Corn, Wheat Inspections Bullish

Mon. Sep 26, 2016 1:21 PM

By Todd Hultman

DTN Analyst

OMAHA (DTN) -- Corn and wheat inspections were bullish while soybean inspections were neutral in this week's export inspections report, according to DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

Corn weekly export inspections were 52.6 million bushels (1,335,643 metric tons) for the week ending Thursday, Sept. 22. This is above 31.9 mb for the same week a year ago. Inspections for 2016-17 totaled 168.0 million bushels, up 55% from the previous year and above USDA's projected 14% demand increase. Monday's report was bullish for corn, Hultman said.

Soybean weekly export inspections were 14.1 mb (383,953 mt) for the week ending Sept. 22. This is below 19.9 mb for the same week a year ago. Inspections for 2016-17 total 84.2 million bushels, up 59% from the previous year and above USDA's projected 2% demand increase. Monday's report should be viewed as neutral for soybeans, Hultman said.

Wheat weekly export inspections were 32.2 mb (875,049 mt) for the week ending Sept. 22. This is above 23.4 mb for the same week a year ago. Marketing-year inspections for 2016-17 total 347.3 mb, up 27% from the previous year and above USDA's projected 23% demand increase. Monday's report should be viewed as bullish for wheat, Hultman said.

Todd Hultman can be reached at

Follow Todd Hultman on Twitter @ToddHultman1

Copyright 2016 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

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Mycotoxin Problems

Mon. Sep 26, 2016 12:06 PM

By DTN/Progressive Farmer Staff

The U.S. is expecting a large corn crop, projected as high as 15.09 billion bushels, and the 2016 wheat crop yields have been at or near record levels in several wheat classes. However, Alltech mycotoxin expert Dr. Max Hawkins has a warning: Quantity should not distract producers from being vigilant regarding quality and the potential for mycotoxin risk.

Hawkins notes the spring wheat harvest across the northern Great Plains experienced wet weather, which led to increased crop stress and Fusariumhead blight. Likewise, much of the U.S. Corn Belt experienced above average temperatures and moisture through August, creating the right environment for mold and subsequent mycotoxin issues.

Alltech recently collected more than 100 TMR samples from the U.S. and analyzed them to determine mycotoxin presence and growth through the storage months. The 37+ analysis tests for over 37 individual mycotoxins shows the risk mycotoxins in stored crops may pose to herd health and performance in coming months.

Of the samples, nearly 18% contained six to seven mycotoxins; 42% had four to five mycotoxins; 35% had two to three mycotoxins; and less than 2% had either one mycotoxin or none. Of the mycotoxins present, type B trichothecenes and fusaric acid were most prevalent in 83% and 92% of the samples, respectively.

The toxicity of Fusaric Acid is significantly enhanced when feed is co-contaminated with type B trichothecene or DON. Together, the mycotoxins present in the sample group had a risk equivalent quantity (REQ) of 187 for beef cattle and 211 for dairy cows. For the dairy cows, this level of risk could represent a 0.5-liter loss in milk production per cow per day.

Symptoms in a herd dealing with type B trichothecenes and fusaric acid can be wide ranging, and may include things like anorexia, depression, digestive disorders, udder edema, enlarged mammary glands, feed refusal, increased somatic cell count, infertility, hemorrhaging, lameness, lethargy, liver damage, malformation of embryos, poor antioxidant status, reduced milk production, skin lesions, stillbirths and/or vomiting.

Derek Wawack, a member of the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team in Wisconsin, noted that he has been fielding an increasing number of calls, emails and texts about fungal infections.

"Within just the last couple weeks, these fungal infections have really started to show as the summer has progressed," said Wawack. "Stress from dry to overly-wet conditions, then cooler weather, has allowed these molds to begin growing on the ears."

Wawack recommends carrying out a 37+ analysis early, even on fresh crop, if possible, and monitoring throughout feed out to stay ahead of any major problems.

"Years where we have seen high levels of both Fusarium and Penicillium in the field have typically led to high mycotoxin levels in storage," continued Wawack.

"The results have been drastic production losses, loose manure, edema, bloat, conception problems, abortions, bloodshot eyes, bleeding from the ears and nasal passages and even high mortality rates, along with false positive antibiotic tests within milk from the Penicillium mold."


NH3 Reg Rejected

Mon. Sep 26, 2016 11:32 AM

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- A federal agency violated the law in its attempt to tighten regulations on anhydrous ammonia following the ammonium nitrate explosion and tragedy that killed 15 people at West Fertilizer Co. in West, Texas, in April 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, should have posted the proposed regulation changes for public comment and followed the procedures such a comment period usually entails, the court said.

Instead, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum on July 22, 2015, in an attempt to remove an exemption anhydrous ammonia retail facilities enjoy to the agency's process safety management, or PSM, standard. The PSM applies to fertilizer and other facilities that handle hazardous materials.

The Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute sued OSHA in May after the agency narrowed the retailer exemption. The groups, in a press statement Friday, estimate the court's ruling saves retailers some $100 million in compliance costs.

OSHA had estimated its revised definition would have subjected up to 4,800 additional facilities to the PSM standard.

The appeals court ruled OSHA should have posted for public comment the proposed changes to the PSM standard.

"Under our decisions, when an action by OSHA corrects a particular hazard, as opposed to adjusting procedures for detection or enforcement, it amounts to a 'standard,'" the court said in its opinion.

"Applying that understanding, we conclude that the agency's narrowing of the substantive scope of the exemption for retail facilities qualified as issuance of a 'standard.' We therefore have jurisdiction and OSHA was required to adhere to notice-and-comment procedures."

Daren Coppock, president and chief executive officer of the Agricultural Retailers Association, said in a statement the ruling shows why it was important for federal agencies to follow procedure.

"This administration has broadly and unjustly avoided proper procedure to construct and reinterpret myriad federal regulations without public input," he said.

OSHA created the PSM standard in 1992 to protect workers from hazardous chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia. That standard always has exempted "retail facilities" from the requirements.

The exemption, according to an OSHA letter shortly after the 1992 standard was drafted, applies to "an which more than half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users."

Agricultural retailers were befuddled as to why OSHA responded to the tragedy in West, Texas, which was caused by an ammonium nitrate explosion, by pushing tougher regulates on anhydrous ammonia, which played no part in that explosion.

OSHA had said narrowing the exemption would eliminate "policy and regulatory gaps" so as to help "prevent incidents like the West Fertilizer explosion." The appeals court, however, did not rule on the merits of OSHA's proposed changes to the standard.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement Friday, "Now, our ag producers will face one less hardship so they can focus on feeding the world and providing for their families."

In July, Fischer joined Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in introducing legislation to stop OSHA's narrowing of the exemption.

During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Friday, Heitkamp called on OSHA to delay the standards.

"Farmers and retailers in North Dakota have made it clear that these new federal standards would hurt retailers, family farmers and rural economies," she said.

"More than 30 retailers in North Dakota alone could stop carrying this critical fertilizer in October if these new standards go into effect. And it's no secret why -- complying with the new standards could cost as much as $50,000 per facility, according to North Dakota's Department of Agriculture."


Some 30 to 40 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated at the West Fertilizer facility in West, Texas. Federal investigators now believe the explosion was the result of an intentionally set fire. In the months following the explosion, a presidential executive order directed federal agencies to find ways to improve ammonium nitrate safety.

At the time of the explosion, the storage and handling of ammonium nitrate at West Fertilizer was "not compliant" with existing OSHA standards -- something documented in an investigation conducted by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

The board concluded in a final report released in February that OSHA did little to safeguard ammonium nitrate stockpiles prior to the West Fertilizer explosion.

It was revealed ammonium nitrate was stored in wooden bins at West Fertilizer -- considered by OSHA regulations to be appropriate as long as the wood is treated to prevent the absorption of ammonium nitrate.

Despite the force of the blast felt for many miles away, anhydrous ammonia tanks on site remained intact. Photos taken in the aftermath show complete devastation of the facility -- except for the anhydrous ammonia tanks.

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


September Soaker

Fri. Sep 23, 2016 12:45 PM

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Jerry Demmer went to bed Wednesday evening hoping his home area of southern Minnesota would miss the heavy rains that had flooded areas south of him. But when the Clarks Grove, Minnesota, farmer awoke Thursday morning, he quickly learned they had not.

"I saw the (Twin) Cities and just to the south of us into northern Iowa had some really heavy rains, and I thought maybe we missed it, but then it hit us about midnight," Demmer told DTN.

The heavy rain fell in northern and northeastern Iowa through south-central and southeastern Minnesota into western and central Wisconsin, according to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. There was widespread coverage of 2 to 4 inches and up to 10 inches in several locales.

The storms occurred at the boundary between unseasonably hot weather in the central and southeastern Midwest, and cooler air out of the Canadian Prairies, Anderson said. "This, along with a consistent inflow of Gulf of Mexico moisture, led to a continuous conveyor belt of storms in this part of the Midwest," he said.


Demmer said he got 7.5 inches of rain Wednesday night into Thursday morning. He said his area of Freeborn County received more than 9 inches of rain in the past seven days and almost 13 inches over the past 30 days.

"We are certainly not short of moisture this fall," he said.

Demmer is hopeful the water standing in his fields will recede quickly and harvest will proceed as normal. He points to a wet September in the early 2000s when his region saw a wet September only to have the weather turn dry, allowing for a normal harvest that fall.

After a quick drive around his fields Thursday morning, he discovered a 40-acre field of soybeans was under water. An 18-acre field of potatoes, which were almost ready for harvest, was also flooded. While the soybeans could still be OK, depending on how long the water stays, he is fairly certain the field of potatoes is a complete loss.

Demmer said he estimates his soybeans under some standing water could see some yield loss of 5% as the bottom pods of the plants are submerged in standing water. Corn, however, should be OK, he said.

About 30 miles to the northwest, Tim Malterer saw even more rain in Waseca County. The Janesville, Minnesota, farmer said he had about 13 inches of rain in about 48 hours. Most of the lower-lying fields were under water, as were many of the region's roads.

"A number of the roads have been taken out, so I'm concerned about harvesting the low ground, and then the concern is how to get the crop from the fields to the farm without major trucking delays," Malterer said.

Some township and county roads are completely "blown out" while most of the highways in the county are still passable. It will be interesting to see how long it will take the county and townships to get their roads repaired or replaced, Malterer said.

Malterer said he had just begun to harvest both corn and soybeans on his farm, finishing only about 22 acres of corn and 60 acres of beans.

Another concern of Malterer will be the condition of the crop by the time harvest does restart. While he believes he will be able to harvest all of his acres, the condition of the crop may not be ideal.

"I think at this point the beans will make it through, but they will lodge and fall over, making them very difficult to pick up," he said. "We haven't had a frost yet, so we are lucky because the plants are still alive enough to make it through."


Farther east, farmers in southern Wisconsin have also seen significant rain in recent weeks, which has led to delays in harvesting corn silage or grain.

Justin Premo, who farms near Columbus, Wisconsin, said he has had about 3 inches of rain this week. But farther north in the south-central part of the state, some areas saw 4 to 6 inches. There was even an area that got 6 to 10 inches, he said.

Premo said one of his local TV stations said Wednesday evening that if his region did not get another drop of rain the rest of the year, they would still be above normal for the year.

"Best-case scenario, if it stopped raining today, we are several days to a week out from being able to chop again," Premo said. "Similar to last year, the corn silage is going from being at the perfect moisture to too dry in the course of a week."

Bill Halfman, a University of Wisconsin Extension agricultural agent for Monroe County located in Sparta in southwestern Wisconsin, said farmers in his county face the same situation as Premo. There is a narrow window for chopping silage with optimum moisture levels. Farmers with wet fields will be delayed, and thus their silage will be less than ideal, he said.

"In many cases, the farmer chopping silage still needs to have silage to feed so it will be chopped, but the quality is just lower," Halfman said. "Perhaps for some they will decided to not chop any or maybe not chop as much as they had planned."

Jason Willemarck, who farms near Baraboo, told DTN the last two months of the growing season has been extremely wet in the Badger State. He said he has received about 4 inches from late Wednesday into Thursday. The forecast is calling for even more rain.

"I think in August it was 9 to 10 inches above normal, and to date in September is 4 inches ahead," Willemarck said. "Seems that as soon as areas dry out for a day or two, we get more."

Willemarck said the crops in his area look fairly good despite all the late-summer rains, but there have been some reports of problems with mold found both in corn and soybeans. He is concerned about it being muddy during harvest this fall. If the wet weather continues, he said he thinks they may have to wait until the ground is frozen to harvest.

"That is, if the stalks can hold up over time," he said.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


Ag's HR Coach

Fri. Sep 23, 2016 12:01 PM

By Lori Culler
DTN HR Columnist

As labor recruiters searching to fill agricultural positions across the U.S., our team discusses the right level of pay with employers on a daily basis. I've pretty much heard and seen it all when it comes to compensation practices -- the good, the bad and the ugly. The best farms have a deliberate approach to their compensation structure, pay levels and open communication between employer and employee, which in return voids the window for awkward questions. They analyze the "why" behind their pay decisions and structures while working to stay competitive in the market.

There are two questions to ask yourself: What is the reason behind paying each employee the way I am currently paying them; and how do my pay practices affect performance and productivity?

Compensation plans (as long as you are staying in compliance) do not have to be cookie cutter. One size does not fit for all positions or farms. This also stays true for each individual on your farm in the same position. Do not be shy about compensating your all-star accordingly.

Let's review common pay questions and dilemmas.


Hourly is typically the best structure for this type of role. It's safe to say that during peak season some operators may be the first ones on the farm in the morning and the last ones to go home at night. They want to feel accurately compensated for long hours, and paychecks should reflect the extra effort. This type of structure will be more motivating as they put in the longer hours during harvest.

I've heard concerns over employees "milking" the clock and employers have moved to salary pay, but a better approach would be to put in a system that reduces the opportunity for inaccurate time. There are phone apps that make time tracking easy, with daily approvals so managers can stay on top of time worked.


If it's been more than two years since you have reviewed and given pay raises, it's time! Don't hesitate or question yourself on giving your employees the raises they have been patiently waiting for. Outside of agriculture, it is common practice to give raises annually, typically somewhere between 1%-2% above cost-of-living increases.

The mentality of the annual raise is slowly being replaced by the practice of aligning pay increases to increases in job responsibility and/or performance. I'm a big supporter of this approach. If you hired an operator at $15/hour and they worked their way into a field lead position playing an important part of your organization, pay should be adjusted as that responsibility has increased. Ask the question: If I was hiring for this exact role now, what would be a reasonable wage? Employees don't always speak up if they are underpaid and may begin to search for other opportunities. Don't lose a key player over poor practices.


Location, location, location! How competitive your wage truly is highly depends on your location along with local factors such as competitors in your area. For instance, if a large construction company swoops in and is continually hiring those all-star operators, do some digging on what is attracting that pool of qualified candidates to that company. What are they offering their operators?

There are also lots of online resources such as Strong agriculture compensation data is not as prevalent in the market; however, we are competing for talent and competing against ag candidates leaving to go into other industries for better wages. You're not necessarily up against your neighbor farmer for wages, you are up against other companies that have interest in the same type of talent. We need to be savvy on what those other industries are paying.


The best approach is a well-designed incentive pay structure supporting the behavior(s) that successfully drive your business and incentive pay earned by employees. There is nothing more detrimental than an undefined bonus structure; communication is key here. Lack of communication can leave employees at some point disappointed when the payout is not there or lower than expected.

If they get a strong bonus, is it really a motivator of performance? I see many farms fall into the trap of thinking, "it's a good season" and giving a discretionary bonus, and if it's a bad season, they don't. Does that increase the productivity of employees or change future behavior to better impact the business? I would argue that it doesn't. Given our tight times in agriculture right now, pay increases might not be an option. However, you could opt for implementing an incentive pay program. We are currently working with an ag operation in Colorado implementing an incentive program rewarding their Service Technicians for minimizing a second trip to a customer site within "X" amount of days of the initial service call.


Overtime rules are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). With the new changes effective this coming December, farms need to take a good look at their pay practices for positions that are not directly doing work on the farm. Office administrators, bookkeepers, custom applicators, etc. will need to follow the overtime compliance. (For details, see…).

Although farms are not required to pay overtime for their operators and technicians working directly on the farm, some farms are choosing to pay overtime on their own. A large grain farm in Indiana pays OT for farm employees as they feel it keeps them competitive when hiring and attracting talent. I have another farm that pays OT for hours over 12 in a day to reward the late-night hours of harvest. Even if your workers are exempt, look at pay practices that might align well with motivating your team to hang in there on long days and perform to their highest standards.

Harvest is a busy season, but take some time once at year-end to review how you are paying each employee. Evaluate if your pay structures truly support productivity and align with where you are taking your business.


Editor's note: Lori Culler grew up on a vegetable and grain farm and is the founder of AgHires (…), a national employment recruiting service and online ag job board based in Temperance, Michigan. Email and find other labor management tips under Resources at


The Market's Fine Print

Thu. Sep 22, 2016 2:28 PM

By John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance."

Confucius, you took the words right out of my month. Well, maybe I would have put it a bit differently, just to promote a few grains of comprehensible rice. But who can deny it has a nice, cryptic ring, worthy of only the best fortune cookies in Chinatown.

Puzzled by the wisdom of the ancient sage? Believe me, you're not alone. Ever seen Marco Polo returned with a wallet full of paper money and scuttles full of coal, the Western mind has been struggling to understand what seem to be the inscrutable ways of the Far East.

Of course, it would be wrong to blame this historical disconnect on either Occidental or Oriental weirdness (though both camps could stage quite a parade in this regard). Cultural differences simply compound the fundamental challenge of communication. And whenever diplomats and politicians attempt to bridge the gap, their own mind-numbing style of rhetoric can turn muddy waters into the smelliest of slurries.

Which brings me to the exciting market news just announced about China's apparent decision to accept shipments of U.S. beef. At least, that's what I think it means. The details and context immediately on the table may require a greater knowledge of Confucius and his ilk than I currently possess. See what you think.

Speaking on Tuesday night to U.S. business groups meeting at the Chinese-owned Waldorf Astoria in New York, Premier Li Keqiang said China would "soon" allow imports of U.S. beef.

China has had a ban in place on U.S. beef imports since 2003, allegedly due to concerns over the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) after a cow with the disease was found in Washington state. Never mind that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) upgraded its BSE risk rating for U.S. beef to "negligible" in May 2013. Never mind that China started accepting Canadian beef (still rated "controlled," riskier than U.S. product) more than two years ago.

Before moving on to more general remarks concerning future economic ties between China and the U.S., Mr. Li dared to make the following assertion, presumably without blushing: "We also recognize that the United States has very good beef, so why should we deny Chinese customers this choice?"

The announcement was short and sweet and hopefully decisive. Yet, for now, I'm left with at least two questions, head-scratchers that might even stump Confucius himself.

First of all, what did the Premier mean by "soon"? Weeks? Months? Quarters? Frankly, he wouldn't be the first spokesperson on either side of the fence to cry "wolf" in front of the beef industry. Furthermore, ancient Chinese wisdom concerning time doesn't exactly make you start your stopwatch:

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."

But Master Po, my inner "Grasshopper" cannot tell whether the glass is half full or half empty. Please, in plain cowboy English, how soon is "soon"?

I'm not the only one who's choked over this indefinite timeframe. Soon after I posted the news on Twitter Wednesday morning, a follower well-schooled in either skepticism or foreign languages (possibly both) made the following reply: "'Soon' in Mandarin roughly translates to 'when hell freezes over.'"

For what it's worth, several respected trade sources on our side of the field tell me that "soon" should be no later than the end of the year.

My second brain freeze was iced by Premier Li's disingenuous comment that denying Chinese consumers the choice of unquestionably good beef was nothing short of unthinkable. Really? Why has it been altogether thinkable by your government for that last dozen years?

Honorable Teacher? Sir, if you don't mind, I'd like to take a stab at this eternal conundrum.

The real quality and wholesomeness of U.S. beef has NEVER been held in serious question by Beijing. It has been banned from reasons on protectionism, control over the South China Sea, issues of currency manipulation, disputes over intellectual property, TPP negotiations, and other sundry topics tied to global power. But health and welfare of the Chinese consumer has been nothing more than a stalking horse through this long and expensive period of trade disruption.

Positively, the fact the Chinese feel free to float such a statement (i.e., both solicitous of U.S. beef and transparently embarrassing vis-a-vis their own behavior) may mean that this time they really do intend to put their money where their mouth is. And given why China's beef appetite is growing, my guess is that the reopening of this market could cause U.S. exports to surge 20% or more over the next five years.

If so, Confucius will justifiably deserve to have the final word: "The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions."

John Harrington can be reached

Follow John Harrington on Twitter @feelofthemarket


Dr. Dan Talks Agronomy

Thu. Sep 22, 2016 8:39 AM

By Dan Davidson
DTN contributing agronomist

World records don't just happen at home. Globally, soybean growers are using contests to break yield barriers and that's evident in Brazil.

The Brazilians launched a national yield contest in 2008-09 that encompasses five regions and more than 1,000 entrants annually. In the contest, a farmer and agronomist team work together on a set of management practices to improve yield. One yield winner is selected from each of five regions.

Brazilian farmers measure yield in bags per hectare and 112 bags equates to about 100 bushels. If a yield contest team believes they have a yield of at least 90 bags, it is reported and officials audit practices and witness the harvest. When the contest started in 2009, no one broke 100 bags per hectare. Since then, nearly every winner is breaking the 100 bags per hectare mark, which means today, many contest winners are routinely producing 100 bushels per acre or more. The record yield was 126 bushels per acre in 2015 and 107 bushels per acre this year.

One thing these yield contestants have in common with U.S. yield winners is they are willing to experiment with inputs. The main thing that generally sets Brazilian growers apart is they manage soybeans up through R6 while in the U.S. we routinely stop at R3.


We tend to think of Brazil as having a hot and humid tropical environment that is prone to heat stress, soybean rust and insect pressures such as the invasive Old World bollworm.

Henry Sako, agronomist and technical coordinator for the Strategic Committee over Soybean Development in Brazil (Comite Estrategico Soja Brasil) says winners in Brazil generally use the best genetics, plant in narrow rows and apply foliar products.

"The varieties being planted are good, but are also commonly grown by all farmers," said Sako. "It means everybody has the same (genetic) potential, but to reach those high yields depends on how the farmers deal with their environments."

Sako also believes good seed vigor, bigger seed sizes and seed treatments are important factors to get the crop off to a good start. Even planting is also as important in soybeans as corn, he added. Brazilian farmers also plant in narrow rows of about 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 10 inches) to capture more sunlight. Still, they generally hold populations to the equivalent of about 120,000 to 140,000 seeds per acre.


"Air temperature and relative humidity during the crop season are highly favorable conditions for diseases development and proliferation. Fungicide spraying, starting at vegetative stages, when the pressure diseases is still low, has become a standard practice among all Brazilian soybean farmers," Sako said.

The use of biostimulants and foliar nutrition is more inconsistent. "Use is based on individual preferences based on a variety of different reasons. But it's a common practice," he said.

Building fertility deep in the soil profile is also key. "High soybean yields are mostly explained by the soil fertility available below the 40 cm (1.3 foot) depth. Soybean yield above 120 bags/ha (7.2 t/ha or 107 bu/A) correlates well to soil base saturation in the lower profile," Sako said.

"Oxygen supply, water movement and low soil resistance to penetration are essential to soybean root growth and yields. The less the resistance, the better the yield performance.

"Fields with a competition history have higher potential. Soils have been built up over the growing seasons, involving remediating soil acidity and making fertility corrections and including crop rotations," he said.

Dan Davidson can be reached at


WOTUS Reform Urged

Wed. Sep 21, 2016 1:49 PM

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- The time may have come to reform the Clean Water Act, a leading Senate Republican said Tuesday following the release of a report that outlines what Republicans say is evidence the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already is enforcing the waters of the United States rule.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, called on a group of 11 Democratic senators to join reform efforts in what Inhofe said would create a veto-proof 69-vote majority in the Senate.

Inhofe's committee released a 38-page report Tuesday that outlines examples the committee collected of how the WOTUS rule already is being implemented despite a national injunction in place preventing the rule's enforcement.

"This new majority committee report demonstrates in detail that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Obama administration, are running rogue," Inhofe said in a statement. "... Congress shouldn't wait on the Supreme Court to make the inevitable decision that this agency overreach is illegal. This report should be evidence enough that it's time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to rein in EPA and the Corps."

The Senate committee's report outlines a number of instances showing Clean Water Act exemptions that farmers and ranchers rely on to run their operations. Those exemptions may be in jeopardy under the new rule.

The report said "case studies" collected by the Senate committee show the federal agencies already are enforcing the rule that will "codify many of the most extreme overreaches of federal authority asserted by these agencies."

In one example, in 2014, an Indiana farmer cleared trees from his property to expand his farming operation. The Corps claimed the farmer's activity destroyed an ephemeral drainage characterized as a regulated tributary.

"The Corps claimed jurisdiction based on a soil survey (although the Corps did not claim wetlands were present), Google Earth aerial photographs taken before the trees were cleared, and speculation that a drainage existed beneath the tree canopy," the report said.

In another example from the report, in 2015, the Corps told a landowner that changing the use of a field from alfalfa to orchards would "constitute a land-use change and that Corps regulators could pursue an enforcement action against the landowner if they thought plowing the field to plant trees involved a discharge to wetlands."

The report said the agency told the landowner that despite an "extensive farming history, orchards were never planted on the ranch so they are not the same kind of farming and might not be considered a normal farming activity."

In a Nov. 3, 2015, letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, a group of one Independent and 10 Senate Democrats said they would pursue reforms to the water of the U.S. rule if the agencies didn't provide clarity to farmers, ranchers and others. That letter was signed by Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine; Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson, Fla.; Tim Kaine, Va.; Mark Warner, Va.; Dianne Feinstein, Calif.; Brian Schatz, Hawaii; Chris Coons, Del.; Tom Carper, Del.; Jon Tester, Mont.; Michael Bennet, Colo.; and Amy Klobuchar, Minn.

In a letter to those senators this week, Inhofe said he believes the report should serve as a basis for pursuing reform.

"Given the facts set forth in the attached report, it is clear to me that the test set forth in your Nov. 3 letter has been met," Inhofe said in the letter. "There is no certainty or clarity regarding CWA jurisdiction and EPA and the Corps have eroded traditional exemptions ... I hope that you live up to the commitment you made last November and work with me on tailored legislation to end the abuses identified in the case studies presented ..."

When contacted by DTN Tuesday, EPA said, "We will review and respond" to the Senate report.

The fate of the WOTUS rule remains tied up in the U.S. District Court for the Sixth District in Cincinnati. According to court documents, the legal battle will continue on into 2017.

Earlier this month, the American Farm Bureau Federation petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the WOTUS cases should be heard by an appeals court or a district court.

"The case studies presented in the report reflect the serious concerns we have raised for more than two years now: the new 'Waters of the U.S.' rule takes the EPA's and Corps' longstanding regulatory overreach and gives it a new name," AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.

"The agencies have persistently and unlawfully stretched the limited authority Congress gave them, even to the point of regulating ordinary plowing, a normal farming activity exempted by Congress. They have even claimed authority to regulate tire ruts and puddles found on the farm."


In its report, the Environment and Public Works Committee said it was drawing a number of conclusions about how the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers may be treating ag exemptions based on the case studies it collected.

"EPA and the Corps have and will continue to advance very broad claims of jurisdiction based on discretionary authority to define their own jurisdiction.

"The WOTUS rule would codify the agencies' broadest theories of jurisdiction ... Landowners will not be able to rely on current statutory exemptions or the new regulatory exemptions because the agencies have narrowed the exemptions in practice and simply regulate under another name."

In particular, the Republican majority on the EPW Committee express concern about the loss of exemptions for plowing, crop-switching and puddles.

"If Congress does not act, the newly won ability to challenge Corps jurisdictional determinations and claim exemptions will be moot because the WOTUS rule establishes jurisdiction by rule that will extend to all the activities described in the case studies," the committee report said.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Tracy Brunner said the EPW report was "conclusive evidence" of EPA's efforts to expand jurisdiction.

"While the courts have temporarily suspended enforcement and implementation of the rule, the EPA continues to exercise federal control over private land in a way that erodes the agricultural exemptions in the Clean Water Act," Brunner said in a news release.

"While EPA has consistently claimed that the WOTUS rule preserves the exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, their regulatory track record proves the exact opposite," Brunner said.

Read the Senate report here:…

Read the Senate Democrats' letter to EPA and the Corps of Engineers here:…

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Wed. Sep 21, 2016 1:43 PM

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Retail fertilizer prices continued their steep decline the second week of September 2016, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. For the sixth week in a row, prices for fertilizers are considerably lower with all but one of the fertilizers having sizeable prices drops.

Leading the way lower this week is 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer is 10% lower compared to month earlier and had an average price of $474 per ton. UAN32 is 9% less expensive and has an average price of $272/ton. Potash is down 7% and has an average price of $320/ton.

Both urea and UAN28 were down 6% compared to the previous month. Urea had an average price of $324/ton and UAN28 $233/ton.

Both MAP and anhydrous were 5% less expensive, looking back to a month earlier. MAP had an average price of $458/ton and anhydrous $496/ton.

The one fertilizer with just a slight price decline compared to last month was DAP. The phosphorus fertilizer had an average price of $444/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.35/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Last week, the boards of directors of Agrium, Inc. and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) unanimously agreed to merge the two companies. This merger will create the largest crop nutrient company in the world, according to press releases from both companies.

A new parent company will be formed to own both companies, and the new company will be named prior to the transaction's closing. The new company will have 20,000 employees, operations and investments in 18 countries and have a pro forma enterprise value of $36 billion.

In addition, the new company would have net revenue of approximately $20.6 billion.

"Our merger creates a new premier Canadian-headquartered company that reflects our shared commitment to creating value and unlocking growth potential for shareholders," said PotashCorp President and Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk.

"This is a transformational merger that creates benefits and growth opportunities that neither company could achieve alone," Agrium President and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Magro said. "Combining our complementary assets will enable us to serve our customers more efficiently, deliver significant operating synergies and improve our cash flows to provide capital returns and invest in growth."

The new company will be led by Tilk, who will serve as executive chairman and Magro, who will serve as chief executive officer. Both will report to a new board of directors.

Following the closing of the transaction, the new company will have its registered head office in Saskatoon, with Canadian corporate offices in both Calgary and Saskatoon. The transaction is expected to be closed during mid-2017, subject to several different company and Canadian court approvals.

Retail fertilizer prices are lower compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double-digits lower.

10-34-0 is now down 20% while DAP, MAP and UAN32 are all 21% lower. UAN28 is now 22% lower, anhydrous is 24% less expensive, urea is down 25% and potash is 31% lower compared to a year prior.

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 price in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to November 2008 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):

Sept 14-18 2015 563 579 462 432
Oct 12-16 2015 547 564 440 418
Nov 9-13 2015 547 561 426 405
Dec 7-11 2015 534 555 417 397
Jan 4-8 2016 495 521 392 381
Feb 1-5 2016 488 502 381 370
Feb 29-Mar 4 2016 476 492 373 374
Mar 28-Apr 1 2016 478 501 370 386
Apr 25-29 2016 476 502 366 386
May 23-27 2016 476 501 365 381
June 20-24 2016 470 495 358 366
July 18-22 2016 464 493 357 357
Aug 15-19 2016 452 471 333 337
Sept 12-16 2016 444 458 320 324
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Sept 14-18 2015 593 653 300 345
Oct 12-16 2015 584 640 295 338
Nov 9-13 2015 581 631 289 332
Dec 7-11 2015 575 625 284 330
Jan 4-8 2016 572 582 273 316
Feb 1-5 2016 549 555 263 305
Feb 29-Mar 4 2016 566 537 260 309
Mar 28-Apr 1 2016 561 580 268 315
Apr 25-29 2016 560 587 274 321
May 23-27 2016 560 587 274 321
June 20-24 2016 554 567 265 305
July 18-22 2016 546 546 260 304
Aug 15-19 2016 513 516 238 285
Sept 12-16 2016 474 496 233 272

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


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