(DTN) Steady as she goes seems to be the general consensus concerning 2015 cash rents across the Midwest. "In the farm visits I've made the past two weeks, I'm finding farmers were a little more relaxed than I thought they would be," reported Randy Luze, land manager with People's Company in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Preliminary 2015 crop budgets released by the University of Illinois earlier this summer forecast statewide operator losses of $44 per acre next season if corn growers paid average cash rents of $295 per acre, fertilizer costs dropped $50 per acre and yields stayed at trend levels. So far, however, early rent negotiations in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana seemed to be resisting adjustments. ...continue reading

(WSJ) A federal judge ruled against a new law in Hawaii curbing genetically modified crops, handing a victory to seed and chemical companies in a battle over modern agricultural techniques.

Units of Dupont Co., Syngenta AG, Dow Chemical Co. and BASF SE won a judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, blocking an ordinance adopted this past November by the island of Kauai, according to a court order dated Aug. 23 and filed on Monday. ...continue reading

(WSJ) U.S. farm incomes are expected to fall 13.8% this year to the lowest level in four years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday, as expectations of a second straight bumper harvest push down prices for key crops.

Federal forecasters projected net farm income would slide to $113.2 billion this year from an estimated $131.3 billion in 2013, which was the highest level since 1973 on an inflation-adjusted basis. ...continue reading

(WSJ) Before you can finish typing " Monsanto employees" into Google, the search engine suggests "Monsanto evil." The world's largest-grossing seed seller ranks between one and 15 on any list of the world's most-hated corporations. The annual "March Against Monsanto," world-wide protests against genetic modification, drew an estimated two million people in some 400 cities last year.

Opponents claim that genetic modification poses health risks, and groups such as the Non-GMO Project, Just Label It! and others want labels required on all foods containing GM ingredients. Vermont passed a GM-labeling bill in May, and Oregon and Colorado will hold referendums on labeling in November. Companies including Ben & Jerry's and Chipotle Mexican Grill  say they are removing GM ingredients from their food, and General Mills recently made Cheerios cereal GMO-free. ...continue reading

Crop conditions are at favorable levels not seen since the early 1990’s. Ideal weather throughout the growing season has provided enough sun and moisture to produce, what has been estimated by the USDA to be, record breaking yields for both corn and soybeans this year. The USDA estimates were supported by the in-field inspections performed by the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour scouts last week. Crop tour reports estimated larger corn yields in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, and Ohio over last year’s crop. Soybean yields are also estimated to increase from last year in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and South Dakota. ...continue reading

The rural economy slowed for the first time in six months due to sinking crop prices. Farmland values are projected to decline over the next year, according to the majority of bankers surveyed for the RMI. This contradicts reports released by the Seventh and Tenth Federal Districts in the past week. Those reports, which surveys bankers across the same region as the RMI, predicted land values to stay consistent or increase slightly over the same time period.

Ranging between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, the RMI decreased to 48.3 from 51.8 in July. This is the lowest the index has fallen since August 2012. RMI levels are short of where they were last year, but this should be expected with crop prices significantly lower than this time last year. ...continue reading

Monday marked the start of the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. During the Crop Tour field scouts make in-field production assessments of corn and soybean fields in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. The information that has been collected thus far is predicting production increases of 15% from last year in some areas. The Crop Tour is one of the last major predicators for annual production and bushel per acre estimates before the harvest season.

POW 8-21-14

Photo courtesy of @PioneerMN

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U.S. corn exports increased over 50% from last week and reached their highest level in six weeks. Wheat sales also increased from last week and have increased seven out of the past ten weeks. Soybean exports decreased. Soybean sales reported a reduction this week for the first time since April. Corn sales rebounded out of the red following the sales reduction reported last week. Wheat sales declined.

The Pro Farmer crop tour has made several stops this week, and estimates that have come in are at or above USDA estimations for both condition and production. As more information comes in it is beginning to look like the record breaking production estimates may become reality. With record breaking expected production this year the majority of the concern has been on grain prices, but as we get closer to harvest logistical concerns will also be a major issue. ...continue reading

(FarmdocDaily) Recent commodity price declines have led to increasing concerns that farmland prices could decline as a result of potential decreases in income to farmland.  Corn prices, for example, have decreased from over $5.00 per bushel during the summer of 2013 to prices in the mid-$3.00 range during the summer of 2014 reflecting expectations of large yields.  During the first half of 2014, farmland values appear to have stopped increasing rapidly, as they did from 2006 through 2013, with some reports of small decreases and softening demand.  The purpose of this farmdoc daily article is to provide an analysis of capitalized values of current returns and examine implications for 2014 and beyond.  The findings include that current forecasted income, which represents a decline from recent periods' income levels, is not likely to result in large farmland price decreases.  However, capitalization rate increases, which may be commensurate with increases in general interest rates, do pose a larger risk factor. ...continue reading

(HuffingtonPost) As anyone who follows food and agriculture issues knows, much of the public discourse -- particularly around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) -- is highly polarized. The debates are often as personal and bitter as the extremes that characterize today's partisan politics.

For both personal and professional reasons, I'm among those saddened by the intensity of the conflict. Not only did I grow up on a family farm in Illinois, but 30 years ago I helped develop GMO crops. Yet far more important than my, or anybody's, individual reaction is this: The debate over GMOs has tended to sidetrack progress on the development of a common agenda to solving the global food security problem. ...continue reading