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Trade Aid Questions Loom

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — While at least some farmers are still trying to get into the fields, USDA is working to craft a $20 billion trade aid program for crops that largely have yet to emerge from the ground.

Farm groups have pushed for higher aid for their own commodities, and the National Farmers Union wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week asking that USDA base payments on historical production. That would be different from the Market Facilitation Program payments created last year that were specifically tied to production levels.

With final planting dates for crop insurance quickly approaching, the formula used for trade aid could factor heavily in farmers’ planting decisions in the coming weeks.

“I don’t know that we have ever seen a government-type of announcement like this in the middle of a planting season,” said Jonathan Coppess, a University of Illinois agricultural policy professor and former Farm Service Agency administrator.

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Build Your Business IQ

By Elizabeth Williams
DTN Special Correspondent

INDIANOLA, Iowa (DTN) — Good times lift both good and bad farm managers, but when profit margins grow slim, farmers with higher levels of business intelligence are more likely to succeed and grow.

Agricultural economist Dave Kohl, a professor emeritus at Virginia Tech and adviser to ag lenders for more than 35 years, said it’s important for farmers and their lenders to know where they stand. Kohl has developed a 15-point financial and risk management checklist that helps measure farmers’ management skills by scoring them.

“It’s not rocket science, but it is very insightful to see how much the manager knows about his or her business,” Kohl said.

Producers today generally fall into three buckets. Forty percent will grow incrementally because they have working capital, equity, proactively approach problems and have a high business IQ, or intelligence quotient.

Another 40% will be able to hang on, but won’t thrive because they’re limited by their “low business IQ.” These producers will probably need to refinance to survive this downturn.

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Cattle Trader Alleges Packer Conspiracy

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The nation’s largest meatpackers face a second class-action lawsuit alleging conspiracy to drive down cattle prices. The suit was filed in federal court by a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based live cattle futures trader.

The plaintiff, Michael Sevy, alleges in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota that at least since January 2015, meatpackers have been conspiring to drive down prices.

A similar lawsuit filed by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of four cattle-feeding ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming, was voluntarily dismissed by R-CALF USA and then refiled in the Minnesota court.

When contacted by DTN, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard would not comment on why the lawsuit was moved. The attorney for R-CALF also did not respond to DTN’s request for comment.

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EU Cancels US Ethanol Duty

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The European Union Commission has canceled an ethanol anti-dumping duty against imports from the United States in place since 2013, essentially reopening a market that collapsed.

The commission made the announcement on May 14, after launching a review of the duty on Feb. 20, 2018. The commission concluded that removing the duty would not increase the likelihood of dumping of U.S. ethanol on the EU market.

The 9.5% duty was put in place as a result of a complaint filed by the EU’s largest ethanol producer group, ePure.

“In light of the above assessment on the likelihood of recurrence of dumping should measures be allowed to lapse, the commission concluded it unlikely that U.S. bioethanol producers would export significant quantities of bioethanol to the Union at dumped prices, should the measures be allowed to lapse,” the EU commission said in its 14-page decision.

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Trade Aid Could Reach $20B

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said late Wednesday that a second trade aid package for farmers may total $15 billion to $20 billion, the latter figure $5 billion higher than President Donald Trump has suggested.

In a call to reporters from South Korea, Perdue said that the $15 billion to $20 billion is the “early estimate” that USDA has made regarding lost export sales since China imposed tariffs on U.S. farm products in retaliation for tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on Chinese products.

Perdue said that USDA would calculate “the legally defensible trade damage done to our producers,” give that estimate to Trump and would be “prepared to defend those amounts” to the World Trade Organization, where the United States could face charges that it has violated rules on subsidies.

Perdue said he could not comment on whether the formula for providing payments to farmers would be different from the last package, in which soybean growers got $1.65 per bushel, corn growers got one cent per bushel and wheat growers got 14 cents.

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Resistant Corn Borer Found

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Scientists have found populations of European corn borer in Canada that are fully resistant to the Bt trait Cry1F, sold under the brand name Herculex I.

So far, the discoveries are limited to the Maritimes region, specifically Nova Scotia — where single-trait Cry1F hybrids were used. But all corn growers who still rely on single-trait corn hybrids, such as Herculex I and Herculex XTRA, are at risk, scientists told DTN.

Farmers in both the U.S. and Canada should check with their seed dealer to see if they are using or have access to pyramided corn hybrids, which add additional corn borer traits such as Cry1Ab (YieldGard Corn Borer) or Cry1A.105 + Cry2Ab2 (YieldGard VT Pro).

Representatives from Corteva Agriscience, which owns the Cry1F trait, told DTN that single-trait Cry1F hybrids will not be sold under any Corteva seed brands in Canada by the 2020 season — but they could not speak for other seed companies.

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King Corn Adds Acres

By Matthew Wilde
Progressive Farmer Crops Editor

MESERVEY, Iowa (DTN) — Midwest farmers are doing the unthinkable as the corn-planting window slams shut.

Some growers are switching intended soybean acres to corn, or at least thinking about it. Usually the opposite happens in mid-to-late-May if corn isn’t in the ground due to yield-loss potential.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, said Dave Nelson of rural Belmond, Iowa.

Decade-low soybean prices and a re-energized U.S.-China trade war convinced the former Iowa Corn Growers Association president and his family — Dave farms with his brother, son and nephews — to plant another 1,000 acres of corn at the expense of the world’s most popular legume. Now, 4,000 of the 6,500 acres that the family crops will be corn.

Dave piloted a New Holland TG255 tractor pulling a 12-row Case I-H planter May 13 in a field near Meservey, Iowa, as other family members planted elsewhere.

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Hoeven Hopes for Trade Aid in a Week

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Tuesday he hopes that within “a week or so” the Trump administration will announce a program of trade aid to farmers due to the Chinese tariffs on U.S. farm products.

Hoeven also said the trade aid could total more than the $12 billion that the administration allocated in the first round of trade aid spending this year, and could be as high as the $15 billion that President Donald Trump has mentioned.

Hoeven said the aid probably would be in the form of the Market Facilitation Payments and government purchases of farm products that was used in the first round of aid.

The money would come from the Commodity Credit Corporation, the USDA account that allows the department to spend up to $30 billion on aid to farmers each year. If the spending hits the $30 billion limit, Hoeven said, the supplemental appropriations disaster aid bill will provide more.

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Bayer Loses Third Trial on Glyphosate

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The hits keep coming for Bayer’s Roundup glyphosate herbicide, as a California jury on Monday awarded $2.055 billion in damages to a couple that has battled cancer after decades of using the product. It’s the largest of three awards juries have handed out since the company acquired Monsanto last year.

Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California, used Roundup for more than 30 years to landscape their home and other properties. The couple, both in their 70s, were each diagnosed with the same type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In a lawsuit filed in Superior Court of California in Oakland, the Pilliods claimed their cancer diagnoses were a result of exposure to glyphosate, and accused Bayer of fraudulently representing that the product is safe.

In a statement following the verdict on Monday, the Pilliods’ attorney R. Brent Wisner said the jury did its job.

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Weeds: Big and Tall Edition

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Leave that 4-inch soda can in the truck — some of the weeds and cover crop cover in the Midwest right now will require a yardstick to measure.

The persistent cold, wet weather dogging much of the corn and soybean belt this spring has kept many farmers from applying their usual early spring burndown applications. Winter annuals like marestail and butterweed grew as woolly and wild as they pleased, and now early summer annual weeds are starting to sneak in as well, said Purdue University Extension weed scientist Bill Johnson.

“Ragweed, foxtail and lambsquarters are typically summer annuals that come up early and take off pretty quickly,” he said. Some growers are also facing overgrown cover crops still standing weeks past their ideal termination date.

Many of these fields can still be controlled by burndown applications, but keep the following recommendations from Purdue’s Johnson and Ohio State Extension weed scientist Mark Loux in mind.

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California Moves to Ban Chlorpyrifos

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — California regulators are moving to cancel chlorpyrifos registrations in the latest of a series of moves targeting a key insecticide used by farmers.

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced in a news release Wednesday its decision came following a state scientific review panel’s findings that the pesticide causes “serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood.”

Chlorpyrifos use in California has been on the decline since 2005, according to the state’s department of pesticides registration. About 2 million pounds of the insecticide was used in 2005, but that fell to about 900,000 pounds in 2016.

“California’s action to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos is needed to prevent the significant harm this pesticide causes children, farm workers and vulnerable communities,” CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said in a press statement. “This action also represents a historic opportunity for California to develop a new framework for alternative pest management practices.”

On a national level, the U.S.

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Prevented-Planting Decisions

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

ROCKPORT, Mo. (DTN) — Richard Oswald still can’t get to his home without a boat. And water still stands on fields and muddy roads, pretty much as it has since his northwest Missouri farm was flooded in mid-March.

Oswald has written columns for DTN in the past, including View From the Cab in previous years. He’s also one of the numerous farmers throughout the Corn Belt who are facing the possibility of delayed or prevented planting this spring.

“This actually looks better than I thought it would,” Oswald said late last week as he looked at a muddy, water-covered road that would normally head to his house and most of his acreage. He’s anxious to get to his house, the first floor of which remained dry in the floods of 1952, 1993 or 2011. This time, though, his first floor is going to be filled with muck.

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Corn and More Corn

By Alan Brugler
DTN Contributing Analyst

While the U.S.-China trade negotiations are soaking up all the headlines, we might be ignoring the main driver behind the price declines in corn and soybeans, which is increasing production. USDA’s initial take on 2019-20 global corn production is 1.113 billion metric tons, or 44.6 billion bushels (bb). It would also be a 55.8 million metric tons (mmt) (2.197 bb) increase from two years ago. Those numbers are asking the world to absorb a lot of corn. Since China is in the headlines, let’s talk about them first.

China wasn’t buying much corn from the U.S. prior to the trade fight escalation in the spring of 2018, having already limited imports of U.S. corn, ethanol and DDGs under various anti-dumping and other tariffs in earlier maneuvers. China has recently lost two World Trade Organization (WTO) cases to the U.S. related to violations of WTO rules, but the penalties have yet to be assessed or a collection mechanism established.

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Most Export Sales Bearish

OMAHA (DTN) — This week’s export sales report should be viewed as neutral for corn, and bearish for soybeans, wheat and milo, according to DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman.

For the week ended May 2, 2019, USDA reported an increase of 11.3 million bushels (mb) (287,600 metric tons) of corn export sales for 2018-19 and an increase of 0.3 mb (6,900 mt) for 2019-20. Last week’s export shipments of 45.4 mb were below the 46.3 mb needed each week to achieve USDA’s export estimate of 2.300 billion bushel (bb) in 2018-19. Corn export commitments now total 1.824 bb in 2018-19 and are down 10% from a year ago. Thursday’s report was neutral for corn in 2018-19, Hultman said.

For the week ended May 2, 2019, USDA reported a net cancellation of 5.5 million bushels (149,100 mt) of soybean export sales for 2018-19 and an increase of 10.9 mb (295,600 mt) for 2019-20.

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Dicamba Deadline Questions

By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) has issued a statement on dicamba stewardship supporting June 30 as a cutoff date for application in that state.

Concerns with weather-related planting delays of soybeans have some in the agriculture industry beginning to question the cutoff date, said Jean Payne, IFCA president. “IFCA felt it important to again communicate the primary reasons for the cutoff, which have not changed,” she added.

In February, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) hosted meetings to discuss the management and regulation of dicamba use on soybeans. As a result of those discussions, the department implemented a 24(c) Special Local Needs Label with several protective measures. The most notable of those was an application cutoff of June 30, 2019.

Participating in these meetings were Acting IDA Director John Sullivan, Deputy Director Warren Goetsch, the management team of the IDA Bureau of Environmental Programs, representatives from IFCA, Illinois Farm Bureau, Soybean Association, Corn Growers, UI Weed Science Extension and the registrants of dicamba products labeled for use on soybeans: Bayer, BASF, Corteva and Syngenta.

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Avoid NH3 Mishaps

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — A recent incident in suburban Chicago involving an anhydrous ammonia leak that injured several people, including first responders, underscores the dangers the nitrogen fertilizer can present in both transportation and application.

Despite its dangers, anhydrous ammonia is the least-expensive form of nitrogen fertilizer and remains the form of choice for many farmers. Following all safety procedures and using personal protective equipment when handling anhydrous can prevent issues like the one in Chicago.

VITAL FORM OF NITROGEN

To many farmers, anhydrous is a reliable, efficient and cost-effective source of nitrogen if handled safely, according to John Rebholz, director of safety and education for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA). In Illinois, farmers use approximately 670,000 tons annually of anhydrous, and the number of incidents are fairly low.

Rebholz said if ag was solely reliant on the other forms of nitrogen (liquid and dry), the fertilizer would not only be more expensive but supply issues would arise with one less form available, he said.

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EPA Fights for Refiner Waivers in Court

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — A biofuels interest group last month asked a federal court to stop EPA from granting additional small refinery waivers, and on Monday, the EPA filed a motion in an ongoing court case to fight the request tooth and nail.

One year ago, the Advanced Biofuels Association petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking for a review of those waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard that to-date, have totaled about 2.6 billion gallons of biofuels not blended in gasoline.

The ABFA on March 6, 2019, filed a 97-page brief with the court alleging the EPA broke away from RFS requirements for granting small-refinery waivers starting in May 2017 and continued to deny a congressional order regarding which refiners qualify.

This week, the EPA argued in a response filed in the DC court that the Advanced Biofuels Association waited too long to file for an injunction.

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ERS Relocation Possibilities

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — The Purdue University area in Indiana, the greater Kansas City region and the Research Triangle area of North Carolina are at the top of the Trump administration’s short list of places to move most of the employees of the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

But St. Louis, Missouri, and Madison, Wisconsin, are also still in the running, according to an Agriculture Department news release Friday.

“This short list of locations took into consideration critical factors required to uphold the important missions of ERS and NIFA,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in the release. “We also considered factors important to our employees, such as quality of life.”

Perdue added, “Relocation will help ensure USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government, allowing us to be closer to our stakeholders and move our resources closer to our customers.

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Lab-Produced Meat on Rise

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — In March 2017, Australian real estate mogul Tim Gurner advised millennials to quit wasting money on expensive avocado toast and coffee if they struggle to buy their first homes.

The avocado market suddenly surged and continues to thrive.

In the food business, consumer preferences and demand can change at the speed of light in the internet age.

Responding to sudden changes in consumer demand is something farmers — by the nature of the business — find difficult to do.

For example, Arlington, Nebraska, farmer J.P. Rhea seized opportunity in organics, but completely remaking his 11,000-acre farm didn’t happen overnight.

“Dad always said you have to adapt to survive,” Rhea told an audience at the Food and Ag at the Intersection symposium in Omaha, Nebraska, on Thursday.

“The main lesson is, as farmers we have to adapt. Going to organics is completely changing everything I’ve ever done.

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Wheat Tour Final

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

MANHATTAN, Kan. (DTN) — The Kansas winter wheat crop could produce an average yield of 47.2 bushels per acre (bpa), according to the final estimate of the Wheat Quality Council’s Hard Red Winter (HRW) Wheat Tour. That’s up from USDA’s final yield of 38 bpa last year, when dry conditions hampered wheat yields early in the season.

The wheat tour’s final estimate is an average of three days of wheat yield estimates produced by crop scouts who scouted and measured wheat throughout Kansas as well as southern Nebraska and northern Oklahoma. On the first day, crop scouts produced a yield estimate of 46.9 bpa, on the second day 47.6 bpa, and on the third, 46.2 bpa.

Overall, the 74 participants on this year’s HRW wheat tour visited 469 fields. Muddy boots and wet pants quickly became routine, as scouts encountered unusually ample soil moisture in many parts of the state, although dryness has crept into some southwestern counties.

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