Midwest Ag Report
Sept. 19, 2014
Midwest Ag Report
Gathering a life
Community solar array
House votes
Lower corn prices
Americans' taste

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Gathering a life

Living on the farm means there's always something to do. Working for a farm paper means there's always something to write about. Then combine the two, and sometimes I catch myself coming and going.

I apologize for missing a few weeks of Midwest Ag Report, but I have been driving all over the countryside getting some great stories and hearing from some great people about agriculture.

They say when you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life. I am truly blessed to bring you news about new research and development in growing crops, running machinery and raising livestock.

Farmers and ranchers are the foundation of this country. Too often people forget where we would be without food, feed, fuel and fiber. Even when we are in the industry, it's a good idea to be reminded of what a large job we have and how thankful we need to be to live and raise our families in the agricultural lifestyle.

  

--Jennifer Carrico 

 

headlinesTagAg News Headlines
for the
week ending Sept. 19, 2014     
  • Community solar array construction begins  
  • House votes to block EPA water rules
  • Lower corn prices may lower cash rent prices          
  • Americans' taste for beef continues, even at historically high prices  

Community solar array construction begins 

 

Groundbreaking on a new type of farm was held recently north of Colby, Kansas.

 

Kansas's first community solar farm-or array-operated by Hays-based Midwest Energy, Inc., (MWE) and Carbondale, Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective (CEC), will be the nation's largest solar tracking community solar array, soon to provide 1.2 megawatts of locally-produced clean energy production available to Midwest Energy (MWE) customers throughout central and western Kansas.

 

Responding to its members' demand for more energy derived from renewables, MWE Board Chairman John Blackwell said the utility was excited to be the first in Kansas to offer community-owned solar.

 

Community solar arrays are centralized photovoltaic power facilities that deliver reliable, commercial-scale renewable energy to an electric utility's grid. The utility's customers, including residences, businesses and tax-exempt entities, can own or lease solar panels in the array without having to install panels on their own rooftop or property.

 

The solar tracking array feature will be a bonus, since the array's panels will not be fixed but capable of moving with the sun as it moves across the sky, enabling the panels to have a longer period of use throughout a day.


(Read more)

House votes to block EPA water rules 

 

WASHINGTON (AP)--The Republican-controlled House Sept. 9 approved a bill to block the Obama administration from implementing a rule that asserts regulatory authority over many of the nation's streams and wetlands-an action that critics call a classic Washington overreach.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the "Waters of the United States" rule that says will clarify which streams and waterways are shielded from development under the Clean Water Act, an issue that remains in dispute even after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

 

Agriculture groups and farm-state politicians call the proposed rule a power grab that would allow the government to dictate what farmers can do on their own land. They said the rule is an example of governmental interference by bureaucrats who don't know as much as farmers and ranchers do about how to be good stewards of their land.

 

The EPA proposal would have "devastating consequences on every major aspect of the economy," from farming to manufacturing and road-building, said Rep. Steve Southerland, R-FL, said. Southerland is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would block the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing or finalizing the proposed rule.

 

The House approved the bill, 262 to 152. Thirty-five Democrats joined 227 Republicans to support the bill. Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, was the sole Republican to oppose it.


(Read more

 

Lower corn prices may lower cash rent prices 

 

Missouri cash rent prices for cropland could drop in the next few years due to lower corn and bean prices, says Joe Koenen, University of Missouri (MU) Extension agricultural business specialist.

 

Landowners attending an MU Extension webinar on leasing discussed Missouri cash rent county estimates released Sept. 5 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 

Estimates from 2014 increased slightly from 2013, Koenen said. Landowners in the Linneus area talked about ways to work with renters in view of USDA's predictions of $3.25 per bushel corn, less than half of the $8 price fetched in 2012.

 

Landowners will face pressure to drop cash rent prices based on USDA and MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute predictions that corn income could drop 35 to 40 percent next year compared to just two years ago.

 

Koenen said landlords might consider assisting renters through options such as paying for lime for cropland. Another option a few landowners are using is flex rent, based on a formula that includes a base rent and weighting additional rent based on varying yield and crop prices.

 

Driven by absentee landowners, a volatile farm economy and increased competition for land, more land is being rented now through cash rent per acre rather than the system of sharing of profits and expenses called crop sharing.


(Read more)
Americans' taste for beef continues, even at historically high prices

 

Beef continues to be on shoppers' grocery lists, even as prices have soared to record highs this year. That says a lot about Americans' appetite for beef, said Kansas State University (K-State) agricultural economist Glynn Tonsor.

 

"On the demand side, the second quarter-April through June-was the best quarter for beef and pork demand in 10 years; better than expected, especially in view of historically high prices," said Tonsor, livestock marketing specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

 

Speaking at the 2014 K-State Risk and Profit Conference in Manhattan Aug. 21, Tonsor said beef demand in 2014 was stronger than in 2013, and stronger than most industry watchers expected, including him.

 

"If the price of beef was up 3 percent, I would have said demand was flat," he said. "But, prices have been up 10 percent, and people are still buying beef."

 

The fact prices notably exceeded the increase expected given the reduced volume consumed highlights the magnitude of beef demand strength.


(Read more)

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