AG Rural News

The latest Rural Mainstreet Index has sunk below growth neutral for a sixth straight month. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says lower agricultural commodity prices has been the biggest factor. “It’s the top risk at least according to the bankers. “Now they’re not farmers but they got close ties to the farmers and when we ask them about the biggest risk for the farmers they listed that one.” The index is a monthly survey of ag bankers in 10 states including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. ...
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The USDA has released the results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture and it shows a continued decrease in the number of U.S. farming operations. “I’m concerned about the state of agriculture and food production in this country,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday. Vilsack says the decline is significant. “In 2017 when we did this survey, there were 2,042,220 farms,” he said. “Today, the survey reports we have 1.9 million farms. ...
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Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Minnesota this week to highlight USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. Governor Tim Walz accompanied Vilsack during a stop to a farm near St. Charles in the southeastern part of the state and tells Brownfield REAP is creating value-added opportunities. “We were at a farm that put up a wind turbine, and they talked about REAP helping them on the front end and how they got a return on the investment and started to see a profit after two years.” He says Minnesota leads the country in REAP grant recipients. ...
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The Center for Rural Affairs says access to high-speed internet continues to be a challenge in some agricultural areas. Jillian Linster, interim policy director, says the Biden administration’s ReConnect Program funding should help jumpstart projects across the country. “The federal money is just starting to come in and we haven’t had the opportunity to see the full roll out yet.” She says some states are helping officials identify which areas are underserved. ...
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Ag News

Placements of U.S. cattle into feedlots declined in January, just not quite as much as what some analysts were expecting. The USDA says placements to start 2024 were 1.792 million head, a decrease of 7% on the year, leading to tighter ready numbers this spring and summer, but that was towards the high end of pre-report estimates. That drop was partially due to the bitterly cold conditions and snow experienced in many of the major feeding areas during January, impacting transportation and animal health, but unless this placements figure gets revised in coming months, the weather was less of a factor than...
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History could be on the side of higher grain prices as the market slide continues. University of Minnesota grain market economist Ed Usset says over the past 20 years, a yearly high for corn prices set in January has occurred only three times with new crop futures. “A little more often in the soybean world, cash prices also just four times have we set the high in January. That means 16 to 17 years we’ve found a way to go higher in the April, May, June period.” He tells Brownfield he’s not sure what might lift the market. ...
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U.S. soybean export sales hit a marketing year low during the week ending February 15th. The USDA says soybean sales were sharply below the previous week and the four-week average, following a big cancelation by unknown destinations. Rice also hit a marketing year low and sales of all other major commodities were down on the week. Export demand is driven by several factors including the value of the dollar relative to other currencies and seasonal changes in supply. ...
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The U.S. EPA has finalized a rule allowing the year-round sale of E15 fuel blends in eight Midwestern states. But, Monte Shaw with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association tells Brownfield the rule goes into effect in 2025. “Consumers and retailers in these states have certainty on E15 sales starting in 2025 and going forward,” he said, “but we don’t know if we’re going to be able to sell it this summer.” He says the Biden administration would need to issue another emergency waiver to allow sales this summer, but that’s not a guarantee. ...
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