U.S. corn, soybean ratings hold

U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings held steady last week.

74% of corn and 72% of beans are rated good to excellent, unchanged from a week ago, and while key, late development phases for both crops are a little behind average, they’re at or ahead of last year’s pace.

82% of corn is dented, compared to the five year average of 85%, 27% has reached maturity, compared to 39% on average, and 4% is harvested, compared to 9% on average. 24% of soybeans are dropping leaves, compared to 32% on average.

For spring wheat, 74% is harvested, compared to 86% on average, and for winter wheat, 12% is planted, compared to 11% on average.

50% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are rated good to excellent, up 2% on the week.

OFBF commits $1 million to water quality

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) has announced a $1 million commitment to address water quality, with special emphasis on the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The action plan includes two aggressive goals: Farm Bureau will help all qualifying farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin obtain required fertilizer certification by Earth Day 2015. The second goal, to help farmers in the watershed create nutrient management plans by Earth Day 2016.

Another significant move, Ohio Farm Bureau will hire a second staff member to specialize in water quality and nutrient management.

Other Farm Bureau action steps announced in the plan include:

  • Partnering with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and various state agencies to establish a network of demonstration farms, which will assist in farmer training and show the public how viable farming and resource protection go hand in hand;
  • Working to gain additional funding for on-farm research projects and dissemination of the research results;
  • Securing funding for farm conservation programs;
  • Seeking resources for septic and rural water infrastructure improvements;
  • Partnering to promote public drinking water system improvements;
  • Supporting county Farm Bureau activities centered on local water issues.

“Preserving Ohio’s water quality is a serious issue and these are serious responses,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President John C. (Jack) Fisher. “There are few quick fixes, no inexpensive answers. But we have to start now. We have to find solutions that protect our water, preserve our ability to grow food and help our state’s businesses and communities. Farmers are willing to do their fair share and Farm Bureau is committed to that effort.”

Farm Bureau’s commitment is an unprecedented private-sector investment in improving the state’s water.

Cargill sues Syngenta over MIR162

Cargill has filed a lawsuit against Syngenta Seeds, Inc. in Louisiana state court, seeking damages from Syngenta for commercializing its Agrisure Viptera (MIR162) corn seed before the product obtained import approval from China.

Cargill’s grain export facilities in Reserve and Westwego, Louisiana loaded the vessels that were destined for and rejected by China.

“Unlike other seed companies, Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship by broadly commercializing a new product before receiving approval from a key export market like China,” said Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America. “Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk, costing both Cargill and the entire U.S. agricultural industry significant damages.”

Since mid-November 2013, China has rejected imports of U.S. corn due to the presence of Syngenta’s MIR162 trait because of its lack of approval for import, virtually halting U.S. corn trade with China. A study by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) estimated that U.S. exporters and farmers lost up to 2.9 billion dollars because of the uncertain trade environment.

Syngenta issued a statement saying the lawsuit is without merit. “(Syngenta) strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability,” the statement says.

USDA maintains record corn, soybean estimates

USDA has raised its U.S. corn and soybean production projections. If realized, we’ll see record crops for both this year.

Corn is now seen at 14.395 billion bushels, up 3% from both the August guess and the 2013 total. The average yield is pegged at 171.7 bushels per acre, nearly 13 more than a year ago. Harvested area is estimated at 83.8 million acres, unchanged from August and down 4% on the year.

Soybeans are pegged at 3.913 billion bushels, a 3% rise from last month and a 19% jump from last year. The average yield is seen at 46.6 bushels per acre, which would be up more than 3 from 2013. Harvested area is expected to be 84.1 million acres, up 11% from a year ago, which would also be a new record.

USDA’s estimates for corn and soybean production, yield, and harvested acreage in Brownfield states

[Read more...]

More efforts to stop water rule

More efforts are underway to try and stop the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

As the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture meets this week, North Dakota’s Ag Commissioner will submit an action item for approval by NASDA members calling for the withdrawal of the proposed rule, according to Politico.

The action item says the proposal does NOT clearly define jurisdictional waters and allows the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to regulate “any wet spot in the landscape.” It says the EPA needs to rework the rule in a way that heeds boundaries set by Congress and “in a manner that allows for state input.” Further, the commissioner says, the Interpretive Rule potentially provides regulatory authority to the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) where it doesn’t belong.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House passed a bill to prevent implementation of the rule by the EPA and the Corps.  According to DTN, thirteen of the Democrats who sided with Republicans on the bill are members of the House Ag Committee.

House moves to halt WOTUS

On a 262-152 vote, the House has passed a bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the U.S. rules.  H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

Supporters of the bill say EPA’s rule is an attempt to override Congress and the states.  Republicans charge it would give EPA the power to regulate bodies of water that Congress never intended the agency to have.  There are five Democratic co-sponsors of the bill.  House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson spoke in support of the bill saying “the EPA does not seem to understand the real world effects these regulations will have on farmers across the country.”

The action drew praise from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation.

It is uncertain if the bill will come up in the Senate and reports are the President would veto it if it gets that far.

EPA has sought to clarify the proposal by posting a “Ditch the Myth” series on its website.

U.S. corn, soybean condition ratings hold

U.S. corn and soybean crops remain in great shape, but a couple of critical growth stages continue to trail their respective average paces.

As of Sunday, 95% of corn is at the dough making stage, compared to 91% this time last year and the five year average of 94%, while 69% has dented, compared to 61% a year ago and 74% on average, and 15% is mature, compared to 8% last year and 26% on average. 74% of the crop is in good to excellent condition, unchanged on the week.

12% of soybeans are dropping leaves, compared to 10% a year ago and 17% on average, with 72% of the crop called good to excellent, steady with last week.

58% of the spring wheat crop is harvested, well behind both the year ago pace and the five year average of 78%. 60% of spring wheat is in good to excellent shape, 3% less than a week ago. 3% of winter wheat is planted, compared to 5% last year and 4% on average.

48% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are rated good to excellent, unchanged on the week.

Thune on rail backlog hearings

A U.S. Senate committee hearing next week will deal with rail service backlogs in South Dakota and the region that have disrupted shipments of grain, ethanol and other goods.  South Dakota Senator John Thune is ranking member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

He says “South Dakota producers have limited storage options for both last year’s and this year’s expected record-breaking harvest” with the backlog in rail service and grain bins reaching capacity.

Thune says he will continue to work with Chairman Rockefeller and the Surface Transportation Board to get commitment’s from railroads to address the backlog of grain orders.

Thune testified at the STB hearing in Fargo, North Dakota on Thursday.

September 30th key for Livestock Forage aid

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency director says livestock producers need to request an appointment before September 30th if they are applying for disaster assistance in the farm bill’s Livestock Forage Program.

“Any payments that are issued after September 30th are subject to a 7.3% sequester reduction,” says FSA director Juan Garcia.

He urges producers to contact their local FSA office to make an appointment which they can also do online. Many livestock producers are eligible for the program from 2011 through even this year.

Plant opening ‘the tip of the iceberg’

Jeff Broin

Jeff Broin

The founder and executive chairman of ethanol producer POET, Jeff Broin, calls the grand opening of the company’s first cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, “the tip of the iceberg”.

“We are witnessing what I believe is the foundation of what will be a complete transformation of our energy supply and our economy,” Broin says. “This transformation from a fossil-based economy to a renewable economy may not be completed during our lifetime, but it will happen.  It simply has to.”

AUDIO: Jeff Broin (3:15 MP3)

Also speaking at the grand opening of POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“Now I know there are some skeptics out here who may be asking the question, ‘Is cellulosic ethanol for real—can it be commercially produced?’”, Vilsack says. “Well, I say, ‘Come to Emmetsburg and see this extraordinary facility that’s going to produce 25 million gallons (annually)’.”

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (3:56 MP3)

Several speakers, including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, made reference to the EPA’s proposed reduction in the ethanol volume requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Branstad says it has created “unnecessary uncertainty” for both agricultural producers and the biofuels industry.

“This is not the time to backtrack,” Branstad says. “This is the time to continue to move forward with creating new technology.  This is the time for us to stand up proudly and support this industry.”

AUDIO: Terry Branstad (1:50 MP3)

Project LIBERTY converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. POET-DSM plans to license its technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.