Farming

Farmers Seek Delay For Hazardous Air Emission Rule

Nov 14, 2017

Chicken and hog farmers want a federal court to delay a rule that would require they report certain hazardous air emissions from manure pits, but Hoosier farmers aren’t sure how they’d comply with the rule if it goes into effect.

A federal court ruled last April farms were not exempt from a 2008 Environmental Protection Agency rule regulating hazardous air emissions. The ruling takes effect Nov. 15, but Indiana Pork Producers executive director Josh Trenary says the EPA and ag industry groups want a delay.

A legislative study committee this week will wrap up its examination of the state’s confined animal feeding operations — barns that feed hundreds to thousands of animals, such as pigs, cows and chickens.

The hearings have drawn impassioned testimony from supporters and opponents alike. Many crop farmers say the extra income from CAFOs helps keep family farms alive. But opponents say CAFOs can pollute waterways and emit a debilitating odor.

Committee chair Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) says there is a place for large-scale animal agriculture in Indiana.

Indiana is partway into a record-setting cash crop harvest – but months of uneven weather conditions have put some farmers behind.

The state’s soybean crop is 42 percent harvested as of this week, about the same as average. But the corn crop lags at just 24 percent.

Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen says wet weather earlier this year forced some farmers to plant late or replant their crops, and cool August temperatures lengthened the growing season.

Farmers in Indiana and across the nation are using more of a powerful, but controversial, weed killer this year — dicamba.

Dicamba has been used since at least the 1960s, mostly on corn. Last year, though, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a new type of dicamba to use on cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist the weed killer.

Don Lamb, who operates an 8,800 acre farm in Lebanon, says the new dicamba has created a problem.

Indiana is set to have unexpectedly big corn and soybean harvests this fall. That means continued tight profit margins for farmers and more low food prices for consumers.

Purdue University agronomists made their annual announcement of the state’s crop production forecast at the State Fair Thursday.

They say yields should better than expected, after weeks of wet, patchy weather. But economist Chris Hurt says that extra supply for the same demand will mean bad prices for Hoosier farmers.

A partnership between food banks and Ivy Tech is providing healthy produce to people around the state. The sweet corn project began two years ago when Ivy Tech’s Terre Haute campus launched a hands-on field experiment for students.

The Terre Haute agriculture program teaches modern farming technology. Its corn yield kept growing so the campus donated to local food banks.

Becky Miller with the Ivy Tech Foundation says, this summer, students planted three different fields.

The Indiana State Fair, starting Friday, provides a nearly month-long showcase for Hoosier agriculture. As that industry has changed, its role at the fair has stayed much the same.

Every year, Hoosiers get to try Indiana-grown wares of all kinds at the State Fair. They get to see 4-H participants show off their small flocks and exhibition animals.

What’s interesting, says Indiana State Poultry Association executive vice president Paul Brennan, is that it’s all evolved and modernized far less than the state’s major agriculture sectors themselves.

Half a dozen homeowners in rural Bartholomew County will get to pay less in property taxes because they live near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

The decision comes about a year after the families in the town of Hope appealed to the county about the impact of large hog farms on their home values.

After the county denied their requests in March, the neighbors appealed the case to the State Board of Tax Review.

Uneven, wet weather is complicating the growing season for Indiana farmers.

There’s much more cash cropland this week that has too much moisture in its soil than at this time last year, according to the USDA’s latest crop progress report.

And the federal agency says the current condition of Indiana’s corn and soybeans isn’t as good as it was a year ago.

Indiana corn growers hope a deal on sugar trade between the U.S. and Mexico will protect their stake in the high-fructose corn syrup industry.

Mexico could slap new tariffs on imports of the syrup if the deal isn’t finalized, and the effects of that tariff could trickle down to farmers.

About a third of all high-fructose corn syrup produced in the U.S. goes to Mexico, and it includes a lot of Hoosier corn. As much as 5-10 percent of Indiana’s corn crop goes to factories that produce the syrup, such as Tate & Lyle in Lafayette.

As Indiana farmers hurry through planting season – the corn crop is nearly three-quarters planted as of Monday, with soybeans nearly half done – they’re also watching big changes at the USDA.

The department is reorganizing its trade and rural development programs, while the White House takes aim at those issues in its own way.

Indiana’s corn and soybean growers are getting seeds in the ground this week – but more rain on the way could put farmers in a difficult position.

As of Monday, 56 percent of the state’s projected corn crop and 23 percent of the projected soybean crop have been planted.

Hoosier Farmers Begin Planting 2017's Cash Crops

Apr 20, 2017

Hoosiers will see more farm equipment in the fields in the next few weeks, as spring corn and soybean planting ramps up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers in Indiana and nationwide to plant more soybeans than ever this year, while corn acreage looks to hold steady.

Purdue University agronomist and self-named “corn guy” Bob Nielsen says corn prices are still lackluster, with plenty in storage, and that’s driven soybean prices up.

An older audience of Indiana Farm Bureau members heard a younger perspective at their annual conference in Indianapolis this past weekend – from the head of millennial engagement at agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Vance Crowe told Hoosier farmers they should rethink how they communicate about the food system.

Crowe is one of many recent hires at Monsanto tasked with changing the public narrative about GMOs, industrial agriculture and other controversial issues.

 

Generations of farmers, agronomists, lawmakers and other alumni of Purdue’s College of Agriculture met for their annual Fish Fry, amid a lot of political and economic uncertainty for the farm industry.

That fact wasn’t lost on the hundreds of Purdue agriculture alumni who flocked to the Indiana State Fairgrounds Saturday.

Most of them rely on farm exports to Mexico, China and other countries where President Donald Trump has pledged to reform trade deals. And Indiana Agriculture Secretary Ted McKinney says it’s on people’s minds.

Members of Indiana’s agricultural sector were big supporters of the now-officially defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now, they’re looking for ways to salvage some of the trade opportunities it offered.

Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist Bob White says TTP and its counterpart T-TIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, would have been a boon in a time when farm profits are shrinking.