Midwest

EPA approves year-round E15 in Midwest beginning in 2025

Nearly two years after a receiving a petition from eight governors, the Environmental Protection Agency approved on Thursday the year-round sale of higher-blend E15 gasoline in the Midwest, beginning in 2025. Corn growers and ethanol groups said temporary waivers will be needed for E15 again this summer, because otherwise sales will be banned in most of the country under air pollution laws.

Drought more widespread in corn and soybean areas than wheat territory

Half of U.S. corn and soybean territory is in drought, compared to one-third of wheat land, said weekly drought reports on Thursday. Drought is far less prevalent for winter wheat than it was a year ago, while conditions for soybeans are little changed and corn has seen an 11 percentage point decline, said the USDA’s Ag in Drought report.

Farm workforce is aging rapidly in northern U.S.

The average age of farmworkers in the Plains and upper Midwest is rising at a much faster rate than in the rest of the country, said the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank on Thursday. Most of the farmworkers in the Minneapolis district, stretching from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Montana, were born in the United States.

Navigator cancels Midwest carbon pipeline

Navigator CO2 said it canceled its 1,350-mile carbon pipeline because of "unpredictable ... regulatory and government processes" in the five Midwestern states the pipeline would cross. The Heartland Greenway pipeline was among three projects proposed to capture carbon dioxide, mainly from ethanol plants, and transport it through pipelines for injection thousands of feet underground.

Drought spreads across the corn and soybean belt

Drought covers large portions of the Midwest from Ohio to the Missouri River, said the weekly Drought Monitor on Thursday. Less than an inch of rain fell in eastern Nebraska during May, and half of Illinois was in drought, an increase of 20 points in one week.

Midwest cattle farmers embrace pea crop

The Midwest has long been known for its vast fields of corn and soybeans, but there is a new crop on the rise — peas. With growing consumer demand for sustainable and plant-based protein options, farmers are adding peas as a crop rotation because it's profitable, drought tolerant and can improve soil health.

Ohio is hit hardest as bird flu returns to the Midwest

After a summertime lull, bird flu is back in the Midwest, the heart of U.S. egg and turkey production, with outbreaks at commercial poultry farms in Minnesota and Ohio since Sept. 1. Some 43.85 million birds have been culled this year due to highly pathogenic avian influenza, and one analyst says turkey and egg prices may remain elevated for some time to come.

Corn Belt sees ‘rapid onset of drought’

Fifteen percent of the Midwest is affected by drought, twice as much of the region as a week ago, said the Drought Monitor on Thursday, as corn and soybean crops entered their reproductive stages. Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri had the largest increases, up 10 percentage points or more.

Group funds half a million acres of cover crops in Midwest

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced $2.6 million in grants on Wednesday to help farmers plant cover crops across 500,000 acres in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Farmland values soar more than 20 percent in Midwest and Plains

Strong agricultural income and favorable interest rates are fueling a nonstop climb in farmland values in the Plains and Midwest, said farm bankers in quarterly surveys by the Kansas City and Chicago Federal Reserve banks. The Chicago Fed said farmland values in the opening months of this year were 23 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2021; the increase was 24 percent for non-irrigated land in the Plains.

Report: Crop insurance premiums could skyrocket as climate change intensifies 

Taxpayers shelled out nearly $40 billion in crop insurance premiums in the Mississippi River region between 2001 and 2020, and that number is expected to increase sharply as climate change intensifies, according to an analysis of Department of Agriculture data by the Environmental Working Group that was released Wednesday. 

Biggest rise in Midwest land values in over a decade

Agricultural bankers reported a 22 percent increase in farmland values in the central Corn Belt during 2021, and they expect values to continue to rise in the opening months of this year, said the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank on Thursday.

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

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.

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