Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday August 21 Ag News

Pro Farmer West Leg: Rain Falls and Yields Impress in Southwest Iowa
Sonja Begemann, Pro Farmer

As scouts press forward through a deluge of rain in southwestern Iowa, they’re finding mud—and decent crops. While there’s still prevent plant acres to be found, the fields that did get planted are shaping up to be an average crop, and in a year like 2019 that’s something to be celebrated.

“You know, the corn is pretty good,” says Jeff Wilson, lead for the west leg of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. “That 137 to 210 bu. per acre is our range.”

He anticipates the low end was caused by problems at planting. In addition, those corn crops just aren’t very mature and are variable—sometimes even within a single field. One field showed corn that was just pollinated, some that was three-weeks past and other areas with even greater variance.

On the soybean side, Wilson is seeing “pretty good” pod counts.

“There’s no blooms left and row spacing is all over the place,” he says. “So, I think the best fields we’re seeing are some of the narrower planted ones. It’s 870 to 1255 [pods per 3x3 square]. I feel like that might be okay to maybe a little on the low side.”

Scouts have seen more disease and weeds in fields throughout southwest Iowa—sudden death syndrome specifically.

It might sound like a broken record this week, but it remains true, the crops are immature. They’ll need more time, and sunlight to get to the finish line.

“Sun. That’s the bottom line,” Wilson says. “We also need warm temperatures at night to keep that factory working.”

Preliminary Route Report from Western Tour Leader Jeff Wilson

What counties have you sampled from?
Iowa: Mills (Crop District 7), Pottawattomie (7), Shelby (4) and Harrison (4)

Corn yield range/average:
126-210 bu. per acre; average of 158 bu. per acre

Soybean pod count range/average (in a 3’x3’ square):
870-1,670 pods; average of 1,158 pods

Route comments:

"It does appear in the corn crop that there were some planting issues. It’s been variable on the two rows. Plant counts have been erratic as well—anywhere from 72 to 114 in 60 foot of row. Corn plant health is pretty good. Starting to see a bit of disease slip in. Some of these rains could cause some late-season grain-fill problems."

"The most interesting story on maturity is that in our second field of the day we had a field where 50% was in dough, 25% had pollinated in last three weeks and 25% had just pollinated or had not yet. Overall, the crop is behind, but this is southwest Iowa—a normal freeze date should not be a big threat."

"Soybeans are probably a week behind, but they are still the furthest along of what we’ve seen on Tour. Beans are starting to plump up in the pods. Today’s rains should be a good omen those pods that are there will fill with full-size beans by harvest."

"The one caveat for both crops is they both need a lot more sunlight to reach maturity ahead of any hard freeze."

Pro Farmer will release complete results for the state of Iowa tomorrow (Thursday).

Safety Emphasized as Crop Tour Continues After USDA Employee Threat

Tensions are high in farm country. Extreme weather, trade uncertainty and low commodity prices are adding to farmers’ stress. This was more evident than ever during this week’s Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, Farm Journal’s annual assessment of expected crop yields. A USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service employee, slated to speak at one of the tour’s events, received a threat by phone. In response, USDA pulled their staff from the remaining days of the tour.

“A USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service employee received a threat while on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour from someone not involved with the tour. As a precaution, we immediately pulled all our staff out of the event,” said Hubert Hamer, National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator, in a statement. “Federal Protective Services were contacted and are investigating the incident. The safety of our employees is our top priority."

The threat, which was not directed at NASS Crops Branch Chief Lance Honig as some have speculated, came from a person in Iowa who was not affiliated with the event. The threat was unrelated to Crop Tour and was not associated with scouts or other meeting attendees.

“For 27 years the Pro Farmer Crop Tour has been a public service for the benefit of agriculture, in good times and bad.  And it’s clearly a stressful time right now,” said Andy Weber Farm Journal CEO, in a statement. “From minute one we took this threat very seriously and have taken all steps possible to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the tour.”

Joel Jaeger, Pro Farmer CEO, said more than 3,000 people are participating in the tour.  “The safety of the  scouts and meeting is our top priority,” said Jaeger.  As a result, Pro Farmer and its parent company, Farm Journal, has increased security at all events for the remainder of the week.

“Any threat must be taken seriously, so we have involved law enforcement to determine the threat’s viability. As a precaution, we are taking steps to secure the remaining location venues, adding security personnel at the live events as well as asking staff and crop tour scouts to remain aware and report any concerns immediately,” Jaeger said.

Smith to Hold Ag Update Tour Sessions in Alliance, York, and Auburn

As part of his 2019 Ag Update Tour, Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will host August listening sessions in Alliance, York, and Auburn.

The Ag Update Tour provides Third District constituents an opportunity to hear from Smith and his special guests on the future of agriculture policy.  In addition to Smith, officials such as Director Steve Wellman of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Director Jim Macy of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, Angel Velitchkov, Counsel for International Trade with the State of Nebraska, and Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen will join the discussions on selected dates. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Ambassador Gregg Doud will no longer be in attendance.

“Sound agriculture policies are a crucial part of ensuring farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to succeed,” Smith said.  “I am grateful Director Macy, Director Wellman, Mr. Velitchkov, and Secretary Evnen are taking time out of their busy schedules to join us for these conversations with Nebraska producers, and I am looking forward to constructive meetings. Getting policy right will help our producers overcome the challenges they face and ensure the Third District remains the top-producing agriculture district in the country.”

Alliance Ag Update Tour Session
Tuesday, August 27
West Side Event Center
2472 Co Rd 62, Alliance, NE 69301
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (MDT)

York Ag Update Tour Session
Wednesday, August 28
Crossroads GPS
2711 Enterprise Ave, York, NE 68467
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (CDT)

Auburn Ag Update Tour Session
Thursday, August 29
Auburn City Hall
1101 J St, Auburn, NE 68305
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (CDT)

For questions about these events, please contact Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.

Commodity Carnival to Visit Nebraska State Fair

CME Group and the National 4-H Council are hosting their 7th annual Commodity Carnival at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, Nebraska. The Commodity Carnival is an interactive, educational fair experience that teaches young fairgoers about managing the business risks and costs associated with producing and bringing livestock to market. Participants will play a game that involves growing and bringing a steer to market, which helps improve their literacy in agriculture science and basic economics, all while having fun.

The Commodity Carnival booth will be at the Nebraska State Fair from August 23rd- September 2nd. Fairgoers can even bring home the fun by downloading the mobile companion game, Risk Ranch, to their phone.

"Agriculture has been a vital part of CME Group's business for more than 170 years," said Tim Andriesen, CME Group Managing Director of Agricultural Products. "Working with National 4-H Council, we've reached over 400,000 youth across the country with the Commodity Carnival experience in the last six years. We look forward to supporting the program again this year to educate the next generation of farmers, ranchers and business leaders about the role of risk management in production agriculture."

"We are so pleased to continue our partnership with CME Group and help prepare today's youth with skills they need to be successful in the future," said National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo. "The focus and purpose of the Commodity Carnival is to bolster our collective efforts to increase agricultural literacy and highlight the important role of agriculture commodities. Students get to take part in an interactive, hands-on experience that allows them to learn-by-doing."

Commodity Carnival is an interactive learning activity that guides participants through the process of growing a steer and selling it at market. The game aims to build greater agricultural literacy and awareness of the risks farmers face in bringing food to market. Beyond the fairgrounds, students can also participate through the mobile companion app, Risk Ranch.

CME Group and 4-H first collaborated in 2013, driven by the same mission to prepare future generations of farmers and food producers with respect to risk management in agriculture. To find a list of other participating fairs that will be hosting Commodity Carnival, visit

Prices for All Fertilizers Move Lower for First Time in Almost Two Years

Large decreases in average retail fertilizer prices were seen the second week of August 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the first time in a couple of years that prices have declined in unison.

Prices for all eight of the major fertilizer were lower from the prior month with half down by a considerable amount.

Leading the way lower were anhydrous and UAN32, which both were down 7% from last month. Anhydrous had an average price of $543 per ton while UAN32 had a price of $295 per ton.

Prices for both MAP and UAN28 were also significantly lower, down 6% from the previous month. The phosphorus fertilizer (MAP) had an average price of $503 per ton and UAN28 was at $258 per ton.

Prices for the remaining four fertilizers were down from last month, but not by a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $493/ton, potash $387/ton, urea $413/ton and 10-34-0 $475/ton

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.45/lb.N, anhydrous $0.33/lb.N, UAN28 $0.46/lb.N and UAN32 $0.46/lb.N.

With prices significantly lower this week, one fertilizer's price is now lower than it was a year ago. MAP is now 1% less expensive from last year at this time.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers continue to be higher compared to last year. DAP is 1% higher, 10-34-0 is 7% more expensive, both potash and UAN32 are now 9% higher, UAN28 is 11% more expensive, anhydrous is 13% higher and urea is 14% more expensive compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 8/16/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Aug. 16, ethanol production averaged 1.023 million barrels per day (b/d)— equivalent to 42.97 million gallons daily. Output narrowed by 22,000 b/d (-2.1%) from the previous week to an 18-week low. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.4% to 1.035 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.87 billion gallons and 47,000 b/d (4.3%) below this year’s peak set seven weeks prior.

Ethanol stocks shrank 2.2% to 23.4 million barrels. Stocks declined across all PADDs except the Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) region.

There were no imports reported for the second consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of June 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied retreated 3.1% from the prior week’s record to 9.626 million b/d (404.3 million gallons per day, or 147.57 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol softened 0.6% from the record set the prior week to 961,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.73 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 10.63%.

Reynolds, Naig urge EPA to honor the President’s promise to America’s farmers

Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler outlining the damaging effects of the 31 new small refinery waivers (SRE’s) undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Reynolds and Naig also extended an invitation to Administrator Wheeler to come to Iowa and see the devastating impact of these exemptions firsthand.

“The loss of these markets has taken a devastating toll on rural families facing one of the toughest years on record,” said Gov. Reynolds and Secretary Naig in their letter. “Ethanol consumption fell for the first time in 20 years, commodity markets are depressed, and many biofuel plants, including several in Iowa, have already slowed or halted production.”

Gov. Reynolds and Secretary Naig have stood alongside U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst in defense of the RFS. Reynolds testified earlier this year on the harm these waivers would cause to Iowa’s hard working farmers.

Growth Energy Responds to Finkenauer Call for Investigation into EPA Abuse of SREs

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement in response to Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s call for a Government Accountability Office review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) granting of small refinery waivers:

“We applaud Congresswoman Finkenauer and other biofuel champions for standing up against the EPA’s abuse of the exemption process to enrich well-connected refiners at the expense of farm communities and rural workers. Already, dozens of biofuel plants have closed or cut production, and hundreds of millions of bushels of grain are falling in value, just as farmers face the worst economic conditions in a generation. The EPA needs to account for these lost gallons immediately and start repairing the damage before more rural communities lose hope for a comeback.”

NBB, ASA Ask President Trump for Meeting on RFS Waivers

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Donnell Rehagen and American Soybean Association (ASA) President Davie Stephens today requested a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss small refinery exemptions and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter details the damage the administration's waivers have dealt the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry, and the soybean farmers who provide much of its feedstock, and emphasizes the need to include biodiesel-specific measures in any proposed resolution.

"According to a University of Illinois economist, nearly all demand eroded by small refinery exemptions falls on biodiesel and renewable diesel producers by nature of how the RFS is constructed," the letter states. "That disproportionate impact on biodiesel and renewable diesel producers in turn hits U.S. soybean farmers already having a tough time from tariffs and insurmountable weather issues this planting season."

Rehagen added, "Biodiesel producers have suffered the greatest impact from the administration's small refinery exemptions but have been ignored so far in discussions about how to repair the damage. We're seeing biodiesel producers across the country -- from Pennsylvania to Iowa to Georgia and Texas -- shutting their doors and laying off workers as a result of demand destruction. The RFS was designed to support growth of advanced biofuels, but the small refinery exemptions have turned the program upside down."

"While many economists worry about an economic recession within the next year, America's farmers are already facing a severe economic downturn," the letter continues.

The two groups conclude the letter with a request to meet with the President: "We would appreciate an opportunity to discuss how the administration can repair the uncertainty created by zero growth in biomass-based diesel coupled with demand destruction caused by the waivers. We look forward to an opportunity to sit down with you and discuss solutions to the crisis our industries are facing as a result of recent policy decisions."

University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin has found virtually all of the demand destruction from small refinery waivers is falling on the biodiesel industry. As EPA continues to hand them out to every refiner that asks, the damage to the U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry could reach $7.7 billion or 2.54 billion gallons, according to Irwin.

A small refinery processing 75,000 barrels of oil per day can produce nearly 1 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel per year. The refinery's annual RFS obligation would create demand for nearly 20 million gallons of biodiesel or renewable diesel, which are the most widely available advanced biofuels. Dozens of biodiesel producers across the United States produce less than 20 million gallons each year.

ACE conference highlights ethanol market developments in Mexico and around the world with USGC leadership

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) welcomed Ryan LeGrand, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), as a keynote speaker during its 32nd annual conference last week in Omaha. USGC’s Stephan Wittig, newly appointed Mexico Director, and Jorge Lerdo de Tejada, ethanol consultant in Mexico, also shared a Mexico market specific update with conference attendees, moderated by ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty.

“We have challenging days ahead to open up much-needed market access for U.S. ethanol, but we also have bright spots that make it an exciting time to be an advocate for trade of commodities like U.S. corn, DDGS and ethanol,” LeGrand said. “One of these bright spots is Mexico, and thanks to our newly appointed director, Stephan Wittig, and others on the team we assembled in Mexico, we’ve been able to educate the Mexican government and relevant stakeholders about the value of E10 and the resulting environmental and economic benefits it offers. This market did not exist just a few years ago, and the Council is learning to be nimble as markets like Mexico change and grow.”

“I am excited about the opportunities the industry is being presented after having shared technical knowledge and strategical information on how to achieve the benefits of an ethanol blending program for Mexico and attaining E10 blends in the regulation,” Wittig said. Wittig participated in the trade mission with IRFA, ACE and USGC in July bringing Mexican fuel distributors and retailers to the U.S. to see the ethanol supply chain. “It makes an impression to see that ethanol is a reality and how higher blends are making their way into the market,” Wittig added. “It was great to see all the interest in expanding ethanol use from the industry’s stakeholders at the ACE conference.”

“For many years, Mexico has tried to implement the use of ethanol, but it wasn’t until after the necessary changes were made to allow E10 to Mexico’s most recent fuel regulation that it started to become a reality,” Lerdo de Tejada said. “We are currently working on lifting the ban for ethanol in the three metropolitan areas of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City which represent 30 percent of the potential ethanol market for the whole country.”

“For the past two years, we have partnered with ACE and Ron Lamberty, who has been instrumental to allow a smooth transition to help gasoline station owners understand ethanol economics and the splash blending option to start using E10 in Mexico,” Lerdo de Tejada added. “Ron’s experience has opened significant interest for several gasoline station owners who are making the necessary arrangements to start distributing E10.”

Next week, Lamberty will join Lerdo de Tejada and others on a panel at the Argus Mexico Fuel Markets Summit in Mexico City to discuss oxygenates and the future of fuel blending in the Mexican market and the role the U.S. can play.

Farm Bureau Welcomes Tomato Deal with Mexico

The latest tomato agreement with Mexico shows the United States can work out trade disputes without resorting to tariffs and underscores the need to ratify the USMCA, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.

“We are pleased and relieved to see progress with one of our largest and most important trading partners,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Mexico is a vital trading partner for American farmers and ranchers. We need this agreement and are grateful negotiators capitalized on the close relationship that exists between our two nations. We look forward to more progress on the trade front and are counting the days until the USMCA becomes law.”

Among other things, the tomato deal lifts current preliminary duties of 17.5% against Mexican tomatoes and suspends an anti-dumping investigation against Mexican producers begun earlier this year. The agreement also reinstates reference prices for various kinds of tomatoes to assure fairer pricing by Mexican competitors. The agreement is expected to take effect September 19, 2019 following a 30-day comment period.

All parties, including growers, back today’s agreement.

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the receipt of 10 pesticide applications to expand their use on hemp. The 10 requests are the result of the December 2018 Farm Bill provisions that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing hemp for commercial use and production.

“EPA is taking the next step toward registering crop protection tools for hemp in time for use during the 2020 application and growing seasons,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The Agency is announcing a 30-day public comment period on ten existing pesticide product applications for industrial hemp. We hope this transparent and public process will bring hemp farmers and researchers increased regulatory clarity in time for next growing season — something they have asked for since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of commercial hemp.”

 “Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production in the United States, it comes as no surprise that we are beginning to see pesticide registrants intensify their interests in gaining crop protection approvals for use on hemp,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Hemp Production Field Day at the University of Kentucky. “EPA is committed to helping hemp growers obtain the tools needed to support and increase commercial production. This step recognizes that innovation in pesticide use is critical to the success of our strong and vibrant agricultural sector.”

“I am grateful to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn for selecting the University of Kentucky’s hemp field days to announce new pesticide applications for hemp,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “With about 1,000 Kentucky growers licensed to grow hemp this year, farmers need every tool in the toolbox to increase yields and protect their crops from harmful pests. This announcement proves the EPA is listening to the needs of hemp growers in Kentucky and around the nation.”

"Today's announcement is a welcome first step on the path to registration of safe and effective crop protection agents for a rapidly expanding hemp enterprise," said Dr. Bob Pearce, hemp researcher at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.  "My colleagues and I have already identified a number of weeds, insects, and plant diseases that pose a potential threat to economically viable hemp production.  We will work closely with EPA to identify and evaluate best management practices for the use of crop protection agents to help control pests in hemp crops.

 “As one of the original proponents of legalizing hemp, I’ve continued to advocate for the success and growth of this budding industry. I’m glad to see EPA Administrator Wheeler taking comments on pesticide applications for hemp, and I’m excited this announcement is being made at the Hemp Production Field Day at UK. Kentucky has been and will continue to be a leader in the hemp industry, and it’s been my honor to advocate for this industry since I came to the Senate in 2011” said Senator Rand Paul.

 “I commend EPA for recognizing the significance hemp has in our nation’s agriculture economy, particularly in the state of Kentucky,” said Rep. James Comer (KY-01) “Getting these registrants approved prior to the next growing season is a tremendous help to our farmers. Thanks to Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn for helping provide the necessary tools our producers need to ensure they have the opportunity to produce the best crop.”

To ensure transparency and improve EPA’s process for considering pest management tools for the emerging American hemp industry, EPA is seeking public comment on these applications. The list of pesticides can be found in prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice. Comments are due 30 days after the notice publishes in the Federal Register.

Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates deciding about the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season. Moving forward, EPA will review, approve or deny applications for use on hemp as the agency would for any other use site.

The enacted 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis. Thus, the 2018 Farm Bill allows for expanding cultivation of hemp, but not marijuana.

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