READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 1st…

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY's BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer...

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Congress Yet to Deal with Ag Appropriations Bill

When Congress returns to Washington D.C., it will have over 100 appropriations bills to work through, including the Ag Appropriations Bill, which Politico says could face some stiff challenges. Both the House and Senate versions of ag appropriations would cut current spending levels by two percent. The toughest policy fights in the ag bill include e-cigarettes, poultry, and food stamps. The House bill was amended to exempt e-cigarettes and premium cigars from FDA regulation, which appropriations committee Democrats oppose. The Senate bill doesn’t contain that same amendment. A provision in both bills would block a USDA rule requiring stores that accept food stamps to put healthier choices on their shelves. Opponents of the rule say it’s too burdensome for businesses. The House bill would block the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration rules giving contract protections to poultry growers while they negotiate with processors. That language is not included with the Senate version of the bill.

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Freight Cars Can Wait on American Railroads

American agriculture uses freight train cars on the nation’s railroads to ship countless numbers of commodities to ports for overseas shipping. The Washington Post says freight railroads lost out to Amtrak in a recent dispute that went before the Surface Transportation Board this week. The dispute was over whether or not Amtrak’s passenger trains have an absolute right of way over cargo trains. The Transportation Board withdrew a proposal supported by the freight industry that would have altered the law giving passenger trains preference over cargo carriers. Amtrak feels current law says their trains have an absolute right to go first over cargo carriers. The freight industry said they interpret the law as more of a ‘preference,’ meaning the freight needs should be taken into account against the passenger industry, making decisions more balanced. In December, the Transportation Board issued a proposal to define the term ‘preference’ as not being absolute, which meant they seemed willing to give some preference to the freight industry. After the proposal was withdrawn, the freight industry said it will comply with current law while assessing its legal options.

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Survey Shows Cover Crops Boost Yields

A recent survey of over 2,000 farmers showed increasing support for cover crops and found higher yields for the fourth year in a row for corn and soybean fields after using cover crops. The American Seed Trade Association says multi-year data shows increasing yields as cover crops are planted year after year. Farmers surveyed said their use of cover crops has grown steadily, averaging just under 300 acres per farm in 2015, and projected use will grow to 339 acres per farm this year. Corn yields rose 3.4 bushels per acre after using cover crops, and soybean yields increased 1.5 bushels per acre. Data showed the corn yields jumped 8.3 bushels per acre after cover crops were used four consecutive seasons, and soybean yields pushed up 2.4 bushels per acre the same time period. The Seed Trade Association news release pointed out those numbers reflect good growing years. Cover crops really show their worth in challenging years. They help soils improve their capacity to hold more moisture and water infiltration improves. That can minimize cash crop loss due to stress. Cover crops also reduce soil erosion, improve soil health, and increase organic matter in the soil.

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U.S. Grains Council Elects New Chairman

Tenth-generation farmer Chip Councell of Maryland was elected as the new U.S. Grains Council Chairman at the Board of Delegates Meeting this week in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s worked with both the USGC and the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board to become a leading farm educator and conservationist. He said his passions in life are his family, farming, and the U.S. Grains Council. He said, “Our programs have an impact around the world, and despite challenges in the Ag sector, I am excited and optimistic about the future of our industry.”  Councell told delegates the core mission of developing export markets for feed grains will continue to be at the heart of their efforts.  They’ll also look to develop markets for U.S. ethanol, as well as continue to tell consumers about the efforts of the American grain industry to produce reliable and high-quality crops.

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Record Pork Production Lowers Hog Prices

Hog futures hovered near three-month lows at times late this (last) week as higher U.S. pork supplies coincided with weaker overseas export demand. Nasdaq dot com says strong export demand from China and other buyers has weakened considerably as the dollar strengthens against other overseas currencies. Domestic demand has also dropped during the summer as many consumers eat fewer meats during the hottest months. American producers were raising over 68 million hogs as of June 1, which is up two percent from last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says supplies are likely to pick up through the rest of the year. A commodities broker at Archer Financial Services in Chicago says, “Feed is cheap and plentiful, and people are realizing that’s going to contribute to increasing weights in their hogs.” 2016 production forecasts call for 25 billion pounds of pork, up two percent from 2015 which was also a record-breaking year.

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Midwest Cash Rents Expected to Drop Next Year

Iowa State University Extension says cash rental rates in the Midwest are five to ten percent lower than they were last year, and some experts say the drop could be bigger next year. ISU Extension farm managements specialist Kevin Leibold says low commodity prices will be the main topic in 2017 cash rent discussions, but they won’t be the only factor. Leibold said Agriculture Risk Coverage payments are expected to decrease next year and that will put additional financial pressure on rental discussions. He said, “Landlords are also asking about the possibility of other input costs coming down. They’re concerned about the talk of lower rents, but they want the inputs industry to participate in some of the lower costs.” While some ag inputs like fertilizer have come down in price, seed costs have not. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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