Pence tells Iowa, ‘I came … to turn up the heat’ on USMCA

Time is running short for President Trump to win congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement this year, with lawmakers set to work just eight weeks before adjourning in early December. Vice President Mike Pence called on House Democrats on Wednesday to set aside their “partisan impeachment” inquiry and approve the USMCA.

Largest ethanol maker closes Indiana plant, blames EPA waivers

At the same time that POET, the largest U.S. ethanol maker, said it was forced to shut down an Indiana plant due to EPA “mismanagement” of the ethanol mandate, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said that “farmers feel the government isn’t keeping its word” on biofuels.

For the second time, Nebraska has top U.S. farm district

Stretching from Wyoming to Iowa and larger in area than New York State, Nebraska’s 3rd congressional district is again the No. 1 farm district in the nation, with $16.6 billion in crop and livestock production, says the new edition of the Census of Agriculture.

Inside the movement to convert Iowa farmers into climate evangelists

A faith-based nonprofit group is mobilizing farmers across Iowa to become evangelists in the movement to battle climate change — and it is getting a welcome reception, according to FERN’s latest story, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones. The story, written by Brian Barth, says the Iowa branch of Interfaith Power and Light convened a series of meetings, aiming “to round up a 100-strong squad of farmers who are willing to speak publicly about agriculture as a climate solution” ahead of the 2020 presidential caucuses in Iowa. (No paywall)

First the Trump tariff payments and then the trade deals, says president

The government will send billions of dollars in trade war payments to farmers over the next two months or so, said President Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, with the promise of booming business with China, Japan and Mexico in the near future. “Within a year and a half, I would say, you’ll …

Corn and soybean planting is half of normal due to wet spring

Wet weather is holding corn and soybean planting far behind usual rates for the first week in May, the USDA said Monday. Economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois said on social media that half of the corn crop must be planted in the next two weeks to avoid the large yield losses that accompany later-than-optimal seeding.

Many water wells in Iowa tainted by farm runoff, report finds

More than 40 percent of private wells tested positive for coliform bacteria at least once over a 16-year period, according to a new study of Iowa state records by the Environmental Working Group and the Iowa Environmental Council.

Central figure in Iowa nutrient runoff case, Bill Stowe, dies of cancer

Bill Stowe, a central figure in the 2015 lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works that tried to hold drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties responsible for nutrient runoff from farms, died of cancer on Sunday at age 60. He retired as general manager of the utility on April 2 because of the illness, said the Des Moines Register.

Beef packing merger threatens last competitive cash cattle market in U.S.

Last month, the nation’s fourth-largest beef packer, National Beef, announced plans to take over Sysco-owned Iowa Premium, a regional packer focused on processing Black Angus steers for the Upper Midwest. National Beef is majority-owned by the Brazilian firm Marfrig. (No paywall)