Monday, May 30, 2016
   
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Local Ag News

EPA Lowers Renewable Fuels Standard

(Des Moines) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced the long-awaited renewable fuels standard on Monday, and ethanol industry officials are disappointed.  Monte Shaw serves as the executive director with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.  He says the EPA only solidified big oil company's monopoly on this nation's fuel source.

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Shaw says Congress had set the production levels for ethanol at 15 billion gallons for the years 2015 and 2016.  The Environmental Protection Agency has instead set the ethanol production levels slightly above 14 billion gallons for 2015 and 14.5 billion gallons for 2016.  Shaw says the actions of the E-P-A will hurt the farm economy and the midwest economy.

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The ethanol industry official believes the EPA's actions may result in the slowdown for future ethanol investments.

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AGP To Expand Biodiesel Production Facilities At Sergeant Bluff

(Sergeant Bluff) -- A soybean processing cooperative is wanting to expand its biodiesel operations.  Ag Processing Incorporated has announced it will move forward on a major expansion of the company's biodiesel production facility near Sergeant Bluff.  AGP currently operates a 30 million gallon biodiesel production facility at that location.  Keith Spackler, Chief Executive Officer, for AGP says "biodiesel is an important component of our integrated soybean processing platform".  Spackler says, "this expansion reflects our committment to the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers as we continue to invest in this important value-added market".  The expansion of biodiesel production capacity is complementary to plans announced earlier in the year to build soybean oil refining capacity at the site.  Cal Meyer, Chief Operating Officer with the cooperative says, "Biodiesel is a premium advanced biofuel and has led directly to higher soybean prices and jobs in rural communities. Our announced project at Sergeant Bluff will do the same for the Siouxland region and beyond".  Company officials noted that final construction decisions are contingent on completion of agreements with state and local officials.

   

Sioux County Farmland Sells At $17,300/acre

(Hospers) -- Despite low agricultural commodity prices, land still seems to be in high demand with buyers willing to spend near record levels.  At a Sioux County land auction held on Friday near Hospers, a tract of 154 acres sold at $17,300 an acre.  Jim Klein of Remsen was the auctioneer for the sale.  He says the land sold is of high quality with a history of being very productive.

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Klein says the land was sold to a local neighboring farmer that had land already adjacent to the land that sold.

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The price per acre is not a record for Sioux County land sales, as a parcel of land sold for more than $20,000 an acre nearly two years ago, but as Klein says with lower grain prices, the expectation would be that land value would also decline.

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Sioux County is a leader in livestock and poultry production, and Klein believes one reason for the high demand for land is so farmers have somewhere to dispose manure.

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Klein says the tract of land did bring several bidders at the start of the sale.  He says this was the highest price paid for land that he has had a role in selling.

   

Corn Harvest Nearing Completion

(Le Mars) -- Ideal weather conditions have allowed farmers to harvest corn at a faster than normal pace, with some agricultural officials saying as much as two-thirds of the region's corn have already been harvested.  Iowa State University Extension Crop Specialist Joel DeJong says many farmers are reporting high yields, and are nearing completion.

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Yields have also been good, averaging near or above 200 bushels per acre.

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DeJong says the recent warm, dry and windy days have helped reduce corn moisture levels so many farmers have not needed to artificially dry their corn.

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The ISU crops specialist says some farmers have noticed stalk rot due to the excessive rains from July, August and September, and have managed the harvest accordingly.

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DeJong says soil temperatures are still too warm for farmers to apply any anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, and he is also concerned about the liiquid manure that is being applied on some harvested fields.

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Soybean Harvest Making Progress

(Le Mars) -- Farmers have been making progress with this year's harvest with many reports of soybean yields higher than from previous years.  Doug Schurr is the manager of the Farmers Cooperative Elevator based in Craig located in the northwest portion of Plymouth County.  He says the soybean yields in his area have been very good.

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Schurr says the quality of the soybean harvest has also been good.

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Diagonally across Plymouth County to Kingsley at the Farmers Elevator, Chris Pedersen says the soybean harvest in his area has also been good.

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Pedersen says farmers in the southeast corner of Plymouth County had a slower start to this year's harvest, but have since picked up the pace.

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As for the northwest area of Plymouth County, Schurr estimates the soybean harvest will soon be wrapping up for the year.

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Some farmers have had to deal with white mold found on their soybean plants in isolated areas of their fields.  Chris Pedersen says the yields certainly have reflected the plant disease.

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Both at Craig and at Kingsley, the corn harvest is just beginning, and the grain elevator managers say it is still too early to determine the yield potential.

 

   

U-S Court of Appeals Stops EPA Rules On WOTUS

(Des Moines) -- Farmers, ranchers, and even contractors are breathing a sigh of relief following a ruling last week by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals out of Cincinatti, Ohio, regarding the controversial rules established by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U-S Army Corps of Engineers on the Waters of the United States.  The court decided to place a temporary stay on the implementation of proposed rules by the EPA.  Chris Gruenhagen of the Iowa Farm Bureau government relations counsel says the decision by the court is a "key step" to stopping EPA's broad definition of navigational waters.  You may recall, the original rules would have allowed the EPA to have jurisdiction on grass waterways, small streams, and even erodible gullies.

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Gruenhagen says it may be several months before a final court ruling will be determined.

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Many farm organizations, including the Iowa Farm Bureau, are requesting Congress to pass legislation that would permanently prohibit the EPA from implementing the far-reaching rules regulating the nation's waterways. A study by the Iowa Farm Bureau showed that 97 percent of the state of Iowa would be adversely affected by the proposed EPA rules.  She says the proposed rules are confusing.

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Gruenhagen says ultimately, if the EPA rulings go into effect, it would be a tedious and costly measure for everyone in agriculture.

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Bird Flu Detected In Plymouth County

(Des Moines) -- The bird flu has now struck Plymouth County.  Iowa Department of Agriculture officials have confirmed the avian flu virus H5N3 has been detected in a chicken operation.  Dustin Vande Hoef is a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

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The pullet farm has experienced increased mortality, and Vande Hoef says the farm will be quarantined, and the birds will be euthenized.   An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Vande Hoef says officials believe the bird flu virus will greatly slow down, or go away all together, once the weather warms up.

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Most of the reported bird flu cases have been from larger commercial size operations, be they a turkey or a chicken layer operation.  But, Vande Hoef says the bird flu is also affecting smaller-sized backyard poultry operations.

 

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Sioux County is also reporting another case of the bird flu at a pullet operation.  With the two new cases, that brings the total number of 52 cases for the state of Iowa.  Agriculture officials have quarantined the premesis.  The Center of Disease Control says there is no risk to humans.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected, and there is no food safety risk for consumers.

 

   

Bird Flu Hits Iowa Turkey Farm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bird-flu strain that has already hit numerous turkey farms in the Midwest has been found in a turkey flock in northwest Iowa.

An Iowa Department of Agriculture spokesman says Tuesday the H5N2 strain of bird flu virus has been confirmed in a barn on a farm housing 27,000 birds in Buena Vista County. The disease was suspected when turkeys began dying in the barn.

An Iowa Poultry Association spokesman says the farm is under quarantine and the turkeys will be euthanized.

Animal health officials have long said the virus is dangerous to all commercial poultry. Iowa has 130 turkey farms raising 11 million turkeys a year. The state also is the nation's leading egg producer with 59.6 million egg layers. No chicken flocks in Iowa have been infected.

   

Farmers Off To A Good Start On Field Work

(Le Mars) -- Farmers have been taking advantage of the warm weather by preparing their fields for crop production.  Iowa State University Extension Crop Specialist for Northwest Iowa, Joel DeJong says so far, farmers are off to a good start.

 

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Soil temperatures have been rising according to DeJong, but still a bit cooler than desired for crop production.

 

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As for sub-soil moisture levels, and despite some reports indicating drought-like conditions, the crops specialist says for most of Northwest Iowa the levels are sufficient.

 

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Most Iowa farmers will probably plant this year's corn crop between April 20th and May 10th.

 

   

Quarterly Hog Report Shows 7 Percent Increase

WASHINGTON –As of March 1, there were 65.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 7 percent from March 2014, but down slightly from December 1, 2014, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:

Of the 65.9 million hogs and pigs, 60.0 million were market hogs, while 5.98 million were kept for breeding.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, 28.8 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 9 percent from the same time period one year earlier.

From December 2014 through February 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.17 pigs per litter.

U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow between March and May 2015, and 2.93 million sows farrow between June and August 2015.

Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.4 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.40 million and 7.85 million head, respectively.

   

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