Farm Equipment Sales Post February Increase

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Sales of farm equipment posted an increase in February, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacture’s monthly report on sales. For February 2017, the report says tractor sales in the United States were 13 percent higher compared to February of last year. For the two months in 2017, a total of 22,400 tractors were sold which compares to 21,300 sold through February 2016, representing a 5 percent increase for the year.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 22 percent from last year, while 40 and under 100 horsepower tractor sales were down 3 percent. Sales of two-wheel drive 100 plus horsepower tractors were up 17 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors were down 25 percent. Combine sales were up 29 percent for the month. Sales of combines for the year totaled 415, a decrease of 29 percent from 2016.

Source: NAFB News Service

Southwest Indiana Farm has Plan to Fight Crop Disease this Year

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Kalb on Disease Shield

Do you have a specific plan to fight off disease attacks in corn and soybean fields this year? A southwest Indiana farmer learned a lot about what plan to put in place this year, based on an aggressive spread of disease last year. Kevin Kalb is a perennial corn yield contest winner from Dubois County. He says 2016 is a year southern Indiana will never forget.

“We started off with a little bit gray leaf spot and some northern corn leaf blight and then later, about the middle of July come this southern rust that we were really not associated with. We have really never seen that disease, so it was a hybrid that killed some corn in 6-7 days. It was just bam, hit us.”

But because of the disease influx and his own yearly high-yield, high-managed test plot, Kalb witnessed what really works on his farm.

“We had the opportunity to put in two of the Disease Shield hybrids in there and we had two other competitors’ numbers in there. This was planted the 19th of April and the DEKALB numbers were already starting to shine as far as seeing no gray leaf spot and no northern, where the other hybrids were starting to see northern first and then gray leaf spot come in last.”

It was with the arrival of southern rust in mid-July that Kalb came to the conclusion that DEKALB® Disease Shield™ is a game changer on his farm.

“Even though we sprayed fungicide on it several times there was an absolutely day and night difference as far as lodging, as far as plant health,” Kalb told HAT. “It absolutely did not seem that the southern rust affected the Disease Shield hybrids hardly at all.”

With availability for the 2017 growing season, he plans to plant that package on 90 percent of his corn acres this year.

Kalb was honored again at Commodity Classic as a National Corn Yield Contest winner and credited starter fertilizer and other strategies, good genetics, and a great team for his success.

Hear more from Kalb:Kevin Kalb

Perdue Confirmation One Step Closer

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The White House has sent the Senate Agriculture Committee financial disclosure documents for Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Secretary nominee. By sending the information to the committee, the White House has now opened a path to holding a confirmation hearing for Perdue. However, a committee spokesperson said it is unlikely a hearing will be held until the week of March 20 because the committee will need a few days to review the paperwork and because the Senate will not be in session on Thursday and Friday.

The Environmental Working Group claims that as Georgia’s governor, Perdue was “mired in ethical lapses” that “raise troubling questions about his fitness to run” the Department of Agriculture. A spokesperson for Perdue says that “political gamesmanship” was behind complaints of missteps by Perdue during his time as Georgia’s governor.

Source: NAFB News Service

Trump to Host China’s President Next Month to Ease Trade Rhetoric

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President Donald Trump will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The two-day meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 6 – 7. The planned summit would follow a string of other recent U.S.-China meetings and conversations seeking to reaffirm ties following months of strong rhetoric from Trump against China. During his presidential campaign, Trump accused China of unfair trade policies, among other claims. Trump has yet to take any action regarding trade with China, including his promise to formally label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

China has warned of a trade war with the U.S., should the Trump administration ignore World Trade Organization rules by implementing new tariffs. The meeting is seen as a potential step to calm some trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Many Ranchers Wiped out as Wildfires Race Across Western States

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Many Ranchers Wiped out as Wildfires Race Across Western States

Hundreds of thousands of acres of pastureland have been burned as wildfires roll across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. High winds have made the fires hard to control. Losses by ranchers are staggering. Scarlett Hagins, with the Kansas Livestock Association, says many livestock operations are being burned to the ground, “There are currently 9 counties in Kansas with active wildfires, and there may be even more that are not yet reported.”   At least 600 square miles, mostly in Clark County, have burned in Kansas as powerful wind gusts have fanned the flames. There are reports of significant cattle losses as entire ranches were engulfed.

A wildfire near Amarillo, TX, killed three people trying to save cattle. “I was disking trying to get a fire guard, and I had less than three minutes,” said David Boseldon, a rancher. “That wind was blowing 60 [miles an hour] or more. I was lucky. I got in my pickup and was able to get out of there. Just that quick, everything is engulfed.”

In Oklahoma, the Governor’s office says 300,000 acres in three counties alone have burned. The largest of the fires spread from the Oklahoma Panhandle into southwest Kansas, and has consumed more than 800,000 acres of prime grassland. Todd Domer, of the Kansas Livestock Association, says the losses have been devastating. “Those in the hardest-hit areas have lost a considerable amount of fence, forage resources, harvested feed in terms of hay, and really an undetermined number of cattle at this point,” he stated. “And in addition to losing their livelihood in many of these cases, they’ve also lost their homes, outbuildings, and equipment.”

KLA has set up a special web site to coordinate donations of hay and fence material, “The immediate need is hay, we are trying to get hay to the areas that need it,” said Hagins.  That web site is:

Hagins says the Colorado Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association all have funds for their respective states.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, took the Senate floor on Monday to speak on the “historical and unprecedented wildfires” that struck southwest Kansas last week. Roberts toured the damaged areas this past weekend. “We have unimaginable damage to land and property, but also heart-wrenching scenes of cattle and wildlife burned, wounded, and wandering,” said Roberts. “On Friday, I drove south from Dodge City through range and ranchland I didn’t recognize. What used to be gently rolling prairie dotted with herds of cattle and crisscrossed by fencing is now reduced to blackened dust.” Roberts also asked the Trump Administration to quickly approve a federal disaster declaration. Following a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence last week, Roberts said he expected a disaster declaration within five days.

Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico have asked for a temporary suspension of grazing restrictions for farmers and ranchers. In a letter to acting Agriculture Secretary Mike Young, governors from the four states ask that the restrictions in the Conservation Reserve Program be lifted to provide more land for grazing. Federal programs providing aid in disasters such as wildfires include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program, and crop insurance.

Aggressive Weed Control Philosophy Needed in 2017

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Get ahead of weeds in 17

It is a wholesale shift of philosophy that will be needed to manage weed resistance in this and future years. A former University of Arkansas Extension weed specialist has seen resistant weeds run amok up close. Ken Smith is now a Technical Service Manager for FMC Corporation, and his strong message for Indiana and Midwest farmers is do not take resistance lightly.

“It’s not something that you can ignore,” he explained. “I’ve talk to many, many farmers and they’ll tell you the worst mistake they ever made was thinking oh, it’s not that bad. There weren’t that many out there. I think I can get by one more year. You cannot get by one more year. So, hopefully with that philosophy shift, we will be able to manage these and stay out ahead of them.” And Smith added, “You guys have got a great opportunity to get out and get in front of this thing that the people in the mid-south and west Texas do not have. They’re already behind the 8 ball.”

Smith says learn from others’ mistakes and don’t try to “spray it out.” Treating weeds post-emergence is not going to work, and he wants the philosophy shift to include a first line of defense with soil residual herbicides.

“If our farmers will ever move from this philosophy of ‘we’re going to spray those weeds this year and look to see what happens’ to thinking about their soil seed bed, and this is a key. We had areas that farmers banded together in blocks of 20,000 contiguous acres and said we are not going to let Palmer amaranth go to seed in this 20,000 acres. And once they adopted that philosophy, we saw a tremendous change. If we’ve got an advantage on Palmer and waterhemp, it’s the fact that those seeds do not live a long time in the soil.”

Smith says exploit that weakness by proactively keeping seed beds clean, rather than reacting to the problem only when the resistant weeds show up. By then it’s too late.

“Now I’m with FMC and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say FMC has some really good soil applied herbicides, the sulfentrazone, the Authority products, the Anthem products, the pyroxasulfone. All are good products.”

Ryan Martin’s Indiana Ag Forecast for March 13, 2017

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Snow today will get everyone’s attention. Cutting to the chase: We look for snow accumulations today of 1-4” from I-70 northward. South of I-70, we see potential for a coating to an inch. The farther south you go, the less the chance of snow. Coverage of precipitation today will be 80% of the state. The cold air that has come in as of late has made the ground cold enough to support the accumulations. Snow will be with us through the entire day today, through tonight and will end tomorrow. The steady snow ends by shortly after sunrise tomorrow, but we see lingering on and off snow and flurries possible through the entire day tomorrow. Travel will likely be a little difficult today, especially over central Indiana, where dealing with a late season snow always triggers more anxiety. The map above shows potential snow accumulation through sunrise tomorrow morning.

Cold air holds through at least midweek. We see a shift in wind for the later part of the week and the south flow will moderate temps somewhat. However, we likely will not push to above normal temps until sometime this weekend. Our next weather system moves in for Friday. We can start the day with some light snow over the northern half of the state as temps will be below freezing. However, the moderating air will switch all precipitation to rain by shortly after sunrise. WE look for rains of .25” to .5” over about 80% of the state. Action should be done by midnight Friday night.

The weekend will feature clouds and some sun, and temps will continue to moderate. WE look for temps above normal by Saturday afternoon.

Next week, we have a system that sags slowly across the state from NW to SE for Monday night through Tuesday. This system does not have nearly as much moisture and coverage as the previous two. WE like rains of a few hundredths to perhaps .4” with coverage at no better than 60%. Our bias will be toward less moisture too, unless this system is able to find a better moisture source. Following that, we are mostly dry for the rest of the week.

In the extended window, we are still watching a potential frontal passage around the 24th into the 25th with rains that can be from .25”-.75”. But, most of the attention today will be paid to the snow that is flying over a large part of the state. Be careful!

Bower Trading Market Strategy Report: The Good and the Bad in the USDA Numbers

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Bower Trading Market Strategy Report: The Good and the Bad in the USDA Numbers

There was not a lot of good news in last week’s USDA’s report. No reduction in US carry over and an increase in South American production kept prices under pressure on Thursday and Friday. Bower says this big crop will pressure the markets for the next several weeks, “The USDA estimate of Brazil soybean production at 108 MMT is at the high end of market expectations. In fact since the report there has been a lot of chatter that the number could be even higher.  This is going to keep the market under pressure.”

Meanwhile here at home, there is continued concern about the hard red winter wheat crop. Bower says the crop is running about 3 months ahead of schedule, “What that means is that we still have some cold weather to come; and, if there would be a frost or freeze, it would do considerable damage because this crop is so advanced.”  With wheat acreage at a very low level, extreme market volatility is a concern.

We also saw some good economic news coming out of China and several other nations last week. Bower thinks this will lead to continued good demand for commodities in the months to come, “Hopefully this week in the USDA report we can get all the native numbers from last week dialed into the market and begin to focus on the demand side worldwide.”  In general, commodities are becoming more and more a “value” trade as it appears to some we are in the beginning stage of a global REFLATION as evidenced by the recent PPI numbers in China. “Chinese PPI was up a whopping 7.8% in February, and remember they are the largest group of ‘consumers’ on the planet as they constantly are in search of ‘value.’”

For more information, contact Jim Bower at


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Perdue Lost in Washington Red Tape

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The Senate Agriculture Committee is getting closer to scheduling a confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue, but still needs some paperwork from the White House. The Washington Post reports needed paperwork was submitted last week, more than seven weeks after President Donald Trump nominated the former Georgia governor to the post at the Department of Agriculture. But a spokesperson for Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the committee still needs Perdue’s ethics paperwork and FBI background check, as of Friday. Perdue’s ethics forms are also missing from the Office of Government Ethics website, which posts the documents when they are completed.

The ethics agreements identify potential conflicts of interest and how they will be resolved. Perdue has had businesses in grain trading, trucking, and exports. It is unclear whether any of those interests are causing the holdup.

Source: NAFB News Service

Should the Ethanol Industry Do a Deal with the Devil?

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The battle for ethanol has always been a David and Goliath story. The oil industry is one of the richest and most politically powerful industries in the world. The fact that they have secured lucrative tax advantages from the U.S. government while making hundreds of billions of dollars in profits is a good example. Despite negligence that has led to massive oil spills causing untold environmental damage, they still enjoy plenty of support in Congress.  The ethanol industry, on the other hand, has been divided and underfunded although a more unified and politically active industry has scored some major advances in recent years, The RFS and E-15 for example. But now civil war has erupted between ethanol groups, prompted in part by an oil industry baron.

A brief background note. There are two issues facing the ethanol industry. First is the RVO which is an EPA regulation that makes it difficult and costly for retailors to sell E-15 and higher blends of ethanol during the summer.  The second is the Point of Obligation. This is a requirement of the Renewable Fuel Standard that says gasoline refiners are responsible for blending the ethanol into the fuel.

At the beginning of March press reports surfaced that the Renewable Fuels Association was negotiating with oil magnet and Trump advisor Carl Icahn to eliminate the RVO in exchange for moving the point of obligation to retailors.  There was even talk of an executive order coming from the White House. At this point, the rest of the ethanol industry went ballistic and basically called RFA head Bob Dinneen a traitor. While tempers have cooled and the White House says no such deal is in the works, the industry remains divided.

This may have been what the oil industry wanted all along. Icahn, who owns a controlling stake in refiner CVR Energy, Inc, is also a major contributor to the Trump campaign and is an advisor to the President.  Mr. Trump’s statements that he wants to increase the amount of ethanol blended into our fuel supply is not welcomed by the oil industry which has been fighting
E-15 for years.  Creating a family feud among ethanol groups would suit the oil industry just fine.

According to Growth Energy changing the point of obligation would throw the industry into chaos. “Shifting the point of obligation would remove all economic incentive for retailers to sell higher ethanol blends,” said a Growth Energy analysis.   RFA claims the benefits from getting year-round sales of E-15 and the elimination of other burdensome EPA regulations is worth making a change in the point of obligation.  Dineen accused the rest of the industry of sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to look at a great opportunity.

While I have interviewed, and observed Bob Dinneen for a long time, and I believe he genuinely cares for the ethanol industry, it looks to me like he got snuckered on this one.  The oil lobby has had nothing but enmity toward renewable fuels for decades. They have spent millions of dollars to lobby against ethanol and have shown they will lie and mislead the public to keep ethanol from gaining market share. So why would they suddenly decide to be peace makers?

To get E-15 out of the starting gate, year-round sales are a must, but we may not need to wait for the EPA to remove these outdated regulations. Bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House that would mandate the removal of these regulations. Thus if the industry can come together and focus on getting this legislation they would not have to do a deal with the devil. The ethanol industry needs to keep the main goal in sight: getting market share.  We need more ethanol in our fuel, and we need more pumps dispensing that fuel. Let’s not be distracted by shadowy promises made by oil industry bigwigs.

 By Gary Truitt