February 12, 2016

CME To Shorten Livestock Trading Hours

Feeding CowsThe CME Group announced yesterday that, pending Commodity and Futures Trading Commission approval, it will be shortening the trading hours for livestock contracts.  The proposal, expected to take effect February 29th, would change hours on all five days of the week to 8:30 am until 1:05 pm central time for electronic trade and 8:30 am until 1:02 pm central time for open outcry options.  Settlement procedures will be unchanged.

The move to reduce trading hours comes as both industry participants and traders have increasingly complained about what they view as unnecessary volatility.  In fact, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent a letter to the CME back in January expressing its concerns about the effects of automated trading, spoofing, and a general lack of transparency.  R-Calf USA also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for an investigation in the recent sharp drop in prices.

Some analysts believe the problem may lie more with the fact that cash and futures appear to have become more and  more disconnected as more cattle are being sold under contract rather than on the open market.  CME said the change in hours is just a step, and they will also be forming a cattle market joint working group with the NCBA to discuss additional steps and will also be reviewing  the live cattle delivery point at Worthing, South Dakota  to see if a discount is warranted for cattle delivered there.

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USDA Expects Big Interest In Competitive CRP Sign Up

CRP Photo as it appeared in the New York Times.  Sterling, ND

CRP Photo as it appeared in the New York Times. Sterling, ND

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding farmers and ranchers that the competitive sign-up deadline for its most popular voluntary conservation program, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), is Feb. 26, 2016. This will be one of the most competitive general sign-up periods in history, in part due a statutory limit on the number of acres that can be enrolled in the program. The most competitive applications will be those that combine multiple conservation benefits, such as water quality and wildlife habitat.

For the past thirty years, CRP has provided financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to remove environmentally sensitive agricultural land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. Since 1985, CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road; prevented 9 billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks; and reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively.CRP also protects more than 170,000 stream miles with forests and grasses, enough to go around the world seven times. The program has allowed for the restoration of 2.7 million acres of wetland and protects more than 170,000 stream miles with forests and grasses, enough to go around the world seven times.

“Since the start of this Administration, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Conservation Reserve Program has been and continues to be a key piece of USDA’s conservation strategy, and with this competitive sign-up we are encouraging applications that offer the greatest environmental protection.”

As of January 2016, 23.6 million acres were enrolled in CRP, with contracts for more than 1.6 million acres set to expire this fall. The statutory cap on acres that can be enrolled is 24 million acres. Submissions will be ranked according to environmental benefits in comparison to all other offers nationwide. USDA will announce accepted offers after the enrollment period ends and offers are reviewed. For an interactive tour of CRP success stories from across the U.S., visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30, or follow on Twitter at #CRPis30.

In 2015, a record number of continuous CRP acres were enrolled, totaling over 830,000 acres. These high-value acres provide multiple benefits on the same land including water quality, wildlife, carbon sequestration and others. For example, the acres dedicated to pollinators have almost tripled to over 190,000 acres and support the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

This record sign-up came after a May 2015 announcement that an additional 800,000 acres would be accepted for key natural resource enhancements. Since the May 2015 announcement, wetland restorations have increased by 77,000 acres, duck nesting habitats have increased 35,000 acres and other wildlife habitat has increased 255,000 acres within the CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE).

For more information on Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation programs, visit a local FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

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SD Pheasants Forever Hosting CRP Informational Meetings

PFPheasants Forever and partners in South Dakota are hosting five Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up informational meetings for landowners in the coming week of the sign-up period. The CRP general sign-up began December 1, 2015, and ends February 26, 2016.

CRP remains the gold standard program for creating upland habitat for pheasants, grouse, and other wildlife in South Dakota. In addition to wildlife habitat, CRP provides landowners with many benefits. “CRP continues to evolve. With competitive rental rates, the ability to enroll partial fields, and a beneficial change in haying and grazing limitations for producers, landowners will want to attend a local meeting and learn how voluntary conservation programs can work to increase farm and ranch income,” stated Matt Morlock, Pheasants Forever’s assistant director in South Dakota. Landowners are encouraged to RSVP for an event by contacting their local Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist.

CRP general sign-up information meetings will focus on eligibility and the CRP sign-up process, as well as updates to CRP mid-contract management. Presentations will also cover various CRP practices, updated rental rates, and public access / additional incentive opportunities.

CRP Informational Meetings by County

County Date Time Location RSVP
Bennett County Feb. 8 6:00 PM Susan’s H&H – Martin, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Lyman County Feb. 9 6:00 PM Hutch’s Café – Presho, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Perkins County Feb. 11 2:00 PM Dakota Lodge Conference Room – Lemmon, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Pennington County Feb. 13 3:00 PM Rushmore Civic Center Alpine Room – Rapid City, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Davison County Feb. 14 3:30 PM Mitchell Moose Lodge – Mitchell, SD Email / (605) 730-3474

Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

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