The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an emergency motion for an immediate cutoff of farmer use of the weedkiller dicamba, a victory for the EPA plan to allow spraying of the herbicide on GE soybeans and cotton through July 31. The court voided EPA approval of versions of dicamba sold by Bayer, BASF and Corteva on June 3; a few days later, the EPA said farmers could use stocks already on the farm through the end of July.
With the Sino-U.S. trade war unresolved, the Trump administration released $3.625 billion in trade-war payments to farmers and ranchers on Friday to offset losses on 2019 production. Payments will begin this week and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said they "will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving.”
Cotton growers plan to expand their plantings by a sharp 3 percent this spring, taking away land from soybeans, the most prominent casualty of the Sino-U.S. trade war, said the National Cotton Council over the weekend. Meanwhile, the USDA said the soybean stockpile will double in size by the time this year's crop is ready to harvest, creating the largest "carryover" ever.
For Georgia farmers, Hurricane Michael is "the most widespread and devastating hurricane in recollection," said state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. More than 92 poultry barns, housing more than 2 million birds, were destroyed; cotton growers suffered massive losses; and pecan growers lost trees for the third year in a row to a hurricane.
One of the world's largest grain companies warned of a "skinny export season" for U.S. soybeans and an intergovernmental body said the United States might need to seek new markets for its cotton due to President Trump's trade war with China. Meanwhile, the Trump administration threatened on Wednesday to put 25-percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports as leverage for reform.
The House and Senate made relatively few changes to the farm program in passing separate versions of the new farm bill. The next step is to reconcile differences in the bills, and the cotton industry's desire to protect its subsidies is just one of a long list of likely flashpoints.
For the second time, the Agriculture Department will give cotton growers up to $40,000 each to offset low market prices, with payments keyed to the local cost of separating cotton fiber from its seed. The new cotton ginning cost-share payments will cover the 2016 crop. The USDA offered $300 million in aid for 2015 cotton when the Obama administration created the supposed one-time assistance.
In a new study, published in the December 2017 issue of the journal Weed Science, University of Wyoming weed scientist Andrew Kniss finds that GE corn does not produce increased herbicide resistance in weeds relative to non-GE crops, but that soybean and cotton plantings do — but only to a limited extent. (No paywall)
State officials in Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee have received hundreds of complaints blaming the weedkiller dicamba for damage to oak trees this summer, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Usage of dicamba — and complaints of crop damage — has increased with the release of soybean and cotton varieties genetically modified to tolerate doses of the chemical.
Cotton production is rising in all of the major nations growing the fiber, and the United States is leading the way with a 23-percent increase, says the International Cotton Advisory Committee. The large crop, forecast by ICAC as 10-percent larger than in 2016/17, will drive down the season-average price to 69 cents a pound, a drop of 14 cents.