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DTN Early Word Grains 04/20 05:55

DTN Early Word Grains 04/20 05:55 Spring May Have Finally Arrived July corn was 2 cents lower, July soybeans were 7 cents lower, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 10 cents lower. By Darin Newsom DTN Senior Analyst 6:00 a.m. CME Globex: July corn was 2 cents lower, July soybeans were 7 cents lower, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 10 cents lower. CME Globex Recap: With planting pictures popping up on the social media site Twitter, and rain expected to start falling in the U.S. Southern Plains, it seems spring may finally have arrived. The grain and oilseed complex responded overnight by selling off as some of the adverse weather support eased. Other commodity sectors were also lower with softs and metals both in the red while energies continue to rally. The U.S. dollar index was stronger overnight while DJIA futures were weaker. OUTSIDE MARKETS: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 83.18 points (0.3%) lower at 24,664.89, the NASDAQ Composite lost 57.18 points (0.8%) to 7,238.06, and the S&P 500 fell 15.51 points (0.6%) to 2,693.13 Thursday. DJIA futures were 34 points lower early Friday morning. Asian markets closed lower with Japan's Nikkei 225 down 28.94 points (0.1%), Hong Kong's Hang Seng losing 290.11 points (0.9%), and China's Shanghai Composite falling 45.83 points (1.5%). European markets were trading mostly higher with London's FTSE 100 up 31.04 points (0.4%), Germany's DAX gaining 8.16 points, and France's CAC 40 up 18.48 points (0.3%). The euro was 0.0048 lower at 1.2296 while the U.S. dollar index gained 0.27 to 90.17. June 30-year T-Bonds were 2/32 lower at 143'23 while June gold lost $6.10 to $1,342.60. Crude oil was $0.19 higher at $68.48 as Brent crude gained $0.19 to $73.97. China's Dalian soybean futures were lower and Malaysian palm oil futures were higher overnight.

DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 04/20 05:59

DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 04/20 05:59 Lean Hog Contract Likely to Open Higher Look for hog futures to open significantly higher, supported by impressive cash strength and technical buying. The cattle complex seem set to open on a mixed basis, linked to both follow-through selling and short-covering. By John Harrington DTN Analyst Cattle: Steady/Firm w/Thurs Futures: Mixed Live Equiv: $139.67 -.13* Hogs: $1-2 HR Futures: 50-100 HR Lean Equiv: $ 73.30 - .04** * based on formula estimating live cattle equivalent of gross packer revenue ** based on formula estimating lean hog equivalent of gross packer revenue GENERAL COMMENTS: Significantly higher packer bids in Kansas and Texas early Thursday sparked decent volume and regional trade volume is probably done for the week. Yet Northern business still needs to find wheels. Look for opening bids around $190 in the face of asking prices around $192 to $194. The April 1 Cattle on Feed report will be released Friday afternoon at 2 a.m. CDT. Average guesses look like this: on feed, up 7% to 8%; placed in March, off 10%; marketed in March, off 4%. Live and feeder futures should open on a mixed basis thanks to a combination of follow-through selling and pre-cash/Cattle on Feed report short-covering.

DTN Midday Grain Comments 04/20 11:53

DTN Midday Grain Comments 04/20 11:53 Wheat Leads Grains Lower at Midday Trade is lower across the board at midday with wheat the downside leader. By David Fiala DTN Contributing Analyst General Comments The U.S. stock market indices are weaker with the Dow futures down 165 points. The interest rate products are higher. The dollar index is 38 points higher. Energies are lower with crude up 0.25. Livestock trade is lower. Precious metals are mixed with gold down 8.50. CORN Corn trade is 4 to 6 cents lower at midday with trade slipping below the $3.80 area ahead of May option expiration Friday. Fieldwork should expand in some areas this week with drier pockets to the east with warmer temps expected to wait until next week. Delays are expected to persist in Iowa and Minnesota. The second-crop areas of Brazil look to remain on the dry side in the near term as well. Ethanol futures have edged back over the $1.50 mark, boosting margins. On the May chart, we are just below the 20-day at $3.82 3/8 with the 100-day at $3.71 becoming support if we fade into the weekend. SOYBEANS Soybean trade is 4 to 8 cents lower at midday with trade sliding below nearby support heading toward option expiration Friday. Meal is $2 to $3 higher, and oil is flat to 10 points lower, with meal values catching a bid this morning. Oil is at the low end of the recent range. Crush margins remain positive overall, but they have narrowed. The recent pattern in South America should remain intact near term, allowing for greater progress in Brazil harvesting, with values remaining elevated for Brazilian producers to encourage harvest selling in the near term. The U.S. export wire has quieted down the last few days with no announced sales in a week. Trade will be looking for signs of additional acres, with the weather challenges rolling acres over from wheat and corn. On the May contract, trade has slipped below the 50-day at $10.38, with the 100-day at $10.15 as the next level of support. WHEAT Wheat trade is 8 to 12 cents lower at midday with option expiration and still some near-term rain in the forecast. Warmer conditions coming should help to boost maturity, with rain needed to shake off freeze damage along with salvaging diminished potential. Spring wheat growing areas look more open, but will need to thaw for better progress to be made. Spring wheat seeding is behind in Russia for the moment, but should see better catching-up going forward. The slide in the ruble is helping Russia's export advantage, while the stronger dollar is hurting us on Friday. On the May KC contract, support is at the 20-day at $4.88, which we have eased below at midday, with the 100-day at $4.70 below that. Resistance is the 50-day at $4.97. David Fiala is a DTN contributing analyst and the President of FuturesOne and a registered adviser. He can be reached at dfiala@futuresone.com Follow him on Twitter @davidfiala (BAS) Copyright 2018 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 04/20 12:14

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 04/20 12:14 Traders Back Away From Early Losses Sharp early losses seen in cattle and hog futures Friday morning have moderated through midday with light but noticeable buyer support slowly moving into the complex. By Rick Kment DTN Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS: Moderate to strong pressure has continued to develop across the livestock complex in early hours of trade Friday. Prices are now mixed with light buyer support trying to develop in the complex. This is helping to bring additional stability into all markets. Corn prices are lower in light trade. May corn futures are 4 cents higher. Stock markets are lower in light trade. The Dow Jones is 211 points lower while Nasdaq is down 91 points. LIVE CATTLE: Mixed trade is seen Friday with front month April futures drawing some moderate buyer support, while the rest of the complex is holding narrow losses. April contracts have rebounded from strong early pressure with an 80 cent gain developing across the market. This is helping to bring some support to the entire market, although contracts still remain slightly lower. It is possible that additional buyer support may develop over the next couple of hours. This could spark some additional interest into all cattle trade. Cash cattle trade has developed Friday morning in the North with live deals seen at $122 to $124 per cwt. This is generally $4 per cwt higher than last week's price levels and falls in line with gains seen in the South earlier in the week. Dressed business is still yet to develop in the North but bids are becoming more active from $190 to $192 per cwt. It is likely that active trade will be seen through the next few hours. Boxed Beef cut-outs at midday are higher, $1.33 higher (select) and up $0.21 per cwt (choice) with active movement of 95 total loads reported (39 loads of choice cuts, 40 loads of select cuts, 7 loads of trimmings, 9 loads of ground beef). FEEDER CATTLE: Light to moderate losses continue to be seen in feeder cattle futures Friday morning. But prices have quickly backed away from sharp triple-digit losses seen initially in morning trade. This may allow for some renewed buyer support to step back into the market during the end of the session as traders continue to find some stability before the weekend. April futures are holding a 17 cent loss, limiting additional downward market moves that could continue to develop across the complex. LEAN HOGS: Lean hog futures have posted light to moderate moves through the morning with front month May contracts holding a 45 cent gain. The rest of the complex remains sluggish with losses holding through the market. Most trade is 20 to 50 cents per cwt lower as underlying pressure is seen in summer and fall contract months based on overall market uncertainty and demand concerns. There is likely to be very little additional market shifts seen before the end of the session, allowing for traders to reassess market direction early next week. Cash prices are higher on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is up $0.36 at $57.87 per cwt with the range from $50.00 to $61.50 on 3,480 head reported sold. Cash prices are lower on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is down $0.41 at $58.19 per cwt with the range from $50.00 to $61.50 on 1,805 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report posted 205 loads selling with carcass values falling $0.03 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/18 is at $55.97 up 0.92 with a projected two-day index of $56.80, up 0.83. Rick Kment can be reached at rick.kment@dtn.com (SK) Copyright 2018 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Closing Grain Comments 04/20 13:44

DTN Closing Grain Comments 04/20 13:44 Warmer Temperatures, Light Rain Send Grains Lower July contracts of corn, soybeans, and all three wheats fell lower Friday, as traders sensed better planting weather ahead and the start of light to moderate showers in the southwestern Plains. The June U.S. dollar index is also higher, adding bearish pressure to the grain sector.

DTN Cattle Close/Trends 04/20 15:35

USDA MARKET NEWS--AFTERNOON CATTLE REPORT 04/20/18 VOLUME USDA TOTAL RANGE DTN PRACTICAL RANGE WT AVG KANSAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 0 WEEK T0 DATE: 24,593 STEERS No reportable trade HEIFERS No reportable trade NEBRASKA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 16,540 WEEK TO DATE: 34,503 STEERS 3,975 190.00-195.00 190.00-195.00 193.41 HEIFERS 2,165 175.00-195.00 192.00-195.00 192.09 TEXAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 0 WEEK TO DATE: 12,655 STEERS No reportable trade HEIFERS No reportable trade COLORADO CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 0 WEEK TO DATE: 1,519 STEERS No reportable trade HEIFERS No reportable trade IOWA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 6,613 WEEK TO DATE: 11,596 STEERS 2,772 190.00-195.00 190.00-195.00 194.13 HEIFERS 616 192.00-195.00 192.00-195.00 194.16 COMMENTS: A light to moderate trade developed in the North today with the Majority of dressed trade marked at 195.00, $5 higher than last week's weighted Average basis Nebraska. The South was dead quiet content with the trading that Took place yesterday at 121.00-122.00. 5-AREA LV STR AVE PR&WT: $121.40(1331) HIDE&OFFAL: $ 9.79 +0.02 CARCASS EQV INDEX CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) #OF HD LIVE BASED 181.36 169.22 96,735 BOX BASED 199.98 188.13 55,521 AVE INDEX 190.67 +0.89 178.68 +1.40 152,256 BEEF CUTOUTS CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) 211.98 -0.64 200.13 +1.65 62.57 LDS CH CUTS / 48.30 LDS SEL CUTS / 9.40 LDS TRIM / 22.15 LDS GROUND BOXED BEEF TREND: Frm/hr on lt-mod dem & mod-hvy COMPREHENSIVE WEEKLY CUTOUT VALUE: Week ending 04/13 $211.97 -2.62 CUTTER 90% 350# UP C/O: $172.47 -0.04 NAT'L BONELESS BF TRIM: 14.57 lds / Mostly firm on mod dem & lt offers 90% TRIM: 00 lds: Wtd Avg $No Test/ Unevenly steady FI KILL(WTD) FRI 114(584) WK AGO 116(591) YR AGO 107(564) MIX: THU SH91/CB24 SAT 40(624) WK AGO 14(605) YR AGO 38(601) WEEKLY CANADIAN CATTLE IMPORTS. FEEDERS SLAUGHTER S&H Week Ending: 04/07/18 4,916 5,954 Week Ending: 03/31/18 10,620 7,180 Change from prev week: -5,704 -1,226

DTN Chart Technical Points 04/20 16:30

DTN Chart Technical Points 04/20 16:30 DTN FUTURES 10 4/20/18 SLOW STOCHASTIC PRICES ARE DECIMAL MOVING AVERAGES RSI'S 5 Day 20 Day CONTRACT CLOSE 4-Day 9-Day 18-Day 45-Day 9Day 14Day 30Day %K %D %K %D CBTWT MAY 463.25 470.38 475.17 467.18 473.53 43.78 46.27 48.87 50 39 51 59 CBTWT JUL 477.25 484.69 490.89 483.44 489.37 41.93 45.05 48.44 42 33 47 57 KC WT MAY 482.75 486.81 496.33 490.31 498.43 43.07 45.47 48.83 43 29 39 49 KC WT JUL 502.00 505.94 515.33 509.21 516.43 43.39 45.79 49.12 44 30 39 49 MN WT MAY 600.00 610.94 616.22 603.56 609.66 42.88 45.63 46.90 38 38 62 70 MN WT JUL 605.75 617.75 624.61 612.47 618.13 40.47 43.99 46.10 27 29 58 68 CORN MAY 376.50 380.44 383.94 384.24 382.51 35.96 41.67 48.13 19 17 49 62 CORN JUL 385.50 389.38 392.64 392.88 390.62 36.19 42.11 48.62 21 19 51 63 CORN SEP 393.00 396.88 399.89 399.93 396.99 36.69 42.67 49.12 24 23 54 65 OATS MAY 232.50 232.94 234.22 232.13 246.87 45.10 42.81 41.96 65 52 55 46 OATS JUL 236.00 237.25 239.75 238.86 251.07 37.11 37.81 40.32 43 37 41 41 BEANS MAY1028.751038.441045.391038.421042.66 40.77 45.06 49.27 8 11 66 76 BEANS JUL1040.251049.941056.531049.421052.87 41.03 45.35 49.54 9 12 67 76 BEANS AUG1042.001051.501057.191050.721053.63 41.35 45.55 49.68 9 12 69 77 S MEAL MAY 374.10 376.27 379.24 379.97 378.92 42.11 46.68 52.17 12 13 50 60 S MEAL JUL 378.60 380.75 383.50 383.67 380.47 43.40 48.00 53.30 12 14 53 62 B OIL MAY 31.30 31.33 31.44 31.61 31.88 41.64 42.99 44.23 40 28 10 12 B OIL JUL 31.56 31.60 31.71 31.88 32.12 41.48 43.03 44.38 39 27 9 12 CATTLE APR 119.35 118.54 116.66 115.06 119.50 65.44 57.86 50.45 82 84 80 60 CATTLE JUN 103.72 104.22 103.57 103.24 109.46 46.41 43.13 41.14 47 59 56 47 FEEDER APR 137.30 138.00 137.73 136.12 140.95 49.31 47.32 45.30 26 44 75 73 FEEDER MAY 139.32 139.67 138.91 137.04 141.91 53.74 50.40 47.08 41 55 79 75 HOGS MAY 69.95 69.46 68.94 67.09 70.66 58.74 53.51 47.70 85 65 84 75 HOGS JUN 77.55 77.72 77.05 75.67 77.69 56.39 53.11 48.83 67 69 85 78 COTTON MAY 85.47 83.58 83.56 82.61 82.25 69.96 63.78 58.96 59 45 80 82 COTTON JUL 84.73 83.28 83.25 82.49 82.36 67.32 61.78 57.89 62 50 84 85 RICE MAY 12.99 13.10 13.00 12.73 12.49 62.03 62.86 58.45 65 75 87 90 RICE JUL 13.07 13.13 13.03 12.81 12.63 65.12 64.12 58.25 82 82 89 89

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 04/20 16:27

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 04/20 16:27 Cattle Futures Conclude Choppy Session With Significant Gains The cattle complex settled significantly higher Friday with nearby live issues especially supported by greater packer spending. Lean hog contracts closed moderately lower, pressured by long liquidation and late-week profit-taking. By John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS The Northern tier of cattle-feeding country turned active as feedlot managers responded to another round of higher packer bids. For example, live deals in Nebraska ranged from $122-$124, $0.50 to $2.50 higher. Some dressed business in Nebraska and Iowa was reported as high as $193 to $195, $3 to $5 higher. The National hog base closed off $0.51 compared with the Prior Day settlement ($50-$61.50, weighted average $57.65). From Friday to Friday, livestock futures scored the following changes: Apr LC up $2.80; Jun LC up $0.07; May FC off $1.05; Aug FC off $0.60; Jun LH off $0.10; Jul LH up $0.45. Corn futures closed a nickel plus lower pressured by warming temperatures and ideas of significant planting progress in the weeks ahead. The stock market closed lower with the Dow off 201 and the Nasdaq down by 91.


 DTN Headline News


The Market's Fine Print

By John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst

When lovesick Juliet assured her boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks that family pedigree just didn't matter ("A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"), it's a good thing Shakespeare had her combustible father far out of theatrical earshot.

Had Lord Capulet actually overheard his daughter's mindless drivel, I daresay the great playwright would have been forced to move up his famous death scene by several acts.

The Bard doesn't bother the audience with too many details about Juliet's old man. He's rich (conceivably owning a large herd of cattle?), has a quick temper and knows there could be serious economic consequences for denying the real differences between the Hatfields and McCoys of his day.

In fact, Lord Capulet (and for that matter his nemesis, Lord Montague) makes me think of today's real-life cast from the U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA), a group of concerned beef producers who have bravely stepped forward to defend honest differences in types of protein products, specific word clarity in that regard, and thoroughly informed consumer choices.

Accordingly, the USCA last month filed a petition with USDA advocating for an official definition of "beef" and "meat." In order for wholesale and retail products to be labeled as beef and meat, the petition argues, the commodity must be derived from "the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner," and excludes "man-made" or "artificially manufactured products."

A decade or so ago, such word-tinkering and definition-honing might have been reserved for the nerdy workforce at Merriam-Webster. But the wordsmith's anvil has suddenly taken on new commercial importance for the livestock industry thanks to surging growth of cellular agriculture (CA).

Suggestions of feedlots being replaced by test tubes, and cattle ranches downsized into petri dishes, used to be plot fodder for the wilder branches of science fiction. Yet the breakneck advancement of CA technology has quickly changed amusing fantasies into very serious threats for traditional meat production and producers.

While the march of science never stops, the recent acceleration in artificial-meat production must give a good deal of credit to aggressive and well-intended venture capitalists such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Benevolent billionaires such as these apparently believe, in part, that protein produced in laboratories promises to be less environmentally taxing on the planet, minimizing everything from methane emissions to water usage and animal abuse.

Although I think these "deep pockets" are misguided, ill-informed about the larger environmental challenge (e.g., the curve of world population now tilting toward 10 billion by 2050), and short-sighted about the new technology they champion, I do applaud their selfless motivation and commitment to long-term answers.

On the other hand, there are other types of capital sources stoking this dubious furnace that strike me as far less noble and even borderline treasonous. I'm talking about two of the largest beef meat processors in the land who now have investments in the burgeoning world of artificial production.

Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in the U.S., was part of a $55 million round of investment in Beyond Meat. Roughly a year after it started selling its meat-like burgers in mainstream grocery stores, Beyond Meat's products are now in 19,000-plus stores.

When Cargill sold off its last cattle feedlots last April, it said it wanted to free up funds to invest in alternatives such as insects and plant-based protein. Four months later, along with Gates and Branson, the company joined a $17 million round of investment in Memphis Meats, a startup that grows beef and chicken from cells instead of on farms.

And I always thought you were supposed to dance with the one that brung ya. In fact, this strange realignment of loyalties reminds me of another Shakespearian classic. Remember when Julius Caesar got shivved by best friend Brutus?

Et tu, Tyson?

Yeah, I know. Business is business and sentimentality won't pay the bulldog. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

Speaking of strictly business, let's get back to the USCA and its attempt to limit definitional wiggle room, and at least ensure a level playing field.

Here's how USCA President Kenny Graner summarized the motivation behind the petition in a Feedstuffs interview:

"Our focus with the petition is not to define what they should call alternative proteins, but what they should NOT call those products.

"We see this as the 'butter' or 'margarine' example, where one product is sourced from animals and the other is plant-based. People recognize both products for what they are, but having such products side-by-side can be highly confusing to consumers if labels are not clear in stating what the package contains.

"This petition seeks to prevent confusion that would occur if alternative protein sources were to try and piggyback on the goodwill that beef enjoys with consumers."


The hijacking of nature-based terms in order to sell artificial products is nothing short of calculated deception, made even more devious in the face of many consumers who have increasingly expressed demand for fresh, chemically free, organically raised and naturally based meat.

Indeed, the consumer mantra of the 21st century seems to be, "I need to know where my food comes from."

A truthful answer from the meat lab that goes, "We combine test tube A with test tube B and then spin it until the green foam disappears," is not likely to make it on the label.

John Harrington can be reached at harringtonsfotm@gmail.com

Follow him on Twitter @feelofthemarket


Grow Good Neighbors

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Low commodity prices are prompting some farmers to plant specialty corn to boost their income. But care must be taken when planting different hybrids next to each other, or farmers might not be able to reap the rewards of these specialty crops.

Farmers who grow specialty corn in the same general area need to communicate and plan with their neighbors growing different specialty corn to ensure these crops are preserved and premiums can be realized.

Take Adams County, Nebraska, farmers Chad Trausch and Randy Uhrmacher, who have been neighbors and friends for many years. They farm land near each other, and each grows a different type of specialty corn. They choose to work together to make sure their corn crops don't cross contaminate the other's crop.


Uhrmacher grows corn and soybeans near Hastings in south-central Nebraska. Along with yellow corn, he also raises Enogen corn, a specialty corn hybrid with increased amounts of the alpha amylase enzyme. This corn was originally designed to be sold to ethanol plants for a premium. More recently, Syngenta, who markets Enogen, has been marketing the special hybrids to be fed to cattle.

Trausch raises corn and soybeans in nearby Juniata, just to the west of Hastings. In addition, he grows white corn, a food-grade-quality corn that can be rejected by potential buyers should it be contaminated by corn pollen from other kinds of corn.

Enogen, in particular, has come under scrutiny by both white-corn farmers and the milling industry that buys their products. The enzyme in Enogen that helps to break down starch -- a positive in ethanol production -- can be a negative for the food industry making corn chips and tortillas.


Since Uhrmacher and Trausch farm in the same general area and grow specialty corn crops in the same vicinity, the two work together when planning where to plant these varieties every year.

"Communication is key when you're planting these types of corn," Uhrmacher told DTN.

Trausch said he usually checks with Uhrmacher in the fall when he is considering his corn purchases for the next growing season. The pair will usually talk again during the winter months to make sure each other knows where the other is planting their specialty corn.

"It really isn't a big deal, we just talk to make sure we know what the other one is planning," Trausch told DTN.

Trausch said he must keep Enogen corn fields at least a half mile away from his white corn fields. He grew six quarter sections of white corn in 2017 and is planning five quarters in 2018, he said.

Most of these fields are fairly close to each other, which means he is protecting his white corn fields by planting more white corn around them. He must protect his white corn, as anything over 3% contamination will get rejected at the local elevator and he will lose his premium.

"I've never had a load rejected, and this is probably because I communicate with neighbors like Randy," Trausch said.

Trausch sells his white corn in the food-grade market, and his white corn is screened and subject to food-grade standards. If rejected, the corn could still be sold into other markets such as for ethanol production, but the premium is lost, he said.

Uhrmacher said that, when planting his Enogen corn, he must plant a 30-foot buffer when fields butt up against another cornfield. The field where he is planting the Enogen corn for this growing season is a 178-acre field in which he farms on three of the sides of the field.


While Enogen for ethanol is contracted between the growers and ethanol plants, there are stringent stewardship programs involved for those interested in growing the hybrids.

Chris Cook heads the stewardship program for Syngenta Seeds. He noted that Enogen is fully approved for food and feed in the U.S., and growers in the U.S. have been contracting Enogen for the past seven years.

"The company voluntarily undertakes the efforts to keep Enogen segregated, but we absolutely consider these stewardship requirements mandatory," said Cook.

"We have a team that monitors the program, and growers are even scored on how well they carry out the protocols. We have removed people from the program when we don't see the type of performance that we want," said Cook.

Interested producers are required to take training before contracts are established. Cook said growers are expected to reveal where fields will be located and to revise planting plans if they change. The company works with growers to locate buffers. Special recordkeeping and planter and combine cleanouts are required.

"We even have a seed buy-back program," Cook said. "It's not just if you have a bag of Enogen seed left over -- it's do you have a Folger's can of it left? If so, bring it in and we'll pay you the actual price of the seed just to get every last kernel of seed back."

Enogen grain grown for ethanol must be delivered to the ethanol plant and pass the Enogen quality test. Acres dedicated for feed use are expected to stay on farm and not enter the grain stream.

"Enogen isn't the only specialty corn out there," Cook noted. "The entire industry needs to work more closely, especially as more specialty crops come on the scene."

Pollen contamination remains the challenge, as nature sometimes has its own ideas, and there is no such thing as zero. But Cook said buffer rows, field placement and staggering maturities are all used to limit pollen crossing into sensitive crops.

In 2014, Syngenta began integrating a purple tracer trait to make corn produced from Enogen easier to identify from harvest through storage and processing. Most bags of Enogen seed come blended with up to 5% seed containing the purple tracer. Enogen Value Tracker, the purple tracer, produces some ears sporting yellow and purple kernels.

An online Enogen field finder is available. By entering field coordinates, the tool reveals if Enogen fields are contracted nearby.


The need for neighbors to personally work together and communicate on the placement of specialty corn remains despite these tools, Trausch said. The 40-cent to 50-cent-per-bushel premium available for white corn becomes not only enticing, but critical as commodity corn markets continue to be challenged, he said.

Uhrmacher likes the fact he doesn't sacrifice yield with Enogen corn. Trausch said the premium of white corn is too good to pass up.

Both growers plan to continue on their specialty paths, and they believe mapping out a plan together is the key to getting there.

Specialty growers in some states also have the opportunity to register certain crops with a stewardship platform called FieldWatch.


Editor's note: DTN/The Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor Pamela Smith contributed to this article.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


DTN Fieldwork Roundup

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Cold, snow and rain have kept farmers out of the field across the Midwest, but once the sun starts shining, watch out.

"We do have a good forecast, and when things dry out, it will break loose," said Cory Ritter, who farms in central Illinois.

Ritter is among a group of producers whom DTN periodically surveys throughout the season for its Fieldwork Roundup stories. Known as DTN Agronomy Advisers, this group of farmers and ranchers report back on fieldwork, crop conditions and other issues facing agriculture.

Like Ritter, most farmers in the Midwest told DTN of cold, wet soils and stalled tillage, fertilizer and weed-control plans. In addition to the stress of a late, rushed spring, the farmers also voiced concerns about low commodity prices and the possibility of a trade war with China over proposed tariffs.


Unpleasant as this spring has been, it's a familiar one for many, said Gerald Gauck, who received both snow and rain in the past three weeks in southeast Indiana. "I'm not too worried yet," he said. "We didn't start planting corn until the end of May and first few days of June last year, [and we] had the best crop ever."

Not everyone is remaining as calm. "Lot of guys are starting to worry about getting in the field, and I have heard some rumblings of people trading 105-to-110-day corn in for quicker-maturing corn," said Jim Cronk of northern Iowa.

Patience is proving a virtue, said Illinois farmer John Werries. "There were a few farmers around here who planted some corn and even a few beans," he said. "All of the experts said the worst thing that can happen is a cold rain 24 to 48 hours after you plant, and that is exactly what happened."

Producers in upper Midwestern states are facing the worst spring conditions. Two producers from Minnesota, Jeff Littrell and Justin Honebrink, faced multiple snowstorms this week alone.

"Cattle are confused as they lost the winter coat," Littrell said. "We're still bedding them like January." Both he and Honebrink estimated they are at least three weeks away from any meaningful fieldwork, much less planting.

"The co-op I work at has yet to apply an acre of spring fertilizer," added Jay Magnussen, who endured blizzard conditions in northwestern Iowa in mid-April. "We are looking at a very condensed spring."

Southern states have seen milder conditions, but the spring has still been a rollercoaster, reported Zack Rendel, who farms in northeastern Oklahoma. He hit his usual corn-planting timeline in late March, but nothing has been normal since.

"One day, it's 80 degrees, sunny and nice, the next, 40 degrees and wind blowing," he reported. "We received a half-inch snowfall here on April 7th, and night temperatures went down to 22 degrees." His canola came through the freeze in good condition, and in the meantime, Rendel has wrapped up his corn planting.


The only good news from the frigid Midwest is that weeds are as miserable as the farmers, a number of producers noted.

"The cold weather has slowed the growth of weeds and our regular weed program should work," said Ritter, who is trying out the Liberty Link system this year to try to rein in resistant waterhemp.

In Ohio, Keith Peter's fall herbicide program and rye cover crop have so far kept winter annuals in check, but the window for pre-plant applications is small and shrinking fast.

Werries, who uses cover crops for soil health, erosion control and weed suppression, hopes to start burning down his covers this week.


Waiting on the weather has given growers plenty of opportunity to scrutinize news reports of the proposed tariffs on American ag products and the potential for a trade war with China.

Most of the farmers surveyed voiced concerns about the effect on exports and prices.

"We are in a very tough spot trying to make money farming," Magnussen said. "If exports of anything drop, we may lose money this year."

Cronk is also concerned about missing out on key trade deals as well as the fiery rhetoric between the U.S. and China. "I truly believe there are economic signs to show we are starting to see an uptick in commodity prices, but if we start a trade war with China or lose out or opt out of other trade deals, I think it will [send] prices even lower," he said. "Hopefully, it's a lot of buffaloing from both sides."

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Most average retail fertilizer prices continued their slow but steady trek higher the second week of April 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Snapping a string of four straight weeks where prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher, prices for seven of the eight fertilizers were up while the price of one fertilizer was down last week compared to the previous month. However, for the fourth consecutive week, none of the fertilizers that saw price increases were up by a significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $482 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $353/ton, urea $369/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $275/ton.

The one fertilizer that was slightly lower in price compared to the previous month was 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $427 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

The seemingly never-ending wintery weather so far this spring is delaying fieldwork in many regions of the Corn Belt. While some areas have seen some work completed, including some corn planting, other locations have seen farmers do only a limited amount of fieldwork.

Jamin Ringger, a corn, soybean and hog producer from Gridley, Illinois, told DTN that "warm weather can't come fast enough" for Midwest farmers who want to plant their spring crops but also do other fieldwork such as apply fertilizer and complete tillage operations.

As a livestock producer, Ringger also has to apply manure to his fields before planting can occur. A decent stretch of weather around March 15 allowed him to get manure applied to his central Illinois fields, he said.

While he utilizes hog manure on his fields for some nutrient needs, he also needs to use commercial fertilizer. With an open window after harvest, Ringger said he was able to apply most of his fertilizer needs last fall.

"I hope it warms up soon for everyone and we can enjoy spring a little," he said.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is now 1% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, urea is 5% higher, MAP is 8% more expensive and DAP is 10% higher compared to last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year ago. UAN32 is 2% less expensive while both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 3% less expensive than a year ago.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer prices in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DTN's average of retail fertilizer prices from a month earlier ($ per ton):

Apr 10-13 2017 437 466 338 353
May 8-12 2017 437 466 340 351
Jun 5-9 2017 438 469 339 338
Jul 3-7 2017 436 467 339 325
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 434 463 339 311
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 433 457 338 303
Sep 15-29 2017 432 453 348 321
Oct 23-27 2017 431 453 347 325
Nov 20-24 2017 435 460 342 338
Dec 18-22 2017 445 485 344 348
Jan 15-19 2018 456 491 345 355
Feb 12-16 2018 457 495 345 357
Mar 12-16 2018 466 503 350 368
Apr 9-13 2018 482 504 353 369
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Apr 10-13 2017 441 505 247 280
May 8-12 2017 437 508 247 280
Jun 5-9 2017 435 503 246 278
Jul 3-7 2017 432 462 236 268
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 426 418 227 262
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 418 417 215 248
Sep 15-29 2017 413 396 208 243
Oct 23-27 2017 407 393 205 262
Nov 20-24 2017 403 410 216 272
Dec 18-22 2017 405 461 218 254
Jan 15-19 2018 407 485 226 260
Feb 12-16 2018 415 492 230 264
Mar 12-16 2018 421 503 237 282
Apr 9-13 2018 427 510 241 275

Good to Great

By Karl Wolfshohl
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor


-- Update planters with precision ag technology

-- Consider soil electrical conductivity mapping to check fertility

-- Use yield-mapping programs to understand limiting factors.


Farming in a great environment has put big corn yields in the bins for Vern Frederickson and his family for years. But, for the Fredericksons, aided by their agronomist and seed suppliers, they've pushed yields to exceptional levels in the past decade.

Vern explains why his daughter, Kristen Corpus, placed third in the A No-Till/Strip-Till Irrigated class of the National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest in 2016 with grain harvested from a family field while he came up empty-handed. "My wife, Suzi, and I screwed up our paperwork, so Kristen was our only entry," he said with a laugh. But, regardless of whose name went on the winning entry, superior management is evident in the results.

Corn is only part of the large Frederickson family farm, which totals 6,000 acres near Hermiston, bordering the Columbia River in northeastern Oregon. There's also a hay export business managed by Vern's brother that ships alfalfa bales to dairies in the Pacific Rim and Middle East.

Besides corn and alfalfa, irrigated cropland produces wheat, potatoes, onions, and occasionally other crops in an arid environment that averages only 8 inches of rain per year. All crops are irrigated through center-pivot units fed by either wells or the Columbia River.

If there's a drawback to farming here, it's the stringent regulations governing how much of certain inputs may be applied to crops for protection of groundwater. Frederickson and his agronomist, Tim Tallman, have learned to function effectively within these rules.


"In 2014, our contest yield was 280 bushels per acre," Frederickson said. The next year, it was 314 bpa. Last year, Kristen won with 339 bpa. The family has been the Oregon state winner the last three years.

"The year before we won the first time, Suzi and I went to the annual [NCGA] meeting in San Antonio on our own, and the Oregon winner had about 180 bushels. Suzi said we should enter."

Commercial yields have climbed right along with contest yields. In fact, Frederickson and Tallman don't pamper certain plots for the contest; instead, they carve likely spots out of commercial fields.

"Ten years ago, our good yields were in the 200-bushel range," Frederickson said. "In 2016, the farmwide average was about 300 bushels per acre."

Frederickson and Tallman grew more serious about advancing their corn production with more precise seed placement eight to 10 years ago. They saw a graphic demonstration of how irregularly spaced plants could hurt yields.

"It was a field of small grain we worked up and planted to corn," Vern said. "We were shocked at the poor stand, because we didn't get the bed prepped right. That was a real eye-opener."


The first step was replacing meter units and other parts in Vern's John Deere planter. They added PrecisionMeter units and related parts sold by Precision Planting, Tremont, Illinois.

"We get a better, more consistent stand with better seed placement with these meters," Tallman said. "The distance between seed is much more precise. If you get seeds too close together, you end up with very small ears." The Fredericksons plant 38,500 seeds per acre 5 1/2 inches between each seed.

Better seed placement was just the beginning. "This is a holistic process," Frederickson said. "As soon as you start paying attention to one piece of it, you pay attention to the other stuff, as well."

The planter modifications alone produced 20 to 25 more bushels per acre. "Then, we worked on our tillage and fertilizer programs, which were just more pieces of the pie. Altogether, they've helped us produce 40 to 50 more bushels per acre," Tallman said.

The Fredericksons strip-till work is done with an Orthman 1tRIPr ahead of each of their two planters. The result is a clean, level seedbed created in a single pass.

"The 1tRIPr has a set of coulters that throw dirt out, then a ripper point goes 10 to 12 inches deep," Tallman said. "We have two planters. One of our 1tRIPr's is pulled just ahead of the planting pass, and the other is done in the same pull as the planter."


The two men order preplant soil tests, and they have EC (soil electrical conductivity) mapping done on some fields to better understand a field's fertility environment.

"Based on those, we put together a preplant fertilizer and planter band fertilizer plan prior to planting," Tallman said.

Frederickson and Tallman apply a total of about 350 pounds of nitrogen per acre on most of their corn land. Most is added in multiple in-season applications through irrigation.

An independent service provides irrigation scheduling, guided by neutron probes to measure soil moisture in every field. Real-time moisture probes are moved over to corn once they're done in potato and onion fields, as well.

Frederickson and Tallman consider a post-harvest consultation with a seed company agronomist a critical step in producing 300-bushel yields. DeKalb seed salesman Kevin Zander brings an agronomist for the post-harvest visit.

They spend a half day reviewing yield maps.

"We look at curves to see downtrends or uptrends, and may adjust nitrogen applications where needed," Tallman added. "There are points in time when we didn't make the application soon enough or did it too soon."


"We have microclimates out here, and we have to manage those the best that we can," Zander noted. "But, at the end of the day, this is a wonderful climate with almost zero thunderstorms. Almost every day is sunny, and there's not a lot of disease pressure because of the Fredericksons' diverse rotations."

"They're regulated on how much nitrogen they can put on, so they have to be very aware of all the little details," noted Dave Heimkes, the Monsanto agronomist who visits the Frederickson farm post-harvest. "It gets down to timing applications for environmental impact but also to get the most bang for the buck. We have to make sure that we have what we need at certain stages of plant growth. There are no extras in that program."

Heimkes uses the analytical program Climate FieldView to understand yield-limiting factors.

"FieldView turns every acre into a test plot," Heimkes said. "When you have a yield map spanning your farm, you can see what's happening. It gives you a whole different dimension. I'm a corn nerd. I'm always looking for another layer of information."


Vote Clears House Farm Bill

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- After hours of criticism by Democrats on changes to food programs, the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill out of committee Wednesday on a strictly partisan 26-20 vote as every Republican voted for the bill and every Democrat opposed it.

Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters afterward he hopes the bill can get to a full House vote during the first week of May. Conaway said in opening remarks he was determined to get the bill done on time, as the current farm bill expires Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

"My view on this has not changed," Conaway said. "The current farm bill is set to expire at the end of the year, so we have a duty to act."

The words "farm bill" were stated more times than can be counted, but little time was taken by the committee on programs and policies directly related to farmers. Most of the debate and complaints from Democrats focused on proposed changes to job training and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Countering Conaway, Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., called the legislation "a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process." Peterson said Republicans are on an "ideological crusade" regarding SNAP changes that would turn urban lawmakers against farm programs on the House floor.

"Mr. Chairman, what's going on here is we are turning friends into enemies," Peterson said.

SNAP is used by 42.2 million people and nutrition programs overall would take up 77% of the projected $867 billion in farm-bill costs over the next 10 years. SNAP also was the driver for the lion's share of $100 billion in projected savings over the current farm bill.

Republicans want people defined as able-bodied adults without dependents to be required to perform 20 hours of work or job training weekly to get SNAP benefits. The bill also changes income eligibility standards by states, limiting income eligibility nationally for SNAP benefits to people who earn 130% of the federal poverty line or less, or about $26,000 a year for a three-person household. Currently, some states go as high as 200%.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., chairman of the nutrition subcommittee, said changes in nutrition programs aren't about saving money, but getting good policy.

"We want to look at good policy to help our neighbors in need who find themselves in a tough circumstance," Thompson said. He added, "No one is kicking them off of SNAP because of mandatory work requirements," though if people do not participate in job training or get a job, then they do not participate in SNAP.

Democrats said roughly 1.6 million people would end up removed from SNAP, while states would be required to greatly expand job-training programs that would end up underfunded. Democrats said the cuts were attacks on poor people.

"We sometimes look at poor people as if they are not taxpayers," said Rep Al Lawson, D-Fla. "They pay a higher cost of food than most of us here."

Lawson noted the drive on job training goes against the mission of the committee. "I ask you to really look at the poor, and this committee should be more concerned about feeding America than anything else," he said.

The bill does what most farm and commodity groups wanted over the past two years of hearings and forums by protecting crop insurance from cuts. The bill doesn't change eligibility for premium subsidies or place any restrictions on revenue policies.

With trade being an emphasis right now, farm groups had called for doubling funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program -- known as MAP and FMD. The bill doesn't add funding, but does restore full funding for the programs, which are considered key tools to help sell U.S. agricultural products overseas.

The markup and amendments did not change the commodity programs from the initial language released last week. Among the details in the commodity programs are changes to the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) that would use crop insurance data to calculate yields. The House also would eliminate the individual farm coverage under ARC and stick solely with the county program.

The bill maintains the same reference prices for nearly every commodity in the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. There was talk by Peterson to increase reference prices up to 10%, but no amendment was offered to make that change.

However, Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee wrote President Donald Trump on Tuesday, asking him not to create ad-hoc assistance programs for farmers affected by trade disputes, but instead work for long-term programs and safety nets such as shoring up commodity programs. The letter noted that, despite income declines among farmers, the draft farm bill "provides no new policy to address these challenges. This presents you with an opportunity to mitigate the damages already inflicted on American farmers, and to protect them from future harm."

Peterson said he was more concerned about commodity prices since the trade disputes fired up between the U.S. and China. He pointed to the 178.6% tariff slapped on sorghum this week to make his point. Peterson said if the Trump administration has more money for safety-net payments for farmers, then more funding should just go to boost the commodity programs.

"The only reason some of my producers have survived the last three years of low prices is because extraordinary yields have saved us," Peterson said.


The House bill would eliminate new signups under USDA's largest conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. The contracts for the current 72 million acres in CSP would continue until they expire, but no new enrollment would be allowed. Instead, the bill would invest more in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The Conservation Reserve Program would increase by 5 million acres to 29 million acres, but would reduce rental rates to 80% of the current average county rental rate for ground. USDA would be required to more frequently update rental rates under CRP as well.


Democrats offered no amendments to the bill. Two amendments had some extended debate. One was by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has pushed for nearly eight years for his "Protect Interstate Commerce Act," which is meant to target states that require agricultural standards beyond federal law.

Specifically, King criticized California's law that requires eggs imported into the state to meet the same cage-space requirements and standards California imposes on eggs produced in the state. King said the Founding Fathers expected the states to have a free-trade zone amongst each other that is blocked by such laws.

"Restore free trade between the states and pre-empt some really bad things coming down the pike," he said.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., former chairman of the committee and now Judiciary Committee chairman, agreed with King that state laws could restrict agriculture and food shipments in several ways. "The impact of leaving this unchecked is very devastating to our economy," Goodlatte said.

King's amendment was again added to the bill in a voice vote after an attempt by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., to undercut King's amendment failed.

Denham and King then had another back-and-forth over Denham's amendment to make it a felony to knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption, or import a dog or cat for human consumption.

"Just one question after seeing this thing passed around: Are people really eating dogs?" Lawson asked, leading to laughter in the committee room.

Denham said that, yes, indeed, people are eating dogs. King and others said that could be a cultural issue where they come from and questioned whether there should be a felony law against it. Still, Denham's provision was added to the bill on a voice vote.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


More Syngenta Corn Settlement Details

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- It may be at least a year before farmers and others start to receive payments from a $1.51 billion settlement from a lawsuit filed following Syngenta's release of Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade MIR162 corn traits.

A federal court recently approved three additional subclasses of parties allegedly hurt by Syngenta's actions, according to an April 10, 2018, court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City.

The settlement now will include three additional subclasses. That includes any producer who owned any interest in corn in the U.S. priced for sale, purchased Agrisure Viptera and/or Agrisure Duracade corn seed, and produced corn grown from those traits. The settlement also will include any grain-handling facility and ethanol plant that owned interest in corn priced for sale during the period.

Court documents show Syngenta was required to make about $400 million in initial payments to the escrow account by the end of March. The final $1.1 billion is due either by April 1, 2019, or 30 days after the court's final approval order, whichever comes later. Payouts will not begin until the total funds are deposited and the court approves the final settlement.

Paul Minehart, Syngenta's head of corporate communications for North America, said in a statement the company supports the settlement.

"Syngenta is pleased that the court granted preliminary approval to the settlement, which allows Syngenta to avoid the burden, distraction and uncertainty of ongoing litigation and to continue its focus on agricultural innovation," he said in a statement to DTN. "Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade demonstrate significant, scientifically validated benefits for growers in combatting a wide spectrum of pests. Syngenta launched these products to help ensure that American farmers could access the latest seed technology approved in the U.S. and to help farmers increase their productivity and crop yield."

According to the court order last week, corn producers involved in the settlement number in the "thousands," while there are more than 1,500 grain handlers and more than 180 ethanol producers affected.

So far, it's unclear how much farmers and other parties will receive.

The court acknowledged in last week's order that the $1.51 billion settlement may not account for all damages in the case. Original lawsuits estimated the damages at near $5 billion.

"The amount of the settlement ($1.51 billion) is very large in an absolute sense, and it represents a significant percentage of the actual nationwide damages alleged by the MDL plaintiffs' experts," the court said in its order.

"Although the plaintiffs prevailed in the first trial (Kansas), that verdict is subject to post-trial review and appeal, and given the disputed nature of the factual and legal issues, other plaintiffs face a significant risk of little or no recovery in future trials. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the immediate recovery of such a substantial sum is more valuable than the mere possibility of a more favorable outcome after protracted and expensive litigation over many years in the future."

In June 2017, a jury awarded farmers $217.7 million in compensatory damages in what was the first lawsuit filed against Syngenta on the shipment of Viptera corn to China. The trial was one of several on tap in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City.

The lawsuit was filed by four Kansas farmers who represent more than 7,000 farmers in the state. It is the first of multiple lawsuits claiming Syngenta should have inspected and prevented harvested Viptera (MIR 162) corn from being shipped to China in 2013 and 2014.

Plaintiffs in the case allege Syngenta sold corn with Agrisure Viptera and Duracade traits prior to the traits receiving import approvals in several countries, including China. China claims it found and rejected corn shipments containing the traits, which plaintiffs say led to lower corn prices.

The official lawsuits filed on behalf of corn producers include cases in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


Dicamba Drama Continues

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- On Monday, Arkansas' in-season ban on dicamba went into effect, but not without some confusion and drama.

Two judges in Phillips and Mississippi counties filed temporary restraining orders of the ban late last week, in response to two separate but mostly identical complaints filed by about 155 farmers. The office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed motions to dissolve these bans and requested hearings on the matter this week.

That leaves the state's dicamba ban for Xtend soybeans and cotton in limbo for those farmers.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture released a statement on April 13 stating that: "At a minimum we will be enforcing the federal label for pesticide applications until there is more certainty from the court system in interpreting recent decisions. As a reminder, state law provides for the use of civil penalties up to $25,000 for dicamba applications that result in significant off-target damage."

The Arkansas State Plant Board decided to restrict dicamba use in the state after receiving 997 complaints of dicamba injury to soybeans and other crops and plants in 2017. BASF's dicamba herbicide Engenia is registered for use on Xtend soybeans and cotton in Arkansas, but the plant board's rule bans its use from April 16 through Oct. 31.

While Monsanto contends XtendiMax is labeled in the state, the Arkansas State Plant Board refused to confirm to DTN whether XtendiMax could be legally used in Arkansas at any time.

Here's a summary of the current state of the three legal cases brought by farmers against the Arkansas State Plant Board regarding dicamba use:


Eighty-five farmers filed a last-minute complaint against the plant board on April 12 in Mississippi County, Arkansas, demanding that the dicamba ban be voided immediately. Their lawyer, David Burnett, argued that the plant board itself was an unconstitutional entity that does not deserve legislative capabilities, because it contains unelected members appointed by private individuals.

Just one day later, Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Tonya Alexander viewed the complaint and issued a temporary restraining order of the ban, stating that, "the Plaintiffs face the immediate, irreparable harm to their crops."

A nearly identical complaint was filed by about 70 farmers in Phillips County, Arkansas, represented by Kyle Stoner, on April 14. In response, First Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher Morledge also issued a temporary restraining order of the ban that afternoon.

The Arkansas Attorney General's office has issued motions to dissolve both these restraining orders, arguing that no immediate damage is posed to the farmers' crops. Separate hearings on both motions are expected this week, Nicole Ryan, communications director for the Attorney General's office, told DTN.

"The Plant Board rule was approved by both the Governor and the General Assembly and, as such, Attorney General Rutledge has a duty to defend against the challenges that have been brought against it," she said.


Last week, the state's Supreme Court ruled that the six Arkansas farmers who filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Plant Board will not have access to dicamba for now.

Previously, Judge Tim Fox had dismissed the farmers' lawsuit on March 30 based on an earlier Supreme Court ruling that state agencies like the Plant Board have sovereign immunity -- that, is they can't be sued.

But Fox also ruled that, because the dismissal violated their due process rights, the ban did not apply to these six farmers. The state immediately appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which granted a stay of the judge's order. That means the farmers will not be able to use dicamba on Xtend crops until the appeal is decided, which can take up to eight months.

"The Arkansas Supreme Court's stay of Judge Fox's ruling means that the Court believes the Plant Board is likely to win on appeal, which is another reason why the other two circuit courts need to vacate their temporary restraining orders," Ryan told DTN.

The farmers and their attorney, Grant Ballard, have indicated that they will continue to file appeals.

See DTN's previous coverage of this case here and here

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


Senators Turning Up RFS Heat


By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, didn't mince words on Tuesday when talking about EPA granting waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard while at the same time apparently slow-walking the approval of year-round E15 sales. He said he puts the blame squarely on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Grassley told agriculture journalists he believes President Donald Trump is firmly behind the RFS but has an EPA administrator acting to the contrary.

"I believe that Pruitt is a loose cannon who is not carrying out the president's wishes," Grassley said.

The president last week indicated his support for allowing year-round E15 sales. Yet the EPA told DTN it had not made a decision on whether to move forward on rulemaking to allow unfettered sales of the 15% ethanol-85% gasoline blend.

EPA's approach has drawn concern from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and biofuel and agriculture interests who fear what they say is ethanol demand destruction.

On Tuesday, Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., led a bipartisan group of senators in writing a letter to Pruitt, calling on the EPA to stop issuing waivers and to provide more transparency on those waivers. Also signing the letter were Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Debbie Stabenow, R-Mich.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

The 13 senators asked Pruitt to provide a full list of refiners receiving the waivers dating back to 2016, as well as a detailed report to Congress describing the justification for the waivers. In addition, the senators asked Pruitt to provide information about EPA's plan on how it will approach future requests.

The EPA has drawn fire for a seeming lack of transparency on waivers dating back to 2016 as well as details about the companies receiving waivers and the amount of biofuel blending excluded.

The agency granted nearly 40 RFS waivers to so-called small refiners since 2016, including about 25 in 2017 alone. Included in last year's total is a request by Andeavor, which posted a $1.5 billion profit last year. Also, the New York Times reported last week that oil giants Exxon and Chevron have requested waivers for 2018.

Estimates are that, to date, the waivers issued could have resulted in more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol not being blended.

In the letter to Pruitt, the senators said waivers were not meant to be for larger refiners.

"Such action would represent a clear violation of your commitments and clearly undermine the president's long-standing support of the RFS," they wrote. "These waivers fall well outside the bounds of the letter or spirit of this provision in the law, which sought to provide flexibility for the smallest of U.S. refiners, and only in cases of genuine hardship. Worse, EPA's actions are already hurting biofuel producers and farmers across the United States at a time when farm income is at the lowest levels since 2006 and retaliatory trade measures from China threaten to deepen the crisis."

The waivers have effectively pushed more 2016 renewable identification numbers, or RINs, biofuel credits back onto the market. The senators argued that has cut demand for actual biofuel gallons to be blended.

"This further reduces incentives for blending, slashing demand for biofuels and feedstocks, and hurting farmers and biofuels companies," they said in the letter. "These waivers could cripple the market for years to come, holding back homegrown biofuels while creating windfall profits for large oil refiners -- the exact opposite of this administration's promise to voters."

They continued, "Perhaps most concerning, these lucrative waivers have reportedly been issued behind closed doors, outside of the public process, while the EPA has simultaneously been working with refineries to pressure President Trump to sign off on a RIN cap that would wreak further havoc on the RFS."

The senators reminded Pruitt of what he said during his confirmation hearing regarding the RFS, "Any steps that the EPA administrator takes need to be done in such a way as to further the objectives of Congress in that statute, not undermine the objectives of Congress in that statute."

Biofuel interests have said the agency should be considering waivers at the time it updates renewable volume obligations (RVO) each year.

The senators asked Pruitt to respond in writing, "describing your commitment and plan to consider future small-refinery waivers only during the annual RVO rulemaking process and commitment to provide full notice and opportunity for comment on any future small-refinery waiver requests."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


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