January 31, 2015

Spring Weather Might Allow for Timely Planting

Its been an unusual winter in much of the Northern Plains.  It’s the end of January and many parts of the Dakotas lack snow cover, if only because it melted off in a wave of record heat over the past week.  University of North Dakota Professor of Meteorology Leon Osborne says we shouldn’t get too attached:

Osborne 1

And those dry conditions is what has many producers worried about the upcoming growing season.  But not so fast

Osborne 2

In fact conditions may be nearly ideal by the time planting rolls around:

Osborne 3

There was a lot of talk in weather circles last Summer and Fall about an El Nino weather pattern.  It looks like that may have been overblown:

Osborne 4

What does exist of the El Nino pattern should help provide moisture to the drought stricken areas of California, the Southwestern U.S., and the Southern Plains.  However, conditions are so dry that they are expected to remain in a drought state.


Growth Energy and NCGA Respond to World Resource Institute Study

The World Resources Institute recently released a report that criticizes biofuels. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the report repackages old, previously debunked food and fuel and Indirect Land Use Change myths in attempts to discredit an American success story. Buis says the criticism is based on the limited assumption that the U.S. and the rest of the world must choose between a cleaner, healthier environment resulting from renewable transportation fuels and an adequate, affordable food supply. Without the biofuels industry and its impact on the farm economy – he says the U.S. might be producing less food in order to control the expansion of surplus stocks and assistance payments to farmers. Buis says the WRI fails to note the U.S. has produced record corn crops for the past two-years and corn prices have fallen dramatically. It also fails to credit U.S. ethanol production results in co-products that displace the need for other livestock feed crops – reducing the net acreage for ethanol production to about 17.5-percent of total corn acreage – according to Buis. National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Keith Alverson of South Dakota says ethanol is a very efficient energy source – representing a 40-percent net energy gain. Alverson says there is more than enough corn to meet demands for food, fuel, feed and fiber.

Buis says WRI is relying on the same analyses and falsehoods utilized by Big Oil that have already been proven to be incorrect. He says diversity in energy resources and a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel use is the best way to ensure the U.S. has the necessary energy resources while reducing the use of carbon intensive fuels that are a finite resource and a leading cause of climate change. Alverson says it’s time to put these arguments to rest and focus on continuing to grow American energy independence. The U.S. must embrace an all of the above energy strategy – Buis says – and biofuels play a critical role in ensuring such a strategy succeeds.


Ag Groups Write Letter Addressing Port Slowdown Concerns

The American Soybean Association (ASA), along with more than 90 fellow farm and foodport2 organizations, called on representatives on both sides of the labor dispute impacting operations at five west coast ports to come to the bargaining table and resolve the issue that threatens the supply chain continuity for countless U.S. agricultural commodities. Not only is this dispute causing extreme congestion, delays, and uncertainty, it is costing the agriculture industry millions of dollars for every week that the negotiations and slowdowns drag on.

In an open letter, ASA and its fellow organizations urged both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to take into account the impact the dispute is having on consumers and to resolve their differences as quickly as possible. The groups also urged the federal government to consider all available remedies to bring the dispute to a rapid end, noting the potentially dire consequences of not reaching an agreement that gets each port back up and running quickly.

“This regrettable situation is having a severe impact on our ability to export agricultural and food products to many of our main export markets,” wrote the groups in the letter. “Inevitably, these overseas customers will look to other sources for their supply of these goods. Similar to what we encountered after ill-advised export embargoes in the past, once lost, a foreign customer can be difficult to recapture.”

A full transcript of the letter is available by clicking here.