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Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the US could potentially reach a bilateral deal with Mexico before it comes to an agreement with Canada. The Trump administration has recently floated the idea of negotiating bilateral deals instead of a trilateral NAFTA.

Perdue visited his Canadian counterpart, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, today. The three countries have been renegotiating NAFTA for almost a year, but most recently have switched to bilateral meetings.

“The issues with Mexico and Canada are vastly different in many ways and I think the ambassador believes that we could get a bilateral deal more quickly with Mexico and then with Canada and possibly come back together with all three nations,” he says.

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At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, cattle futures closed sharply higher on strong buyer interest.  Yesterday’s news that China had added 20 USDA approved facilities was supportive to move as was the futures discount to cash.  However, Monday’s markets will likely be under pressure as China announced it would retaliate with tariffs on $50 billion worth of US goods – including beef.    June live cattle closed $2.20 higher at $108.45 and August live cattle closed $2.90 higher at $104.77. 

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A southeast Minnesota farmer is pleased with how his crops have come on after a late start to planting.

Brock Olson of Welch says once fieldwork began, the weather straightened out.

“Planting went very well as soon as we got in the fields.  Conditions were good, temperatures were warm, and moisture was good as well.”

Minnesota farmers dealt with late April snow and frequent rains the first half of May.

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A Farm Bureau leader is glad to see Senator Mitch McConnell’s hemp farming act attached to the Senate farm bill.  Rob Richard with Wisconsin Farm Bureau says, “It’s fantastic news for anybody who is doing hemp farming right now in the country, or who is thinking about planting hemp.”

Richard tells Brownfield there is still a potential problem, as Senator Chuck Grassley might amend the bill to exclude all cannabinoids from the definition of hemp. 

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Jul. corn closed at $3.61 and 1/4, down 1 and 3/4 cents
Jul. soybeans closed at $9.05 and 1/2, down 21 and 3/4 cents
Jul. soybean meal closed at $338.90, down $4.30
Jul. soybean oil closed at 29.50, down 64 points
Jul. wheat closed at $4.99 and 1/2, down 2 cents
Jun. live cattle closed at $108.45, up $2.20
Jul. lean hogs closed at $81.72, up 10 cents
Jul.

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Cash dairy prices were mixed and milk futures were sharply down again at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Friday.

 Class Three June milk was up $.01 to $15.37. July was down $.13 at $15.43.  August was down $.28 to $15.92. September was down $.26 to $16.39. The milk futures from October through next May ranged from three to eighteen cents lower.

Grade AA Butter was up $.0025 at $2.3525 per pound.  

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Interest is skyrocketing among Missouri farmers and landowners in the EQIP cost-share cover crops program, “Last year, we had about 80 applications for cover crops. This year it was well over 300 and almost double and triple the numbers that we’ve ever seen for cover crops,” says Curt Daniel, Missouri NRCS assistant state conservationist. He tells Brownfield Ag News it ties in with soil improvement and efforts through the Soil Health Partnership. Daniel says they won’t have the money to meet all of this years’ requests but encourages farmers to keep applying.

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Governor Bruce Rauner has released $16-million-dollars in agriculture grants University of Illinois Extension, soil and water districts, and, county fairs and ag societies. State Ag Director Raymond Poe says the funding comes at a critical time for the future of Illinois agriculture which Rauner calls “the backbone of the state’s economy.”

The governor and ag director announced the release of the funds at Stermstrefer Farms in Pleasant Plains, Illinois on Thursday.

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Soybeans closed lower with $50 billion of new tariffs against Chinese goods. China says they’ll retaliate. Soybean tariffs are likely on the list. The soybean crop is doing well, adding pressure.  DTN says Brazil’s record harvest in early 2018 should keep China well supplied with soybeans through the summer. There are no significant weather threats for soybeans yet.

Corn ended the session lower with the crop in generally good shape, but with some concerns because of hot weather in the western and central Corn Belt.

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The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have taken the next step towards redefining “waters of the U.S.”—also known as WOTUS.

The two agencies have sent a new proposed WOTUS rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, during a stop in Lincoln, Nebraska Thursday, said EPA and the Corps “went back to the basics” on what the WOTUS rule should be.

“We’ve not reimagined our authority under the Clean Water Act,” Pruitt said.

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