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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fish Farm Challenge

The National 4-H Foundation and Monsanto have put together an educational series for kids at summer camp. Learn how the Fish Farm Challenge is helping boys and girls understand world hunger, world population, science, and engineering.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EPA Administrator McCarthy Speech to Agriculture

SPEECH EXCERPTS from U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's July 10, 2014 speech on the Clean Water Act proposal that United States agricultural interest fear will broaden the 'navigable waters' definition leading to greater governmental regulation of farm ditches, etc.
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Today, I’m here to talk about our Clean Water Act proposal, which was called for by the Supreme Court and by numerous state organizations, as well as numerous agriculture stakeholder groups. The aim of this proposal is clear: to clear up legal confusion and protect waters that are vital to our health, using sound science so that EPA can get its job done. It is crucial that we keep farmers and the ag industry as a whole doing what they do best: producing the food, fuel, and fiber that provide for our American way of life. The kinds of water bodies we’ll protect provide drinking water to 1 in 3 Americans.
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We agree that people have a right to healthy land and clean water, so we have to make sure people understand that the practices we put in place are reasonable and consistently applied. That’s how we make sure everyone is playing by the same rules, and that everyone can fully work their farms and ranches with confidence and certainty. All of us rely on science and accurate facts. Farmers need to know what to plant and when to plant it, and EPA needs to know how to protect our precious water resources for everyone to enjoy. So it’s great to be here to talk facts and roll up our sleeves to work together to benefit producers and public health.
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Yesterday, we heard very clearly some of the concerns about our proposed rule. Let me clear up some of that: We heard fears that EPA is regulating groundwater. This is not true; groundwater regulations do and will fall under the purview of the states. EPA is not regulating all activities in floodplains, or every puddle, dry wash, and erosional feature. In fact, we’re doing just the opposite. If cattle cross a wet field – let them. That’s a normal farming practice, and all normal farming practices are still exempt. The bottom line is – if you didn’t need a permit before this proposed rule, you won’t need one when it’s finalized.
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So let’s talk about the interpretive rule and the 56 conservation practices that are good for production and good for water quality. That rule seems to have generated lots of confusion. So, why did we want to list out those 56 practices? Those 56 are an attempt to clear the path for slam dunk conservation practices. We did not narrow exemptions; those 56 are a subset to the existing exemptions for normal farming, ranching, and silviculture. No one should have to think twice about taking advantage of these conservation practices.

Some mistakenly think that this means additional federal standards with which to comply, but that’s wrong. Conservation practice standards are not federal regulatory standards. They just provide a roadmap for producers to make sure they’re squeezing all they can out of their practice.

New exemptions are “self-implementing,” which means no one needs to notify or get approval from EPA or the Corps. There’s no need to double check with anyone at any time. I’m sure farmers agree that the best discussion on jurisdictional determinations is one that never needs to happen. We added 56 exemptions because we want to boost conservation without boosting bureaucracy. Is the interpretive rule the best way to do that? Let’s figure that out together. I am about outcomes, not process. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What if this is an 173.6 bpa year?

This week University of Illinois ag economist Scott Irwin and Darrel Good have posted an article to the farmdocdaily website. It poises the question of just how big a really big United States corn yield could become. The answer, based on past history, is 173.6 bushels to the acre. 

That's the average bpa deviation of the previous 6 largest deviations from trend yield since 1960. Those are shown in the included graph. The largest percentage deviation in the trend came in 1972 at 15.2 percent. 

While the crop conditions reported by USDA each Monday support the potential for such a record setting national average yield for corn, the two caution this year does not following the normal pattern of the other six. The normal pattern is for near or just above normal rainfall and lower than average temperatures in the three I states; Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. However, the number one corn producing state of those three (and the nation), Iowa, had nearly twice the June rain. 

"There is no historical precedent in the last five decades for an extremely high corn yield relative to trend (1972, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 2004, and 2009) when Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa had such an extreme amount of precipitation during June" write the two ILLINOIS agricultural number crunchers. They add, "the same conclusion also holds when other major corn-producing states are included in the analysis". 

It doesn't mean such an exception won't occur, but rather that it has not happened before. History points to record yields with cooler, wetter weather runs through August. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Risky Business Study with Cargill's Greg Page

A group of business people and political leaders have released a project called Risky Business. University of Illinois Extension's Todd Gleason has more on the study and how it might be used in the Midwest to assess and mitigate the financial risk associated with climate change with Cargill's Chairman of the Board Greg Page.

Click on the arrow below to listen to the interview. You may visit www.riskybusiness.org for more complete details of the study.

Monday, June 30, 2014



Check out the corn and soybean field conditions in this little video from the Gleason Farms in Logan County, Illinois. The corn looks, well, GREAT - and the soybeans are flowering! 


June 30, 2014

USDA released the annual Acreage and quarterly Grain Stocks reports at 11am central time today.




ACREAGE

Corn Planted Acreage Down 4 Percent from 2013
Soybean Acreage Up 11 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up Less Than 1 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 9 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2014 is estimated at 91.6 million
acres, down 4 percent from last year. This represents the lowest planted
acreage in the United States since 2010; however, this is the fifth largest
corn acreage in the United States since 1944.

Soybean planted area for 2014 is estimated at a record high 84.8 million
acres, up 11 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 84.1 million acres,
is up 11 percent from 2013 and will be a record high by more than 7.4 million
acres, if realized. Record high planted acreage is estimated in Michigan,
Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Dakota, and Wisconsin.


GRAIN STOCKS

Corn Stocks Up 39 Percent from June 2013
Soybean Stocks Down 7 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 18 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2014 totaled 3.85 billion bushels, up
39 percent from June 1, 2013. Of the total stocks, 1.86 billion bushels are
stored on farms, up 48 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at
1.99 billion bushels, are up 32 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2014
indicated disappearance is 3.15 billion bushels, compared with 2.63 billion
bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2014 totaled 405 million bushels,
down 7 percent from June 1, 2013. On-farm stocks totaled 109 million bushels,
down 36 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 296 million bushels, are
up 12 percent from a year ago. Indicated disappearance for the
March - May 2014 quarter totaled 589 million bushels, up 4 percent from the
same period a year earlier.

Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2014 totaled
590 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are
estimated at 97.0 million bushels, down 19 percent from last year. Off-farm
stocks, at 493 million bushels, are down 18 percent from a year ago. The
March - May 2014 indicated disappearance is 467 million bushels, down
10 percent from the same period a year earlier.




Here are some other items of interest from the USDA Executive Summary.

The Change in Acreage by Crop (2013 to 2014)



2014 Principal Crops Planted
Acres (000) & Change from Prospective Plantings by state



U.S. Principal Crop Acres





Our website is also a great place to get updates. The address is www.willag.org. Todd's @commodityweek Twitter feed will be posted directly into the site and it will give a quick, if incomplete, review of the figures. The detailed numbers will be posted into the USDA Reports page on our online home.

Finally, thank you very much to all those helping to make our end of the fiscal year fund drive a great success. WILL is a public radio station and your financial support is vital. If you haven't yet, or simply would like to help support our agricultural programs on the station, including this newsletter, please do make a contribution. When you fill out the online forms be sure to write "in support of agriculture" in the comments section.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Chris Hurt says Same Pounds of Pork & Same Corn Fed

Friday USDA released the Quarterly Hogs & Pigs report. During an interview late Friday afternoon Purdue Extension Ag Economist Chris Hurt said the figures show, as it relates to the amount of corn consumed by the nation's hog herd, the lower number of animals coming to market now because of PEDv is offset by heavier weights. Essentially, Hurt says feeding fewer pigs to heavier weights consumes about the same amount of corn (he thinks) and produces about the same amount of pork.



You may read Chris Hurt's thoughts on the livestock market once a month in The Weekly Outlook posted to the FarmDocDaily website during the noon hour on Mondays.

Monday, June 23, 2014

USDA June 2014 Grain Stocks & Acreage Reports

Grain Stocks

USDA June Estimate Average Ranges June 2013 March 2014
Corn 3,723 3,046-4,050 2,766 7,006
Soybean 382 334-440 435 992
Wheat 597 561-633 718 1,056

Acreage

USDA June Estimate Average Range March 2014 2013
Corn 91.709 91.00-92.50 91.691 95.365
Soybean 82.213 81.30-84.00 81.493 76.533
All Wheat 55.777 54.80-56.50 55.815 56.156
    Spring 11.937 11.30-12.20 12.009 11.596
    Durum  1.795   1.69- 1.90   1.799   1.470

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wheat Head Scab in SRW Crop


The nation's wheat crop is suffering from too much rainfall. It is causing harvest delays in the hard red winter wheat growing regions of the southwestern United States, and the development of disease issues in the southern Illinois soft red winter wheat crop.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Art on the Roadside

Photographers call the time before sunset the golden hour. The light bends and shimmers across the landscape from a very low angle. It is a beautiful time of day to take pictures. 




You might say the sun paints the planet with golden light.



These photos were taken during my evening walk Sunday June 15, 2014 near my childhood home outside Elkhart, Illinois. They were shot facing the southeast with the sun directly at my back.


Nature does the best job of painting the landscape, however an app called Waterlogue helped me create an interesting artistic view of the art on the roadside.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ILLINOIS' Darrel Good on June WASDE

USDA WASDE Report

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hog Prices Take Big Drop: What Next?

Traders in Chicago have a better handle on a disease in the nation’s hog herd. Lean hog futures have responded by moving lower. Purdue Ag Economist Chris Hurt has more on why the price of pork is on the decline.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Visit a Grain Elevator on a Sunday Afternoon

Some Sunday this summer you should make the drive to Atlanta, Illinois and tour the old grain elevator. It stopped taking in corn long ago and sat unused for years. Then the townsfolk decided, in the mid 1990’s, to refurbish the J. H. Hawes Grain elevator. Today it is a museum on the registry of historical places in the United States. You can learn more on the museum website.
 

The J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator and Musuem is open to visitors from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday afternoon in June, July, and August. Here are few facts and figures about the machinery in the elevator.

  • the old gas engine that operates the elevator runs at 400 r-p-m and puts out 10 horsepower
  • the pulley system inside the building is driven by a single rope 280 feet long
  • the total capacity of the elevator is twenty-nine thousand bushels