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  • DES MOINES, Iowa (Agriculture.com)—The U.S. corn crop's condition is improving, while the soybean ratings hold steady compared to last week, according to the USDA Monday.In its Weekly Crop Progress Report, the USDA rated the U.S. corn as 70% good/excellent, vs. 69% a week ago. The crop remains behind the five-year good/excellent average of 75%. Also, 78% of the corn crop is silking vs. 55% a week ago. The USDA sees 14% of the U.S. crop in the dough stage, compared with the 17% five-year average.USDA rated the U.S. soybean crop as 62% good/excellent, equal to a week ago and behind a 71% rating a year ago. The U.S. Winter Wheat Harvest is 85% complete, compared with 75% a week ago.Al Kluis, Kluis  Commodities, says the report will be neutral to negative for corn’s market overnight tonight. The report data could be neutral-to-slightly positive for soybeans, he says.“For corn, the best crops are in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The problems are in the central and eastern Corn Belt. The 70% good to excellent rating compares to 75% last year.    For soybeans, the excellent ratings dropped by 1% and the good ratings went up by 1%. “This compares to 71% rated good to excellent last year. The crop is not as large as last year,” Kluis says.

  • Welcome to the Procrastinators for Ethanol Web Page!You’ve had much of the summer to comment for or against the EPA’s proposed rule for blending obligations for ethanol and biodiesel for 2014, 2015, 2016 and (for biodiesel only) 2017. You have only hours left to do so.Today, at 11:59 p.m. EDT, the federal government will stop taking comments at this Regulations.gov Web page. Just hit the “Comment Now!” button, and you’ll be given considerably more space than allowed by Twitter; you'll have 5,000 characters to weigh in on one of the EPA’s hottest topics. Most farm groups and biofuels supporters see the proposed rule, announced on May 29, as a significant delay in blending obligations (called renewable volume obligations, or RVOs) compared to the original renewable fuel standard (RFS) authorized by Congress in a 2007 energy law. Groups representing the petroleum industry, motorcyclists, and small-engine users say the rule goes too far.The ethanol lobbying group, Growth Energy, also has a page with suggested letters that can be emailed to EPA.If you want to stay silent, or on the fence, the Regulations.gov already counts some 47,000 comments. You can also view them, with a sampling that includes support from the Kansas Farm Bureau and opposition from a New Jersey boat owner who fears a flood of E15 if EPA ramps up its requirements, which, according to EPA, would barely cross the 10% threshold next year.In Washington, D.C., today, representatives from Fuels America and other advocates of biofuels delivered over 200,000 comments to the EPA in support of a strong final rule under the Renewable Fuel Standard. “The Renewable Fuel Standard represents a promise to rural America — a promise that, when kept, helped rural economies across America make a strong comeback," said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union and one of the Fuels America members who dropped comments off at the EPA this morning. “Today’s tremendous show of support for a strong RFS shows that it is time for the EPA to stop choosing foreign oil over rural America, and start getting the RFS back on track.”Another member of the Fuels America group, Erick Lutt of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said that EPA’s long-delayed rule has already cost biofuel makers.  “The EPA is already responsible for $13.7 billion in frozen investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, and we’re risking sending jobs, innovation, and investment overseas,” Lutt said. “We can’t afford any more setbacks. The EPA must set RVOs consistent with Congress’ original intent in order to bring investment back to America and allow our country’s innovators to continue developing clean, secure American energy.”

  • A bill that would pre-empt state laws requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods passed the House of Representatives Thursday. It would replace any mandatory GMO labeling laws with a voluntary labeling program for nonGMO foods similar to the one for organic labeling that’s now run by the USDA. The Senate Agriculture Committee hasn’t yet advanced a companion bill introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), so the existing state GMO labeling laws in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut haven’t been voided yet.Still, a host of agricultural groups hailed the House vote.“The passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is a significant victory for the freedom of soybean farmers to make the most of the broad range of advances that biotechnology provides for our industry,” said Wade Cowan, American Soybean Association President and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. ASA pointed out that the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act also  would require developers of genetically engineered plants to obtain Food and Drug Administration safety clearance on all new plant varieties before those foods are introduced into commerce; uphold FDA’s authority to specify special labeling if it finds a health or safety risk is posed by such a variety; create a legal framework governing the use of label claims regarding either the absence or presence of GMOs in a food product; require FDA to define the term ‘natural’ on food labels.But, as supporters of the bill in Congress pointed out, so far, there isn’t any safety risk from, GMO foods, sometimes also called GE foods, for genetically engineered.“Some argue, due to their concerns about GE food safety, that mandatory labeling is needed. The fact is that the data simply doesn’t support their claim. Hundreds of scientific, peer reviewed studies have found GE foods are just as safe and nutritious as non-GE foods,” said Representative Tim Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota who voted for the bill. “That being the case, I do understand folks who want more information on their label. That is why this bill works, because it creates certainty across the country and will give consumers’ confidence that a product labeled ‘non-GE’ will be certified by the USDA.”Walz serves on the House Agriculture Committee, which produced the bill that was backed by leaders from both parties, Chairman Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, and ranking member Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota. It was opposed by some Democrats, including Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who is the former chair of the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill passed by a 275-150 vote.The bill also drew praise from the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, whose president, Bob Stallman, said in a statement: “Congress stood with farmers and ranchers today in supporting innovation that helps the environment and keeps food prices down for everyone. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would protect consumers from confusing and misleading GMO labels and create a national, voluntary labeling standard based on science and common sense.” 

  • The southern and eastern regions of the Midwest continue to experience extremely wet conditions with above normal rainfall over the last 45 days, while areas of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska have seen significantly less precipitation. Fields in western and northcentral Iowa have seen a deficit of about 2-3 inches of rain within the last few weeks, but milder temperatures are preventing significant yield loss, according to MDA Weather Services senior agriculture meteorologist, Kyle Tapley. “Rains are expected to increase some in Iowa tomorrow through Monday, which should ease some of the dryness, but the rains will likely not be enough to completely replenish soil moisture,” explains Tapley. Dry patches in eastern South Dakota and southeastern Nebraska should see showers early next week to help offset arid conditions.The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor reports abnormal drought conditions in areas of northwest Iowa, eastern South Dakota and southeast North Dakota. Overall, the central U.S. remains drought-free. Click here for the latest U.S. Drought Monitor update.

 

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