The USDA says the corn and soybean harvests both made solid advances last week but are a little behind their normal paces. While weather was generally conducive for harvest activity last week, development in some areas was pushed back by planting delays this spring.
As of Sunday, 20% of U.S. corn is harvested, compared to the five-year average of 22%, with 96% dented, 75% mature, and 52% of the crop in good to excellent condition.
22% of soybeans are harvested, compared to 25% on average, with 81% of beans dropping leaves and 55% rated good to excellent.
40% of winter wheat has been planted, compared to 44% normally in early October, with 15% emerged, compared to 17% on average.
77% of cotton bolls have opened and 22% of the crop is harvested, both faster than usual, with 31% of the crop called good to excellent.
70% of rice is harvested, compared to 72% on average.
24% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent shape, down 2%.
U.S. agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of U.S. domestic workers can fill seasonal farm jobs with temporary foreign workers through the H-2A visa program.
The Department of Labor certified around 317,000 temporary jobs in fiscal year (FY) 2021 under the H-2A visa program, more than six times the number certified in 2005. Only about 80 percent of the certified jobs in 2021 resulted in the issuance of a visa. The program has grown partly in response to current U.S. domestic workers finding jobs outside of U.S. agriculture and a drop in newly arrived immigrants who seek U.S. farm jobs.
The H-2A program continued to expand in FY 2020 despite the jump in U.S. unemployment caused by lockdowns associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Six States accounted for about half of the H-2A jobs filled in 2021 certified: Florida, Georgia, Washington, California, North Carolina, and Louisiana. Nationally, the average H-2A contract in FY 2020 offered 24 weeks of employment and 39.3 hours per week at an average hourly wage of $13.
Stressing the importance of upholding a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, the Renewable Fuels Association late last week filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a suit brought against the agency by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The environmental organization's suit seeks a court review of EPA's renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard for compliance years 2020 through 2022, and RFA is seeking to intervene on behalf of EPA, "to protect its substantial interest in the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program and the investments RFA's members have made in renewable fuels to support the program," the motion states.
"After years of mismanagement and setbacks by previous administrations, the Biden administration's EPA has been moving in the right direction on the Renewable Fuel Standard," said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.
"But now, an extreme environmental activist group is trying to derail that progress and success. We are seeking to intervene in this case to ensure EPA can continue its work to put the RFS back on track and restore integrity to the program. We will do all we can to make sure the law and Congress's intent are upheld."
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pause their "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rulemaking following today's Supreme Court oral arguments in the case Sackett v. EPA, a case that will determine the EPA's authority to regulate bodies of water under the Clean Water Act.
"Today's oral arguments highlighted the need for the Supreme Court to put this issue to bed once and for all. Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, cattle producers have experienced the regulatory whiplash of shifting WOTUS definitions-on average, a change every 3.8 years," said NCBA Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. "NCBA is hopeful that the court will support NCBA's argument for clear and limited WOTUS definition, but in the meantime, we call on the EPA to suspend their rulemaking until the outcome of the case is clear."
In April 2022, NCBA filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court calling for a new test for determining whether a water feature fell under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. NCBA's argument would allow the government to protect substantial bodies of water while preventing overreach on small isolated agricultural water features.
NCBA also filed comments on the Biden administration's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule. NCBA is calling for this rulemaking to halt until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in the Sackett v. EPA case.