NCGA Urges White House: Don't Withdraw from NAFTA

The National Corn Growers Association today denounced reports that the White House has drafted plans to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The following is a statement from NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.

“Mr. President, America’s corn farmers helped elect you. We are strong supporters of your administration and continue to stand ready to work with you to build a better farm economy. That begins with strong trade policy.

“Withdrawing from NAFTA would be disastrous for American agriculture. We cannot disrupt trade with two of our top trade partners and allies. This decision will cost America’s farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover.

“NAFTA has been a huge win for American agriculture. Corn and corn product exports today account for 31 percent of farmer income. Mexico is the top export market for corn. Canada is also a top market for corn and ethanol. With a farm economy that is already weak, losing access to these markets will be a huge blow that will be felt throughout the ag value chain.

“Mr. President, agriculture and rural America are counting on you. We urge you not to withdraw from NAFTA.”

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Executive order designed to boost rural America

New legislation will create the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

A new executive order signed by U.S. President Trump on April 25 is designed to bring rural America to the forefront.

The order, titled Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America, says promoting American agriculture, protecting rural communities and reducing regulatory hurdles on farmers is a “national interest.”

The new legislation will also create the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

The Task Force will be chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and will include various members of the Administration, such as the Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Commerce.

“Our farmers deserve a government that serves their interest and empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much,” President Trump said in a statement.

“And that’s what today’s executive order is all about. With this order, I’m directing (Agriculture Secretary Sonny) Perdue to work with other members of my Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural communities.”

The Task Force’s duties include promoting the preservation of family farms; encouraging the production, export and use of domestic agricultural products; and expanding educational opportunities for students in rural communities.

The order sends a message to America’s farmers that their concerns are being heard and taken seriously, Secretary Perdue said.

“The people who are on the front lines of American agriculture don’t have the luxury of waiting to tend to their crops and livestock, so there was no better time to convene this meeting of the minds than on my first day,” Perdue said in a release. 

“President Trump has made it clear that addressing the needs of rural America will be a top priority, and the message that we want to send to the agriculture community is that we are here, we are working hard and we are on (farmers’) side.”

The Task Force will report back to the President in about six months to recommend any necessary changes.

Farmers Roundtable
President Trump signed his new executive order during a Farmers Roundtable discussion at the White House.

The roundtable consisted of 14 members of America’s agricultural community, including Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Hank Choate from Cement City, Missouri and Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The group discussed trade, rural investment, labor issues and the Farm Bill.

Participants are confident the meeting informed the President and his staff of the issues facing American producers.

“Not only was President Trump receptive to our concerns, but he pledged action,” Duvall said in a release. “He even looked toward Secretary Perdue and said, ‘Let’s get these problems fixed.’

“Today, agriculture had not just one but many seats at the table to share with the president how access to international markets, farm labor shortages and burdensome regulations impact not only the day-to-day business of our farmers and ranchers, but also the millions of jobs agriculture supports.”

“The Farmers Roundtable provided the chance for the President to hear directly from the people on the front lines of American agriculture about what they are dealing with every day,” Secretary Perdue said in a statement. 

“By hosting this discussion, the president has demonstrated his awareness of the plight of American farmers, ranchers, foresters,and producers, his intention to seek input, and his determination to help.”

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Almost 5 percent of the U.S. corn crop has emerged according to a new report

Highlights include the fact that 68 percent of Texas corn is planted

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

Almost 17 percent of U.S. corn crop is planted, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin report for the week of April 17-23.

The number is down only 1 percent from the five-year average.

Texas has the most corn planted, according to the data in the report, with 68 per cent of the crop in the field. North Carolina has planted 63 per cent of its corn and Missouri producers have seeded 46 per cent of the state’s corn crop.

A total of 4 per cent of the national corn crop has emerged, according to the report. And 68 per cent of Texas’s corn has emerged.

Soybeans
As of April 23, farmers have planted 6 per cent of the U.S. soybean crop, which is up 3 per cent from the five-year average.

Mississippi and Louisiana have the largest recorded plantings at 60 and 59 per cent, respectively.

Winter Wheat
32 percent of the winter wheat crop planted by American producers has headed according to the USDA. This figure which represents a 9 per cent increase over the five-year average.

Arizona and California lead the way with 96 and 90 per cent, respectively, of their winter wheat crops headed.

45 per cent of the winter wheat is in good condition, says the USDA report. Another 9 per cent is deemed excellent.

Spring Wheat
Producers have planted 22 percent of the spring wheat crop, which is down from a five-year average of 34 per cent. On a state level, South Dakota farmers have planted 75 per cent of their crop.

Only 5 per cent of the crop emerged as of April 23, down from a five-year average of 8 per cent. In comparison, 32 percent of South Dakota’s spring wheat crop has emerged.

Fieldwork Days
The top three states, in terms of weekly days suitable for fieldwork as of April 23, were:

1)    Alabama – 7

2)    New Mexico – 6.7

3)    California – 6.6

The three states with the fewest number of suitable fieldwork days were:

1)    Maine – 1.4

2)    Minnesota – 2.2

3)    Michigan – 2.5

Weekly Precipitation Levels as of April 22

State

Precipitation (in inches)

Weather Station

Illinois

0.83

Springfield

Indiana

2.94

Evansville

Iowa

1.00

Burlington

Kentucky

2.99

Paducah

Michigan

1.37

Alpena

Missouri

4.17

Springfield

New York

2.37

Binghamton

Ohio

2.40

Cleveland

Pennsylvania

2.08

Williamsport

Tennessee

5.43

Nashville

The next Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin is scheduled for release on Tuesday, May 4.

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BASF to acquire ZedX Inc.

BASF Company News Release

Limburgerhof, Germany and Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, USA – April 25, 2017 – BASF has signed an agreement to acquire US-based company ZedX, a leader in the development of digital agricultural intelligence. The acquisition is expected to be completed within four weeks.

ZedX’s expertise lies in the development of agronomic weather, crop, and pest models that can rapidly translate data into insights for more efficient agricultural production. With the planned acquisition, BASF strengthens its digital farming footprint and further invests in helping growers take advantage of the increasing amount of big data generated in farming and beyond.

“BASF is playing an active role in the digital transformation of agriculture. We are constantly evaluating how digital solutions can help our customers,” said Jürgen Huff, Senior Vice President, Global Strategic Marketing of BASF’s Crop Protection division. “ZedX’s experts impressed us with their extensive and deep know-how in agronomic models. We are very pleased to incorporate their knowledge into our offers to serve farmers’ needs through innovative products and services.”

In a time when digital transformation is changing business approaches BASF aims to ensure that agronomic insights and recommendations from digital solutions help its customers to make better, more informed decisions.

As Keith Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer of ZedX, explained, “We see ourselves as the ones connecting the dots. We develop innovative products and solutions for our customers by finding the shortest path between data, analytics, knowledge management, and decision-making.” Headquartered in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, ZedX was founded in 1987 and has built a data platform offering agronomic models, visualization tools, and tailored analytical solutions.

BASF’s planned acquisition of ZedX builds upon a strong established relationship between the companies. Joe Russo, ZedX’s Founder and President, pointed out that during a three-year collaboration the partnership has already shown great results. “Our modeling expertise coupled with BASF’s knowledge of chemistry has truly benefited growers and agriculture. For example, we developed a model that, based on important weather and environmental conditions, identifies the right window of application for a BASF herbicide.”

Weather conditions, soil temperature, wind speed – all of these factors can influence the performance of crop protection products. By acquiring ZedX, BASF will be able to help farmers use their resources more efficiently and sustainably. Also, it will further complement BASF’s online platform offer  MaglisTM launched in 2016.

“The smart use of digital solutions can open up all sectors of the economy to many new opportunities, and farming is no exception. ZedX is a great fit to our growth plan. We will strengthen our sales by offering targeted advice, insights and recommendations and by interacting more closely with our customers,” concluded Huff.

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Reduction in Canadian Grain Commission user fees supported by Minister MacAulay

Fee reduction is estimated to save producers $10 million in 2017/18

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

Federal Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay supports the Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) proposal to reduce user fees.

On March 1, the CGC launched consultations about reduced user fees. Proposed changes to the Canada Grain Act were published in the April 22 edition of the Canada Gazette.

The proposed changes include reduced fees for official inspection and official weighing services during the 2017/18 fiscal year. The time and one-half overtime fee and the double time overtime fee would also be eliminated.

In total, fees would be reduced by about 24 per cent, resulting in savings of about $10 million for 2017/18.

Western Canada’s producers are the main reason for these reductions, MacAulay said.

“One of the results of the tremendous production we’ve seen in Western Canada over the past few years has been higher revenues at the Canadian Grain Commission,” he said in a statement. “As a result, I committed to our stakeholders to look at ways to lower its user fees. Today’s announcement is an important step to putting more money in the pockets of our farmers…”

Canadian grain organizations applaud the CGC’s efforts to save farmers money.

“We applaud this regulation and look forward to working with government on the consultations around the new fee schedule and use of the current surplus,” Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada, said in a release. “As an industry, it is important to know that government is listening to the needs of farmers and decisions such as this demonstrate that our voices are being heard in Ottawa.”

Until May 1, producers, farm groups and grain companies are invited to provide input on how to use the surplus funds, which CGC estimates is about $107 million.

Input can be sent to:

Accumulated Surplus Comments
Canadian Grain Commission
600-303 Main Street Winnipeg MB R3C 3G8
Telephone: 204-984-0506
Fax: 204-983-2751
Email: discussions@grainscanada.gc.ca

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USDA Crop Progress Report: Farmers Catching Up.

USDA News

The USDA released the weekly Crop Progress Report.

Improved weather and soil conditions for U.S. corn planting allowed farmers to make up a lot of ground over the past week.

The USDA says there were limited planting opportunities in parts of the Midwest, but when producers were able to get in the fields, they apparently made it count.

As of Sunday, 17% of U.S. corn is planted, compared to 6% a week ago and the five year average of 18%. 4% of corn has emerged, matching the usual pace.

Soybean planting is 6% complete, compared to 3% both a year ago and normally this time of year.

54% of U.S. winter wheat is rated good to excellent, unchanged on the week, and 32% has headed, compared to 23% on average. 22% of spring wheat is planted, compared to 34% typically, and 5% has emerged.

70% of the U.S. has adequate soil moisture levels.

For the full report and state by state information visit the following link.

http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProg/CropProg-04-24-2017.pdf

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Better bovine TB testing could be on the way

New Mexico researchers say they’ve made progress that could lead to a blood test

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico say they’ve made a breakthrough that could lead to a more efficient way of testing for bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Researchers altered a test originally developed for human TB to bovine TB.

In both human and bovine TB cases, the disease is recognized by specific biomarkers. The research team adapted the human test to target the biomarker related to bovine TB.

“We have validated the (test) in cows that were positive controls of a vaccination study done at the US Department of Agriculture, tested at different time points during the course of infection,” Harshini Mukundan, leader of the Chemistry for Biomedical Applications team, said in an April 12 release.

With this new test, researchers can directly measure pathogen biomarkers in bovine blood. That information allows medical specialists to determine if it’s a case of simple exposure or actual infection.

“It will be wonderful if the (procedure) can be adapted to a rapid cow-side test that can be used by ranchers and farmers to effectively diagnose bovine TB,” Mukundan said in the release. “I am especially interested in providing something concrete to farmers and veterinarians in our state, the New Mexico Livestock Board and the USDA, all of whom require such a test.”

In Canada, beef producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan continue to recover from a bovine TB outbreak.

10,500 cattle were destroyed, 9,500 have been released from quarantine and 8,500 remain in quarantine, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Better testing is good news for ranchers as long as it meets a global standard, one producer said.

“It just seems like there hasn’t been any developments for decades,” Brad Osadczuk, a farmer near located Jenner, Alta., who lost his herd of 1,200, told the Canadian Press. “I’m not a scientist but there must be something better than what we are doing now.”

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Vomitoxin discovered in some U.S. corn

Impacted states include Indiana and Iowa

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

Some farmers in the American Midwest are discovering vomitoxin in their 2016 corn crop.

The impacted states include Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and Michigan, according to information gathered by Neogen Corporation, a Michigan-based food testing organization, and reported by Reuters.

In Indiana, multiple counties (including Montgomery, Madison, LaPorte and Elkhart) had a minimum of one load of corn test positive for vomitoxin, according to an Office of Indiana State Chemist county survey. In total, 40 of 92 counties had at least one load with a positive vomitoxin test.

Allowable vomitoxin levels vary depending on the livestock consuming the feed.

Levels under five parts per million (ppm) are recommended for swine, 10 ppm for chickens and dairy cattle, and 30 ppm for beef cattle, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Many of the samples in Indiana’s counties tested between 0.5 – 3.0 ppm. Some tested at 3.01 – 5.0 ppm, and three counties (Wells, St. Joseph and LaPorte) had confirmed levels between 5.01 and 10.0 ppm, according to the survey.

And some corn in Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana tested high enough to be considered too toxic for humans (1 ppm), pets and various livestock, Reuters reported.

Farmers say, if the current vomitoxin levels are managed, there shouldn’t be much to worry about.

“As long as this doesn’t become a widespread problem, we’re all fine,” Doug Roth, a grain farmer from Missouri who’s had some of his corn loads rejected, told Reuters.

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U of M To Recieve Funding To Reduce Greenhouse Gases on Cattle Farms

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has announced 20 new research projects across Canada that will support the use of clean and sustainable technologies.

$1.9 million will be spent on a project with the University of Manitoba to study strategies for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) on Canadian cattle farms.

“Canadian farmers are great stewards of the land and the environment,” said MacAulay. “These new investments are part of the government’s commitment to address climate change and ensuring our farming sector are world leaders in the use and development of clean and sustainable technology and processes.”

The new research projects are supported by the $27 million, five-year Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program intended to help create technologies, practices and processes to help the agricultural sector adjust to climate change and improve soil and water conservation by developing new farming practices and methods.

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Government of Canada Supports Advancements in Farming Technology

The Government of Canada is committed to building Canada as a global centre of innovation — one that focuses on strengthening the middle class by creating jobs, driving growth across all industries, and improving the lives of all Canadians. To this end, it is providing $3,457,953 to Morris Industries Ltd. (Morris) to commercialize an advanced manufacturing process and create new farm equipment products.

Funding support, provided through Western Economic Diversification Canada’s (WD) Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative, will be a co-investment with Morris to accelerate a capital plan to implement new manufacturing technology that will incorporate advanced features in their products and position the company to remain globally competitive.

Morris will implement new manufacturing technology that enables the use of new materials and methods to offer enhancements to Morris products, a new generation of equipment that benefit farmers with longer product life cycles through increased durability and performance. This technology enables Morris to offer advanced technology to farmers around the world and expand the company’s global competitiveness.

Since 1929, Morris has developed and manufactured high-quality equipment and is recognized for farmer-inspired innovative technology and responsive customer support.  Their products are sold extensively through Canada, the USA, and Europe, as well as Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

WINN aims to bridge the gap identified in pre-commercialization funding for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), assisting them in the process of bringing their ideas to market-ready products, processes, and services.

Announced in October 2013, WINN will invest $100 million over 5 years in the form of repayable contributions to for-profit SMEs based in Western Canada. With federal support, all projects aim to be on the market within 3 years.

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