Report discusses corn trade disruptions

Losses to the U.S. agricultural industry resulting from China’s rejection of corn shipments containing the MIR 162 trait could be as high as 2.9 billion dollars.

That’s according to a report released by the National Grain and Feed Association.  NGFA says the bulk of that loss is in an estimated 11-cent per bushel lower average price paid to farmers for their corn.  The estimate also includes losses to corn exporters and sellers of DDGs, as well as China’s rejection of several soybean shipments which it claims contained the banned corn variety.

In the U.S., the MIR 162 variety is marketed by Syngenta as Agrisure Viptera.  The report warns that more trade disruptions and economic losses are possible in the next marketing year due to the introduction of another Syngenta biotech variety into the supply chain.  That product, called Agrisure Duracade, is being planted in the U.S. for the first time this spring.

Viptera and Duracade have both been approved for use in the U.S., but have not received Chinese approval.

Wheat damaged? Get it appraised

Farmers walking their wheat fields assessing any damage to the crop from the latest round of cold temperatures are being reminded that before doing anything it would be a good idea to call their crop insurance agent.

“They must have an appraisal done on the wheat crop before any chopping, any mowing of the wheat, or any tillage work, or tillage pass must be appraised for yield purposes,” said Ryan Fennig with Fennig-Homan Agribusiness at Coldwater, Ohio. “If there is a potential claim that’s how we figure their claim payment, is off that appraisal.”

Audio: Ryan Fennig, Fennig-Homan Agribusiness (1:30 mp3)

Ed Lentz, Extension educator in Hancock County (Northwest Ohio) recommends giving the crop a chance before making that final decision on what to do with the crop.

“I think we’re really jumping the gun if we’re trying to assess what we anticipate from spring tiller growth and other things,” Lentz said. “We just haven’t had the heat units to have a good evaluation.”

Lentz is not expecting any serious damage to wheat from the latest cold temperatures.

Audio: Ed Lentz, Extension educator, Hancock Co. Ohio (3:45 mp3)

Lentsch: STB heard fertilizer concerns

South Dakota Ag Director Lucas Lentsch says he’s pleased the Surface Transportation Board was listening when he testified before the board last week.

In that hearing, Lucas relayed Governor Dennis Daugaard’s concerns about the backlog of rail shipments in South Dakota.  It is a multi-state concern, not just in South Dakota.

The Surface Transportation Board this week directed railways to report their plans to ensure adequate delivery of fertilizer shipments needed for spring planting.

The National Farmers Union calls the decision “a step in the right direction.”

Nitrogen gene commercialization still a ways off

Commercialization of a nitrogen efficiency gene for corn, developed by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, is still several years away.

That according to Iowa Corn technology commercialization manager David Ertl.  Ertl says they’re in the process of out-licensing the technology to seed companies.

“Even if it is something they want to commercialize they still have to go through the regulatory approval process,” Ertl says. “So between the hybrid development time, testing and regulatory approval, you’re probably talking at least six or seven years minimum.”

Ertl says there are two objectives to their research with the gene—either to increase yield without increasing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer used to grow corn or to obtain the same yield with less fertilizer.

“The trait doesn’t necessarily do anything to pull more nitrogen from the soil in to the plant,” he says, “but what it does is it changes the nitrogen metabolism within the plant to hopefully be more efficient in using the nitrogen once it’s in the plant.”

Iowa Corn recently received a U.S. patent on the nitrogen gene. The technology was developed in collaboration with private technology firms.

AUDIO: David Ertl (5:35 MP3)

SDFU president suspicious of rail/oil connection

A member of the National Farmers Union Board says the problem with railways putting grain shipments on the back burner is as bad as it’s ever been and congressional investigation is likely needed. Doug Sombke, President of the South Dakota Farmers Union, says the Surface Transportation Board (STB) is not taking the issue seriously enough, “It’s very suspicious to think that now all this oil is being developed and they’re shipping all this oil that the railroad and the oil industry aren’t working together to eliminate the effects of ethanol. Because we all know that ethanol has kept the price of oil down.”

He tells Brownfield the NFU and other groups are considering a petition to ask for an investigation rather than STB just holding hearings. A South Dakota County Farmers Union official testified at one of those hearings last week.

Sombke tells Brownfield Ag News the problem is going to get worse this spring with less fertilizer likely being shipped to plants and, worse yet, the impact on the basis, “The difference between the Chicago Board of Trade and what we’re getting paid at the elevator is huge at this time and this should be a time when it’s at the lowest. If it continues at this rate, into fall harvest, it could be double what we’re seeing today.”

Sombke says Burlington/Northern, Santa Fe and Canadian Pacific need to be more reliable. He says the railroads are not charged a penalty the way grain farmers are if contracted grain shipments are late.

On Wednesday, the Surface Transportation Board said it would require the rail industry to report on its delivery of fertilizer to farmers in the upper Midwest to ensure it arrives for the upcoming growing season.

Interview with Doug Sombke (11:00 mp3)

Board directs rail industry to provide delivery plans

Given the immediate need for fertilizer for farmers entering the planting season, the Surface Transportation Board will now require reports from the rail industry on its plans to ensure delivery of fertilizer to farmers in the upper Midwest.

Steve Sharp president of Consumer United Rail Equity applauds the STB’s decision.  He says, “It’s in the best interest of all parties to ensure that farmers have all the necessary inputs to produce a crop during the upcoming growing season.”

According to the STB, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and BNSF Railway have been directed to report by April 18, 2014 their plans to ensure delivery of fertilizer.  The board further directed CP and BNSF to each provide weekly status reports, over the next six weeks, beginning April 25, 2014 regarding delivery on their respective networks.

Disaster programs now available to producers

Eligible farmers and ranchers can now sign-up for USDA’s disaster assistance programs.  Indiana State Executive Director Julia Wickard says the Farm Service Agency has been waiting a long time to unveil livestock disaster programs.  “We were able to roll out four new disaster programs as permanent law that Congress enacted earlier this year,” she says.  “We’ve actually been able to enact this legislation in record time, about 60 days, which is unprecedented.  The quickest a Farm Bill has been rolled out is a 90 day period.”

AUDIO: Julia Wickard, FSA (3:30mp3)

Wickard tells Brownfield both the Secretary of Agriculture and the President felt it was imperative to provide livestock producers across the country with relief.  Which is why, she says, these four programs were debuted first.  “The programs we’re unveiling today are the Livestock Forage Program, which has been a part of prior Farm Bills; the Livestock Indemnity Program; the Emergency Loss Assistance Program for Honeybees and Farm Raised Fish; and the Tree Assistance Program,” she says.

Johnson county beef producer Keegan Poe says having disaster programs available to livestock producers once again, is a relief. “Any livestock operations, one of their biggest costs is feed costs,” he says.  “When we have these natural disasters it affects our feed availability quite a bit.  It’s really helpful to have these insurance policies, that’s what I use them for – an insurance policy, to keep the livestock in good condition and keep them healthy.”

AUDIO: Keegan Poe, Johnson County (1:00mp3)

Depending on the program and year of the loss, producers have three to nine months to apply.  Producers are urged to contact the local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment.

Another blow to the Plains’ wheat crop

Freezing temperatures as far south as central Texas this week may have caused further damage to the Great Plains’ winter wheat crop.

However, agronomists say damage to the crop may not be apparent for another week to 10 days.

There are a number of factors that determine the extent of freeze damage in wheat, including the duration of low temperatures, soil moisture and stage of development.  Wheat in the jointing stage is most at risk and, as of Sunday, the Kansas wheat crop was 31 percent jointed with Oklahoma at 80 percent jointed.

The Plains’ wheat crop was already suffering from drought and the winter’s extreme cold.  A Bloomberg report prior to this week’s freeze indicated many wheat fields were showing the worst amount of damage in five years.

Nutrient management bill takes another step

When the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 150, it was just another step in the process for the so-called nutrient management bill.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to pass and then to the Governor for his signature, 90 days later the bill becomes effective. But beyond that, Adam Ward, Executive Director of the Ohio Soybean Association says getting the legislation implemented could take some time.

“So even if the rules were written now and everything was in the can ready to go, we’re still looking at 180 days before the effective changes that are in this bill,” Ward said. “So when you look at that piece of the pie I think what we’re going to see is something effective somewhere in 2015.”

Audio: Adam Ward, Executive Director, Ohio Soybean Assn. (4:45 mp3)

Responding to the Ohio House passing the bill, Jack Fisher, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Farm Bureau said that while a lot still needs to be done, the new law will help.

Illinois corn and cattle producers coexist well

An Illinois beef industry leader says cattle and corn farmers in the state complement each other very well, no matter what the market is. Illinois Beef Association Executive Vice President Reid Blossom says cattlemen are enjoying a strong market because of high demand and tight supply. He says beef producers also co-exist quite well with those in the state who grow corn.

“Feeding cattle in Illinois complements the production of ethanol and corn fuels by making use of those byproducts coming out of some of these ethanol plants, namely those distillers grains that can go into cattle rations,” said Blossom, in an interview with Brownfield Ag News.

The Illinois Corn Growers Association released analysis indicating the state’s economy ebbs and flows with the price of corn, a cattle producers biggest input. Blossom says the two facets of agriculture need each other and get along quite well.

“Because we complement each other so well within our industry, there’s always room in Illinois for corn producers and cattlemen to both get ahead at the same time,” he said.

Blossom adds that those who raise cattle and those who raise corn are often the same people.

AUDIO: Reid Blossom (5 min. MP3)