Featured Agriculture News

08/20/2018 - Cash Rent Conundrum

The conflict between steady land values and tumbling commodity prices set the stage for difficult conversations as farmers and landowners enter cash rent negotiations for 2019.

08/20/2018 - Ag Seeks Blockchain Advantage

The prospects of blockchain technology came up repeatedly this week at an Ag Technology and The Law conference put on this week in Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the ability to develop blockchain tools for major agribusinesses in the state could provide an advantage in promoting food safety for consumers and international trade.

08/20/2018 - Todd's Take

In August 2017, USDA estimated a higher-than-expected corn yield and prices collapsed at the end of the year. USDA did the same thing last Friday, but so far, corn prices aren't collapsing.

08/17/2018 - Year-Round E15 Success Limited

Despite ethanol industry concerns about the loss of demand from small refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard, a market expert told producers the loss may not be as severe as expected.

08/17/2018 - DTN Digital Yield Tour 2018- MN, WI, OH

Gro Intelligence's yield models forecast an average corn yield of 190.73 bushels per acre in Minnesota, 175.83 bpa in Wisconsin and 182.33 bpa in Ohio. Soybean yields are expected to hit 49.98 bpa, 54.08 bpa and 53.80 bpa, respectively.

08/16/2018 - Kub's Den

Recent inflation figures suggest the economy is heating up. Although it can be favorable to farmers if commodity prices rise, there is a looming risk of higher interest rates following that higher inflation.

08/16/2018 - DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

While most fertilizer prices maintain a slow, steady march higher, some are beginning to show signs of weakening.

08/16/2018 - DTN Digital Yield Tour 2018 - NE, SD

Gro Intelligence's yield models forecast an average corn yield of 191.33 bushels per acre in Nebraska and 160.25 bpa in South Dakota, while soybean yields are expected to hit 59.36 bpa and 47.09 bpa, respectively.

08/14/2018 - WOTUS Now in Effect in 26 States

The 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule now is in effect in 26 states including Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, after a judge issued a nationwide injunction on a recent EPA rule that delayed the implementation of the rule.
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08/20/2018 Cash Rent Conundrum

By Elizabeth Williams
DTN Special Correspondent

INDIANOLA, Iowa (DTN) -- Land values are holding steady despite the tumble in commodity prices, and the good news is that's propping up equity in farm country, allowing sufficient collateral for land-owning operators to borrow funds. Unfortunately, stable land values also underpin landowners' perception that cash rents should hold firm.

"In this environment, that's an unrealistic expectation," said Leslie Miller, vice president of Iowa State Savings Bank in Knoxville, Iowa. "Farm operators cannot afford to lose money by paying the same rents as last year."

Miller met with one southcentral Iowa landowner who got $225 per acre cash rent in 2018. After running the numbers, she told him that his tenant would have to grow 205-bushel-per-acre corn to be able to pay that.

"The landowner admitted his ground was not that good," Miller told DTN. With yields averaging 175 bpa, Miller suggested $180 per acre would be more realistic. The landowner said he'd be willing to do that if the total rent was paid upfront.

"Although the operator would have to pay six months interest on half of the rent normally paid in November, I think he would be able to do that for the reduction in rent," Miller said. "Landowners should be willing to negotiate."

Justin Dammann, who grows corn and soybeans and raises a cow/calf herd in Essex, Iowa, said steady cash rents complicate cash flow projections for 2019.

"You can be $80 to $100 per acre away from making money," he said. "So, we aren't just talking a $15 per acre reduction. We need a $30, $40, $50 per acre decrease. That equates to a 15% to 25% reduction in revenue for the landowner. Not many landowners are willing to accept that. They have tight budgets, too."

The University of Illinois projects a $44 per acre loss in 2019 for a central Illinois farmer producing a trendline yield of 207-bpa corn with a price of $3.80 per bushel and a land cost of $245 per acre in 2019. The university's economists also predict any cash rent above $201 per acre would lead to negative returns to farmers in 2019 under this scenario (207 bpa at $3.80/bu. corn).

SHARE REAL NUMBERS

"Every landowner is different, but the No. 1 thing to negotiate a fair rent is to be honest and transparent," said Dammann, whose family farms is in three counties in southwest Iowa and has 22 landowners, including two in China. "Show them real numbers. There's going to be a lot of red ink next year, especially with a large soybean carryover.

"However, for some owners, my numbers don't matter," he admitted. "Some just have a [cash rent] number in mind and they won't settle for anything less. But what we do has to make sense on paper."

Iowa law says unless you renegotiate a farmland lease or send a letter of termination to the tenant or the landowner by Sept. 1, the current lease arrangements are in effect for the following year. That means many Iowa tenants and landowners are in the middle of 2019 rental negotiations.

Dammann prefers to have his lease negotiations wrapped up by Sept. 1, but this year he believes more landowners will hesitate to set a 2019 lease rate in August.

"There's a lot of uncertainty with the trade situation. I think many landowners will say, 'Go ahead and serve me notice and we'll talk about rental rates this winter.' This means landowners will likely shop around to other farm operators in the area to see if they'll pay more," he said. "After Sept. 1 in Iowa, there will be a lot of land in loose hands as owners shop around."

That could make it hard to negotiate the 20-25% lower cash rents needed to avoid red ink.

"If rents go down, they'll probably go down about 15% just because of the competition to rent land," said Dammann.

How loyal your landowner will be to you often depends on the relationship you've built. For some landowners it's all about the numbers, but for many it's the noncash effort the landowners value.


"Lately, we've been flying a drone over the fields in June and early July and sending aerial photos and videos to the landowner," Dammann said. "It's not something we have to do. But when it comes time to negotiate rents, the owner knows you care. Extra touches go a long way."

Dammann mows an owner's yard and finds other ways to go the extra mile. "One landowner in her 80s had a lot of tree limbs down in her yard after a big wind storm. We went over with our equipment and had it all cleaned up in a couple of hours. You find ways to let them know you care and you treat their land as if it were your own. They remember that when it comes time to negotiate the lease."

NEGOTIATE IMPROVEMENTS

If your landowner doesn't want to come down in price, there are still things you can do. Iowa State University farm management specialist Steve Johnson said drainage improvements, as well as cover crop and other conservation expenses, will be part of the lease negotiations this year.

"If the landowner doesn't come down in rent, they should pick up the cost of land improvements," Johnson said. Many landowners figure their rent should be about one-third of the total crop revenue or roughly 3% of the value of the land.

"But landlords should also pay to improve their land if they value soil and water conservation. Examples include investments in terraces, waterways, tile and a portion of the average $40 per acre it costs to plant and destroy a cover crop such as cereal rye," he said.

TIME FOR FLEX LEASES

One retired farmer at a recent seminar of Johnson's said the way to be fair to his tenant in 2019 would be to set the base rent at $175 per acre, rather than above $200 that he was getting in cash rent. Then, if the farmer's gross revenue for 2019 climbs past his August 2018 projections, the landowner would receive half the increase.

Dammann also uses a few flex leases.

"The problem with flex leases is you need to start with a low base rate because most flex leases don't flex lower when revenue drops lower." The key for flex leases to work in this environment is to get a base rent set at a fair price, he said.

A BANKRUPT FARMER DOESN'T PAY HIS BILLS

Miller said the ultimate risk of too high cash rent is the tenant could file bankruptcy. In hard-hit areas, "the landowner would be wise to get a little less in rent and get 100% of the payment up front. Protecting a lien in bankruptcy court is a huge expense."

She is in an area in southern Iowa suffering from a drought this year and was a banker in Davis County, Iowa, when it went through a drought in 1983.

"I'm seeing similar financial parallels," she said, adding while there's still plenty of time for things to turn around, it's also possible low prices could also stick around longer than anyone expects.

(KD/ES)

08/20/2018 Ag Seeks Blockchain Advantage

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (DTN) -- Traceability in the agricultural supply chain remains a complex challenge, but commodity industries, food and clothing retailers are increasingly looking at what blockchain can do for their businesses.

The prospects of blockchain came up repeatedly this week at an Ag Technology and The Law conference put on this week in Little Rock, Arkansas, hosted by the National Agricultural Law Center and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, speaking at Thursday's lunch, stressed the importance of linking technology and agriculture to boost economic development in Arkansas. Hutchinson connected the rapid growth of agricultural technology to an initiative he implemented, mandating that every school in the state offer computer-coding courses to students. More than 6,000 students are now taking such courses, he said. The governor countered some arguments from kids who don't think they need such an education because they want to farm.

"It's technology that measures how much water should go to the crops for water efficiency. The GPS systems and the drones that are being utilized -- technology is the lifeblood of our agricultural production," Hutchinson said. "So it's an easy case to make for our students that there is an application with computer science for whatever field you want to go into."

Earlier this year, Hutchinson also held a summit on blockchain technology, bringing in major Arkansas companies such as Walmart and Tyson Foods, as well as other businesses in food production and logistics. The Sam Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas also now has a center concentrated on blockchain uses.

CREATING A DIGITAL LEDGER

Though blockchain is largely associated with crypto-currencies, the technology itself really equates to creating a digital ledger for a product, whether it is bitcoin or a tomato, that traces the product, its movement, custody and government approval all digitally. Each person tied to the movement of a currency or commodity is able to see in data form any necessary documents for a sale. And the data is supposed to be securely encrypted.

"We have an opportunity to be a center of excellence in food security through blockchain," Hutchinson said Thursday. The governor cited how blockchain ledgers can redefine the speed of tracing the source of a food-safety outbreak. "If you utilize blockchain technology, it might take you eight seconds. That gives you an opportunity to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. What is the most important thing to Europe as you try to export our agricultural products? It is, what is your food security like in this product you are trying to get us to buy?"

Hutchinson added, "We want to be able to capitalize on blockchain technology to give us that market advantage to give us the capability to provide to the retail industry as well and we will see how that goes."

RAPID POSSIBLE CHANGES IN AG

There are a lot of expectations that blockchain will create rapid possible changes in agriculture. IBM has developed a "hyper ledger" that be used by different segments in food traceability, such as a barcode on a melon at a store that can detail the chain of custody on that melon all the way back to the original farm.

"Blockchain gurus will tell you there would be no need for lawyers because the computer code itself sets the rules for the transaction," said Todd Janzen, an Indiana attorney focused on the ag-data space. "As the melon moves from the farmer to the processor, money moves back through virtual currency back to the farmer."

Janzen thinks there will still be issues related to contract issues with blockchain, noting there has been some fraud in cryptocurrencies. Further, if a farmer can't meet his production quota, he or she may bring in melons from another farm, disrupting the notion of full traceability.

COTTON INDUSTRY EXAMPLE

Some commodities are already more adept at developing and using digital ledgers. Memphis-based, The Seam, was created in 2000 by Cargill, Louis Dreyfus Co, and other major cotton companies as a trading company and clearinghouse for the cotton industry. The Seam traded about 2 million bales of cotton last year. CEO Mark Pryor said the company has been working more in recent years on providing buyers independently verifiable information about cotton sourcing and sustainability.

"All of this is coming together to where the industry is asking for radical traceability and transparency," Pryor added, noting that is a challenge as agriculture is one of the least digitized sectors of the U.S. economy.

Pryor noted the supply chain from the farm to the consumer "is extremely complex." Just in cotton, a bale may have 15 different entities that touch a shipment in some way. "And there are hundreds of communications just over a single shipment that may contain 88 bales in a container," Pryor said.

Paper processes and communications are being scattered across the globe. Human error enters the mix and there can be discrepancies in paperwork that are not standardized. "It's one of the reasons we have slowdowns in commerce," Pryor said.

SHARED SOURCE OF TRUTH

"Blockchain provides us in agriculture a shared source of truth. Trust is an inherent part of the next work because of some of the properties that make it possible."

The cotton industry is working more on developing digital ledgers to bring more transparency and traceability from field to fabric and fabric back to the field, Pryor said. Brands and retailers such as Wrangler, Brooks Brothers and Levis want to be able to show the source of their cotton.

"It also solves a lot of problems with inefficiencies in the industry," Pryor said.

All this leads to going back to the farm with initiatives on sustainability and proof of independent verification of practices on the farm. The Seam is working with the National Cotton Council and Field to Market to get information from farmers.

"This isn't something that's just interesting to the cotton industry because farmers in Georgia, they don't just grow cotton. They grow peanuts, soybeans, corn."

MAKE IT FARMER-FRIENDLY

The challenge, though, is ensuring that data for all of those crops is captured, but in a way that does not create more complications for farmers in the process. "We have to make it friendly on the farmer," Pryor said. "We have to lower the burden on the farmer and this is how we do it."

The cotton industry globally is more focused on blockchain partly because retailers and clothing companies do not want to discover the processed cotton fabric they bought was made with child labor. Further, some audits have discovered sellers marketing "Egyptian cotton," which is costlier and considered higher quality, was not actually Egyptian cotton at all.

Pryor said major trading companies that compete are coming together on these blockchain standards for the greater good of the entire industry. "Cotton is an area where we are making a lot of progress because we sort of have the global who's who behind us."

Blockchain is still in its infancy, though data security and encryption has improved. Cotton works better in traceability because every bale is an identity-preserved commodity with bar codes on bales. Digital ledgers become more complicated with other commodities that are co-mingled, such as grains or oilseeds. Even then, blockchain doesn't work at every port, Pryor noted.

"Some countries accept electronic sanitary and phyto-sanitary documents and some don't," Pryor said.

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

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

(ES/BAS)

08/20/2018 Todd's Take

By Todd Hultman
DTN Analyst

USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reported a week ago Friday (8/10) had a familiar feel to it. Much like a year ago, when the clock struck 11 a.m. CT and USDA's numbers appeared, the corn yield estimate wasn't the 176.3 bushels per acre (bpa) that Dow Jones' analyst survey was expecting, but a higher number -- a record high 178.4 bpa.

While both August WASDE reports offered surprises, it is probably fair to say that the 2017 report offered the bigger shock. Drought had become more of a concern in 2017, stretching from the Dakotas into Iowa. In 2018, northern Missouri was the consistent trouble spot, but most of the larger producing states were generally doing well and USDA's crop ratings were high. Given last year's final record corn yield of 176.6 bpa, I doubt anyone fainted when they heard this year's 178.4 bpa estimate.

Of course, it is still early and these numbers will change through the fall, but a 14.6 billion bushel (bb) crop and a record high yield of 178.4 bpa are bearish enough to keep corn prices under pressure into harvest as is typical for corn prices when crops are big. After all, don't forget that the U.S. will also be carrying roughly 2 bb of old-crop corn into the next season.

It is after harvest, and whenever the seasonal low happens, that the year ahead should start to look different for corn. One year ago, U.S. new-crop corn sales were down 43% from the prior year as Brazil and Argentina punished U.S. exporters with 139.5 million metric tons (mmt), or 5.49 bb, of combined corn production.

This year, the situation is different as dry weather knocked Brazil and Argentina's combined production down to 116.0 mmt or 4.57 bb. USDA is expecting a third competitor, Ukraine, to increase its corn crop from 24.1 mmt a year ago to 31.0 mmt (1.22 bb) in 2018. Overall, however, U.S. exporters are in better shape to do more business in 2018-19, and new-crop corn sales are already up 54% from a year ago at this time.

With the U.S. well-positioned for more exports, it is also beneficial for U.S. corn prices that USDA is expecting a 3% increase in world corn demand. Not only is the world economy growing and wanting more corn-fed meat on the table, ethanol is becoming a popular oxygenate for fuels around the world. As USDA reported earlier this month, U.S. ethanol exports are up 33% in the first half of 2018 from a year ago.

So when will we see $5.00 corn? Sorry, but the situation is not that bullish. Corn still needs help from U.S. weather to reach $5.00, and as it now looks, 2018 will be the sixth consecutive year of good (or good enough) weather in the U.S. to produce a big crop.

Thanks to impressive growth of world demand and help from dry weather in South America, the outlook for corn prices is more bullish for the next nine months than it was a year ago. The one obstacle in this scenario is the rising U.S. dollar index, but it helps that South American supplies are down.

DTN's national index of cash corn prices, sitting at $3.34 on Thursday evening, probably won't see $5 by June 2019, but $3.80 to $4.00 is plausible.

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

Follow him on Twitter @ToddHultman

(BE/BAS)

08/17/2018 Year-Round E15 Success Limited

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) -- Marty Ruikka might have been the most unpopular person in the room at the American Coalition for Ethanol's conference on Thursday, when he told an audience of producers the data isn't supporting the notion of massive demand destruction from small refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Further, the president of the ProExporter Network, a commodities research firm based in Michigan, said if the EPA allowed year-round E15 sales, the benefits to the industry would be limited.

EPA announced in its latest Renewable Fuel Standard volumes proposal that more than 40 companies received small refinery waivers in 2016 and 2017, totaling about 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol.

"When it comes to weekly and monthly data (Energy Information Administration) my analysts can see some impact on blending," Ruikka said.

Based on that data, however, he said the ethanol industry is losing 100 million to 300 million gallons annually as a result of waivers. "Monthly data doesn't show -- we see zero impact on blending," Ruikka said.

What's happening, he said, is refiners still need to splash blend ethanol in order to sell gasoline that comes from the factory as an 84 octane blend. Ruikka said splash-blending volumes are not tracked. Splash blending essentially is adding 10% ethanol to every gallon of gasoline.

While ethanol blending appears to remain strong, Ruikka said the flood of renewable identification numbers, or RINs, into the market has caused RINs prices to fall and the "impact has been devastating."

When it comes to E15, Ruikka said the industry has quite a gap to close for the fuel to become widely available.

"The number of stations offering higher blends is still relatively small," he said.

E15 currently provides an extra 259 million gallons of ethanol annually blended nationally. EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has indicated in recent weeks E15 relief would have to come as part of an overall deal that also benefits refining interests. Ruikka said an E15 waiver would free the market immediately for just another 54 million gallons of ethanol annually.

In relaxing the vapor requirements, gasoline blenders are allowed to produce fuel that complies with EPA regulations using any available gasoline blendstock on the market, including E15.

The U.S. ethanol industry has been pushing EPA to issue a waiver on E15 for some time, holding out hope the agency would be able to take action that would allow for year-round sales. Federal law forbids the sale of E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15.

Currently, E15 sales are restricted in nearly two-thirds of the country during the summer months because of ozone concerns. The EPA waiver issued on Aug. 26, 2017, allowed gasoline with less than 9% ethanol by volume to qualify for special provisions for alcohol blends requirement. That waiver, however, did not allow for blends up to E15.

In addition, Ruikka said there continues to be a number of market barriers for E15.

E15 is not allowed by state laws in Arizona, California, Delaware, Montana, Nevada and New York. Ruikka said between 55% and 60% of all stations are restricted from offering E15, as part of their branding agreements with petroleum companies. What's more, he said just 27% of all stations across the United States have the ability to offer blends above E10.

"We're very limited on increasing ethanol use domestically and that requires more effort," Ruikka said.

On the positive side, Ruikka said corn ethanol continues to make inroads into the California market as the industry has consistently improved its carbon intensity through production efficiency gains. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy expects gasoline use to increase in 2019.

John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, said the importance of fuel sales for fuel retailers has diminished. In 2013, 75% of all sales were fuel. In 2017, he said, fuel accounted for just 27% of sales.

However, Eichberger said news headlines touting the demise of liquid fuel-powered vehicles and the rise of electric vehicles as a market disrupter, is greatly exaggerated.

"I don't see that," Eichberger said. "It does not deliver an immediate, tangible value to consumers. What is happening in the market isn't changing consumer's lives."

About 94% of vehicles on the road in the United States in 2017, Eichberger said, were gasoline-powered. The ethanol industry has kept a close watch on the potential for electric vehicles to diminish demand for liquid fuels, and as a result, ethanol.

The electric-vehicle industry is seeing growth, he said. At its current rate of growth electric cars still will make up just about 10% of all vehicles on the road by 2035.

"Automakers know EVs (electric vehicles) are way down the road," Eichberger said. "Currently they are selling them at a loss."

That's why the big three Detroit automakers and refiners are "passionate" about getting high octane standards approved, as long as the RFS is repealed. Eichberger said such a deal faces an uphill battle, as ethanol interests are not all that interested in entertaining RFS repeal.

For farmers, bringing high-octane fuels from E25 to E40 could create more markets for corn and a wide variety of feedstocks, including those used for producing cellulosic ethanol. That would be welcome news to rural America where lower commodity prices, RFS concerns and trade disputes have led to higher uncertainty in 2018.

"The lift they have ahead on this is enormous," Eichberger said. "It is a major project." The EPA has to be able to show a broader societal benefit to creating high-octane standards, he said, with the estimated costs to make it happen ranging from $100 billion to $150 billion.

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

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(CC/CZ)

08/17/2018 DTN Digital Yield Tour 2018- MN, WI, OH

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor
and
By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota expect large, but not record-breaking yields, while Ohio farmers look to yields that are consistently larger than last year.

The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how the 2018 corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro's real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

Gro forecasts Minnesota corn farmers will harvest 190.73 bushels per acre, Wisconsin growers 175.83 bpa and Ohio producers 182.33 bpa. Gro's estimates for Minnesota and Wisconsin are both slightly lower than USDA's August forecast, while Ohio's estimate is higher by a couple of bushels.

On soybeans, Gro expects a state average yield of 49.98 bpa in Minnesota, 54.08 bpa in Wisconsin and 53.80 bpa in Ohio. Minnesota's and Wisconsin's estimates are higher than USDA, while Ohio's is lower.

You can see specific comparisons, including to 2017's final estimates from both groups, in these charts: https://app.gro-intelligence.com

Please note, Gro's soybean model is in its first year, so there's no comparison to 2017 estimates. Gro's county and state yield estimates update on a daily basis, so the numbers at publication time may be different from what you find on the Gro website.

MINNESOTA

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said some parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin caught a break with their midsummer weather pattern.

"July was variable on rainfall -- southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin were 25-50% below normal on precipitation, while western and southwestern Minnesota were from 50-100% above normal. Temperatures, though, were right around average for the month. So, there was very little stress to crops outside of ponded-out fields; also, quite a few locations were able to dry out and not have continued ponding of soils by rain."

Between a wet spring and a summer of variable precipitation, Minnesota's moisture levels are finally sitting around average, Anderson noted. Those conditions are easy to see in one set of Gro's maps -- the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) -- which uses NASA satellite imagery to show how abnormally dry or lush an area is, using the 10-year average "greenness" index. Minnesota's counties are largely white, meaning they very closely match that 10-year index. See Minnesota's, Wisconsin's and Ohio's current vegetation levels here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

The current season hasn't fostered last year's bin-buster yields, noted Mark Nowak, who farms in south-central Minnesota.

"Last year's record crop happened from a moist July and a below-normal August temp," he recalled. "So the opposite is happening this year, drier July and above-normal August temp."

Nowak estimates that his corn crop in Faribault County will be down 8% from last year's record crop, which USDA pegged at 215 bpa in his county. Gro's yield map agrees, and suggests corn yields in his region will hover around 200 bpa this year. See the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio county-level yield map here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Likewise, the lowest southern tier of top-yielding Minnesota counties, where yields ranged from 193 bpa to 215 bpa last year, are more likely to range from 188 to 204 bpa, according to Gro's yield maps.

The trend of near-average yields trailing last year's records continues as you head north, toward Justin Honebrink's operation in west-central Otter Tail County, where the corn average reached 178 bpa last year, compared to the five-year average of 161 bpa.

"I would say we are trending above average," Honebrink said of this season. "Some of the lighter ground without irrigation is starting to burn up, but the rain on Tuesday morning probably saved quite a few bushels."

Gro's yield maps concur and suggest an average corn yield of 166 bpa for Honebrink's county.

Overall, Gro suggests the state's top corn yield will go to Waseca County, at 208 bpa, and the lowest will land in Aitkin County, at 117 bpa.

For soybeans, the yield maps show a similar trend -- near average, and distinctly lower than last year's strong showing. The two rows of southernmost counties averaged 52 to 60 bpa last year -- this year, Gro predicts that range will narrow to 51 to 55 bpa. At 56 bpa, Winona County is expected to pull in the highest average, with Koochiching County pulling in the lowest yield of 34 bpa.

WISCONSIN

Like Minnesota, Wisconsin's vegetative index map shows a lot of white and light green, indicating crop conditions are in line or slightly better than the 10-year average NDVI. See Minnesota's, Wisconsin's and Ohio's current vegetation levels here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

The areas with the most green, which are along Wisconsin's southern border with Illinois extending north and east of Madison to Lake Winnebago, also correlate to counties with some of the highest yield potential for corn, with estimates ranging from 175 to 198 bpa, and soybeans, with yield expectations falling between 54 and 60 bpa.

Gro Intelligence forecasts Lafayette County will take the crown for highest corn and soybean yields, at 198 bpa and 60.83 bpa, respectively, for the second year in a row. The lowest corn yield estimate is Ashland County, at 117.6 bpa, while the smallest soybean estimate is in Bayfield County, at 34.13 bpa. Both of those counties include coastline on Lake Superior. See the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio county-level yield map here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Tony Mellenthin farms in another pocket of Wisconsin that Gro's yield estimates indicate has high potential, but he said the outcome depends on rainfall. His farm about 90 miles east of Minneapolis in Eau Galle received good moisture to start the season, but Mother Nature became stingy with the spigot in July and shut it off in August.

"If you don't have water, irrigation or really good heavy silt loam soils, things are curling up real bad," he said. "Beans are showing stress. The corn that isn't irrigated -- some ears are starting to drop already. It's not good."

Gro estimates Dunn County corn will yield 176.6 bpa, but Mellenthin thinks that could be a touch too high.

"It's going to be difficult, I'm not going to lie, on corn, because the corn kernels are there," he said. The crop is also further along in maturity than average, giving it a better chance to fully develop before fall freezes. "Our losses in corn are going to be mitigated because of that. My concern is how heavy are these kernels going to be with this dry weather?"

He thinks county yields will be 5 to 10 bpa lower than last year. USDA said Dunn County growers harvested an average of 180.5 bpa in 2017.

Mellenthin also thinks soybean yields could be lower than last year, which USDA pegged at 45.3 bpa. That's a different view than the Gro models, which forecast a county yield of 52.79 bpa.

"The top node or two are still flowering, so if we would get some rain, there's potential to add some pods on top, but those flowers are starting to abort already, so we're almost past the time to get that supplemental yield," he said. "Now I'm just worried about the pod-fill process. How big are these beans going to be?"

OHIO

Like Wisconsin and Minnesota, Ohio's moisture levels sit near or slightly above normal in most places, as Gro's NDVI map demonstrates, with light-green coloring scattered across the state. (The gray areas on the map represent cloud cover). See Minnesota's, Wisconsin's and Ohio's current vegetation levels here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

"June was warm, but also pretty wet -- rainfall was near to above normal in the major production areas," DTN's Anderson noted. "July was split on temperatures: The western half of the state was near normal, the eastern half 2-4 degrees F above normal. Precipitation was from 25-50% below normal statewide. The milder temperatures, even with a drier trend, were likely beneficial in the western half of the state."

Because the western half of the state produces the majority of the state's corn and soybeans, this has boded well for yields.

Keith Peters said he expects corn yields in his central Ohio counties to be "well above average," which Gro yield maps confirm, pinning them around 188 bpa.

Overall, corn yields in Ohio look to be slightly more uniform than last year's, where the state pulled in a patchwork of yields across the western two-thirds of the state. This year, Gro's yield maps show yields ranging more consistently from 163 to 197 bpa in this region.

The state's highest corn yield is likely to come from Darke County, at 197 bpa, with the lowest yield at the moment hailing from Belmont County, at 138 bpa.

Likewise, soybean yields look uniformly strong in the western half of the state, with yields ranging from 47 to 59 bpa. Preble County claims the highest at 59 bpa, and the far eastern county of Summit claims the lowest, at 45 bpa.

On Friday, the digital "tour" will turn its focus to the I states -- Iowa, Illinois and Indiana -- before a final examination of overall U.S. crop yields on Monday, Aug. 20.

If you'd like your yield observations to be included in future stories, use the #DigitalYieldTour2018 hashtag on Twitter.

ABOUT THE TOUR

The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, takes place Aug. 15-20 and provides an in-depth look at how the year's corn and soybean crops are progressing. Each day, we'll feature crop condition and yield information from various states, which include links to the Gro yield prediction maps for those states. Yield summaries are viewable at the county level.

The "tour" starts in the west, with articles on Kansas/Missouri and Nebraska/South Dakota on Aug. 15. Additional states will appear: Aug. 16 -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio; Aug. 17 -- Iowa, Illinois, Indiana; Aug. 20 -- U.S. totals and review. Readers should note that the Gro yield visuals are continually updated, while the DTN feature articles are based on the company's yield estimate at the time the article was written. Numbers quoted in the articles may be different than those on the Gro website, depending on when viewed.

To see all the tour articles and related DTN stories about the 2018 crop, visit our tour site at https://www.dtn.com/…

About Gro Intelligence: The New York-based company is focused on creating data analytics for the agriculture industry. Gro builds proprietary crop models that use satellite imagery, soil conditions, weather and other crop and environmental data to produce crop health and yield prediction numbers and visuals.

To learn more about Gro, go here: www.Gro-intelligence.com

To read the research white paper on their modeling system, go here and select to "Download the corn yield model paper": https://gro-intelligence.com/…

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN

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

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee

(AG/SK)

08/16/2018 Kub's Den

By Elaine Kub
DTN Contributing Analyst

Stuff costs more; the price of stuff is going up. This should be good news for the people who produce and sell stuff, right?

Not necessarily.

Just ask grain producers, who have largely been left behind by the recent acceleration in inflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, as of July 2018, the prices of finished goods have been rising at an annual rate of 2.9% -- the fastest pace of inflation in the past 10 years. Perhaps that's not hugely surprising, considering that corporate profits have been doing well, unemployment is low and any time there is more cash in the economy (due to corporate spending or increased wages in the hands of consumers), price rises become somewhat inevitable. And inflation is a generally good signal, showing that the supply and demand of U.S. dollars is cranking tighter while economic activity takes place.

However, let's consider what those price rises, as indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' measure of inflation, really mean. Inflation from one month to the next is tracked by the Consumer Price Index, a monthly number that is calculated by considering the actual retail prices of a basket of "stuff" -- anything from coffee and footwear to gasoline and household furnishings. More specifically, the figure that makes all the headlines is the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U. Separate calculations are made for individual (urban) regions and for the roughly 30% of urban consumers who are actively earning a wage.

A completely different calculation is tracked for the prices received by producers, separate from the prices paid by consumers. That would be the PPI, or the Producers Price Index, which never seems to make headlines the way CPI inflation does. It's important, though, as a leading indicator. When the price tags for the stuff producers are selling start to go up, you can pretty much guarantee that the overall price level for the stuff consumers are buying will also go up soon after.

And here's the trap farmers are finding themselves in right now in mid-2018. The PPI for agricultural products, like corn, has not been rising at a pace to keep up with the inflation in the broader economy, if at all. There is a corn-specific PPI indexed to 1982 prices (the 1982 price level = 100 and every observation thereafter compares to that). As of the measurement released last week, corn PPI is only 132. Meanwhile, the PPI for agricultural chemicals is now 223.9 and the PPI for agricultural machinery is 186.1, as just a couple of examples.

The CPI-U itself, also indexed to 1982-84 prices, is now 252.0. If corn prices (raw material prices) haven't risen and fed through to downstream product prices already, they're not likely to have much luck going forward. Meanwhile, farmers must still buy their coffee and footwear and gasoline in the same inflationary environment as everyone else.

Inflation, therefore, is a double-edged sword for commodity producers. Farmers, in particular, may feel concern after seeing that hot July inflation figure, not only because of higher input prices, but more importantly because of the ultimate implications for interest rates. As long as the economy is meeting the inflation targets set by the Federal Reserve governors, they will be more inclined to implement their planned interest rate hikes.

It's expected there will be two more interest rate hikes yet in 2018, followed by three interest rate hikes in 2019. Whether or not the markets justify and allow that plan to come to fruition remains to be seen. But we do know this: Every boost in interest rates leads to potentially lower land values, tighter farm balance sheets and obviously higher borrowing costs for farmers.

It's good when prices rise, especially if the prices of one's own products rise, but a healthy economy brings about its own challenges for the producers who underpin the whole thing.

Elaine Kub is the author of "Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made" and can be reached at elaine@masteringthegrainmarkets.com or on Twitter @elainekub.

(BE/AG)

08/16/2018 DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- For the most part, retail fertilizer prices remain slightly higher the first week of August 2018, although some are showing downward movement compared to last month, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Just like last week, five of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to last month, but none increased by a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $487 per ton, MAP $507/ton, potash $356/ton, urea $363/ton and 10-34-0 $445/ton.

Three fertilizers were slightly lower from the previous month, but the move to the low side was subdued. Anhydrous had an average price of $482/ton, UAN28 $233/ton and UAN32 $271/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Some farmers begin locking in fall fertilizer prices for the upcoming growing season around this time of year, but DTN finds many nutrient buying strategies this year include a wait-and-see approach.

Wayne Martin, a corn and soybean farmer from Shelby, Iowa, told DTN he hasn't been in contact with his fertilizer retailers.

"I normally don't buy fertilizer until December anyway," Martin said.

He has faced a challenging growing season this year in southwestern Iowa. Hail damaged his crops earlier in the growing season, and he expects corn production to be half of his typical harvest.

Martin has also had to battle a new soybean pest that arrived after the hail, the soybean gall midge. DTN/PF's Pam Smith wrote about Martin's fight with this tiny but destructive insect earlier in this month. You can find that story here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Martin said its going "to be hard to get in the mood to spend money" for the next growing season with low grain prices and the bad greensnap his corn has seen this year.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher in recent months. 10-34-0 is 1% higher, potash is 5% more expensive, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 8% higher, MAP is 9% higher, DAP is 12% more expensive, urea is 18% higher and anhydrous is 19% more expensive compared to last year.

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):

DRY
Date Range DAP MAP POTASH UREA
Aug 7-11 2017 434 462 339 311
Sep 4-8 2017 431 458 338 302
Oct 2-6 2017 425 453 348 323
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 434 455 348 330
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 435 460 342 340
Dec 25-29 2017 448 488 344 348
Jan 22-26 2018 458 492 344 353
Feb 19-23 2018 460 496 345 357
Mar 19-23 2018 469 504 349 368
Apr 16-20 2018 484 502 353 368
May 14-18 2018 483 505 354 368
Jun 11-15 2018 484 505 354 364
Jul 9-13 2018 485 504 354 366
Aug 6-10 2018 487 507 356 363
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Aug 7-11 2017 440 419 224 258
Sep 4-8 2017 418 413 215 248
Oct 2-6 2017 413 399 208 243
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 405 401 208 262
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 403 417 216 271
Dec 25-29 2017 407 468 216 254
Jan 22-26 2018 415 490 226 261
Feb 19-23 2018 416 495 231 265
Mar 19-23 2018 422 503 236 269
Apr 16-20 2018 431 508 240 275
May 14-18 2018 439 510 241 276
Jun 11-15 2018 440 503 241 277
Jul 9-13 2018 443 505 242 279
Aug 6-10 2018 445 482 233 271

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

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

(BAS/KD/AG)

08/16/2018 DTN Digital Yield Tour 2018 - NE, SD

By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Favorable weather patterns led to bin-busting yield forecasts in Nebraska and South Dakota.

The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how the 2018 corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro's real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.

Gro forecasts Nebraska corn farmers will harvest an average 191.33 bushels per acre, while South Dakota growers will harvest an average 160.25 bpa. Both estimates are higher than last year's totals, but slightly below USDA's August estimates.

On soybeans, Gro expects a state average of 59.36 bpa in Nebraska and 47.09 bpa in South Dakota. Like corn, both estimates are higher than last year, but lower than USDA's most recent forecasts.

You can see specific comparisons in these charts: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Please note, Gro's soybean model is in its first year, so there's no comparison to 2017 estimates. Gro's yield estimates on a county and state level update on a daily basis, so the numbers at publication time may be different than what you find on the Gro website.

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said this year's weather pattern has been very favorable to crop development in Nebraska and South Dakota.

"During the first and middle portions of summer, these two states were on the edge of oppressive hot and dry high pressure that covered the southwestern U.S., and were in line for active thunderstorm formation. There was severe weather, as well, but the large majority of acreage had favorable rainfall," he said.

"In a large macro sense, these two states benefited from a stagnant far northern upper-air pattern, with a standing high-pressure ridge over the far western U.S. and into western Canada, and a trough over central and eastern Canada. The circulation brought storm-producing energy into the north-central states and helped to fire up the rain."

TIMELY RAINS BOOST NEBRASKA CROP PROSPECTS

Nebraska farmer Randy Uhrmacher told DTN that every time the forecast called for a 10-day hot-and-dry stretch, at least four days turned out cool and wet.

"I'm not going to say USDA is wrong," he said, referencing the agency's 196-bpa average corn yield estimate for the state. Just this week, his farm received another 1.2 inches of rain, which he said was excellent timing for the soybean crop. "Maybe it won't help the corn a lot, but it will keep the stalk healthy."

He said soybean harvest usually starts in mid-September. "The corn has been ahead of normal but is slowing down, making me think this is really going to be a great crop."

Uhrmacher farms in the corridor along Interstate 80 that shows some of the highest yield estimates in the state, with Gro forecasting average yields above 200 bpa for nine counties west of Lincoln. You can check out Gro's interactive county-by-county yield map here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

His operation spans Adams and Webster counties, where Gro forecasts the average yields of 204.3 bpa and 172.48 bpa, respectively. The primary difference between the two: About 80% of the land in Adams County is irrigated, while 75% of Webster is dryland, Uhrmacher said.

Gro forecasts Phelps County will have the highest yield in the state at 215.98 bpa. That's despite a hailstorm that damaged the crop in early July.

Gro's yield maps incorporate another set of maps, known as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), which uses satellite imagery to show how abnormally dry or lush an area is, using a 10-year average "greenness" index.

Nebraska's NDVI map shows a number of hail scars in Nebraska, including one spanning the Platte-Madison County line and one in Cedar County. You can check the interactive map here, which includes a timeline showing changes not just over the growing season but all the way back to the 2011 crop year: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

The company's models incorporate this data into county estimates as areas where yields will be much lower than in areas with lush vegetation.

When it comes to soybeans, Gro forecasts the highest yield in Gosper County, just to the west of Phelps County, at 67.10 bpa.

The lowest-yielding regions in Nebraska are in the southwestern corner of the panhandle. Kimball County is expected to have the state's lowest corn yield at 124.25 bpa. It's higher than last year's USDA county estimate of 82.2 bpa, which was also the lowest yield in the state.

Gro forecasts Banner County, just to Kimball's north, will have the lowest average soybean yield at 38.98 bpa. USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service didn't have enough data to publish a countywide estimate for Banner last year.

SOUTH DAKOTA MARRED BY HAIL SCARS

DTN's Anderson said Nebraska's hail scars are smaller but more well-defined than the hail scars in South Dakota.

"There are several big hail scars on the NDVI graphic -- certainly in central South Dakota," he said. A cluster of hail damage from mid-June contributed to Gro yield estimates of 110 bpa to 117 bpa in the hardest-hit areas. Yields in counties to the east of the storm damage jumped to the 130-140 bpa range. You can see it on this map, which is the same NDVI image as above: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

The state's highest corn and soybean yield prospects are along the state's eastern edge. For corn, Gro forecasts only Minnehaha and Moody counties will break the 190 bpa mark, while forecasts for the rest of the eastern edge fall in the 170-to-185-bpa range. You can find the county yield map here, but please note, it's the same as above: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

On soybeans, Davison, Minnehaha, Moody, Lake and Union counties are forecast to produce average yields of 51 bpa or above. Gro expects much of the state's eastern growing region will harvest between 45 and 51 bpa on average.

Gro's lowest yield estimates are in the state's western region, where there's less corn and soybean production overall. The lowest corn yield estimate, at 61.17 bpa, is in Harding County. The lowest soybean estimate, at 24.11 bpa, is in Pennington County.

On Thursday, the digital "tour" will turn its focus to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. On Friday, DTN will hone in on Iowa, Illinois and Indiana before a final examination of overall U.S. crop yields on Monday, Aug. 20.

If you'd like your yield observations to be included in future stories, use the #DigitalYieldTour2018 hashtag on Twitter.

ABOUT THE TOUR

The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, takes place Aug. 15-20 and provides an in-depth look at how the year's corn and soybean crops are progressing. Each day, we'll feature crop condition and yield information from various states, which include links to the Gro yield prediction maps for those states. Yield summaries are viewable at the county level.

The "tour" starts in the west, with articles on Kansas/Missouri and Nebraska/South Dakota on Aug. 15. Additional states will appear: Aug. 16 -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio; Aug. 17 -- Iowa, Illinois, Indiana; Aug. 20 -- U.S. totals and review. Readers should note that the Gro yield visuals are continually updated, while the DTN feature articles are based on the company's yield estimate at the time the article was written. Numbers quoted in the articles may be different than those on the Gro website depending on when viewed.

To see all the tour articles and related DTN stories about the 2018 crop, visit our tour site at https://www.dtn.com/…

About Gro Intelligence: The New York-based company is focused on creating data analytics for the agriculture industry. Gro builds proprietary crop models that use satellite imagery, soil conditions, weather and other crop and environmental data to produce crop health and yield prediction numbers and visuals.

To learn more about Gro, go here: www.Gro-intelligence.com

To read the research white paper on their modeling system, go here and select to "Download the corn yield model paper": https://gro-intelligence.com/…

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN

(GH/AG)

08/14/2018 WOTUS Now in Effect in 26 States

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) -- The 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, now is in effect in 26 states after a federal judge in South Carolina issued a nationwide injunction on a recent EPA rule that delayed the implementation of the Obama-era regulation.

The legal wrangling that has occurred since Obama's EPA finalized the 2015 rule still leaves the nation divided on the Clean Water Act rule, with the rule in effect in some states but not in others. The rule redefined which wetlands and small waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act. Many farmers and ranchers feared the change would lead to increased government regulation of their land.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina ruled on Thursday that the EPA did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in finalizing its rule to delay the 2015 WOTUS for two years. That action by EPA was designed to allow the agency to complete a rewrite of WOTUS. A proposed new definition of WOTUS currently is under review by the Office of Management and Budget.

After EPA finalized its rule to delay WOTUS in February, several environment groups and states sued the agency, arguing it had rushed the rulemaking process.

In his ruling, Judge David Norton sided with the environmental groups and states, saying the text of the proposed suspension rule and the EPA memorandum for the record on the suspension rule rulemaking process made it clear the agency did not solicit any comments on the merits of the WOTUS rule or the merits of the 1980s regulation that EPA's suspension rule returned WOTUS to before the agency issued the suspension rule.

"The agencies refused to engage in a substantive reevaluation of the definition of the 'waters of the United States' even though the legal effect of the Suspension Rule is that the definition of 'waters of the United States' ceases to be the definition under the WOTUS rule and reverts to the definition under the 1980s regulation," the judge said in his ruling.

With the ruling on Thursday, the 2015 rule now is in effect in Iowa, Illinois, California, Washington, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Louisiana, Hawaii, Delaware and Connecticut.

Because of court actions in other cases, the 2015 rule remains on hold in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota, Missouri, Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Arkansas, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming.

The suspension rule would have given the agency until 2020 to complete a rewrite of WOTUS. Following the court decision on Thursday, it reverts back to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found appeals courts do not have jurisdiction on the WOTUS issue. Instead, that jurisdiction lies with the district courts, the Supreme Court ruled. Two district court decisions wiped out the 2015 rule in the 24 states, leaving the remaining 26 states where the rule remains in effect.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement to DTN that the recent court action means the EPA needs to act quickly.

"To avoid widespread uncertainty and potential enforcement against ordinary farming activities in these already uncertain times, we call on the administration to take immediate steps to limit the impact of this dangerous court decision," he said.

"The U.S. District Court for South Carolina was wrong to invalidate the agency's 'applicability rule' that had simply delayed the effective date of the 2015 WOTUS rule. The delay rule would have maintained regulatory certainty and stability while the administration completes its reconsideration of the 2015 rule and works to develop a new regulation to provide both clean water and clear rules. Today's court ruling creates enormous regulatory uncertainty and risk for farmers, ranchers and others in the 26 states that are not already protected from the unlawful 2015 rule by previous court decisions."

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association also issued a statement Thursday afternoon warning that the court's ruling means WOTUS remains a threat for farmers and ranchers.

"Today's ruling underscores the urgent need to finalize the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule," NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager stated in a news release Thursday. "The South Carolina court has effectively brought WOTUS back from the dead in 26 states, creating a zombie version of the 2015 rule that threatens the rights of farmers and ranchers across the country. NCBA will continue to fight in the courts and in Congress to kill the 2015 WOTUS rule once and for all."

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

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(AG)