McKinney Picked for USDA Post

Jul 19, 2017 20

His name has been on the short list from the opening days of the Trump administration, but, late Tuesday evening, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that Ted McKinney has been selected as the new Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs. In a statement Perdue said, “For our new undersecretary position emphasizing international trade, I have always said that I want someone who wakes up every morning asking how we can sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets. Ted McKinney is that person. His longstanding background in agriculture, economic development, and global issues will make him an unapologetic advocate for U.S. products in the world marketplace.” The position that McKinney will assume is a newly created post as part of the USDA reorganization.

Ted McKinney

McKinney has been director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture since early in the Pence administration. He has overseen the redevelopment of the Indiana Grown program and, most recently,  directed the creation of a strategic plan for the growth of Indiana agriculture over the next decade. McKinney has international experience, having served with Elanco Animal Health and Dow AgroSciences in a communications capacity. Raised on an Indiana farm and an alumni of Purdue, McKinney is a passionate believer in the productive power of American agriculture and the technology that will continue to drive U.S. production. Active in both the Trump ag advisory committee and the Pence campaign for governor, McKinney has plenty of political experience and familiarity with the key issues facing U.S. farmers.  With renegotiations on NAFTA underway, McKinney will find himself at the center of the agricultural trade policy of the Trump administration.

Governor Holcomb, who will now be on the hunt for a new ISDA director, said, in a statement late Wednesday evening, “Ted will be a strong voice in this new role with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He took agriculture to the next level in Indiana with his wealth of experience and enthusiasm in all sectors of the agriculture community, and I know he will do the same for our nation in this position as undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.”

The USDA also announced the nomination of Dr. Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Perdue said, “Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture. He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing to serve.”

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Navigating the Mid Season Fungicide Debate

Jul 19, 2017 27

Fungicide debate

Weather conditions this season have presented Indiana farmers with potentially tricky decisions for fungicide applications. Many farmers have significant acres with limited stands, so do they shut down investment on those acres or try to protect what is there? Andrew Ferrel is an Indiana commercial agronomist with Mycogen Seeds who says there will probably be situations where you need to make the fungicide investment.

“The stand that is there, those plants that are present are going to be more valuable towards yield than what they were,” he told HAT. “So I don’t think that every field a fungicide application is going to be necessary, but I think there’s going to be some situations where we’ve got to protect that yield. You’ve got to kind of bite your lip and make the application because if you’ve got a susceptible hybrid present in the field, the disease pressure gets high, I think that need might be there. Those plants are valuable.”

He added scouting is very important this year, especially where stands are thin. The knowledge you gain is valuable even on fields you elect not to control.

“The best control is preventative control,” Ferrel says. “As an example, if you’re seeing southern rust pop up in the field, you want to be timely with an application and get ahead of it because fungicides are best used as a preventative rather than a curative. So just being out and present and looking at what’s going on, very important, because otherwise if you just wait until the combine rolls the field, you’ve lost yield. You don’t know why. You start blaming the wrong things. You start changing your management practices from year to year because you’ve got maybe a skewed opinion or misinterpreted why you lost yield.”

Dow AgroSciences received Chinese approval of its Enlist corn about a month ago and Mycogen Seeds will be the first to sell the new product this fall for the 2018 season.

“We’re excited to be able to offer a better form of weed control. Especially the last few years we’ve seen a lot of weed escapes due to the weather or spring residuals not being able to clean up fields the way we want. So, just being able to have another tool in the toolbox and we’re excited too with the genetics that we’ll be able to offer.”

He said they’ve been sitting on some newer hybrids stacked with the Enlist trait, and now they’ll finally be able to share those with farmers.

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The Future of Weed Resistance

Jul 19, 2017 34

The Future of Weed Resistance

Aaron Hager – professor of weed science, with glyphosate-resistant water hemp in a soybean field.

This is field day time, a chance for companies to show off their products and new technology in the field. New ways of controlling resistant weeds will be a popular topic at many of those field days. By this time of year, most growers have determined if they have resistant weeds in their fields,  and controlling those weeds is a hot topic this summer. Aaron Hager, Associate Professor of Weed Science at the University of Illinois, says staying ahead of weed resistance is a much better option than trying to react to it, “Because when you are in front of this, you can make the adjustment before it becomes a major problem in your operation. That is always a better position to be in than letting this get in front of you.”

Hager added that new research and new technology are giving farmers new options when it comes to staying ahead of weed resistance, “We know a lot more about resistance now and what practices can forestall the development of resistance than we did just 5 years ago.  So some of the recommendations have changed, so being aware of those things is something you as a grower can do to be proactive on preventing weed resistance.”

One of those new options is Liberty herbicide for corn. David Tanner, with Bayer Crop Science, told HAT that in 2017 Bayer is bringing back the Liberty technology to corn, “We think this is a great solution in combination with other herbicide programs. Right now there is no known resistance to Liberty in broad acre crops and that is a great place to be.  But, we know we must steward Liberty for the future.”

Another new chemistry available for growers is Balance GT. Lindsey Sites, with MS technology, says this new mode of action will offer growers some new options for control of weed resistance in soybeans. Hager says making the investment in this new technology is tough in a tough economy but warns that failure to deal with the issue today will only cost more in 2018 and beyond.

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House Budget Wants $10 Billion Cuts to Ag Spending

Jul 19, 2017 30
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The House GOP released its budget this week, calling for $10 billion in spending cuts to agricultural programs through the next ten years. However, the plan doesn’t necessarily say how to go about getting to that number. It does recommend reining in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program spending by promoting “state flexibility,” but it does not go into any further detail on how to do that.

While agriculture will not be happy with the spending squeeze given that farm income is down so sharply, the $10 billion is actually much lower than the $70 billion initially proposed. It now appears that House Ag Chair Conaway will be given the flexibility he will need to write a farm bill.

Source: NAFB News Service

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Trump Administration Releases NAFTA Objectives

Jul 19, 2017 30
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The White House released its objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Monday afternoon. There were not a lot of surprises in the document, with heavy emphasis placed on reducing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. One of the biggest goals that agriculture wanted was to maintain duty-free status on agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada, something included in the plan released on Monday. The 18-page Summary of Objectives includes the need to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports. The administration also wants to promote greater regulatory compatibility to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation.

This may be good news for U.S. dairy producers who are upset over Canada’s pricing policy that hurts American cheese exports and other dairy products. The U.S. Trade Representative’s plan also wants negotiators to find a way to prevent sanitary and phytosanitary barriers from blocking exports. Those kinds of barriers have been preventing America’s potato farmers from expanding exports further into Mexico. The new plan stresses the administration’s goal of updating and strengthening the rules of origin laws, however, it doesn’t ask for a reinstatement of Country of Origin Labeling on beef and pork.

House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway of Texas reacted positively to the U.S. Trade Representative’s objectives for the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The plan details how the administration wants to expand market opportunities and tighten enforcement of existing trade obligations to protect U.S. producers. “The administration’s objectives for renegotiating NAFTA clearly demonstrate a commitment to protecting market access while outlining ways to level the playing field,” says Conaway.

National Association of Wheat Growers President David Schemm says they are pleased that the objectives call for maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access and they don’t want to do harm to existing trade relationships. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reacted positively as well, saying the overall renegotiation goals are good for the beef industry because they encourage the continuation of terms that have benefitted the industry for decades. Those terms include duty-free access and science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards. NCBA President Craig Uden says, “It’s difficult to improve on duty-free, unlimited access to Mexico and Canada. We’re pleased that objectives include maintaining that reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods.”

Source: NAFB News Service

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Prepare for Great New Menu Items at Indiana State Fair

Jul 17, 2017 33

State Fair new food items

Just two weeks from Friday when the Indiana State Fair opens again, new featured foods will be available throughout the fairgrounds. That’s as it should be when you realize the 2017 fair theme is THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF FOOD. The Indiana beef producers will be selling the Cattlemen’s Choice, a ribeye steak topped with smoked beef brisket. And Indiana Pork has quite a pork burger entered in the Indiana State Fair “Taste of Indiana” contest.

“This year the Indiana pork producers decided that our Peanut Butter Pineapple Pork Burger would be our featured menu item for the Indiana State Fair,” explained Jeanette Merritt, Indiana Pork’s Director of Checkoff Programs. “We went through a lot of taste testing with a lot of different ideas and this is the one that won. Our staff and our concessionaire managers picked this one, and strangely enough it sounds like an odd combination, but it is a great pairing and I think people who go to the fair are going to want to stop by and purchase it.”

She says the combination of peanut butter and meat is not totally new.

“I have never had peanut butter on a pork burger when I’ve been in a restaurant or out to eat anywhere, however, after we developed this idea we have heard of some restaurants around Indiana, including the Triple XXX Root Beer in West Lafayette and I think Scotty’s in Indianapolis and some of their locations around the state put peanut butter on a hamburger. This idea is somewhat like a Tai dish because sometimes you’ll see noodles with peanut butter and pork in it, and we thought throwing the pineapple and all of it together would be a great combination.”

The Peanut Butter Pineapple Pork Burger will be available at all three Indiana Pork tents during the fair.

If you plan on dessert following your main meal, the Dairy Bar has a brand new milkshake.

“This year’s new milkshake will be the root beer float milkshake,” said Jenni Browning with American Dairy Association, Indiana. “That’s exactly what it tastes like just like your favorite root beer float. We try to do a new shake each year but we’ll still have our old favorites back, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, but if you are a root beer float fan you’ll enjoy it.”

Browning added the flavor is mild enough that you might even enjoy if you’re not a particular fan of the standard root beer float.

Their Dairy Bar is also featuring the new Mousetrap grilled cheese sandwich.

“It was the winning grilled cheese sandwich from the Ultimate Grilled Cheese contest at the state fair last year, and the creator of this grilled cheese is Andrew Kuehnert, a dairy farmer from Fort Wayne, Kuehnert Dairy Farm. His creation is on Texas toast, has Colby cheese, cheddar cheese and Havarti.”

The Indiana State Fair runs August 4-20, 2017.

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Liquidation Could End with New Crop Stresses

Jul 17, 2017 40

Liquidation ending

All farmers’ eyes and the eyes of the commodities trade are on weekly crop condition ratings and the various weather forecast models predicting conditions that could affect the Corn Belt. Doug Werling with Bower Trading says the mild liquidation move in the markets Monday might be ending.

“Essentially we had such a big liquidation type mode at the end of last week and you probably ended that last little liquidation here Monday to start things out.”

Monday USDA dropped the good to excellent ratings for both corn and soybeans by one percent nationally, and more dry weather this week will stress crops, particularly in the southwestern Corn Belt. It’s leading to what Werling calls “pockets of problems. That’s the theme this year, pockets of problems. It’s not just one general area,” he explained. “I think there’s enough evidence out there and also with these crop condition ratings to suggest that the corn yield and the soybean yield that the government is using on their crop report tables is going to be coming down here in the future.”

With the variability of pollination dates this year, he says make sure you’re getting the right attention from your marketing advisor.

“It’s a one to one, customer by customer situation. For example, customers in western Kentucky who have already pollinated and are looking good on corn have a completely different strategy from a marketing standpoint compared to someone say in the southwestern Corn Belt who’s waiting for things to pollinate.”

Hear more from WerlingBower Trading July 17 Market Strategy-Doug Werling and for more information call Bower Trading at 800-346-5634 or online at www.bowertrading.com.

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China Approves More GMO Crops

Jul 17, 2017 45
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China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it has approved two more genetically modified crops for import into the country. A Reuters article says it’s the second move in the past month to expand access to biotech seeds as a part of Beijing’s 100-day trade talks with Washington. The Ministry approved Syngenta’s 5307 insecticide-resistant corn sold under the Agrisure Duricade brand. It also approved Monsanto’s 87427 glyphosate-resistant corn, sold under the Roundup Ready brand. The approvals are good for a period of three years, starting from July 16th. The move brings the total number of approved genetically modified crops to four. Four other products are still on a waiting list for Beijing approval, including products from Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow. A DuPont spokeswoman said the company was disappointed its Pioneer insect-resistant corn was not included. The other three on the waiting list were Dow’s Enlist soybeans and two alfalfa products from Monsanto. The moves come as China promised to speed up the review process for GMO crops. While GMO crops can’t be planted for food in the country, corn and soybeans can be imported and used in animal feed products.

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Ag Lenders Pessimistic About Farm Profits

Jul 17, 2017 45
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Farmers are still feeling the pressure of a lagging farm economy. A joint survey from the American Bankers Association and the Federal Ag Mortgage Corporation confirms the pressure. Nearly 90 percent of ag lenders report an overall decline in farm profitability over the last year. 84 percent indicate there are higher levels of operating leverage as a result. The survey of 350 ag lenders showed that 60 percent of all borrowers are profitable, but only 54 percent of those same borrowers are expected to stay profitable through the rest of 2017. The degree of pessimism varies by location. Lenders in the South and West said a majority of their customers were profitable in 2016. Corn Belt lenders expect only 55 percent of their customers to remain in the black through 2017. Things are tougher in the Plains states. Lenders in those locations expect only 45 percent of their customers to remain profitable through the rest of this year. A Farmer Mac analyst said the grains, cattle, and dairy sectors have been hit hardest as market prices remain at the low end of the cycle. Lenders that work primarily with poultry, vegetable, fruit, and nut farmers are more optimistic about the future.

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Farmers Worried About the Future of Health Care

Jul 17, 2017 30
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It may not be front and center in agriculture like the farm bill discussion is, but farmers have a lot to worry about as Congress debates the future of health care. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says farmers have been struggling for some time with low commodity prices and a sharp drop in farm income. In turn, that’s led to a push on promoting exports and shoring up the farm safety net. But the concern in rural America about health care has never been higher, even though roughly 90 percent of farmers currently have health insurance. Most farmers get their health insurance through off-farm employment, something they have to have because farming is a dangerous occupation. A new university-led survey shows just how much farmers are concerned about the high cost of health care. Nearly half of them are worried they might have to sell off land or other assets to help pay for the cost of health care. National Farmers Union State Presidents met last week in North Dakota. They’ve started hearing so much about health care from their members that the board has bumped it higher on their list of priorities in Washington.

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