The Trump administration proposed a Renewable Fuel Standard of 20.04 billion gallons for 2020, meaning no change in corn ethanol's share of the gasoline market for cars and light trucks, while the share of that market going to cleaner-burning cellulosic ethanol, made from grass and woody plants, will increase by 120 million gallons. Farm groups and biofuel makers, who opened the summer with a celebration that higher-blend E15 was approved for year-round sale, said the EPA bowed to Big Oil.
Main Street businesses in the Plains are feeling the pinch of lower commodity prices while producers throughout the Farm Belt are watching their pennies, said quarterly reports from three regional Federal Reserve banks.
Crop farmers are seeing much lower incomes this year, down by an average 25 percent in the Plains, according to agricultural bankers in the Farm Belt.
The EPA cleared the Dow weedkiller Enlist Duo, which contains the herbicides glyphosate and 2,4-D, for use on genetically engineered corn and soybean in six Farm Belt states. "This action provides an additional tool for the agricultural community to manage resistant weeds," it said. EPA will decide later whether to register the weedkiller for use in the rest of the major corn and soybean states. On Sept 17, USDA approved the GE corn and soybean strains created by Dow to tolerate the herbicide.
Farmers and ranchers are tightening their purse strings and spending less in town, say farm bankers across the Farm Belt. With farm income down due to sharply lower commodity prices, cutbacks are expected to continue into the fall at a minimum.
Rapidly spreading palmer amaranth is the headliner among a list of 16 types of weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides.
With a wet and cool spring in the Farm Belt, "it would not be surprising for (corn) acreage to fall short of intentions, particularly in northern growing areas," says economist Darrel Good of U-Illinois at farmdocdaily, unless corn prices improve.
The National Weather Service forecasts more precipitation than usual in the Midwest, the Plains and the Pacific Northwest for late April, which could delay spring planting but relieve dry conditions in the western Corn Belt and the central and southern Plains.
Nothing says spring planting like snowfall across the upper Midwest in mid-April, does it? Up to five inches of snow fell in north central Wisconsin on Monday with forecasts of an inch or two of snow today in Detroit and Toledo.