House, Senate bills would close sodbuster loophole

Lawmakers from the Plains and Midwest filed companion bills in the House and Senate to discourage farmers from converting native sod into cropland nationwide by closing a crop insurance loophole. The legislation would require a reduction of crop-insurance subsidies for four years before producers could qualify for them.

Wildfire relief ordered by Trump becomes argument for Perdue confirmation

In response to fires that burned more than 1.5 million acres of rangeland in the southern Plains, the USDA opened the Conservation Reserve, normally off-limits to livestock, for grazing for the rest of the year in three states. The USDA said it acted at the direction of President Trump – a statement used to prod the Senate to vote on Trump's nominee for agriculture secretary.

Drought expands as spring reaches winter wheat areas

For the fifth week in a row, drought has expanded in the winter wheat-growing central and southern U.S. Plains, says USDA's Ag in Drought website. Some 26 percent of winter wheat land is moderate to severe drought, up 2 percentage points in a week.

Lesser prairie chicken will get another look from wildlife agency

Months after removing the lesser prairie chicken from its list of threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will "reconsider the status of a grouse found in pockets across the Great Plains," said the Associated Press. The agency agreed to conduct the review after environmentalists filed a petition that argued that emergency protection is needed for the lesser prairie chicken.

Heading into winter, drought forecast to spread in southern Plains

Drought will persist into the winter in the South and expand in the wheat-growing southern Plains, says the National Weather Service in a forecast running through Feb. 28. Some 30 percent of the nation already is in drought, and the past month has been very warm and dry east of the Rocky Mountains.

U.S. losing grasslands faster than deforestation in Brazil

The grasslands of the Great Plains, stretching from Texas into the Canadian prairies, are disappearing faster than the forests of Brazil as farmers try to cash in crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans. In a report released today, the World Wildlife Fund says 3.7 million acres of grassland were converted to cropland in 2015, more than twice as much as the 1.4 million acres of forestland in Brazil leveled for crops and livestock.

Farmland values decline for first time in seven years

The average value of farmland including all land and buildings dipped $10 to $3,010 per acre acre in 2016 from a year earlier, the first such decline in the U.S. since the recession of 2009, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in its annual Land Values Summary. Land values have been pressured by booming harvests and falling crop prices.

As crop income falls, farmers borrow more operating money

Farmers in the Midwest and Plains - the major regions for corn, wheat and soybean production - are borrowing money to pay short-term operating expenses because shrinking crop income makes it harder to pay cash, according to a survey of ag bankers.

Weaker farm income to pull down land value in Plains

Farm bankers in the central Plains "expect cropland values to fall alongside reduced expectations for farm income" this year, said the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank in its quarterly Agricultural Credit Conditions report.

Persistent drought in Plains, Southwest due to climate change

The Great Plains and U.S. Southwest, the hub of U.S. wheat and cattle production, will face persistent drought during the second half of this century that will be "worse than anything seen" and due primarily to climate change caused by humans, says a study by...

More than a third of winter wheat is in drought

Some 37 percent of the winter wheat area, mainly the southern Plains, mid-South and inland sections of the Pacific Northwest, is under drought, says a monthly summary by USDA chief meteorologist Brad Rippey.

Sticker shock in southern Plains, mid-South for SCO

Growers in the southern Plains and the mid-South express sticker shock at the price of the new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), created by the 2014 farm law to allow growers to boost their level of revenue protection, says DTN.

Wind carries antibiotics and bacteria from feedlots

Researchers at Texas Tech "found evidence of antibiotics, feedlot-derived bacteria and DNA sequences that encode for antibiotic resistance" in air samples taken near cattle feedlots in the southern High Plains, says Feedstuffs.

Land rental rates to drop 16 percent in Midwest and Plains

Bankers in a 10-state swath from Illinois and Iowa to Colorado and Wyoming "expect 2015 cash rents for farmland to decline to $214 per acre, down significantly from last year's $254," said Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet Index.

Winter outlook-Drought in Plains, California and Northwest

Drought will persist or intensify during winter in Washington state, Oregon and the northern two-thirds of California as well as the wheat-growing southern Plains, forecasts the National Weather Service.

Farmland values dip in Midwest and Plains

Land prices declined in 12 Midwestern and Plains states but held steady or improved slightly in the South according to Farmers National Co, a farm management and real estate company, says AgWeb.

Northern Plains grow a lot more grain than they used to

A huge increase in grain production in the Northern Plains over the past decade is an unspoken factor in the transportation snarls reported in the region, says economist David Widmar in the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

Larger US winter wheat crop expected in 2015

U.S. wheat growers will reap a crop of 1.57 billion bushels, up 14 percent from this year, according to forecaster Lanworth, says Reuters. The increase would be driven by higher yields as the central and southern Plains rebound for devastating drought.

Farm income “has fallen short of previous years”

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.

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