the requests. The deadline was triggered when EPA received the requests.

“We haven’t heard what the DOE recommends,” he said. “It would be absolutely insane for DOE to recommend any of those hardship waivers.

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