NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for July 6, 2022

Farmer Optimism Remains Weak

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer continued lower in June, down two points to a reading of 97. The barometer’s Index of Future Expectations also dropped, falling five points to a reading of 95, the lowest level since 2016. Producers were slightly more optimistic about their current conditions. The Index of Current Conditions rose five points to 99, but rising input costs and uncertainty about the future continue to weigh on farmer sentiment. Many producers in the survey said they’re concerned about the ongoing rise in production costs and volatile commodity prices, two factors that could lead to a production cost-income squeeze in 2023. The Farm Financial Performance Index, which deals with income expectations in the current year, rose two points in June to 83. However, that’s still the lowest level for the index during the past two years. Input prices and availability continue to be the top concerns for U.S. producers.  

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Proposed Changes on Using Atrazine

The Environmental Protection Agency released proposed changes to the agency’s September 2020 atrazine interim decision. The Scoop says the proposal includes five changes to atrazine labels to lower runoff from farm fields. The agency wants to prohibit application when soils are saturated or above field capacity. The proposal would also prohibit application within 48 hours of a forecasted rain or storm event. The agency also wants to prohibit aerial applications of all formulations. The proposal would restrict annual application rates to two pounds of active ingredient or less per acre per year or less for applications to sorghum, field corn, and sweet corn. An additional “picklist” to labels requires growers to select a combination of application rate reductions and-or runoff control measures when using atrazine in certain watersheds. The EPA says the picklist method is intended to help growers select runoff control practices that are the least burdensome to them.

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U.S., China Talk Trump Tariffs

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials discussed U.S. economic sanctions amid reports that the White House is considering rolling back some of the levies imposed by the previous administration. During a call on Tuesday morning, China’s Vice Premier told U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin that lifting tariffs and sanctions and the fair treatment of Chinese enterprises are areas of concern for the Southeast Asian nation. Bloomberg says the administration called the talks candid and substantive. However, the secretary mentioned several issues that concerned the U.S., including the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the global economy and China’s unfair, non-market economic practices. The discussion happened as President Biden may roll back some of the American tariffs on Chinese imports worth hundreds of billions of dollars, possibly this week. As inflation increases in America, economic experts expect the administration will ease the taxes to help lower the costs of everyday items. ***********************************************************************************
West Coast Port Labor Contract Expires

Negotiations will continue on a new labor contract for the more than 22,000 workers at U.S. West Coast ports. Reuters says industry leaders and the White House are watching the high-stakes talks closely. The agreement will include 29 Pacific Coast ports from California up to Washington state, ports that bring in up to 40 percent of America’s imports. The Pacific Maritime Association employer group and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said in a joint statement that cargo will keep moving at the ports until an agreement can get reached. However, Pete Tirschwell of S&P Global Market Intelligence says, “When the contract expired, so did the ‘no strike’ clause.”  More than 150 business groups asked President Biden to push for a swift resolution. Agriculture groups and others business organizations are watching the negotiations with concern after the last West Coast port labor contract negotiations broke down in 2015 after nine months.

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New Tool Assesses Corn Rootworm Risk

The National Corn Growers Association is introducing a new tool for growers looking to find out their risk for Corn Rootworm. The new Corn Rootworm Risk Tool gives farmers the chance to enter historical data and current management data, along with corn rootworm intensity, to determine the potential risk for developing resistance to valuable Bt traits. Using the information that’s submitted by the farmer or technical advisor, the tool gives growers a low-, medium-, or high-risk level and summarizes the appropriate best management practices for each scenario. The predictive tool is a helpful resource that’s not designed to replace conversations with technical advisors on what practices or strategies to employ. The ultimate objective is to suppress corn rootworm populations and assist farmers in maintaining the effectiveness of important tools like Bt corn. For more information or assess the potential risk of resistance, go to btrisk.iwilltakeaction.com. For additional best management practices, go to iwilltakeaction.com/insects.

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California Company Intends to Build First Sugar Cane Ethanol Plant

A California company intends to build the first ethanol plant in America powered by sugar cane. California Ethanol and Power intends to construct a $650 million plant on 160 acres. The plant is part of a $1.1 billion project that includes agreements with local farmers to grow sugar cane for the ethanol plant. The company also will have an agreement in place with a top farming cooperative to market the ethanol. L.A. Business Journal says if the company gets enough financing, the plan is to have the plant running by late 2025, producing about 68 million gallons of ethanol every year. The plant will also generate byproducts like 49 megawatts of electricity and about 740 million gallons of biomethane that can be used to heat businesses and homes. The plant will also produce about 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide gas that the company will capture and sell to other companies needing CO2 emission offsets.

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By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.