Need a quick catch-up on the news this week? Here are 7 agricultural stories you might have missed.
1. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has cast himself as a champion of workers, while Sen. Chuck Grassley is a champion of ethanol. The two are feuding over the Renewable Fuels Standard, a 13-year-old federal law that requires the petroleum industry to blend a certain amount of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation’s motor fuel supply. President Trump held two meetings this week with senators representing oil and ethanol interests, with no agreement announced. Another meeting is reportedly planned for next week. – Wallaces Farmer
2. There were 2.07 million head of cattle placed in feedlots with capacity for 1,000 or more head during January, which was 4.4% more than the previous year. Most expected placements to be even with last year or slightly less, given the drought-forced early placements of recent months. – Beef Magazine
3. Two Trump administration nominees were confirmed this week after senators lifted holds on their nomination. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey was confirmed for a post at USDA and Gregory Doud of Kansas was approved as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. – Farm Futures
4. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has released a report summarizing key findings from 10 water quality town hall meetings that were held between July and October 2017. Top concerns and strategies include: Improving water quality education and engagement for residents, reducing water runoff by holding more water on the land through various water quality projects and practices, reducing pollutants to protect drinking water, addressing failed and aging wastewater infrastructure needs and identifying long-term sustainable funding for clean water projects. – The Farmer
5. President Trump is slapping tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The tariffs will be 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. He said the tariffs will last for “a long period of time.” At this time, it appears farm group support for Trump remains strong, but the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates put out a statement expressing concern about the risks of retaliation. – Farm Futures
6. Weaker dairy product prices have pushed milk prices lower. The Class III price peaked in November at $16.88 and fell to $14 in January. It will be $13.50 in February. But Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy economist, says the Class III price could reach about $14.25 in March. – Wisconsin Agriculturalist
7. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took the podium at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., to assure farmers he has their back when it comes to supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard. He also expressed strong support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. – Farm Futures
And your bonus.
2017 Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemakers Clifton and Kathy Heiniger of Brown County, Kansas, sell fresh pork direct from the farm, participate in the value-added program Laura’s Lean All-Natural Beef, and are one of the original investors in the Golden Triangle Energy ethanol plant in Craig, Mo. – Kansas Farmer