Grain News & Updates
Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board to Award Up to $10,000 in Scholarships
The Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board has again committed grain checkoff funds to support our scholarship program. The program will be administered by the Maryland Grain Producers Association, which will be awarding up to four deserving students with scholarships in the amount of $2,500 each ($1,250 for each semester) enrolled in an agriculturally related program at a Maryland or an out-of-state institution.

The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial support to students interested in pursuing an agriculturally related career. Given the dynamic changes in agriculture today, the advances in biotechnology, global positioning systems, environmental protection, drone technology, and crop and livestock production, Maryland's grain farmers believe it is very important to encourage students to consider careers in agriculture by supporting their educational needs through the use of scholarships.

Sustained Farmer Advocacy Needed to Help Protect the RFS
Concerns continue this week that the Trump Administration could decide to strike a deal for oil refiners that would have immediate and lasting effects for ethanol demand and, therefore, for corn prices as well. However, the National Corn Growers Association remains active on members' behalf, including running a major advertising campaign in the nation's capital.
Thanks to everyone who has already made your voice heard in Washington in support of the RFS. Maryland Grain Producers Association and NCGA continues to ask farmers to  make sure your views are heard .
President Trump, your Members of Congress and USDA need to understand the economic challenges farmers are facing today and the direct role a healthy ethanol market plays for the future of family farms. The proposal from the oil industry, being considered by the President, could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years. There are better solutions, including RVP parity to allow year-round sale of blends greater than 10 percent, which lowers RIN values to address refiners' concerns by blending more ethanol. American farmers can't afford a bad deal, so please ask President Trump to maintain his support for the RFS and rural America.

Update: Litigation Resolution with Syngenta Lawsuits
News broke last week regarding Syngenta’s settlement of the ongoing litigation around the commercialization of Viptera and Duracade. Last September it was announced that Syngenta had settled the case in Minnesota which was the first step in settling the broad class action that is based out of Kansas City. While many reports back in September reported a 1.3 or 1.4 billion settlement, nothing was official at that time. The recent announcement now confirms that amount at $1.51 Billion.
The details of the settlement will need to be approved in Kansas City and Minnesota before becoming public but according to reports last fall, all growers or sellers of DDGs that had a transaction after the summer of 2013 would be eligible and payments will be in favor those that did not plant Viptera or Duracade. How the amounts will be assessed will be explained on a website that will be hosted by the plaintiff’s attorneys. That website will also serve as the point of application for a claim and the plaintiff’s attorneys will determine eligibility through their own verification system. They expect this to be concluded by mid-2019.
FMCSA Announces New ELD Waiver for Transporters of Agricultural Commodities & Additional Transition Guidance
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced additional steps to address the unique needs of the country's agriculture industries and provided further guidance to assist in the effective implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule without impeding commerce or safety.
The Agency is announcing an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture related transportation. Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA will publish final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance. FMCSA will continue its outreach to provide assistance to the agricultural industry and community regarding the ELD rule.
Beginning April 1, 2018 full enforcement of the ELD rule begins. Carriers that do not have an ELD when required will be placed out of service. The driver will remain out-of-service for 10 hours in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance criteria. At that point, to facilitate compliance, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop and should not be dispatched again without an ELD. If the driver is dispatched again without an ELD, the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.

National Wheat Yield Contest Open for Entries
The National Wheat Foundation’s (NWF) annual National Wheat Yield Contest officially kicked off in January. In its third year, the contest continues to drive innovation in the industry by spotlighting the best practices among American wheat growers. This year, the contest is adding a quality requirement, raising the bar for what constitutes the greater grain among U.S. wheat growers.

The top five winners from each category & subcategory, along with the overall high yield winner, will be recognized nationally, including at the winner’s reception during the 2019 Commodity Classic to be held Feb. 28 - March 2, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Eddie Mercer Agri-Services, Inc and Sygenta AgriPro will be offering an extra incentive to their customers who participate in the contest. The two will pay the state winner $1000 if the entry is Mercer Brand or Syngenta seed. In addition, Eddie Mercer will pay all county winners $200.00 if they win with a Mercer Brand MBX Wheat.

Farmers for Free Trade released a new national cable television advertisement today that calls on the President to protect free trade policies that support American farmers. The spot, which features fourth-generation Montana farmer Michelle Erickson-Jones and her family, notes that while many rural Americans families are optimistic about economic growth under President Trump, there are mounting concerns among farmers about trade policies that would reduce access to the export markets they depend on. The advertisement will also run online and on ag programs across the country.

The message to the President will run at least the next four weeks on cable news channels including Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, online and on rural ag programs across the country. The TV spots will run in D.C. and are expected to run in Florida when the President travels there. The ad will also help launch Farmers for Free Trade’s  “Voice of the Farmer” campaign which will allow farmers from across the country to record a video in support of trade or call their lawmakers to ask that they work with President Trump to maintain and expand export opportunities for American agriculture.