Category Archives: Agricultural Exports News

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Bold New Mural Tells Colorado Agriculture Story

Byline:

As drivers zoom through Colorado on 1-70, a colorful new mural on a large grain bin outside Limon tells potential visitors the story of agriculturalists who live just off the interstate.

Staci Beauford grew up on a farm in Colorado not far from the site of the painting she recently completed near Limon. Although she now calls Arkansas home, with the help of her sister, a cousin, and a friend, Beauford brought a massive scene depicting a man and a little girl filled with a rural Colorado landscape to life.

Beauford’s artistic talents were first noticed after she painted on her parent’s propane tank several years ago. The propane company appreciated her abilities so much they asked her to paint on their large storage tanks. A few years later, the city of Limon was looking for new ways to tell its story and attract visitors.

“Limon is about 100 miles out from Denver and the interstate goes right by, but most people go right on by to get to Rocky Mountains,” Beauford explains. “They wanted to get some art in the area and they approached me about it.”

The Limon painting, called Heart of Harvest, is about six times larger than anything Beauford has painted before. The team was surprised, but with help from local businesses the larger than life artwork took just one week to complete.

Painting Process

Before the ladies broke out paint or paintbrushes, they carefully prepared the surface of the grain bin. They power washed, cleaned, and scraped the galvanized metal.

Next, an outdoor movie company from Denver helped the women project the 60-foot-tall silhouette on the side of the grain bin. “We laugh a little bit, but we just took Sharpies and outlined that image that night,” Beauford says. “We had some glow sticks, so we could give hand signals, and they could move the bucket truck after it was dark. It sounds crazy, but we had fun with it.”

Without missing a beat, the next morning, the team started applying primer. A local hardware store helped them find the right primer for the galvanized metal of the grain bin. The grain bin owner lent the ladies a bucket truck for the week.

When local people started seeing the white silhouette of primer, they got excited. It started getting attention on social media, too. Some people thought the project was done, but the magic of Beauford’s talents were just starting.

From the arm of the bucket truck, Beauford and her team started adding details of a night sky, mountainous sunset scene, and combine harvesting wheat from top to bottom of the silhouette.

While the city of Limon was primarily interested in motivating people to pull off the interstate for a visit, Beauford says she and her sister were also inspired by their roots when they sat down to design the mural.

“We wanted to say, ‘hey, you know there’s people out here and we have a story.’ That was a big part of the goal. But then my sister and I, as we were going through the design process, we really felt a strong desire to represent a wheat farmer. It is such a big part of our life,” Beauford explains.

She continues, “We do have the Rocky Mountains and we are about 100 miles out from Pike’s Peak, and my entire childhood, where ever we were farming, it’s very flat and you could always see Pike’s Peak off in the distance on the horizon. And usually, as you’re coming in on the interstate, Limon is one of the first places you get a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, so it was definitely very important for us to get the Rocky Mountains in there.”

Behind the carefully painted mountains, a colorful sunset unfolds. “Out here in the eastern Plains we have beautiful, beautiful night skies. It is very, very clear, so we put some constellations up in the little girl’s hair where it turns to night sky. It was very fun for us to put in those little details. They probably mean more to us locals than anyone else.”

Learn More

After people started reacting to her work, Beauford started a Facebook page, Some Girls and a Mural. Although they are uncertain what the future holds, the ladies aren’t ruling out the possibility of more painting projects.

Beauford adds, “Our family keeps saying, you never know, this might be bigger than what you expected.”

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.

3 Big Things, March 20, 2018

Byline:

DES MOINES, Iowa -- After building up large bullish positions, the funds are liquidating long-the-market contracts, and the corn and soybean markets are paying the price.

Also, investors are waiting with baited breath, regarding a possible announcement this week by the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates. And, the trade tariffs announced recently by the White House are affecting U.S. ag products already, USDA says.

After falling 26¢, yesterday, the soybean market is slightly higher Tuesday.

In overnight trading, the May corn futures are ¼¢ higer at $3.75; July futures are ¼¢ higher at $3.83. May soybean futures are 2¾¢ higher at $10.25; July soybean futures are 2½¢ higher at $10.36. May wheat futures are 4¢ higher at $4.54. In the outside markets, the NYMEX crude oil market is 45¢ higher, the U.S. dollar is higher, and the Dow Jones Industrials are seen mixed.

On Tuesday, the macroeconomic factors will be hard to find, with no notable events scheduled. Very little economic data is expected to be announced. Today, the Federal Reserve starts its two-day policy meeting. On Wednesday, the Fed will release latest monetary policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT.

On the earnings side, today’s schedule is also light.

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Funds Sell, Prices Fall

This week’s grain market has featured funds liquidating their long positions in corn and soybeans. Friday’s Commitments of Traders Report noted that funds are now long the corn market with 233,000 contracts. The funds are holding 208,000 long contracts in soybeans. For wheat, the funds are short that market by 6,000 contracts.

Al Kluis of Kluis Commodities says the aggressive stance by the funds going into this week’s market was scary for the soybean market. “When the funds are done selling, corn and soybean price charts are likely to put in a V-type bottom,” Kluis stated to customers in a daily note Tuesday.

In the meantime, Kluis is watching the bull spreads between corn and soybean markets. The spreads were firm, as prices rallied then turned weaker when prices hit their high three weeks ago, Kluis stated.

With the USDA March Prospective Plantings Report released in less than 10 days, funds are expected to be positioning themselves ahead of time.

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Trade War?

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told members of the National Feed & Grain Association that President Trump’s tariffs on China and other countries have already caused trade disruptions, according to a Reuters report.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Perdue “believed agricultural and farm products were the ‘tip of the retaliatory spear’ and would be likely targets for angry trading partners.”

Perdue did not name any specific trade disruptions.

Happy 45th National Ag Day

Byline:

Today, as farmers eagerly welcome the first day of spring, many are also celebrating National Ag Day and the role of youth in the future of agriculture.

The Future of Agriculture

Among the youth playing a vital role in the future success in agriculture are two high school students who won the 2018 National Ag Day essay and video contests.

Rio Bonham of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, believes National Ag Day is important to help bridge the gap between those involved in production agriculture and those involved in the consumption of agricultural products.

“These efforts by the Agriculture Council of America have a substantial impact on making agriculture an understood and appreciated topic for consumers, as well as a career path for the next generation,” says Bonham. “I am extremely proud to be part of such a cause.”

As the winner of a $1,000 prize for his essay, How Will Agriculture Feed the World?: It Starts Today, Bonham will travel to Washington, D.C., be recognized at the National Press Club where he’ll read his essay, and meet farmers and industry representatives.

Zoe McCormick considers the day to have a huge influence in educating the public on the importance of agriculture while putting the spotlight on the significance of farmers across the nation. As the winner of the video contest, McCormick also receives a $1,000 prize that she plans to use toward college and to buy 4-H show pigs this year.

Both winning essays can be viewed on the National Ag Day website. 

What You Can Do Today

The National Ag Day program believes that every American should understand how food, fiber, and renewable resource products are produced, value the essential role of agriculture for a strong economy, and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products.

The National Press Club Event, a Taste of Ag Reception, as well as the Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Policy Summit are among the events taking place in Washington this week with additional events held around the country.

You can take part in the national celebration simply by making a farm-to-table meal with your family, planning an activity to educate youth on agriculture, sharing photos related to agriculture on social media using the hashtag #foodforlife, or visiting local farms. The opportunities are endless.

The 2018 theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life” to tell the story of American agriculture and to remind citizens of the prominence of it in their daily lives.

Each year, National Ag Day is held during National Ag Week, which is organized by the Agriculture Council of America to celebrate all those who feed our world, care for crops and livestock, and bring awareness to agricultural production.

3 Big Things, March 19, 2018

Byline:

DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the end of March approaches, farmers lean heavily on every updated planting weather forecast while watching for price rallies.

Rain is falling in the parts of the world that need it, but the moisture is few and far between.

In overnight trading, the May corn futures are 4¼¢ lower at $3.78; July futures are 4¾¢ lower at $3.86. May soybean futures are 13¼¢ lower at $10.36; July soybean futures are 13¼¢ lower at $10.47. May wheat futures are 8¼¢ lower at $4.59. In the outside markets, the NYMEX crude oil market is 23¢ lower, the U.S. dollar is higher, and the Dow Jones Industrials are seen mixed.

On Monday, the macroeconomic factors will be hard to find, with no notable events scheduled. However, the Federal Reserve will hold its two-day monetary policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Following that meeting, it’s expected that the Fed will announce an interest rate hike, revise its economic outlook, and release a fresh forecast for interest rates.

Also Wednesday, new Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold his first press postmeeting conference.

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Funds Go Long Corn, Soybeans

This week’s grain market could be a reflection of weather and or the funds’ position highlighted in Friday’s Commitments of Traders Report. The funds bought a lot more contracts in the corn and soybean markets and approach a record bullish betting position in soybeans.

The COT Report noted that funds are now long the corn market with 233,000 contracts. The funds are holding 208,000 long contracts in soybeans. For wheat, the funds are short that market by 6,000 contracts.

The question for this week is whether the outside investors continue to get long the corn market. Keep in mind, the USDA March Prospective Plantings Report will be released in less than 10 days. Funds are expected to be positioning themselves ahead of that report.
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More Rain Needed For Everyone

The grain markets continue to eye crop weather in the U.S. Wheat Belt and in South America.

Over the weekend, some rain fell in the hard-hit soybean areas of Argentina. Although not enough moisture was felt to turn that country’s soybean crop around, the psychology of the market sees the light rain as bearish.

The weather models are showing measured rainfall for Argentina in the next 10 days to two weeks, according to WxRisk.com.

In the U.S., the weekend weather was mild. Some rain fell in the Kansas wheat region, proving negative to Sunday night’s markets. The western Wheat Belt has received more rain for its crop than the eastern side. The wheat in the center of the Wheat Belt is mixed on received rainfall. The story for the U.S. winter wheat crop cannot be written just yet.

Going forward, rain is expected Tuesday and Wednesday in the Delta and up the east U.S. coast. Also, a system will bring rain and snow across the northern Corn Belt, this week, with significant accumulations of snow and measured rainfall as the system works into the eastern Corn Belt.