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Soy Briefs

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Reliable transportation is critical to the profitability of soybean farmers — sixty percent of the nation's soybean exports are transported via the Mississippi River. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Washington, DC — U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Dick Durbin of Illinois, along with Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Jason Smith of Missouri, led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Senate and House appropriators urging the inclusion of funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program (NESP) in the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills.

NESP, which was authorized in Title VIII of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, would modernize and expand seven outdated locks and restore ecosystems along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Funding is needed so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) can move forward with preconstruction engineering and design (PED) for the projects.

“While the condition of many of the locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River has continued to deteriorate, farmers and other barge customers have been urging Congress to provide needed investment in this critical link in our logistics chain,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

“We applaud Senator Grassley for helping lead the request for funding the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP),” he continued. “If completed, NESP will ultimately modernize five locks on the Upper Mississippi River and two locks on the Illinois River – allowing soybeans and other commodities to more efficiently and reliably access international markets. We also thank Congressman Loebsack and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer for lending their support to this important effort.” 

Inland and intercoastal waterways and ports are vital to the U.S. economy. These waterways serve 38 states throughout the nation as shippers and consumers depend on the ability to move around 600 million tons of cargo valued at $232 billion annually.

The United States is the world’s largest agricultural exporting country, selling one-third of its product abroad. Agricultural exports account for about one-quarter of farm cash receipts. In 2015, 73 percent of U.S. agricultural exports were carried on U.S. waterways, as well as 65 percent of imports.

Full text of the letter is available here.

Des Moines, IA — United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Amanda De Jong announced that FSA offices in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties in Iowa are accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) beginning April 15to address damages from spring flooding. ECP enrollment deadlines may vary by county, as such, producers need to contact their local FSA office for more information.

The approved ECP practices under this authorization may include debris removal; fencing replacement and repair; grading, shaping and leveling of impacted fields; and conservation structure rehabilitation. For more information on eligible practices, please contact your local FSA county office.

ECP assists producers with the recovery cost to restore the agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75 percent of the cost of approved restoration activity. 

“Dealing with natural disasters is never easy and the extreme weather we’ve had this spring is going to require we all work together to get farmland back in use. ECP is one more tool producers can utilize on their road to recovery.  It is important that producers contact their local FSA office before they take action to permanently repair damages to discuss their options,” said De Jong. 

Producers with damage must apply for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work to qualify for cost-share assistance. The use of ECP funds is limited to activities to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the flooding are not eligible for ECP assistance.

For more information on the Emergency Conservation Program, please contact your FSA county office. To find your local FSA office, go to Visit USDA's to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has a comprehensive list of additional local, state and federal resources here:

Des Moines, IA — USDA FSA State Executive Director Amanda De Jong announced that emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres is approved in Iowa now through May 14, 2019. The authorization was granted to address the impacts of the recent extreme weather, including flooding. Participation is limited to livestock producers who lost pasture or fences due to the flooding.

“By allowing emergency grazing, we expand the available resources to help Iowa producers respond to recent weather events,” De Jong said.

Producers who are interested in the use of emergency grazing of CRP acres must request FSA county office approval before moving livestock onto the acres. Producers whose livestock grazing land was adversely impacted by the flood, must file a CCC-576 Notice of Loss or provide written certification of that loss. The request must include a modified conservation plan, with grazing provisions, from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under this emergency grazing authorization; however, the livestock owners will also need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather. There will be no reduction in CRP rental payments to CRP contract holders who use the emergency grazing authorization. CRP contract holders are not permitted to charge livestock producers for the emergency grazing option.

For more information on eligible practices or to request approval for emergency grazing use of CRP acres, contact your local FSA office or visit

Washington, DC — Originally scheduled for February 2019, the 2017 Census of Agriculture release was postponed because of the lapse in federal funding earlier in the year. The results were released April 11.

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land - whether rural or urban - growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.

Key highlights:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 ag census showed there were 86,104 farms in Iowa in 2017. This was down 2,533 farms from 2012, the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) data showed. The average Iowa farm, the report said, was 355 acres, up 10 acres from the 2012 census.
  • The 2017 Census revealed a growth in Iowa farms with 2,000 or more acres (up 239 farms), 180-499 acres (up 518 farms), and 1 to 9 acres (up 2,413 farms). There was a decrease in Iowa farms with 1,000 to 1,999 acres (down 50 farms), 500 to 999 acres (down 1,200 farms), 50 to 179 acres (down 1957 farms) and 10 to 49 acres (down 2,482 farms).
  • The Census showed there were 2.04 million farms in the United States as of the 2017 census. That was down from 2.11 million farms in 2012.  USDA data showed the average size of a U.S. farm was 441 acres, down from 434 acres in 2012.

Want an overview of the 2017 Census of Agriculture data? Don’t miss the Census of Agriculture Data Highlight Series on farm economics, demographics, and more.

New for the 2017 Census of Agriculture data release, the Census Data Query Tool(CDQT) is available to access and download Census data. The CDQT is unique in that it automatically displays matching data sets from the past five Census of Agriculture publications for easy comparison. All Census data can still be accessed using NASS’ most comprehensive tool, Quick Stats, as well.

Des Moines, IA — The National Pork Producers Council's (NPPC) board of directors has announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo 2019 out of an abundance of caution as African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia.

"While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution," said David Herring, NPPC president.

"The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it,” said the Lillington, N.C. pork producer. Prevention is our only defense against ASF, and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States."

The World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. ASF affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is currently no vaccine to treat the swine disease, which causes high mortality in domestic and wild pigs.

The National Swine Registry (NSR) swine show, which is typically held in conjunction with World Pork Expo, is still being held, NSR announced.

Evansville, IN — The rapid spread of African swine fever through China has left American farmers uncertain about the future of agricultural trade between the two countries, even after the trade war ends.

China’s main attempt to slow the spread of the disease has been culling millions of hogs but it has had little success. Experts estimate it will claim many millions more of the animals in the coming years.

"There's no question there is going to be a reduced demand" for soy, said Tim Bardole, an Iowa soybean grower and president-elect of the Iowa Soybean Association who recently visited with soy importers in China. "There are a wide range of estimates, but it will be a pretty substantial reduction. And it's not over. Everyone we talked to [in China] thinks it's going to get worse before it gets better. "

Washington, DC — Farmers have until May 10 to apply for funding under the Conservation Stewardship Program, the largest working lands conservation program in the country.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matthew Lohr said CSP continues to be a “very effective tool” for private landowners working to achieve their conservation goals.

For the most part, this signup will be similar to past years, but new contracts will be eligible for increased payment rates for practices such as cover crops (shown above) and crop rotations that can prevent runoff of nutrients from cropland. Those higher rates were among the changes that the 2018 farm bill made in the program, not all of which are being implemented in this signup.

For media inquiries, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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