Tag Archives: USDA

OMAHA — Good-to-excellent condition ratings for both corn and soybeans declined just slightly last week, according to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service’s weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

Nationwide, 70% of corn was rated good to excellent as of Sunday, Aug. 12, down 1 percentage point from 71% the previous week. Last year at this same time, 62% of the crop was rated good to excellent.

“Corn’s good-to-excellent rating drop won’t carry as much weight as Friday’s 14.59-billion-bushel crop estimate by USDA,” said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

NASS estimated that 73% of corn was in the dough stage as of Sunday, 17 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 56%. Twenty-six percent of corn was dented, 13 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 13%.

Soybean condition also dropped slightly to 66% good to excellent last week, down 1 percentage point from 67% the previous week. However, as with corn, the slight drop in soybean conditions isn’t likely to have much impact on Tuesday’s trading, Hultman said.

NASS estimated that 96% of soybeans were blooming as of Sunday, 4 percentage points ahead of the average of 92%, and 84% of soybeans were setting pods, 12 percentage points ahead of the average of 72%.

Meanwhile, NASS estimated that 94% of winter wheat was harvested as of Sunday, behind last year’s 97% and also behind the average pace of 96%.

Spring wheat harvest was 35% complete as of Sunday, behind last year’s 38% but ahead of the five-year average of 27%.

“The spring wheat crop continues to have its highest good-to-excellent rating since 2010, at 75%,” Hultman said. “The high rating comes in spite of a recent stretch of hotter and drier conditions in the Northwestern U.S.”

Sorghum was 78% headed as of Sunday, ahead of the five-year average of 73%. Sorghum coloring was 37%, near the five-year average of 36%. Sorghum mature was estimated at 21%, equal to last year at the same time but behind the five-year average of 24%. Sorghum condition was rated 49%, unchanged from the previous week.

Barley was 41% harvested as of Sunday, behind 48% last year but ahead of the average of 38%. Barley condition was rated 81% good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from 79% the previous week. Oats were 67% harvested as of Sunday, ahead of 64% for last year and also ahead of the five-year average of 64%.

Rice was 91% headed as of Sunday, near 90% last year but ahead of the average of 83%. Eleven percent of rice was harvested, ahead of the average pace of 9%. Cotton was 96% squaring, behind the average of 98%. Seventy-seven percent of cotton was setting bolls, near the average pace of 78%. Thirteen percent of cotton had bolls opening, ahead of the average of 9%. Cotton’s good-to-excellent condition rating, at 40%, was unchanged from the previous week, and rice’s good-to-excellent rating, at 69%, was also unchanged from the previous week.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Dough 73 57 58 56
Corn Dented 26 12 15 13
Soybeans Blooming 96 92 93 92
Soybeans Setting Pods 84 75 77 72
Cotton Squaring 96 92 97 98
Cotton Setting Bolls 77 60 77 78
Cotton Bolls Opening 13 9 10 9
Sorghum Headed 78 69 73 73
Sorghum Coloring 37 31 30 36
Sorghum Mature 21 20 21 24
Spring Wheat Harvested 35 13 38 27
Winter Wheat Harvested 94 90 97 96
Rice Headed 91 82 90 83
Rice Harvested 11 6 12 9
Barley Harvested 41 16 48 38
Oats Harvested 67 51 64 64

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Corn 3 7 20 50 20 3 7 19 50 21 3 9 26 49 13
Soybeans 3 7 24 50 16 3 7 23 51 16 3 9 29 49 10
Spring Wheat 1 4 20 62 13 1 5 20 60 14 24 18 25 27 6
Sorghum 5 12 34 42 7 6 12 33 42 7 2 6 28 54 10
Cotton 14 20 26 32 8 11 21 28 32 8 8 4 27 44 17
Rice 1 6 24 57 12 1 7 23 56 13 1 6 22 56 15
Barley 3 16 67 14 2 19 64 15 9 13 29 39 10

Perhaps circling the drain even faster than the likes of black rhinos, whooping cranes and snow leopards, small-town newspapers represent a particularly sad and endangered form of business. Some remain securely on life-support thanks to legal notices required by small-county seats. Yet virtually none of this journalistic remnant truly sports a recognizable DNA.

For several generations before the cancerous growth of the internet, a sure measurement of town quality was the reliable collection and presentation of local news via a daily or weekly rag. Furthermore, fact-checking and extreme timeliness was almost beside the point. Truthfulness was important, but not quite as valued as the regular creation of the community’s narrative and context.

Tapping the archives of my own newsstand, the wonderful example of the long-defunct “Polk Progress” always comes to mind. Written and published by a thoughtful man named Norris Alfred, this unique gazette was one of the last linotypes in central Nebraska to rattle out interesting copy every Friday.

Once nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, Alfred was a great writer, possessing more heart than nose for news. My favorite pages included columns on bird-watching, random events of hospitality (e.g., “Miss Claussen served cousins from Rising City lemonade and rhubarb pie on Sunday afternoon.”) and last week’s weather.

Yet the one element of newspaper layout that will be forever emblazoned, in my memory, is the definitive masthead. Below the bold letters of the tabloid’s centered name sits a large snail, one particularly sluggish given only the token hint of a slime trail. Apparently moving from left to right, the snail lethargically pulls himself toward the “Progress'” slogan: “SLOWER IS BETTER.”

Needless to say, it’s impossible to ever imagine this phrase in the unabridged vocabulary of Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg. Indeed, many entrepreneurs, consumers, professionals, workers, scientists and politicians would find such a bizarre value-assessment as a damning indictment of our entire culture.

Please don’t prattle on about the danger of snap judgments, the reward of protracted deliberations and the irresponsibility of decision-making on the run. Spare us the inconvenience of thinking before we act, of doubting that our first blush could be dead wrong, and of wondering if wait and see could be the wisest strategy.

The 21st century was built for speed. Let us stumble forth with alacrity.

As you can probably tell, I can’t completely remove tongue from cheek when discussing the modern world’s speedy success story. I do think the way Alfred’s “Progress” (no doubt meant with at least a little irony) esteemed a more measured pace of life and contained more wisdom.

In fact, I’ve always questioned speed per se (especially if it comes at the expense of thoughtful deliberation) as a worthwhile tool in the critical process of price-discovery. My anxiety in this regard has significantly intensified in recent weeks, ever since USDA announced its decision to change the way it would release major report data, essentially abandoning the “lockup” procedure that has well served producers and speculators for decades.

For years, USDA has given news organizations embargoed copies of market-moving reports an hour and a half earlier than the reports are released to the public.

While members of the media cannot publish any of the data until the official public report is released, the 90-minute blackout has always allowed plenty of time for fact-checking, correcting math errors and the composition of meaningful context.

As sensible as that may sound, the historical system is no more. Crop reports and new supply and demand tables to be released on Friday will be tossed to the unprepared trading mob like so much red meat to hungry but confused lions.

So why did Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and his unthinking minions suddenly become obsessed to fix what wasn’t broken? In short, the USDA team was motivated by unproven and rather farfetched allegation that high-speed fiber optic lines — that are slightly faster than the speed at which USDA uploads the information — had created an unlevel playing field.

“There is evidence to suggest that there is significant trading activity worth millions of dollars that occurs in the one or two second period immediately following the official release of reports, which could not be based on the public reading of USDA data,” USDA said in a statement. “The inference is that private agents are paying the news agencies for faster data transmission to get a jump on the market.”

Before going further, let me stipulate that DTN is one of the news agencies previously allowed to examine and frame official data 90 minutes before the official release. Secondly, I think my coverage over the years clearly indicates that I am generally a defender of the government data collection ability and procedure. I’ve never had a predictable desire to beat a dead horse in that regard, a sport that has often been overplayed, in my opinion.

Yet this is one carcass that is beginning to smell. USDA has made a blunder here, a mistake that I fear will cause more problems in terms of market volatility and credibility than it ever hoped to solve.

At least two things bother me as USDA attempts to become a quick-change artist. First, there seems to be a serious lack of evidence to justify abandoning a time-tested procedure. Secretary Perdue loosely talks about “evidence” and “inferences.” But while the implications are rather insulting, the department shows no interest in following regular procedures of investigation and public comment.

Second, I think the change reflects yet another example of being drunk on the importance and effectiveness of speed per se. I think all producers and traders can cite contrary market moments when advanced knowledge of USDA data proved to be illogically expensive.

Call me a yokel from the backwoods who likes to read old newspapers, but don’t marketers have more of a fighting chance if they break both twittering thumbs, take about five deep breaths and embrace the broader context before issuing buy or sell orders?

OMAHA — USDA pegged the national average corn yield at 178.4 bushels per acre (bpa), higher than last month’s 174 bpa estimate and the average pre-report estimate. That bumped up estimated production to 14.59 billion bushels, 356 million bushels higher than last month’s 14.23 bb estimate.

Soybean yield and production were estimated at 51.6 bpa and 4.59 billion bushels. Both figures exceeded the range of pre-report expectations.

The crop estimates were released today in USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports. These August reports are the first of the 2018 season to take into account field surveys conducted by USDA in July.

Friday’s new U.S. ending stocks estimates were bearish for corn and soybeans and neutral for wheat, said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman. Friday’s world ending stocks estimates from USDA were bearish for corn, soybeans and wheat, he said.

Today’s reports also mark the first time in decades that DTN and other news outlets did not have pre-release access and are receiving the data at the same time as the general public, at 11 a.m. CDT. You can access the full reports here:

Crop Production: https://www.nass.usda.gov/…

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE): http://www.usda.gov/…

For DTN’s exclusive audio comments on today’s reports, visit: http://listen.aghost.net/…

CORN

If USDA’s 178.4 bpa corn yield is realized, it will set a new record, even though production is expected to be 1% lower than last year at 14.586 billion bushels.

USDA adjusted new-crop (2018-19) corn ending stocks to 1.68 billion bushels, up 132 mb from its July estimate of 1.55 bb. USDA boosted feed and residual use by 100 mb and exports by 125 mb, resulting in 225 mb of higher expected use.

USDA lowered the range of average farm gate prices at $3.10 per bushel to $4.10 per bushel.

Old-crop (2017-18) ending stocks came in at 2.03 billion bushels, the same as last month’s estimate of 2.03 bb.

Globally, USDA pegged new-crop ending stocks at 155.49 million metric tons (mmt), up 3.53 mmt. Production increased by 6.75 mmt overall, with most of the gain coming from the U.S. USDA lowered Brazilian production by 1.5 mmt and EU output by 1.7 mmt.

World ending stocks for corn came in at 193.33 mmt. Brazilian farmers are expected to harvest 94.5 mmt, while Argentine farmers are set to haul in 41 mmt.

SOYBEANS

Soybean production is forecast to increase 4% from last year to 4.59 billion bushels.

USDA’s new-crop ending stocks estimate, at 785 million bushels, exceeds pre-report expectations by more than 205 million bushels. USDA boosted its crush estimate by 15 mb and exports by 20 mb.

Old-crop ending stocks came in at 461 million bushels, a shade lower than last month’s 465 mb. USDA also cut old-crop export estimates by 25 mb.

USDA estimated the average range of farm gate price at $7.65 to $10.15 per bushel, down from last month’s range of $8.00 to $10.50.

World ending stocks for new-crop soybeans came in at 105.94 million metric tons, up 7.7 mmt, driven mostly by higher U.S. production. Stocks of old crop were pegged at 95.61 mmt. USDA left Brazil and Argentina production unchanged at 120.5 mmt and 57 mmt, respectively.

WHEAT

USDA expects the 2018-19 wheat crop to reach 1.88 billion bushels, down less than 1% from last month’s forecast, but up 8% from last year. Winter wheat is expected to account for 1.149 billion bushels, down 6% from last year’s 1.27 bb. The average winter wheat yield is estimated at 47.9 bpa, down 2.3 bpa from last year’s average. Hard red winter wheat production, at 661 million bushels, is up 1% from last month while soft red winter is down 4% from the July forecast at 292 million bushels.

The spring wheat crop is estimated at 614 million bushels, up slightly from July’s estimate and up 48% from last year. If realized, it will be the third-highest production on record. USDA expects farmers to harvest a national average yield of 47.6 bpa, a new record.

Domestically, new-crop ending stocks for wheat came in at 935 million bushels, 50 mb lower than last month. While USDA made a number of changes to supply and demand, the largest was a 50 mb increase in exports. USDA pegged old-crop ending stocks at 1.1 bb.

USDA increased the range of farm gate prices by a dime on both the high and low ends to $4.60 to $5.60 per bushel.

Global new-crop ending stocks for wheat came in at 258.96 mmt, while old-crop supplies were estimated at 273.07 mmt.

Editor’s Note: Join DTN Analyst Todd Hultman at 12 p.m. CDT on Friday, Aug. 10, as he evaluates USDA’s latest production estimates for the U.S. 2018-2019 crops as well as old-crop and new-crop supply and demand tables. To register, visit https://dtn.webex.com/…

U.S. CROP PRODUCTION (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Aug Avg High Low July 2017-18
Corn 14,586 14,417 14,740 14,210 14,230 14,604
Soybeans 4,586 4,428 4,576 4,354 4,310 4,392
All Wheat 1,877 1,850 1,900 1,700 1,881 1,741
All Winter 1,189 1,181 1,201 1,050 1,193 1,269
Spring 73 600 633 570 614 416
U.S. AVERAGE YIELD (Bushels Per Acre) 2018-2019
Aug Avg High Low July 2017-18
Corn 178.4 176.3 180.2 173.8 174.0 176.6
Soybeans 51.6 49.8 51.5 49.0 48.5 49.1
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Aug Avg High Low July
Corn 1,684 1,630 1,812 1,457 1,552
Soybeans 784 641 742 550 580
Wheat 935 959 1,018 813 985
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2017-2018
Aug Avg High Low July
Corn 2,027 2,016 2,137 1,900 2,027
Soybeans 430 461 507 437 465
Wheat 1,100 1,099 1,100 1,080 1,100
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (Million metric tons) 2018-2019
Aug Avg High Low July
Corn 155.49 152.20 158.20 146.00 151.96
Soybeans 105.94 99.30 101.70 94.00 98.27
Wheat 258.96 255.60 259.90 248.00 260.88
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (Million metric tons) 2017-18
Aug Avg High Low July
Corn 193.33 190.80 192.60 188.00 191.70
Soybeans 95.61 95.80 97.00 92.00 96.00
Wheat 273.07 273.00 275.00 271.00 273.50
WORLD PRODUCTION (Million Metric Tons) 2018-2019
2018-19
Wheat Aug July
European Union 137.50 145.00
FSU – 12 122.54 121.24

Corn and soybean progress continued at a faster-than-normal pace last week, while good-to-excellent condition ratings for both crops declined slightly, according to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service’s weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.\

Nationwide, 57% of corn was in the dough stage as of Sunday, Aug. 5, 20 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 37%. Twelve percent of corn was dented, 6 percentage points ahead of 6% for both last year and the five-year average.

NASS estimated that 71% of corn was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, down 1 percentage point from 72% the previous week but still the third-highest rating of the past five years. The poor-to-very poor rating in Missouri jumped up from 31% last week to 44% on Monday, noted DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

Soybean condition also slipped from the previous week. Nationwide, the crop was rated 67% good to excellent, down 3 percentage points from 70% the previous week. As with corn, the soybean rating was still the third highest in the past five years, Hultman said.

Soybeans were 92% blooming as of Sunday, 6 percentage points ahead of the average of 86%, and 75% of soybeans were setting pods, 17 percentage points ahead of the average of 58%.

NASS estimated that 90% of winter wheat was harvested with most wheat still standing from Montana to the Pacific Coast.

Spring wheat harvest was 13% complete as of Sunday, behind last year’s 22% but near the five-year average of 14%.

“Seventy-four percent of spring was rated good to excellent, down from 78% a week ago as dry weather has become a recent concern,” Hultman said. “It is still the highest good-to-excellent rating for spring wheat since 2010.”

Sorghum was 69% headed as of Sunday, ahead of 60% last year and also ahead of the five-year average of 62%. Sorghum coloring was 31%, ahead of 26% last year but equal to the five-year average. Sorghum condition was rated 49% good to excellent, down 3 percentage points from 52% the previous week.

Barley was 16% harvested as of Sunday, behind 22% last year and also behind the average of 18%. Barley condition was down 1 percentage point to 79% good to excellent last week. Oats were 51% harvested as of Sunday, ahead of 48% for last year and also ahead of the five-year average of 49%. Oat’s good-to-excellent condition rating held steady at 71%.

Rice was 82% headed as of Sunday, near 81% last year but ahead of the average of 70%. Six percent of rice was harvested, slightly ahead of the average pace of 5%. Cotton was 92% squaring, behind the average of 94%. Sixty percent of cotton was setting bolls, also behind the average pace of 62%. Nine percent of cotton had bolls opening, ahead of the average of 6%. Cotton’s good-to-excellent condition rating was down 3 percentage points, while rice’s good-to-excellent rating held steady.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/…. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Silking 96 91 92 92
Corn Dough 57 38 39 37
Corn Dented 12 NA 6 6
Soybeans Blooming 92 86 89 86
Soybeans Setting Pods 75 60 63 58
Cotton Squaring 92 88 92 94
Cotton Setting Bolls 60 49 56 62
Cotton Bolls Opening 9 NA 8 6
Sorghum Headed 69 54 60 62
Sorghum Coloring 31 26 26 31
Spring Wheat Harvested 13 4 22 14
Winter Wheat Harvested 90 85 93 92
Rice Headed 82 64 81 70
Rice Harvested 6 NA 8 5
Barley Harvested 16 2 22 18
Oats Harvested 51 38 48 49

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Corn 3 7 19 50 21 3 6 19 50 22 4 9 27 47 13
Soybeans 3 7 23 51 16 2 6 22 53 17 3 9 28 50 10
Spring Wheat 1 5 20 60 14 1 3 18 64 14 22 21 25 25 7
Sorghum 6 12 33 42 7 4 11 33 44 8 2 7 30 52 9
Cotton 11 21 28 32 8 11 19 27 34 9 6 8 29 41 16
Rice 1 7 23 56 13 1 7 23 55 14 1 5 22 55 17
Oats 4 3 22 58 13 4 3 22 58 13 10 13 26 42 9
Barley 2 19 64 15 1 2 17 66 14 8 12 35 37 8

OMAHA (DTN) — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reiterated Monday that any aid checks to producers this fall likely won’t make farmers financially whole, and USDA won’t attribute every drop in commodity prices solely to trade complications.

Perdue held a call with reporters Monday following the G20 agricultural ministerial talks in Argentina that wrapped up during the weekend. G20 agricultural ministers largely criticized trade barriers and agreed reforms are needed in the World Trade Organization.

Perdue headed to the G20 meeting shortly after announcing the Trump administration was working on details of an aid package for farmers affected by tariffs of up to $12 billion that included direct payments to producers of some commodities.

Reuters reported during the weekend in an interview with Perdue at the G20 meeting that the White House plan would expect to include between $7 billion and $8 billion paid out to the major commodities detailed last week, which include soybeans, corn, sorghum, wheat, cotton, milk and hogs.

Perdue reiterated to reporters Monday that the checks won’t make farmers financially whole. “That’s been consistent to what we have said all along,” Perdue said. “I liken it really to any kind of insurance claim.” The secretary compared it to a situation such as a car accident or home destroyed where a person never feels “whole” when the check comes.

Perdue said USDA’s chief economist has models that can differentiate the impact of trade disruption from normal seasonal price volatility for a given crop.

“I think we’re just trying to make the expectation that if a farmer sees a $2 drop in soybean prices, then they should not necessarily expect a $2-per-bushel mitigation payment. I think that’s what we’re trying to say.”

One of the reasons details about the disaster payments may not come until late August is USDA officials are waiting to see if some of these trade battles are resolved between now and then and prices rally, Perdue said.

G20 TALKS “PRODUCTIVE”

Regarding the talks in Argentina, Perdue said he and others had “productive conversations” with EU officials about following up on the announcement last week at the White House about opening up trade and buying more U.S. agricultural products. Perdue acknowledged the commitments made last week need to be filled not only for soybeans, but other U.S. products, even though EU officials don’t control private enterprises that buy agricultural commodities.

“I’m hoping they will fulfill their commitment in stepping up and buying more U.S. soybeans and replace some of the export volume that would be lost to China,” Perdue said.

A European Union spokeswoman seemed to back off some of the statements made at the White House about agricultural sales, but Perdue said the announcement between President Donald Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker definitely included agricultural trade.

“While they love for agriculture to be outside the scope, it’s very much in our interest to address that with the EU, particularly the non-tariff barriers they continue to promulgate,” Perdue said.

The G20 agricultural ministers also had a conversation about the EU’s push on geographical indications (GI). Perdue said the EU is trying to block what have become common food names over the past 100 years or more because of European immigrants. Perdue cited cheeses such as “feta” and mozzarella” as a couple of examples, though the EU has hundreds of food items it seeks to brand in trade deals as geographically restricted that come from particular regions of Europe.

“The EU all of a sudden over the past few years wants to trademark or patent those names so we can’t use them,” Perdue said.

EU officials noted in their trade agreement with Japan that more than 200 EU agricultural products would receive GI protection once the EU and Japan trade deal begins. Perdue challenged the need for such protections. He said the U.S. has had to become more aggressive with its trading partners to push them to oppose EU’s use of geographical indications.

“Be careful about trying to accept any kind of geographical indicators from the EU trying to brand or trademark or patent common food names that have been around the world for over 100 years,” Perdue said. “That’s the signal we’re trying to send to our trade partners is that this is not acceptable and we don’t intend to comply with that.”

Another topic at the G20 — and one that was also touched upon last week at the White House with EU officials — is reforming the World Trade Organization. For Perdue, one of the major trade problems related to the WTO is that countries need to follow the scientific guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, known by its French acronym, OIE. Perdue said countries tend to ignore the science.

“What we are trying to determine is how we can make the WTO into an organization that guides international trade the way it was intended,” Perdue said. “We find that some of the problems with the U.S.’s relationship with China is that they ignore things they want to ignore and create standards of their own that are outside of sound science.”

Perdue spoke to reporters Monday from Puerto Rico where Perdue said he is meeting with the governor, agriculture secretary of Puerto Rico and USDA’s main liaison who was installed after Hurricane Maria last September devastated the island.

The aid package announced to offset harm by the Trump administration’s trade policy for agriculture could be ready to go by October, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

While in Argentina as part of the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers, Perdue told Reuters the aid package could have payments reaching farmers by late September. The plan would include between $7 billion and $8 billion in direct cash relief as the Department of Agriculture expects U.S. farmers to take an $11 billion hit due to retaliatory tariffs after Washington placed duties on Chinese goods.

However, Perdue cautioned: “Obviously this is not going to make farmers whole.” Checks will go out to farmers “as soon as they prove their yields,” according to Perdue, who says the yields will be based on actual production, not historical averages. The program is a response to trade tariffs implemented on U.S. agriculture goods for the 2018 crop year only, as Perdue says “we do not expect to do this over a period of time.”

WASHINGTON,  – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced a historic commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure.

“USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures,” Hazlett said. “All people – regardless of their zip code – need modern, reliable infrastructure to thrive, and we have found that when we address this need, many other challenges in rural places become much more manageable.”

Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Below are a few examples of USDA’s latest investment (PDF, 162 KB) of $164 million for 54 projects nationwide:

  • Wadesboro, N.C., is receiving a $706,000 loan and an $815,000 grant to improve its water distribution system. The town will install 7,000 linear feet of eight- and 12-inch PVC and dip water main, and 11 hydrants and service re-connections. The project will benefit the town’s 2,012 residential users, 84 commercial users, eight industrial users and five institutional users. Wadesboro, population 5,841, is in Anson County.
  • The village of Greenview, Ill., is receiving a $4.9 million loan and a $3.7 million grant to construct a wastewater collection and treatment facility. The system will collect and convey wastewater via a centralized pumping station. Wastewater will be transferred to a contained mechanical treatment system. Treated wastewater will then be released to Grove Creek. This project will alleviate health hazards due to private septic or aeration systems that discharge effluent into drainage fields, causing raw sewage backups in homes during major rainfalls. The new system will serve the town’s 778 residents.
  • In Baudette, Minn., the Wheelers Point Sanitary District is receiving a $300,000 loan and a $638,000 grant to construct a sewer collection system. The District is on the shores of Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in Lake of the Woods County in northern Minnesota. Homes and businesses in the district have individual septic systems that need to be replaced. If these systems were to fail, the contamination would affect the river and the lake. The state considers this project a priority due to the possibility of environmental contamination. The new system will protect the environment and area waters.

USDA is announcing investments today in Alabama, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

In FY 2018, Congress provided a historic level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

Seven groups that represent meat and poultry producers, as well as processors, wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to place cell-cultured protein products under USDA regulation.

The meat industry website Meating Place Dot Com says the groups want these products held to the same high standards for food safety and labeling that meat and poultry are held to under the USDA regulatory system.

In the letter, the groups say, “Cell-cultured products that purport to be meat or poultry should be subject to the same comprehensive inspection system that governs amenable meat and poultry products to ensure that they are wholesome and safe for public consumption.”

The groups also want the products regulated in a way that ensures they are labeled and marketed in a manner that levels the playing field in the marketplace. The groups also say the Food and Drug Administration tried to assert itself as the primary regulator of cell-cultured products at a public meeting the USDA was excluded from.

The groups say this is inconsistent with meat and poultry inspection statutes, as well as a White House Agency reorganization plan that consolidates food safety inspection duties into a single USDA agency.

OMAHA (DTN) — The good-to-excellent condition rating for the nation’s corn crop was unchanged last week while soybeans’ good-to-excellent rating was up slightly, according to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service’s weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

NASS estimated that 72% of the nation’s corn was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, July 22, unchanged from the previous week. However, the crop’s condition was down from 76% good to excellent at the same time of year in 2016, noted DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

Corn development continued to speed along with NASS estimating that 81% of the crop was silking as of Sunday, 19 percentage points ahead of the five-year average pace of 62%. Corn in the dough stage was estimated at 18%, 10 percentage points ahead of 8% for both last year and the five-year average.

Meanwhile, soybean condition saw a slight increase from 69% good to excellent the previous week to 70% last week.

Soybean development also continued to run well ahead of normal, with NASS estimating 78% of the crop blooming as of Sunday, 15 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 63%. Forty-four percent of soybeans were estimated to be setting pods, 21 percentage points ahead of the five-year average pace of 23%.

“At the state level, both corn and soybeans showed slight improvement in Missouri, but were rated a little worse in Michigan,” Hultman said.

NASS estimated that 80% of winter wheat was harvested as of Sunday, behind last year’s pace of 83%, but slightly ahead of the five-year average of 79%.

Spring wheat was 96% headed as of Sunday, near last year’s 95% and slightly ahead of the five-year average of 93%. The condition of the crop slipped 1 percentage point from 80% good to excellent the previous week to 79% last week. That’s still the highest good-to-excellent rating for the crop for this time of year since 2010, Hultman said.

Sorghum was 42% headed as of Sunday, ahead of 37% last year and also ahead of the five-year average of 40%. Sorghum coloring was 22%, near 21% last year but behind the five-year average of 24%. Sorghum condition was rated 49% good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from 47% the previous week.

Barley was 94% headed as of Sunday, behind 96% last year and slightly behind the average pace of 95%. Barley condition fell 4 percentage from 85% good to excellent the previous week to 81% last week. Oats were 24% harvested as of Sunday, near 23% for both last year and the five-year average. Oat condition improved by 1 percentage point.

Rice was 46% headed as of Sunday, slightly behind 47% last year but ahead of the average of 41%. Cotton was 78% squaring, behind of the average of 81%. Forty-one percent of cotton was setting bolls, ahead of the average pace of 37%. Cotton condition was down 2 percentage points while rice’s good-to-excellent rating was up 2 percentage points.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Silking 81 63 63 62
Corn Dough 18 NA 8 8
Soybeans Blooming 78 65 67 63
Soybeans Setting Pods 44 26 27 23
Cotton Squaring 78 72 76 81
Cotton Setting Bolls 41 31 35 37
Sorghum Headed 42 31 37 40
Sorghum Coloring 22 19 21 24
Spring Wheat Headed 96 93 95 93
Winter Wheat Harvested 80 74 83 79
Rice Headed 46 32 47 41
Barley Headed 94 90 96 95
Oats Harvested 24 16 23 23

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Corn 3 6 19 50 22 3 6 19 51 21 4 8 26 49 13
Soybeans 2 6 22 52 18 2 6 23 53 16 4 10 29 47 10
Spring Wheat 1 3 17 65 14 1 3 16 67 13 21 19 27 28 5
Sorghum 5 11 35 44 5 5 12 36 43 4 2 6 33 52 7
Cotton 14 19 28 32 7 10 18 31 34 7 3 9 33 43 12
Rice 1 5 23 56 15 1 5 25 56 13 1 4 23 53 19
Oats 4 3 21 59 13 4 3 22 58 13 9 13 27 43 8
Barley 2 17 67 14 1 2 12 70 15 5 9 35 43 8

OMAHA — Good-to-excellent condition ratings for both corn and soybeans declined nationwide last week, according to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service’s weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

NASS estimated that 72% of the nation’s corn was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, July 15, down 3 percentage points from 75% the previous week.

“Hot and dry weather increased poor-to-very-poor ratings from Missouri to Texas,” said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman. “Michigan is also experiencing dry weather with 20% of their corn crop rated poor or very poor.”

Corn development continued to run well ahead of the average pace with NASS estimating that 63% of the crop was silking as of Sunday, 26 percentage points ahead of 37% for both last year and the five-year average.

Soybean condition also declined last week. The crop was rated 69% good to excellent on Sunday, down 2 percentage points from 71% the previous week. Poor-to-very-poor ratings increased in Missouri, Kansas and Michigan.

“Good-to-excellent ratings for both corn and soybeans are not as good as those seen in 2016, but are still significantly higher than a year ago,” Hultman said.

Like corn, soybean development was also running well ahead of normal, with NASS estimating 65% of the crop blooming as of Sunday, 20 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 45%. Twenty-six percent of soybeans were estimated to be setting pods, 15 percentage points ahead of the five-year average pace of 11%.

Meanwhile, NASS estimated that 74% of winter wheat was harvested as of Sunday, equal to last year’s pace of 74%, but slightly ahead of the five-year average of 71%.

Spring wheat was 93% headed as of Sunday, ahead of the last year’s 89% and also ahead of the five-year average of 85%. The condition of the crop held steady from the previous week at 80% good to excellent. That’s still the highest good-to-excellent rating for spring wheat for this time of year since 2010, Hultman noted.

Sorghum was 31% headed, equal to last year and near the five-year average of 32%. Sorghum coloring was 19%, near 20% for both last year and the five-year average. Sorghum condition slipped again from 51% good to excellent the previous week to 47% last week.

Barley was 90% headed as of Sunday, ahead of 87% last year and also ahead of the average pace of 88%. Oats were 96% headed, equal to last year and near the average pace of 95%. Sixteen percent of oats were harvested as of Sunday, ahead of 13% last year and also ahead of the five-year average of 14%.

Rice was 32% headed as of Sunday, near 31% last year and slightly ahead of the average of 29%. Cotton was 72% squaring, ahead of the average of 70%. Thirty-one percent of cotton was setting bolls, also ahead of the average pace of 24%. Cotton condition held steady last week while rice’s good-to-excellent rating dropped 3 percentage points.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Silking 63 37 37 37
Soybeans Blooming 65 47 49 45
Soybeans Setting Pods 26 11 15 11
Cotton Squaring 72 59 69 70
Cotton Setting Bolls 31 21 25 24
Sorghum Headed 31 25 31 32
Sorghum Coloring 19 17 20 20
Spring Wheat Headed 93 81 89 85
Winter Wheat Harvested 74 63 74 71
Rice Headed 32 21 31 29
Barley Headed 90 78 87 88
Oats Headed 96 91 96 95
Oats Harvested 16 10 13 14

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Corn 3 6 19 51 21 2 5 18 54 21 3 8 25 51 13
Soybeans 2 6 23 53 16 2 5 22 55 16 3 8 28 51 10
Spring Wheat 1 3 16 67 13 1 3 16 66 14 21 20 25 28 6
Sorghum 5 12 36 43 4 4 11 34 46 5 2 6 29 56 7
Cotton 10 18 31 34 7 8 19 32 34 7 1 9 30 46 14
Rice 1 5 25 56 13 1 5 22 59 13 1 4 25 46 24
Oats 4 3 22 58 13 3 3 21 60 13 9 13 27 42 9
Barley 1 2 12 70 15 1 2 12 68 17 8 10 29 43 10