DTN Ag Headlines

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Trump administration officials assured dozens of representatives from agriculture and biofuels groups on an Oct. 3 phone briefing the EPA would use a three-year rolling average of small-refinery exemption volumes from 2016 to 2018 to account for future waivers.

It was the reason biofuels groups endorsed the agreement.

The next day the administration announced details of the deal outlined in the phone call -- EPA would take the average of about 4 billion gallons waived since 2016, or about 1.35 billion gallons per year, and plug that into future Renewable Fuel Standard volume proposals.

"There is outrage EPA did not implement the details of the agreement," Iowa Corn Growers Association Chief Executive Officer Craig Floss said during a news conference on Wednesday.

"No more Iowa nice; now it's Iowa pissed."

The agency announced a supplemental proposal on Tuesday that calls for accounting for 770 million gallons annually in expected exemptions. That number falls far below the average annual gallons exempted from 2016 to 2018. In 2016, EPA granted exemptions on 790 million gallons. In 2017, the agency waived 1.82 billion gallons, and in 2018 it waived 1.43 billion gallons.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said he was on the call.

"In the briefing they told us specifically how they were going to return integrity to the RFS," he said.

"They would use a three-year rolling average. It is a pure math formula. Hearing that mechanism was the key to us getting behind that number. But EPA replaced certainty with broad EPA flexibility. We're being told that instead of having a deal struck, we have to rely on the good faith of the EPA."

Since EPA announced 31 new exemptions this summer, Shaw said it was the final nail in the coffin for many biofuels companies.

In Iowa alone, four ethanol and biodiesel plants have stopped production. Biofuels plants around the country have announced closures or production cutbacks, citing the latest round of exemptions issued as a reason.

"Seventy percent to 75% of ethanol plants in the U.S. started burning cash," Shaw said. "The deal was finalized and the deal was explicitly detailed to us. Without the specific commitment we wouldn't have supported it. It's the EPA that's reneging on the deal. You could almost hear a sigh of relief on that call."

In the proposal, EPA reverses course on the idea of granting partial exemptions to small refineries. The U.S. Department of Energy has recommended to EPA the possibility of doing that, but the EPA has rejected it until now.

EPA indicates in its latest proposal it may consider granting partial waivers, as a way to assure statutory obligations are met to blend 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels such as corn-based ethanol and other RFS volumes.

The proposal, however, gives EPA wide flexibility in how it implements the waivers program.

Administration officials, however, made clear the formula used would calculate the three-year rolling average, Shaw said.

Grant Kimberly, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said the EPA has since 2015 wiped out 550 million gallons of biodiesel demand nationally through exemptions.

To put that in perspective, biodiesel plants in Iowa produced 365 million gallons in 2018.

"We are deeply concerned by this EPA proposal," Kimberly said. "(The deal) is the remedy we need to help plants reopen their doors. A full accounting of SREs was a promise. This is likely to inflict further damage to biodiesel and the farm economy."

Shaw said he's concerned the new proposal offers no assurance to other biofuels producers that currently operating plants would remain open.

The 770-million-gallon figure EPA proposed this week, Kimberly said, was at no point part of any discussions in which agriculture and biofuels groups were involved.

"The 770 million gallons was never on the table," he said. "It was never part of the deal. This is such an easy issue to rectify."

Shaw said biofuels groups are approaching the issue as just an EPA proposal subject to change.

"I'm still optimistic that he (Trump) struck a deal," he said. "With Mr. Trump a deal is a deal. As far as I'm concerned we have a deal. We are not walking away from that deal."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- With much of the 2019 soybean crop still in the field, the state of Illinois pushed the 2020 soybean season into the limelight last week.

Late on Friday afternoon, October 11, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced that it has submitted additional label restrictions for dicamba herbicides used with the Xtend cropping system in 2020. Under this Section 24(c) Special Local Need (SLN) label, Illinois growers will only have until June 20 to spray dicamba herbicides in Xtend crops, and cannot spray them when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.

The state's move here forces the EPA to solidify its position on Section 24(c) labels that further restrict federal labels, which the agency announced it was re-evaluating earlier this year. It also forces the registrants of dicamba herbicides, Bayer and BASF, to decide how they will deal with state regulators who continue to insist that their chemicals cannot be applied safely using only the federal labels.


For three years, Illinois regulators have faced a dramatic increase in pesticide injury complaints from dicamba moving off-target. As of October 11, the state's pesticide investigators were juggling an unprecedented 724 cases of alleged dicamba injury.

Last year, IDOA created a dicamba cutoff date of June 30, but then extended it to July 15 for late, June-planted soybean fields. Although some of the dicamba applications leading to injury reports did occur because of that July 15 cutoff date, the state also saw some of its hottest temperatures in late June, before the original cutoff date, IDOA director John Sullivan noted. Based on that experience, the department landed on June 20 as the cutoff date for 2020.

Unlike 2019, the state's newly proposed June 20 cutoff date will not be open to adjustments in 2020, Sullivan told DTN. "We're trying to get dicamba applications done before the weather gets hot and hits that temperature trigger of 85 degrees," he said.

Illinois isn't the only state wrestling with dicamba management this year. Indiana is also facing a record number of complaints, 178, this year. Other states, such as Arkansas, are seeing dicamba injury levels similar to last year's, despite increased Xtend crop acreage and revised federal labels.


To date, Section 24(c) labels have been the preferred method of trying to limit off-target dicamba movement for many of these state's pesticide regulators. Only one state, Arkansas, has consistently made changes to state dicamba use without using Section 24(c). Instead, the Arkansas State Plant Board has enacted new state rules each year governing dicamba use. Other states such as Minnesota and North Dakota have produced annual Section 24(c) labels for dicamba with additional restrictions, such as cutoff dates.

So what's the problem?

At issue is the actual language of Section 24(c), which only permits states to grant additional uses of a federal pesticide -- not restrict it further. However, for many years, EPA has permitted the use of more restrictive Section 24(c) labels and has stated so explicitly in its official guidance online.

"Yes, under certain circumstances states may impose more restrictive measures than are on [federal] labels, or limit use to a subset of uses on [federal] labels," the agency states in its Guidance on FIFRA 24(c) Registrations, found here: https://www.epa.gov/….

However, the growing number of restrictive 24(c) labels for dicamba sparked some concerns in the past year at EPA, which culminated in the agency making this announcement in March 2019:

"Because section 24(a) allows states to regulate the use of any federally registered pesticide, and some states have instead used 24(c) to implement cut-off dates (and/or impose other restrictions), EPA is now re-evaluating its approach to reviewing 24(c) registrations and the circumstances under which it will exercise its authority to disapprove those registrations."

The announcement alarmed state regulators, who fear that without the fast-moving process of 24(c) labels, they will not have the flexibility to adjust pesticide labels as needed on an annual basis. See the DTN story here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

EPA has promised to issue a public comment period for any proposed changes and stated that all 2019 24(c) labels would be unaffected. Now, with 2020 Section 24(c) labels coming into the picture, the agency still has not made any official moves on the issue. When queried by DTN about EPA's stance on restrictive state labels for dicamba in 2020, an agency representative replied via email:

"Regarding the reevaluation of the 24(c) process, EPA intends to take public comment on potential approaches before adopting any changes. As such, EPA is not making any immediate changes in this area."

Sullivan said EPA should keep in mind the reason for this proliferation of restrictive 24(c) labels for dicamba as they reevaluate the system.

"If you look at big picture, there are many state agencies that believe that U.S. EPA ought to be taking a more solid stand on this product -- recognize that it is an issue and take a more active role in managing this product," he said. "And they haven't done that, and that's what driven so many states, Illinois included, to look at additional 24(c) label restrictions."

For their part, dicamba registrants BASF and Bayer appear ready to accept such restrictions in 2020 from Illinois. BASF spokesperson Odessa Hines told DTN via email that "BASF will continue to support states with Special Local Need labeling where they believe additional restrictions are warranted," although the company "believes the Engenia herbicide container label addresses the necessary application practices for minimizing off-target applications."

Bayer spokesperson Kyel Richard said while the company doesn't believe the Illinois restrictions are necessary, it will not be challenging them at this time, because "continued access to the Xtend technology for farmers is the most important thing at this point."

"As Illinois growers work to implement effective weed management strategies in a shortened timeframe, we'll collaborate with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, grower groups and others to ensure Illinois growers and certified applicators are equipped with the necessary resources and recommendations to make it a successful season," Richard said.

See more on the Illinois announcement of new dicamba restrictions in 2020 here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com.

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee.


By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

OMAHA (DTN) -- The domestic distillers dried grains (DDG) weekly average spot price from the 40 locations DTN contacted was down $1, to $141 per ton for the week ended Oct. 16. Prices were mixed from various sellers, but overall, the DDG price this week came under some pressure from the weaker cash corn price.

Based on the average of prices collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to corn for the week ended Oct. 16 was at 100.78%. The value of DDG relative to soybean meal was at 46.26%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $5.22, compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.42.

Various closures on the Mississippi River are likely stalling transport of some export containers to the Gulf this week. In the Upper Mississippi River, Locks 16 and 17 have been closed to northbound and southbound traffic since Oct. 13. American Commercial Barge Line noted that the latest forecasts reflect Lock 17 will reopen the evening of Oct. 17 and Lock 16 will reopen the morning of Oct. 18. Twenty-four hours of transit delays are expected for the cleanup of both locks.

In the Lower Mississippi there is a closure at Mile 249 as of Oct. 16 through Oct. 18 from 07:00-17:00 to southbound tows with four or more barges. At the Gulf, weather fronts moving through the Gulf and Canal areas this week through Oct. 18 will cause intermittent delays there from wind and fog, added ACBL.

COMPANY STATE 10/16/2019 10/11/2019
Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)
Missouri Dry $150 $150 $0
Wet $75 $75 $0
Show Me Ethanol LLC, Carrollton, MO (660-542-6493)
Missouri Subject Dry $147 $147 $0
Wet $75 $75 $0
CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)
Subject Illinois Dry $140 $140 $0
Subject Indiana Dry $140 $140 $0
Subject Iowa Dry $135 $135 $0
Subject Michigan Dry $150 $150 $0
Subject Minnesota Dry $135 $135 $0
Subject North Dakota Dry $130 $130 $0
Subject New York Dry $150 $150 $0
Subject South Dakota Dry $125 $125 $0
MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)
Kansas Dry $145 $145 $0
POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)
Indiana Dry $140 $150 -$10
Iowa Dry $140 $145 -$5
Michigan Dry $135 $135 $0
Minnesota Dry $138 $140 -$2
Missouri Dry $143 $145 -$2
Ohio Dry $145 $155 -$10
South Dakota Dry $150 $150 $0
United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)
Kansas Dry $145 $140 $5
Wet $55 $45 $10
Illinois Dry $147 $147 $0
Nebraska Dry $135 $145 -$10
Wet $45 $45 $0
U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)
Illinois Dry $145 $145 $0
Indiana Dry $155 $155 $0
Iowa Dry $140 $140 $0
Michigan Dry $150 $150 $0
Minnesota Dry $135 $135 $0
Nebraska Dry $140 $140 $0
New York Dry $165 $165 $0
North Dakota Dry $140 $140 $0
Ohio Dry $155 $155 $0
South Dakota Dry $135 $135 $0
Wisconsin Dry $135 $135 $0
Valero Energy Corp, San Antonio Texas (210-345-3362) (210-345-3362)
Indiana Dry $136 $136 $0
Iowa Dry $145 $135 $10
Minnesota Dry $140 $140 $0
Nebraska Dry $135 $135 $0
Ohio Dry $145 $145 $0
South Dakota Dry $135 $135 $0
California Dry $205 $200 $5
Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)
California Dry $203 $206 -$3
*Prices listed per ton.
Weekly Average $141 $142 -$1
The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN
collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and
California are not included in the averages.
Settlement Price: Quote Date Bushel Short Ton
Corn 10/16/2019 $3.9175 $139.91
Soybean Meal 10/16/2019 $304.80
DDG Weekly Average Spot Price $141.00
DDG Value Relative to: 10/16 10/10
Corn 100.78% 104.56%
Soybean Meal 46.26% 46.69%
Cost Per Unit of Protein:
DDG $5.22 $5.26
Soybean Meal $6.42 $6.40
Corn and soybean prices take from DTN Market Quotes. DDG price
represents the average spot price from Midwest companies
collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5. DDG cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 27.

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

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By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Keep those combines rollin' is the theme song for many of the nation's farmers this week. There's no time left to worry about rain, wind or weather. It is simply go time.

Perspective on this long 2019 season is only a few states away for Scott Wallis. As of Oct. 14, the Indiana farmer had harvested half of the 3,100 acres he and his family farm near Princeton and across the Wabash River into Illinois.

And he feels lucky. Getting rained out this past weekend and traveling to St. Louis to witness his beloved Cardinals lose a playoff game wasn't enough to dampen his spirits when he considers some southern farmers are facing crippling drought, and crops in the Plains states were blanketed by an untimely blizzard.

Ashley Andersen is also counting her blessings. Snow sidestepped the farm she and husband, Jarett, operate near Blair, Nebraska. While some rains have hampered their harvest progress, they have been able to find moments to harvest, and predictions indicate skies may be clearing for the coming week.

Wallis and Andersen have been participating in DTN's weekly View From the Cab series since May 2019 -- documenting the roller coaster crop year and giving personal insights into their farming lives.

Both regions of the country are likely to see some rainfall early next week, said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

"Things are looking better for eastern Nebraska," Anderson added. "There will be some shower and thunderstorm activity early next week (Oct. 21-22), but total rainfall should be less than a quarter-inch.

"That's it for rain over the next two weeks for that portion of Nebraska. My assessment is that Ashley's operation will be able to get some harvesting done."

In Indiana, Wallis will have to dodge a few more drops. DTN's Anderson expected to see around .40 inch fall midweek and then dry conditions until another half-inch of rain arrives on Saturday.

"Thunderstorms in that region are expected Monday and Tuesday next week with totals around .80 inches," Anderson said. "Another .30 inch is in the forecast for the following weekend (Oct. 26-27). Southwestern Indiana is almost 4 inches below normal on precipitation since Sept. 1, so it could be that a lot of that moisture soaks into the ground quickly," he added.

This week the farmers give a harvest update; admit grain cart drivers get no respect; discuss field repairs; and talk about farm kids.

Here's what's happening in their farming worlds this week.


Four-year-old Eli Andersen woke his parents before the sun was up this past Friday to inform them it was time to get to the field.

"It wasn't even six o'clock and he was dressed like a miniature version of his father with hat, boots, jeans -- and the matching leather pliers holder," Ashley Andersen said.

"He had a good pout that day upon learning it had rained enough to stall field work," she said.

One-year-old Kasey already has the farming fever too. "He stands at the sliding glass door, which overlooks the farm and screams at the machines working below," she said. "Honestly, sometimes it's a bit much. Is it because they hang out all day with Mom that they so desperately want to be with Dad? Or is Dad just that much more fun?"

That is an age-old question voiced by nearly every exasperated mother at one point or another. But both Ashley and her husband, Jarett, grew up yearning to be involved in agriculture and understand the allure of the outdoors. After a year of flooding, drought and more wet weather, that passion may be temporarily battered a bit, but farming as a family remains their focus.

"Our children are young enough that we try to protect them from shouldering any of the worry that comes with a less than perfect crop year," Ashley noted. "Still, it is impossible to shield them from some of the realities of bigger things like flooding. Haley, who is seven, has a firm grasp of what it means when it rains too much.

"This year has caused me to think more about my own childhood and realize how much our parents sacrificed or did without during some tough times," Andersen noted. "We both have some really good role models in our own parents."

Jarett points out that having crop insurance is a safety net their parents didn't have back in the day. "Access to those kinds of tools puts me more at ease if agriculture is the path our children choose to take," he said. Diversification into trucking has also provided financial stability for the Andersens.

Windy conditions have helped to dry soils from the most recent rains and allowed harvest to get underway. Corn and soybean yields have been running right at historical average for the farm with considerable yield variability within each field.

"We finally were able to start harvesting beans this week and prefer to take them out first, before they start to shatter," Ashley said. "Right now, we're just choosing what fields to harvest by soil conditions as most of the crops are dry enough to harvest."

When operating the grain cart, Ashley takes a good share of good-natured ribbing from the rest of the farm crew for folding the auger in after each use.

"That's one less thing I have to worry about if it is folded," she said. "I realize that means probably fold it 500 times a day. I'm fine with that."

Thankfully, the ability to finally harvest has flipped some attitudes, she said. "Farming suddenly seems kind of fun again -- now that we are back in the field and actually accomplishing something.

"That uncertainty of if and when harvest was going to happen was really stressful," Ashley said.


It's been soybeans filling the combine tank this week for Scott Wallis, Princeton, Indiana. The one thing that stands out from the experience so far is calendar date.

"There's a significant yield difference between May and June planted beans," Wallis said. "From what I've gathered from neighbors and comparing to our results, there's about a 15 bushel per acre (bpa) advantage in this area to those planted in May versus those planted early to mid-June."

Predictability, other things mattered to yield too. For instance, a 160-acre soybean field he finished cutting on Monday was averaging 60 bpa. Those beans were planted in early June on clay hills when it was too wet. Another field on some better soils with better stands averaged 71 bpa, despite the fact they were planted June 12.

Going back over the season in his mind, Wallis is convinced a second planter must be in the farm's future to gain timeliness. With the addition of another farming partner this year, they have the manpower to roll more machines.

"I'm not saying that we could have found enough dry ground this spring to get 1,100 acres of soybeans planted in May, but we would have had 600 to 700 acres," he said.

While the soybeans themselves are dry enough, some of the stems are still green as a gourd, he said. "We've cut a lot of green soybeans in our time. It sure slows things down, but you just have to take your time and make sure your knives are sharp," Wallis said.

Constant wetting and drying of the soybeans either from heavy dew or repeated rainfall leads to shattering. So the goal now is to cut all the soybeans that are ready before switching back to corn.

The farm purchased a used dirt pan this summer. Son-in-law and farming partner, Brad Winter, has past construction experience and he's been repairing waterways and areas of fields that suffered water damage this spring.

"I think we could run that dirt pan 24/7 until Christmas of 2020 and not get done with those jobs," Wallis said. Cereal rye is being seeded into repaired waterways to hold the soil.

The yield monitor is painfully pointing out the sins of the past planting season, he noted. Spotty soybean stands are especially apparent.

"Next year, if Mother Nature will let us, we need to make sure the soils are right. As one of my neighbors said this week: We need to be over equipped to be efficient when you get that one week to go like gangbusters."

Pamela Smith can be reached at pamela.smith@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN


By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

DES MOINES (DTN) -- The gap remains persistent between global growth of agricultural production and the expected need for food, feed, fiber and bioenergy demands for 10 billion people in 2050.

The Global Agricultural Productivity Index, released annually at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue, shows a spread between projected production and demand. Agricultural Total Factor Productivity, (TFP) is growing globally at a rate of 1.63% annually yet the growth needs to rise 1.73% annually to sustain the needs of a larger population at mid-century.

The Global Agricultural Productivity Index was created by a consortium of several major agricultural input companies that formed the Global Harvest Initiative. The group turned the report and related work over this year to the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The challenge, as consistently measured in these GAP reports, remains with "alarmingly low" TFP growth in low-income countries. Agricultural growth in these low-income countries is projected to rise about 1% annually, but the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals state productivity from low-income farmers needs to double by 2030.

"These productivity gaps, if they persist, will have serious ramifications for environmental sustainability, the economic vitality of the agriculture sector, and the prospects for reducing poverty, malnutrition, and obesity," said Ann Steensland, author of the 2019 GAP Report and coordinator of the GAP Report Initiative at Virginia Tech.

The report states that without intervention, current agricultural productivity trends "will produce significant negative consequences for environmental sustainability, economic development and human nutrition." Farmers will use both more land and water to boost production, which will put more strains on the natural resources already threatened by climate change, the report states.

The United Nations shows roughly 822 million people are malnourished, a number that has been rising since 2015. Due to higher global population, the percentage of people malnourished around the world declined for more than a decade but has leveled off since 2015, between 10.6% and 10.8% of the population.

Globally, agricultural stocks of staple crops remain high at the moment. Global wheat ending stocks are projected for the 2019-20 crop at a record 287.8 million metric tons, according to the October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released by USDA. Rice world ending stocks are projected at 175.1 million metric tons, also a record volume. 2019-20 global ending stocks for corn and soybeans are both projected to be down slightly from recent years.

The GAP report with its history tied to global input and production companies, often repeats similar themes and this year's report reiterates past messages. Strategies for higher production revolve around more investment in public-sector agricultural research and development, as well as extension services. Science and information technologies should be expanded to enable producers of all scales to manage environmental and economic risks, the report states. More investment should occur in infrastructure such as transportation, communication and financial services. Countries should expand trade agreements that improve regional and global trade. And more effort should be invested in post-harvest losses and food waste.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


By Brian Ethridge
DTN Marketing Editor

This article was originally posted at 3:07 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Oct. 15. It was last updated at 3:50 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Oct. 15.


OMAHA (DTN) -- In addition to corn condition dropping 1 percentage point this week, corn estimated as mature is still far behind the five-year average pace, according to USDA NASS' latest Crop Progress report released Tuesday.

As of Sunday, 73% of corn was estimated as mature, 19 percentage points behind the five-year average of 92%. That was slightly closer to the average pace than last week, when corn mature was running 27 percentage points behind average.

"North Dakota and Michigan are just 42% and 44% mature, while Wisconsin and South Dakota are 49% and 53%, respectively," DTN Senior Analyst Dana Mantini said.

Nationwide, corn harvest progressed another 7 percentage points to reach 22% as of Sunday, but that's still 14 percentage points behind the five-year average of 36%.

"North Dakota harvest was just 1% done, while Wisconsin is 3% and South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa are just 5% to 7% done," Mantini noted.

The condition of corn still in fields continued to decline with an estimated 55% good-to-excellent rating, down 1 percentage point from the previous week and the lowest in six years, according to Mantini.

Mantini also noted that, "USDA said 96% of the corn crop is dented as of October 13, up from last week's 93% and below the five-year average of 100%. Ohio, Indiana, the Dakotas and Wisconsin are lagging the most, in a range of 84% to 95% dented; Wisconsin is at 84%."

Soybeans dropping leaves reached 85% as of Sunday, 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 93% -- an improvement from last week when the percent of the crop dropping leaves was running 15 percentage points behind average.

Soybean harvest moved ahead 12 percentage points last week to reach 26%, but still 23 percentage points behind the five-year average of 49%. That was further behind average than in last Monday's report, when soybean harvest was running 7 percentage points behind the average pace.

"North Dakota was 16% done, while South Dakota was only 13% and Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin are all in the 13% to 15% done range," Mantini said. Soybean condition was rated 54% good to excellent, up 1 percentage point from 53% the previous week.

Spring wheat harvest moved ahead only 3 percentage points to reach 94% as of Sunday, 6 percentage points behind the five-year average of 100% complete.

Winter wheat planting progress stood at 65% as of Sunday, equal to the five-year average. Winter wheat emerged was estimated at 41%, 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average.

Sorghum mature was estimated at 81%, just barely behind the average of 82%. Sorghum harvested reached 40%, behind the five-year average of 46%.

Cotton bolls opening was estimated at 87%, ahead of the average of 83%. Cotton harvested was estimated at 32%, also ahead of the five-year average of 27%. Rice harvested was 87%, just slightly behind the average of 87%.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the "Find Data and Reports by" section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state's "Crop Progress & Condition" report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Dented 96 93 100 100
Corn Mature 73 58 96 92
Corn Harvested 22 15 38 36
Soybeans Dropping Leaves 85 72 94 93
Soybeans Harvested 26 14 37 49
Spring Wheat Harvested 94 91 100 100
Winter Wheat Planted 65 52 64 65
Winter Wheat Emerged 41 26 42 40
Cotton Bolls Opening 87 83 84 83
Cotton Harvested 32 25 31 27
Sorghum Mature 81 65 80 82
Sorghum Harvested 40 33 42 46
Rice Harvested 87 76 87 88


National Crop Condition Summary
(VP = Very Poor; P = Poor; F = Fair; G = Good; E = Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
Corn 4 11 30 44 11 4 11 29 45 11 4 8 20 47 21
Soybeans 4 10 32 45 9 4 11 32 45 8 3 8 23 48 18
Cotton 4 17 41 30 8 4 15 42 32 7 11 20 34 29 6
Sorghum 1 6 28 44 11 2 5 28 51 14 6 11 28 44 11


National Soil Moisture Condition - 48 States
(VS = Very Short; SH = Short; AD = Adequate; SR = Surplus)
This Week Last Week Last Year
Topsoil Moisture 10 16 55 19 11 16 53 20 4 9 64 23
Subsoil Moisture 10 18 56 16 10 18 57 15 7 13 64 16

Brian Ethridge can be reached at brian.ethridge@dtn.com


By Lance Woodbury
DTN Farm Business Adviser

Several weeks ago, I visited Joe Nichols, the owner of Seven Springs Farms, in Cadiz, Kentucky. In the course of showing me his office, which is full of pictures, agricultural symbols and historic artifacts, Joe pointed to a framed letter hanging on the wall -- a note from a farmer/landowner for whom Joe repaired equipment, as the repair work allowed Joe to transition into farming full-time. When that farmer retired, he decided to rent his farm to Joe. That same landowner also lent Joe some equipment when he was just getting started and had almost nothing to his name.

Joe said by giving him a chance to farm, that landowner made an unforgettable difference in his life. "If the office were burning, that letter is the first thing I'd grab on my way out the door," he explained. With those words, Joe told me the letter -- and the opportunity it represented -- had become an important part of his own legacy.


As I spent more time with Joe and began to understand what was important to him, the idea that one's legacy reaches beyond physical assets -- the land and the money -- came into sharper focus. In Joe's case, and for many of you reading this article, your legacy includes, but is so much more than, the farm, equipment and cash you leave to your heirs. Your legacy represents the values, principles and behaviors that have defined your life.


For example, the letter Joe showed me represented opportunity. In this case, the power of giving someone a chance to get started in agriculture and knowing firsthand the impact that act of generosity can have made Joe want to create opportunities for others. Paying opportunity forward has guided his interaction with family, partners and employees. Giving others opportunities to achieve their goals is now paramount in his life.


Another example of a deeper notion of legacy is caring for others. This might be helping those in need, perhaps during a medical or family emergency. Joe and several other farmers I know have helped people by providing money (often anonymously), the use of equipment, introductions or connections. Or, they have simply been physically and emotionally present when those they know have been beset by unfortunate circumstances.


Another aspect of legacy is bouncing back when you encounter difficult circumstances. Joe is not the only farmer who has been through tough times, but the way one works his or her way out of economic or environmental catastrophe -- what many people call "resiliency" -- is as much a part of who they are as any line on a financial statement. It's not the circumstances that define you, it's your response to those events. And, that response is an important part of your legacy.


A final component of legacy that I see in many farmers and ranchers, including Joe, is leadership and risk-taking. Making a decision, jumping in, standing tall for what they believe is right, even when it's not popular or when it's not the safest route to go, is something their heirs may also embrace. That doesn't mean people have a license to act foolishly, but it does mean a personal investment and a willingness to push through uncertainty and act with resolve are what people will remember for generations to come.

Legacy is a multifaceted concept that is worth thinking deeply about. Though people in coming generations will certainly be thankful for the acreage you pass down, they will be even more blessed by the values you embrace and example you set for them today.


Editor's Note: Write Lance Woodbury at Family Business Matters, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email lance@agprogress.com.


By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) released a statement on Oct. 7 that it is issuing a "series of decisions on demurrage and accessorial rules and charges, continuing its efforts to improve dispute resolution processes, promote transparency, and make the agency more accessible."

The STB issued the three decisions concurrently to address matters arising from the STB's May 2019 two-day public hearing on railroad demurrage and accessorial charges, "Oversight Hearing on Demurrage and Accessorial Charges, Docket No. EP 754." The hearing was held in response to significant recent changes in demurrage and accessorial rules and charges implemented by several Class I railroads the STB was actively monitoring.

The National Grain and Feed (NGFA) was present at the hearing with testimony provided by NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon. "We believe that in far too many cases, current demurrage and accessorial charges and practices are egregious and merely exemplify the market power of today's Class I railroads, reflecting their ability to unilaterally impose one-sided terms and conditions on their customers," said Gordon.

"Frankly, NGFA members in some segments of our industry believe they are at a 'tipping point' in their relationship with Class I rail carriers because of these and other practices, particularly with the increased adoption of the so-called precision scheduled railroad operating model." Here is a link to the press release issued by the NGFA on May 23, 2019: https://www.ngfa.org/….

The NGFA in their June 14, 2019, newsletter noted that Class I freight railroads pushed back strongly against the STB pursuing any policies, guidance or investigation of carriers' demurrage and accessorial charges and practices following the agency's "robust, informative and eye-popping" May 22 and May 23 public hearing in Washington.

In the article, the NGFA presented comments from all of the Class 1 rai1roads who voiced their concerns in supplemental comments submitted to the agency in the aftermath of the May public hearing. https://www.ngfa.org/….

The three decisions issued by the STB are:

-- A proposed policy statement to facilitate more effective problem solving between railroads, shippers and receivers by providing information on principles the STB would consider in evaluating the reasonableness of demurrage and accessorial rules and charges.

-- A proposed rule to enhance the transparency and accuracy of demurrage invoices.

-- A proposed rule to make unambiguous that the regulation of demurrage is not excluded for exempt miscellaneous commodities and boxcar transportation, and to treat the exemption for certain agricultural commodities similarly.

With the proposed policy statement, the STB expects to facilitate more effective problem solving between railroads, shippers and receivers in order to help prevent unnecessary future issues and, when disputes arise, to help resolve them more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The STB is issuing this proposed policy statement to provide the public with information on principles that the STB would consider in "evaluating the reasonableness of demurrage and accessorial rules and charges." The STB seeks public comment on this proposed policy statement and may revise it, as appropriate, after consideration of the comments received.

Comments on this proposed policy statement are due by Nov. 6, 2019. Reply comments are due by Dec. 6, 2019. Comments and replies may be filed with the Board either via e-filing or in writing addressed to: Surface Transportation Board, Attn: Docket No. EP 757, 395 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20423-0001. Comments and replies will be posted to the STB's website at www.stb.gov.

Here is a link to the Federal Register Notice Volume 84, Number 197, Thursday, October 10, 2019: https://www.govinfo.gov/….

Here is a link to the press release issued by the STB on 10-7-19: https://www.stb.gov/….

Here is a link to all the comments currently associated with the Oversight Hearing on Demurrage and Accessorial Charges, Docket No. EP 754. All you need to do is open the drop down next to Docket# and click on "EP" and then in the next box put 754: https://www.stb.gov/….

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn


By Rod Mauszycki
DTN Tax Columnist

One question that often comes up during tax planning is how you should pay a worker. This is a difficult question to answer, because it sometimes is not black or white. You need to look at the IRS and Department of Labor's (DOL) regulatory guidance as well as case law to determine if a worker is an employee or independent contractor.

The common law test developed by the IRS uses 20 factors to determine if a worker is an employee or independent contractor. The IRS subsequently updated the employee/independent contractor test into three controlling factors: behavioral control, financial control and relationship control.


The behavioral control test boils down to the employer having control over the worker and how he or she accomplishes the job. Factors include the type of instruction given, degree of instruction, evaluation system and training. To sum it up, a person is an employee if the employer controls where/when they work, provides detailed instructions on how the work should be done, provides detailed training and provides periodic feedback on how they are doing.


The financial control test looks at who bears the economic benefits and burdens of the workplace relationship. This test focuses on the employee side of the equation. Independent contractors typically make a significant investment in order to accomplish their job. They are more likely to have unreimbursed expenses and may incur a loss in the business relationship. An independent contractor also tends to have a separate place of business, advertise and has the ability to work for others. Another sign of being an independent contractor is irregular pay, that is compensation is not paid weekly, biweekly or monthly.


The relationship test focuses on how both sides perceive their relationship. Factors include written contracts, employee benefits, duration of relationship and services provided. Does the worker have paid vacation and/or retirement benefits? Is the relationship long-standing?


You must look at the 20-factor test and three-factor test through the lens of the entirety of the relationship. Some of the tests may lean toward treating the worker as employee, whereas others lean toward independent contractor. This is why determining the correct classification can sometimes be difficult.

In addition to the IRS, the DOL uses an economic reality test that focuses on six factors. The DOL test is more likely to classify a worker as an employee than the IRS.

Why is worker classification important? The consequences of a wrong classification can be severe, including criminal prosecution. The IRS has a series of penalties they can impose, inducing 100% of the total tax not collected or paid. So, when there is doubt, it's better to take the side of employee and not independent contractor.


Editor's Note: Tax Columnist Rod Mauszycki, J.D., MBT, is a tax principal with CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Read Rod's "Ask the Taxman" column at https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Send questions to taxman@dtn.com


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