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ABC settling its $1.9B ‘pink slime’ defamation lawsuit

It wasn’t pink slime then, and it definitely isn’t now. But still, the damage against South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. was already done.

Today, it was announced that ABC is going to have to pay for that slanderous term, likely in a big way. The television network has decided to settle the lawsuit brought on by BPI over the company’s lean finely textured beef product (LFTB), which ABC referred to as “pink slime.” The lawsuit said that ABC led viewers to believe that the product was unsafe, despite all evidence supporting the food’s safety. As result of ABC’s disinformation campaign, BPI sales declined from approximately 5 million pounds of LFTB per week to less than 2 million pounds per week, three BPI facilities have closed, and more than 700 employees lost their jobs.

Opening statements in the trial had already begun, and ABC obviously felt that it was going to lose the case or that it was simply too costly to move forward. Under South Dakota’s Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act, there’s the possibility of trebled statutory damages, which could have brought the potential verdict to $5.7 billion — a total that doesn’t even include possible punitive damages.

ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend said in a statement on Wednesday that the network continues to believe that it acted properly based on the information that it had. It’s unclear whether a jury would have agreed.

“Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious,” BPI said in the statement. “This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.”

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

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EPA chief met with Dow Chemical CEO ahead of chlorpyrifos decision

This is proof that so much can be conveyed through perceptions alone. Just three weeks before the EPA declined to pursue a ban on the insecticide chlorpyrifos, agency chief Scott Pruitt and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris were seen talking at a conference.

That’s all it takes, and people will surely jump to their own conclusions about what transpired. This, despite an EPA spokeswoman telling The Associated Press, “They did not discuss chlorpyrifos. During the same trip he [Pruitt] also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

Chlorpyrifos, which has been used for decades to help farmers defend their crops against a wide array of pests, had been on the discussion table for more than year. The EPA’s decision at the end of March came just a couple of days before a deadline to act that was put in place by a three-judge panel.

Pruitt and Liveris were both featured speakers at an energy industry conference March 9 in Houston, so it makes sense that they would have interacted at some point. Pruitt also reportedly attended a group meeting that included two other Dow executives, and the EPA’s spokeswoman said that chlorpyrifos again was not brought up.

In April, activist organizations filed suit against the EPA over the chlorpyrifos decision, claiming that there are health risks associated with the product.

Dow has been critical of the way The Associated Press, which first reported the meeting between Pruitt and Liveris, has covered the issue in the past.

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Ag PhD Crop Scouting Reports — June 27, 2017

The Ag PhD Crop Scouting Reports are supplied by contributors to Hefty Seed Co., based in Baltic, South Dakota. Find more online at www.agphd.com and www.heftyseed.com.

 

ILLINOIS

Georgetown, IL
When spraying products such as Ultra Blazer, Cobra, or Flexstar, make sure you have your auto shut offs well calibrated to keep from over applying on end rows. — Tyler Smith

Princeton, IL
Many have asked if this is a good year for white mold in soybeans. While it would appear it is setting up that way with a cool damp spring, no one knows for sure. Just remember that if you are planning to use a fungicide for white mold, it needs to happen as close to first bloom (R1) as possible for most effectiveness. Domark is the best choice applied at R1 and reapplied at first pod (R3). Zolera FX also works well as it contains a combinationof Domark and Evito. It is only labeled for one application per season, however. — Mike Denton

When scouting fields, try to walk in a zig zag pattern instead of straight lines. This will help you get a more representative look at the whole field. — John Becker

 

IOWA

Rockwell, IA
Remember when applying XtendiMax in your Xtend beans, it is only labeled through R1. Most beans in our area are at or approaching that stage. Please try to get it on as soon as you can to take advantage of this great tool. — Brian Pottebaum

Sheldon, IA
Now is a key time to be walking your fields and thinking about your late fungicide application options. Here are a couple products we’ve seen growing in popularity this year. Preemptor is used for broad-spectrum disease suppression and is known to increase yields in both corn and soybeans with early or late applications at 4-5 oz/acre. If white mold is a concern, 2 applications of Approach at 6 to 9 oz/acre 2 weeks apart will give you good suppression. — Adam Sauer

Plentiful rainfall in May has led to phytophthora root and stem root. We’re seeing this disease in high moisture or compacted areas where standing water occurred. Symptoms are dark brown lesions that grow up the plant. These can start to occur 1-3 weeks after planting and have the potential to rob substantial yield. Varieties with Rps3A phytophthora protection have been best positioned to protect your yields this year. — Nathan Kloft

 

MINNESOTA

Fairmont, MN
In past years, I have seen Flexstar and FirstRate carry over into the next year’s corn rotation. This usually happens when the summer turns hot and dry. Your safer bet is to tankmix Cobra along with Roundup. It will burn your soybeans, but it will not be a carryover concern for next year’s crop. — Hans Hinrichsen

Hancock, MN
Soybeans in the area are showing peak iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) symptoms. It would be a good time to map problem spots by ground or aerial imagery in the next couple weeks. Gathering data now for the application of Soygreen on future soybean crops in these high pH problem areas would be a good option. Providing iron to the plant increases plant health and yield. A long-term plan can be initiated, too, by looking at drainage to improve soil health. A grower applied Soygreen a few weeks ago in combination with a bean with an excellent IDC score. It looked only slightly yellow and hopefully will recover quicker than non-treated. — Adam Gibson

The maximum application rate for Liberty was recently changed to 43 oz, with a maximum seasonal application rate of 87 oz. Although it may not be necessary to use a rate this high, if you’ve got problem areas with weeds that are getting out of control, it will at least give a little flexibility allowing a higher rate of Liberty to be used. — Aaron Giese

Janesville, MN
Grass has been a problem in conventional corn. Accent Q is our best option at 0.9 oz/acre, but is limited to 20-inch tall corn. Most of the corn in this area is above 20 inches tall, but it can still be applied as long as drop nozzles are used. — Josh Bruns

LeRoy, MN
Farmers in this area believe that fireflies and rootworms take about the same amount of GDUs to hatch. Some universities say this may be slightly different, but farmers have seen both insects around the same time in previous years. The fireflies have been out the last few nights, so I’d expect to see farmer’s out digging some roots to see what rootworm pressure there is. One tip I have is to also dig up volunteer corn in your soybean fields as you may see rootworm larvae feeding there as well. — Grant Lunning

Marshall, MN
When evaluating a soybean stand after a hail storm, use your index finger and gently push on 20-30 of the remaining upright soybean plants. You will quickly be able to tell how many of the plants will lodge later in the season by how easily the plants bend at a bruise point. — Mike Homandberg

Olivia, MN
When spraying a new combination of chemicals that you have never done before, it is a good idea to do a jar test beforehand and when mixing in the tank, have an anti-foam and compatibility agent on hand for a quick fix, should any problems arise. — John Scheibel

Here are a few reminders when mixing. Shake containers well before adding to the tank, especially if it is a thick product. Have some water in the tank before you start adding product, and make sure your first product is in solution before adding your next product to the tank. — Tony Hagen

Thief River Falls, MN
If you were in an area where hail storms came through recently and are planning on applying fungicide, is it best to wait a few days until you get new growth in corn and soybeans for better uptake. — Jordan Swanson

If you are spraying XtendiMax or Engenia, make sure you are familiar with the label and what can and cannot be tankmixed with these products. — Rachel Klein

Winthrop, MN
For volunteer corn in your soybean acres, use products such as Fusilade, Se-Cure, or Dakota when spraying with Roundup. If you are tankmixing with XtendiMax, only Select Max or Volunteer are on the label for now. All these products do a good job at labeled rates. — Dean Christiansen

I have seen a lot of lambsquarters in fields this year. One option farmers really like that is both cheap and works great on lambsquarters and is Volta or Treaty. Putting this on at 1/16 oz/acre will get you good control of them. — Matt Vogel

 

MISSOURI

Bertrand, MO
It would be a good idea to check your fields for insects and damage. I have seen some Japanese beetles present. Mustang Maxx at 3 oz/acre should take care of this pest. — Albert Duenne

Some farmers in our area are applying an insecticide such as Prevathon at 14 oz/acre and a fungicide like Headline Amp at 12 oz/acre on their corn right now. — Albert Duenne

 

MONTANA

Sidney, MT
With ascocyta blight in chickpeas, it has shown resistance to strobilurins. Therefore most farmers will start with Bravo or Echo and then in a second application come back with Proline. The key is to plan on a two-spray situation. — Chet Hill

 

NORTH DAKOTA

Hillsboro, ND
Farmers are finding rising insect numbers in their soybean fields and are adding 3.84 oz/acre of Warrior or a generic Warrior with their fungicide applications. They are happy to save an application pass later. Just make sure you scout your fields first to know what bugs you have and if an insecticide is warranted. — Ryan Pierce

Lisbon, ND
The barley in the area is reaching the optimum timing for a fungicide application. The best time to apply Prosaro is at full heading. — Spencer Schultz

Mohall, ND
It’s very important to put the correct rate of chemical on the size of weeds you are dealing with, and use the correct chemical for the weed spectrum you are targeting. Some of these weeds are really big and will be tough to kill. 24-inch tall pigweed is going to take more than 1 single shot of Roundup. Reading the label and having realistic expectations for the weeds on the label is key. — Ron Hefta

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

Aberdeen, SD
Farmers looking for a fungicide that protects corn from a broad range of leaf diseases and also promotes good plant health are choosing Priaxor at this time. This fungicide contains Headline + Xemium and is one on the longest residual fungicides on the market. The optimal timing is V5-V7, so your window is closing soon. — Kalen Kjellsen

Baltic, SD
When you are using a drift retardant, make sure that you start with the lowest recommended rate and work your way up from there to get the perfect amount to reduce drift for your situation. Some drift retardants can cause your spray mixture to become stringy and that can affect your spray coverage. — Lee Fischer

Centerville, SD
We had some questions on spot spraying pastures. Depending on what weed spectrum you’re after, there are a few decent options. For thistles, run GrazonNext at 1.5 pts/acre; the Milestone in GrazonNext works well on thistles. To control woody stem plants and leafy spurge, use Grazon P+D at 1 qt/acre. With smaller pastures surrounded by susceptible crops like soybeans, try Freelexx at 3 pts/acre. Freelexx is a 2,4-D choline with less volatility. — Peter Strom

Freeman, SD
We are still getting a lot of questions on using Flexstar in soybeans. It is likely too late since the rotational restriction to corn is 10 months. You couldn’t start planting corn next year until April 27th if you sprayed today. — Lee Dockendorf

Gettysburg, SD
If you have broadleaves in your yard, try Triplet at 5 oz/acre. — Kyle Hawkinson

If you are running Express plus a clethodim product, make sure you up the rate of clethodim to 10 oz/acre. The clethodim activity is reduced slightly when added with a broadleaf product due to antagonism. — Kyle Hawkinson

Kimball, SD
There are a lot of sorghum acres in our area being sprayed for broadleaf problems. Buckwheat, cocklebur, lambsquarters and pigweed are just a few of the species we are dealing with. Farmers are achieving good weed control with Huskie at 12.8 – 16 oz/acre along with 1 qt/100 gal of NIS and AMS at 1 – 2 lbs/acre. Apply this product from the 3-leaf stage of growth up to 30 inches and/or prior to flag leaf emergence, whichever comes first. — Joe Fox

Watertown, SD
If you are looking to bump the protein in your wheat, you can a product called NResponse at 2 gals/acre at around the same timing as your fungicide application for head scab. — Jack Beutler

When spraying, watch out for washouts in the fields due to the heavy rains we have had. There have been reports of sprayer damage. — Russ Werning

 

WASHINGTON

Quincy, WA
I’ve seen a lot of puncturevine in stockyards in the Basin area this week. This plant is very susceptible to various 2,4-D products and dicamba. — Dave Dye

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NCGA: NAFTA is critical for corn farmers, ag at large

National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Kevin Skunes had the opportunity Tuesday to tell the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative just how important upcoming NAFTA renegotiations are to the corn industry.

“North America has become the most important export market for the U.S. corn industry,” Skunes testified. “Corn farmers export about 20 percent of our annual corn crop, and exports account for about one-third of our income. Today, the agriculture economy is experiencing its fourth year of a downturn marked by low commodity prices. I cannot stress enough how important export markets are to our ability to stay in business.”

Skunes, a farmer from Arthur, North Dakota, highlighted how NAFTA has positively impacted U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico since its implementation in 1994.

“Free trade has benefitted American farmers, and NAFTA has been extremely valuable to our industry,” said Skunes. “Twenty-three years of investment has led to a sizeable increase in trade. Since 1994, U.S. corn exports to NAFTA partners have increased more than seven-fold. Today, we export a record volume of more than 14 million metric tons of corn to Mexico and Canada, valued at $2.68 billion. In 2016, corn exports to these two neighbors supported 25,000 jobs, on top of helping support 300,000 U.S. corn farmers.”

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. corn as well as a significant market for distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Canada is a top-10 export market for corn and DDGS, and the number one export market for U.S. ethanol.

NCGA’s top priority for NAFTA modernization is to preserve duty-free access for corn and corn products, and to expand market access for corn in all forms, including livestock products, DDGS, and ethanol, Skunes told government officials.

“We look forward to working with USTR and the Administration to build on the success corn farmers and the broader agriculture industry have enjoyed under NAFTA.”

The USTR will continue its NAFTA renegotiation public hearings through Thursday. The public hearings follow USTR’s 90-day notification to Congress on May 18 regarding intent to renegotiate NAFTA as well as USTR’s Federal Register notice published May 23 requesting public comment.

 

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