Corn and Soybean Condition Falls One Percent

Jul 17, 2017 33

Crop ratings have declined again as corn and soybeans dropped a percentage point in the combined good to excellent categories both nationally and in Indiana in the newest USDA-NASS report. Over the last seven days in Indiana, rain early in the week continued to impede field work, according to Greg Matli, Indiana State Statistician for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Warm, humid, stormy weather was followed by cooler drier weather at the end of the week. Storms in the central portion of the state brought severe winds that knocked down trees and caused property damage. The statewide average temperature was 75.1 degrees, 0.1 degrees above normal. Statewide precipitation was 1.76 inches, above average by 0.83 inches. There were 3.5 days available for fieldwork for the week ending July 16, down 0.8 days from the previous week.

Regionally, corn was 27% silked in the North, 39% in Central, and 63% in the South. Corn rated in good to excellent condition was 54% in the North, 40% in Central, and 50% in the South. Soybeans were 44% blooming in the North, 54% in Central, and 52% in the South. Soybeans rated in good to excellent condition were 53% in the North, 42% in Central, and 54% in the South. Winter wheat was 56% harvested in the North, 84% in Central, and 96% in the South.

The cooler drier weather in the latter part of the week allowed for herbicide and fungicide applications. Disease concerns rose in the wake of the wet weather. Mint harvest has begun. Cucumber harvest is in full swing. Hayfields and pastures are in good shape and growing with all the rains. Livestock were reported in good condition on average. Other activities included attending county fairs, baling straw and finishing certifying acres at FSA offices.

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Ryan Martin’s Indiana Ag Forecast for July 17, 2017

Jul 17, 2017 41

A mostly dry start to the week this week, with no serious precipitation action until Thursday up north, and then over more of the state on Friday. The stagnant remains of an old frontal boundary over central Indiana lit up a few showers and thunderstorms yesterday, and we won’t completely rule that out today either. But, in general, we are looking for fairly nice, dry weather over the next 3 days. Temps will be climbing through midweek.

Thursday, we have some moisture moving into the northern third of the state, an offshoot of a frontal complex that is more bent on hitting MI and the great lakes region. This will trigger rain totals of a few hundredths to perhaps .3” over areas from US 24 northward, and in far NW Indiana, we can see some rains over half an inch early on Thursday in southern Lake and southern Porter counties. The rest of the state stays dry. On Friday, a slow, sagging trough moves through the rest of the state, bringing rain totals of .1”-.5” with coverage at 50%. These rains will leave a lot of areas wanting for more. The above map shows a snapshot of potential precipitation at midday on Friday.

The weekend shows an active precipitation track, mostly over the northern half to third of the state through Saturday and most of Sunday. Areas north of I0-70 can see rain totals of a few hundredths to half an inch over both days combined with coverage at no better than 60%. Southern Indiana continues with no significant ran chances. Temps remain above normal.

We dry down again for next week, with no significant rain chances anywhere in Indiana for Monday through Wednesday. In the extended window, we do have a weak front moving in around the 28th with some potential rain totals up to half an inch and coverage at 60%, but the rest of the 11-16 day forecast period is dry, with temps above normal. While we still do not see what we would term “oppressive” heat building in, we do think that all of the coming 2 weeks will be above normal to some scale, and highs from the mid-80s to low 90s will be pretty much expected for most of the rest of the month…beginning with our slow build this week.

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Indiana Ag Attorney Gives DC Testimony on Data Transparency

Jul 17, 2017 51

Janzen goes to DC

An Indiana agriculture law specialist went to D.C. last week and testified on ag data before the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee. Their hearing spotlighted the role of technology in farming’s future. Data is a major part of that discussion and Todd Janzen of Janzen Ag Law explained during his testimony that there are several concerns about farmer data moving off the farm to technology providers.

“One is a lack of trust among farmers in these ag technology providers because they are giving up part of what makes up their livelihood,” he stated in opening remarks. “Second is a loss of control to these companies, and third would be frustration with the complexity of the legal agreements they’re asked to sign. Of course, farmers are no strangers to contracts. They sign things all the time, but now they’re being asked to check an ‘I accept’ box that has some pretty important consequences for what happens to their data, followed by pages and pages of legal type that they may or may not read.”

Janzen is the administrator of the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, established by ag companies and industry groups to bring transparency to those data contracts. Companies can go through the evaluator to receive the Ag Data Transparent seal.

“I’m proud to say that eight companies have already been through the certification process and been awarded the Ag Data Transparent seal, but there is still a lot of work to be done here. There are still a lot of companies that should go through this certification process but haven’t as of today. There are still a lot of complex, complicated contracts that farmers are asked to sign and we can do better as a legal community to address that as well.”

Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford from Arkansas asked Janzen if the industry effort he administrates is sufficient or if Congress should get involved in developing data protection standards.

“Through the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator we’re filling a gap there, because we’re addressing those farmer concerns, that mistrust. If we have widespread participation in the industry then I feel like we are addressing the farmers’ concerns in a way that means there is no need for any additional legislation that would protect farm data.”

But he added, if the industry looks the other way and doesn’t give it the attention needed, and farmers’ trust issues continue, then it might be necessary to look into other measures.

See the testimony at the House Ag Committee YouTube channel.

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Farm Bill Hearing Stresses Importance of USDA Export Programs

Jul 17, 2017 53

Importance of USDA Export programs

Agriculture Department export programs are key to keeping conventional and organic producers in the black, as lawmakers write the next farm bill. That was the message from producers and ag lawmakers at a Senate farm bill hearing.

USDA export assistance programs have no funding guarantee when their 2014 farm bill authority runs out in 2019. Among them are the Market Access, Foreign Market Development and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops programs, returning more than $28 for every dollar invested, or more than $2 billion a year in net farm income, based on a study by Informa Economics.

“More than 13 percent of the beef and beef variety meats we produce in this country are now exported, and exports account for more than 25 percent of the pork produced,” said Greg Haines with the U.S. Meat Export Federation. “During the first half of this year exports added an average of $270 per head for every steer and heifer slaughtered in this country, and $55 to the value of every hog. As a producer that can be the difference between being in the red and the black.”

Haines says red meat exports add some 45-cents to a bushel of corn.

Kenneth Dallmier operates the Clarkson Grain Company in Cerro Gordo, Illinois and told Senate Ag lawmakers USDA also needs to combat fraudulent imports of organic grain by boosting domestic production, legal liability for fraud, and verification tracking.

But verification is not enough. Ag Chair Pat Roberts says the National Organics Standards Board is plagued by “uncertainty and dysfunction,” hampering regulations needed to keep up with rapid growth and innovation in a sector, many growers now depend on to boost sinking margins.

Source: NAFB News

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Commentary: Beware of False Syllogisms

Jul 17, 2017 48

A syllogism is when two statements are put together to prove a conclusion. A faulty syllogism is when two statements are used to prove a point that is simply not true.  For example, a syllogism would be: Birds can fly; a robin is a bird; thus a robin can fly. A faulty syllogism would be:  Jane is a student; students like to party; this, Jane likes to party.  A careful reading of what passes for analysis today will reveal just how prevalent faulty syllogisms are used to reach all sorts of conclusions that are, in fact, wrong.

Allen County Farm Bureau President Roger Hadley recently drew my attention to an article that claimed that the use of glyphosate on wheat was the cause of wheat allergies in people.  Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, writing for the REALfarmacy web site, claims that the reason so many people are allergic to wheat is because farmers spray wheat with Roundup, “The effects of deadly glyphosate on your biology are so insidious that lack of symptoms today means literally nothing.” She goes on to say, “Even if you think you have no trouble digesting wheat, it is still very wise to avoid conventional wheat as much as possible in your diet!”  The only proof she offers for such definitive conclusion is: Farmers spray Roundup on wheat; Roundup is bad; thus eating wheat is bad.

Sarah begins her article by expressing her conviction that the rise in dietary problems with gluten was due to the fact that U.S. wheat farmers were secretly using GMO wheat varieties. She expresses relief that this is not the case and gleefully adopts the conviction that it is the use of glyphosate in wheat production that is the cause, “The good news is that the reason wheat has become so toxic in the United States is not because it is secretly GMO as I had feared (thank goodness!).The bad news is that the problem lies with the manner in which wheat is harvested by conventional wheat farmers.” She then trots out data that shows many wheat farmers spray glyphosate on wheat before harvest. She then concludes, with no proof, that this practice is the cause of dietary problems in some people. This practice may not be as wide spread as asserted by Sarah but that is beside the point.

This kind of logic is typical of food fear mongers.  With the overwhelming evidence that biotechnology poses no health risk, these dietary dummkopfs are turning to Roundup as the cause for everything from cancer to autism to gluten allergies. Can’t find a cause for your disease du jour? Just blame Roundup! I mean, California has banned it as a carcinogen, so why not?

There are a couple of facts about wheat that Sarah did not factor into her conclusion. Since the year 2000, U.S. wheat consumption has been declining, yet the incidence of gluten intolerance has been on the rise. Wheat products, like breads, cakes, cookies, and pastas, are made from different kinds of wheat, from different parts of the country, and from different farms with different production practices.  The U.S. is not the major world producer of wheat and imports wheat from the EU and other nations where glyphosate is not used. Wheat actually makes up a relatively small part of many baked goods. For example a loaf of bread only contains 16 ounces of wheat. One bushel of wheat can produce 45 boxes of wheat breakfast cereal. Finally, the fact that the USDA and the FDA have approved the use of glyphosate in wheat production as safe should be considered.

The argument against the use of Roundup in other crops is analogous to those against wheat. These addlepated advocates equate molecules of glyphosate to Uranium-235, which has a half-life of over 700 million years.  Let one molecule of Roundup touch a plant, and it contaminates everything that plant or any part of that plant touches.  This kind of logic is not supported by science and needs to be called out for what it is: false.

Gluten issues are very real for many people, but don’t let quacksalvers like Sarah deceive you with simplistic, false syllogisms based on preconceived prejudices and faulty logic.

By Gary Truitt

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EPA To Hold RFS Hearing Next Month

Jul 17, 2017 35
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The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing on its Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations August first. The hearing, to be held in Washington, D.C., will take public comment on the 2018 renewable volume obligations, along with the 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel, according to Ethanol Producer magazine. The agency released a prepublication version of the proposed rule earlier this month. The proposal calls for approximately 19.24 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the national fuel supply next year, including 238 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, and 4.24 billion gallons of advanced biofuel. For 2019, the new proposal calls for the biomass-based diesel RVO to be maintained at 2.1 billion gallons. In a notice posted to its website, the EPA said the hearing aims to provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views, or arguments concerning the proposal. The agency may ask clarifying questions during the hearing, but will not respond to presentations at that time.

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Current Farm Downturn Not Likely to Reach 1980’s Crisis

Jul 17, 2017 33
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A report by a Farm Credit Administration economist told the Administration’s board members last week that the current downturn in the farm economy is not likely to reach a 1980s-style crisis. Farm Credit chief economist Stephen Gabriel said the “likelihood of this is very low,” adding that a confluence of adverse factors led to the crisis that occurred in the 1980s. He says it would take a similar combination of adverse developments to create another crisis in the farm economy. While the two periods are similar in some respects, Gabriel points out that interest rates were very high in the 1980s, and today’s interest rates are historically low. The price of oil is another major difference, according to his report. In 1979 and 1980, the price surged, while today it is declining. Also, the general economy is in better shape today than it was in the 1980s. The country experienced two recessions during the 1980s’ crisis whereas today we’re in an “extended, if lackluster, economic expansion,” according to Gabriel.

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Brazil to Address U.S. Beef Ban During Visit

Jul 17, 2017 42
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Brazil’s minister of agriculture will meet with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Monday in an attempt to resume fresh beef exports to the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture halted beef imports from Brazil last month because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products. Brazil is hopeful the U.S. will lift the ban, as the Brazilian government said the suspension was related to non-conformities due to reactions to vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease, which can provoke abscesses in the meat. The Brazilian government has ordered all beef producers to follow certain cut procedures for beef that will help to easily identify potential problems, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. The U.S. embargo is among a series of challenges Brazilian meat producers are facing this year, after an investigation questioning the quality of sanitary inspections was released in March, prompting dozens of countries to temporary block shipments from the country. Since then, most of those countries have resumed Brazilian meat purchases, but many have reinforced inspections.

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Indiana Dairy Takes Popular Product to the Indianapolis Circle

Jul 14, 2017 56
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Ice cream in Indy

To help celebrate July as National Ice Cream Month there’s an event being held today in downtown Indianapolis. It’s a way to make sure the big city consumers are making the proper connection between ice cream and Indiana dairy farms. It’s the 28th annual Ice Cream Social sponsored by the American Dairy Association Indiana.

“This is a way we give back to the community, but also celebrate ice cream,” says ADA Indiana director of communications, Jenni Browning.

Browning says celebrity scoopers will be dishing out ice cream from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monument Circle.

“It is $3 sundaes, which are huge and Edy’s donates the ice cream and Kroger donates the toppings and Prairie Farms donates the whipped cream, so it’s delicious sundaes.”

Besides ice cream there will be other activities taking place.

“We always make sure we have a dairy cow and calf and lots of fun activity for kids, whether it is face painting and also mascots, it’s really a fun packed three hours,” Browning said.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Indiana.

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CountryMark Adds New Blending Technology

Jul 14, 2017 100

New CountryMark technology

CountryMark celebrated a new technology investment this week in Mount Vernon, an investment of nearly half a million dollars. CEO Charlie Smith explains the new biodiesel rack injection system.

“In Mount Vernon we continue to have a splash vending operation. This sequential blending is quicker, reduces costs, and gives a superior blending effectiveness for the high quality biodiesel that we add to our existing diesel fuel. So, this is really about next generation technology of getting the proper mixing between the biofuel, which is a soybean byproduct, and the diesel fuel itself.”

He told HAT the benefits of the rack injection system sprinkle around, touching several areas including their biodiesel consumers.

“A more efficient, more effective blend of high quality fuels gives a better experience for the user. At CountryMark we’re all about that. I used to say if our fuel fails my phone rings, so that’s a benefit directly to the consumer.”

Of course, soybean farmers and farmers in general benefit.

“The benefit to the farmers, most of whom own us, farmer owners part of the co-op system, is increased demand for biofuels, and increased use of biofuels helps keep grain prices a little bit higher. Now I’m not suggesting this facility in and of itself is going to have an impact on soybean prices, but generally speaking the more we can promote biofuels the better off the experience is at the farm gate for farm profitability if the consumers in general are happy consuming biofuels.”

CountryMark also benefits from better demand of better fuels and being better able to meet their blend requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard. More on that in the full interview:Charlie Smith on new blending technology

Smith and others were joined by Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch at a celebration event Wednesday.

(Top picture: Mark Seib, a Posey County Farmer and United Soybean Board Director; Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch; Bill Jones, President and CEO of Crossroads Corner, an Illinois trucking company; and CountryMark President and CEO Charlie Smith)

(Also pictured: Ash Titzer, CountryMark’s Manager of Crude Gathering and Transportation, provided a tour of the new biodiesel rack injection equipment)

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