House Budget Wants $10 Billion Cuts to Ag Spending

Jul 19, 2017 38
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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 43
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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 42

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 51

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 60
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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 58
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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 38
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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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Corn and Soybean Condition Falls One Percent

Jul 17, 2017 37

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 46

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 60

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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