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U.S. farmers will have to spend roughly 30 percent more next spring to plant corn and soybeans due to soaring energy prices driving up the cost of fertilizer, according to a University of Illinois study.
As a result, consumers will likely pay higher prices for everything from bread to milk to meat.
The cost to plant corn next spring will be $529 per acre, up 36 percent from 2008 and up 85 percent from the five-year average $286 per acre, said Gary Schnitkey, an agricultural economist who conducts the annual survey of expenses excluding land costs.
At $321 an acre, soybean input costs
Russia may pull out of trade deals
Amid fraying trade relations between Moscow and Washington, Russia said it would slash U.S. import quotas for chicken and pork, both big export products to the region from the U.S, reported the Wall Street Journal.
After U.S. officials said Russia’s war with Georgia had cast doubt on Russia’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO), Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last Monday called for pulling out of trade deals that Russia had signed when it was expecting quick admission into the trade body.
Then Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said last Wednesday that Moscow plans to
—Argument shifting from bushels to acres
Heavy rains flooded Midwestern cornfields in June, raising questions about what a severely crippled corn crop would mean to the ethanol industry. But improved seed hybrids and ideal weather may be turning the food-versus-fuel debate on its head.
An August USDA production forecast of a 12.3-billion-bushel corn crop in the face of seemingly catastrophic corn losses in some parts of the Corn Belt has left ethanol supporters scratching their heads.
"It was surprisingly high," said Rick Tolman, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). "Every year we have better germplasm traits that make that plant less
USDA will not allow landowners to take acres out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) early unless the landowner agrees to pay the normal early-out penalties for breaking a contract, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said last Tuesday.
Schafer said the decision not to allow early out "strikes the best possible balance between supporting programs that protect our natural resources and meeting the nation’s need for grain production." The decision effectively means farmers wanting to void a CRP contract for 2009 crops would have to pay the USDA penalties to do so.
In choosing to stand pat on CRP, Schafer said USDA completed
Business advisor: 16 ethanol plants filing bankruptcy, many more to come
The U.S. ethanol industry is in trouble and can expect to see a rash of bankruptcies and dismantling of at least some production, according to a specialist who helps companies in distress.
Alex Moglia, president of Moglia Advisors based in the Chicago area, said he knows of at least 16 ethanol companies that are filing for bankruptcy, and there will be at least two to three times that number filing within the next year.
Though he declined to give the names of companies involved, Moglia said, "There’s a whole host of them
Wheat not yet cost-effective corn alternative
Amid fears that flood-induced acreage losses will push corn prices even higher, livestock producers are considering their options to find the least-cost feed rations for their herds.
For now, wheat prices are too high to be considered a cost-effective alternative for corn, but that could change as flood damage is assessed and corn acreages losses calculated.
"How this all turns out in the end will depend on what happens with the corn crop and the price of corn," said Gary Vocke, ag economist for USDA’s Economic Research Service.
"We don’t know the result of all this flooding, what
Small businesses search for next generation fuel feedstocks
Robert Byrnes has all the proof he needs that biodiesel from camelina, restaurant waste and animal fat is a viable fuel source. To testify before Congress on recently, Byrnes made the 1,200 mile trek to the nation’s capital without using a drop of petroleum. Byrnes, a farmer from Oakland, NE, powered his Jeep using only farm-made biodiesel.
He was one of five expert witnesses testifying before the House Subcommittee on Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship on second generation biofuels and their effects on America’s small businesses.
"The idea was to try and quantify the potential opportunities,"
Farmers prepare for higher fuel costs
Central Iowa corn and soybean farmer Charles Helland usually waits until closer to fall before securing his fuel needs for the season, but this year he’s planning to firm up fuel needs in the next week or so.
"In the past, fuel costs haven’t varied that much from the beginning of summer to the end, so it wasn’t much of an issue,"" said Helland, who farms with his brother Mike near Huxley, IA. "But in these markets, who knows how high the price of diesel will be come fall?"
Early-bird buying isn’t the only new habit for
Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Inc. (CME) said it would increase
the value of its $10 billion bid for the Chicago Board of Trade by
adding a special dividend for owners of CBOT Holdings Inc. (BOT).
The move, announced last Thursday, is designed to respond to a similar
proposal from IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE), which is pursuing a
hostile bid for CBOT, the owner of the country’s oldest futures
Shortly afterward, CBOT said it had rejected ICE’s latest offer. In its
announcement, which followed a meeting of CBOT’s board, CBOT said the
revised bid isn’t superior to its revised agreement with
That’s 15 percent of the federally controlled water in California, which
would make it the largest grant to irrigators since the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation was created in 1903, agency officials said.
The Westlands Water District, a coalition of giant agribusinesses in the
fertile San Joaquin Valley, draws its water from the Central Valley
Project, a vast irrigation system that also supplies drinking water to
about 1 million households.
If drought-like conditions persist in the West, a deal would guarantee
the farmers’ irrigation pumps will flow, even if that means some cities
in the San Francisco Bay area will get
Working to heighten public awareness on the Bush administration’s
efforts to improve the safety of imports, two cabinet secretaries toured
a small meat plant on Sept. 12 to talk about the importance of high
Cracks in import safety have become a national
focus this year with recalls ranging from pet foods to children’s toys.
It has led to a political and consumer backlash that will place more
demands on businesses and government officials to ensure foreign
products are safe. The demands, however, are stressing the inspection
system as the global economy and more trade deals open up U.S. ports