Blog Archives

The Ag Highlight Reel: Hail, Tornadoes, and Thunderstorms, Oh My!

Byline:

Welcome to The Highlight Reel. Here you’ll find a recap of recent lighthearted or unusual news. These aren’t the headlines, but the funny, inspiring, or touching stories from across the agriculture industry.

Last week World Pork Expo took over the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky made stops to visit with farmers and youth in Wisconsin this week.

A new mural painted on a grain bin outside Limon, Colorado is gaining attention across the country. Farmers and ranchers on Twitter have been sharing photos and videos of recent severe weather across the Midwest.

Keep reading to catch an interesting look at how people in the United States have been searching for farm bill and trade news this week.

Last Week: World Pork Expo in Des Moines

About 20,000 people visited Des Moines, Iowa last week to take in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the pork industry at the 2018 World Pork Expo. Organizers say 500 exhibitors filled 360,000 square feet of trade show space and 2,800 head of hogs were exhibited as part of the Junior National Show.

Successful Farming published World Pork Expo 2018 Highlights and 4 Takeaways From World Pork Expo to recap the event.

 

This Week: Steve Censky in Wisconsin

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky was in Wisconsin on Wednesday. His first stop was Crave Brothers Farm near Waterloo where he participated in the Green Energy Showcase Program. Later in the afternoon the deputy secretary addressed students attending Wisconsin State FFA Convention in Madison.

 

Facebook: Heart of Harvest

Pictures of a bright, bold mural on the side of a Colorado grain bin have been circulating on Facebook this week. According to KUSA-TV the city of Limon commissioned the artwork from Some Girls and a Mural in hopes the masterpiece positioned along I-70 would encourage drivers to pull off for a visit. The piece is called Heart of Harvest. You can see mural from start to finish on the Some Girls and a Mural Facebook page.

 

Twitter: Dramatic Weather

Hail, tornadoes, and thunderstorms! Oh my! Agriculturalists from across the Midwest took to social media this week to document severe weather impacting their crops.

 

Trending: Farm Bill, Trade, North Korea

The farm bill and trade news continues to dominate headlines even in mainstream media, but Google search traffic for North Korea edged out both topics for three days in the past week. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018 for a historic summit in Singapore. Meanwhile, the farm bill passed the senate ag committee.

 

Grassley’s Farm Bill Challenge: Limit Subsidies to Actual Farmers

Byline:

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) wants to tighten down access to U.S. farm subsidies, a lightning-rod issue as Congress tries to update ag and public nutrition programs this year. “Why can’t we require farmers who collect huge sums of money from the government to actually work on the farm?” said Grassley on Monday, arguing for a “hard” cap of $125,000 per person in annual payments and restricting payments to farmers, their spouses, and one manager per farm, regardless of size.

“I do not believe in unlimited subsidies, like are in the House farm bill,” said the senator during a speech at the think tank Heritage Foundation. The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to vote on its version of the farm bill on Wednesday. It does not address farm subsidy limits beyond a provision to limit payments to people with less than $700,000 adjusted gross income. The limit now is $900,000 AGI annually and is doubled for a married couple. Grassley said he will offer his payment limit amendment at the committee meeting.

Lawmakers have tussled over so-called payment limits for decades. Large operators collect the lion’s share of subsidies because the payments are based on volume of production. If these large farms also have many people declared as “managers,” multiple people can claim a payment in the operation. Grassley, however, believes the payments should be directed to family-size operations. Defenders say crop subsidies are a small part of revenue for farmers and assure production of cotton, grains, and soybeans.

“The Heritage Foundation has made it perfectly clear that it opposes any safety net whatsoever for America’s farmers or ranchers because Heritage denies any unique risks to farming and ranching,” said Farm Policy Facts, a proponent of “a strong farm policy” in a recent essay. The group represents cotton, rice, sugar, wheat, and some corn growers, as well as farm equipment manufacturers.

The USDA has weak rules that allow operators to evade the nominal $125,000-a-year limit; they also allow payments to people, often relatives, who declare they are managers but provide little input. The Government Accountability Office reported last month that a corn, soybean, and rice operation active in the South and Midwest collected $3.7 million in 2015 through a web of two individuals and 32 corporations. The operation included 25 people plus 10 spouses who said they provided “active personal managment.”

“I am working with my fellow senators to fix this egregious loophole,” said Grassley, referring to USDA’s rules on who is “actively engaged” in farming and, thus, eligible for subsidies. During debate on the 2014 farm law, the House and Senate approved language similar to the new Grassley amendment, but it was deleted during the final round of negotiations on the farm bill. “You can’t make that stuff up, can you?” said Grassley wryly.

The Republican-written House farm bill, defeated a month ago, expanded the list of people eligible for subsidies to include cousins, nieces, and nephews and removed the $125,000 limit on payments to particular types of corporate farms, allowing each member of the entity to claim a payment. The House has until June 22 to try to revive its bill.

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group called the House bill “the23andMe bill,” a play on the name of a company that traces ancestry. Faber and Joshua Sewell of Taxpayers for Common Sense were panelists in a discussion following Grassley. The 2014 farm law made federally subsidized crop insurance the largest part of the farm safety net. “Let’s embrace it,” said Sewell. “Why do we have them (crop subsidies) at all?”

To watch a video of Grassley’s speech and the panel discussion that followed, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

World Pork Expo 2018 Highlights

Byline:

Pork enthusiasts from around the world gathered in Des Moines, Iowa this week for food, seminars, and pig shows.

National Pork Producers Council hosted World Pork Expo June 6-8, 2018 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The organization says more than 20,000 ag professionals and pork producers attend the expo every summer. It is estimated that 1,000 international attendees from nearly 40 countries participated in the three-day event this year.

Show Ring Highlights

In 2017, 2,500 live hogs were displayed in the swine barn. National Pork Producers Council was expecting another record setting year of hogs again this year.

This year 1,350 youth from 32 states participated in the World Pork Expo Junior National this week. Youth competed in a Skillathon, judging contests, and live hog shows.

Notable Presenters

Government officials and industry experts shared remarks throughout the event. Ten busines seminars were held Wednesday and Thursday. Pork producers and their employees gathered at PORK Academy seminars to learn about nutrient management, understanding consumers, and data collection.

Did you know, about 550,000 U.S. jobs are supported by various aspects of the pork industry? More than $40 billion is contributed to the nation’s economy each year by U.S. pork production. In 2017, more than 60,000 pork producers marketed more than 121 million hogs.

In addition to hosting the World Pork Expo, Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the nation. Approximately 45 million pigs are raised in the state each year.

Delicious Pork

During the event approximately 10,000 lunches were served at the Big Grill.

Interesting Exhibits

About 500 companies from around the globe gathered at the 2018 World Pork Expo to display their products and services. Several of them had outdoor exhibits and 60 hospitality tents were open for networking opportunities.

For more information about the 2018 World Pork Expo read 4 Takeaways From World Pork Expo. The 2019 World Pork Expo will be held June 5-7 next year.

Week In Review: Ethanol and Trade

Byline:

As President Donald Trump heads to Canada to meet with leaders of the world’s biggest economies, then to Singapore to possibly declare an end to the Korean War, farmers in the Midwest are left scratching their heads over a week that seemed momentous for agriculture. But was it really?

It was for ethanol.

Early this week President Trump rejected a deal that would have allowed year-round blending of 15% ethanol (E15) in exchange for allowing ethanol exports to count against requirements for oil refiners to blend ethanol.

“Unfortunately, E15 wouldn’t have been enough to offset the damage caused by allowing biofuel exports to count toward the annual blending quotas,” Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday.

Although E15 sales are rising rapidly in some states, the higher ethanol blend is sold in only about 1% of the nation’s gas stations. Ethanol exports set a record of nearly 1.4 billion gallons last year and may be on track to break another record. But other nations say that giving blending credits for exports would be an illegal export subsidy. The critics include Canada, the second-largest buyer of U.S. ethanol after Brazil.

“A WTO (World Trade Organization) challenge was coming, had that gone through,” Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, told Agriculture.com.

Allowing exports to count toward blending quotas would also have taken pressure off domestic oil companies to use ethanol, significantly lowering blending below the 15-billion-gallon-a-year mandate under the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard. That’s something that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already done by granting hardship waivers from blending requirements to large, profitable refiners. Grassley said domestic demand under the RFS is now down to 13.8 billion gallons.

Grassley said he’ll continue to fight for year-round sales of E15 being allowed by EPA, although getting Pruitt to push that through the agency “is going to be very difficult.”

He’ll also push to restore the 15-billion-gallon RFS, getting the 2019 blending mandate “nailed down” and making sure “that any waivers are not going to detract from it.”

“That’s just maintaining the status quo, more or less,” he said.

Grassley has help. Ethanol trade groups, the National Corn Growers Association, and National Farmers Union have filed a lawsuit challenging the blending waivers that Pruitt secretly granted to large refiners.

University of Illinois agricultural economist Scott Irwin recently told Agriculture.com that he thinks such efforts will ultimately succeed. “Pruitt's fun and games will get wrung out of the system. It may take a few years through the courts, but that eventually will happen.”

Meanwhile, trade war saber rattling has started to draw blood.

Just as the ethanol industry dodged a bullet in Washington, Mexico fired another one, imposing a 10% tariff on unprocessed pork that rises to 20% on July 5. It follows China’s imposition of a 25% tariff on U.S. pork in April.

“China went from fourth on our export list down to about seventh because of tariffs being put on them,” economist Hart says.

The newest tariff from Mexico is in retaliation for the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Tariffs on pork are already hurting prices paid to farmers. But the threats of other tariffs are less clear.

China has threatened a 25% tariff on soybeans, but prices for that commodity have so far fared better than pork.

“The worst that it got was that first day China announced soybeans were on the list,” Hart says. “Within an hour we saw significant recovery.”

That’s partly because in the real world of farmers’ fields, weather threatens yields from South America to Texas and Oklahoma.

“You’ve got weather and international supply propping prices up,” Hart says. “Every day I can give you a positive news story or a negative news story to balance out the markets.”

Still, Hart believes farmers should take these new tariff threats seriously.

“You want to pay attention. If these tariffs go into effect, there’s going to be a pricing impact,” he says.

Hart has studied the effect of tariffs imposed on some commodities, including grain sorghum, when tariffs were imposed in the past. Generally, prices fall then start to recover, but not to the level before tariffs were imposed.

“You’re not going to like that first six months after tariffs go in place,” he says.

Cheers to the End of #Plant18

Byline:

According to the latest USDA Crop Progress Report corn planting has finished in Illinois and Missouri. In Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina farmers have just 1% of corn planting remaining. If favorable conditions continue farmers in Indiana, Minnesota, and Tennessee may also be done planting corn by the time next week’s report is published.

Here’s how farmers in North America have celebrated the end of the planting season.

1. Praying for rain.

2. Thanking the team.

3. But first, let me take a selfie.

4. Get the boat out.

5. Chocolate.

6. Crack a cold one.

Parents of #Plant18

Byline:

Parenting is hard. And the stresses of planting season certainly don’t make it any easier. However, parents across North America are making the most of it and soaking up special memories with their children this season.

Crops aren’t the only things growing in the fields this spring. The imaginations and skills of farm kids all around the country are growing too as they watch and work with their family.

These kids will treasure memories of heading to the field in their pajamas for years to come.

Planting traditions last for generations.

It's all fun and games until something breaks.

It’s the little things now that become big things later on.

You’re never too old for a tractor ride with Mom or Dad.

Who knew having kids would come in so handy during planting season?

Sometimes kids are the best excuse to take a little break.

After all those years of making their lunch, sometimes they return the favor.

There’s no shortage of teaching opportunities during planting season.

The littlest farmers’ smiles keep everyone’s spirits up during the stressful times.

Kansas and Nebraska Farmers Keep Planting, Praying for Rain

Byline:

Farmers across the plains of Kansas and Nebraska have been busy over the past week. Planting progress continued across the region, but corn progress remains behind the five-year average according to the latest USDA Crop Report released May 7, 2018. Many farms and ranches, especially in Kansas, are suffering from persistent drought conditions.

Corn

Kansas farmers planted 20% of the state’s corn crop this week bringing the total planted acreage to just 1% shy of the five-year average of 48%. Last year 5.5 million acres of corn were planted in Kansas.

Farmers in Nebraska also made significant progress. Planted corn acreage in the state jumped from 17% last week to 42%. This time of year, 46% of the corn crop is usually planted, according to the five-year average. The USDA Crop Production 2017 Summary says 9,550,000 acres of corn were planted in the state last year.

Corn emergence in Kansas is also just 1% behind the five-year average for this point in the growing season. The most recent USDA Crop Progress report shows 18% of the corn in Kansas has emerged, a 12% gain from last week’s numbers.

In Nebraska, only 2% of the corn crop has emerged. That is 8% behind the five-year average, and lags behind last year’s progress by 7%.

Soybeans

In Kansas soybean planting is ahead of schedule with 8% of the crop planted. Last week just 2% of the soybean crop was in the ground. Typically, 5% of Kansas soybeans have been planted by this time.

Farther north in Nebraska, soybean farmers are also running ahead of the five-year average. This time last year 12% of the state’s soybean crop was in the ground, right on pace with average. As of the latest USDA report, 16% of the crop has been planted this year. That means Nebraska famers planted 10% of the state’s soybean crop over the last week.

The USDA is not reporting soybean emergence numbers for the 2018 growing season yet. Those numbers are expected to be included in the next report scheduled for Monday, May 14.

Sorghum

Sorghum is also grown across parts of Kansas and Nebraska.

Kansas farmers have planted 1% of the crop so far this year. That is on target compared to the five-year average.

The neighbors to the north in Nebraska have fallen behind the average sorghum planting pace. The USDA says 6% is average for this time of year. At the time of the most recent report, 3% of the sorghum crop was in the ground.

Oats

Nebraska farmers grow a share of the U.S. oat crop. While significant progress was made this week, the oat planting pace continues to trail the average for this time of year. At this point, 79% of the crop is in the ground. That is a 16% improvement over last week’s status, but 13% behind the five-year average.

Oat emergence is also behind pace. While emergence in Nebraska jumped 14% since last week, the crop is still more than 25% behind the five-year average emergence rate.

Winter Wheat

Farmers continue to be concerned about the winter wheat crop in Kansas and Nebraska.

Just 19% of the crop has headed in Kansas. About 41% is normal for this time of year.

Nebraska winter wheat is also falling behind average heading progress. The USDA reports 3% is average for this point in the growing season, but no heading has been reported in the state yet this year.

As drought continues to plague the state, winter wheat conditions in the region are suffering. Even the best crops in the state are showing signs of stress. There is no excellent winter wheat in Kansas. Good wheat is at just 14%. A majority of the state’s crop is fair to poor. Next, 16% of the crop has been rated as very poor.

Conditions are more favorable in Nebraska, but still dry in some areas. At 51%, a majority of the state’s winter wheat crop is rated good. Also, 10% is excellent. Just 1% is very poor, and 6% is poor. To round things out, 32% of the Nebraska winter wheat crop is in fair condition.

Pasture and Range Conditions

In Kansas, pasture conditions are also suffering from drought. There is no excellent pasture in the state. One quarter of Kansas pastures are in good condition. The rest are in fair condition or worse. They are 45% fair, 21% poor, and 9% very poor.

In the Cornhusker State things are better, but not great. Just 2% of pastureland is in excellent shape, followed by 46% in excellent condition, and 40% rated fair. To round out the statistics, 10% is poor while 2% of the Nebraska range and pastureland is in very poor condition.

Nationally the average breakdown is 5% excellent, 37% good, 38% fair, 15% poor, and 5% very poor.

Weather and Soil Conditions

Drought conditions continue to persist in both states, although Nebraska did see a little bit relief in some areas.

As farmers look to make planting progress, soil moisture is critical.

May-8-Drought-Kansas
U.S. Drought Monitor

Just 2% of Kansas acres have surplus top soil moisture. Many, at 45%, have adequate. However, most of the state is short or very short on top soil moisture at 29% and 24% respectively.

Most farms in Nebraska have adequate top soil moisture at 73%. Just a few, 2%, have surplus top soil moisture. One fifth of Nebraska is short on top soil moisture, and 2% is very short.

It is no surprise that there is no surplus of subsoil moisture in the state of Kansas. The latest USDA Crop Progress report says 39% of the state has adequate subsoil moisture followed by 37% short and 24% very short.

Only 1% of Nebraska has surplus subsoil moisture. Most areas, 69%, have adequate followed by 27% short on subsoil moisture. In Nebraska 3% of the soil is very short on subsoil moisture.

Last week, five days were suitable for fieldwork in Kansas. Farmers in Nebraska were not far behind with 4.6 days.

Successful Farming Covers: 12 Issues of Today and Yesterday

Byline:

Take a look back at 12 topics Successful Farming has tackled over the years. See how much technology - and styles - have changed. Our dedication to making farmers successful remains the same.

Hover over the slider in the center of each comparison, then click and drag right or left to reveal the entire cover. Older covers are on the left. More recent coverage of the topic is displayed in the right image.

1. Farm Labor

Labor in agriculture has been a topic of concern for a number of years. We covered hiring and inspiring great employees in March 2006. Twelve years later we shared the stories of farm families who have found unique ways to find and keep the help they need. You can read the March 2018 cover story here.

 

2. Grain Storage

Storing grain has helped farmers overcome down commodity price cycles for decades. We explored the technology available for farmers in the harvest issue of 1979 and again in August 2015. Most recently the USDA reported on-farm storage has grown to 13.45 billion bushels across the country.

 

3. Harvest Hustle

Time is of the essence during harvest season. Successful Farming regularly covers new ways farmers can be more efficient when it matters the most. For example, in this article Successful Farming magazine's Combine Doctor, Rodney Edgington explains how to inspect your combine to avoid mid-harvest breakdowns

 

4. Monitors

Can you believe how much in-cab monitors have changed over the last 10 years? While technology has changed rapidly over the last decade, a monitor is only as good as the data it collects. Five years later, a warning from Kent Shannon in this article still rings true. “Remember, garbage in equals garbage out,” he says.

 

5. Mapping

Maps have also dramatically changed how many farmers manage their ground in recent years. In the 8 years since Treasure Maps made the cover of the May 2010 issue mapping technology has exploded. Read more in this recent article.

 

6. Online Auctions

Online farm machinery auctions continue to play a role in the marketplace. Look how much has changed since computers first brought buying and selling used machinery to farmer's fingertips.

 

7. Outstanding Farmers

Successful Farming is proud to have a tradition of highlighting the innovative ways farmers do business and impact their communities. In 2001 and again in 2017 these inspiring families were featured in the cover story. You can find several of them in this article, 10 Successful Farmers in 2017.

 

8. Soybeans

Seed and chemical technology for soybean farmers has also changed significantly over the years. As the cover story in 1999 and 2011, Successful Farming is committed to helping farmers grow quality, high-yielding crops profitably. This year, for the first time in U.S history farmers are projected to plant more soybeans than corn.

 

9. Spraying

The option to spray pesticides and fertilizers remains an important tool in the toolbox farmers have, but the methods sure have changed. Nearly 40 years after "big sprayers" made the March 1979 cover, Successful Farming is still sharing ways farmers can be more effective this spraying season.

 

10. Top Shops

For more than 20 years farmers have shared their shops of all shapes and sizes in the magazine, and on Successful Farming TV. If you are building a new workspace for your farm take a few tips from farmers that have designed solutions to fit their operation's unique needs. Some of the best ideas in the business were highlighed in these issues from 1999 and 2009.

 

11. UTV

Utility vehicles have become an important tool for farmers. Successful Farming regularly puts the newest models to the test to help farmers determine the best fit for their operation. Our most recent UTV tests made the cover of the May 2017 issue.

 

12. Women in Ag

Successful Farming has been reporting about women in agriculture for more than 40 years. Watch this video clip to meet four female big-time operators that were featured on the Mid-February 2017 cover of the magazine.

The Ag Highlight Reel: Ag Community Rallies Around Oklahoma Fire Victims

Byline:

Welcome to The Highlight Reel. Here you’ll find a recap of recent lighthearted or unusual news. These aren’t the headlines, but the funny, inspiring, or touching stories from across the agriculture industry.

Last week, cool temperatures persisted as snow piled up across the Corn Belt forcing farmers to put planting on hold. Volunteers are being honored around the country this week.

Social media posts about the weather and growing conditions dominated this week, while some farmers shared the way technology impacts thier farm.

Last Week: Farmers Wait for Proper Planting Conditions

While many farmers anxiously wait to begin the planting season, some are finding unique ways to pass the time. A few are getting serious about soil, or spending extra time caring for livestock in the wintry conditions. Others are taking a more lighthearted approach. Here are 21 things you can do as you wait for the snow to melt and soil to warm up.

This Week: National Volunteer Week

Organizations around the country are taking time to thank their volunteers as part of #NationalVolunteerWeek. Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offices around the country are taking time to recognize their farmer partners who are working to help conserve natural resources on their operations.

Share how you’re making a difference in your community by using the hashtag on social media.

Check out this story featuring farmers who volunteer as firefighters.

Facebook: Wildfires Threaten Oklahoma Farms and Ranches

While many farmers and ranchers have been concerned about cold and snow, producers in Oklahoma have battled wildfires. Dry, windy condititions fanned the flames.

Now, agriculture organizations are working to help impacted farmers and ranchers. Hay, calf milk replacer, and other donations are beind directed to producer victims by Oklahoma Extension and Ag Community Relief.

Twitter: Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Agriculture

It’s no secret technology has changed agriculture dramatically in recent years. Farmers took to Twitter to share the advantages and disadvantages of technology on their farm.

Trending: Farm Bill, E15, and China Tariffs

The headlines have been dominated by reactions to the drafted Farm Bill, potential new markets fo E15, and trade negotiations with China. Here’s how people in the U.S. were searching for information on the topics.

21 Things to Do While Waiting to Plant

Byline:

Farmers across the Corn Belt are itching to get in the field to start the 2018 planting season.

But unseasonably cool weather and substantial April snow totals are keeping progress on hold.

Here are a variety of ways farmers are spending their time while they wait, including organizing monitors, doing extra cattle chores, and soaking up the extra family time.

If you aren't quite ready for #plant18 yet, check out these 12 overlooked preplanting maintenance tasks.

1. Organize your monitors.

2. Laugh.

3. Farm on the kitchen table.

4. Extra cattle chores.

5. Support local youth programs.

6. Take the kids sledding.

7. Dig out.

8. Soak up the extra family time... and naps.

9. Take time with tech.

10. Read.

11. Help farmers in areas suffering from wildfires.

12. Go digging.

13. Clean the shop.

14. Write poetry.

15. Put Photoshop and your sense of humor to work.

16.Food farming.

17. Tackle the honey-do list.

18. Build a snow fort.

19. Brush up on handling and safety practices.

20. Bake cookies.

21. Play in the puddles.

The Ag Highlight Reel: How One Farmer Is Having Fun With Snow in April

Byline:

Welcome to The Highlight Reel. Here you’ll find a recap of recent light-hearted or unusual news. These aren't the headlines, but the funny, inspiring, or touching stories from across the agriculture industry.

Last week, Sonny Perdue got out of Washington D.C. to visit three big agriculture states. Across the industry, people and organizations are promoting grain-handling safety this week.

Keep reading to see how one Midwest farmer is coping with the unseasonable snow. Learn how you can participate in a book club with other ag enthusiasts from the comfort of your couch. Check back next week for more from The Highlight Reel.

Last Week: Perdue Visited Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky

As part of his third Back to Our Roots RV tour, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made stops at farms and agribusinesses in three states. Along the way, Perdue met with several FFA members and was interviewed by local media. Visit his Twitter page for the highlights of his trip around Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Perdue-Lab-Michigan
USDA

This Week: Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several industry associations have partnered to raise awareness about grain-handling hazards this week. A free webinar was held on Tuesday, April 10, as part of the Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week. Additional information and educational resources can be found at this University of Texas-Arlington website.

“Employees in the grain industry must be trained on grain-handling hazards and have the necessary tools to ensure they enter and leave a bin or silo safely,” Kimberly Stille, OSHA regional administrator said. “This campaign is intended to encourage industry leaders, farmers, and workers to implement best practices and effective safety and health programs to save lives.”

April-Snowman

Facebook: Spring Slow to Arrive in the Midwest

Farmers across the Midwest are getting anxious to get their planters out, but Mother Nature delivered snow to start the week in some areas. This Illinois farmer decided to make the most of the circumstances and have a little fun.

Twitter: #AgBookClub Discussing No More Food Fights

Ag Book Club, a project started by ag communicators Gracie Weinzierl and Laura Wolf, will be discussing No More Food Fights by Michele Payn. Check out this article for more background on the chat and instructions on how to participate.

Scholarships and Awards: American Agri-Women Scholarships Now Open

American Agri-Women is offering two $1,000 scholarships for young women pursuing agricultural degrees. Women ages 18 to 23 are invited to apply for the Jean Ibendahl Scholarship, while students 24 and older should apply for the Sister Thomas More Bertels Scholarship. The deadline for both awards is June 1, 2018. Review the eligibility requirements and application here.

‘Not a Lot of Room for Improvement’ in Argentina’s Conditions, Meteorologist Says

Byline:

This winter all eyes have been on South America. The grain markets have been reacting to the drought conditions in Argentina for weeks. Meteorologist David Streit of Commodity Weather Group, LLC says, “It’s a situation where there’s not a lot of room for improvement at this point.”

“In Argentina, they continue to lack adequate moisture for corn and soybean development in about two thirds of the belt. Moisture stress is definitely taking a toll on yield potential for the crops as we move through some of the more critical stages of development. In fact, with limited shower activity over the next week, we’ll see that kind of stress continue,” Streit explains. “There is a chance for some showers the following week in the western half of the belt, but probably by then it’ll be a little late to do much to help the corn. It could help some of the soybeans that are filling still. But we are getting a little bit late for any significant turnaround at this point and quite honestly, once that shower event occurs next week, there’s not a whole lot after that.”

The Argentine National Meteorological Service report indicated that chances of rain are highest in the first week of March.

The potential rain event is expected to be within the normal range for the region, .25 to 1 inch total precipitation, says Streit. Radiant Solutions published a report on Monday that said, “Light and scattered showers are possible across Argentina this week, but most of the major growing areas should receive less than 0.5 inches of rainfall, which will allow dryness to persist.”

Meteorologist Kyle Tapley at Radiant Solutions also noted that increasing temperatures, particularly in the southern part of Argentina, will contribute to crop stress in the coming days.

Experts say the La Niña is to blame for the country’s drought conditions. Since the La Niña pattern is not expected to continue into next year, it’s unlikely the drought will persist into next growing season. “Most of the models take us out of La Niña and into a more neutral if not slightly weak El Niño pattern as we go forward,” says Streit. “There is one model that wants to hold onto La Niña, but it’s sort of the outlier right now.”

Brazil

“In Brazil, the moisture situation has definitely been a more favorable one for crop development,” Streit says.

However, there are concerns about the Brazilian soybean harvest and second-crop corn planting due to too much precipitation. “Both of those are going to see some delays due to a fairly active shower pattern in the north half of the belts over the next two to three weeks,” Streit adds.

The Radiant Solutions report indicates the heaviest rainfall is expected in central Brazil this week.

Striet doesn’t expect outright damage or fallow acres due to the rains at this point, but harvest and planting will happen a little slower than normal. The additional soil moisture may prove to be beneficial later in the growing season.

Midwest

As spring gets closer in the U.S., farmers are beginning to think about planting. Farmers in parts of the country may not be able to get into the field as soon as they hoped.

In recent days, heavy rains have been reported across the southern Midwest and southeastern Plains. Extensive flooding in the southeast Midwest and the Delta is causing concern as river levels in Indiana reached record heights. Arkansas and Tennessee are at particular high risk for continued flooding as rains are expected to resume Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Striet says the flooding is severe enough to cause concern for the soft red wheat crop in the far southern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, along with Arkansas and Kentucky where standing water may cause damage.

“Down in what we call the northern Delta (the Arkansas, Mississippi area), they like to plant corn early and are probably not going to be able to do that this year unless something changes dramatically,” notes Striet.

This week’s southern rains will likely turn to snow as the system arrives in the central Midwest, Tapley writes.

“I think you might run into a snowstorm in the next week up in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Iowa area,” Striet says. “The model is kind of flipping back and forth on it, but I think there’s a pretty decent return for some snow up in that area.”

Looking to next month, Striet says March is likely to be the wettest month of spring 2018. Most of the Corn Belt is looking at near- to above-normal precipitation during the month of March. This far out it’s difficult to predict if there is going to be a late spring freeze.

U.S. Wheat

In western wheat country, Streit expects the crop will continue to struggle. The below-normal precipitation pattern is likely to persist through spring.

“For the big producing areas in portions of western Oklahoma, much of Kansas and down into the Texas panhandle, I’m still not seeing any signs of relief. With this kind of an outlook going forward, I would be surprised if we don’t see some notable yield reductions to the wheat crop out there,” he says. “It struggled through the winter. We had a winter kill event in January that is going to have taken a toll to a certain extent as well. It’s got a lot of things working against it.”

Russia

Looking at wheat on a global level, Streit says the winter wheat situation in Russia is quite good. “They have lots of snow out there to provide them with spring moisture, and I don’t have any big warning flags as far as their development goes. They’ll have a big winter wheat crop.”

While it is a ways out, the areas known for growing spring wheat in Russia may be places to watch, says Streit. Those parts of the country have had a very dry winter, and therefore less snowmelt to boost soil moisture in the beginning stages of the growing season.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.21.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share the agriculture related highlights from trade shows across the country. Believe it or not, the first corn of the 2018 planting season is in the ground.

1. Trade Show Season Is Here

Two massive farm shows attracted farmers to opposite ends of the country over the last week. See how interest in these events compared according to the Google Trends graph below. The visual shows how users have been searching for National Farm Machinery Show and World Ag Expo from February 8, 2017, to February 15, 2018. Web search traffic for both shows has been very cyclical. Google explains, “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”

2. A Memorable Trade Show

Trade shows are a great time to escape winter weather, learn about the latest technology, and catch up with friends in the agriculture business from around the country. For this couple, a trip to the National Farm Machinery Show marked a new chapter in their lives.

3. Other Trade Show Attractions

While parents and grandparents browse machinery and meet up with friends, kids find their own fun around trades shows. Collecting company swag, shoulder rides, and hosting puppet shows seem to be popular choices.

4. Get Your Steps In

Trade shows are also a great place to get a little exercise. Did anyone else keep track of their steps while browsing National Farm Machinery Show or World Ag Expo?

5. Excuse Notes

Any school excuse notes like this come from your farm?

6. FFA Week Celebrations

Hundreds of FFA students and alum are taking to social media to celebrate National FFA Week. Many chapters are hosting events or dress-up days at their local schools. FFA alums across the country are changing their profile pictures to throwbacks from their younger years in the blue corduroy jackets. Companies and individuals are financially supported the 90-year-old organization on Tuesday as part of #GivingTuesday.

7. Planting Underway

Planters are rolling in Texas. How soon before #plant18 begins in your area?

SF Editors Visit John Deere Archives

Byline:

A team of Successful Farming video producers and editors traveled to East Moline, Illinois, Monday for an exclusive tour of John Deere's archives.

The facilities house an extensive collection of machinery, historical artifacts, and paper records dating back more than a century. Tours were lead by Corporate Archives and History Manager Neil Dahlstrom and Historical Equipment Manager Brian Holst. Both men were interviewed for an upcoming 30-minute SF Special scheduled to premier on RFD-TV on March 29, 2018. They also shared more about their day to day roles and the assets they manage in Facebook Live interviews.

In addition to the tractors in the machinery collection, there are a number of seed drills, snowmobiles, and bicycles. Deere can't keep one of everything it has ever produced so company archivists must decide which milestone, prototype, and futuristic products should be preserved. From there, the team decides whether or not to restore the piece. Even if the decision is made to keep a machine in its current condition, Holst works to preserve and maintain it. Holst is a trained ag mechanic and became interested in old machinery started when he worked in a salvage yard that specialized in two-cylinder tractors. Now he maintains, coordinates logistics for, and answers questions about Deere's collection of mechanical artifacts.

Several machines from this collection are rotated through displays at the John Deere Pavillion, museums, historical sites, and Deere offices and factories. This summer, Holst will make sure 13 pieces from the East Moline collection will be on display at John Deere's celebration of 100 years in the tractor business in Waterloo, Iowa. The event takes place on June 15-16, 2018. Holst looks forward to seeing collectors, past employees, and the community connect with the exhibits.

As a trained archivist, Dahlstorm spends much of his time working with shelves and shelves of paper and film artifacts in the stacks. In this area of the archives, massives storages shelves on automated tracks house art, photos, and record books in a light and temperature controlled environment. Recently, by connecting details from a newspaper in the collection and a set of handcolored lantern slides they'd been storing for 15 years or more, Dahlstom and his team discovered the slides may have been used 100 years ago when the WaterlooBoy tractor was debued in Salina, Kansas. Dahlstrom enjoys helping people in and outside John Deere get to know the real people who've dedicated thier time to serving the company and its farmers customers over the years. To help share those stories, Deere archivists have published a selection historic films dating back as far as 1929 on YouTube in a series called Out of the Vault.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about John Deere and its contributions agriculture check out these recent articles from Executive Machinery and Tech Editor Dave Mowitz.

The Deere archivist team publishes some of their work in the John Deere Journal, and on YouTube.

Stay tuned to Agriculture.com for continued coverage as John Deere celebrates 100 years in the tractor business. The 30-minute SF Special featuring both Holst and Dahlstrom will premier March 29, 2018 on RFD-TV.

Trump Infrastructure Outline Tabs $50 Billion for Rural Projects

Byline:

As part of a mammoth package envisioned by the Trump administration, the nation’s governors would be given $50 billion in block grants to help finance rural projects such as expansion of broadband service, said two senior White House officials. They said the block grant funding would be available on a more rapid basis than the rest of the $200 billion in federal funding that would be provided for improvements nationwide for all types of public works.

Overall, the Trump administration projects the federal funds will stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. The federal share of 13% is expected to attract a flood of state, local, and private-sector money, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the White House’s “infrastructure principles.” Their description was more detailed than a fact sheet issued in conjunction with the State of the Union speech but left open many operational questions.

One of the White House officials said the rural funds “are advanced” and would be available sooner than the rest of the package, but he did not spell out a release schedule or say how they would be divided among states, all of which have some rural territory. The share of funds earmarked for rural America – one fourth of the federal share – was suggested by the White House last month.

The House and Senate Agriculture committees would share control with a handful of other congressional committees over the package, according to the senior officials. “They’ll have, hopefully, their own lanes,” said one of the officials, but jurisdiction may overlap in some areas.

During a briefing, the White House officials said the proposed $200 billion in direct federal spending was in line with the average federal share of public works spending, which they said was 14%. They also said the White House budget proposal for fiscal 2019 would offset the cost of the new package. Some transportation-related funding, such as transit, would be trimmed. Some state and local officials contend that the administration is providing little impetus for infrastructure improvements and, in some areas, would shoulder a smaller share of the burden. The White House officials said the infrastructure package “is a program that sits on top of other (federal) programs” that assist localities. Property taxes and user fees could be tapped to help pay the local share, they said.

Rural infrastructure is one of the four guide points of the package, said the officials. The others are stimulating $1.5 trillion in spending, job training, and speedy action on permits. The White House said it would use a “one agency, one decision” approach in which a lead agency would corral the necessary federal reviews with a goal of a decision within 21 months and final approval of permits within three months of that. A rural prosperity report commissioned by the White House gives priority to universal rural broadband as a lever for economic growth. An estimated four of 10 rural Americans lack high-speed internet access.

“We envision this will be a bipartisan push,” said one of the senior officials. The administration indicated last year that it intended to seek passage of an infrastructure package last year, but tax cuts and health care legislation prevented action.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.7.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share a new video series about turkey farming. Keep reading to see how interest in the Farm Bill compares with the Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon.

1. Adam Timmerman Visits Iowa State Ag Business Class

 

Former NFL offensive lineman, Adam Timmerman paid a visit to long-time Iowa State University Ag Business professor, Ron Deiter’s Economics of Sports class on Monday. Prior to his football career, Timmerman graduated with an agribusiness degree from South Dakota State University. He bought a John Deere no-till drill with his Green Bay signing bonus. Iowa State Department of Economics published a recap of the presentation here.

For more on Timmerman’s life back on the family farm, check out this story.

2. National Turkey Federation Releases New Video Series

 

Meeting consumer curiosity with commonsense and humor, the National Turkey Federation has prepared a new series of videos and other resources about turkey farming. Several short clips, including the one above, are available at AmericasTurkeyFarmers.org.

3. National Crop Insurance Services Launch Farm Bill Video Series

 

As lawmakers, commodity leaders, and insurers gathered for this week’s Crop Insurance Industry Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona, National Crop Insurance Services kicked off a new video series. The first Risk Management Minute video explains, “Farmers collectively pay between $3.5 billion and $4 billion a year in premiums, even in years without a disaster.” More videos will be made available throughout the month.

4. National Pork Board Ordered to Stop Trademark Payments to National Pork Producers Council

Politico recently reported the checkoff funded National Pork Board (NPB) must stop paying the lobbying organization, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) for trademarks after a recent federal court ruling. NPB was paying $3 million a year over 20 years for “Pork The Other White Meat” and other trademarks that the Humane Society of the United States and two others say were overvalued.

5. Farm Bill Interest Compared to Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon

 

While the Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon are making mainstream national headlines, users were also searching Google News for Farm Bill headlines. Check out the latest Farm Bill coverage from Agriculture.com here.

 

Arizona Senator Wins NAFTA Commitments, Releases Hold on USTR Nominee

Byline:

Senator Jeff Flake, from trade-sensitive Arizona, said he had secured commitments from the Trump administration to avoid “ill-advised seasonal or regional” triggers on food imports as part of the new NAFTA. In return, he has released his “hold” on the White House nominee for chief U.S. agricultural trade negotiator. “There seems to be a clear path for Gregg Doud to be confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts.

At the urging of Florida fruit and vegetable growers, the White House had proposed the inclusion in NAFTA of trade protections for seasonal growers against surges of competing crops from Mexico or Canada. Growers from the U.S. Southeast say current rules offer little protection because they are based on annual figures, which dilutes the impact of a flood of imports at the same time their crops hit the market. Western growers have worried that Mexico, a major source of produce during the winter, could use the same provisions to block U.S. goods.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lamented at the NAFTA talks in Montreal this week that none of his deputy negotiators had been confirmed by the Senate due to holds placed by Republicans and Democrats on the four nominees, including Doud. Holds are an informal but respected practice that allows senators to suspend action on nominations and legislation. In mid-January, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said he would block USTR nominees until Lighthizer listened to his concerns on trade and his state.

Separately, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is blocking a vote on Bill Northey of Iowa, President Trump’s nominee to run the USDA’s crop support and land stewardship programs, as leverage with Midwestern senators in an effort to change the ethanol mandate. The dispute started last October. There has been no recent movement by Cruz to drop the “unfair hold,” Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said early this week. If confirmed, Northey would be the most consequential of the USDA’s seven undersecretaries.

In an announcement, Flake said Lighthizer had agreed to meet with Arizona stakeholders who would be hurt by the administration’s proposal. In addition, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, who would have a leading role in Senate consideration of a NAFTA agreement, said he will keep Flake’s concerns in mind. “I am committed to working with you to find a solution to your concerns and to achieve a modernized NAFTA that will benefit all American producers, service providers, and consumers,” said Hatch in a letter.

“While certainly there are areas in the NAFTA agreement ripe for modernization, adding ill-advised seasonal or regional components to existing trade remedies would lead to needless trade restrictions, devastating economic consequences, and likely retaliation,” said Flake. “I will continue to work toward a solution with the administration and Chairman Hatch as well as utilizing additional procedural tools at my disposal.”

Arizona is a leading point of entry for U.S. produce imports, “and trade is a key contributor to the state’s economy,” said The Packer, a trade publication, last November, when Flake blocked action on Doud’s nomination. In an updated summary of U.S. objectives on NAFTA, released at roughly the same time, the administration said it would “seek a separate domestic industry provision for perishable and seasonal products in AD/CVD proceedings,” using the abbreviation for anti-dumping and countervailing duties. They are used to offset unfairly priced imports.

“I am pleased that assurances have been given and there seems to be a clear path for Gregg Doud to be confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator,” said Senator Roberts in a tweet. “As the poster child[ren] of what successful trade agreements can do for the American economy, our farmers and ranchers have gone too long without a voice at the trade table during these uncertain times.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association made clear its position on Doud’s approval by putting his photo on a mock missing-person flyer, which it then distributed at sites that included the most recent round of NAFTA negotiations. The group applauded Flake’s decision to remove his hold. “With talks continuing on NAFTA, the Korea-U.S. trade agreement, and access to many other markets still up in the air, it’s imperative that the U.S. Senate now move as quickly as possible to confirm Doud’s nomination,” said NCBA President Craig Uden.

To read Hatch’s letter to Flake, click here.

The USTR summary of U.S. goals at NAFTA is available here.

To view the NCBA’s missing-person poster for Gregg Doud, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.1.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share the agriculture related highlights from Tuesday's State of the Union address. Believe it or not, the upcoming Super Bowl has a few ties to agriculture as well.

1. Agriculture Secretary Appointed ‘Designated Survivor’

Politico and NPR reported Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue was the “Designated Survivor” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. That means rather than attending the speech with many other government officials, he was taken to a safe and undisclosed location in case a mass catastrophe struck the site of the President’s speech. The practice of selecting a designated survivor began when fears of a nuclear attack were high during the Cold War. Perdue’s reaction to the speech can be found here.

2. No Mention of Agriculture in Trump’s First STOU

Despite a large base of rural Americans, there was no talk of agriculture, farmers, or ranchers in President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, reported Politico. Much of Trump’s speech was dedicated to national security and his immigration agenda. Special guests including first responders, and military heroes were recognized throughout the night.

3. Highlights from Alltech’s 2018 Global Feed Survey

  • For the second year in a row, world feed production is estimated in excess of 1 billion metric tons.
  • 144 countries and 30,000 feed mills were surveyed as part of the seventh annual Global Feed Survey.
  • One-third of the global feed supply is produced in China and the United States.
  • North America leads the world in global beef production and produces one-third of beef feed worldwide.
  • The largest growth in broiler feed production occurred in Africa with a 10% increase.

4. Four Midwesterners Honored for Soil Health Practices

The Soil Health Partnership presented awards to four Midwest agriculturists at their 2018 Summit in Chicago. Read more about this year’s Super Sprout, Champion Communicator, Ace Agronomist, and Data Digger in this news release.

5. Farm Bowl Kicks Off Football Filled Weekend

As anticipation for Super Bowl LII builds across the country, enthusiasts tuned in for the Land O’ Lakes Farm Bowl Thursday afternoon. Football stars Luke Kuechy, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Jason Brown, Jerome Bettis, and Greg Jennings competed alongside their farmer teammate in a series of farm related tasks. Watch the video below for further explanation of the competition. The event was streamed live on Land O’ Lakes’ Facebook page.

6. Tom Brady’s Connection to the Farm

Eight-time Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady has ties to agriculture, reports New York Daily News. Brady’s mother grew up on a farm near Browerville, Minnesota. Until he was in high school, the NFL star would visit his grandparents on the farm. Check out the full article for details.

7. Iowa Farmer Nominations Sought for Conservation Award

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Farm Bureau are seeking nominations of deserving Iowa farmers for their 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award. Nominations are due to your Soil and Water Conservation office by June 1, 2018. The winner of the award receives a John Deere 6E Utility Tractor for one year. More information can be found at the Iowa Farm Bureau website.

8. Agriculture is Changing

With headlines of new technology and evolving businesses every day, it's no secret our world is changing. Agriculture is no different. A recent blog post by Bayer’s Global Head of Research and Development for Crop Science Adrian Percy outlined five ways times in agriculture are changing.

1. Continued digitalization

2. Changing demographics

3. Focus on soil health

4. Innovative plant breeding

5. Collaboration and transparency

9. More Mergers in 2018

Mergers across the agriculture made headlines in 2017. They’re continuing into 2018 the launch of Agtegra Cooperative. South Dakota Wheat Growers and North Central Farmers Elevator officially launched the new farmer-owned cooperative out of Aberdeen, South Dakota on February 1, 2018. Check out their new website for more details.

10. Celebrity Chef to Visit Iowa

Foodbank for the Heartland has invited Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone to Iowa on March 1 for the organization’s annual fundraising event. While enjoying Stone’s talents, guests will celebrate food and the meaning of it in everyday life. Learn more, or purchase tickets for the event at Foodbank for the Heartland’s website.

EPA Delays Obama’s WOTUS Rule Until 2020 While It Writes Its Own Version

Byline:

President Trump set out to erase the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule in his first weeks in office. Now the EPA has finalized an action that should keep the clean water rule from ever taking effect. Administrator Scott Pruitt has officially set the effective date of the so-called WOTUS rule for early 2020, long after the administration expects its replacement version to be in place.

Farm groups have been outspoken opponents of the WOTUS rule, which spells out the upstream reach of the clean water law, as regulatory overreach onto dry land and low spots in fields. The American Farm Bureau Federation ran a #DitchtheRule campaign on social media, which Trump indirectly mentioned at the group’s convention in early January. “We ditched the rule, I call it. We ditched the rule,” he said in touting his record on tax cuts and regulatory relief.

“Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Pruitt in a statement. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.” Pruitt told senators this week that he anticipated the Trump administration’s substitute rule will be unveiled by April or May and will take effect by year’s end.

“Pruitt’s delay of the clean water rule is another galling attack on the clean water our families and communities depend on,” said the League of Conservation Voters. “Pruitt’s actions demonstrate just how scared the Trump administration is that these commonsense safeguards would go into effect and actually disprove their bogus apocalyptic claims.”

An estimated 117 million people, one third of Americans, get all or some of their drinking water from the small and nonperennial streams and wetlands at issue in WOTUS.

Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall applauded the delay, saying “farmers value clear water … but they deserve clear rules, too.” Duvall said the Obama administration rule “would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales, and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field.”

The Obama-era rule, which was issued in the summer of 2015, was immediately challenged in court and has been blocked by an appellate court order from taking effect. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that district courts, rather an appeals courts, are the appropriate starting point for WOTUS lawsuits. The EPA said its two-year delay of the WOTUS rule “provides much-needed certainty and clarity to the regulated community during the ongoing regulatory process.”

At the moment, the EPA is reviewing comments on a proposal to rescind the 2015 rule, and it is developing its proposal for a new definition of upstream waters protected by the clean water law.

The EPA homepage for the WOTUS rule is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Land Expo Attendees Tweet Reactions

Byline:

Attendees reached for their phones to document and react to the keynote speakers at Friday’s Land Expo in West Des Moines, Iowa. The event attracted farmers, investors, bankers, and economists from around the country. Highlights from the 11th annual event were trending on Twitter for a majority of the day.

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds welcomed the crowd, highlighting Iowa as a great place to invest. She spent time talking about taxes, education opportunities, and the biotech research going on in the state.

Ron Insana kicked off the morning with his speech, “Is Fortress American Intact.” Insana is a CNBC and MSNBC economic contributor shared his formative experiences in tv and economics from the 1980s to begin his session.

Jack Bobo, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Intrexon asked the audience, “Can agriculture save the planet before it destroys it?” Intrexon is known for their work on the Actic Apple  and the Zika fighting mosquito. His work is on the cutting edge of biotechnology across the health, agriculture, food, and energy sectors.

Bill Northey is currently serving as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. In late 2017, Northey was nominated to a USDA position, but a hold has been placed on his appointment. While at Land Expo 2018, the Secretary updated the crowd on that process, and shared statistics highlighting Iowa’s global leadership in agriculture. After his talk, we talked with the secretary in more detail. Watch his conversation with Mike McGinnis here.

Former Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa native, Tom Vilsack addressed the crowd after lunch. He currently serves as the CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. He spent much of his time talking about trade.

Kevin O’Leary is an investor on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank. He talked to the farmers, real estate experts, and investors about what he learned about marketing a commodity from a cupcake company he invested in. Investment and pitching tips were also part of his presentation.

Brian Forde of MIT broke down the basics of bitcoin and blockchain for attendees. Prior to his session, by a show of hands the crowd indicated they had interest, but little knowledge about the technology. The informative session was followed by a great question and answer period.

Mark Dotzour closed the day with a speech entitled, “The Economic Outlook for Investors and Business Decision Makers.” He recapped the positive trends the economy has seen over the last 103 months. Dotzour also noted several situations around the world to keep an eye on as they have the potential to disrupt current positive trends.