Storing Wet Hay Could Cause Barn Fire

Jun 26, 2015 279

With parts of the Midwest experiencing wetter-than-normal weather conditions, a Purdue Extension forage specialist is urging farmers to make sure their hay is adequately dried before baling and storage to reduce the risk of barn fires.

“With all the rain we’ve been having, some farmers might be tempted to put away hay that is wetter than recommended,” said Keith Johnson.

Johnson said the moisture content of hay for storage should be no higher than 20 percent. If hay is not given enough time to dry or is stored prematurely, heat-tolerant microorganisms can develop in the bales, raising the temperature.

If the temperature of stored hay reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, farmers should take apart the bales or stacks to allow cooling air to circulate. If the temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a fire becomes very likely.

“Those kinds of fires happen every year, but the wet conditions this year make the risk even greater,” Johnson said. “Growers should monitor the temperature of their stored hay and notify their local fire department of any potentially dangerous heat buildup.”

Johnson said farmers could speed up the drying by laying the cut forage in a wide swath with a mower-conditioner. Hay cut in a wide swath is more exposed to sunlight and dries faster. The conditioner crimps the stems of newly cut wheat and allows moisture to evaporate faster.

He said an alternative to storing forage as dry hay is to let the cut forage wilt to 50 percent moisture content and allow it to ferment to silage. This is done using an individual bale wrapper or an inline tuber that exudes air by wrapping the bales in white plastic.

Source: Purdue News

With Eye on Greece Crude Backs Down

Jun 26, 2015 282

Oil futures settled back under $60 a barrel Thursday as traders weighed energy-demand implications tied to Greece’s debt woes and looked ahead to next week’s deadline for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, July crude declined by 57 cents, or 1%, to settle at $59.70 a barrel following a loss of 1.2% a day earlier. Brent crude for August delivery fell 29 cents, or 0.5%, to $63.20 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

“For crude oil, the main impact from Greece would be on what that means for [the] U.S. dollar and for European demand,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Greece and its international lenders met for another an intensive round of meetings Thursday, as they tried to reach a reform deal before a bailout deadline on Turesday, June 30.

The oil market is also looking at another deadline that same day on Iran’s nuclear program. Officials have said talks may go beyond the end of June but a deal to curb the country’s nuclear program is still in the cards.

If a deal between Iran and the West is reached, it could ease the international sanctions against Tehran and release more Iranian crude on the already oversupplied global market.

Still, UBS on Thursday raised its 2015 Brent forecast to $61.50 from $56.25 and the 2016 Brent outlook to $70 from $67.50, citing “clear signs of slowing non-OPEC investment, which will impact supply-side growth.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that domestic oil inventories fell by a larger-than-expected 4.9 million barrels last week, but stockpiles of gasoline and distillates increased.

“It’s interesting how oil rallied in the winter when U.S. inventories were rising and is flat to slightly lower now that U.S. [crude] stockpiles are coming back down again,” said Cieszynski. “This suggests that U.S. supplies peaking and coming back down was already priced in by $60 WTI.”

On Nymex, July gasoline fell 1.9 cents, or 0.9%, to $2.037 a gallon and July heating oil ended at $1.862 a gallon, down 1.4 cents, or 0.7%.

July natural gas settled up 9.1 cents, or 3.3%, at $2.85 per million British thermal units. The EIA said natural-gas supplies rose by 75 billion cubic feet for the week ended June 19. Analysts polled by Platts forecast a climb of 76 to 80 billion cubic feet.


Hurt Says There’s More Market Upside Potential

Jun 24, 2015 389

Wait and see on crops and markets

Chris Hurt market outlook-DecaturThe Purdue Farm Management Tour wrapped up in Adams County near Decatur Wednesday with a stop at the Nidlinger farm and an updated market outlook from Dr. Chris Hurt, who was named an Honorary Master Farmer the night before. For struggling crops and the market prices we’re now simply in a wait and see mode.

“I think as we look at the grain markets in particular we’ve been in a malaise if you will. I’m talking about the market in general, thinking that the world inventories are sufficient, that we got off to a pretty good start in the U.S. Many were saying it was a great start in the United States as if the crop were made. I think the last 2-3 weeks have reminded us this crop is not made. There are vulnerabilities out there and what we see in pricing is a market that’s trying to find a bottom. The higher prices would be good. The discouraging thing of course is it’s happening in our area where we’re really looking at some of these losses that could be quite severe.”

Chris Hurt 6-15Hurt updated a crowd of over 400 on his latest corn and soybean estimates following USDA’s recent declines in crop condition and continued soybean planting delays.

“I took about 9 bushels to the acre off an average acre of corn in Indiana from just this last week, all the wet weather that we’ve had and about 2 bushels on soybeans.”

The decline in crop condition has led to higher prices.

“My estimates are we’ve already lost about 130 million bushels of corn across the United States. Again that’s just using these crop ratings that come out every Monday from USDA, and about 100 million bushels of soybeans. I think on corn, just that loss up to this point is maybe 10-15 cents on corn and it’s probably more like 25-30, maybe 35 cents higher on soybeans. And of course the question is what happens next?”

What happens next is a continued eye on the weather to see what kind of rescue it can provide in needed areas. Hurt told HAT he believes there is upside potential in the market, but low prices have certainly stimulated use. He did encourage growers not to give up on the 2015 crop.

“You just never know how this will turn out, so stay with it,” he said.

Hear the full HAT interview:Chris Hurt June 2015 update

COOL Repeal Needed to Halt Retaliations

Jun 24, 2015 352

Retaliation Coming Quickly for COOL

Retaliation is coming if the U.S. does not repeal Country of Origin labeling for beef, pork and chicken. NPPC recently held a roundtable discussion with industry representatives from both Mexico and Canada regarding COOL requirements. VP and Council for International Affairs, Nick Giordano, says now with the House passing a bill to do just that, it’s now the Senate’s turn to do the same.

“I think there are a number of things that members of the Senate and their staffs might be unclear of. One, is retaliation imminent? And the answer to the question is, yes it is. Will the retaliation be harmful to a broad swath of the U.S. economy? And the answer to that questions, as well is, yes it will be.”

Giordano says retaliation will come as soon as this summer and that it’s not the time for a fix.

“Canada and Mexico, perhaps as soon as this summer, will be authorized to retaliate. Make no mistake, they will be authorized to retaliate and the numbers are going to be huge. Collectively, they’ve requested over three billion. We could have the best idea in the world come out of the Senate on labeling that we all agree is WTO-consistent. Even if it was found to be consistent, that’s a two-year process. That retaliation would be in effect for two years.”

The United States recently met with the World Trade Organization to discuss Canada’s request for retaliations. Giordano says their retaliations may lower slightly, but that it’s no consolation prize.

“The WTO is going to arbitrate the Canadian claim which is over 2.4 billion U.S. dollars, so it’s very high. Canadians feel very good about their analysis and I think the arbitrators could conceivably come in with a slightly lower number; but we’re going to have a big number out there and that’s just Canada. So we’ve got a big problem here and we need the Senate to follow the House and repeal Country of Origin Labeling on beef and pork so we’re not risking U.S. jobs and U.S. exports to retaliations.”

If the Senate fails to repeal COOL, Giordano says U.S. exports will be in big trouble.

“We are going to lose exports and there is going ot be a sting that’s felt broadly across the United States. I mean, Canada and Mexico are huge U.S. trade partners. Our day in court is over. The only thing that WTO is looking at now is arbitrating how high the retaliations should be.”

Ag Reaction Swift after Senate Passes TPA

Jun 24, 2015 411

In a 60 – 38 vote, the U.S. Senate has sent Trade Promotion Authority to the President’s desk as a standalone bill not packaged with Trade Adjustment Assistance. Trade Adjustment Assistance also passed the Senate packaged with an African Trade Preference bill. The Senate passed TPA Wednesday afternoon after a procedural vote on Tuesday that passed, preventing the chance for a filibuster. TPA will allow the White House to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The Senate will not be able to filibuster them, and lawmakers will not have the power to amend them. The expedited process greatly increases Obama’s chances of concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Today’s Senate vote is a big victory for Indiana corn farmers and the entire agricultural industry,” said Indiana Corn Growers Association President Herb Ringel, a farmer from Wabash. “Indiana farmers export over $410 million of corn each year. With greater market access, Hoosier farmers can do even more. Thank you to Senator Dan Coats for his leadership in our pursuit of greater trade power and his work in passing Trade Promotion Authority. We look forward to a quick signature by the President.”sued this statement following a U.S. Senate vote Wednesday sending Trade Promotion Authority legislation to President Obama’s desk.

Also reacting was Josh Kirkpatrick, a farmer from Fountain County and chairman of the Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership & Policy Committee.

“Indiana soybean farmers know just how critical trade is to our economy,” he said. “Over $2 billion dollars in soybeans and soybean meal grown here in Indiana each year are exported. We believe new trade agreements finalized with enacting of Trade Promotion Authority will provide us greater market access and new customers for our soybeans and soybean products.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Philip Ellis hailed the final passage in his statement.

“NCBA appreciates the support of the Senate on final passage of Trade Promotion Authority, a fundamental step to securing future free-trade deals that will allow beef producers greater access to foreign markets. Cattlemen and women have seen tremendous value in trade, exporting over $7.1 billion worth of U.S. beef in 2014, which alone accounts for over $350 in added value per head of cattle in the United States. This value is not just from increased demand, but also from adding value to variety meats that have very limited value here at home. As the demand for U.S. beef continues to grow around the world, the future success of the beef industry rests in our ability to meet foreign demand without inference of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. With TPA passed, the U.S. can focus on finalizing trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will give us greater access to consumers throughout the Pacific Rim.”

Midwest to be Well Represented at EPA Hearing on RFS

Jun 24, 2015 259

More than 250 people are expected to testify in front of the EPA during a hearing Thursday on the agencies Renewable Fuels Standard proposal. The agency is seeking comment until July 27th on its proposal announced last month that would cut corn based ethanol near 4 billion gallons in the mandate. The public hearing has drawn interest of agriculture across the Midwest, with buses of corn farmers expected to attend the hearing and an accompanying rally by the National Corn Growers Association. The hearing will host two separate panels taking testimony in Kansas City, Kansas. The NCGA rally will feature Midwest Governors Terry Branstad of Iowa and Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri and NCGA President Chip Bowling. The two Midwestern Governors are expected to give joint testimony in support of the RFS.

Source: NAFB News Service

Governor Pence Rejects Overreaching EPA Energy Regulations

Jun 24, 2015 173

Governor Pence sent a letter today to President Obama informing him that unless the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is demonstrably and significantly improved before being finalized Indiana will not comply. The Governor’s letter in full can be found attached. “As I wrote to Administrator McCarthy on December 1, 2014, the proposed rules are ‘ill-conceived and poorly constructed’ and they exceed the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act,” wrote Pence. “If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply. Our state will also reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented.”

“Our nation needs an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that relies on a variety of different energy sources,” said Pence. “Energy policy should promote the safe, environmentally responsible stewardship of our natural resources with the goal of reliable, affordable energy. Your approach to energy policy places environmental concerns above all others.”

In addition Pence noted, “Higher electricity prices brought by the EPA’s plan will inhibit our ability to advance our manufacturing base and the jobs it creates.”

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels in Indiana by the year 2030. The proposed rules do not dictate how states achieve reduction.  Instead, the rule suggests four building blocks as guidelines for compliance. The rules will increase the cost of electricity and force the premature closure of coal-fired power plants, leading to concerns of electricity shortages. On December 1, 2014, Governor Pence and Indiana State agencies submitted letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy detailing the proposed rules’ impact on Indiana and urging their immediate withdrawal.

More than 26,000 Hoosiers are employed in the coal industry in Indiana. Governor Pence has pledged to fight the EPA’s regulations with all legal means at Indiana’s disposal.  Governor Pence’s comments today come on the heels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissing State of West Virginia et al v. Environmental Protection Agency, Case No. 14-1112. Indiana was one of fourteen petitioners in the case, which asked the Court to review the legality of the EPA’s proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The Court of Appeals’ decision was based on procedural, not substantive, issues and does not preclude future litigation challenging the regulation.  Indiana intends to renew its challenge in the courts following the release of the final rule.

The EPA is expected to release the final rule in August.

Non-GMO Soybean Processor Kicks off Purdue Tour

Jun 23, 2015 1718

IOM GrainThe 2015 Purdue Farm Management Tour is underway in eastern Indiana, with stops in Jay and Adams County. The tour kicked off at IOM Grain in Portland Tuesday, a soybean processing operation that finished construction a little over a year ago and is already slightly over capacity.

IOM president Ramon Loucks told HAT it’s a high-end, boutique-type of soybean facility.

Ramon Loucks“We’re too small and can’t compete with the ADM’s and the Cargill’s of the world so we had to go 3 notches above so we don’t get in their way. so we sell to the high end tofu, the gourmet tofu, the gourmet miso and the gourmet soybean milk manufacturers in the world.”

IOM Grain Asian bagAnd ship around the world this Portland, Indiana company does. He says there are domestic and international customers, and a nice percentage is domestic, “but our span has been from Eastern Europe, all across the U.S., Mexico, South America and Asia, and Asia is a personal favorite of mine. They consume the most soybeans in the world.”

IOM Grain stands for Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, the region in the world that grows the highest quality soybeans. That helps create a premium for local growers’ beans for processors like IOM.

“The Indiana, Ohio, Michigan area right along the state line from about I-70 north is recognized worldwide for its high quality soybeans, high protein, high oil content and good size. If you compare us to Missouri beans and you ask a customer which they would pick, they’ll pick the IOM bean any day.

These beans are all non-GMO because that’s what Loucks’ customers desire. He told HAT many of their farmers grow both the non-GMO soybeans in addition to commodity soybeans. They’re receiving a nice premium to grow for IOM.

“This year the premium is somewhere around $2. Last year it was a little higher and previous years it was a little lower.”

Over 200 farmers are under contract with IOM to grow 40,000 acres within a roughly 100 mile radius of the plant. Loucks says they’ll continue to grow in the current location with the expected growth in demand.

Hear more in the HAT report from Portland:IOM Grain

Central Indiana Food Pantries Have a Need for More Milk

Jun 23, 2015 333

Prairie-farms-logoLast week, Prairie Farms donated 11 thousand gallons of milk to 22 food banks across the Midwest. President and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank, Cindy Hubert, says that despite a 500-gallon donation to their location, the demand for dairy is on the rise.

“It’s well needed and it’s well appreciated, but it’s a small part of what we need.”

With one in five people dealing with food insecurity in the Hoosier state, Hubert says Gleaners is looking for more people to get involved.

“Get on board, help up by donating money. That would be perfect.”

Milk can and should be a bigger part of food banks, says Hubert. All too often, donors work on the presumption that milk is easy for the hungry to access.

“If we have the blessing that we are not in need, we just buy milk every week. It’s important to the end user and their family and I don’t think those folks that are out there contributing to the food banks understand how important it is for us to get it and to have the money to buy it.”

Through The Great American Milk Drive, Indianapolis residents can now donate much-needed milk with a simple click of a mouse ( or text message (text “Milk” to 27722) and for as little as $5.00 it will go to a family who does not have regular access to it. By entering your zip code, you can ensure that the milk is delivered to a local Feeding America food bank here in Indianapolis.

Hunger impacts 1 in 6 Americans, including 16 million children who lack access to nutritionally adequate food — a need that’s even greater during the summer months when children are out of school. Hunger has no boundaries and is a problem that exists in urban, suburban and rural communities, including Indianapolis.

Many food banks across the country operate summer feeding programs, which play a critical role in helping children get the food and proper nutrition they need, including providing nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and much-needed milk. That is why Feeding America is encouraging people all across the country to support The Great American Milk Drive to help get nutrient-rich gallons of milk to children struggling with hunger this summer, and throughout the year. It’s National Dairy Month, an ideal time to join The Great American Milk Drive to help those in need in our community.

In addition to milk donations, Prairie Farms food bank partners will earn ten cents for every milk cap redeemed through its Our Caps, Your Cause effort.

Prairie Farms also announced the kick-off of its Get Real Give Back Campaign June 1. Throughout June, consumers can enter to win up to $1000 in cash and prizes. Consumers also can vote for the food bank in their area to receive 1,000 bonus caps every week for bring in the top 12.

Final Senate Vote on TPA Set for Wednesday

Jun 23, 2015 620



Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted to advance Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. The 60-37 motion sets up a final vote Wednesday that is almost certain to pass, which will then send the bill to President Obama’s desk to become law.  National Association of Wheat Growers President Brett Blankenship, a wheat grower from Washtucna, WA, said,  “We are extremely pleased the Senate showed their commitment to trade today as they prepare for a final vote on Trade Promotion Authority. We are one step away from providing U.S. wheat growers expanded opportunities through trade and strengthening relationships with our trading partners abroad. The U.S. is the single largest exporter of wheat in the world, and TPA renewal is essential to finalizing comprehensive trade agreements and putting the best deal on the table. I look forward to swift passage as this important bill goes before the Senate tomorrow.”

If approved, the stand alone Trade Promotion Authority bill would then be sent to the President’s desk to become law. The Hill reports 13 Democrats joined Republicans in the vote, even though the bill does not include Trade Adjustment Assistance. TAA was packaged with TPA when it first passed the Senate nearly a month ago, but the House failed to pass TAA. House Speaker John Boehner promised a House vote on TAA as soon as it clears the Senate.