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  • The Port of Portland lost a second major container shipping company, Hapag-Lloyd, at the end of March. The first was Hanjin Shipping Co., which accounted for 78% of the port's business. The news is not good for shippers who relied on the Port of Portland to ship, among other things, agriculture products.

  • Farmers outside of traditional sorghum growing areas are considering adding acres to the mix this year as demand from China changes the supply and demand picture.

  • Brian Lohmar, the U.S. Grains Council's China Director, attempts to answer one of the most prescient questions in the grain markets: Will China import more corn?

  • A shortage of qualified truck drivers and more government regulations will affect grain movement on the road. Truck owner-operators will be affected, but farmers will suffer as well due to higher freight costs, which will hurt their bottom line.

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  • What's on your mind this week? Spring planting is getting underway, kicking off the busy season for farmers around the country. Meanwhile, the markets are fighting for life as analysts question any potentially bullishness moving forward. While planters start to roll in the Corn Belt, a lot of questions are building about wheat in the Plains -- both the conditions of that crop and what the markets are doing in response to them. Check out the latest hot topics from the Agriculture.com Community, add your own comments and get the conversation started!Economy ObservationsPublished: 4/16/2015There seem to be many out there that are hoping our economy tanks before the elections next year. From what I have been seeing, don't think that is going to happen. We are now what - almost 8 years into the crash. Housing has been much slower, primarily because it is what caused the crash, due to the greed of those propagating a housing market that was really fantasy land for many years.Latest on Bird Flu in MNPublished: 4/15/2015Here's a link from the MSP Star Tribune about the epidemic of bird flu. Unlike the Ebola thing from last year, this is becoming really serious in the Midwest. It continues to be really dry here in MN, I saw a farmer a few days ago putting NH3 on some really low marginal ground, and was surprised to see him in there.Wheat prices to double this year?Published: 4/15/2015Some one's bullish... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-15/wheat-price-double-forecast-us-analyst/6392618Weather Watcher for Tuesday, April 14Published: 4/14/2015Here's a collection of some of the weather sites I've been perusing the last few days for info. Thought no better time than now to share it as I've found a few new places in just the last couple of days that have some pretty good information. " target="_blank">http://www.agriculture.com/uploads/assets/promo/external/js/PubThis-json.js">.wheat sub $5.00 bu at local elevatorPublished: 4/13/2015I'm sorry but it makes me angery. We haven't had a respectable crop For several years. Again the wheat is dying. There are problems world wide. There was no widespread rain in The hrw belt. Something is wrong There should be some phones ringing.What Corn Carryout Do You ExpectPublished: 4/13/2015The trade is thinking about 1.85 billion bushels for 2015 corn. What do you think? Is this about right? Too high? Too low? What are the chances of 2.0 billion bushels, slim or good?should have taken plcPublished: 4/13/2015From the looks of things, we should have went with plc.. But all the computer programs said arc As I have been saying for a long time now Something is wrong in the wheat marketFloor Talk April 17Published: 4/17/2015At 7:00am: Early calls: Corn 1-2 cents lower, soybeans 2-4 cents higher, and wheat 1-2 cents higher. Trackers: Overnight grain, soybean markets = Trading mostly higher. Wall Street = Seen lower, with the investors eyeing inflation. World Markets = Europe stocks were lower, Asia/Pacific stocks were mostly lower.Floor Talk April 16Published: 4/16/2015At 7:30am: Early calls: Corn 1-2 cents lower, soybeans 2-4 cents lower, and wheat 3-4 cents higher. Trackers: Overnight grain, soybean markets = Trading mostly lower. Wall Street = Seen lower, with the market eyeing more financial results and economic data. World Markets = Europe stocks were lower, Asia/Pacific stocks were higher.Wheat PicturesPublished: 4/16/2015Auto-suggest helps you quickly narrow down your search results by suggesting possible matches as you type.

  • Commodity groups and the American Farm Bureau Federation welcomed the introduction Thursday of bills that support granting Trade Promotion Authority to the Obama Administration. The fast-track legislation, if passed, would speed debate on pending trade bills by preventing amendments and requiring an up or down vote.“Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today introduced legislation that greatly benefits American agriculture and farm families across the nation. This bipartisan effort advances an important policy objective just as the administration is engaged in major trade talks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” AFBF president Bob Stallman said in a press release.“Trade is vital to the U.S. wheat industry, with 50% of the annual crop destined for export markets. U.S. farmers are eager to sell high quality wheat throughout the world, but artificial trade barriers often stand in their way,” said National Association of Wheat Growers president, Brett Blankenship. “Passage of TPA would send a strong signal that Congress and the Administration are united in their commitment to opening markets for the benefit of farmers and rural communities and creating jobs throughout this country.”The Wheat Growers statement added: “Together NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) encourage the swift enactment of TPA as an essential tool for negotiating market-opening free trade agreements. The United States is currently engaged in negotiations to complete the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S. and European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will lower barriers to U.S. wheat exports in several key markets. These agreements will also help ensure that U.S. wheat producers have the same market access as other wheat exporters, including Canada and Australia.”The American Soybean Association said, “Trade is a bipartisan issue that helps to build the American economy, while strengthening our position in the global marketplace. Nowhere is that role more evident than in agricultural trade. As producers of the nation's leading farm export, soybean farmers know that trade supports rural economies, and ties American producers to consumers around the world. That's a role we cherish, and one that will be significantly advanced by the legislation introduced today."The bill is opposed by National Farmers Union, however.“TPA is just the continuation of the same old thing, trade agreements that make huge promises of prosperity and jobs to the American public and deliver nothing but bigger deficits, exported jobs and lost domestic agricultural sales,” said NFU president Roger Johnson, whose organization has long opposed TPA.Johnson noted that the U.S. trade deficit for last year totaled over $500 billion and these agreements will only add to that number, which is a net drag on our economy by a full 3%. “We favor a trade policy that prioritizes domestic food production and goods supply chains in lieu of policies that put family farmers and ranchers out of business and send some of our best jobs, and the dreams of America’s middle class, overseas,” he said.

  • By a vote of 240-179, the U.S. House voted to repeal the estate tax Thursday. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the bill, if it also passes the Senate, which is considered unlikely.Still, the vote drew praise from the American Farm Bureau Federation.“Farmers and ranchers need tax laws that protect their family businesses. They don’t want to be punished for their success. With House passage of the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, we are one step closer to tax reform that will help farm families invest in the future and pass their businesses on to the next generation,” Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman said in a press release.“Farmers’ and ranchers’ assets are tied up in the land, not sitting in a bank. And farm families certainly don’t have cash on hand to pay a double tax at death. This leaves many surviving family members with few options other than selling off part or all of their land to pay estate taxes. Too often, cashing in these assets can cripple their business,” Stallman said.The bill repeals the estate tax and revises the top gift tax rate to 35%, according to a summary on the Library of Congress website. Senator John Thune (R-SD), who has introduced the same legislation in the Senate, praised Thursday’s House passage of repeal.“The death of a loved one should not be a taxable event,” Thune said in a statement. “Imposing yet another layer of taxation, as high as 40%, on a family’s life savings is not just bad for the economy, it’s unfair to those who have spent their entire lives building job-creating small businesses, farms, and ranches in their local communities. This legislation will finally give farmers, ranchers, and family business owners the peace of mind of knowing that they no longer have to spend substantial sums on planning to minimize their death tax liability. I applaud the House’s bipartisan approval of this bill and look forward to the Senate taking it up later this year.”Partisan divisions could stop Thune’s effort in the Senate. His bill has 30 co-sponsors, all Republicans, and the House vote was split almost along party lines, with only seven Democrats voting for repeal and three Republicans voting against it.The White House Blog describes repeal of the estate tax as one of the “giveaways to the wealthy few.” Estate tax repeal may be popular among farmers but it may not have broad public support. Thursday, the editorial board of the newspaper, USA Today opposed repeal, saying it would reward 0.2% of the population and cost the rest of the nation. The bill passed by the House Thursday would add $269 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years.  

  • It's officially go-time -- or awfully close to it -- for planters in the Corn Belt. Farmers report getting the wheels turning throughout the region, and a warm, mostly dry weather forecast for much of the Midwest through the weekend makes solid corn-planting strides a likelihood...if that forecast holds out.Farmers have been busy applying fertilizer around central Illinois, and that's got many ready to start planting in the next few days, says Dave Mowers, agronomist with Agricultural Information management in Toulon, Illinois. There has been some planting underway already in points south of him, but Mowers says the soils in his area are just now about ready for the planters to run, for a couple of reasons. First, moisture's still in slightly short supply, and the moisture that has fallen hasn't done all it needs to in order to get the soil primed and ready for the planter. Recent moisture's fallen as drizzle or extremely light rain, meaning it hasn't facilitated soil percolation that's necessary this time of year to avoid compaction from becoming an issue later on in the growing season. 6 Ways to Trim Soybean Production Costs in 2015 When economics reach the current level, farmers tend to cut soybean inputs. What should you cut, and what should you leave alone? Check out these 6 ways to trim your costs without trimming your yield potential.    Fertility and Herbicide Programs Key to Soybean Yields The main theme for 2015 is to cut production costs. If you're growing more soybeans this year, don't slash all of your inputs. Historically, when the economics are tough, farmers will cut back on potassium (K) for soybeans, one expert says. Is that right?   How are your spring Fertilizer applications going? Farmers report a lot of delays not just to spring planting, but also preperatory fieldwork, namely fertilizer applications. "If it stopped raining now, it would take at least a week just to get started on the dry fertilizer and the limited tillage I do," one farmer says. What's your situation? "We did not have a good rain to get the water channels open so we'd get better drainage. The soil's just been like chewing gum. It's had to dry from the top down, and that's a slow process, especially after the winter we had. The surface is loosened up, but down below it's cold and clammy. Those are the worst kinds of soil conditions you're going to have when it comes to sidewall compaction," Mowers says. "We actually still need a good half inch to inch of rain to settle the ground. It's got to be an active rain, not a mist hanging in the air. Once it does that, the ground will warm up and it'll drain better. Those percolation channels have not been opened in a lot of areas."The soil's for the most part still in that "almost ready" stage in northern Iowa, too. Chris Weydert farms near Bode, Iowa, and says though he's eager to get into the field, he's still holding out for things to warm up and dry out."We are ready, but the fields are not. A couple of the regulars are hitting it on the sandy ground," he says. "The forecast is not looking too conducive to productivity."The optimal planting window for corn is just starting to open, according to recent reports, and though some farmers are not worrying about that window just yet, there's reason to believe it could be a stretch for farmers at least in a large swatch of the Corn Belt to hit that window just right, Mowers says. "Last weekend, I was in Omaha, and I drove across Iowa on Saturday and Sunday, and in 550 miles of total driving, I saw 4 planters the whole time," he says. "What I'm hearing is it is slower start than I expected."See more on optimal planting dates Southern Planting Back on TrackThough progress has been slow to this point, that doesn't mean it's going to remain that way; Kelley Kokemiller farms in Story County, Iowa, and he says since April 13, he's been running hard and "both field conditions and weather are excellent." With that being the case, corn planting could see a major advancement in next Monday's USDA Crop Progress report. But, considering the timing of next week's report and the relatively early stages of planting right now, it's far from time to change any acreage decisions yet, Mowers adds. "We're hearing these little rumors that credit limits are being put on growers. That may cause some late shift-over (from corn to soybeans). I don't think it's going to be a real high number of acres. Will be more in the Delta if anywhere. I don't think there's going to be that kind of switch-over," he says. "We're talking credit limits where they won't have enough money for inputs for corn, and they'll switch to beans. Most of the growers from last fall had indicated just with some of the growth limitations they've got, almost anybody with heavy corn percentage-wise, almost unanimously are putting more beans in this year. But, I don't see a huge shift in acreage. Soil conditions are too good. "They will lean toward corn because it's the revenue crop. Some people are looking at it on the cost of production," Mowers adds. "You cannot save yourself into prosperity."     Looking for crop weather answers? Check these sources!MRCC Midwest Climate Watch - Highlights and ReportsPublished: 4/16/2015NASS - Publications - Current State Crop Progess and Condition ReportsPublished: 4/14/2015USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Information. NASS publications cover a wide range of subjects, from traditional crops, such as corn and wheat, to specialties, such as mushrooms and flowers; from calves born to hogs slaughtered; from agricultural prices to land in farms. The agency has the distinction of being known as The Fact Finders of U.S.United States Drought Monitor > HomePublished: 4/14/2015Weather: Precipitation, Soil Temperature, Growing Degree Days, ET and other data | CropWatch | University of Nebraska-LincolnPublished: 4/14/2015High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) provides weather data for a number of Nebraska sites and links to local, regional, and national climate resources. See the Climate Products section for daily updates and archived records of average temperatures, total precipitation, average soil temperature, average relative humidity, average solar radiation, and average wind speed.Iowa Environmental MesonetPublished: 4/14/2015Iowa State University, Iowa Environmental MesonetWeatherPublished: 4/14/2015Tweets by @FreeseNotisWx EVENING WEATHER UPDATE - 5:10 PM CDT Monday, April 13, 2015 MIDWEST U.S. - Today, a cold front brought rain to southern IL, IN, southern MI, and western OH. Most of these areas received .1-.25+ inches of rain, with some spots seeing up to .5+ inches.CoCoRaHS - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow NetworkPublished: 4/14/20153,741 daily precipitation reports received today as of 4/14/2015 8:31 AM EDT The saying " COCORAHS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, PUERTO RICO AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS! Rain doesn't fall the same on all" really proves to be true. How often have you seen it rain in your neighborhood and a few blocks away not a drop has fallen.Freese-Notis Weather (@FreeseNotisWx) | TwitterPublished: 4/14/2015The latest Tweets from Freese-Notis Weather (@FreeseNotisWx). Weather forecasts for world-wide agricultural and energy interests. Harnessing the power of weather since 1973. Des Moines, IAUSDA Weekly Weather & Crop BulletinPublished: 4/14/2015

 

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