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PLC Gains Popularity

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — A vast majority of corn and soybean farmers elected the Agriculture Risk Coverage program under the 2014 Farm Bill, but University of Illinois economists say growers are more likely to choose the Price Loss Coverage program for 2019 and 2020 crops.

“The higher the prices, the more you look at ARC-County. The lower the prices, the more it’s going to favor PLC,” University of Illinois agriculture economist Gary Schnitkey said in a Farmdoc webinar.

Schnitkey and University of Illinois professor Jonathan Coppess explained a number of changes the 2018 farm bill made to the PLC and ARC-County programs and how they could affect farmers’ decision, but added that low commodity prices make the PLC program the most likely choice. A separate webinar exploring under what circumstances a farmer would consider using the ARC-Individual farm program will be held at a later date.

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Ag Wants Biofuels Decision

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Ten days ago, Siouxland Energy Cooperative in Sioux Center, Iowa, announced it was idling its 90-million-gallon ethanol plant.

The company cited lost ethanol demand from the most recent round of 31 small-refinery exemptions (SRE) to the Renewable Fuel Standard as the reason, the final straw in what has been a tough margin environment in the past year.

As ethanol producers and farmers wait for a supposed biofuels deal from President Donald Trump to restore exempted gallons, the clock is ticking.

“We need this announcement in the next couple of weeks,” said Kelly Nieuwenhuis, Iowa farmer and president of the board of directors for Siouxland Energy. “We’re scrambling to raise capital now. The banks are reading the same newspapers everyone else is. They’re getting nervous. The banks are squeezing. We need an announcement soon. There’s no reason the announcement can’t be made in two weeks or less.”

A group of farmers and ethanol producers held a conference call on Thursday, attempting to push the administration to make a decision on a reported biofuels package.

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Topping Up Prevented Planting

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers with prevented planting claims on a projected 19.6 million acres will receive a “top-up” payment on their claims from insurance providers starting in mid-October.

USDA announced Thursday that all farmers with 2019 prevented planted claims will receive a bonus payment. Prevented planting indemnities will increase 15% for farmers who bought Revenue Protection policies. Farmers who bought Yield Protection and Revenue Protection policies with the Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10% increase in their indemnity payments.

“It was a challenging planting season for many of our farmers,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation. “We are doing everything we can to ensure producers receive the help they need.”

The top-up payments will be automatically paid to farmers and will not require any additional paperwork to receive the payments.

Northey said USDA is working with crop insurance companies to get the payments to farmers as soon as possible.

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USMCA on Backburner Now?

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — After months of campaigning for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could derail the trade deal.

The White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, signaled Tuesday that the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry might mean that Congress will not take up approval of USMCA.

Grassley said, “If Democrats use impeachment proceedings as a basis to not act on policy that will directly benefit Americans like the USMCA or lowering prescription drug prices, that would prove they’re more interested in politics and opposing the president at all costs than serving the American people.”

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement that, “In a far departure from all of the work and results of this president, House Democrats have destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus all their energy on partisan political attacks.”

“Their attacks on the president and his agenda are not only partisan and pathetic, they are in dereliction of their constitutional duty,” Grisham said.

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Ethanol Plants Cut Costs

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Many ethanol companies in the United States have done about all they can do to weather the downturn in the industry, while others have been less fortunate and have idled production.

As President Donald Trump’s administration continues to consider some kind of biofuels deal, the economics of ethanol production still remain difficult.

Donna Funk, a certified public accountant with K-Coe Isom, based in Lenexa, Kansas, who works with ethanol plants, said producers continue to look for ways to survive an ongoing downturn in profit margins.

“What I’m hearing is plants are continuing to evaluate costs and make adjustments when possible, but the options are getting fewer and fewer as they don’t want to sacrifice on repairs and maintenance too much because they know that is not a good solution long-term,” she said. “The cost structure for the plants doesn’t really allow for a lot of cost-cutting in the operations side, so they are looking at the discretionary spending and making adjustments when they can.”

That includes cutting costs on attending conferences, sponsorships, travel, and other items.

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Cattle Price Discovery Focus

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the meat industry Wednesday, a representative of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said that price discovery for cattle needs to be improved, while other meat interests said the most important goal for Congress should be approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.

Shane Eaton, a rancher and feedlot operator from Montana who serves on the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Marketing and Competition Committee, said extreme volatility and prices have marked daily cattle and live cattle futures following an August fire at the Finney County Beef Plant in Holcomb, Kansas, owned by Tyson Foods. The situation should show that Congress “needs to address the current inadequacies in the marketplace,” he said.

Eaton noted in his testimony that “USCA submitted four recommendations to the CME Group that would improve the way the Live and Feeder Cattle Futures Contracts operate.”

Eaton also said that members of the U.S.

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Grain Drying Challenges Ahead

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — As combines start to roll this fall, many growers are firing up grain dryers or cleaning out bin fans, in preparation for a wetter-than-normal crop of corn and soybeans.

Other drying challenges loom this year as well, including immature or moldy grain and the difficulty of drying and storing a crop later in the fall, when air temperatures are cooler.

We visited with Ken Hellevang, an Extension agricultural and biosystems engineer from North Dakota State University, to break down the top four concerns for farmers drying grain from this historically late crop.

1. WATCH YOUR FORECAST LIKE A HAWK

With crops maturing deep into the month of October this year, growers will face difficult decisions between leaving grain to dry down in the field or harvesting early and drying it mechanically.

The situation is especially risky with soybeans, which are very sensitive to swings in temperature and moisture in the air around them, noted Hellevang.

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Ag Big Winner in Japan Deal

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Japan will lower or eliminate tariffs on roughly half of all U.S. agricultural and food exports to Japan, according to a deal signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump. This deal provides the U.S. with parity to what other countries received in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The Trump administration said the agreement would lower or eliminate tariffs into Japan’s markets for about $7 billion in agricultural products.

“Japanese tariffs will now be significantly lower or eliminated completely on beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn, wine and so much more,” President Trump said at a signing ceremony in New York with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The trade agreement would mean “Really big dollars for our farmers and for our ranchers,” Trump said.

The U.S. Grains Council stated the trade deal would “solidify our longstanding partnership for the future and create a platform for growth into new sales and new sectors, including the potential for sales of U.S.

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Increased 2020 Flood Risk

By Bryce Anderson
DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

OMAHA (DTN) — As central U.S. producers make plans to harvest corn and soybeans in a year marked by record rain and flooding, prospects already indicate the 2020 crop year could bring more of the same. That’s because one of the building blocks of spring flooding — ample amounts of soil moisture — is already in place.

“We could easily have a high water event again next year,” said NOAA hydrologist Corey Loveland. Loveland is with the NOAA North-Central River Forecast Center (RFC) in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He made his comments following a webinar Monday on inland flooding.

Loveland cited five “ingredients” in the flood recipe: 1. High soil moisture after the fall season, which can serve as a priming mechanism for flooding. 2. Frozen ground, causing late winter or early spring precipitation to run off instead of infiltrating the soil. 3. High snowpack, offering meltwater for flooding.

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Recovery Time

By Victoria G. Myers
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor

It takes some people a lifetime to find their passion. Matthew King realized after graduating with a degree in microbiology that all he really wanted to do was raise cattle. It was an aha moment that required a pretty drastic U-turn, complicated by the fact that King had dispersed his cow herd during his college years. The fifth-generation cattle producer was starting over.

“I guess raising cattle and living on a farm was something I tried to run from. But, it turns out it was also one of the things I enjoyed the most,” King says.

The Mississippian may have felt he was starting over, but in reality, he brought a lot to the table. He had cattle in his genes and a lot of technical knowledge. Those two things with new, less-expensive options for improved herd genetics are affording him a means to rebuild a genetically superior herd from the ground up.

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Mixed News for Plant-Based Meat

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — In mixed news for the plant-based food industry, the Impossible Burger will be sold in grocery stores, just as Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, announced it is pulling the Beyond Meat burger from its outlets in all provinces except Ontario and British Columbia.

The Impossible Burger debuted in all 27 outlets of Gelson’s Markets in Southern California last week, Food Business News reported. The retail roll-out marks the first time that consumers will be able to buy the product, Food Business News said.

Le Journal de Montreal was the first publication to report that Tim Hortons would limit its Beyond Meat breakfast sausage and hamburger offerings.

Fortune said that Beyond Meat stock dropped about 3.8% on Sept. 18, sliding by about 7% at one point, but regained some of those losses Thursday. The stock is up 241% since May when it opened at $46 a share, Fortune said.

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Biofuel Waiting Game Continues

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (DTN) — The waiting continues for the biofuels industry after meetings on the Renewable Fuels Standard continued last week at the White House, but no new details have emerged.

Steve Censky, deputy secretary for USDA, said at an agribusiness conference Monday in Kansas City that the Trump administration at the moment was not ready to release any new details on what might come from changes in volume obligations for ethanol and biodiesel to offset lost demand due to EPA’s approval of small-refinery exemptions. Censky did indicate the administration is looking to ensure that policy changes would meet the blend levels spelled out in the RFS law.

“If we did have a deal, it probably wouldn’t be me announcing it,” Censky said. “It would probably be something that the president himself might like to announce.”

Censky spoke at the Ag Outlook Forum, hosted by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City and AgriPulse.

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Propane Prices Low Pre-Harvest

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — With much of the Corn Belt facing a late-maturing, high-moisture crop, some farmers are already making plans to dry their grain this fall. That means they’ll likely need to purchase propane — if they haven’t already — to fuel their grain dryers.

Late summer and early fall is the time many farmers lock in propane prices for the grain-drying season. With a wet spring delaying planting this year, especially in the Eastern Corn Belt, there could be a lot of wet grain to dry this fall.

Right now, propane prices are low thanks to high production of the fuel, according to propane analysts. But high demand for propane during harvest followed by a cold winter could push prices higher.

PROPANE PRICE AT MULTI-YEAR LOW

There is a good supply of propane in the country as fall harvest begins, said DTN Refined Fuels Reporter Alton Wallace.

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Cattle on Feed Report Summary

By DTN Staff

This article was originally posted at 2:02 p.m. CDT on Friday, Sept. 20. It was last updated at 2:44 p.m. CDT on Friday, Sept. 20.

**

OMAHA (DTN) — Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.0 million head on September 1, 2019. The inventory was 1% below September 1, 2018, USDA reported on Friday.

Placements in feedlots during August totaled 1.88 million head, 9% below 2018. Net placements were 1.82 million head. During August, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 385,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 300,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 424,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 440,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 230,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 105,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during August totaled 1.95 million head, 2% below 2018.

Other disappearance totaled 61,000 head during August, 11% above 2018.

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No More Newspapers for H-2A

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) — Farmers have to post jobs domestically before they can hire foreign workers for seasonal agriculture work, but for years, the law governing H-2A visas required them to publish the job in newspapers.

That changes in October, according to a rule finalized by the Department of Labor on Friday.

Under the new rule, jobs can be posted to an improved version of the department’s electronic job registry, https://seasonaljobs.dol.gov. The agency says the updated website is mobile-friendly, compatible with third-party job-search websites and will make it easier for Americans to find and fill open jobs. It also gives state workforce agencies greater ability to promote awareness of H-2A job opportunities.

The DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification also announced updates to the pertinent H-2A forms and online filing process, making some paper-only forms available for online submission.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the changes will make it easier for farmers and ranchers to hire farm workers.

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USDA Chiefs Rally for USMCA

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — At least part of China’s trade team negotiating in Washington, D.C., this week will take some time to visit U.S. farms, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed Thursday.

Perdue was asked about the farm visits at a press event with three of his predecessors to champion the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Perdue said he did not know what commodities the Chinese delegation is interested in seeing.

“That’s really up to China,” he said. “Obviously, we know that their pork herd has been decimated by African swine fever and they are in the market really aggressively with pork, swine and soybeans at this time. We hope that goes to other issues. They know our shopping list, and we hope they come and are prepared. We’re glad the conversations are continuing and we hope they will be fruitful.”

CNBC reported the Chinese delegates will visit farms near Bozeman, Montana, and Omaha.

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Lawmakers Spar Over CCC Funds

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — The House of Representatives easily passed a continuing resolution Thursday afternoon to keep the federal government operating until at least Nov. 21 and also ensuring commodity and trade-aid payments would go to farmers without delay.

The House voted 301-123 on the short-term funding measure that now goes to the Senate.

While that should have resolved the fight over Commodity Credit Corporation funds used by USDA to pay for the Market Facilitation Program, there was still a fair amount of partisan finger-pointing Thursday morning at a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing meant to focus on USDA disaster funds.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, chastised Democrats over the possible tie of CCC funds as “shameful.” Conaway said Democrats tried to use the funds “as leverage simply because you don’t like President (Donald) Trump.” He added that the CCC funds in the future are at risk of being held hostage over politics.

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Ag Chair: No CCC Funds Hold

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Farmers should not expect any delays in USDA programs such as the trade-aid payments coming from Commodity Credit Corporation funds, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee told DTN on Wednesday.

“It’s taken care of,” said Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

A political dispute over funding the $30 billion Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) funds blew up last week after it was reported the House Appropriations Committee short-term funding bill for the government — a continuing resolution — would not include an extension of CCC funds, which the Trump administration has used for $28 billion in Market Facilitation Program payments over the past two years.

Peterson said it made no sense to delay the funding to farmers. “So you are going to hold up the money for two months and piss everybody off?” he said.

The CCC fund risks becoming short of cash if Congress doesn’t greenlight new fund availability before Oct.

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Biofuel Reallocation Possible

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
and
By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Recent media reports outlining a possible agreement on the Renewable Fuel Standard may sound promising for the biofuels industry and agriculture, but Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told agriculture journalists on Tuesday that he’ll hold off celebrating just yet.

Reuters and Bloomberg recently reported details of a tentative agreement between biofuel and agriculture interests and President Donald Trump following a meeting at the White House.

Under the agreement, if true, EPA would account for biofuel gallons waived from the RFS through small-refinery exemptions, in addition to other concessions.

However, the agreement could look much different after senators from oil-producing states meet at the White House, perhaps sometime this week.

“Before I would say the president’s delivered, and since EPA is writing it, putting it on paper, I’m going to wait and see what EPA does,” Grassley said.

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New Pork Inspection Rule

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) — The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Tuesday published a rule in the Federal Register that ends government limits on the speeds that swine go through inspection lines.

The rule will also make other changes that USDA said will improve the inspection process and save taxpayers money but that consumer advocates and some Democrats have said will endanger slaughterhouse workers and diminish food safety.

The rule states: “FSIS is establishing an optional new inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments, NSIS, informed by the agency’s experiences under its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP). FSIS is establishing NSIS to improve the effectiveness of market hog slaughter inspection; make better use of the agency’s resources; and remove unnecessary regulatory obstacles to industry innovation by revoking maximum line speeds and allowing establishments flexibility to reconfigure evisceration lines.

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