December 20, 2014

RFS2 Set to Ramp up Biodiesel Usage

U.S. EPA has stalled the release of the annual usage mandates for bio fuels in the United States. These are due out each November, but neither the 2014 or 2015 figures have been released. EPA says it will put forth new numbers next spring. In the meantime, it might be important to consider just how using the default numbers would play out for the production of ethanol and biodiesel.



The United States congress set renewable fuels mandates a few years ago. It also gave U.S. EPA the power to adjust those mandates. EPA hasn’t done so for the 2014 calendar year, or for 2015. We’ll dispose of the political baggage and simply focus on the results of using the default statutes written into the law.


December 14, 2014

Ethanol Production Profits Dim as Gasoline Prices Plummet

The magnitude of the decline in crude oil and gasoline prices has taken nearly everyone by surprise. NYMEX nearby crude oil futures this week touched $60 per barrel, almost $50 less than peak prices last summer. This is a major economic event with potentially far-reaching impacts for biofuels markets. We examined some of these impacts in two recent farmdoc daily articles (November 12, 2014; December 4, 2014). Our conclusion was that current high ethanol prices relative to gasoline prices, as illustrated in Figure 1, might slow the growth in domestic ethanol consumption, but would not likely result in consumption that is less than the 10 percent blend wall.


November 25, 2014

Corn Used for Ethanol Ramping Up

The price of ethanol has rallied over the last month, spurring greater production. If the pace were maintained for the marketing year total consumption could push 5.4 billion bushels says K-State Extension Ag Economist Dan O'Brien, with the caveat that this is not likely to happen. Still, as you'll hear, he concedes it is possible.


November 21, 2014

U.S. EPA Delays 2014 RFS Rule Making

Scott Irwin, University of Illinois Ag Economist specializing in the Renewable Fuels Standard, discusses the U.S. EPA announcement to delay an RFS decision until 2015.

U.S. EPA’s Janet McCabe - she’s an Acting Assistant Administrator - today signed a document and submitted it for publication in the Federal Register… that’s the document of record in Washington, D.C. The document says U.S. EPA will not finalize rule making for the 2014 RFS before the end of the calendar year. The agency was supposed to wrap that up at the beginning of the calendar year, but became mired in policy and technical issues related to changes proposed about a year ago. 

It now says the 2014 rules will be made before or in conjunction with the 2015 announcement. 

Logistically there are some log jams that will need to be dealt with related to RINs certificates from 2012. Those expire after two years. EPA says it will extend the expiration, but that the certificates will be in limbo until a new way to move them can be developed. 

So, again the big news in at the ag world today is related to ethanol. U.S. EPA has decided it will not make an RFS announcement for compliance and usage numbers until sometime in 2015. 


November 13, 2014

Transportation is the Opportunity & the Problem

Agricultural commodity prices in the United States have been moved more than usual over the past couple of years by transportation issues. University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good says the railroad is pushing basis prices sharply lower and sharply higher. It may provide marketing opportunities.


October 29, 2014

Ag Census Mapping Tool Makes Data Visual

Every five years the United States Department of Agriculture takes a census. USDA NASS collects all kinds of data about farm production in the U.S.A. The agency has developed a tool to map this data. It is a way to visualize agricultural production, income, wealth distribution, management type, and the demographics of farmers. These three maps show the primary growing regions for corn, soybean, and wheat. The darkest green areas represent acres where the cropland is at least 45 percent sown to the crop listed. The corn belt is easy to see, and not that much of a surprise. However, the primary soybean growing regions of the nation are bit more diverse than you might expect and seem to follow the Mississippi Valley watershed from New Orleans to St. Louis, along the Ohio River Valley and the mighty Missouri River.
 


September 15, 2014

Setting Silage Chop for Best Digestion

Corn silage can make up to as much as thirty to forty percent of a dairy cow’s diet. So, it is really important to get it right. That starts in the field. Todd Gleason has more on some University of Illinois work on harvesting silage.


July 30, 2014

20 Percent of Farms Produce 80 Percent of the Value

The 2012 Census of Agriculture hold many unique facts. Researchers at the University of Illinois have been digging through the numbers to find some plumbs. Todd Gleason reports it seems an old adage is borne out by the figures.

There were about 75 thousand farms in Illinois when the 2012 Census of Agriculture was taken by the United Stated Department of Agriculture. The census, by two different measures – acreage operated & value of production – suggests the majority of Illinois farms are small by either categorization. However, there are two interesting facts that flow with these categorizations. The smaller the farm the more likely it is to produce livestock of less total value, and the larger the farm the more likely it is to produce crops – mostly grains and oilseeds - of much greater value.

The Census of Agriculture defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would


July 15, 2014

Fish Farm Challenge

The National 4-H Foundation and Monsanto have put together an educational series for kids at summer camp. Learn how the Fish Farm Challenge is helping boys and girls understand world hunger, world population, science, and engineering.


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