USDA Urged to Get Prepared for Return of Avian Influenza This Fall

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avian influenza3The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a public hearing, Thursday, to examine the federal and state response to avian influenza. AI is recognized as one of the worst animal disease outbreaks the U.S. has ever experienced, and has infected more than 220 farms in 21 states. Subcommittee chairman Representative David Rouzer of North Carolina said the impact of the avian influenza outbreak has been devastating. He went on to say “it is essential that we learn from the outbreak this past spring and put in place the proper steps to minimize the impact of a possible outbreak in the Southeast when the temperatures decrease this fall.”

Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway echoed the seriousness of the situation and said “It is absolutely vital that USDA and vulnerable states are prepared to respond quickly if this outbreak returns in the fall, as is expected.” So far, nearly 48 million chickens and turkeys have been depopulated and millions of dollars have been spent to aid in response efforts.

Indiana Farm Bureau Continues the Fight for Property Taxes

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IFB Property Tax Update

Indiana farmers continue to face issues with property taxes due to rapidly escalating farmland values. Katrina Hall, Director of State Government Regulations for Indiana Farm Bureau, says the current formula being used for the property tax is out of date and doesn’t work for agriculture.

“It uses a delay in data. And so it’s been reflective of a few previous years when they had relatively high incomes and that has matched up with current farm incomes that have rapidly decreased due to farm prices. That doesn’t take into account, either, the change in farm incomes that will occur this year due to the dramatic weather that we’ve seen.”

Hall says Indiana Farm Bureau has been working on this issue on behalf of their members, simply because it isn’t reasonable.

“But we were able to accomplish a lot in the legislature this year. We’ll always be working on property taxes because farming is a capital intensive industry and that’s what property taxes are based on, is taxing the assets that you have.”

Hall urges farmers to join Indiana Farm Bureau in the fight against property taxes. She says members create a difference in the policy that shapes agriculture in our state.

“But you don’t have to be a super engaged member to benefit from Farm Bureau membership. We do see the value and hope that everyone that’s involved in agriculture, even from an agribusiness standpoint, that they would see the value in becoming a member of Farm Bureau and being a part of a group that’s standing up for agriculture every single day. Whether it’s during the legislative session or every day, really.”

NCGA to Congress: Farmers Need Safe, Reliable Roads & Bridges

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Indiana Bridge

The National Corn Growers Association today expressed disappointment that Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill before its August recess. Congress voted to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization through Oct. 29, the second such short-term extension this year. “Once again, Congress kicked the can down the road – and that road is in bad shape,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Farmers rely on our nation’s infrastructure system every day. We need safe, reliable roads and bridges to get our products to market quickly, safely and efficiently. Instead, our roads and bridges are at best, in disrepair, and at worst, unsafe or unusable – and that hurts every farmer in America.”

Eighty percent of the domestic corn crop is trucked to market, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. By one estimate, America’s transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020. Approximately 73% of America’s bridges are located in rural areas, which disproportionately rely on federal funding for repairs and maintenance.

“It’s time to get serious about passing a long-term highway funding bill. Every year we don’t act, the cost of repairs increase, and the burden on our economy grows. Senators and Representatives are returning to their home states for August recess. We’re asking them to take notice of their roads and bridges, to listen to their constituents, and to come back to Washington with solutions for our nation’s infrastructure problem.”

Some Very Good Hoosier Corn and Beans in the South

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Southern Indiana crop update

Larry TitzerA trip across the southern edge Indiana this week revealed some very good corn and soybean fields where those fields are not in low lying areas. On the Larry and Doug Titzer farm just north of Evansville near the junction of Gibson, Warrick, and Vanderburgh counties, Larry told HAT a good, early start was a lifesaver this year.

“Southern Indiana just in this area has been a lot better off than the area around us, except for the river bottom farmers. They took a big hit this year, but the higher ground, everybody is really pleased with the crop down here this year.”

Like all of Indiana they have had a lot of rain.

“We’ve had above average but not near as much as they’ve had north and south of us. In this part of Warrick County we’ve had quite a bit of rain but nothing like several other farms on the eastern part of the county. We have more hilly ground and it didn’t bother us as bad although we had to spray fungicide on one variety of our beans for a lot of frog eye and different things.”

Fungicide on beans was a first for the Titzers this year, but they felt they needed the extra protection with high humidity and continual rains. He said if August cooperates the expectation is for a great bean crop. The corn crop is also in good shape right now.

Corn in Warrick County July 2015“It’s looking good! I farmed all my life and this is one of the better crops in this area. We had a good corn crop last year and it’s looking like this is going to be as good, I think, so far. It’s outstanding, really.”

Bill Mullen with Seed Consultants was at their replicated research corn plot on the Titzer farm.

“When you think about all the water issues, and there’s a lot of bottom grounds, low lying fields along that stretch of I-64 in southern Indiana, the crops look very good. You don’t see the variability in the fields with corn. It’s pretty uniform, and nice stand out there. The beans are nice and green and healthy. You don’t see any yellow stunted beans. So for a window view in the area that I traveled coming down here, considering all the stresses we’ve had, corn and beans look pretty good.”

Check out the HAT video where Mullen reviews the corn and beans on that farm.

New Corn Herbicide Brings Together Three Modes of Action

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Dow Agrosciences Introduces Resicore for 2016 Launch

ResicoreDow Agrosciences recently announced the anticipated 2016 launch of their new corn herbicide called Resicore. Product Manager, Luke Peters, says Resicore was developed for high-anxiety weeds.

“Waterhemp is definitely one of those weeds, giant ragweed; and we look at some of the things that are out there today and there are a lot of products that do really good on some of them and maybe not quite so good on others. So the goal is to try and find a product that covers that section and really takes care of the problem weeds.”

Resicore will help growers with herbicide-resistant weeds by using three modes of action. Peters says this combination has never been used together, before.

“Acetochlor, mesotrione and clopyralid. We’re excited for what this is going to offer to the marketplace in terms of residual activity, resistance management. We expect the performance of the product to be second to none.”

Peters adds that the new corn herbicide offers flexible application timing.

“The proposed label will have early pre-plant, thirty days before planting to pre-emerge, which is at planting, up to 11-inch tall corn.”

How will Resicore work with the Enlist Weed Control System? Peters says they are meant to compliment one another.

“The number one defense against weed resistance is multiple modes of action. So there’s two in Enlist Duo. And then with the mode of action that comes next with Resicore, you’re just adding to that mix and reducing the probability that any glyphosate-resistant weeds or other herbicide-resistant weeds will break through.”

In 2014 trials, Resicore herbicide had a 97 percent efficacy rating on many common weeds found in Midwest fields such as waterhemp, marestail, giant ragweed and Palmer amaranth.

Currently, waterhemp populations have shown resistance to five different modes of action in 18 states, including Indiana. Additionally, resistance to multiple modes of action has been confirmed in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri.

“By implementing a weed control program that rotates modes of action and uses herbicides with residual control, growers can combat heavy weed pressure in corn fields more effectively,” Peters says.

Scouting throughout the growing season is also essential to ensure timely herbicide applications and to identify problem fields for the following year.

“Waterhemp continues to top the list of troublesome weeds for corn growers,” Peters says. “With three active ingredients that have never been included in a single product before, Resicore is a new, unique option for growers seeking control of waterhemp and other herbicide-resistant weeds.”

While no timetable is ever certain for registration, Peters says they anticipate the first half of 2016.

Symptoms of Sudden Death Syndrome Begin to Appear in Soybeans

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The University of Illinois is reporting symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans at a university research center. Last week, symptoms of SDS began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Northwestern Research Center in Warren County. U of I Extension educator Angie Peltier says weather during the 2015 growing season was favorable for the development of SDS.

Symptoms began appearing approximately 3 weeks earlier than in 2014. Research has also shown that SDS may be more severe in fields that also have high populations of soybean cyst nematodes.

Soybean Yield Calculator: A New Mobile App

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K-State’s Ignacio Ciampitti (right) demonstrates the new soybean yield estimator app to Garrett Kennedy of Knopf Farms, Saline County.

soy appA new mobile app for estimating soybean yields is now available from Kansas State University. KSUSoyYieldCalc is a native Android application that helps with yield estimation of soybeans before harvest following the conventional approach of counting or estimating plant populations, pods per plant, seeds per pod, and seed size, said Ignacio Ciampitti, crop production specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

The calculator needs only four inputs for predicting the final yield.

1. Plant population. This component can be estimated by counting the number of plants in a 21-inch row length for 30-inch row spacings (1/10,000th of an acre), and by multiplying that number by 10,000. For example, 10 plants in the 21-inch length of row would be the equivalent of 100,000 plants per acre.

2. Pods per plant. This factor can be obtained by counting all pods per plant in the 21-inch row length.

3. Seeds per pod. A good average number is 2.5 seeds per pod, but the range available on the app is from 1 to 4 seeds per pod.

4. Seed size. Seed size typically ranges from 2,000 (large) to 3,500 (small) seeds per pound, with an average of 2,800 seeds per pound.

Seed size normally varies from 2,400 to 3,200 seeds per pound, depending on growing conditions, Ciampitti said.

“If the conditions until harvest will be favorable, then the seed size component should be a lower number to reflect a larger seed size. If conditions are likely to be unfavorable, resulting in a short seed-fill period, the ‘seed size per pound’ number entered into the calculator should be higher. Seed size will be ultimately determined as the crop approaches maturity, but an estimation is needed considering the importance of this factor for influencing final soybean yields,” he said.

The coding for the KSUSoy YieldCalc app was developed by Tania Bandyopadhyay, graduate student in K-State’s Department of Computing and Information Sciences (CIS), under the supervision of Dan Andresen, associate professor of CIS, in collaboration with Ciampitti.

Downloads are free and can be downloaded from the Google Play link:

USGC Presents Ethanol Export Promotion Strategy 

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An ethanol export promotion strategy developed in consultation with industry partners and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was presented to U.S. Grains Council (USGC) members from throughout the grains sector this week at USGC’s 55th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

The Council has been working in partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy to develop country-by-country marketing plans for U.S. ethanol in a handful of near-term markets.

“In 2014, the Council and its partners completed in-depth market assessments in Southeast Asia, Peru, Panama, Japan and Korea that produced valuable information used develop this strategy,” said USGC Chairman Ron Gray.

“Our plans in these markets continue to develop, and we are carrying on market assessment work in places like Canada and the European Union. However, we are also moving forward aggressively with market development and policy-focused work in countries like the Philippines that have the potential to increase demand for U.S. ethanol in the near term.”

Ethanol was the subject of a general session panel at the meeting, including input from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Green Plains Renewable Energy Executive Vice President for Ethanol Marketing Steve Bleyl, moderated by USGC’s Chief Economist Mike Dwyer, a leading global biofuels analyst.

Ethanol export plans were explored in more depth during the Ethanol Advisory Team (A-Team) meeting, comprised of members from throughout the value chain, and a breakout session focused specifically on USGC’s ongoing ethanol-focused programs.

“U.S. ethanol exports are becoming increasingly vital to our stakeholders’ bottom line, which makes finding new markets for U.S. ethanol is a priority for the Council,” Gray said. “This plan shows our and our partners’ commitments to making that happen.”

A New Market for Hoosier Pork Producers

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A New Market for Hoosier Pork Producers

pork plantA new pork processing plant is under construction on Northern Indiana’s doorstep, and it will provide a new market for Hoosier hogs. The Clemens Food Group broke ground last week for their new pork processing facility just across the Indiana border in Coldwater, Michigan. Plant manager Earnie Miely says the facility will be sourcing hogs from Indiana as well as Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, “We are looking at a harvest of 10,000 a day or about 2.3 million hogs a year.” The Clemens Food Group is a sixth-generation, family-owned, integrated pork production operation including farming, processing, transportation, and logistics based in Hatfield, PA, since 1895.

The 550,000 square ft facility is expected to open in late 2017. Miely said it will create over 800 jobs in the Michiana area, “This will be a fresh pork plant with no value added products like bacon or hams.” Much of the pork from the plant will be destined for food service or private label products. Clemens also provides pork products for Campbell’s Soup and Bush’s Baked Beans.

According to Miely, the Clemens company is a family-run business with a unique vision and commitment to rural areas, “This is a faith-based, Christian company that gives 10% of its profits to the church and the community.” He added, “The energy, excitement, and commitment around this project has been evident throughout the process. We’ve had opportunities to engage with the community on a number of levels, and the guidance and encouragement has been invaluable to our progress thus far. With this continued support, we are confident that this new facility will be a meaningful part of the community for years to come.”

Cool Repeal Could Slide into September, Risking Trade Retaliation

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COOL Repeal Could Slide Into September

Repeal of mandatory country of origin meat labeling may have to wait until September, risking trade retaliation by Canada and Mexico after winning its fourth WTO case against U.S. COOL.

National Cattlemen’s legislative director Kent Bacus says it’s unlikely congress will agree on a multi-year highway bill this week, making it unlikely a cool repeal amendment will happen.

“I think there’s a very strong likelihood that the Senate will take up the five-month extension that the House has already passed and vote on that for the highway bill. I don’t know that they’re going to address County of Origin Labeling this week.”

Two competing amendments on COOL—full repeal versus replacing mandatory COOL with a voluntary system—have not made the ‘cut’ so far, for floor consideration…though there are still a few days left.   The House passed full-repeal. But Bacus says the issue could very likely hang over ‘til September when congress must pass end-of-the-year spending bills.

“If Congress fails to act to do anything on COOL, especially on the repeal front, the retaliation could likely take place as early as October.”

Inviting close to some 3-billion in tariff retaliation by Canada and Mexico, who’ve now won four WTO cases against the US, over COOL.  And Bacus says it will take even longer to undo the retaliation, than to try to prevent it. Canadian officials threatened again to retaliate after former ag chair Debbie Stabenow introduced her bipartisan voluntary COOL bill last week.