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President Signs Aid Package

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers in at least six states should be eligible for more financial aid under the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill signed into law Thursday by President Donald Trump.

With $3 billion specifically set aside for agricultural losses, the legislation will help Southeastern farmers hit by hurricanes last fall, as well as offset losses for farmers who had grain stored on farms this spring that was destroyed in Midwest flooding. The bill, however, also causes some confusion over language regarding “crops prevented from planting in 2019.”

In typical Trump fashion, he tweeted the details with a photo of him holding the signed legislation. “Just signed Disaster Aid Bill to help Americans who have been hit by recent catastrophic storms. So important to our GREAT American farmers and ranchers. Help for GA, FL, IA, NE, NC and CA. Puerto Rico should love President Trump.

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Racing the Rain

By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

ASSUMPTION, Ill. (DTN) — Jeff Brown has taken to keeping changes of clothes in his tractor this spring. Home may only be 15 miles or so away as the crow flies, but most nights this spring he wasn’t sure when he’d see it next.

The Blue Mound, Illinois, farmer has been racing the rain. On Sunday, the long-range forecast started calling weather to move in Tuesday night or maybe Wednesday morning. Bri-Mac Farms still had 2,000 acres to go before he could sleep.

Brown is by reputation meticulous about planting — about everything, really. But he loves the preciseness of this ritual and the fresh start it brings each year. Spring is a clean slate and a promise. At least, it always has been.

A perennial winner in the National Corn Grower Yield Contest, Brown is among the first to embrace modern innovations — whether it is technology or genetics.

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Late-Planting Options

By Elizabeth Williams
DTN Special Correspondent

INDIANOLA, Iowa (DTN) — Pat Swanson has already started filling in the paperwork on prevented planting for her family’s farm and for several of her customers.

“We have some fields under water, and the dam upstream increased its outflow by 67% last Friday. For some fields, we have no choice,” the Ottumwa, Iowa, crop insurance agent said.

Swanson, like many across the Corn Belt, is facing the tough decision that comes with saturated fields. As of this weekend, one-third of the nation’s corn acres are still unplanted. Yet it’s not so late into June that farmers are giving up hope on planting corn even though the “final planting date” for crop insurance has passed.

Corn and soybean producers have several options still available.

PLANT CORN

If your ground dries up enough, you could still plant corn with reduced crop insurance coverage until the end of the late-planting period, despite agronomic issues like reduced yield and soil compaction.

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Hemp Pesticide Use

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ARLINGTON, Va. (DTN) — Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized commercial production of hemp, state and federal regulators have found themselves playing catch up with production practices. That dynamic was on display when state and EPA officials gathered for the State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) in Arlington, Virginia, on June 3-4.

Officially, hemp production is legal in most states now. Practically, producers have very few answers on how they can safely grow the crop, particularly in the absence of many fungicides, herbicides and insecticides labeled for use in hemp.

“We’re in a situation where production is already happening,” said Liza Fleeson Trossbach, a Virginia pesticide regulator who spoke at the meeting. “The cart is way ahead of the horse with the Farm Bill and all these other issues coming up. We’ve got a lot of angry people in Virginia right now.”

At the meeting, EPA officials admitted they are scrambling to take the initial steps to make pesticides legal and safe to use on hemp crops.

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USDA Can’t Extend Planting Dates

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Responding to a request from the Agricultural Retailers Association, a USDA spokesperson said Wednesday it cannot change crop-insurance contracts to extend the planting season.

The Agricultural Retailers Association wants Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to extend the late-planting season for crop insurance to avoid the “risk of unintended consequences” from the disaster legislation that passed Congress.

A spokesperson for USDA responded to DTN that the department cannot make changes to the contracts between farmers and crop-insurance companies.

“Final planting dates and the late-planting period are part of a binding insurance contract between the producer and their insurance company. As such, they cannot be waived or altered during the insurance period,” a spokesperson stated in an email to DTN.

The ag retailers group fears its members will be left holding seed, treatments, fertilizer and other chemicals if farmers don’t plant a crop. The disaster package includes language on prevented-planting insurance that could boost prevent-planting insurance coverage to up to 90% of the loss for those who bought policies.

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Disaster Aid Package Approved

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

HAMBURG, Iowa (DTN) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured flooded areas of the southwest corner of her state on Monday, making a point that she was waiting to hear if and when Congress would give final approval for a disaster-aid package.

The House of Representatives voted 354-58 late Monday to approve the long-awaited $19.1 billion disaster aid package that will address not only Midwest flooding, but also aid recovery from hurricanes in the Southeastern states last year as well as the California wildfires. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The bill specifically includes just over $3 billion to pay for farmer losses from disasters that occurred in 2018 and 2019. The bill will help pay for farmers who lost stored grain this spring during flooding, and also includes a provision that raises prevented-planting coverage up to 90% of potential losses.

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Disaster aid package bumps up prevented planting coverage

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

HAMBURG, Iowa (DTN) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured flooded areas of the southwest corner of her state on Monday, making a point that she was waiting to hear if and when Congress would give final approval for a disaster-aid package.

The House of Representatives voted 354-58 late Monday to approve the long-awaited $19.1 billion disaster aid package that will address not only Midwest flooding, but also aid recovery from hurricanes in the Southeastern states last year as well as the California wildfires. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The bill specifically includes just over $3 billion to pay for farmer losses from disasters that occurred in 2018 and 2019. The bill will help pay for farmers who lost stored grain this spring during flooding, and also includes a provision that raises prevented-planting coverage up to 90% of potential losses.

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Farms Exempt From Emissions Reporting

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Farms are now exempt from reporting air emissions from animal waste after the EPA on Tuesday finalized a new rule amending the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA.

In April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, struck down a 2008 EPA rule that exempted large animal feeding operations from reporting air pollutants generated by animal waste.

Back in 2008, the George W. Bush administration exempted animal feeding operations from having to report ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions, in particular. At the time, the agency estimated the rule would save farms more than a million hours, more than $60 million in compliance costs and eliminate about 160,000 hours and $8 million in government costs over 10 years.

The action prompted a number of environmental groups to sue the EPA.

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Dicamba Battle Lines Drawn

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ARLINGTON, Va. (DTN) — At a state pesticide regulatory meeting this week, some state officials threatened to stop reporting their dicamba damage incidents to the EPA during the 2019 growing season, after their past reporting efforts did not bring about substantial changes to agency’s dicamba registrations.

“They felt like they provided a lot of information [in 2018], and it took a lot of their staff time to generate that information, but they don’t feel that was reflected in any of the dicamba label statements, so states are kind of questioning whether that was a good use of their time,” explained Rose Kachadoorian, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO), who led the meeting of the organization’s State FIFRA Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) in Arlington, Virginia, on June 3-4.

Last year, state officials participated in weekly phone calls with the EPA and submitted an array of data on dicamba injury reports.

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House to Vote on Disaster Aid

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent
and
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Congress returns Monday amidst some of the greatest uncertainty for agriculture in decades, with corn and soybean planting behind schedule, commodity prices low, and trade conflicts with China and Mexico worse than before the Memorial Day congressional recess.

The House is scheduled to vote early Monday evening on a $19.1 billion supplemental appropriations bill that includes aid to farmers and ranchers who experienced hurricanes and wildfires in 2018 and flooding this year.

The vote comes as the Missouri River again is rising because of continual rain throughout the basin. The Arkansas River is also inundating farm ground in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and locks and dams on the Mississippi River remain shut down as the Corps of Engineers looks for ways to relieve pressure on the system.

The Senate passed the disaster bill before leaving for the recess.

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Attorney: E15 Rule on Solid Ground

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Predicting how a legal case plays out can be dangerous territory, but an attorney representing ethanol interests in an expected petroleum industry challenge to EPA’s final E15 rule said the agency appears to be on solid ground with the rule.

In a Renewable Fuels Association news call on Monday, Bryan Stockton, an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in Washington, D.C., said the rule will be challenged in court. The American Petroleum Institute said publicly, in the months leading up to the EPA finalizing the rule, the industry would file a lawsuit.

As of Monday afternoon, a lawsuit had not been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a challenge would be filed. API did not respond to DTN’s request for comment.

“EPA drafted the rule to withstand a challenge,” Stockton told reporters. “EPA has the authority to revise its interpretations.

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House passes disaster aid

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent
and
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Congress returned Monday amidst some of the greatest uncertainty for agriculture in decades, with corn and soybean planting behind schedule, commodity prices low, and trade conflicts with China and Mexico worse than before the Memorial Day congressional recess.

The House voted early Monday evening on a $19.1 billion supplemental appropriations bill that includes aid to farmers and ranchers who experienced hurricanes and wildfires in 2018 and flooding this year. The measure passed 354-58 on June 3.

The vote comes as the Missouri River again is rising because of continual rain throughout the basin. The Arkansas River is also inundating farm ground in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and locks and dams on the Mississippi River remain shut down as the Corps of Engineers looks for ways to relieve pressure on the system.

The Senate passed the disaster bill before leaving for the recess.

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June-Planted Beans

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Many soybeans will be planted in June this year, after persistent rainfall has delayed planting across the Soybean Belt.

The good news is June-planted soybeans can thrive, given the right production practices. Here we’ve pulled together the latest research and recommendations from Extension scientists on how to adjust maturity group, seeding population, row spacing, seed treatments and which pests and diseases to brace for in late-planted bean fields.

MATURITY GROUP

Don’t rush to switch maturity groups just yet. Most university research shows that full-season varieties for most regions are still the best option in early June, in terms of yield potential. “This is because they produce a larger crop canopy before beginning to flower and have a longer timeframe to flower, set pods and fill seed,” explained Michigan State University Extension soybean educator Mike Staton, in a university article on late soybean planting.

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ASF Outbreak Shifts in China

By Lin Tan
DTN China Correspondent

BEIJING, China (DTN) — The impact of China’s African swine fever outbreak has grown, as the disease arrived in one of the country’s largest production areas while pork stockpiles are rapidly falling as well.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOA) announced on Tuesday that an African swine fever (ASF) case was found in Bobai County in South China’s Guangxi Province. It was just one hog infected within a small farm, but the location created immediate concerns for the industry. Another outbreak was reported last Saturday on a farm of 104 hogs in Yunnan Province, another southern China province.

Industry observers are now speculating whether this latest report out of Bobai County will be used as a policy to curb pork shipping out from Guangxi Province.

Bobai County is one of the largest hog-producing counties in China. The county typically has stocks of 500,000 sows and produces 6.2 million head of hogs annually.

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WOTUS Sent Back to EPA

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — The 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule may have suffered a final defeat, as a Texas court Tuesday granted a motion for summary judgement to the American Farm Bureau Federation that sends the rule back to EPA.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled EPA violated the law in making changes in the final rule that were not proposed in the preliminary rule.

“The court finds that the final rule violated the notice-and-comment requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedure Act) and therefore grants summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on this ground,” the court said in its ruling.

“The court remands the final rule to the appropriate administrative agencies for proceedings consistent with this order.”

In drafting the 2015 rule, EPA relied heavily on a so-called draft connectivity report that included the agency’s analysis of numerous studies on the connected nature of the nation’s waters.

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Don’t Feed These Daisies

By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Those yellow flowers filling fields across the Midwest aren’t buttercups, baby. They are weeds and consumed in enough quantities, cressleaf groundsel, also called butterweed, can be toxic to livestock.

Ohio State University weed specialist Mark Loux said the winter annual weed is being found in fairly high numbers because the weather has held back herbicide treatments this spring.

Butterweed is common in no-till corn and soybean fields, and burndown herbicides are typically used to control it early in the spring when the plants are smaller and more susceptible. However, that didn’t happen in many areas this year due to wet weather. It’s also not an option in forage and wheat crops.

Native to the United States, butterweed can be found from Texas east to Florida, northward along the Atlantic Coast to Virginia, and west to Nebraska. The plant is poisonous to grazing animals such as cattle, horses, goats, sheep and to humans, Loux said.

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Considering Crop Options

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — With spring rains that won’t cease, farmers will be increasingly pushed over the next few weeks to weigh their prevented-planting options.

The angst over planting is also higher for farmers who hedged a percentage of their 2019-20 corn ahead of planting season. Angie Setzer, vice president of grain at Citizens Elevator in Charlotte, Michigan, said farmers should be talking with their buyers about options.

“You have got to have communication with your buyer sooner or later,” Setzer said. “So a lot of guys will hesitate and see if it will get better. You always, as a farmer, have an optimistic thought, ‘I’ll just wait it out.’ That’s the worst thing to do because knowing early, and me having a conversation with a grower early, allows me to present a lot of different opportunities.”

Setzer added, “If it is keeping you up at night that you are overhedged versus what you have got planted and the reality is you aren’t going to do too much more, then it’s best to have that conversation and rip the Band-Aid off.”

Setzer also noted there are a lot of questions about how the new round of Market Facilitation Program payments will influence late-season soybean planting.

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Dicamba Review

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — In a late, delayed spring like this one, growers may have to rely on postemergence herbicide applications more than usual to control weeds.

If dicamba-tolerant soybeans or cotton are in your acreage mix, in-season dicamba applications can help — but take care. The new dicamba herbicides (XtendiMax, FeXapan, Engenia and Tavium) are restricted-use pesticides that come with a host of label restrictions, and a growing amount of research on how they move off-target.

Here are five important things to keep in mind when spraying these chemicals in 2019.

1. CHECK FOR INVERSIONS

All four dicamba labels ban spraying when a temperature inversion is underway. Inversions occur when a cool, stable air mass is trapped near the ground and can suspend particles within it — such as herbicides — until the air eventually warms and disperses.

Thanks to four years of research by University of Missouri scientists, we have a much better understanding of when inversions occur and how they affect pesticide applications.

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Lawsuits Target Glyphosate in Canada

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Bayer’s legal battle on glyphosate has headed north of the border as class-action lawsuits alleging the use of Roundup causes cancer, have been launched in Canada.

The latest was filed on May 24 in Quebec, where dairy farmer Liliane Paquette is seeking $10 million in damages. The lawsuit said she was diagnosed with stage-four chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 2005. Paquette is the first plaintiff in the new lawsuit that alleges exposure to glyphosate, although she didn’t spray the product.

In November 2018, Saskatchewan farmer Garry Gadd filed a class-action suit alleging the use of Roundup led to his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. CBC/ Radio Canada reported fewer than 12 plaintiffs have joined the class action that includes people who have sprayed the product.

Bayer, which purchased Monsanto, recently lost three similar lawsuits in the United States.

Most recently a California jury awarded $2.055 billion in damages to a couple that has battled cancer after decades of using the product.

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Trade Aid Not a Solution

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Leaders of farm groups on Thursday showed they have President Donald Trump’s back as he offered them another $16 billion in federal aid in lieu of anticipated higher exports to China.

In response to the new Market Facilitation Program rolled out Thursday, farm groups offered praise to the Trump administration for helping offset export losses, but reiterated that a second consecutive year of trade aid is insufficient to make up for potentially years of lost trade revenue.

Farm groups praised the $16 billion in aid, though it is unclear exactly how much farmers will be paid individually. Payments will be based on all planted commodities in a county, yet USDA will only pay crop farmers based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total planted acres in 2019. The new MFP payments will be limited to the total amount of eligible acreage a farmer planted in 2018.

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