Friday, September 16, 2022

Thursday September 15 Ag News

The Rural Mainstreet Economic Index Falls Below Growth Neutral: Fourth Straight Month of Deterioration
The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) fell for the fifth straight month, sinking below growth neutral for a fourth consecutive month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.       

Overall: The region’s overall reading for September once again sank below growth neutral to 46.3, but it was up from 44.0 in August. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral. This was the fourth consecutive month the overall reading has fallen below growth neutral.

Four of 10 bankers indicated that high and escalating farm input costs were the greatest economic challenge to their bank and area over the next 12 months.

“The Rural Mainstreet economy is now experiencing a downturn in economic activity. Supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures from higher farm input costs continue to constrain growth. Farmers and bankers are bracing for escalating interest rates, higher farm input costs, and drought,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

More than one of five, or 21.4%, of bank CEOs reported drought impacts were the greatest economic challenge going forward.

Farming and ranching:
The region’s farmland price index for September climbed to 61.1 from August’s 60.0, marking the 24th straight month that the index has moved above growth neutral.  

This month, bankers were asked their assessment of the impact of California’s Proposition 12, which establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals for livestock producers in their area. Almost half, or 46.2%, of bankers expect little or no economic loss to livestock producers on Rural Mainstreet.

Four of five bankers expect any costs of Proposition 12 to be paid by consumers, with only 11.5% expecting the livestock producers to pay the costs.

Below are the state reports:

Iowa: The September RMI for Iowa increased to 48.0 from 40.1 in August. Iowa’s farmland-price index increased to 63.7 from August’s 63.5. Iowa’s new-hiring index for September dropped to 52.3 from August’s 55.9. According to the Office of Trade & Economic Analysis, Iowa has exported $1,441 million of agriculture products to-date in 2022, which represents an expansion of 116.2% from the same period in 2019.  

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for September dropped below growth neutral to 49.3 but was up from August’s 47.8. The state’s farmland-price index increased to 64.3 from last month’s 63.3. Nebraska’s September’s new-hiring index sank to 48.3 from 55.6 in August. According to the Office of Trade & Economic Analysis, Nebraska has exported $723 million of agriculture products to-date in 2022, which represents an expansion of 9.5% from the same period in 2019.   

The survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. The index provides the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey and launched it in January 2006.

Congressman Flood Pushes for Intellectual Property Protections at “Right to Repair” Hearing

U.S. Congressman Mike Flood recently made comments during a hearing of the Small Business Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Business Development on the issue of “Right to Repair.” During his comments, Congressman Flood highlighted concerns about the potential for the Chinese Communist Party to steal American intellectual property if private property rights are not adequately safeguarded.

“There is a reason that China’s spies try to steal our secrets: we have valuable technology that they think is worth stealing. It is essential that we protect our free-market system which makes those innovations possible,” said U.S. Congressman Mike Flood. “To ensure we can feed the next generation and maintain our agricultural export economy, we need to protect intellectual property, defend our free-market principles, and continue to reward innovation.”

Congressman Flood is a member of the Committee on House Oversight and Reform as well as the Committee on Small Business.

Basche to receive ASA Early Career Award

Andrea Basche, an assistant professor in cropping systems in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, will be formally presented with the American Society of Agronomy Early Career Award at the ASA Awards Ceremony Nov. 8 during the scientific society’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

Basche has a primary teaching appointment at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and instructs Plant and Landscape Systems 204 Resource Efficient Crop Management, 405 Crop Management Strategies and 425 Cover Crops in Agroecosystems.

In her courses, Basche includes multi-dimensional elements of modern agriculture, with an emphasis on topics such as soil conservation and profitability, through engaging teaching strategies such as outside of the classroom activities and interactions with various stakeholders.

She has authored 25 peer-reviewed publications including several specific to scholarship of teaching. She has developed courses for students and professional development for her peers on diversity, equity and inclusion topics to support a more inclusive agricultural field.

Her research team studies several aspects of diversified cropping systems including carbon and nitrogen cycling, water and weed dynamics, as well as policy and human decision-making.

Basche is a nationally recognized leader on cover crops, soil health and climate change, and has delivered over 65 invited presentations and interviews to a range of audiences — from NPR’s Science Friday and BBC Future to Ag PhD Radio.

She has been an active member of the Tri-Societies — ASA, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America — for over 12 years, including serving as an associate editor of Agronomy Journal and a member of the CSSA policy committee.

Basche was born and raised in southern New Jersey, near to crop-producing regions in the state as well as the shore. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University in biological sciences, a master’s degree from Columbia University in applied climate science and a doctorate in crop production and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University.

The ASA Early Career Award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in agronomy within seven years of completing their final degree — bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate. The award includes a certificate, a complimentary ticket to the award ceremony and $2,000.

USDA Designates Five Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

This Secretarial natural disaster designation allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Impacted Area: Nebraska
Triggering Disaster: Drought
Application Deadline: April 17, 2023
Primary Counties Eligible: Arthur, Banner, McPherson, Scotts Bluff and Sioux
Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:
     Nebraska: Box, Butte, Grant, Lincoln, Cheyenne, Hooker, Logan, Dawes, Keith, Morrill, Garden, Kimball, Thomas
     South Dakota: Fall River
     Wyoming: Goshen, Laramie and Niobrara

USDA Designates Four Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

This Secretarial natural disaster designation allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Impacted Area: Iowa
Triggering Disaster: Drought
Application Deadline: April 10, 2023
Primary Counties Eligible: Buena Vista, Clay, Ida and Sac
Contiguous Counties Also Eligible: Iowa: Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas and Woodbury

IRFA Welcomes Four New Producer Members

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) announced today that four new producers have joined the state trade association during 2022. The new members expand not only the depth of IRFA but also its breadth.

Chevron Renewable Energy Group and Hero BX make low carbon biodiesel in Iowa, while Gevo and Verbio North America produce renewable natural gas (RNG).

“IRFA is very pleased to bring on board these new members,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “We work hard to represent biodiesel and ethanol producers, and it’s exciting to expand into renewable natural gas. What brings all these companies together with our previous members is a desire to produce home-grown energy from renewable feedstocks that can benefit consumers by reducing their fuel costs and improving the air they breathe.”

Renewable Energy Group had been a long-standing IRFA member. Following an acquisition by Chevron, the newly formed Chevron Renewable Energy Group, headquartered in Ames, has biodiesel production facilities in Mason City, Newton, and Ralston as well as other facilities around the US and Germany. More information is available at

Gevo is a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company dedicated to delivering low carbon sustainable fuels. While Gevo’s scope includes many projects, like sustainable aviation fuel, their membership in IRFA is tied to their RNG production project in Northwest Iowa. More information is available at

With its roots in the Northeastern US, Hero BX has expanded to produce high quality, low carbon biodiesel from five facilities across the US, including plants in Clinton and Washington, Iowa. More information is available at

With its parent company headquartered in Germany, Verbio North America plans to build, own, operate, and finance biofuel facilities across the United States and Canada. Its facility in Nevada, Iowa is the first industrial scale RNG facility in North America using agricultural residues as its feedstock. More information can be found at

NCBA Calls for Limited SEC Greenhouse Gas Rule Following Senate Hearing

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) reiterated the need for a limited version of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) greenhouse gas disclosure rule following SEC Chairman Gary Gensler’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking.
“The SEC’s proposed greenhouse gas disclosure rule is aimed at large publicly traded companies but would lead to unintended consequences for small businesses like farms and ranches. The rule would require data that simply does not exist at the farm or ranch-level and increases the regulatory burden on individual cattle producers,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart. “We urge the SEC to limit their proposed rule to avoid unintentional impacts to farms and ranches.”   
 The SEC’s greenhouse gas disclosure rule, proposed earlier this year, would require publicly traded companies to disclose their direct (scope 1), indirect/energy use (scope 2), and supply chain (scope 3) greenhouse gas emissions. The requirement to include scope 3 emissions would place a disproportionate burden on cattle producers whose beef is part of the supply chain for publicly traded restaurants and retailers. Additionally, the rule exposes individual producers to additional levels of legal liability.

NCBA previously submitted technical comments on the rule and individual cattle producers sent over 7,406 emails to SEC commissioners and members of Congress expressing concern with rule. NCBA has encouraged the SEC to remove the requirement to disclose scope 3 emissions, which would lessen the burden on cattle producers.

Farmers Union Members Hold Successful Legislative Fly-In

This week over 250 Farmers Union members from across the country arrived in Washington, DC to advocate for family farmers. Over the course of the week, Farmers Union members attended hundreds of Congressional meetings, met with over a dozen federal agencies, and directly participated in discussions with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Rostin Behnam, among other leaders.

“This has been an incredibly productive and successful fly-in for Farmers Union. It’s a testament to the passion and interest of our members that they’re willing to take time away from the farm and come to Washington and build bipartisan support for Fairness for Farmers and their farm bill priorities,” said NFU President Rob Larew.  

In his introductory remarks to Farmers Union members, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "In many respects, National Farmers Union has been the architect and the designer of the work we are doing in this administration in terms of farm country and in terms of agriculture."

“Competition in agriculture is critical. Too often, farmers and livestock producers have too few suppliers to buy from and too few buyers to sell to. Farmers and their families work incredibly hard and deserve to see the fruits of their labor and the American dream,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in a Department of Justice press release. “[…] Protecting competition and the rule of law in agricultural markets is core to the work of the Antitrust Division, and we will vigorously enforce the antitrust laws in this area.”

Farmers for Soil Health Awarded $95 Million USDA Climate-Smart Ag Grant

USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program announced it will award Farmers for Soil Health (FSH) a $95 million grant. With this award, FSH will launch a program to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage in 20 states that produce over 85% of the nation’s corn and soybeans.

USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant will facilitate major progress toward FSH’s goal of doubling cover crop acres in the U.S. to 30 million acres by 2030.

“Cover crops improve soil structure, help recycle nutrients, reduce soil erosion, increase the soil’s water holding capacity and sequester carbon. This reduces the environmental footprint of corn, soybeans and pork production because corn and soybeans are the two primary ingredients fed to pigs,” said Dale Stevermer, Minnesota corn, soy and pig farmer. “It can take a few years to learn how to best utilize cover crops, and this Farmers for Soil Health program will help farmers accelerate that learning curve.”

The program will offer farmers three years of declining cost share payments to help them transition to utilizing cover crops. FSH will also work with data insights and publishing company DTN to develop a digital platform that will use satellite imagery, allowing farmers to receive an “eco-score” for corn and soybeans produced with cover crops and conservation tillage. This platform will facilitate the marketing of crops to parties interested in securing a documented source of sustainably produced corn and soybeans.

FSH is a collaborative effort of the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Board and the United Soybean Board with the mission to advance conservation practices to improve soil health across the U.S. The grant will fund cost share and technical assistance for cover crops to 8,000-10,000 farmers on 1.44 million acres of corn and soybeans.

To execute this grant, FSH will receive technical assistance from the National Association of Conservation Districts, The Sustainability Consortium, Soil Health Institute, University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, DTN, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural America.

NCGA Applauds Efforts to End Rail Crisis

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) on Thursday said a tentative agreement between union leaders and rail workers is a positive development for farmers and the agricultural community.

“We are thankful that the White House has announced a tentative agreement between rail carriers and union leaders and applaud the efforts from all parties to avoid this crisis.” said Brooke S. Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association. “It is critical to farmers, who are approaching harvest season, that rail service remain fully functional and reliable.

The agreement, announced by the Biden administration on Thursday morning, appears to end a months-long stalemate between union leaders and the rail industry. The dispute prompted President Biden to establish a Presidential Emergency Board to broker agreement between the two sides.

As the Friday deadline for agreement approached, preparations were being made for major disruptions to the nation’s rail system. NCGA, in partnership with other agriculture industry organizations, actively encouraged industry officials and members of Congress to resolve the dispute to head of a strike and rail closures.

Union members will vote to finalize the proposed agreement by November.

NGFA commends railroads and labor unions for reaching tentative agreement

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended railroad and rail union representatives for reaching a preliminary agreement in time to avert a nationwide rail shutdown in advance of Friday’s deadline.  

Earlier this week, NGFA had urged leaders of railroads and rail labor unions to remain at the negotiating table, noting that the economic damage of a rail shutdown would have immediate impacts on the nation’s supply chain. The deal announced this morning extends the cooling-off period until union members can ratify it.

NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert today issued the following statement:

“The efficient operation of our rail network, which moves 25 percent of all U.S. grain, is crucial to a functioning agricultural economy. NGFA members, which include 1,000 companies that handle U.S. grains and oilseeds, commend both parties for working in good faith toward an agreement and preventing severe economic damage.

“We thank President Biden, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for the efforts they put into reaching this agreement. We want to especially thank Secretary Vilsack for understanding the threat to the food and ag supply chain and making sure it was represented in these discussions.

“Resilient and reliable rail service is essential to the daily operations of NGFA members. We thank our rail industry partners for working to get this deal and we encourage quick ratification by the labor unions. We also thank our partners for working with us and NGFA member companies to provide updates on the operational status of their individual lines during this past week of uncertainty.

“As an association representing a segment of the agricultural supply chain that directly interfaces with freight railroads, we will continue working with our rail industry partners, the Surface Transportation Board and lawmakers for sensible policy measures that guarantee the strength, stability and reliability of this important transportation system moving forward."

Growth Energy Welcomes Tentative Deal to Avert Rail Strike

Growth Energy, the nation's largest association of ethanol producers and supporters, welcomed today’s announcement of a tentative labor deal that averts a nationwide interruption of rail service.

“Farmers and biofuel producers across the country are very encouraged by news that this agreement will avert a potentially devastating rail shutdown,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We appreciate the work of all parties involved in keeping trains and commodities moving across the country. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. ethanol production is moved by rail — more than 400,000 carloads annually — and no one wants to see American motorists cut off from a vital supply of lower-cost, lower-carbon fuels.”

The ethanol industry ships more than 400,000 ethanol carloads per year (USDA data: Annual U.S Rail Carloads of Ethanol | Open Ag Transport Data (, an estimated 200,000 carloads of distillers dried grains (DDGS), and more than 10,000 cars of corn oil. The ethanol fleet is now more than 36,000 cars (RSI data:  Progress - Tank Car Resource Center).

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