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More Green From Beans – 5

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

When John Werries and his son Dean started using cover crops, their primary goal was to prevent soil erosion on their Illinois farm. Seven years later, they’ve discovered their cover crop of choice, cereal rye, which hates weeds as much as they do.

Illinois is home to some challenging herbicide-resistant weeds, including waterhemp populations that can survive six different herbicide modes of action. But, on the Werries’ farm, near Chapin, the chemicals get an assist. The Werries plant soybeans directly into thick stands of cereal rye and then terminate the growing cover crop.

“As all of the cover melts down — and it takes a long time — there is a mat that makes it tough for weeds to grow,” Werries explained. The suppression allowed them to cut back on their herbicide use in soybeans this year, and their fields stayed clean through the end of the season.

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Call the Market

By ShayLe Stewart
DTN Livestock Analyst

This may be a year simply characterized by the John Wayne quote, “All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.” Cattlemen wanting to be somewhere else? I think most would say, “You betcha,” as they hand you their worn-out muck boots, a list of calves to doctor, an operating note that has a lofty total underlined, circled and highlighted at the bottom of the page, and calves still left to sell for the year. Today’s cattlemen are a tough bunch of tenacious souls who all know that working an 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m. job would be much easier given that this year has presented challenges unlike ever before.

Fall calf prices in 2018 didn’t send any ranchers speeding home from the scales to kiss their wives and dance happily on the kitchen floor because they finally made it big. Instead, ranchers collected their calf checks, paid off their operating notes and prayed that 2019 would bring another skiff of 2014 luck.

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2020 House Election Forecast

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — One year from the 2020 general election, more than half of the Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee are facing less-than-“solid” chances of retaining their seats, but the Democrats appear on the path to retain their majority in the House, according to David Wasserman, the House analyst for The Cook Political Report.

Of the committee’s 25 Democratic members representing districts in the 50 states, 14 are facing races that the Cook Report ranks as less than “solid,” and nine of those races could favor the Republican, per the Cook Partisan Voter Index (PVI). The index measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole.

Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is also a member of the committee, but the Cook Political Report does not rank the delegates from the U.S. territories.

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The Wonder of Wheat

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — It was another record-setting year for the National Wheat Yield Contest, which announced its 2019 winners Tuesday. Three winners topped 200 bushels per acre (bpa), with Rick Pearson of Buhl, Idaho, gleaning top yield honors with a 211.59-bpa irrigated winter wheat entry.

Close behind him was Marc Arnusch of Keenesburg, Colorado, whose irrigated winter wheat field reached 210.52 bpa, and Phillip Gross, whose irrigated winter wheat field in Warden, Washington, hit 200.48 bpa.

DTN/Progressive Farmer is the official media outlet of the contest, which is sponsored by the National Wheat Foundation.

This year, the results of the annual competition cast a spotlight on the widely varying wheat-growing regions of the U.S.

First, there is Pearson, who, from the rich, river-fed soils of his southern Idaho farm, grew a field of densely packed, soft white winter wheat bursting with nearly 212 bushels per acre.

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Trade Aid Disparity Claims

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — A group of Senate Democrats released a report Tuesday on the Trump administration’s agricultural trade aid program, charging USDA “is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda.”

Led by Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the report stated Market Facilitation Program payments were unevenly distributed across the country.

The report states USDA’s MFP “has treated farmers unfairly by, among other things, sending 95% of the top payment rates to Southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires as well as foreign-owned companies, including awarding $90 million in purchase contracts to a Brazilian company.”

The MFP was set up last year after the Trump administration vowed farmers would not be hurt by trade disputes with China and other countries that had sparked retaliatory tariffs.

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More Green From Beans – 4

By Matthew Wilde
DTNProgressive Farmer Crops Editor

Corn takes a back seat to soybeans on Joshua Rausch’s farm at planting.

The Paullina, Iowa, farmer is part of a growing trend of producers who plant soybeans before or at the same time as corn to maximize yields and profit potential.

Soybeans are traditionally planted after corn nationwide, primarily because of risk. Corn costs more to plant and needs time to take advantage of higher-yielding, long-season hybrids. Soybeans are more forgiving than corn and have a better chance to produce a crop if planted well into June or July. Plus, a late-spring frost can kill soybean plants after emergence since the growing point is already out of the ground, unlike corn.

Rausch used to plant corn first, too, which meant soybeans usually got in by mid- to late May. That changed when soybean yields plateaued a few years ago at 65 to 75 bushels per acre.

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SCN Does the Backstroke

By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Extremely wet weather didn’t wash away worries for soybean cyst nematode (SCN). In fact, flood waters may have moved the pest to new areas, according to Greg Tylka, Iowa State University nematologist and one of The SCN Coalition leaders.

“That’s one reason we’re recommending soil sampling for SCN during fall fertility testing,” said Tylka. The only way to know if a field has SCN problems is to soil test, he detailed in a recent news release.

Flooding isn’t the only thing responsible for SCN’s expanding range. Soil moved by wind, birds and other animals and farm equipment has been spreading SCN in all directions since it was first discovered in New Hanover County, North Carolina, in 1954.

“As of 2019, SCN has been confirmed in every county in Illinois and Iowa, and all but two Indiana counties (Monroe and Brown),” Tylka added.

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Republicans Push EPA on RFS

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Seven Midwest senators and Iowa’s governor, all Republicans, are pushing back on EPA’s supplemental plan for the Renewable Fuel Standard, stating in comments that EPA’s latest plan continues to kowtow to petroleum industry profits.

EPA is in the middle of a comment period for a plan that would add to 2020 RFS volumes by accounting for small-refinery exemptions and ideally achieve at least 15 billion gallons of renewable fuel volumes in 2020. EPA wants to use a Department of Energy recommendation on waived gallons from 2015 to 2017, or an average of roughly 770 million gallons.

Yet, biofuel advocates maintain the deal struck at the White House back in September calls for factoring in a three-year average of biofuel gallons exempted from 2016 to this year, which comes in closer to 1.35 billion gallons a year.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds submitted public comments in a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, along with fellow Iowa Republicans, Sens.

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NPPC Campaigns for USMCA

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — The National Pork Producer Council is starting another campaign to get Congress to pass the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement before the end of the year.

Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president and counsel for global government affairs, told DTN NPPC made a judgement last summer to push hard for Congress to complete the trade deal before the end of 2019. Right now, hog farmers “are getting antsy” that negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration could carry into 2020.

“Our best judgement was the deal would come up around Thanksgiving or in December,” Giordano said. “We’re still very hopeful we get that vote before the end of the year.” He added, “Our producers want the certainty of continued North American trade,” Giordano said. “They saw the impact of punitive tariffs. It really tied them in knots and it was a huge financial problem for the industry.

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The 5thWave Forum

By Tregg Cronin
DTN Contributing Analyst

There’s an old market adage that says, “There is always a bull market somewhere.” Corn, soybean and wheat bulls have had opportunities during the 2019-20 marketing year, and some of that story is still being written as harvest continues to plod along across the Midwest. One market that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention until combines began to roll, however, is the sunflower market.

For obvious reasons, the sunflower market doesn’t garner the interest other grain and oilseed markets do given the largest number of planted acres over the last 10 years was 2 million. The sunflower market is taking on added importance this year given the tightening U.S. and global vegetable oil markets, as some DTN authors have written about recently.

South and North Dakota rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in sunflower production in the United States. It is no secret to anyone that these two states were inundated with rain throughout the summer growing season with both running 150% to 600% above normal precipitation over the last 90 days.

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Corn Belt Propane Crunch

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — As of Wednesday morning, Harmony, Minnesota, farmers Jeff and Roxi Thompson were having no problem finding enough propane to dry their corn crop.

That all changed by Wednesday evening.

“We are down to 800 gallons and our supplier called tonight and said he’s out of gas and can’t tell us when he’ll have more,” Roxi said. “This means harvest is over until gas is delivered.”

The Thompsons are not alone as farmers across the Corn Belt are running into supply bottlenecks at a time when they can ill afford to wait. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared a regional emergency in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

At the end of last week, governors in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin issued emergency declarations to lift restrictions on carriers for the transportation of heating fuel, including propane. This is expected to help alleviate supply issues in the region.

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More Green From Beans – 3

By Darcy Maulsby
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor

As he looks across his fields spanning the flat terrain of northern Iowa, Mike Riggert isn’t just seeing rows of soybeans. He’s thinking about ways to adjust his seeding rates.

“For years, we planted a flat rate of 150,000 seeds per acre, but we’ve definitely cut back on seeding rates in the last two or three years,” said Riggert, who farms with his brother, Brian, near Whittemore.

It’s a targeted process for Riggert, who plants soybeans in 30-inch rows and has been experimenting with variable-rate seeding. In some cases, he has dropped rates as low as 80,000 or 90,000 seeds per acre. In other places, like high-pH areas that tend to stunt the plants, Riggert has planted 175,000 seeds per acre. In fields with neutral soil pH and adequate fertility, he typically plants 120,000 seeds per acre.

“You can get good yields with lower planting populations if you pay attention to detail,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader for MaxYield Cooperative, which serves the Riggert farm.

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China ASF Driving Pork Trade

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — The pork shortage in China caused by African swine fever continues to overcome high import tariffs for U.S. pork heading to the Chinese market.

Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S Meat Export Federation, said on a call Tuesday he was “feeling pretty upbeat about our export markets right now” as beef, pork and lamb are picking up momentum.

Overall, beef exports are expected to end 2019 largely even in exports compared to 2018, but USMEF projects 5% growth in 2020. Pork exports are up a minimum 10% compared to 2018. Pork exports in 2020 are projected to grow another 13%. Halstrom said those figures could be conservative for pork exports.

USMEF provided an update on Tuesday before kicking off its strategic planning conference in Arizona. Updated data for September meat exports will be released by USDA on Wednesday then will be summarized by USMEF on its website as well.

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More Green From Beans – 2

By Matthew Wilde
Progressive Farmer Crops Editor

Growing specialty soybeans can make a lot of dollars and sense.

Ray Gaesser said it’s almost a must in today’s farm economy. The Corning, Iowa, farmer has grown seed soybeans for about 25 years. He contracted nearly 2,000 acres this year with Stine Seed.

The seed soybeans will generate about $50 more per acre compared to commodity counterparts, Gaesser said.

“That can be the difference between making money and not making money today,” Gaesser claimed. “Earning a premium is a huge deal.”

It may take extra work to grow and store identity-preserved soybeans, but farmers who do say it’s well worth it.

Soybean farmers are finding ways to boost revenues despite market and trade challenges. This story is the second in a six-part series, More Green From Beans. The series will look at ways soybean farmers are finding ways to answer trade challenges by boosting revenues through switching up agronomics and finding new markets.

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WOTUS Repeal Challenged

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The agriculture industry celebrated the 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule repeal that EPA finalized in recent weeks. But an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation and an official with a major agriculture group said farmers and ranchers still face regulation under the Clean Water Act.

On Oct. 22, 2019, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the repeal of the Obama-era rule that agriculture and other industry groups and states had fought in court for years.

The repeal reverts regulations to the 1986 version of WOTUS while the EPA continues to rewrite the definition. The 2015 rule was opposed by critics as an example of gross federal overreach, yet the 1986 rule also had its share of concerns.

“The 1986 regulations re-imposed by EPA this month are broader than the 2015 regulations the agency just repealed,” said Tony Francois, senior attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

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More Green From Beans – 1

By Matthew Wilde
Progressive Farmer Crops Editor

Farmers in the north-central U.S. are looking for lost soybean yield.

Shawn Conley, a soybean specialist at the University of Wisconsin, said the genetic yield potential of America’s most widely planted legume is 110 bushels per acre or more in most states, depending on climate and soil conditions. But most farmers average 50 to 55 bushels per acre.

“Where are the other 50 to 55 bushels?” Conley asked. “We’re working to minimize that yield gap.”

The completion last year of a three-year study Conley co-led with University of Nebraska agronomist Patricio Grassini called “Benchmarking Soybean Production Systems in the North Central U.S.” can help farmers do just that. It identifies factors that preclude soybean farmers from obtaining yields that should be potentially possible on their farms.

Production and management data from more than 8,000 fields covering about 600,000 acres was collected and analyzed. The North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) — a collaboration of 12 Midwest state soybean associations — spent more than $1.3 million in soybean checkoff funds on the multistate project.

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USDA Pulls Electronic Animal ID Mandate

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has withdrawn a policy to require the use of radio frequency identification, or RFID, of animals in interstate commerce. But a number of ranchers and a national cattle group have yet to withdraw a lawsuit they filed against APHIS last month challenging the policy.

The ranchers, led by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA, alleged in an Oct. 4 lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, that a USDA plan on RFID “unlawfully mandates” the technology in ear tags and other technology for livestock.

Though APHIS said in an Oct. 25 statement that a factsheet posted to its website is “no longer representative of current agency policy,” court records show the lawsuit has not been dropped.

Harriet Hageman, a senior litigation counsel at the New Civil Liberties Alliance in Washington, D.C., told DTN, “APHIS has currently withdrawn the April 2019 factsheet.

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House Ag Approves CFTC Bill

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. (DTN) — After the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said the bill “sends a strong message to the Senate. The people that look to our markets for integrity don’t care about political wins and losses. They expect us to conduct the business of this committee.”

Peterson noted, “The CFTC authorization expired in 2013, so it is overdue, and I’m glad we are on a bipartisan path to get it done.” Although the CFTC has continued to function normally under appropriations bills, Peterson also said that Heath Tarbert, the new CFTC chairman, “is also keen to have his agency formally reauthorized.”

Tarbert in a press release praised the committee’s action and said, “The sound regulation of our derivatives markets, which see more than $4 trillion in notional activity each day, is critical to the health of the U.S.

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Moving Past Prevented Planting

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — With 55% of his acres left unplanted in 2019, one might have expected Matt Foes to put up his feet and take a vacation.

Instead, the Sheffield, Illinois, farmer rolled up his sleeves and spent a large part of this summer working a year ahead.

“I went into the summer expecting that this fall would be no different than the spring — so really challenging,” said Foes. “So I spent the summer preparing those fields for 2020: I sprayed herbicides, tilled to smooth out seed beds and seeded cover crops.” In the weeks and months to come, he will tackle field repairs, cover crop termination, weed control and fertility management on those same acres, all before planting his actual crop — or so he hopes.

“If I learned anything from 2019, it’s that you aren’t guaranteed to get an opportunity to do anything you’ve planned,” he said.

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New Ag Labor Bill Touted

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — With the support of both farm organizations and the United Farm Workers union, a bipartisan group of House members introduced a new farm labor bill in Congress on Wednesday.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would create a program to legalize current agricultural workers who are in the U.S. illegally, as well as their spouses and minor children. The bill would also make several changes to the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program, which would include allowing year-round agricultural guest workers — a major issue for dairy farmers and other livestock producers.

Along with changes in the workforce, the bill would establish mandatory E-Verify for all agricultural employers through a phased-in process.

Ag labor bills have come up in nearly every session of Congress over the past two decades only to whither somewhere in the process. Agribusiness and farmworker groups this time spent several months at the negotiating table with lawmakers looking to reach a compromise that would generate large bipartisan backing.

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