WOTUS debate rages on

The debate continues to rage over the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

The latest development involves the release of EPA maps which critics say confirm that the agency is attempting to control land across the country.  Ashley McDonald of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls it “the smoking gun for agriculture”.  McDonald says the maps show that EPA knew exactly what it was doing and knew exactly how expansive its proposal was before it was published.

ken with karl brooks epaIn a blog post, EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds disputes that notion, saying the law has nothing to do with land use or private property rights.

In an interview with Brownfield at the Farm Progress Show, EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks reiterated EPA’s basic message—that the proposed rule simply clarifies the EPA’s jurisdiction for the Clean Water Act.

“The rule serves the needs of American agriculture by clarifying the jurisdictional reach of both the EPA and our state environmental partners,” says Brooks.  “So, simple is good. Clear is better.  The interaction you don’t have to have with the EPA or with the Army Corps, that’s the best interaction for a producer.  That’s where the proposed rule would take us.”

Brooks says the EPA is listening to agriculture’s concerns.

“I’d like to think that, if you take just some of the more heated rhetoric out that tends to boil up around the edges of this conversation, you can really see some basic principles there that look like they might provide a way forward for the rule.”

Brooks says the goal for the final rule is “clarity and workability”.

AUDIO: Karl Brooks (5:37 MP3)

Dairy Margin Protection sign-up starts Tuesday

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says sign-up for the new Margin Protection Program for dairy producers will run from September 2nd through November 28th.  If producers choose to not participate this year, they will be able to sign-up in future years but once they enroll in the program they must participate for the life of the Farm Bill through 2018.

The base price to participate will be $100 per farm per year.  That fee covers a $4 margin between the national all milk price and a feed cost formula determined by USDA using corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay.  Final margins will be announced at the end of the month following each two-month period. For any two-month period in which margin payments are authorized, USDA will process producer payments quickly after the final margin numbers are announced. For example, if payments are authorized for January-February, final margins will be announced at the end of March, and program payments will be issued in early April.

Additional margin coverage may be purchased in 50-cent increments up to $8 on an annual basis.  After 2015 there will be a premium price difference between the first 4 million pounds of production and anything above that.

The premium can be paid in-full at sign-up or by February 1st or in two installments: 25% by February 1st and the remaining 75% by June 1st.

Production history will be established using the highest production from 2011, 2012 or 2013.  New herds without a history from those years will either establish a 12-month base or use the national average production per cow for a herd their size.  Any increase in the base will coincide with an increase in U.S. milk production.

USDA has an online calculator to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The calculator, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool allows dairy farmers to combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone, tablet or any other platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

NMPF’s Jim Mulhern talks about the MPP 9:55 mp3

More details on the MPP from National Milk Producers Federation here:

Another strong week for new crop soybean sales

USDA reports soybean product export sales for the week ending August 21 were below pre-report estimates, while corn, soybeans, and wheat were within analysts’ expectations. Physical shipments of soybeans were above what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the marketing year, but corn and wheat fell short of their respective marks.

Wheat came out at 403,600 tons (14.8 million bushels), up 94% from the week ending August 14, but down 17% from the four week average. Brazil purchased 94,000 tons and Nigeria bought 93,700 tons, while Panama canceled on 29,100 tons. At this point in the 2014/15 marketing year, wheat sales are 414.0 million bushels, compared to 556.8 million in 2013/14.

Old crop corn had a net reduction of 32,700 tons (-1.3 million bushels). Sales of 8,600 to 88,400 tons were offset by cancellations of 1,200 to 172,900 tons. Nearing the end of the 2013/14 marketing year, corn sales are 1.916 billion bushels, compared to 751.7 million in 2012/13. Sales of 695,600 tons (27.4 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were mainly to Colombia (140,900 tons) and South Korea (125,000 tons).

Old crop soybeans had a net reduction of 62,800 tons (-2.3 million bushels). Sales of 600 to 9,700 tons were offset by cancellations of 10,500 to 55,000 tons. So far this marketing year, soybean sales are 1.691 billion bushels, compared to 1.366 billion this time last year. Sales of 1,290,800 tons (47.4 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were primarily to China (655,000 tons) and Vietnam (112,200 tons).

Soybean meal was reported at 1,100 tons, with sales of 900 to 20,000 tons and cancellations of 1,200 to 21,300 tons. For the marketing year to date, soybean meal sales are 10,404,900 tons, compared to 10,032,600 a year ago. Sales of 76,100 tons for 2014/15 delivery were mostly to unknown destinations (45,200 tons) and Canada (10,700 tons).

Old crop soybean oil had a net reduction of 11,300 tons, with sales of 100 to 3,400 tons offset by cancellations of 100 and 15,000 tons. 2013/14 soybean oil sales are 810,300 tons, compared to 928,800 in 2012/13.

Net beef sales totaled 10,600 tons, an increase of 47% on the week, but a decrease of 7% from the four week average. The listed purchasers were Mexico (2,500 tons), Hong Kong (2,100 tons), South Korea (2,100 tons), Japan (1,700 tons), and Canada (900 tons).

Net pork sales totaled 7,600 tons. The reported buyers were Mexico (7,000 tons), South Korea (4,400 tons), Australia (3,000 tons), Japan (2,400 tons), and Canada (2,300 tons). Russia canceled on 15,700 tons.

DOJ says Tyson must sell Heinold

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will require Tyson Foods to divest Heinold Hog Markets, its sow purchasing business, in order to proceed with its $8.5 billion acquisition of Hillshire Brands Company.

Attorneys General from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri joined DOJ in a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to block the sale. At the same time, DOJ filed a proposed settlement that calls on Tyson to sell Heinold to a buyer approved by the antitrust division.

DOJ says without the required divestiture, the transaction would combine companies that account for more than a third of sow purchases from U.S. farmers, thereby likely reducing competition for purchases of sows from farmers.

The court needs to approve the settlement.

Tyson won a bidding war earlier this year with an offer of $63 per share or approximately $8.55 billion for Hillshire Farms.

Prepare for increased grain storage

The anticipated bumper crop of corn and soybeans has heightened the need for extra storage during harvest this fall. Missouri Ag Director Richard Fordyce says transportation is part of the issue, too, with oil activities going on up north. Fordyce tells Brownfield, “That enterprise in North Dakota has pulled a lot of our rail infrastructure – has pulled it out of what we would traditionally know as moving grain along the country’s railways.”

Fordyce says growers should make contact with their elevators now if they haven’t already, “We would encourage producers to go talk to their elevators and talk to them about their storage needs. You know, what kind of storage rates are they going to have. Are they going to have space for your crop?”

He says their Grain Inspection Warehousing Division is already getting inquiries and they are granting permits for storing grain outside. Many farmers are planning to hold on to grain, hoping for higher prices during the winter.

U.S. corn rating up 1%

U.S. corn and soybean condition rating saw slight changes over the past week and remain in great shape overall, but one key corn development phase is lagging.

83% of corn is at the dough making stage, compared to 67% this time last year and the five year average of 78%, and 35% has dented, well ahead of the 21% a year ago, but noticeably slower than the 43% on average. 73% of corn is in good to excellent condition, up 1% on the week.

90% of soybeans are at the pod setting stage, compared to 82% last year and 89% on average, with 70% in good to excellent shape, down 1% on the week.

27% of the spring wheat crop is harvested, compared to 39% a year ago and 49% on average, with 66% rated good to excellent, 2% less than last week.

48% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are called good to excellent, unchanged from the week before.

July placements, marketings lowest since 1996

USDA’s monthly cattle on feed report was close to pre-report estimates, with some categories at historical lows.

Placements during July were 1.560 million head, down 7% on the year, the lowest for the month since the series of reports started in 1996, and mostly cattle weighing more than 700 pounds. Before the report, analysts were anticipating placements of 1.53 million head. By weight, placements on cattle weighing less than 600 pounds were 425,000 head and 600 to 699 pound placements were 260,000 head, while 700 to 799 pound placements were 355,000 head and placements of cattle weighing 800 pounds and heavier were 520,000 head.

Marketings were pegged at 1.787 million head, 9% less than last year, and also the lowest for the month since the series of reports started. Analysts had been expecting marketings to be down around 8%.

The total number of U.S. cattle on feed as of August 1 was 9.837 million head, 2% below a year ago, and slightly more than what was projected ahead of the report.

Other disappearances were 63,000 head, down 2% on the year.

New crop corn, soybean sales solid

USDA reports wheat export sales for the week ending August 14 were lower than expected, while corn, soybeans, and soybean products were all within analysts’ estimates. Physical shipments of wheat were above what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the 2014/15 marketing year, but corn and soybeans fell short of their respective marks for 2013/14.

Wheat came out at 209,200 tons (7.7 million bushels), down 38% from the week ending August 7 and 62% lower than the four week average. The Philippines picked up 83,500 tons and Nigeria bought 62,400 tons, but Brazil canceled on 58,800 tons. For the 2014/15 marketing year to date, wheat sales are 399.4 million bushels, compared to 536.6 million in 2013/14.

Corn was reported at 99,900 tons (3.9 million bushels), noticeably more than the previous week, but 15% less than the four week average. Egypt purchased 112,900 tons and South Korea picked up 93,500 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 250,500 tons. Nearing the end of the 2013/14 marketing year, corn sales are 1.918 billion bushels, compared to 752.2 million late in 2012/13. Sales of 719,300 tons (28.3 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were mainly to Colombia (223,300 ton) and Mexico (193,600 tons).

Old crop soybeans had a net cancellation of 89,600 tons (-3.3 million bushels), with sales of 3,900 to 12,800 tons offset by cancellations from China (119,000 tons) and unknown destinations (8,700 tons). At this point in the marketing year, soybean sales are 1.694 billion bushels, compared to 1.366 billion this time last year. Sales of 1,420,600 tons (52.2 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were primarily to China (947,900 tons) and Spain (120,000 tons).

Soybean meal was pegged at 99,800 tons, up sharply on the week and 12% higher than the four week average. Unknown destinations bought 26,800 tons and Mexico purchased 26,100 tons. So far this marketing year, soybean meal sales are 10,403,800 tons, compared to 9,984,700 a year ago. Sales of 78,600 tons for 2014/15 delivery were mostly to Colombia (30,500 tons) and El Salvador (17,700 tons).

Soybean oil came out at 15,700 tons, considerably larger than both the week before and the four week average. Mexico picked up 10,100 tons and Nicaragua bought 3,300 tons. 2013/14 soybean oil sales are 821,600 tons, compared to 922,200 in 2012/13. Sales of 5,000 tons for 2014/15 delivery were to the Dominican Republic.

Net beef sales totaled 7,300 tons, a decline of 23% from the prior week and a drop of 41% from the four week average. The reported purchasers were Japan (1,700 tons), South Korea (1,400 tons), Canada (1,000 tons), Hong Kong (1,000 tons), and Mexico (900 tons). Sales of 600 tons for 2015 delivery were to Canada.

Net pork sales totaled 24,400 tons. The listed buyers were Mexico (10,300 tons), Japan (3,900 tons), South Korea (2,800 tons), Hong Kong (2,300 tons), and Canada (1,600 tons).

$2 million in new federal funds

Senator Sherrod Brown in Toledo for NRCS funding announcement (3)_webFarmers in 20 counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin have an additional $2 million dollars to help prevent soil erosion and nutrient runoff into Lake Erie.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown made the announcement in Toledo on Tuesday, August 19.

“It will be about $55-$56 per acre for farmers that do ground cover,” said Brown. “The ground cover will protect the soil, hold the nutrients over the winter so the runoff will not find its way into Maumee Basin and then ultimately into this river and into Lake Erie.”

Audio: U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 3:30 mp3)

State Conservationist Terry Cosby tells Brownfield the signup window for the $2 million dollars began Tuesday, August 19 and only runs through next Tuesday, August 26.

“And the reason for this is that we have window here that we need to get these cover crops seeded,” Cosby said. “This is a one year contract, $57 an acre and then we hope we can entice some folks to do this for one year, if they like it, they’ll come back in and maybe look at a longer contract.”

The State Conservationist says the $2 million dollars will provide funding for approximately 1700 acres of cover crops per county.

Audio: Terry Cosby, NRCS, State Conservationist, Ohio (3:20 mp3)

PEDv/Feed study viewed with some caution

A study led by the director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services in Minnesota shows a link between contaminated animal feed and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs.  The study was carried out on three farms in Iowa and Minnesota where PED was diagnosed early this year.

Richard Sellers with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) tells Brownfield Ag News they are concerned that this study might imply that feed is a cause of PEDv’s spread. He says, “This clarifies that feed is actually a carrier now. The source of how the virus got into the feed is not presented in the report. The authors DO make a point that there was no animal protein product in the feed.”

Sellers tells Brownfield Ag News there has been some blame by some sources placed on an animal protein product used in feed.  He tells Brownfield, “A number of the companies have done a number of studies to demonstrate that their products are indeed safe. There is always the potential for cross-contamination at any point in the feed distribution chain.”

Sellers says on-farm contamination of feed cannot be ruled out.  He says there are still many unknowns about the cause of PEDv and the AFIA along with the Institute for Feed Education and Research have pledged $100-thousand to the National Pork Board to further research.

Interview with Richard Sellers (4:00 mp3)