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What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 24-31

Farmers and other readers gravitate toward a wide range of topics this week.

This week featured a shake-up in markets that took center stage.

Aside from markets, news about the Navigable Waters Protection Rule gained traction after a new definition was released.

John Deere, the EPA, and Brazil’s soybean harvest all also popped up in this week’s news.

To catch up on last week's hot topics, follow the Successful Farming staff's work in the previous recap.

Read more: What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 17-24

Meet the $50-per-acre weed

One thing you can say about 2019, it kept weed scientists like Bill Johnson busy. The Purdue University Extension weed scientist’s days were filled with questions about how to work around weather-caused disruptions in burndown and preemergence residual herbicide plans. In some cases, farmers planted first and then concentrated on terminating weeds or cover crops. 

“We were playing catch-up all season long,” said Johnson to those attending this month’s Top Farmer Conference at Purdue University. 

Read more here.

John Deere selects companies for its 2020 Startup Collaborator program

John Deere is building on the success of its Startup Collaborator program by welcoming four start-ups to its 2020 cohort. Launched in 2019, the program, which is part of the company’s Intelligent Solutions Group, enhances and deepens collaborative relationships with a start-up whose technology could add value for its customers.

“The first year of the John Deere Startup Collaborator program showed us and the start-ups involved the tremendous mutual value of working closely together,” says Julian Sanchez, director of strategy and business development at Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group. “We’re excited to continue building on the program’s success.”

Read more here.

Hemp takes hold

Broad-shouldered and barefoot, Brian Lyda trots into a rain-softened 6-acre hemp field near Hendersonville, in mountainous western North Carolina. Mud is splattered up his calves as he turns back a fourth of the way into the rows.

“This plant loves attention but not too much attention, if that makes sense,” says Lyda, gesturing to the 2-foot-high hemp plants growing under plastic in rows 6 feet apart. After all, hemp – and its cousin, marijuana – can grow and thrive on their own in road ditches.

Read more here.

National Pork Board

What the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule means

A new, clear definition for Waters of the United States (WOTUS) is now in place, after President Trump’s finalized, revised definition of WOTUS, which protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and promotes economic growth across the country.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also comments on the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in a statement released today. “President Trump is restoring the rule of law and empowering Americans by removing undue burdens and strangling regulations from the backs of our productive farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners. The days are gone when the Federal Government can claim a small farm pond on private land as navigable waters,” Secretary Perdue says. “I thank President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for having the backs of our farmers, ranchers, and producers and for continuing to roll back Federal overreach. With reforms and deregulation, Americans once again have the freedom to innovate, create, and grow.”

Read more here.

The market is incentivizing farmers to plant fewer soybeans, analyst says

Grain markets have had a tough time the past few weeks, with soybeans dropping nearly 80¢ recently after supposedly bullish news of the Chinese-U.S. trade Phase One deal. 

That has dragged corn and wheat prices lower, although they have not performed as badly as the soybean market.

Read more here.

A farmer holding money while sitting at a picnic table.

Investors trim bets on the soybean market falling, COT report shows

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Outside investors have switched to being net long the wheat market, after shorting that market for quite awhile, according to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Meanwhile, those same outside investors are net long the corn market, while holding a net-short position in the soybean market, according to the CFTC’s Committments of Traders Report Friday.

Read more here.

Phosphorus fertilizer prevents P tie-up

Score one for the good guys in the love-hate relationship with phosphorus (P). Cities must remove the mineral or risk causing algae blooms when the treated water is released. Farmers rely on it as a major nutrient but often find that it becomes tied up in high- and low-pH soils.

Now, a new slow-release, eco-friendly phosphorus fertilizer for mainstream agriculture and farmers has emerged from the green technology that filters municipal and industrial wastewater. 

Read more here

General Mills launches regenerative agriculture pilot with Kansas wheat farmers

General Mills is launching a regenerative agriculture pilot with farmers in Kansas’ Cheney Reservoir watershed that provides water to more than 400,000 Wichita residents.

The company targeted this watershed in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to improve water quality as part of the statewide Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy. The three-year pilot is comprised of 24 wheat growers in and around the 650,000-acre watershed where more than 99% of the land is used for agricultural purposes.

Read more here.

4 financial tools to keep you afloat

The present downturn in net farm income may be particularly severe and unusually long in duration, but it could be helpful to remember that it is indeed part of the up-and-down cycle inherent in farming. In time, this low will give way to another high.

“What we’ve learned from history is that agriculture is a cyclical business; we will have another upswing,” says Kevin Bernhardt, agricultural professor at University of Wisconsin-Platteville and farm management specialist with the Center for Dairy Profitability and the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Read more here.

Two combines harvesting soybeans in Brazil.
iStock: alffoto

With a big crop expected, Brazil's soybean harvest is slow

RIO GRANDE do SOL, Brazil -- The soybean harvest in Brazil reached 1.8% of the total surface projected for the 2019/2020 crop, according to Curitiba consultancy AgRural. That is a delay compared with the same period of last year, when 6.1% of the oilseed area was harvested.

Now, in the end of January, is when the harvest speeds up in the state of Mato Grosso. The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) projects that the state will produce 33 million metric tons of soybeans, compared with the expected total of 120 million metric tons out of Brazil this year. The forecast is calling for rains that could delay the process, but local farmers want to harvest and sell the crop off of the combine, due to higher prices.

Read more here.

Court forces U.S. EPA to reconsider three refinery biofuel waivers

January 25 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court has ruled that the EPA must reconsider three of the biofuel waivers it recently granted to small oil refineries, arguing the agency's justification for approving the exemptions was flawed.

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit dated January 24 came after a coalition of biofuel industry groups had challenged the 2016 exemptions for Holly Frontier's Woods Cross and Cheyenne refineries, as well as CVR Energy's Wynewood refinery.

Read more here.

Hogs, cattle fall daily limits on coronavirus fears

CHICAGO, January 27 (Reuters) - U.S. hog and cattle contracts fell their daily trading limits on Monday, hitting multimonth lows on fears about the spread of a coronavirus in China.

“If we thought China’s coronavirus was making the media rounds late last week, it’s a full-fledged media frenzy this morning,” INTL FCStone said in a note to clients. “The public’s concern there is reminiscent of prior SARS and bird flu events, both of which resulted in slowed Chinese travel, restaurant consumption, and a general slowdown in commerce.”

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Feed And African Swine Fever

The threat of African swine fever reaching the U.S. through imported contaminated feed ingredients is a concern for pork producers. Viruses can survive in feed ingredients which become a vector for introducing diseases on the farm.

Lisa Becton is the director of swine health and information research with the National Pork Board. She says at this time there is no way to test animal feed for ASF contamination, but the checkoff is funding research to create one.

Read more and listen here.

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