Business Editor

Expanding distiller grains markets

As the ethanol industry grows toward a 15 billion gallon market by 2015, exports of its byproduct, distillers grains, are expected to grow from 7 million metric tons (mmt) last year to 11 mmt,

<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

That’s the outlook from Erick Erickson, the U.S. Grains Council’s special assistant for planning, evaluation and projects.

Will the ethanol tax credit shrink?

Distiller grains from the ethanol industry are one of the
big growth sectors in agriculture, if the Export Exchange in Chicago this week is
on track. Speakers at the joint meeting of the U.S. Grains Council and
Renewable Fuels Association paint a bullish picture: crude oil prices above
$100 a barrel a year from now, distillers grain exports passing up soybean meal
exports soon, and China perhaps importing 3 million metric tons of the ethanol
byproduct in the marketing year that started September 1, up from just 600,000


South Dakotans aim to ease prevented planting penalties

South Dakota growers know something about excess moisture,
with parts of the state getting hammered by rain just last week, after a season
that saw planting delays from heavy rains last spring. 

Wednesday, two members of the state’s congressional
delegation, both Democrats, introduced bills in Congress to allow planting of a
secondary crop after prevented planting without losing benefits from crop


Ethanol tax credit vote could be delayed until 2011

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), shared his view of how a
Republican takeover of Congress might affect agriculture Tuesday. He sees
little change in farm policy in the agriculture committees, more support for
trade agreements and more emphasis on existing tax credits for ethanol and
biodiesel than on trading of energy offsets.

Tax credits are expected to come up in a lame duck session
in November and December after the election but before new members of Congress
are seated next year.

Biodiesel tax credit rejected in Senate

The partisan
logjam broke in the Senate Thursday, long enough to pass the Small Business
Jobs and Credit Act. But when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tossed in a small
twig – an amendment to renew a long-expired biodiesel tax credit  --  a vote of 41 for and 58 against kept the measure stalled in
a legislative backwater.


Strong signup for CRP

The USDA announced Tuesday that it has accepted 4.3 million
acres that were bid into the 39th general signup for the
Conservation Reserve Program during the month of August.

The agency had more than 50,000 offers for a total of 4.8
million acres. With 4.5 million acres expiring from the program on September
30, the new signup will bring the total acres enrolled in the CRP to 31.2
million on October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.


Managing a nightmare soybean disease

It sounds like the plot for a cheap horror movie: For
months, a monster lives buried in the soil, only to reach up and kill healthy
looking soybeans, sometimes in broad swaths across the landscape.

That monster is a fungus, Fusariaum Virguliforme, the
cause of Sudden Death Syndrome, a nightmare confronting growers across the
Midwest this year. The disease starts in the roots and sends a toxin to the
leaves that kills the plant. Foliar fungicides are useless against the toxin.

Look for markets before leaping into organics

The Farm Progress show might seem an odd place to set up a
booth on organic farming. The Varied Industries Tent is a bastion of the latest
technology for conventional agriculture. Several farmers were looking at a
high-capacity anhydrous ammonia pump at the JBI Enterprises booth.

Ethanol tax credit still has a chance in Congress

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis told reporters and members of the ethanol industry Wednesday that they believe Congress is likely to renew the ethanol tax credit before it expires at the end of this year.

Speaking at the Farm Progress show near Boone, Iowa, Buis said he thinks it will be difficult for Congress to ignore other high profile tax issues, including the 2001 Bush Administration tax cuts and an extension of exemptions from the Alternative Minimum Tax for the middle class, which affects some 20 million people.