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Soy Briefs

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Blockchain technology has the potential to transform agriculture but to adopt it farmers will need to leave their pencils and paper behind. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Orlando, FL — More and more, blockchain is becoming a buzzword. Years ago, it was associated with the instability of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Today farmers and agribusinesses are realizing it could be the business tool for the future. According to experts speaking at an educational session at Commodity Classic, the biggest obstacle for agriculture's entry into the blockchain is leaving the pencil and paper behind.

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Ames, IA — Nearly 70 Nuffield Farming Scholars representing 13 countries ventured into the Iowa countryside on Monday. They toured Iowa Soybean Association member Bill Couser’s cattle and grain farm in Nevada and Eagle’s Catch, an up-and-coming tilapia farm operated by Joe Sweeny in Ellsworth.

The group of international scholars, each studying a unique global agricultural issue, is visiting Iowa this week for the 2019 Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference. Held at the Gateway Hotel in Ames, more than 120 international scholars, speakers, investors, country executives, board members and guests are in attendance.

Rose Danaher, an Amana, Iowa native, is one of two 2019 Nuffield International Farming Scholars from the U.S. She will focus her studies on water quality strategies to reduce the water quality impacts of production agriculture and will develop tactics to educate the public about what farmers are doing to improve water quality.

Her scholarship is co-sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association and Kee’s Creek Farm in Delaware. 

Read more about Rose’s studies.

Washington, DC — From crop insurance to conservation programs and transportation, President Trump’s proposed budget would significantly slash programs vital to the soybean industry.

Impacted areas include:

  • Cuts to crop insurance and farm subsidies would be deep, totaling $28 billion over 10 years.
  • Conservation program cuts, as proposed, would total nearly $9 billion over the next decade.
  • Potential reductions to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs that support inland waterways infrastructure, contrary to President Trump’s pledge to invest in infrastructure.
  • Proposed end to the Food for Progress program, which donates U.S. commodities, including soy products, to developing nations.

However, the White House proposal does call for an unspecified increase in funding for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to support the President’s trade agenda.

“These cuts seem like a 180 from support we saw a few short months ago,” ASA president and soybean farmer from Clinton, Kentucky, Davie Stephens said. “President Trump praised the 2018 Farm Bill and the bipartisan majorities that passed it in both the House and the Senate at the signing ceremony on December 20. I and other farmers are confused as to why his budget proposal would include wholesale changes and spending cuts in Farm Bill programs.”

More specifics on the proposed budget.

Washington, DC — Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are likely in their final weeks, but that’s no guarantee the trade war between the two countries will end any time soon, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers Tuesday.

“There are still major, major issues that have to be resolved,” Lighthizer testified at a Senate Finance Committee under intense questioning. “And if those issues are not resolved in a way that’s beneficial to the United States, we will not have an agreement.”

There’s still no date set for a summit between the U.S. and Chinese presidents, but China appears to be following through on its promise to buy more U.S. soybeans even as the trade war continues. USDA announced Monday an export sale of 926,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans to China in the current 2018-19 marketing year, following a sale of 664,000 tons last week. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He promised last month purchases of 10 million tons.

But falling import numbers and an outbreak of African swine fever in China have added to concerns that the world’s second largest economy may not be able to live up to its pledges to buy more. Since August, China has reported 111 outbreaks of African swine fever in 28 of its provinces and regions.

About 1 million pigs have been culled so far in an effort to try to control the spread of the disease, and China’s pig herd fell 13 percent in January compared with the same month a year earlier. The number of breeding sows was down 15 percent from the previous year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Heyworth, IL — Farmers probably already know that soybean seed supplies are tight for 2019. Worse yet, Ken Ferrie says the quality of a lot of varieties is significantly below average. The issue with this year’s seed goes back to last fall.

Ferrie gives some specific ideas in this week’s Boots In the Field Report podcast on what you can do prior to planting to address seed quality. He also discusses how you might want to go about your planting process.

Listen here.

Ames, IA — Iowa farmers who sell corn to Cargill at the Eddyville plant or soybeans to Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Des Moines could be eligible for cost share to help make cover crops work on their farms. Practical Farmer of Iowa can help!

To determine your eligibility, complete the application here.

West Des Moines, IA — Join the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers on Friday, March 15th as they present the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award to Rick and Beth Oshel of Clarke county.

The event, which includes a meal, will be held from 11am-1pm at the Weldon Community Center, 101 1st St. W, Weldon, IA 50264. WHO's The Big Show will be broadcasting live from the event and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will present the award to the Clarke county cattle producers.

Lenexa, KS — Farmers might be at risk for being denied a farm-program payment or, worse, forced to repay one they’ve already received. That’s a concern of Matthew Farrell, who is an expert on Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs. He is seeing an increased number of farmers treading on potential land mines through their participation in the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

Continue reading.

Lenexa, KS — While 2019 income forecasts are expected to be above 2018, they’re still dramatically lower than the average over the past 91 years. In 2019 experts expect net farm income to reach $69.4 billion, 2018 hit $64.2 billion and the 91-year average (adjusted to 2019 dollars) is $84.2 billion.

“Although the forecast for higher income caught most of the headlines, farm financial conditions are still challenging,” said David Widmar and Brent Gloy in a recent post on Agricultural Economic Insights. “Since 1990, net farm income has only been less than $70 billion six times.”

Read more.

Washington, DC — Biofuel credit traders would be placed under a new set of limitations under a proposed rule released today by the Environmental Protection Agency that would also allow summer E15 sales, reports Agri-Pulse.

The proposed rule, signed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Tuesday, would make regulatory changes to allow summer E15 sales and make structural changes to the trading market for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the credits used to track compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Read more on Agri-Pulse.

Manhattan, NY — The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to reverse his decision to implement ‘Meatless Mondays’ in more than 1,800 New York City public schools. The letter, written by NAMI’s president and CEO Julie Anna Potts, disputes claims made by policymakers justifying the decision and expressed concerns over the nutritional consequences this decision would have on New York City students.

“Meatless Monday is troubling because, besides lacking a scientific foundation, it is about denying choice," Potts said. "Those who choose to consume meat and poultry because it is a known and trusted source of affordable, wholesome, and delicious nutrition should not be denied that option based on bureaucratic fiat.”

Read more.

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