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Articles from 2016 In October


A proposed resolution by the New York Parent Teacher Association would ban from the statersquos schools all food and drinks that contain genetically modified ingredientsmdashGetty ImagesPeter Macdiarmid
<p><em><strong>A proposed resolution by the New York Parent Teacher Association would ban from the state&rsquo;s schools all food and drinks that contain genetically modified ingredients.&mdash;</strong></em><strong>Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid</strong></p>

Readin’, writin’, ‘rithmetic and GMO-free school lunches?

The latest chapter in the craziness of the anti-GMO movement is the proposed resolution by the New York Parent Teacher Association to ban from the state’s schools all food and drinks that contain genetically modified ingredients. The measure will be voted on at the group’s November meeting.

“This biotechnology science,” the resolution states, “creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods to obtain a desired trait or characteristic,” and “some research suggests an association between GMO and GE food consumption with grave health hazards, such as tumor development, kidney and liver toxicity, and even death in laboratory and food production animals.”

In New York State alone, it's estimated the additional cost to provide GMO-free school lunches would be as much as $15 million annually.—Getty Images/Tim Boyle

It goes on: “Until GMO and GE food safety is conclusively supported by good science, NYS PTA proposes acting with caution and keeping these products out of school-provided food and drinks.”

Uhhh, and one wonders: Just what, in their minds, would constitute “conclusively supported good science”?

Where were they when the world’s most respected independent science group recently issued a 388-page report on their examination of more than 2,000 scientific studies, concluding there are “no differences … that implicate a higher risk to human health from these GE foods than from their non-GE counterparts.”

Further, allegations of tumor development and kidney/liver toxicity have been thoroughly reviewed and rejected by leading scientists, who also point out that the genes in GMO crops and animals are indeed stable, or the genetically modified plants and animals would not thrive — which they have done over many years on millions of acres and in millions of animals.

There is concern that if this proposal is adopted in New York, it will spread to other school systems throughout the country and, multiplied across hundreds of millions of school lunches, will significantly increase the cost at a time when budgets are already strained. In New York State alone, it’s estimated the added cost could be as much as $15 million annually.

The American Council on Science and Health says the New York State PTA effort “demonstrates that widespread efforts to boost science literacy in America are being viciously undermined by dishonest food activists … (and we should) keep their twisted religion out of the classroom.”

Timothy Pastoorleft Syngentarsquos retired principal scientist and an atrazine expert discusses atrazine with Darcy Pawlik Syngentarsquos North American head of cereals seed during the Syngenta Media Summit held at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary NC
<p>Timothy Pastoor,left, Syngenta&rsquo;s retired principal scientist and an atrazine expert, discusses atrazine with Darcy Pawlik, Syngenta&rsquo;s North American head of cereals seed, during the Syngenta Media Summit held at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C.</p> <p> </p>

Toxicologist confident EPA will correct flawed atrazine study

Timothy Pastoor is confident atrazine will continue to be available to farmers.

Pastoor is a retired toxicologist with Syngenta who has a long history of working with the compound throughout his career up until his retirement as principal scientist in 2015. While at Syngenta, Pastoor was actively involved in numerous registration processes for atrazine by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2018, atrazine is up for re-registration by EPA.

“We anticipate that atrazine is going to go through its pre-registration review, come out the other end available for farmers and growers in the way it’s been for the past 50 years plus,” Pastoor said at a Syngenta summit for farm journalists in Cary, N.C. Oct. 27.

Atrazine is up for EPA re-registration every 15 years and the last review on ecological effects was in 2003 so the next review is in 2018. Pastoor said the science clearly supports re-registration. But he stressed that farmers and the industry must remain proactive in supporting the continued use of atrazine.

Still, atrazine faces regulatory hurdles. In June, EPA issued a draft report on the ecological assessment of atrazine that was roundly criticized by Syngenta and others in the industry for containing numerous data and methodological errors that need to be corrected.

Pastoor said it is his view that EPA looked at the universe of data, put it all together, but didn’t get it quite right.

“But they will,” he stressed. “In 2017, they are going to have a scientific advisory panel meeting to look at the details. EPA will consider what that group of academic scientists advises them to do. They will go back with their scientists and they will revise that draft risk assessment. They will go back and fix the problems.”

Pastoor said there are numerous factual errors in the draft report that need to be corrected. For example, he noted EPA mislabeled milligram when it should have been labeled microgram or mislabeled microgram when it should have been labeled milligram. In addition, he said EPA relied on flawed studies when it made its draft assessment.

EPA could have used a huge database monitoring the safe use of atrazine in the Midwest, but Pastoor said the agency did not do that. In many cases, they used a model rather than an actual database to predict what might be in the environment as far as atrazine is concerned.

“EPA is well aware of how everybody feels about this draft assessment.  There is no secret there. We will rely on this to point out the errors in this assessment. The revisions will be based on the best available science. I can assure you that,” Pastoor told the farm journalists.

“EPA has a track record of being very open and transparent in accepting those kinds of comments and putting them into revising that draft assessment. We have confidence in that because we have seen it before. Atrazine has gone through 13 scientific advisory panels already. There will be another one next year and perhaps others in the future. In that transparent process, we expect to get these things right.”

Pastoor said science is clearly on atrazine’s side.

 “In over 50 years, we have produced more data on this product than virtually any other molecule on the planet. I have said this many times and I sincerely mean it: this is one of the best studied molecules ever and we can prove that with a lot of the information that is out there.”

Atrazine is one of the most closely examined pesticides in the world and its safety has been established in more than 7,000 scientific studies over more than 50 years. “To put that in context, you might want 100 to 200 studies supporting an active ingredient. We’re talking about 7,000 studies that support the registration of atrazine,” Pastoor explained.

To understand the benefits of reregistering atrazine, Pastoor said it is important to understand the difference between the words “complex” and “complicated.”  The database information on atrazine is complex but not complicated, he said.

“It’s pretty straightforward,” Pastoor stressed. “There are a huge number of very high quality studies to base your decisions on and good data to give you good regulatory decisions. That’s the foundation of good regulation.  Good science, good regulation. It’s not complicated, it’s just complex.”

Pastoor said atrazine delivers clear benefits to farmers which is why it has been on the market for more than 50 years. “I often refer to atrazine as the aspirin of agriculture because it is inexpensive and it works. That’s why farmers see a tremendous amount of value in it.”

Asian citrus psyllids on small citrus tree in Dinuba Calif
<p>A quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid now extends to all of Fresno County, Calif. as the pest continues to be found across the cities of Fresno and Clovis and other parts of the county.</p>

Fresno implements countywide ACP quarantine

Fresno County, Calif. becomes the second in the San Joaquin Valley to implement a countywide quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid after a series of ACP finds in the past year in various locations.

Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright says the decision made by his office came after conversations with commercial citrus industry representatives over the need to expand the quarantine.

According to Wright, the countywide ACP quarantine in Fresno County now means that growers there can pick and ship citrus within the county with no regulatory restrictions. This is significant because neighboring Tulare County’s countywide restrictions mean fruit from that county can now be easily moved from there to Fresno County packing sheds with no restrictions.

This is important because both counties grow a considerable amount of the state’s fresh citrus and numerous citrus packing sheds are located in both counties. Close to 90 percent of the state’s total citrus acreage of well over 250,000 is found in the counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern.

 

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which officially establishes the quarantines, there are numerous other ACP quarantine zones in the central portion of California, but none of them outside of Fresno and Tulare counties extend entire counties.

Kern County, which borders Tulare to the south, has a significant portion of land under quarantine for the pest, though the quarantine does not extend to the entire county. Much of the current quarantine is along the major highways – Hwy. 99, I-5 and Hwy. 58. The cities of Bakersfield and Wasco are under an ACP quarantine.

Alyssa Houtby, spokesperson for California Citrus Mutual (CCM), a citrus trade association based in Tulare County, said the move by Fresno County came after discussions with citrus industry representatives, though she says the decision was entire that of the Fresno Agriculture Department.

“In the short term it benefits the packers and the growers,” she says, noting that citrus harvest has already begun in the region.

California’s ACP quarantines now extend from the International Border with Mexico, northward to Placer County, east of Sacramento and into the highly urbanized regions of the Bay Area and northern San Joaquin Valley. This has happened as new ACP finds continue to be reported in locations along major highways and in urban centers.

The ACP is a tiny insect that can vector a deadly bacterial disease in citrus called Huanglongbing. The disease renders fruit unmarketable. To date HLB has been found in over two dozen residential citrus trees in Los Angeles County. Those trees have since been removed by the state of California. A 180-square-mile HLB quarantine was established in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

HLB was first found in the United States in Florida and has since greatly reduced its citrus production as the disease is said to have spread to the entire citrus industry there. The Texas citrus industry has also reported the disease in its commercial groves. So far HLB has not been detected in commercial citrus in California.

California, which produces fruit for fresh-market consumption, is trying to prevent that from happening to its industry through regulatory action and voluntary best management practices

farm scene

Having it all and other myths

A couple of weeks ago, I got to Skype into an ag communications class at Cal Poly. We talked about how we get a publication out the door and how I got my job, and then I offered up some random advice to college kids.

Because their instructor is a class act, every one of Scott Vernon’s students mailed me a handwritten thank you note. As I read, over and over, I caught a theme in the words from the young women: They were grateful to hear how I balanced work and family, loved hearing how I could do both, said I gave them hope that they could, too.

While my first thought was, “Oh, but I don’t really,” over and over, the words of my mother-in-law came to my mind: "You can have it all, but not all at the same time."

Because there was a day when I wondered if I’d screwed up — if I’d set my career back in some way when my oldest was born and I went to part-time work.

During those 11 years, I passed up opportunities to move up. I said, “Thank you, but no,” and wondered if I’d screwed up. If I’d set my career back. But with three babies in five years, I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. And I didn't want to leave my babie, so I made peace with it. I worked part time and wrote and raised babies and stayed in my lane. For 11 years.

Here's what I found: When everyone grew and finally left for school and my days began to open up, God opened up the exact right doors. Doors I thought were permanently closed opened in fantastic ways that I never would have imagined nor could have orchestrated.

And sure enough, as my youngest grew, a call came to serve on a board of directors. Everyone in school brought a full-time national editor role, made just for me. A couple of years later, American Agricultural Editors' Association president. A year later, a management position. Now, editor.

And so it is. Patience, grasshopper. You can have it all, but not all at the same time.

There’s a time and a season for everything in our lives. It’s OK to step away when you need to. I had to dial back the professional to raise my babies. It was the right answer for me. It wasn’t easy at the time, as I watched friends move upward and onward and do it well and effortlessly.  

Maybe you’re in that season? Wondering what’s next? Let me reassure you of this: You don’t have to do it all at the same time. And God honors right choices. There will be a time when doors will fling wide, and no one will be more surprised than you.

I have a dear friend in those trenches this very day, and I say to you the very thing I said to her: This is just your second act. There are many more to come. And no one will be more tickled for you than me.

USE DATA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Getting through down economic times might mean thinking differently, and this includes using data to build confidence in your decision-making and take the emotion out of management.
USE DATA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Getting through down economic times might mean thinking differently, and this includes using data to build confidence in your decision-making and take the emotion out of management.

4 things to consider when tightening the belt this winter

After another year of down commodity prices and tight margins, farmers and ranchers across the U.S. are looking at ways to tighten their collective belts. It isn't something that's necessarily fun, or easy to talk about, especially for my fellow millennials, the next generation of producers who haven't quite been around long enough to remember when times were tough.

Still, it's something that producers need to discuss, especially if they’re considering or in the middle of  expansion, or are passing on the operation to the next generation. As you'll read about in the December Nebraska Farmer, data plays a key role here, not just on the production costs side, but when managing finances and marketing too. If you don't measure, you can't manage — and that's truer now than ever before.

With that in mind, here are four things producers can do this winter to tighten their belts for 2017:

1. Watch your capital expenses. It can be a challenge to define which capital expenses this refers to, because every farming and ranching operation is different, and capital investment decisions change every year. And it doesn't mean cutting expenses and not spending money altogether.

"It's a matter of being disciplined, buying what we need and what can return an investment, as opposed to what can be fun or looks good," says Tina Barrett, director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc. "It might be a new feature that you need to make sure you're going to use to get the most return out of. Yield monitors, GPS and mapping data are an example; most people don't use this technology to its fullest potential. We're spending money on things that we know could use to improve efficiency, but if we don't take steps to implement the data, we're not realizing a return."

2. Position yourself to take advantage of opportunities. This is broad-speaking, but on a more specific note, if you're considering expansion, it might be worthwhile to take a look at your balance sheet and consider whether refinancing is a good idea. "We talk about refinancing for those that are struggling, but it's not necessarily a bad idea for those that are interested in expansion," Barrett says.

Refinancing may be an opportunity to restructure debt and income working capital to help make upgrades in equipment or land when those opportunities present themselves. "There could be assets for sale [and] opportunities available to producers who have cash available to take advantage of new upgrades like land or equipment if their debt is positioned correctly," Barrett adds. "The downside would be that we're stretching that debt out longer, so we're paying interest longer. It's a matter of balancing, having cash available and having the option to make those choices when they arise."

3. Make sure you're spending money on inputs that bring a return on investment. Of course, input costs can't be cut in certain areas, like fertility and herbicide programs. Growers know that taking the ax to their nitrogen and weed control programs would be severely detrimental to yields, but what about those extra inputs applied when corn was $7 and soybeans were $15? That's not to say those inputs didn't result in a yield increase, but it's important to consider the game has changed.

"If something costs $20 per acre and we made an extra 4 bushels when corn was $6, we saw a return of $24 per acre. Now we're looking at a return of $12 to $16, so that 4-bushel increase is costing us now," says Barrett. "You have to ask yourself, 'Is it still making sense to do that with lower commodity prices?'"

4. Be willing to farm based on data. Getting through down economic times might mean thinking differently. As you'll read about in an upcoming print magazine of Nebraska Farmer, thinking your way through this can mean using data to build confidence in your decision-making and take the emotion out of management.

"I think it's going to take some real tough thinking about everything — whether it's production, or financial or family living, any of those things that are going to affect the operation," says Barrett. "We may need to get out of that comfort zone. We may need to stop farming based on experience and start looking at what data and research are telling us and try something a little different, if we're hoping to get a different result."

Georgia cattle heads

Livestock drought meetings planned for north Alabama

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Oct. 27 shows what Alabama farmers already know — the entire state is officially in a drought. Since summer, Alabama livestock farmers have been dealing with dried up ponds and lack of grass and hay to feed cattle.

To help farmers, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System will hold three Livestock Drought Meetings in North Alabama. Topics covered will include winter annual planting, commodity feed options, pasture and hay inventory, feeder cattle marketing and fall cow checks.

Each meeting starts at 6 p.m.

  • Nov. 1 - Jackson County at Scottsboro High School Auditorium, 25053 John T. Reid Pkwy., Scottsboro. Contact: Landon Marks, (256) 706-0032, mlm0013@aces.edu
  • Nov. 3 - Marshall County at the Marshall County Farmers Federation building, 1333 Blount Ave., Guntersville. Contact: Hunter McBrayer, (256) 582-2009, rhm0015@aces.edu
  • Nov. 15 - Lawrence County at Posey Farm, 1020 Co. Rd. 274, Town Creek

ACES also created a website with additional resources for dealing with drought. Click here to access the site.

A burn ban remains in effect in 46 counties, which prohibits all outdoor burning including campfires and prescribed burns. Alabama’s remaining counties are under a Fire Alert issued by the Alabama Forestry Commission. In those 21 counties, permits for outdoor burning are restricted and issued on an individual basis. Find more information on AFC’s website.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries recently created a Hay Listing website. Farmers with hay to sell may post an entry to the site, and farmers needing hay can search for what’s available near them.

Bringing new tech to fertilizer application

There was a time when dry fertilizer spreaders just did their jobs, but it was about covering a lot of acres fast, with very little eye toward precision application. Calibration was important, but the idea of variable-rate application with a dry spinner seemed impossible. 

Not true, during the fall farm shows, the Penton Ag New Products team found plenty of new tools to check out - each offering precision application of dry materials in new ways. With the need to side dress or top dress crops efficiently, and get precision into the mix, these new tools will be finding a home in machine sheds across the country for the 2017 planting season.

Those featured here include dry spreaders, but there are machines where liquid can be added too. So check out these new tools and click the links to learn more.

The Penton Ag New Products team this year included Tom Bechman, Indiana Prairie Farmer; Mindy Ward, Missouri Ruralist; Lon Tonneson, Dakota Farmer; and Curt Arens, Nebraska Farmer. Information here includes new products this team found at Farm Progress Show and at Husker Harvest Days.

New UAV technology catching fire in agriculture

New UAV technology catching fire in agriculture

If there was anything hotter in ag technology right now than UAVs, it would be on fire! The technology is moving so fast that anything you read or hear about is on its way to being old news or out of date before you even get to it. However, some of the new products and services displayed at recent farm shows will still remain state of the art for the time being.

The field was hot before. When the Federal Aviation Administration went live with rule Part 107, which allows anyone to obtain an operator’s certificate and use drones for commercial  purposes without getting an actual pilot’s license, the needle moved to the red-hot category in terms of interest. If you go through the process to get your certificate, there is no longer any question about whether or not you can legally fly and scout your own fields or fields for someone else, and do it legally. It’s legal, and companies are responding by making sure there is user-friendly technology ready for anyone who is ready to go to the next level in crop scouting via use of UAVs.

The second part of the equation is once you have the drone, what kind of technology do you need to get better images, and how do you go about turning all the camera shots from a flight into one image of your field? Companies are responding with new technologies in these areas as well. Some allow such things as thermal imaging or a zoom lens for cameras that accompany the UAV on the flight.

Other technologies relate to what to do with the images once you have them. There are services that stitch the individual images into one image of the field. And there is also software that would allow you to do this on your own. Both options are out there, ready for users to decide which one fits them the best.

Take a good look at this new technology. Use the contact information with each product to learn more about the ones you are most interested in. 

UAV sprayer arrives
The new Agras MG-1 is an octocopter UAV sprayer from DJI. It can carry about 22 pounds of product and spray 1 to 2 acres in 10 minutes. It will track the terrain, staying at an exact height above the surface or the top of the crop. It remembers where it ran out of product and will automatically return to the spot and resume spraying after it is refilled. For more information, see dji.com/mg-1.

UAV imaging services
SkyViewHD offers UAV aerial imaging services. Rather than buying a drone, flying it yourself and processing the photos, SkyViewHD does it all on a contract basis and will work with a single farm, groups of farms, co-ops or other entities. For more information, contact SkyViewHD at 407-430-2271 or see skyviewhd.com.

Another player in UAV market
The X-Star Premium is a new UAV offered by Autel Robotics, a relatively new player in the U.S. UAV market. The X-Star Premium is a quad-copter with a rated flight time of 25 minutes. Note that the entire mission must be completed in 25 minutes. It features a 4K camera with 12 megapixel definition. The company is based in Seattle. At farm shows Natalie Cheng of Autel demonstrates that this new UAV is easy to fly. Contact Autel Robotics at 844-692-8835 or visit autelrobotics.com.

Mini Ma delivers NDVA imagery
The Mini Ma from Crop Copter is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a UAV that can deliver NDVI imagery and do it year after year. This new model features 30-minute flight time, a return-to-home failsafe, 10-channel radio controller, 1 mil of range and many other features. It lists for $5,150. Adding the camera and software brings the price to about $8,000. Contact Crop Copter, Gibson City, Ill., at 844-FLY-FARM or visit cropcopter.co.

Turn flights into images
One-step image processing to get a picture you can use from a UAV flight is possible with EZHealth software by Crop Copter. New in the software are rectangle and area polygon tools with statistics, customizable color map schemes, a 60-degree field-of-view sensor that lets you work with up to 160 acres per mission with Max flight, and a host of other features. You can make ground-truthing easy by determining exactly where you need to go to check the crop. Contact Crop Copter, Gibson City, Ill., at 844-FLY-FARM or cropcopter.co.

Division offers entry-level drones
Agri-Vision is a spin-off division of Crop Copter that offers entry-level drones capable of obtaining good images from three UAV manufacturers. The UAV pictured is a DJI Phantom modified by Agri-Vision to accomplish crop scouting tasks that most farmers want to accomplish with a UAV. This model is equipped with an upgraded camera to produce usable NDVI images. Contact Crop Copter, Gibson City, Ill., at 844-FLY-FARM or cropcopter.co.

&#039;Vote No 369&#039; polling numbers show voters oppose SCC bond

'Vote No 369' polling numbers show voters oppose SCC bond

In early October, a coalition of business owners, farmers, ranchers, homeowners, state senators and other stake holders organized to urge voters to vote against Southeast Community College's (SCC) $369 million bond issue in November.

At a press conference on Monday, coalition members announced the results of a recent poll on the bond measure within SCC's 15-county service area. The poll of 1,900 registered and likely voters in Lancaster County shows 54% opposed the measure, while 31% supported it. In a second sampling of 408 registered and likely voters across the other 14 counties, 60% opposed, and 20% supported. The polling was conducted via phone on behalf of the coalition on Oct. 25-26.

POLLS INDICATE OPPOSITION: At a press conference on Monday, coalition members, including Ansley Mick (pictured at podium), director of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation-Political Action Committee and State Governmental Relations, announced the results of a recent poll on the $369 million bond measure within SCC's 15-county service area. The poll of 1,900 registered and likely voters in Lancaster County shows 54% opposed the measure, while 31% supported it. In a second sampling of 408 registered and likely voters across the other 14 counties, 60% opposed and 20% supported.

"I think it's important to note there's a strong correlation between our survey and registered voters in Lancaster County and the surrounding areas," said Ansley Mick, director of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation-Political Action Committee and State Governmental Relations. "Forty-one percent of likely voters in Lancaster County are registered Republicans and 36% are Democrats. In our Lancaster County, survey, 42% of our respondents were registered Republican and 39% were registered Democrats. So our poll really is reflective of the entire voting population in Lancaster County," Mick said. "This isn't a Republican or Democrat or Independent issue, this is going to impact everyone equally."

Coalition members say burden too big
In addition to sharing these polling results, the Vote No 369 coalition announced the Realtors Association of Lincoln as the newest partner in the coalition opposing SCC's $369 million bond. Connie Burleigh, president elect of the Realtors Association of Lincoln, noted if approved, the bond issue would result in an increase in property taxes of about 52%.

"A property tax increase of that significance would deter first-time homebuyers and could really adversely affect growing families that are trying to step up in the housing market. One thing that's hard for me to see is a senior that calls me up, someone I sold a house to 25 to 30 years ago, and has now paid off their mortgage that can't afford to stay in their home are asking what to do because property taxes are so high," said Burleigh. "We need to make sure we're keeping people moving into Lincoln and keeping them here, and I'm afraid this would have the opposite effect."

Aaron Kavan, a sixth-generation farmer from York, said the bond measure would result in higher property taxes for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, who are already dealing with high property taxes.

"Things aren't very good in agriculture right now. Commodity prices are way down. If you've followed the news this weekend, our state is facing a $1 billion shortfall in tax revenues. That's a direct result of the weakened ag economy," Kavan said. "Increasing property taxes on farmers isn't going to help the situation, just like increasing property taxes on homeowners doesn't help the economy either."

Impact on agriculture
If approved, the measure would increase the tax levy an estimated 3.9 cents per $100 of property valuation over the 25-year life of the bond. According to the SCC website, the bond proceeds would be used for facilities renovation and construction.

Nebraska Farm Bureau recently conducted an analysis to estimate the increase in property taxes on farm property in the 15-county area if the bond issue is approved. The analysis uses 2015 valuation and tax data from the Nebraska Department of Revenue and estimates the increased taxes on ag land, ag machinery and equipment, and outbuildings and farm sites — but does not include increased taxes on farm homes or home sites. According to the analysis, the bond measure would add a cost of $1.52 per acre per year on average across the 15 counties in the SCC district over the 25-year life of the bond.

However, Kavan noted the opposition to the bond measure doesn't mean the group is opposed to SCC or education. "SCC is a good school, but we have to send a message as taxpayers that we are not an endless supply of money," Kavan added. "SCC has increased their property tax collections by 103% over the last 10 years, and they're now looking at adding $369 million more in new taxes. That's not sustainable for us as families, as small business, and as farmers. I encourage everyone to vote 'no' on this massive tax increase."

Partners in the Vote No 369 coalition include former Gov. Dave Heineman; state Sens. Laura Ebke, Jerry Johnson and Dan Watermeier; Lincoln City Council member Roy Christensen; the Lincoln Independent Business Association; the Home Builders Association of Lincoln; the Nebraska Farm Bureau; the Nebraska Cattlemen; the Nebraska Soybean Association; and most recently, the Realtors Association of Lincoln, including campuses in Beatrice, Milford and Lincoln.

USDA: Corn harvest 75% vs 75% average, soybeans 87% vs 85%

USDA: Corn harvest 75% vs 75% average, soybeans 87% vs 85%

A fairly dry week allowed advances in the corn and soybean harvests, with the corn harvest now on par with the five-year average at 75% done and the soybeans at 87%, up 2 points from the average.

Related: USDA: Corn harvest 61% vs. 62% average, soybeans 76% vs 76%

USDA rated the winter wheat  at 58% good to excellent (48% good, 10% excellent), down 1 point from a week ago, but still better than last year’s 49% for the same week. The slippage equates to a drop of about 1/3 bushel per acre of yield potential to about 49.2 bpa, Farm Futures said.

USDA: Corn harvest 75% vs 75% average, soybeans 87% vs 85%

A fairly dry week allowed advances in the corn and soybean harvests, with the corn harvest now on par with the five –year average at 75% done and the soybeans at 87%, up 2 points from the average.

Iowa’s corn harvest was at 71%, compared with the 76% five-year average while the soybean harvest as of Sunday was 89% done, compared with the 94% average. In Iowa, there were reports of some corn being piled outside, the state said.

In Illinois, corn harvest was at 91%, versus 95% a year ago and the 85% average. Soybeans there were 89% harvested, versus 95% a year ago and the 88% average.

“Harvesting of most crops is nearing completion, with many producers switching to fall tillage,” Illinois said.

In Indiana, corn harvest was at 76% versus the 69% average and soybeans were at 83% versus the 81% average.

“Throughout the state farmers experienced less than desirable weather conditions. Much of the northern part of the state was cool and wet while many southern portions were warm and dry,” Indiana said.

Winter wheat planting advanced to 79%, compared with 81% a year ago and the 82% average. Wheat emergence was 60%, versus 58% a year ago and the 58% average.

USDA: Corn harvest 75% vs 75% average, soybeans 87% vs 85%

Kansas wheat was 75% emerged, compared with 74% a year ago and the 78% average. The Kansas crop’s condition dropped 4 points in the latest week to 57% good to excellent. That compares with 45% a year ago.  

“Temperatures averaged 10 degrees above normal and dry conditions were experienced across the state,” Kansas said.

Kansas’ topsoil moisture was rated 3% surplus and 65% adequate, a decline from the previous week’s 5% and 68%.

Nationally, sorghum was 76% harvested versus the 68% average.