(TheNation) Eduardo Blumwald’s genetically modified plants don’t look much like “Frankenfood.” Filling four modest greenhouses in a concrete lot behind Blumwald’s laboratory at the University of California, Davis, the tiny seedlings, spiky grasses, alfalfa, and peanut and rice plants in plastic terracotta-colored pots look exactly like the ordinary varieties from which he and his fellow researchers created them. Blumwald’s lab lies just ten miles from Monsanto’s 90,000-square-foot vegetable seed building, a glassy edifice larger than the hangar for a 747. The Monsanto facility is one of the largest centers in the world for plant breeding and genetic engineering. But in the fourteen years that Blumwald, a professor of cell biology, has worked here studying the DNA of crop plants, he has hardly ever spoken to anyone from Monsanto.

Blue-eyed and round-faced, with a lilting Argentinian accent, Blumwald grows exasperated when he talks about the so-called “Big Ag” companies, which he says have been arrogant in dealing with the public, contributing to a distrust of biotech research. But he also doesn’t appreciate the activists who’ve been challenging not only the Monsantos of the world but the entire field of genetic engineering. ...continue reading

This week the Farm Progress Show was held in Boone, Iowa where exhibitors showed off the latest and greatest that agriculture has to offer. All of the biggest players were in attendance tempting attendees with interactive displays, trivia games, and as always free hats. The show was well attended, but the mood was subdued as the impact of low grain prices is being felt across the entire agricultural industry.

POW 8-29-14

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U.S. soybean exports increased, eclipsing its 10-week average for only the third time since the end of February. Corn and Wheat exports both saw nominal decreases. Soybean sales reported a reduction for the second consecutive week, an event that hasn’t occurred since April, 2013. Corn sales also reported a reduction for the second time in three weeks. Wheat sales increased after three weeks of decline.

Reports coming out of China are claiming a bumper wheat crop is expected. Earlier in the year reports had been citing extreme drought in many crop growing regions in China; expectations for Chinese crops were well below average. China has purchased less grain in recent weeks suggesting that drought claims may have been exaggerated. ...continue reading

(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

Remember, we are always looking for agricultural pictures from anywhere in the world. Submit pictures to farmlandforecast@colvin-co.com