Featured Agriculture News

10/20/2017 - Boerson Farms Case Nears End

A lawsuit by CHS Capital LLC that claimed an 80,000-acre Michigan farm defaulted on $145.3 million in loans is coming to a close.

10/20/2017 - Oil Your Wallet

The specialty soybeans can bring in much-needed premiums -- provided you can link up with a processor and segregate them carefully.

10/20/2017 - RFS Politics Ignite

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon that she received commitments from both President Donald Trump and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard.

10/19/2017 - Dicamba Use in 2018

EPA's new rules on dicamba use in 2018 have left some farmers confused. Here are four common questions we've heard, along with the answers we found.

10/19/2017 - DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Half of average retail fertilizer prices were higher and half were lower the second week of October 2017 compared to one month earlier.

10/19/2017 - Fourth Round of NAFTA Talks Ends

At the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations on rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed the U.S. put forward proposals to make changes to Canada's dairy supply management system and to make it easier for U.S. fruit and vegetable producers to file trade cases due to seasonal Mexican imports that they believe are damaging their industry.

10/18/2017 - View From the Cab

For View From the Cab farmers Brent and Lisa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, soybean harvest is about one-third done with yields about 6 bushels per acre lower than last year's excellent crop. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Zack Rendel was able to harvest 175 acres of soybeans with yields consistently above 40 bpa, which is profitable for him.

10/18/2017 - Todd's Take

If you think 430 million bushels of soybeans is a comfortable U.S. surplus, you should see Brazil's supplies.

10/18/2017 - Planting Delayed in Brazil

Brazil's farmers want to expand their soybean acreage, but more rain is needed. Planting has been delayed, or some crops already in the ground may need to be replanted if rain doesn't come soon.
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10/20/2017 Boerson Farms Case Nears End

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- The legal case against Boersen Farms in Zeeland, Michigan, is nearing an end. A court motion was filed Wednesday that would dissolve the receiver in what was a case set for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

O'Keefe and Associates Consulting, LLC, the court-appointed receiver in the case, filed the motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Western Michigan. A receiver was appointed to operate the farm in the event of bankruptcy proceedings.

The 80,000-acre corn and soybean operation had been sued by CHS Capital LLC for defaulting on $145.3 million in loans. A newly formed Zeeland-based lender, LT Capital LLC, agreed to take on the debt on Oct. 4 with plans to dismiss the lawsuit.

According to the new motion, on Sept. 22 the receiver had recommended moving Boersen Farms toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

LT Capital LLC based in Zeeland filed for articles of incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Sept. 29, 2017, according to the Michigan Secretary of State's office. The filing documents list Brian Terborg as the resident agent of the LLC. A person of that same name is listed as CFO of Zeeland Farm Services Inc., a family-owned agriculture services business based in Zeeland. At the time this story was posted, Zeeland Farm Services had not responded to DTN's request for more information.

When contacted by DTN last week, Boersen attorney Cody Knight said about the new lender, "It is a Michigan-based company. We are very pleased to have a new lender. We are harvesting and planning for the future."

According to a news report that aired on Wood TV 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Boersen Farms faced a number of other smaller lawsuits totaling about $3 million.

The farm had been sued by equipment companies and others, and the CHS lawsuit alleged Boersen farms used more than $200,000 in CHS' cash collateral to buy a $614,000 house.

Boersen Farms also faced a related lawsuit in Utah.

In U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, equipment company TFG-Michigan filed a lawsuit claiming it has not been paid for more than 120 center pivots leased by Boersen Farms. Boersen Farms was found in contempt of court in that case. In U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Boersen Farms was sued for breach of contract related to its pursuit of finding someone to acquire the CHS debt.

On Tuesday, the Utah court entered a $16.3 million judgment in favor of TFG-Michigan.

In 2013, Boersen Farms bought the bulk of land-lease agreements and other assets of Stamp Farms LLC based in Decatur, Michigan, in what was considered one of the largest farm bankruptcies ever in the U.S.

Stamp Farms, which was previously owned and operated by Michael Stamp based in Decatur, Michigan, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2012. The court held an auction on Feb. 5, 2013, to sell the farm's assets in bulk, including irrigation equipment and unexpired three- and five-year leases on a farm that once claimed to operate across 46,000 acres.

Boersen submitted the so-called stalking horse bid of $22.8 million for the bulk of Stamp Farm assets. Such bidders are typically known by the debtors and are asked to submit a bid in order to establish a floor against unreasonably low offers.

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

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


10/20/2017 Oil Your Wallet

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- High oleic soybeans have been waiting in the wings of American agriculture for five years.

Companies hope 2018 will be their breakthrough year.

Monsanto's Vistive Gold soybeans will see a full commercial launch next year, after the trait's long-awaited Chinese import approval came through this summer. Meanwhile, DuPont Pioneer expects farmers to grow its Plenish soybeans on more than 600,000 acres next year. The company is still waiting on EU import approvals, so production must be handled for domestic use only.

Pioneer expects to get EU approval by 2018, and easier and broader access to these specialty beans couldn't come at a better time, Plenish Product Manager Brian Buckallew told DTN.

"Growers are looking for anything they can do to add value to their operation right now," he said. "Moving into 2018, we expect low commodity prices will drive more Plenish acres."


In 2017, farmers who had Plenish contracts with a processor saw premiums ranging from 40 to 60 cents per bushel. That translates to a $20- to $30-per-acre value on soybean fields averaging 50 bushels per acre, Buckallew pointed out.

Pioneer expects its participating processors -- ADM, AGP, Bunge, CHS and Perdue Agribusiness -- to offer similar premiums in 2018, he added.

Monsanto declined to estimate the premiums Vistive Gold growers might see, as the company had no grower contracts available in 2017 and is still finalizing its list of participating processors for 2018.

Those premiums don't come free, of course.

Like any specialty crop, high oleic soybeans require strict stewardship and careful identity preservation (IP) tactics to keep them segregated from the commercial soybean stream. Those requirements, such as separate storage bins and tracking trucks, will remain even once high oleic soybeans are fully commercialized, as processors will still require clean shipments, Buckallew noted.


Last year, more than 2,000 farmers grew Plenish soybeans on 600,000 acres. The beans, which are available in the maturity range of Group 2.0 to Group 4.2, were grown in Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, with the majority concentrated in the Eastern Corn Belt.

Although Pioneer is still hammering out processor agreements this fall, so far, the majority of its five processors expect acreage to increase in 2018, Buckallew said.

Monsanto was not able to offer acreage estimates for next year, but Soybean Launch Lead Lisa Streck did note that the company will have soybeans ranging from Group 2.6 to Group 4.1 available for planting.

So far, Plenish soybeans are still based on Roundup Ready 1 germplasm. Pending regulatory approvals, the company hopes to offer them with Roundup Ready 2 and Xtend genetics "within the next few years," Buckallew said. Vistive Gold soybeans are based on the Roundup Ready 2 platform, and the company is targeting 2019 for the addition of the Xtend trait, Streck added.

Buckallew hesitated to put a number on the final market share high oleic soybeans could control in the future, but the United Soybean Board has set an ambitious industry goal of 18 million acres by 2023.

That would translate to 9 billion pounds of high oleic oil in the marketplace, according to USB. The oil's appeal stems from its lack of trans-fats, lower saturated fat and better shelf stability compared to conventional soybean oil. That makes it an appealing product for the food industry -- where trans-fats are being phased out -- as well as industrial end users.

Buckallew said the great majority of Plenish oil is currently in use as a food ingredient. For example, Nestle is using it in all its liquid Coffee-mate products in the U.S. A smaller amount goes to restaurants for frying and baking purposes, as well as companies manufacturing industrial products like motor oil and tires, he added.

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

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


10/20/2017 RFS Politics Ignite

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- With concerns about the Renewable Fuels Standard bubbling over, the president of the United States and the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached out to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday morning to reassure her the RFS is safe.

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for the RFS during a rally in Iowa last summer. He did so again on the phone with Reynolds on Wednesday morning, the governor told reporters during a news conference in Pella, Iowa, on Wednesday afternoon.

"I take him at his word," Reynolds said. "But again, we're going to continue to push for the answer we're looking for. Because this is so important, we are not going to stop. When I talked to the president, he reiterated his commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard. He made it clear he stood with the Renewable Fuel Standard."

Reynolds said she also spoke to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt by phone on Wednesday, garnering similar support from him on the RFS.

"I certainly felt like I had the opportunity to make my case," she said. "He (Pruitt) reached out to me. They are feeling the pressure."

The EPA announced in a notice a proposal to further reduce the renewable volume blend requirements for advanced biofuels, biomass-based diesel volumes for 2018 and 2019, and the total renewable fuel volumes in the RFS.

EPA also is reportedly considering a proposal from Valero Energy to leave renewable identification numbers, or RINs, attached to U.S. ethanol gallons produced in the U.S. and exported. Currently, the credits are removed from exported gallons. The biofuels industry is concerned that doing so would flood the market with RINs and harm domestic biofuel producers.

Reynolds said she made it clear to Trump and Pruitt that the RFS is important in rural America at a time when agriculture commodity prices are depressed and jobs are on the line.

"This market access is crucial right now," she said. "The stated purpose of the Renewable Fuel Standard is to drive innovation. I appreciate the accessibility of the EPA."


Reynolds said she will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Pruitt to continue to make the case for increasing biofuel volumes in the RFS.

"Iowans understand the importance of maintaining a robust Renewable Fuel Standard," she said.

When asked whether Trump or Pruitt indicated which direction EPA is leaning, she said, "Neither came out and said there wouldn't be cuts."

The public comment period closes on Thursday on a proposal that could lead to further cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Comments can be submitted at http://bit.ly/….

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, also spoke briefly during the news conference on Wednesday. He said Iowa ethanol plants are slated to expand production capacity by about 600 million gallons in 2018. The capacity has the potential to create about 11,000 new jobs, he said.

"We do feel a little threatened right now," Shaw said. "Up to this point, we've been very concerned. We trusted in President Trump's commitment to renewable fuels. It felt like EPA was saying we're going to put a giant sign over rural America -- closed for business. President Trump has a decision to make. We need to see the final numbers. We need to see the actual results."


The Associated Press reported that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had threatened to put EPA nominees on hold in an attempt to encourage the agency to change course on the RFS proposals.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works committee postponed indefinitely a committee business meeting to consider a number of various nominees to federal agencies.

That list includes Michael Dourson, nominee to serve as the assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; Matthew Leopold, nominee to be assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of General Counsel; David Ross, nominee to be assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Water; and William Wehrum, nominee to be assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Regulation.

Wehrum, who is a former EPA official and attorney who has represented petroleum interests, has drawn concern from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is a member of the EPW committee. While appearing before the committee, Wehrum was asked about whether he supports the RFS. He indicated he would implement the RFS according to the law.

"When he appeared before the committee, I questioned him about how he will uphold the spirit and the letter of this law (RFS)," Ernst said in a statement Wednesday.

"Following his confirmation hearing, I expressed concern with the answers he gave, and told the committee I wasn't comfortable supporting him at that time due to his answers and recent actions by the EPA which had the potential to weaken or undermine the RFS. Over the last few weeks, my staff and I have had many conversations with the White House and Administrator Pruitt where I expressed my concerns."

On Monday, Reynolds, along with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, sent a letter to Trump. The full letter can be found at http://bit.ly/….

"Two weeks ago, the EPA requested comment on whether it should further reduce the total, advanced and biomass-based diesel volumes beyond the recently proposed (and ill-advised) cuts to the 2018-19 RFS volumes," the letter said.

"This action is concerning and runs counter to the president's repeated commitment to the RFS and rural America. The stated purpose of the RFS is to grow demand for biofuels, to push the industry to innovate, and I encourage the EPA to remember that when finalizing the volume levels."

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

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


10/19/2017 Dicamba Use in 2018

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- If you're feeling a little confused about the EPA's new rules on dicamba for 2018, you're not alone.

Last week, EPA made some dicamba herbicides restricted use pesticides (RUP) and issued new labels for them, with tighter use restrictions. We've rounded up some of the most common questions posed to DTN in the past few days on these new rules:

-- Will this affect all dicamba products, including those used in corn and pasture management?

The EPA's RUP classification only applies to any use of the three new formulations of dicamba labeled for (among other things) over-the-top use on Xtend soybeans and cotton. They are Monsanto's XtendiMax, BASF's Engenia and DuPont Pioneer's FeXapan herbicides.

Farmers who routinely use other, older dicamba formulations to control weeds in their cornfields or pastures will not see those products' availability change under the new EPA rules.

However, individual states are in the midst of deciding whether to adopt more restrictive rules that could affect other formulations of dicamba.

For example, the state of Indiana is preparing to pass its own RUP classification for all herbicides with a dicamba concentration of 6.5% or greater. That covers not just the new formulations but also older formulations used elsewhere in agriculture, such as cornfields and pastures.

Be sure to check with your local state department of agriculture to see what additional dicamba restrictions it has created or is considering.

-- Won't this just encourage people to use older formulations of dicamba?

It could, yes. But they might not get away with it as easily as they think, said Tony Cofer, director of pesticide management for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

The new labels for XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan contain extensive new record-keeping requirements. Among them is a requirement to keep "receipts of purchase" of the dicamba product used on an Xtend soybean or cotton field for two years.

"This is a big deal," notes Cofer. "Because we are still in a gray area here -- wondering are they using old products or new products -- this receipt of purchase requirement is an important aspect of figuring that out."

Remember also that when a state creates rules on herbicide use that are more restrictive than the federal rules, those state requirements trump the federal ones. As mentioned, some states such as Indiana are preparing to adopt their own RUP classifications for dicamba that will govern all agricultural dicamba herbicides, not just the new formulations.

"It will allow them [state regulators] to track sales of all dicamba use in agriculture and more aggressively deal with the issue of people spraying unapproved products," Purdue University weed scientist Bill Johnson said of Indiana's proposed RUP for dicamba.

-- How will this affect my access to the new dicamba herbicides?

The RUP classification limits the sales of the new dicamba herbicides to retailers and applicators who have gone through a certification and licensing process to sell or purchase restricted use pesticides.

That means all applicators, either private or commercial, must undergo their state's RUP training requirements before the 2018 spraying season.

While some farm stores may not have the necessary licensing to now carry the new dicamba formulations, many will -- and ag retailers almost certainly will, said Johnson.

Ag retailers are almost always licensed to sell restricted use pesticides, which are not a new phenomenon.

For example, atrazine is also a restricted use pesticide. Yet many applicators are licensed to spray it in their corn fields, and it is readily available from ag retailers, Johnson pointed out.

However, keep in mind that the new labels also require mandatory training for applicators in addition to the RUP requirements, Cofer warned.

"Not only do they have to be certified as private or commercial applicators, but they also have to get this dicamba use training dictated by the label," he said. "In many states, that is a separate process -- ours is."

-- Do the new labels address all the causes of the 2017 dicamba injury crisis?

In a word, no.

"They're primarily trying to tighten up issues related to physical drift and secondarily tying up issues related to temperature inversions, but I don't think they've addressed the volatility issue at all," said Johnson.

Manufacturers of the new dicamba herbicides have strongly disputed that volatility played a role in the dicamba injury seen in more than 3 million acres of soybeans (and untold acres of non-agricultural plants) in 2017.

The new dicamba formulations were designed to be far less volatile than older formulations on the market. However, university weed scientists have conducted their own testing of the new dicamba products and found evidence that volatility remains an issue and was likely a contributor to off-target movement during the 2017 season, Johnson pointed out.

"Everyone who has done this field work [on volatility] has shown there's movement well after application," Johnson said of Purdue scientists as well as his academic colleagues in other states. "I've seen the work, and there is no doubt in my mind that there is volatility taking place."

Beyond volatility, the new labels' ability to control physical drift is only as good as the applicator's ability to follow them, Johnson added.

That could prove harder than ever with the new label spraying restrictions for wind speed and time of day.

According to weather data from one Indiana location in the summer of 2017, Johnson and his Purdue colleague Joe Ikley found that Indiana growers had only 334 hours in June to spray the new dicamba herbicides according to the old labels.

Under the new label restrictions, however, applicators would have had only 48 hours to legally spray the new dicamba herbicides in June of 2017.

"I'm trying to hammer home the limitations of the time we have to spray [dicamba] next year," Johnson said. "We simply don't have the sprayer capacity to spray every acre that needs it during the legal windows available now."

You can find the new label for XtendiMax here: http://bit.ly/… and Engenia here: http://bit.ly/….


Editor's Note: To get the latest information on using dicamba in 2018, please join us at 9 a.m. CST on Nov. 15 for the online webinar "Dicamba: Where Do We Go From Here?" We'll feature a summary of U.S. university research and experience, farmer experiences, plus comments from state regulators and liability insurers, to provide a template for thinking through 2018 crop and weed control strategies. Registration information can be found here: https://www.dtn.com/…

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

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


10/19/2017 DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Half of average retail fertilizer prices were higher and half were lower the second week of October 2017 compared to one month earlier, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Four of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to last month, although only one was up significantly. Urea was up 5% compared to a month ago and had an average price of $325 per ton. The other three fertilizers, which were just slightly higher, were DAP with an average price of $432/ton, potash $347/ton and UAN32 $253/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers were slightly lower compared to last month. MAP had an average price of $453/ton, 10-34-0 $413/ton, anhydrous $397/ton and UAN28 $206/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.35/lb.N, anhydrous $0.24/lb.N, UAN28 $0.37/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

The fact that prices for half of the eight major retail fertilizers are now higher compared to a month ago is a bit surprising. For all of 2017, most industry experts have said they expected prices to decline as the growing season went along, certainly not climb higher as has been the case for some fertilizers.

The reasons why some fertilizers are higher in price compared to a month earlier might be twofold said Bob Spratt, manager of LeRoy Fertilizer Services located in LeRoy, Illinois.

"My guess is that the increase is due to a combination of seasonal demand and lower river levels causing freight rates to go up," Spratt told DTN.

Barge freight costs are higher as low water levels on the Mississippi River are making shipping fertilizer up the river more difficult. While it is certainly possible fertilizer manufacturers could be raising prices some as well, the bigger factor at work is increasing freight rates, Spratt said.

As for his area of central Illinois, Spratt said fertilizer demand has been good this fall, and he figures fall application rates will be near the levels he has seen in recent years.

"My area has been blessed with great yields again," he said.

Five of the eight major retail fertilizers are now lower compared to a year earlier. Only one of the five is double digits lower. Anhydrous is now 17% lower from a year ago, while 10-34-0 is 9% less expensive and UAN28 is 8% lower. UAN32 is 4% less expensive and DAP is 1% less expensive.

Three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. MAP is 1% more expensive, urea is 3% higher and potash is now 11% more expensive.

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 2010 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):

Oct 10-14 2016 438 452 313 316
Nov 7-11 2016 429 449 314 323
Dec 5-9 2016 434 443 318 333
Jan 2-6 2017 431 442 322 339
Jan 30-Feb 3 2017 430 448 329 353
Feb 27-Mar 03 2017 436 458 335 361
Mar 27-31 2017 438 465 338 356
Apr 24-28 2017 437 466 338 352
May 22-26 2017 436 471 340 343
Jun 19-23 2017 436 470 340 333
Jul 17-21 2017 435 464 339 309
Aug 14-18 2017 434 460 338 305
Sep 11-15 2017 431 456 336 310
Oct 9-13 2017 432 453 347 325
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Oct 10-14 2016 454 475 224 264
Nov 7-11 2016 447 468 217 256
Dec 5-9 2016 445 463 219 257
Jan 2-6 2017 436 465 218 255
Jan 30-Feb 3 2017 439 482 236 270
Feb 27-Mar 03 2017 440 502 246 279
Mar 27-31 2017 441 508 248 279
Apr 24-28 2017 437 509 247 280
May 22-26 2017 436 503 249 280
Jun 19-23 2017 435 497 243 273
Jul 17-21 2017 425 425 229 265
Aug 14-18 2017 419 419 216 251
Sep 11-15 2017 416 412 210 248
Oct 9-13 2017 413 397 206 253

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


10/19/2017 Fourth Round of NAFTA Talks Ends

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The United States has formally put forward proposals to make changes to Canada's dairy supply management system and to make it easier for U.S. fruit and vegetable producers to file trade cases due to seasonal Mexican imports that they believe are damaging their industry, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed on Tuesday.

Lighthizer made the statement at a news conference he held after he, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal made a joint statement on the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations on rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Lighthizer did not provide any details on what the United States has proposed on agriculture, but he did say at one point that agriculture is always a difficult part of trade negotiations due to both economic and social issues.

Canadian dairy and Mexican agriculture officials have said that the U.S. proposals should be nonstarters. The U.S. dairy industry has urged Lighthizer to raise the issue of Canadian dairy policies that keep out U.S. products. U.S. grain and meat producers have also said they fear that the produce seasonality proposal could endanger U.S. exports to Mexico. The United Fresh Produce Association has also said it does not support the seasonality proposal even though its Florida members and some others want the situation addressed.

In their statements Tuesday, Freeland and Guajardo Villarreal each said that the United States had made proposals that make their work more difficult.

In their joint statement, all three trade officials declared the round a success, but said that the challenge of new proposals and "conceptual gaps" have led them to have "a longer intersessional period before the next negotiating round to assess all proposals." Mexico will host the fifth round of talks Nov. 17-21 in Mexico City.

Earlier, the negotiators have said they hoped to finish the negotiations by the end of 2017, but on Tuesday they said additional negotiating rounds will be scheduled through the first quarter of 2018. At his news conference, Lighthizer said that the target deadline of the end of the year was related to the 2018 Mexican presidential elections, but that the view now is that the negotiations could go on until March without affecting the Mexican elections.

Lighthizer also has said that the Trump administration has not conducted any analysis of the economic impact if President Donald Trump should decide to withdraw from the agreement.

"We don't really have a plan beyond trying to get a good agreement," he said, adding that he believes if NAFTA ends, "all three countries would do just fine" because "there are a lot of reasons to trade."

He also scoffed at complaints that he wants to complete an agreement that would please Trump, saying that pleasing the president has been the goal of every trade representative.

Lighthizer said he wants to come up with an agreement that both business and labor would support, and said he believes that is possible.

"Everybody has to give up a little bit of candy," Lighthizer said, adding that if "a little bit of the sugar" is taken away, companies can make money in other ways.

Lighthizer said he is tired of trade agreements gaining congressional approval by thin majorities, and if he cannot get a huge majority, he wants at least a "solid majority" for a NAFTA rewrite.

Lighthizer said he is unsympathetic to the business community's complaints about ending the dispute settlement process that is in NAFTA and about the proposal to include a five-year sunset clause. The dispute settlement process, he said, amounts to political risk insurance that the business community can buy. Businesses can factor a sunset clause into their risk, he added.

The U.S. business community says it wants to make investment decisions based on market forces, but wants political risk insurance paid for by the U.S. government, he said.

Many of Lighthizer's comments at his news conference focused on manufacturing -- particularly the automobile sector. Under NAFTA, Lighthizer said, Mexico has offered "artificial incentives" to U.S. investors on the assumption that the United States will be the export market. That situation, he said, has resulted in the large U.S. trade deficit with Mexico.

Lighthizer said he had no evidence that either Mexico or Canada is willing to "rebalance" this situation. Freeland said on Tuesday she doesn't think trade deficits are a good way to judge an agreement, but pointed out that the United States enjoys a surplus in its trade with Canada.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said in a news release late Tuesday that "renegotiation of NAFTA must include addressing boldly its most flagrant flaw -- the impact of the shift of manufacturing and its jobs to Mexico through its rigid structure not only of very low wages, but wages suppressed by a pervasive lack of labor rights. Doing so is in the interest of workers and consumers in all three countries."

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a release that she is concerned about news reports that have indicated agriculture is getting pushed to the backburner during NAFTA renegotiations.

"Our farmers and ranchers need access to foreign markets to export their goods -- otherwise, rural economies suffer and good American jobs are lost," she said. "We can and must support American workers and level the playing field for manufacturing jobs, but not at the expense of farm jobs."

Noting that she was at a bipartisan dinner Tuesday evening at the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Heitkamp said she emphasized to Trump administration officials that Mexico and Canada are two of the biggest markets for U.S. food products.

"I reinforced how any renegotiation of NAFTA must not leave agricultural states like North Dakota behind. When 95% of consumers live outside the U.S., if we aren't exporting, we're losing," Heitkamp said.


10/18/2017 View From the Cab

By Richard Oswald
DTN Special Correspondent

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- As the autumn sun slides slowly toward the south, View From the Cab 2017 Farmers Brent and Lisa Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, rely on a steady mix of helpers to bring in their family farm crops. That's because many hands make light work.

Brent and Lisa work hard in northeastern Iowa, but they can't do it alone. Neighbor and partner Harold Burington helps as Brent's dad, Duane, and part-time helper, Rusty Zey, fill in to keep three combines harvesting and grain carts making circuits between them as semi-trucks wait nearby.

But sometimes weather brings it all to a screeching halt.

"We didn't do anything yesterday (Saturday) or today," Brent told DTN late Sunday.

Two-and-a-half inches of rain fell on the farm last week, but it didn't stop work Monday as Brent reported good harvest progress on corn and soybeans. Tuesday was drizzly and foggy, but corn was picked until a half inch fell that evening, and it rained all day Thursday. Corn harvest resumed Friday until rain came again in the evening and spread across the weekend with 1.8 inches for a weekly total of about 2.5 inches. Rain amounts to the south topped 3 inches.

After the rain-shortened week and with corn moisture levels in the field staying high, slow harvest progress has feed mills and ethanol plants in the area "begging for corn. Three or four places are saying we need some corn," Brent noted.

A wet Wednesday was a "downer day" because Brent's mom, Judy, had open-heart surgery in Iowa City to correct two blockages that stents couldn't cure. Brent told DTN it runs in the family -- her dad and her brothers have had the same problem. She's doing fine and should be home this week, Brent said.

Fall is definitely not all work and no play. Brent and Lisa took time out for Friday-night football at Cedar Falls High School where their youngest daughter, Ellie, performed at halftime with the school dance team. And Saturday evening was Brent and Lisa's once-a-month ballroom dancing.

Some of the Judisches' neighbors wait on corn and pick soybeans first. Progress in the area varies. Brent and Lisa's soybean harvest is around one-third done across the board. Soybeans are yielding about 6 bushels to the acre lower than last year's excellent crop. "In '15 and '16, we had great soybean yields. Corn is going to be awful close to last year's yields, which I didn't think would happen," Brent said.

Corn from the field last week tested about 19% moisture with strong test weights of 60 pounds per bushel, moving up to 61 pounds as corn dries down closer to No. 2 grade. Corn damaged by hail with a 40% reduction in stand is testing wetter at 22% to 23%. Ear retention in those fields is "terrible" as initial losses are magnified by weakened plants. Brent hoped to have those fields out early this week.

In spite of what yields suggest, this year's most profitable crop is soybeans at $9.15 per bushel compared to $3.10 for corn, with one caveat: This year's strong corn APH (actual production history) helps offset the difference.

Last week's rally in corn and soybeans was Brent's cue to begin locking in prices on next year's crop.

The secret to getting ahead during a wet fall harvest is equipment maintenance on down days to keep everything up and running. That's what Brent did Saturday and Sunday when he serviced the semi-trucks. Brent credits his 110-foot by 60-foot heated shop for making that possible. "We had a small shop, 40-by-40, when we had a tornado go through here in 2008 that eliminated that. So we made one big shop. We can get combines in there, planters, we've got a nice warm place to go with that stuff," he explained.

For View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel and his uncle Brent Rendel in northeastern Oklahoma, fall help comes in the form of Zack's dad, Greg, Brent's sons, Job and Isaac, and their hired hand, Terry Warren, to operate two combines, a grain cart, trucks, vertical tiller, field cultivator, canola planter and wheat drill.

"We had a really good week -- barring rain," Zack told DTN late Monday.

Due to seedling emergence worries, heavy rain in the forecast kept Zack's uncle Brent from planting canola last Monday, but 100 acres of soybeans averaging 41 bpa were cut. When the rain came, it turned out to be light on Monday evening and Tuesday with only about three-tenths of an inch. That was enough to allow time for maintenance. "Seems like you always have a bug or two. We replaced a combine sensor and fixed some O-ring leaks while we waited for the ground to dry," Zack said.

On Wednesday, it was still too wet for soybean harvest, making more time for maintenance and checking over the twin-row Monosem planter used for winter canola. By Thursday, things had changed. "Everybody separated." Brent began field cultivating the last of the planned canola fields, while Zack, Terry and Greg cut soybeans. "We were able to roll pretty good. We got 110 acres done, and Brent got all the canola ground opened up. Soybean yields were consistent with Monday in a range from 32 to 60, averaging 40.1 bpa," he said.

Half the remaining canola was planted on Friday and 175 acres of soybeans were harvested. Yields remained consistently above 40 as the best field on Brent's home place averaged 48 bpa. Yield spikes on the monitor ranged from 50 to 80, encouraging Zack to push for higher yields in the future. Winds blew all night for an early start Saturday. Brent finished canola planting and harvest continued. Zack's high-school-aged cousin, Job, manned the grain cart until eight-tenths of an inch of rain fell Saturday night. With close to 400 acres out, soybean moisture ranged from 13.5% to 14% early in the day, down to 11.5% by sundown. "This is the first year I've cut beans with green leaves at the bottoms of the plants and green stems. Guys up north of us are kind of used to that," Zack said. Current yields at 40-plus bpa are profitable on the Rendel farm.

Zack took time on Saturday to help coach his son Nathan's final elementary school football game of the regular season. They won. After a week off, they're headed to the playoffs. Monday was his daughter Charlie's eighth birthday. On Sunday, Zack and family attended a niece's birthday party at a skating rink in town. It was an eye-opening experience.

"I found out I just don't have the moves like I used to," Zack said.

"Sunday was going to be an off day anyway, catching up to our maturities. We spent today (Monday) changing filters on the combines. We fixed a couple of lights. Now we're working on the straw chopper," Zack noted.

Zack texted DTN Tuesday morning to add, "I have a couple neighbors that started drilling wheat late last week. It's time to roll, but we needed to concentrate on the two money crops: canola and soybeans. We've decided that wheat is basically a glorified cover crop for us that can potentially make us money, so our plan is if there's beans to cut, we'll pull off of wheat and harvest soybeans until we hit a maturity break."

Richard Oswald can be reached at Talk@dtn.com

Follow Richard Oswald on Twitter @RRoswald


10/18/2017 Todd's Take

By Todd Hultman
DTN Analyst

By now, you have heard USDA lowered its estimate of U.S. ending soybeans stocks from 475 million bushels to 430 mb for 2017-18 in Thursday's WASDE report and watched November soybeans jump up 28 cents last week to its highest close in over two months.

It is an understatement to say crop prices don't normally make new highs during harvest time, especially when the U.S. soybean harvest is expected to total a record high 4.43 billion bushels this year. Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for some on Twitter to question the market's bullish response.

Asking what is so bullish about 430 mb of U.S. ending soybean stocks is a fair question. After all, that is significantly higher than what the 2016-17 year had, which was 301 mb. If we only focus on last week's U.S. estimates, Thursday's big gain looks suspect.

However, world soybean numbers reveal a potentially bullish scenario that many may not yet realize. Consider that according to USDA, 83% of all soybean exports will come from either the U.S. or Brazil in 2017-18. As mentioned, the U.S. is in the process of harvesting a record high 4.43 bb, and USDA's early estimate for Brazil's next soybean crop is 3.93 bb or 107.0 million metric tons.

If true, that would be the sixth consecutive big soybean crop for Brazil. As one customer reminded me this weekend, many still look at USDA's WASDE report and think USDA is estimating Brazil's ending soybean stocks at 21.96 mmt or 807 mb. But USDA's WASDE report does not estimate Brazil's ending stocks -- 21.96 mmt is a mid-year estimate that reflects Brazil's soybean supplies on Sept. 30. For USDA's estimate of Brazil's ending stocks, we have to go to Table 22 of USDA's World Markets and Trade report for oilseeds.

To view the table click here: http://bit.ly/…

Table 22 shows USDA estimating Brazil's ending soybean stocks at 5.0 mmt or 184 mb as of Jan. 31, 2018, the end of its 2016-17 season. For the 2017-18 season just getting underway, USDA estimates Brazil's ending stocks at just 90 mb.

The obvious point here is that after five consecutive years of good growing weather, Brazil needs another year of good weather just to avoid falling short of soybeans. And if you follow DTN's daily market weather video with Senior Meteorologist Bryce Anderson, you know central Brazil is off to a dry start in the new planting season.

Brazil's new soybean season has several months to go, and for all we know, it may still turn out to be a good crop year. At this point, however, we have to acknowledge it wouldn't take much of a production hit to substantially reduce those 430 mb of ending soybeans USDA is estimating for the U.S. That is why soybean prices showed a bullish response to last week's WASDE report. Unlike other grains, the holders of short positions in soybeans have good reason to be nervous.

Todd Hultman can be reached at todd.hultman@dtn.com

Follow Todd Hultman on Twitter @ToddHultman1


10/18/2017 Planting Delayed in Brazil

By Lin Tan
DTN China Correspondent

MATO GROSSO, Brazil (DTN) -- Though many areas still lack rain, Brazilian farmers are rolling their planters after they received scattered rainfall. They are now waiting for more rain to come.

"I had finished half of my soybean planting and (am) waiting for more rain," said Ricardo Arioli Silva, who farms at Campo Novo in Brazil's largest soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso.

Farmers were planting the irrigated land around Sept. 15; whenever rain comes and improves soil moisture, they will plant more. Some farmers will risk planting even if they hear of rain in the forecast. "My neighbor was planting some of his beans in the dry land, and hoping to catch the rain next week, but there is a risk of replanting if the rain does not come," said Silva.

So far, the east side of Mato Grosso is still dry and many farmers have not been able to start yet, said Silva, "Hope the rain will come next week or early November, as the weather forecast said." Silva and his brother farm more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) in Campo Novo.

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino, in his Ag Weather Forum blog, said "after some moderate to heavy rains early in the month initiated more soybean planting, the pattern has turned hot and dry. There is no indication at this time of a return to more rainfall. This situation has likely already led to a slowing of planting and could end up forcing some replanting if it continues."

"We have planted 48% on our property, but we stopped since last Saturday," said Clayton Tessaro, who farmers near Sorriso, Mato Grosso. "There is not enough rain at this moment."

Planting progress is slow in eastern Mato Grosso. "We've done around 8%," said Dustin Gheld. "Not too bad, compared to last year's 10% in the same time. But, there is no forecast for rain until Oct. 25. If it rains, we will still be able to catch up." Gheld farms 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) in Querencia, Mato Grosso. If the rain does not come at the end of the month, soybean planting will delayed, and then the second-crop corn-growing window has to be compromised, added Gheld.

Mato Grosso farmers can plant soybeans any time from this September to May next year. However, farmers would like to plant soybeans as early as possible to leave enough rainy days for the second-crop corn. If soybean planting is delayed, corn crops may not have enough growing days in the wet season and can't mature before the dry season arrives.

The weather is not cooperating, compared to last year. However, Brazilian farmers still want to plant more soybeans this year. "Soybean is more profitable than corn, after a bumper harvest of corn last season. Corn price is only USD$4.75 per bag (that is US$2.01 per bushel) at the elevator, far less than farmers' expectation," added Silva. Brazilian farmers sell their grain in 60-kilogram bags.

CONAB released its estimates for the 2017/18 crop year that call for a 2.7% increase in plantings this fall, to 35.2 million hectares (almost 87 million acres). Production is pegged from 106.0 million to 108.2 million metric tons. The old-crop production ran for 114.0 mmt. CONAB also calls for a 10.1% drop in first-crop corn plantings this year. They see total production this year, both first- and second-crop corn, from 92.2 mmt to 93.6 mmt, down from this year's 97.8 mmt.

"There is some new acreage converted from pasture land in my area, but there are some farmers converting corn fields to soybean in south of Brazil, because of the low corn price now and the big production of old-crop corn we had this year," said Tessaro.

"Last year's situation was too good for Brazilian farmers -- the only year farmers can plant soybean in the optimal planting window," said Thiago Piccinin, CEO of Lotus Grains and Oilseed, a trading company in Sao Paulo. "So far, planting progress is still at the average pace, and the farmers are patient for new rain forecast."