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Articles from 2019 In May


Napa winery appeals state fines after worker's death

Napa County wine grape vineyard. Todd Fitchette
Wine grapes grow in Napa County. A Napa-based vineyard is appealing fines stemming from a worker's death during harvest.

A Napa wine grape producer is appealing $37,650 in state fines stemming from the death of one of its workers during harvest in October, a local business newspaper is reporting.

De Coninck Vineyards was cited by the California Department of Industry Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health for failing to enforce safety rules or to regularly inspect equipment, according to the North Bay Business Journal.

The penalties were issued in April after 24-year company veteran Leon Marcelo, 49, got his sweatshirt caught around an unguarded, revolving control shaft on a harvester after having worked about 10 hours that day, the Journal reports. The worker signaled for help but later died.

The vintner's petition to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board will be considered as soon as CalOSHA's investigators complete their work, department spokesman Lucas Brown told the newspaper.

Will Mexican trade complications undo corn price?

bullish vs bearish LongQuattro/Getty Images

Corn bulls have taken a step back as trade with Mexico comes into question. At the same time, traders continue to debate a number of important metrics and variables associated with the U.S. crop. Most inside the trade are content using an ending stocks number of between 1.2 billion and 1.5 billion bushels. The question is not only U.S. production, but how much demand erosion will we see as prices continue to push higher? Obviously, there are ton of moving parts and nobody knows for certain, but the balance sheet is certainly thought to be a lot tighter than we have seen the past couple of years. Personally, I've been bullish from the bottom and remain BULLISH!

I don't understand the analysts and traders who are talking about a range-bound market or a market that is way overbought. Sorry, I'm just not anywhere on that page. I remind everyone of the psychological phenomena known as "recency effective." When the stock market bottomed in March 2009, it took months, and even years, for most to become believers in the bull market. I still know intelligent individuals who are still buying the "doom and gloom." It's human nature to always remember the most recent painful experience and use it as a guide moving forward. I'm telling you now, if you've been trading or have been heavily vested in the corn market, it's going to be hard to psychologically shake the past seven years of deteriorating prices. In other words, don't get tripped up in the natural tendency to recall and focus on where prices WERE, rather than recognizing and adjusting to the new imminent threats that are now on our radar.

In all markets, I constantly ask myself what has happened during the past few weeks, which is now in my rearview mirror, and how is that impacting and influencing my current judgment. I promise, the "recency effect" plays a major role in how we view the markets. Also, always remember: Most bulls are generally viewed as nothing more than cheerleaders. Bears, on the other hand, always sound much more intelligent by quoting factual numbers from the past.

I’m staying bulled up! I will be looking to buy a deeper break associated with the Mexican trade headlines.  Pay close attention! 

Follow my next recommendation on my daily report!

NSP applauds approval of year-round E15 sales

SWFP-SHELLEY-HUGULEY-sorghum-harvest.jpg Shelley E. Huguley

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today the approval of year-round sales of E15, fulfilling the president's promise to help the rural economy. National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum farmer from Stockton, Kansas, released the following statement in response:

"National Sorghum Producers thanks President Trump and the administration for their commitment to producers and consumers by approving E15 sales before summer driving months. Ethanol is the world's most cost-effective octane agent and lowers the price of each gallon of gasoline.

The new E15 plan will add immediate demand for ethanol, easing pressure on ethanol producers already facing significantly reduced margins. Improved ethanol margins will mean more demand for grain, and ultimately, more demand for sorghum.

Nearly one-third of U.S. sorghum is dedicated to helping make America energy independent. We appreciate the Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing their efforts and improving the biofuels market opportunities for producers. NSP will continue to work with the administration and industry partners to expand the ethanol market domestically and abroad."  

Source: is NSP, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Midwest crop progress: Sluggish planting pace and application concern

WinField agronomists from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesoa, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin have been out in fields checking planting status. They’re sharing concern about nitrogen and herbicide applications, as well as what insects or diseases growers might need to watch for this season.

 

Source: WinField United

The source is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Grain market week in review - May 31, 2019

Image of grain bins with words Grain market week in review with Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter in white. Entire image has red tint.

Need to catch up on market news? From excessive rain to a tariff threat on Mexico, here’s what Bryce Knorr has been analyzing this week.

Morning audio

It didn’t take long for the grain market to react Monday night when trading started after the Memorial Day weekend. Futures gapped higher across the board and held on to most of those gains overnight. With farmers coping with final planting dates for full crop insurance coverage, details of the latest round of tariff aid is just one consideration. Rains could also shut the Mississippi River north of St. Louis into mid-June, further complicating farmers’ marketing decisions.

That rumble you heard this morning wasn’t just thunder. Markets around the world are also stormy. Grain futures shot sharply higher on record planting delays for corn and soybeans, with wet conditions also denting winter wheat conditions. Financial markets are also seeing turbulence, amid fears trade tensions could trigger a recession.

Is the 2019 rally over? Probably not, if history is a guide. Years of extremely slow planting and flooding don’t happen often. But when they do the market’s pattern isn’t the typical “short spike, long tail” seen in drought years. Damage often isn’t known until harvest. So, just like the spring has been a long slog, get ready for a nervous market this summer. Farmers won’t be alone, because investors are just as anxious on Wall Street.

President Trump aimed a new tariff salvo Thursday, sending traders scurrying again for cover in most markets overnight. While grain futures posted modest losses, stocks and crude oil are down sharply on the new tariffs on imports from Mexico aimed at curbing illegal immigration. The move comes as farmers in parts of the Midwest face final planting deadlines today for full crop insurance coverage, just in time for forecasts hinting at drier weather in June.

Feedback from the Field

With most farms getting at least a few open days last week, growers likely recorded their most active week yet according to posts on Feedback From The Field. Farmers said they added 19% more corn acres, which would bring the total to 68% with soybeans advancing 11% to 30%. Farmers normally have around 91% of their corn planted by now with 62% of soybeans in.

Exports

Foreign customers – even reluctant ones like China – showed more interest in U.S. crops last week, as shippers scrambled to deal with flooding on the Mississippi River that restricted supplies to the Gulf. Exporters used every conceivable port to bypass the logjam, including Toledo and harbors on the East Coast.

Tariffs are in the news again today and markets are lower. Today’s news doesn’t involve China, however. The new tariffs looming against Mexican imports target the largest buyer of U.S. corn and wheat this year. Mexico also buys significant quantities of soybeans, ranking third, as the destination of one-in-ten export bushels.

Crop progress

Record slow progress planting corn and soybeans is nothing new for a market trying to figure out just how much flooding could lower production this year. But the impact of heavy rains finally showed up in winter wheat ratings following very heavy storms over parts of Kansas and Oklahoma last week.

Farm aid

The second Market Facilitation Program will allocate funds on a per acre basis, based on the total loss suffered by each county as a whole from an expanded list of crops. USDA presented only the bare outline of the plan last week, and its methodology for allocating aid may not be known for a month or more. Payments won’t begin until farmers certify acreage to the Farm Service Agency by July 15, and processing the claims could take several additional weeks or more. But if the agency uses a scheme similar to the mechanism from MFP-I, it appears the average county payment for crops could run around $47 an acre nationwide.

Market recaps

Grain futures followed other markets lower overnight. While financial markets were already in a downtrend, a threat of new tariffs against imports from Mexico helped stymie the best rallies in month for farmers. President Trump said a 5% tariff would take effect June 10, escalating to 25% if Mexico doesn’t halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. Mexico is the biggest market for U.S. corn and also buys significant quantities of soybeans and wheat.

Grain futures joined a wave of selling across most markets today, a downturn triggered by President Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on Mexico if it doesn’t half the flow of illegal immigrants across the border. The move against Mexico would put a 5% tariff on imports that would take effect June 10, escalating to 25% in October if Mexico doesn’t seal the border. Mexico is the biggest market for U.S. corn and also buys significant quantities of soybeans and wheat.

Outlooks

Basis outlook - Corn basis many years strengthens in mid-May, when farmers are too busy planting to move grain to town. Farmers aren’t busy in the field this year due to record slow corn planting. But they appear to be taking advantage of the rally to price some of the 2018 bushels still held in storage. Basis weakened in many parts of the Corn Belt as a result.

Fertilizer outlook - With final planting dates for corn already here in some states – and deadlines for full crop insurance coverage passing in others over the next two weeks – the fertilizer industry is coping with problems just as big as those farmers face. While dealers mull what to do with leftover ammonia inventory, they may face the same task soon with urea as attention focuses on UAN for sidedressing. Growers who can look beyond their immediate situation to focus on 2020 should remain in touch for deals.

5 soil health policy ideas

corn stalks in rye cover crops Willie Vogt

Since Colonial times, America’s soils have lost 50% to 70% of their organic matter, degrading the capacity of our soils to produce food, feed, and fiber. Cornell University says the U.S. is losing topsoil ten times faster than it can be replaced by nature. Restoring the health of our soils would reduce flooding, reduce polluted runoff from agriculture, store carbon in the soil, boost farm profits, make farms more resilient to droughts, and improve our ability to produce food for a growing population.

A new report, “State and Local Soil Health Strategies,” from the Izaak Walton League of America highlights some of the best state and local policy ideas from around the country designed to improve soil health.

Here’s some of the ideas.

The New York Soil Health Roadmap “identifies key policy, research and education efforts to overcome barriers to adoption of soil health practices by farmers.” The Roadmap was developed by New York Soil Health, an initiative coordinated by Cornell University. The Roadmap also “identifies strategies for integrating soil health goals with state priorities focused on environmental issues such as climate change and water quality.” Find the Roadmap at: http://bit.ly/NYsoilhealth

A Healthy Soils Task Force was appointed by the governor of Nebraska to “develop a comprehensive healthy soils initiative for the state of Nebraska.” The initiative includes developing a comprehensive action plan and developing a timeline to improve soil health in Nebraska within five years of the completion of the action plan. Read more at http://bit.ly/NEtaskforce

A law enacted in 2019 in New Mexico creates the Healthy Soil Program in the state Department of Agriculture “to promote and support farming and ranching systems and other forms of land management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate stability, microbiology and water retention to improve the health, yield and profitability of the soils of the state.” The new program includes a healthy soil assessment and education program and a grants program. The assessment and education program includes education and outreach to farmers, a baseline soil health assessment, development of a network of soil health champions, and public education. The legislature provided $455,000 to implement the bill and for research on soil health monitoring. See: http://bit.ly/NMhealthysoil

In November, 2017, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced a new $5 per acre discount on crop insurance for farmers who plant cover crops. The discount was championed by Bill Northey, then Iowa’s Commissioner of Agriculture and currently USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. IDALS worked with the USDA Risk Management Agency to establish a 3-year demonstration project aimed at expanding the use of cover crops in Iowa. Funds come from the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. The discount is provided through the crop insurance companies that service federally subsidized crop insurance policies in Iowa. It is not available to farmers who are receiving cost-share for planting cover crops through the USDA suite of conservation programs or Iowa’s own state cost-share program. The discount (or lack of one) shows up on a line of the crop insurance invoice that farmers pay, which has helped stimulate interest in cover crops from farmers who view the invoice and see there is a discount they are not getting. IDALS reports that 700 farmers enrolled nearly 170,000 acres of cover crops in the pro- gram in the first year of the demonstration project. Read more at http://bit.ly/IAdiscount

The South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council serving southern New Jersey acquired a roller-crimper which it loans out to area farmers who want to try it out as a method of terminating cover crops. Cover crops have typically been terminated using chemicals such as glyphosate, but that poses a problem for organic growers and substantial costs for other growers. Roller-crimpers, invented by the Rodale Institute, can be used as an alternative to (or in addition to) chemical burn-down. See more at http://bit.ly/CTinitiative

These innovative state and local initiatives can yield a bountiful crop of public benefits, including reduced runoff of sediment and nutrients, carbon stored in the soil, reduced flooding, more resilient farmlands, and stronger rural communities. The report summarizes two dozen state and local soil health initiatives from around the country.

Source: Izaak Walton League, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

Trump’s Mexico tariff threat could blow up USMCA progress

US-Mexico_Flags_GettyImages-480500996- Kagenmi/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Those in the agricultural industry are again calling for President Donald Trump to reconsider heightening a trade war with our No. 2 customer – Mexico – especially in conjunction what appeared to be momentum on securing approval in Congress of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would impose a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico until its leaders took unspecified steps to curb illegal immigration to the United States.

He warned that the tax “would gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied at which time the tariff will be removed.” The tariffs could rise as high as 25% on Oct. 1, Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

Ian Sheldon, agricultural trade economist at Ohio State University, shared, “Trade policy being targeted at absolutely nothing to do with trade doesn’t make any sense as an economist.” He added, “The idea that we’re going to slap a tariff on them to protect our southern border, and they would close their southern border is asking an awful lot of what is still a developing economy with corrupt politicians and police force.”

Advancing USMCA

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) criticized the president’s actions. “Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent. Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country.”

National Milk Producers Federation president and chief executive officer Jim Mulhern said Grassley is right: "Border security issues are border security issues, and trade issues are trade issues. New tariffs against Mexico are unlikely to secure the border, but judging from reaction on Capitol Hill, they may very well jeopardize the chances of passing the USMCA, a key White House priority and one that’s crucial for future agricultural prosperity." 

Ironically, the same day President Trump made the tariff threat, the U.S. Trade Representative also sent up to Capitol Hill its draft Statement of Administration Action. The SAA begins a 30-day period after which the administration may submit implementing legislation for the USMCA to be considered by Congress, and represents an important step toward a vote on the agreement.

Also on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was in Canada alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touting the benefits of USMCA and solidifying the Administration’s commitment to help shepherd the bill for ratification by Congress yet this summer.

“If we don’t ratify this agreement [USMCA], it’s going to be terrible for trade relationships globally, whether it’s China, Japan, anywhere, Mexico, Canada. We’ve got to ratify the USMCA agreement,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue while he was in Pennsylvania touring farms on Thursday.

The Guardian reported that in response to the threat to Mexico, in Beijing, the foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said: “The United States has repeatedly taken trade bullying action. China is not the only victim.”

Sheldon noted that Trump has typically used the bilateral bargaining push of avoiding tariffs with whoever we run a trade deficit with including Japan, EU, and China.

The question becomes, “Why would you negotiate with a bully?” Sheldon asks, adding that the shift away from a rules-based to power-based trading system. Previously the World Trade Organization dispute settlement process was designed to stop trade skirmishes extending beyond other industries.  

Tariff impact

Sheldon explained that if these tariffs ratchet up to 25% for U.S. farmers it could be “really bad” for corn exports to Mexico as well as processed pork. Many processing value chains throughout North America in the agricultural value sector would see negative impacts. Beef markets are also highly integrated across the Mexico and U.S. southern border. If tariffs reach 25%, consumers would see noticeably higher prices on fruits and vegetable prices.

Mexico was the top market for U.S. corn in 2017/2018, with corn and corn product exports valued at $3.3 billion. Corn exports to Mexico reached a record high of 15.7 million tons (618 million bushels), up nearly 13 percent from 2016/2017. Mexico was also the top buyer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), purchasing 2.13 million tons in 2017/2018 – up 3% year-over-year.

National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) president Lynn Chrisp strongly urged the President to rethink applying new tariffs to Mexican goods and to reconsider using tariffs to address non-trade issues.

“The recent deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada was an important breakthrough for USCMA but new tariffs threaten to reverse that progress. Amid a perfect storm of challenges in farm country, we cannot afford the uncertainty this action would bring,” Chrisp said.

David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina, said in a statement he hoped Trump would reconsider. Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion, he said.  

For most of the last year, U.S. pork producers have lost $12 per hog due to trade retaliation by Mexico, which was lifted last week, according to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes. Dr. Hayes projects that the U.S. pork producers will lose the entire Mexican market, one that represented 20% of total U.S. pork exports last year, if they face protracted retaliation. As of April 1, 2019, the value of U.S. pork exports to Mexico were down 28% from the same period last year. 

NMPF estimates that producers have lost at least $2.3 billion in revenues through March due to higher tariffs against U.S. dairy, which has lowered milk prices for all producers.

For wheat producers, they too feel like they cannot continue to weather the impacts of the Administration’s trade policy.  In 2018, Mexico increased its total wheat imports significantly, but U.S. wheat imports actually declined that year. 

“With progress on the USMCA — most recently cancellation of the steel and aluminum tariffs — our customers in Mexico have been importing more U.S. wheat,” Chris Kolstad, chairman of US Wheat Associates and a wheat farmer from Ledger, Mont. “In a very disheartening coincidence, our organization is holding a conference next week with our Mexican customers partly to remind them how important they are to us. Of course, the cost of the conference is funded by the Agricultural Trade Promotion program that was awarded because U.S. wheat farmers proved they were being hurt by retaliatory tariffs.”

“We’ve been hit by low prices; we’ve been hit by rain and flooding that is hurting what was an excellent wheat crop; and now we’ve been hit again by the actions of our own government. We need to end indiscriminate use of tariffs now, one way or another," said Ben Scholz, president of the National Assn. of Wheat Growers and a wheat farmer from Lavon, Tex.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the national campaign comprised of over 150 of America’s largest trade organizations from across retail, tech, manufacturing and agriculture, warned in a statement using tariffs to address unrelated policy objectives sets a dangerous precedent while creating significant uncertainty for American employers who are living tweet-by-tweet while trying to plan their business.  

“These tariffs will likely invite retaliation on the products we export to Mexico including agriculture, electronics, engines, car parts and more. Our farmers, who were closing in on a desperately needed win on updating access to North American markets, will instead now be faced with more uncertainty and new trade barriers," the coalition said. According to Trade Partnership, tariffs on imports from Mexico could lead to $25 billion in higher costs for American consumers.

Ag groups on edge about Trump's latest tariff threat

President Trump answers questions while departing the White House May 30, 2019. Win McNamee/Getty Images News
President Trump answers questions while departing the White House.

President Trump on Thursday (May 30) tweeted his plans to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports, effective June 10, and escalating until immigration from the country stops.

A White House statement said that if Mexico doesn’t act, the tariffs would rise to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and reach a permanent level of 25% on Oct. 1.

The tariff threat has ag groups on edge as Mexico is a leading export market.

“At such a critical time for U.S. farmers, new talk of tariffs on Mexican products challenges the complex relationship we have with the top international buyer of U.S. grains and related products,” said the U.S. Grains Council.

The U.S. Wheat Associates and National Association of Wheat Growers say the tariff threat threatens to undermine approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and puts wheat demand in Mexico at risk.

“The potential fallout from new tariffs is like struggling to survive a flood then getting hit by a tornado,” said Chris Kolstad, Chairman of USW and a wheat farmer from Ledger, Mont. 

“We call on the President to rescind this threat immediately,” said Ben Scholz, President of NAWG and a wheat farmer from Lavon, Tex. “We’ve been hit by low prices; we’ve been hit by rain and flooding that is hurting what was an excellent wheat crop; and now we’ve been hit again by the actions of our own government. We need to end indiscriminate use of tariffs now, one way or another.”

Mexico was the top market for U.S. corn in 2017/2018, with corn and corn product exports valued at $3.3 billion. Corn exports to Mexico reached a record high of 15.7 million tons (618 million bushels), up nearly 13% from 2016/2017. Mexico was also the top buyer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles, purchasing 2.13 million tons in 2017/2018 – up 3% year-over-year.

“NCGA strongly urges the President to rethink applying new tariffs to Mexican goods and to reconsider using tariffs to address non-trade issues,” said National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp. “Mexico is the top customer for U.S. corn. Corn farmers want to continue working with the administration and Congress to ratify the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and pursue new trade agreements. The recent deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada was an important breakthrough for USCMA but new tariffs threaten to reverse that progress. Amid a perfect storm of challenges in farm country, we cannot afford the uncertainty this action would bring.”

"We appeal to President Trump to reconsider plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico,” said David Herring, National Pork Producers Council president. “American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement. Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion.”

Instead, Herring urged the president to move forward with the USMCA. U.S. pork producers have lost $12 per hog for most of the past year due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico after Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on the country.

Trump’s action puts the USMCA at risk, an Iowa senator said.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, expressed concern that if Trump proceeds with the tariff, the chance of getting the USMCA through Congress “will be stifled.”

The National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association commended the Trump administration for forwarding the draft Statement of Administrative Action to Congress on May 30, which clears another procedural step to congressional consideration of the USMCA.

“But we are concerned about the prospect of the imposition of new U.S. tariffs against Mexico,” the two said in a joint media statement. “The imposition of such tariffs unquestionably will jeopardize ratification of this crucial trade accord that would bring about more normalized and predictable two-way trade with the United States’ top trading partners, which is vitally important to U.S. agriculture, the American economy and job creation, particularly given the current trade disruptions with China.”

The submission, which happened on the same day as the Mexican tariff threat was issued, begins a 30-day period after which the administration may submit the USMCA to be considered by Congress.

Source: White House, U.S. Grains Council, NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates, Office of Sen. Joni Ernst, NPPC, NGFA, NAEGA, AFBF, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

Prevented planting meeting set for June 3 in Michigan

young corn plants
PREVENTED PLANT: There will be an educational meeting June 3 for farmers who want to know more about prevented planting crop insurance.

There will be an educational meeting for farmers who want to know more about prevented planting crop insurance, USDA Farm Service Agency guidelines and cover crops for prevented planting acreage. The meeting will be at 9:15 a.m. June 3 at Cabela’s, 110 Cabela Parkway, Dundee, Mich.

Speakers include Mike Gaynier of Spartan Crop Insurance, Bryan Rogers of the Monroe USDA FSA office, Nate Gust of Farm Bureau Crop Insurance and Ricardo Costa-Silva of Michigan State University Extension.

Discussion will include options regarding planting corn, addressing cover crop issues, and using prevented plant after other fall-seeded or perennial crops. Other decision aides will be addressed.

Attendance is free and no RSVP is necessary. Coffee and rolls will be available for a $1 donation. 

This meeting is sponsored by the Agriculture Advisory Council of Monroe County and Southeast Michigan and the Monroe County Farm Bureau. For information, contact Ned Birkey at birkey@msu.edu or 734-260-3442.

Source: MSU Extension, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Conflicting forecast for 2019 hurricane season

June 1 marks the start of the annual Atlantic Basin Hurricane season, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2019 hurricane forecast released the last week of May predicts the probability of a near normal season for tropical weather development this year.

But Gerry Bell, lead hurricane season forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, warns driving influences of storm development this summer could equally produce more or less storm activity as the hurricane season unfolds.

“NOAA’s 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook includes all activity in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean from June 1 through Nov. 30 this year.  Atmospheric and ocean conditions that factor into this outlook include competing signals,” Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator told reporters at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport during the press conference. “On one hand, the ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress activity this hurricane season. On the other hand, warmer than average sea surface temperatures…combined with an enhanced West African monsoon favor increased activity.”

Overall the official NOAA outlook calls for 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 of which are expected to reach hurricane strength with 2 to 4 of those storms becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or above.

U.S. farmers and ranchers located within a few hundred miles of Atlantic and Gulf coast waters are aware of the potential dangers serious tropical storm systems, including hurricanes, can bring. Last year alone, in 2018, agricultural losses to tropical weather in the U.S. and its territories reached a record level.

“The storms (hurricanes) that impacted the U. S. in 2018 caused $50 billion in damages,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted at the NOAA press conference.

In Texas, Hurricane Harvey ravaged coastal areas of south and southeast Texas in 2017 causing unprecedented damages totaling over $200 million in agricultural losses. Cotton farmers suffered substantial losses as crops in the field were lost as well as cotton that was baled and awaiting transport to or that had been stored at area gins awaiting transport to buyers.

An estimated 1.2 million beef cows in 54 counties were lost, stranded, destroyed or adversely affected by Harvey. National Guard helicopters from multiple states were flying in bales of hay in an attempt to feed stranded livestock. Farms and ranches were heavily damaged and farm equipment and human lives were lost.

During that same year Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit U.S. property on the Atlantic coast bringing death, destruction and more agricultural losses, making 2017 another one of the costliest to farm and ranch operations in the United States.

FEMA warns to prepare for hurricane season now

During the press conference, Dr. Daniel Kaniewski, acting FEMA director, warned communities, individuals, industry and business interests to prepare early for the upcoming hurricane season.

“My message today (is), it only takes one landfalling hurricane to cause great destruction to a community, thus we need to prepare now. That includes our state, local and federal partners, but it also means you as individuals, families and communities…to take action now to protect yourselves, your property and your financial future,” he warned.

Kanieswki advises those who might be in harm’s way to build an emergency kit including essentials like food, water and medicines, “enough to care for yourself and others after a disaster.” He also recommends developing a plan to communicate with friends and family after a storm and to become familiar with evacuation routes before the season arrives.

FEMA also warns to heed the advice and warnings of local and emergency officials, remain alert and aware of the latest information, and to make certain to have a fully charged battery-powered radio on hand. Farmers and workers should secure all equipment and be prepared to care for livestock and pets for the duration of an extended emergency.

Federal disaster resources

Last month the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a reminder to farmers and ranchers in areas subject to tropical weather to prepare early for possible disasters. In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.

The site offers disaster information and features a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by federal agents with subject matter expertise. USDA says the Disaster Resource Center website provides an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.

Help with crop and livestock losses

USDA warns that when hurricanes devastate agricultural lands, producers need to be able to identify which USDA programs can help them rebuild and recover.

USDA’s new disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website at Farmers.gov walks producers through five questions to help identify personalized results of which disaster assistance programs can help with recovery efforts following a natural disaster.

Also, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish ProgramEmergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program.

The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

Visit and bookmark these sites as resources for when disaster strikes your farm or ranching operation.