Drought expands in upper Midwest

Warm and dry weather brought "widespread worsening of drought and dryness" to the upper Midwest in the past week, particularly in Iowa and Wisconsin, said the Drought Monitor.

Ten and done, says midwestern Democrat in House

Approaching her 60th birthday, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, announced she will retire in 2022 after 10 years in the House. "It will be a new decade and I feel it's time for a new voice," said Bustos. Her decision also reflected the shrinking influence of the farm and industrial heartland in the House.

Unusually dry, or worse, in half of Midwest

Large swaths of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are abnormally dry and most of Michigan is in moderate drought due to limited spring precipitation, said the weekly Drought Monitor on Thursday. Arid conditions covered 48 percent of the Midwest, the heart of U.S. corn and soybean production.

Midwestern Senators ask, ‘Where’s our ethanol deal?’

Roughly ten days ago, Midwestern senators left a meeting with President Trump believing they had an agreement to solidify corn ethanol’s share of the gasoline market. Yet Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday he had no idea why the administration has not announced the plan, arguing “it ought …

Controversial pesticide use sees dramatic increase across the Midwest

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount. Nationwide, the use of glyphosate on crops increased from 13.9 million pounds in 1992 to 287 million pounds in 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey. (No paywall)

Can Syrian seeds save climate-challenged U.S. wheat?

When the seed bank in Tal Hadya, Syria, was threatened with destruction in the civil war that has engulfed that country, the seeds were smuggled out. Now, some those seeds — from wild wheat relatives in the Fertile Crescent — are being planted in the American Midwest in the hopes that they can protect the U.S. wheat crop from the pests and disease brought by a changing climate, according to FERN’s latest story, published with Yale Environment 360. No paywall

Midwest senators warn Trump against ethanol poison pill

Five corn-state senators want to meet President Trump face to face to warn him against the oil industry's proposal of a cap on the price of RINs, the credits that refiners must buy if they don't blend enough ethanol into gasoline. Oil-state senators, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, say the cap is needed to preserve jobs at oil refineries; midwesterners say it would destroy the market for corn ethanol.

Midwestern states don’t believe in pesticide buffers around schools

Hundreds of schools in the Midwest "nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds," but states "do not require any kind of buffer zones and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed," says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Nine states in other parts of the country, with California the most prominent, have laws that mandate buffer zones.

Bustos recipe for Democratic success in the Midwest: Bread-and-butter issues

A report co-authored by Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois says that “national Democrats must acknowledge and stay focused on the bread-and-butter challenges facing hardworking families” to gain the rural and working-class support vital to winning elections in the Midwest.

Cheeseheads fight to keep Wisconsin’s ‘dairyland’ reputation

Some in Wisconsin’s business community are calling for a change to the state slogan, “America’s Dairyland.” But when a news channel caught Kurt Bauer, head of the advocacy group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, arguing for a more “contemporary” phrase at a statewide meeting for business leaders, the public outcry was quick and loud. So much so that Bauer refused to be interviewed for a story on NPR.