Evening Report (VIP) -- April 18, 2014

02:55PM Apr 17, 2014
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Markets closed Friday... Grain and livestock markets are closed tomorrow for Good Friday. Grain markets reopen April 20 at 7:00 p.m. CT. Livestock markets (electronic and pit trade) will resume trading at 9:05 a.m. CT on April 21. Everyone at Pro Farmer wishes you a happy and blessed Easter. He has Risen, Indeed!


Diplomatic resolve for Ukraine crisis?... Officials from the U.S., EU, Russia and Ukraine decided April 17 to "de-escalate" the Ukraine crisis, according to Russia's foreign minister. That somewhat eases tensions in the region, though there's still a lot of uncertainty. The U.S. and EU have promised ramped-up sanctions if Russia doesn't follow through.


Reported PEDV cases rise again... The National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) says 262 new cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) were confirmed the week ending April 12, bringing the grand total to 5,790, which reflects an upward revision to past data. In addition, Vermont was added to the list of states reporting at least one confirmed case to bring the number of states reporting PEDV to 29.

Iowa, the No. 1 pork-producing state in the nation, continues to lead the number of total confirmed cases at 1,793, up 48 from last week. Minnesota follows with 936 confirmed cases, up 51 from last week. North Carolina is third on the list at 585 cases, up 23 from last week.


NWS: Drought in Southern Plains to persist... The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) looks for drought to persist across the western portions of the Southern Plains through July, but for removal of drought across the Corn Belt. The Seasonal Drought Outlook points out that drought intensified during the past month across the Central and Southern Plains, while the Midwest experienced a reduction. CPC's outlook points to those trends continuing.

In its outlook for May, CPC expects above-normal temps across the Central and Southern Plains and throughout the bulk of the West, while below-normal temps are expected in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. The 30-day outlook provides little precip guidance, as it calls for equal chances of normal, below- and above-normal precip throughout the Plains, South and Midwest.

In its outlook for May through July, CPC looks for an expansion of above-normal temps to include the Southeast and along the East Coast, as well as the West and Southern Plains region. The outlook also calls for above-normal precip across the four-corners states, but for equal chances of normal, below- and above-normal precip across the Plains and Midwest. Get more details and maps.


2014 Farm Bill payment & AGI limits... USDA has begun to disseminate information on changes to payment limits and adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations for farm program participation eligibility contained in the 2014 Farm Bill. Get a detailed breakdown here. While noting that the "majority of the rules and requirements" that have been in effect under the 2008 Farm Bill are still in place for the 2014 Farm Bill, some components have changed due to the new farm bill. Those that have not changed include requirements of actively engaged in farming, cash-rent tenant, substantive change, minor child and spousal provisions. Payments will continue to be limited by direct attribution to person and legal entity.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, there is now a three-year average AGI of $900,000 or less to receive commodity, price support and disaster assistance program payment and benefits. For 2015, FSA noted that the same AGI limitation will then apply to recipients of payments and benefits from most conservation programs.

The new AGI and payment limits are expected to provide more clarity in the case of AGI in that it no longer involves separate on-farm and off-farm AGI tests. As for the payment limits, the unified limit covering ag risk coverage (ARC), price loss coverage (PLC), marketing loan gain (MLG) and loan deficiency payment (LDP) benefits also simplifies the situation as there were individual program payment limits under the 2008 Farm Bill that are now replaced with one limit covering the aforementioned programs. Also, the actively engaged requirements are likely to change; USDA has signaled it wants to finalize changes in this area by the end of 2014.


SNAP manipulation continues, despite new farm bill reforms... Four House GOP representatives, including House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), sent Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) a letter requesting information on how the agency oversees states' administration of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that is supposed to help those in need of energy assistance. The letter points out that in the past, some states allowed LIHEAP to make small payments (in some cases as low as 10 cents per year) to households without actual utility expenses in order to artificially inflate benefit levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The 2014 Farm Bill attempted to minimize this manipulation by requiring a LIHEAP payment of at least $20 before one qualifies for a standard utility allowance for SNAP.

But some states have instead announced they will raise their LIHEAP payment to the minimum level rather than curbing SNAP benefits, as intended by the statute. According to the representatives, this prevents some families eligible for LIHEAP from receiving assistance. Therefore, these lawmakers request that Sebelius provide information on how HHS is conducting oversight of the program no later than May 1, 2014.