Sep 21, 2014
Home| Tools| Events| Blogs| Discussions Sign UpLogin

PFA Pioneer Blog

RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

This is a private blog for Pioneer.

Small bites, important perspective from Washington.

Sep 19, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

September 19, 2014

Cotton fears ‘big mistake’ in farm bill

Cotton growers are worried about reaching the pay cap under the 2014 Farm Bill if prices fall under loan rate, which they almost did in early August. The concern is they could be without a safety net for other crops like corn and soybeans. Pro Farmer Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer says, “It was a BIG mistake to count marketing loan gains and LDPs as part of the pay cap in the new farm bill. It shows some farm bill writers didn’t understand cotton.”

Vilsack: APH provision may raise insurance premiums

Partial implementation of a new farm bill provision allowing farmers to exclude low yields from calculations of their actual production history (APH) could lead to unwarranted premium increases for some, USDA’s Vilsack recently told a House committee. The 2014 Farm Bill actually says the crop insurance provision should be immediately implemented. Some expect USDA to end up in court over the matter.

Rail oversight bill clears panel

The Senate Commerce Panel passed a bill to strengthen the Surface Transportation Board’s powers to oversee freight lines. It won’t become law this year, but the bill will likely pave the way for addressing the issue with the next Congress. The measure was partly designed to keep pressure on railroads to deal with backlogs in the Midwest heading into harvest.

States pick sides on WOTUS

Attorneys general for seven states and the District of Columbia have signed a letter endorsing the Obama administration’s waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) plan to define the reach of the Clean Water Act. The states include New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Washington. In July, attorneys general from 15 farm states sent EPA a letter asking it to withdraw the rule. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also opposes the plan and wants it withdrawn.


Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Congress heading back to "work."

Sep 05, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

September 5, 2014

A visceral Congress with more things on its “don’t do” list than “do” list returns this week, with only a few legislative days ahead of November elections that will in large part determine the fate of a post-election, lame-duck session. This could elevate Congress’ inaction to a new level.

Some action on onerous waters of the U.S. rule

The House Rules Committee said it will consider amendments to legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing its waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, adding the bill is likely to be brought to the House floor for a vote in September. The bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from “developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering or enforcing” the proposed WOTUS rule or any associated guidance that attempts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act.

What about immigration reform?

Forget it. The House won’t touch comprehensive reform ahead of the elections. And while President Barack Obama repeatedly said he would act on this via executive orders if Congress failed to do so, it looks like worried Democratic lawmakers persuaded him to delay his plan until after voters go to the polls.

2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

Volume requirements for the 2014 RFS were supposed to be announced last November, but EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy last week again said final requirements would be announced “soon.” (She said the same thing June 20.) Some sources now expect the announcement before the November elections.

McCarthy also said 2014 RFS requirements may top EPA’s initial proposal as U.S. gasoline usage is climbing more than forecast. But she didn’t discuss specific figures. Our sources for months have signaled the corn-based ethanol volume requirement could be at or around 13.6 billion gallons, above the initially proposed 13.01-billion-gallon level, with the biodiesel volume requirement at or around 1.48 billion gallons, up from the initially proposed 1.28 billion gallons. If those are the final levels, many will ask what took so long for this “transparent” administration to announce things.

Election prospects

Based on our recent chats with election-year prognosticators, it’s a safe bet to say Republicans will maintain control of the House. The key unknown is how many more seats the party will pick up, with predictions ranging from 6 to 12. The major unknown is in the Senate. We now see three possibilities: (1 and 2) a 51-49 split, with various scenarios putting either the Republicans or Democrats in “control” of the unwieldy chamber; and (3) a 50/50 split with Vice President Joe Biden breaking any tie votes in the next Congress.

A really lame lame-duck session

Items like a possible retroactive extension to lapsed tax incentives dealing with equipment depreciation and biodiesel could be bumped to 2015 if the fate of the Senate is still unknown following the elections. With the potential for an Orman victory in Kansas, a likely December runoff in Louisiana and a potential January runoff in Georgia, the make-up of the Senate next year could be in limbo for weeks after November. If so, an already tepid Congress would be even more so.


Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Time for the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour

Aug 08, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

August 8, 2014

Scouts on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour will be on the road Aug. 18-21. The 2014 Tour, sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, has a record number of scouts registered and ready for the four-day trek that covers 7 states and about 70% of the U.S. corn and soybean crops.

Talk with your Pioneer dealer about coming to one of these evening meetings.

Western Leg:
August 18: Grand Island, Nebraska
August 19: Nebraska City, Nebraska
August 20: Spencer, Iowa
August 21: Rochester, Minnesota

Eastern Leg:
August 18: Fishers, Indiana
August 19: Bloomington, Illinois
August 20: Iowa City, Iowa
August 21: Rochester, Minnesota

Last year's Crop Tour collected 1,340 corn samples and nearly that many soybean samples as eastern scouts made their way west from Ohio and western scouts covered the roads in S. Dakota, Nebraska, western Iowa and southern Minnesota. The goal of each stop on Tour is to collect a "good sample" and we do that by keeping the Tour consistently random.

It's consistent because we follow the same routes year to year, but it's random because we don't pre-select plot locations and leave field and plot selection up to individual scouting teams.

It's consistent because we pull the 5th, 8th, and 11th ear from one of two 30-foot corn plots, but that also keeps the process random because those three ears might be the best three ears in the field... they could be the worst three ears in the field... or they could be three very representative ears in the field. Which brings up an important point. The goal is not to "peg" the yield in each and every field. For one thing, to accurately estimate the yield in an individual field, we'd have to pull at least 10 samples from every 40 acres. The goal is to collect enough samples from a county to get a good idea of a county's potential; enough samples from a crop district to get a good idea of a crop district's potential; enough sample from a state to get a good idea of a state's yield potential.

And the ultimate goal of the tour is to consistently collect enough random samples from seven very important corn producing states to get a good idea of the county's yield potential. The single most important yield average we look at in the entire week is the final "all samples" average yield. The Tour is designed to be "self weighting." We spend a half day of sampling in South Dakota and Ohio to limit the number of samples from these states. The Tour consistently pulls the highest number of samples from Iowa, which is closely followed by the sample counts from Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota. The Indiana sample count comes next. Because of this, we can throw all the samples into one spreadsheet and generate one average of all 1,300-plus corn yields... and that is the best "tell" of U.S. corn yield potential. Keep that in mind as you hear or read reports and Tweets from Tour. Those reports and Tweets might be completely accurate for one route, but it may not be representative of what scouts on all 12 of the eastern routes and all 10 of the western routes are seeing that day.

We're looking forward to another week of making new friends, spending time talking with growers from across the Midwest and collecting some important information for the ag industry.

Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Farm Policy and Program update from Pro Farmer

Aug 01, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

August 1, 2014

Blogger's note: Next week in "Pro Farmer Extra," we'll start getting you ready for the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, sponsored by DuPont Pioneer! Geting ready now!

Today's perspective is by Pro Farmer News Editor Meghan Pedersen and Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer.

Tweaks for WOTUS coming

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Admin. Bob Perciasepe told the House Small Business Committee last week the agency was moving ahead with its waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, though stressing it was “just a proposal.” When asked what it would hurt to withdraw the rule, Perciasepe said, “The harm would be in maintaining the uncertainty that currently exists. We’re going to continue to try to solve that problem.”

One day later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the two agencies would soon release a new series of questions and answers on the interpretive rule associated with WOTUS in hopes of providing some clarification on ag exemptions.

Perspective: This appears to be the closest thing to withdrawing the interpretive rule thus far. Ag interests must decide if the updated questions and answers alleviate their concerns.

Additional details on SCO

USDA officially announced the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) will be available for corn, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, spring barley, spring wheat and winter wheat in selected counties for the 2015 crop year. For a map of available coverage for wheat and examples of potential SCO benefits see “Inside Washington Today” on

Also of note, USDA says producers applying for SCO for the 2015 winter wheat crop may withdraw coverage on any farm where they have or intend to elect Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) for winter wheat by the earlier of their acreage reporting date or Dec. 15, without penalty. This gives them more time to make a decision between ARC or Price Loss Coverage (PLC). SCO is only available to producers who choose to participate in PLC, not for those choosing ARC.

If wheat producers withdraw SCO coverage for a farm, they will not be charged a crop insurance premium if they notify agents of their intended election by the aforementioned dates.

OSHA eases grain bin rules

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will not take enforcement actions against farms over the way they manage their grain bins, according to final guidance from the regulator. A revised enforcement memo from OSHA said on-farm grain operations with fewer than 10 employees fall under a long-standing exemption for farms. A Nebraska case first brought attention to the issue last year, when OSHA seemingly reclassified farms with grain storage as commercial grain handlers. A provision in the Fiscal 2014 omnibus spending bill required OSHA to consult with USDA on the issue. OSHA subsequently withdrew a field memorandum that had led to the enforcement effort.

Appeals court upholds COOL enforcement

A district appeals court upheld USDA’s right to enforce country of origin labeling (COOL) rules last week. The American Meat Institute and other stakeholders had sought a preliminary injunction to keep COOL from taking effect, saying it violated their free speech rights. The meat industry says COOL will have dire economic consequences, including putting some meat processors out of business.

The verdict is still out on whether this rule will stand up at the World Trade Organization. It reportedly delivered a mixed preliminary decision on the rule that said COOL is discriminatory toward Canada and Mexico’s livestock sectors, though not trade-distorting. But the final ruling could differ from the preliminary decision. If the final decision is in favor of the U.S., both countries plan to retaliate.


Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

More than ag upset with WOTUS

Jul 18, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

July 18, 2014

Today's perspective is by Pro Farmer News Editor Meghan Pedersen and Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer.

More than ag interests upset with WOTUS

The waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that tries to spell out the scope of the Clean Water Act remains under siege. The ag industry, lawmakers and environmental interests have all taken issue with components of WOTUS and its accompanying interpretive rule that defines 56 ag practices exempt from permitting requirements. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy has expressed surprise at the level of concern generated about the interpretive rule and has indicated she may be willing to pull it back. But the administration says her agency needs time to address objections to the rule. It is increasingly apparent EPA and the Army Corps would have saved face and headache if they had consulted stakeholders and USDA prior to releasing the rules.

Ag interests have expressed worries that voluntary measures approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would become mandatory under the interpretive rule, while environmental groups are unhappy about the farmer exemptions from dredge-and-fill permitting requirements. Groups like the Association of State Wetlands Managers (ASWM) say some of the practices that are now exempt from permitting could violate state water quality standards if they are practiced without oversight.

Lawmakers have also taken action on the matter. Provisions in the House’s Energy and Water spending bills would block the proposed rule for one year and would broaden ag exemptions to the law’s Section 404 permitting requirements. A House panel advanced a separate bill that would block implementation of the proposed rule and would repeal the interpretive rule. The measure would also require EPA to consult with state and local officials on the issue and report recommendations for a consensus proposal to Congress.

Pressure from all sides is mounting, especially on the interpretive rule. This may increase odds EPA will pull it.

Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Log In or Sign Up to comment


The Home Page of Agriculture
© 2014 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights Reserved|Web site design and development by|Site Map|Privacy Policy|Terms & Conditions