Chad Moyer
Welcome to the KTIC Agriculture Information blog!!! Check back here for the latest in ag news and information, from local events to international happenings and government reports that affect your operation. Please email with suggestions! -Chad Moyer, Farm Director, KTIC Radio
Weekend Ag News Update - April 19

Conditions Right for Planting; Precipitation on the Horizon
State Climatologist Al Dutcher

After starting the week with lows below freezing for two days (4/14-15), "we've turned the corner into spring," says State Climatologist Al Dutcher. Soils will be warming across the state and conditions will be conducive to planting.

On Monday lows in western Nebraska dropped to 10 in Alliance and 13 in Kimball with sites across the state reporting temperatures in the teens to mid 20s. Cold temperatures continued Tuesday with lows across the state in the low to mid 20s.

The spring warm-up will continue over the next two weeks with significant intermittent opportunities for precipitation in eastern Nebraska, with a total of 2-3 inches expected over the period.

Eastern Nebraska is expected to see "robust" precipitation this Sunday and Monday, followed by warmer temperatures up through Wednesday, when another significant precipitation event is expected. Western Nebraska is expected to see less rain during this period.

Cooler periods may still occur, but they won't be long-lived, Dutcher said. There are no signals through May of further polar vortexes reaching down into Nebraska.

Gov. Heineman & Nebraska Cattlemen Honor Conservation Efforts for Earth Day

(press release from Gov. office)

Friday, Gov. Dave Heineman was joined by the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Sand County Foundation in announcing the recipient of the 2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award as the Pelster family of Pelster Angus Ranch of Ericson, in central Nebraska. The award is presented annually to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management.

“Congratulations to the Pelster family for winning the 2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award,” said Gov. Heineman. “As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day, this is a good time to acknowledge the conservation efforts of Nebraska landowners. Conservation on private land is something Nebraskans do very well and we all benefit from the work of private landowners who are preserving the natural beauty of our state.”

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is comprised of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal. Sand County Foundation, Nebraska Cattlemen and Cargill present the award annually.

“As farmers and ranchers, it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the land for future generations,” said Jeff Rudolph , President of Nebraska Cattlemen. “The Pelster family is an excellent example of ranchers who are committed to living as responsible stewards of the land.”

The Pelster family celebrates six generations on the ranch. The family notes that they take pride in looking back on the past to see the progress they have made in conservation, and they look forward to what the future may bring. Located along the Cedar River in Garfield County, the Pelster Angus Ranch is focused on responsible and sustainable land management for the benefit of the entire community.

Duane and Nancy Pelster are third generation owners of the ranch. Generations of the Malmsten’s, Nancy’s family, slowly grew the ranch by many efforts of preserving the natural integrity of the land. They passed down the love of the land and the ethics of caring for it to their children. Nancy shares that her father’s advice and method to land management was, “If you’re good to the land, the land will be good to you and will take care of future generations.”

The Pelster family prioritizes the longevity of their operation through incorporation of rotational and conservative grazing techniques. Duane works to mentor young ranchers. His willingness to share his methods helps young ranchers start their own operations. The family is involved in the agricultural community, and they serve on numerous boards and organizations.

“The Pelster family carry on a longstanding family commitment to ranching practices that benefit the land, wildlife and all of us,” said Brent Haglund, President of Sand County Foundation.

In 2014, the Sand County Foundation will present Leopold Conservation Awards in Nebraska, California, Colorado, Kentucky, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The awards are presented to recognize extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation, inspire other landowners by example and provide a visible forum where leaders from the agricultural community are recognized as conservation leaders to groups outside of agriculture.

2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award Recipient Announced

(press release from NC)

Sand County Foundation, the Nebraska Cattlemen and Cargill are proud to announce The Pelster Angus Ranch as the recipient of the 2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award.  The annual award honors Nebraska landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Duane and Nancy (Malmsten) Pelster represent the third generation to manage this ranch land along the Cedar River in the Nebraska Sandhills. Duane’s ongoing development of a management plan has increased livestock profitability and land health simultaneously. He is committed to responsible, sustainable land management and is recognized as a pioneer in the use of rotational grazing.

The grazing practices combined with on-going cedar and weed control have improved grass health and allowed wildlife to thrive.  Prairie chickens, deer, duck and geese abound on the ranch in addition to a pond of otters. Leaving standing grass for nesting and fawning has also enabled limited hunting on the ranch.

Over the years, the Pelsters have reduced the risk of soil damage and made conditions better for livestock and wildlife by installing over 25 miles of pipeline. And nearly 80,000 coniferous trees have been planted to provide shelterbelts and windbreaks on the ranch.  To benefit water quality, Duane decommissioned 27 wells and made a special effort to maintain healthy stands of riparian vegetation along the entire length of the Cedar River within his ownership.

"The Pelsters carry on a longstanding family commitment to ranching practices that benefit the land, wildlife and all of us,” said Brent Haglund, President, Sand County Foundation.

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

The $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be presented to the Pelsters at the  Nebraska Cattlemen’s Annual Convention in December.

“As farmers and ranchers it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the land for future generations,” Nebraska Cattlemen President Jeff Rudolph said. “The Pelster family is an excellent example of ranchers who are committed to living as responsible stewards of the land.”

"On behalf of Cargill’s customers and employees, we are proud to recognize Pelster Ranch for conservation that increases the sustainability of animal agriculture in the U.S.,” stated Jarrod Gillig, vice president and general manager at Cargill’s Schuyler, Neb., beef processing plant.  “Through effective land management that includes livestock grazing and preservation of wildlife habitats, Pelster Ranch is a shining example of best practices for cattle and beef production.”

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Cattlemen Research & Education Foundation, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc., World Wildlife Fund, Farm Credit, DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Upper Big Blue NRD Places a Temporary Stay on well Drilling in Sub-Areas

The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors issued a temporary 180-day stay on well drilling in District sub-areas at the April 17th Board Meeting.  The stay is immediately in effect.  Representatives from the Villages of Dwight and Brainard had expressed concern over the future viability of their water supply and the impact that surrounding irrigation wells have on their municipal wells’ ability to pump water for citizens.  Municipal concerns, along with drought conditions experienced during 2012 and 2013, prompted the temporary stay. 

By statute, NRDs have the authority to put an immediate temporary stay on well drilling.  At some point during the 180-day stay, a public hearing will be scheduled to discuss further actions regarding the stay.  The stay allows NRD board and staff members to review data in the sub-areas, further research possible solutions and alternatives to alleviate concerns within these areas, and develop a common-sense approach to mitigate current and future issues regarding water quantity and quality in the affected areas of the District.

Selected Sub-areas

Several sub-areas within the District are known to have marginal aquifers.  The selected sub-areas for the stay encompass 1,064 square miles, or about 37% of the District’s total 2,863 square miles.  The stay affects portions of each of the nine counties that make up the District.  The resulting geologic conditions are such that construction of additional high-capacity irrigation wells could increase the likelihood of future municipal and domestic well interference issues.  The Upper Big Blue NRD office has maps available delineating the 180-day stay sub-areas.  This map can also be found at the website homepage.

Conditions of the stay on well drilling

Under the stay, the following conditions apply:  Drilling of replacement wells is allowed; Water wells of public water suppliers are exempt from the stay (this includes but is not limited to test holes, monitoring wells, and livestock and domestic wells with a pumping capacity of 50 gallons per minute or less).

Vilsack Announces Additional USDA Actions to Combat Spread of Diseases Among U.S. Pork Producers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that in an effort to further enhance the biosecurity and health of the US swine herd while maintaining movement of pigs in the US, the USDA will require reporting of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) and Swine Delta Coronavirus in order to slow the spread of this disease across the United States. USDA is taking this latest action due to the devastating effect on swine health since it was first confirmed in the country last year even though PEDv it is not a reportable disease under international standards. PEDv only affects pigs and does not pose a risk to people and is not a food safety concern.

"USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols, sequenced the virus and are investigating how the virus is transmitted," said Vilsack. "Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers."

In addition to requiring reporting of the PED virus, today's announcement will also require tracking movements of pigs, vehicles, and other equipment leaving affected premises; however, movements would still be allowed. USDA is also working with industry partners to increase assistance to producers who have experienced PED virus outbreaks in other critical areas such as disease surveillance, herd monitoring and epidemiological and technical support.

As part of USDA's coordinated response, USDA's Farm Loan Programs is working with producers to provide credit options, including restructuring loans, similar to how the Farm Service Agency successfully worked with livestock producers affected by the blizzard in South Dakota. In the case of guaranteed loans, USDA is encouraging guaranteed lenders to use all the flexibility available under existing guarantees, and to use new guarantees where appropriate to continue financing their regular customers.

USDA is already providing assistance to researchers looking into this disease, with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) working with the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa to make models of the disease transmission and testing feedstuffs. This modeling work is contributing to some experimental vaccines to treat animals with the disease. ARS also has a representative serving as a member of the Swine Health Board. USDA also provides competitive grant funding through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program and anticipates some applications on PEDv research will be submitted soon. In addition, USDA provides formula funds to states and universities through the Hatch Act and National Animal Health Disease Section 1433 for research activities surrounding this disease.

In conjunction with the pork industry, state and federal partners, the USDA is working to develop appropriate responses to the PEDv and Swine Delta Coronavirus. A question-and-answer sheet on today's reporting requirement is available on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website here: (PDF, 31KB). For a summary of USDA actions to date, additional information is available here: (PDF, 150KB).

Pork Checkoff Updates Youth PQA Plus Program

Consumers want to know how their food is produced.  Through its Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus® program (PQA), the National Pork Board will make training available to young producers so they can continue to earn the trust of consumers through transparency and training. Recent changes to Youth PQA Plus include an online training, testing, and certification option to accompany the current in-person process. Delivered to students in the form of an engaging, interactive online learning module, the new online option allows participants to learn, test, and become certified in Youth PQA Plus. For youth age 12 and under, there is a parent log-in for security, as well.

Youth PQA Plus is one part of the pork industry's We CareSM initiative, which reflects the ongoing commitment to responsible farming and fosters continuous improvement. Youth PQA Plus consists of two main elements: food safety and animal well-being training. The new online certification option for Youth PQA Plus was made available on April 15, 2014. Because it is interactive, it engages students, making learning fun.

"Consumers are paying more and more attention to how animals are raised and cared for. As such, we must prepare all producers - newcomers and veterans - to assure they're aware of the best on-farm practices available," said Jodi Sterle of Iowa State University. "I think it is extremely important for youth swine exhibitors to understand they are part of something bigger; they are part of the overall swine industry, producing food to feed the world."

Sterle is the Harman Endowed Professor in Teaching and Learning and Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator in Iowa State's Department of Animal Science and an advisor to the Pork Checkoff's YPQA Plus curriculum.

"There's a lot of pride that comes along with producing food - and understandably - a lot of responsibility. Youth PQA Plus helps make today's young farmers more aware of their personal responsibility, and the tools available to meet this duty."

Austin Langemeier is a third-generation livestock producer from Texas. As a young producer, he has shown livestock in state and national swine shows where Youth PQA Plus certification has been required. To Austin, the benefits of certification continue to grow.

"Youth PQA Plus is a unique experience and allows me to better understand my purpose in raising swine with a focus on the big picture. I understand the true endpoint and meaning of market animals - feeding the world - creating the protein necessary in any person's diet," Langemeier said. "Youth PQA Plus really hit home for me. My show pig is not an animal for my personal enjoyment, but serves a larger purpose.

When the community and consumers come to shows across the nation, they personally see how their food is raised and the care that goes into it. Youth PQA Plus training has enhanced my personal understanding and role as a swine producer."

More information on the revised Youth PQA Plus program is available at Click on the Youth PQA Plus link.

Thursday April 17 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Economy for April Strengthens

After moving below growth neutral in February, the Rural Mainstreet economy has moved above the 50.0 threshold for two straight months according to today’s April survey of bank CEOs in a 10-state area.   

Overall:  The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, with 50.0 representing growth neutral, increased to 53.2 from 50.1 in March and 48.4 in February.

“The overall index for the Rural Mainstreet Economy indicates that the areas of the nation highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing much slower growth than for the same period in 2013.  However, recent boosts to agriculture commodity prices should boost the economy in the months ahead,” said Ernie Goss, the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University Heider College of Business.

Iowa: The April RMI for Iowa expanded to 53.5 from March’s 49.8. The farmland-price index for April advanced to 41.4 from March’s 37.6. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April rose to 61.6 from 56.3 in March.

Nebraska: For a third straight month, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet Index remained below growth neutral. The index improved to 53.0 from March’s 49.5. The farmland-price index for April jumped to 35.8 from March’s 27.7. Nebraska’s new-hiring index climbed to 57.1 from March’s 48.4. Due to rising regulatory costs, David Steffensmeier, president of the First Community Bank in Beemer said, “We have not stopped making owner-occupied home loans completely, but we are questioning the profitability of continuing.”

This month bankers were asked to name the biggest challenge for farmers for this year’s planting season.  Almost one-third, or 31.5 percent reported that low agriculture-commodity prices were the greatest threat to farming profitability. Approximately 27.8 named lack of adequate moisture and 27.6 indicated high input prices were the biggest challenges for crop farm operations. Another 13.0 percent indicated high cash rents represented the greatest 2014 challenge for crop farmers,”

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for April increased slightly to 42.9 from March’s very weak 40.9. “This is the fifth straight month that the farmland and ranchland-price index has moved below growth neutral. With the Federal Reserve continuing to withdraw its economic stimulus, I expect rising interest rates to put even more downward pressures on farmland prices and cash rents,” said Goss.

Farm equipment sales remained below growth neutral for the 10th straight month. The April index rose to a frail 36.7 from March’s even weaker 29.3. “Agriculture equipment and implement dealers in the agriculture based areas are experiencing very weak sales to farmers in the region even as farm equipment manufacturers are experiencing positive growth due to healthy sales abroad,” said Goss.

This month bankers were also asked to estimate the breakeven price for corn production in their service area.  “Bank CEOs, on average, indicated that the break-even corn price was approximately $4.30 per bushel. This is down from a breakeven price of $4.84 recorded in our February 2013 report,” said Goss.

Banking: The loan-volume index advanced to a robust 73.1 from March’s 65.5. The checking-deposit index slipped to 65.1 from 65.5 in March, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments dipped to 42.0 from March’s 42.5. 

Hiring: Rural Mainstreet businesses continue to hire at a solid pace. The April hiring index advanced to a very healthy 64.0 from 60.0 in March. “While the farm economy slows, businesses on Rural Mainstreet continue to expand their payrolls. Despite growing job additions, Rural Mainstreet employment is still below its pre-recession level,” said Goss.

Confidence: The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, expanded to 54.0 from last month’s 47.3. “An improving national economy, higher agriculture commodity prices and passage of the farm bill pushed economic confidence among bankers higher for the month,” said Goss

Home and retail sales: The April home-sales index soared to 63.8 from March’s 51.8. The April retail-sales index rose to 50.0 from 49.2 in March. “Improving weather encouraged an upturn in home purchases and growth in an increase in the retail sales index.” said Goss. 

Bankers were asked if new compliance regulations have caused their bank to no longer make owner -occupied residential real estate loans. More than one-fourth, or 25.4 percent, indicated that their banks were no longer making owner-occupied residential real estate loans as a result of greater regulation.

Furthermore, many other bankers reported that they would likely cease these loans in the future. For example, Dale Leighty, CEO of the First National Bank in Las Animas, Col., reported, “We are considering discontinuing residential loans due to regulations.”

Larry Rogers of the First Bank of Utica in Utica, Neb., indicated the workload and exam requirements associated with greater regulations have become a huge time consumer. Rogers said that the rising regulations would help no one in rural Nebraska.

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included. The survey is supported by a grant from Security State Bank in Ansley, Neb.

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               An invasion of cheatgrass, downy brome, and wild oats has exploded in many pastures this spring.  Controlling them isn’t easy.

               To successfully control winter annual grasses in pastures, you must accomplish two objectives: reduce weed seed production and improve vigor and density of the perennial grass stand.

               In pastures dominated by warm-season grasses, spray with glyphosate before warm-season grasses green-up or with Plateau after green-up to control winter annual grasses quite well.

               Cool-season pastures are a much different story.  Glyphosate can kill the desirable grasses and Plateau can greatly suppress them.  So we need to use other methods.

               About the only herbicide that might help is Gramoxone.  Spray weedy grasses when they form seedheads to kill their top growth and prevent seed formation.  Unfortunately, this also will kill top growth of the desirable perennial cool-season grasses.  But these grasses will regrow in two or three weeks, much like if they were burned.

               A more reasonable approach might be to early graze these weedy grasses as short as possible for as long as animals continue to eat them.  This probably means using temporary fences to restrict animals to a small area. Eventually the weedy grasses will become unpalatable as they try to form seedheads and mature.  Then animals must be moved to better pasture or be fed hay so desirable grasses get a chance to regrow.  During this regrowth period, mow the weedy areas whenever seedheads appear, if possible, to reduce reseeding.  Mowing several times instead of grazing is another alternative.

               Whatever approach you take, remember to allow desirable perennial grasses adequate time to grow to gain vigor and density.

5 Facts to Help Consumers Understand the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Ag

More and more consumers are interested in knowing how their food is raised. A popular question is whether they should be concerned about antibiotics in meat. Consumers often question why farmers give antibiotics to livestock and whether the meat, milk and eggs from those animals are safe to consume.

It’s important for farmers to speak up and inform consumers on the truth behind today’s agriculture. Here are five important facts to help answer that question:

• Antibiotics have been around for a while. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry more than 40 years ago.

• Healthy animals provide healthy food. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals and reduce the chance of bacterial transmission from animals to humans, according to the Animal Health Institute.

• Regulated process ensures safety. A set number of days must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply, to ensure that any medicine has cleared the animal’s system, according to FDA and U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations.

• Human health is not affected. The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health, says Steven Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

• Hear it from the farmer. Watch Joan Ruskamp, a cattle farmer from Dodge, Neb., share her story about antibiotic use in food animals and the responsibility that comes with raising healthy, safe beef. And be sure to share it with your social networks....  

To address these questions on an ongoing basis, the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association developed CommonGround to give farmers, particularly women, the opportunity to engage with their counterparts in cities and suburbs about where our food comes from.

No-Till Expo June 5 in Hartington

There will be a no-till expo in Hartington on June 5. This expo will include field demonstrations at the Glenn and Matt Kathol farm East of Hartington as well as speakers and a noon lunch at the VFW in Hartington.

The main focus of this expo will be no-till crop production, cover crops, and soil health. Some of the leading experts for Nebraska in the use of no-till and cover crop production will be on hand to demonstrate the value that no-till and general soil health have on your operation. These folks will also be available to answer questions you may have on no-till or the use of cover crops.

This expo will be an excellent opportunity for you visit with other producers about the impacts that no-till and cover crops have had on their operation.

Please make plans to attend the Hartington no-till expo on June 5t. If you have questions call Tyler at the Cedar County NRCS office in Hartington at 402-254-6858.

NFBF PAC Names Fortenberry, Terry, and Smith ‘Friend of Agriculture’

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Fortenberry is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District.

“Congressman Fortenberry has been a strong proponent of biofuels and renewable energy production, including wind and biomass, and he has also supported value-added agricultural opportunities and new food markets,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Jeff has played an important role in not only working to restore fiscal sanity back to Washington, while at the same time protecting certain aspects of the federal budget that are important to Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

According to McHargue, Fortenberry has a strong grasp of agriculture within his district.

“The 1st Congressional District is diverse in its constituency, and Rep. Fortenberry understands the importance of agriculture to the district and the state. From his work on pushing for a sound federal budget to his work to keep regulatory agencies in check, Congressman Fortenberry has truly worked hard for Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

Also, Rep. Lee Terry has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Terry is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska and it’s also crucial to Omaha’s economic vitality through the large number of agribusiness and food companies that call Omaha home. Congressman Terry understands this and has worked hard on behalf of farmers and all the citizens of the district,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The endorsement was made based in consideration of Terry’s record of supporting small businesses and promoting economic growth, McHargue said.

“He’s worked to help keep U.S. agriculture competitive in world markets and he stood with farmers in opposing efforts by the EPA to greatly expand their regulatory control over farms and ranches. From his opposition to new methane regulations on livestock producers to his efforts to stop the expansion of the Clean Water Act, Congressman Terry has been a true advocate for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families,” said McHargue.

Farm Bureau has also appreciated Congressman Terry’s work in support of renewable energy. 

“Lee Terry has encouraged use of ethanol and other biofuels which is vitally important to Nebraska’s rural and state economy,” McHargue said.

And thirdly, on Thursday, Rep. Adrian Smith was been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Smith is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District.

“Congressman Smith has a thorough knowledge of Nebraska agriculture and how it is affected by federal policies and regulations. He has supported many initiatives that have directly benefited Nebraska agriculture,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Smith has worked to strengthen rural communities and open up new markets for American agriculture products.

“Smith's support of a new comprehensive farm bill, his efforts to reform our nation's outdated tax code and his support of new free trade agreements as a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will help to create a prosperous future for Nebraska agriculture,” said McHargue.

According to McHargue, Smith also recognizes how excessive regulation hurts Nebraska’s family farmers and ranchers, McHargue said.

“Whether it’s been the long arm of EPA or OSHA's push to regulate on-farm grain storage, Adrian has been very supportive of farm and ranch interests facing heavy handed federal regulations.”

“Smith is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus in the House and a co-chair of the Congressional Rural Caucus,” McHargue said.

The Friend of Agriculture designation is given to selected candidates for public office based on their commitment to and positions on agricultural issues, qualifications and previous experience, communication abilities and their ability to represent the district.

NEBFARMPAC Says Dave Domina is the Best Choice for Agriculture and Nebraska

NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 6,000 farm and ranch families announced its unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of David Domina for Senate.

The NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors issued the following statement:

“Agriculture is the largest single industry in our state. So goes agriculture, so goes Nebraska’s economy and fiscal condition. Production agriculture is heavily impacted by federal agricultural and regulatory policies and actions. It is critical that Nebraska’s next Senator be an effective advocate for our state.

David Domina presents Nebraska voters with the rare opportunity to send someone to the U.S. Senate to represent our state’s primary economic interests with an extensive background and expertise in the agricultural issues and sectors that impact family farm agriculture, our state’s largest single industry.

The two recent historic failures of Congress to re-authorize the all-important Farm Bill before it expired should serve as a wake-up call for rural states like Nebraska for the need for them to send representatives to Congress that have the ability to work well with others, solve problems, and get things done.

David Domina has expertise in ethanol and wind energy incentives and programs critical to our state. For example, Nebraska is the second leading ethanol producing state in the nation and has a huge stake in the EPA proposed regulations that would roll back the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) ethanol production targets for 2014. David Domina is the only United States Senatorial candidate to have cared enough about the issue to take a firm position in support of ethanol by summiting his own personally drafted comments to the EPA.

Nebraska currently has 24 active ethanol production plants in Nebraska, with a combined production capacity of over 2 billion gallons of ethanol each year. These ethanol plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for some 1,200 Nebraskans. Ethanol development is by far the most effective rural economic development strategy ever implemented in our state by virtue of its expanded tax base, good paying jobs, and additional rural incomes from both grain and livestock producers.

David Domina supports the extension of the federal Production Tax Credits for wind. Nebraska’s world class wind resources are ranked third in the nation. Wind energy is cost effective, does not emit carbon, uses no water, and brings huge capital investments into rural communities that expand local tax bases providing property tax relief to local property owners while also providing additional earned income to project landowners and good paying jobs with benefits to local communities.

David Domina is a proven champion for ag-market place reforms needed to fix the currently concentrated, non-competitive, vertically integrated agricultural markets that have failed Nebraska and U.S. livestock producers. Since 1980, the U.S. has lost 91% of its hog producers, 82% of its dairy producers, 42% of its beef producers, and 33% of its sheep producers. That is a state and national disgrace.

David Domina understands the importance of having healthy functioning ag markets that are fair, accessible, competitive and transparent so they can perform their critical function for price discovery and value allocation.

David Domina supports COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) so that food consumers have the information they need to make informed buying decision and domestic food producers can identify and differentiate their own higher quality products in their own domestic markets. If our domestic producers produce higher quality products, they are entitled to the marketplace benefits and advantages of producing better products. COOL is a win-win for meat producers and consumers.

NEBFARMPAC believes that if we are going to get more young producers started in livestock production, we must have ag and livestock markets that work as they should. David Domina understands the problems we face, and has the right set of skills and expertise to help us fix our broken ag marketing system.

“We know that Nebraska agriculture will be well served by sending David Domina to the Senate. His expertise in water and private property rights will serve our state well in the United States Senate,” said NEBFARMPAC President Gale Lush of Wilcox.

USMEF Among Organizations Receiving 2014 USDA Funds to Support Exports

More than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations focusing on expanding exports – including the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) – were awarded funds yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The funding, made available through the 2014 Farm Bill, was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

A total of 62 organizations and cooperatives have been designated to receive a collective $171.9 million in Market Access Program (MAP) funds to focus on consumer promotion, including brand promotion. The funds are used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. USMEF is the second-largest recipient of 2014 MAP funds at $14.07 million.

FAS also allocated $24.6 million through the 2014 Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program to 22 trade organizations that focus on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. USMEF received an additional $1.1 million in funding through the FMD Program.

Recipients of USDA funding are evaluated on four criteria: the experience of the cooperator, past performance record, ability to perform and industry contributions that the cooperator generates.

USMEF matches these USDA dollars with funds from the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries as well as support from the U.S. corn and soybean industries to maintain and expand markets for U.S. red meat products. In addition, USMEF solicits investments from international partners in the markets where it operates to support direct market promotion. Over the past three years, on average, these third-party contributions (3PC) have added 104 percent in additional resources to USMEF’s total budget.

The past five years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the United States. Farm exports in fiscal year 2013 reached a record $140.9 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States. U.S. red meat exports in 2013 set a new value record, topping $12.2 billion.

CommonGround Shares Why Every Day is Earth Day for America's Farmers

Today, CommonGround volunteers Katie Sawyer and Pam Selz-Pralle took the story of American farming, their story, to people across the country through a series of radio interviews. Discussing why Earth Day is every day for U.S. farmers, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle shared the exciting story of American agriculture's tradition of sustainability and stewardship.

"Earth Day shines a public spotlight on agriculture's careful stewardship of our natural resources. Farmers and ranchers across the country have the public's ear to discuss issues important to us all concerning sustainability and land use," says Selz-Pralle, who farms in Wisconsin.  "Today's consumer is eager to become more connected with their food and how it's grown or raised. That's where we CommonGround volunteers can provide a 'farm voice' to ease the concerns of wondering consumers. No one should have to fear their food or where it comes from.  Our passion and personal experiences give confidence to consumers."

Over the course of the morning, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle took part in 12 interviews, both live and taped, which will reach radio listeners in markets from Philadelphia to Seattle.

Sawyer, who farms in Kansas, noted that "many people are genuinely surprised to learn that about 96 percent of American farms are family farms. Personally, I grew up in an urban environment and, until I met my husband, I would have been surprised too. Like almost all farmers, we want to pass our grain farm and our cattle operation to the next generation. Our farm is our gift to our son and to his children down the line. We want to make sure that the soil, the air and the water provide as wonderful of a life for them as they do for us today."

"As I talk to consumers and dieticians at food shows and other events, they are continually surprised at agriculture's amazing story. They quickly ask questions and engage in honest, open dialogue with a real farmer," says Selz-Pralle.  "We have made incredible strides in sustainability and we shouldn't keep that success story a secret!  As CommonGround farm women, we tell agriculture's story, validating it with our personal innovation and farm stories. From participating in conservation programs to producing renewable energy, America's farmers have been living green, and we are getting greener every day."

Many of the stations involved in this tour aired the interviews live, but quite a few others taped the segments to run over the coming weeks. Interviews will air in: Denver, Colo.; Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; Ocala, Fla.; Boston, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Seattle, Wash.; and across the state of Kansas on regional radio.

Audio clips from these interviews will be posted to the National Corn Growers Association's website as available.

CommonGround is a grass-roots movement to foster conversation among women - on farms and in cities - about where our food comes from. The National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through the use of a wide range of activities.

USSEC Co-Sponsors China Feed Amino Acids and Feed Raw Material Application Symposium

US Soybean Export Council - China co-sponsored the China Feed Amino Acids and Feed Raw Material Application Symposium (CFARIS).  The symposium was organized by China Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Academy and Beijing Boyar Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd., one of USSEC’s partners in China that helps promote U.S. soy in the feed ingredient industry.  More than 300 people including government officials, entrepreneurs, specialists, traders and purchasing managers from China and abroad attended the symposium in Beijing on March 19.

Speaking to this year’s CFARIS were representatives from China’s Ministry of Agriculture, COFCO, Adisseo, Evonik Industry, International Ingredient Corporation, CJ Group, Alltech, and China Agriculture University, among others.  USSEC Country Director – China Zhang Xiaoping presented the subject “Soy Supply and Demand in China with a Global Bumper Harvest.”  He also made comments on topics currently being debated in Chinese academic circles and in the media on agricultural biotechnology and food security strategies.  Mr. Zhang corrected several myths on biotech products and talked about the many benefits that U.S. soy growers have seen from growing biotech soybeans in terms of food security, food safety and sustainability.

Railway Issues Discussed at Public Hearing

(from NAWG newsletter)

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) held a public hearing last week to listen to rail shippers concerns about service issues in the northern plains states. Testimony was heard from many different shippers including farmers, grain handlers, chemical manufacturers and others, in addition to representatives from the Canadian Pacific (CP) and BNSF railways. Bob Wisness, President of the North Dakota Grain Growers, testified on behalf of wheat farmers, citing the lack of crop storage capacity as a major issue if the past year’s crop is not shipped before the next harvest season in a few months.

Another immediate concern brought up by several panelists was the disruption of fertilizer shipments and the adverse affect that would have on the upcoming planting season. Following the hearing, the STB issued an order to the CP and BNSF instructing them to report their plans to deliver fertilizer shipments for spring planting of U.S. crops to the STB by April 18. The STB also directed CP and BNSF to provide weekly status reports over the next six weeks, beginning April 25, regarding the delivery of fertilizer on their respective networks. These status reports will also include delivery data, by state, indicating the number of cars, shipped or received, which are billed to agricultural destinations and the number of cars placed during each prior week as well as performance versus trip plan data for fertilizer shipments.

President Obama Endorses Biotechnology in Agriculture

A personal letter from President Barack Obama to Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Dr. Norman Borlaug, in which he clearly states his support for the use of biotechnology in agriculture, was made public this week. In the letter, sent to Ms. Borlaug following the unveiling of a statue of her grandfather in the U.S. Capitol for his lifelong dedication to fighting hunger worldwide, President Obama wrote that he shares Dr. Borlaug’s “belief that investment in enhanced biotechnology is an essential component of the solution to some of our planet's most pressing agricultural problems.” The letter represents President Obama’s clearest endorsement of biotechnology since he entered into office and comes at a time when the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food has been in the news with the introduction of legislation from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) that would establish a voluntary federal labeling standard for foods and beverages made with GMOs by affirming FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO ingredients.

USDA Announces Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Historic Farm Bill Support Available through State Departments of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand, and more.

The historic support provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), will strengthen rural American communities by supporting local and regional markets and improving access to fresh, healthy, and nutritious high quality products for millions of Americans. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

"Specialty crop block grants help sustain the livelihoods of American farmers while strengthening the rural economy" said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These grants contribute to food safety improvements, increased access to healthy food, and new research to help growers increase profitability and sustainability."

As directed by the Farm Bill, the block grants are now allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and production value. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds.

AMS encourages applicants to develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen rural economies by:
    Increasing nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption among children and adults,
    Improving efficiency within the distribution system,
    Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers, and processors,
    Supporting research through standard and green initiatives,
    Enhancing food safety,
    Developing new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops,
    Controlling pests and diseases,
    Creating organic and sustainable production practices,
    Establishing local and regional fresh food systems,
    Expanding access to specialty crops in underserved communities,
    Developing school and community gardens and farm-to-school programs,
    Enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers.

State Department of Agriculture Available Grant Allocation FFY14

    Iowa                $ 307,610.17
    Nebraska         $ 597,375.99

Interested applicants should apply directly to their state department of agriculture. Several states have already published their requests for proposals, and the list of FY 2014 State Requests for Proposals is available on the AMS website.

For more information visit the AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program webpage or contact Trista Etzig via phone at (202) 690-4942 or by e-mail:

Middle East and North Africa Shifting Corn Demand to US

The U.S. Grains Council's latest statistics show outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. corn to North Africa and the Middle East for the past three marketing years, which began Sept. 1, through Mid-April for each listed year. With U.S. corn returning to more normal pricing in the 2013/2014 marketing year, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Algeria have all returned to purchasing U.S. corn. Also, Tunisia has once again begun sourcing corn from the United States.

In a little over six months of the 2013/2014 corn marketing year, U.S. corn accumulated exports and outstanding sales to North Africa and the Middle East totaled more than 2.8 million metric tons (110 million bushels) compared to 204,500 tons (8 million bushels) in the 2012/2013 marketing year and 1 million tons (40 million bushels) in marketing year 2011/2012.

The chart shows separate slices for combined exports and outstanding sales for the U.S. markets in North Africa and the Middle East. All markets have purchased more U.S. corn this year, with Egypt leading the way, followed by Saudi Arabia. Egypt alone has purchased more than 1.8 million tons (70.9 million bushels) of U.S. corn which is nearly 65 percent of the region's demand for U.S. corn.

Korean Sales Rebound (Again)

U.S. corn exports have staged a dramatic comeback in South Korea, driven by the record 2013 U.S. corn crop. Korean calendar year figures through March 31 show the United States with sales of 2.5 million tons (100 million bushels) for a market share of 48 percent, up from just 3.6 percent for the entire 2012/2013 marketing year, Sept. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31, 2013. Black Sea and South American producers trail with a 19 and 17 percent market share, respectively.

This rebound has ample precedent. Korea is a mature, sophisticated and highly price sensitive market, and the competition comes from all quarters, as Korean buyers do not hesitate to source from the Black Sea region, South America and South Africa as well as the United States. While Korean buyers and end-users often express a traditional preference for U.S. corn, price is decisive. Last year's drought-impacted results, in fact, approached the all-time low for U.S. market share in Korea of 3.1 percent which occurred in the 2002/2003 marketing year.Throughout 2013, the U.S. Grains Council provided timely market and technical information and customized trade servicing to Korean coarse grain import buyers and end-users to assure them of the U.S. long-term capacity, reliability, and commitment to the Korean market.

US Corn Exports to Middle East and North Africa Continue Upward Trend

After two consecutive years of low market share for U.S. corn exports to the Middle East and North Africa, the 2013-14 marketing year has seen a sharp rebound in U.S. corn sales and shipments to the region. From the beginning of the marketing year through April 10, outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. corn to North Africa and the Middle East are more than 2.8 million metric tons (110 million bushels), up from 204,500 tons (8 million bushels) the previous year over the same time period.

Several factors underlie the resurgence, including the largest-ever U.S. corn crop in 2012, meaning an abundant supply of competitively priced U.S. corn for buyers around the world. In recent months, the on-going political strife in Ukraine has also been a factor due to higher prices for Ukrainian corn and buyer concerns about reliability in the coming months.

"In the past, proximity and resulting freight advantage of Ukraine and other Black Sea-region corn has been a major reason for eroding U.S. corn market share in the region," said Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council regional director of Middle East and Africa. But the balance has shifted. "Besides the revival of the Egypt market, we've seen buyers in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Israel and Saudi Arabia purchasing U.S. corn this spring," Sifferath said. "And we've seen U.S. corn being shipped to EU destinations, as well."

End of Rains Allows Argentine Soy Harvest to Resume

A welcome end to the rain across the Argentine soybean belt has allowed crops to recover and harvest efforts to accelerate, according to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.

Soybean harvesting moved forward eight percentage points to reach 21.4% as of Thursday, said the exchange. But that is still 17.2 points behind last year due to the heavy rain at the start of the month.

According to the report, there have not been significant losses because of the wet weather, with problems restricted to parts of central Buenos Aires, where 5% to 10% losses were registered on some farms, and in eastern and central Entre Rios, where 3% to 5% losses were recorded.

Overall, the exchange saw no reason to alter its crop forecast of 54.5 million metric tons (mmt), which is up 12.4% on the year before.

According to the Rosario Cereals exchange, rainfall totalled a massive 36 inches in the first 100 days of 2014 in parts of northern Buenos Aires.

Apart from flooding the fields, the deluges limited access to crops. Thankfully, with the easing of the rains over the last nine days, the situation has much improved.

The damp conditions prompted Argentine farmers to leave corn in the field as they concentrated on harvesting soybeans as quickly as possible.

As a result, corn harvesting efforts moved forward just 3 percentage points over the last seven days to 19.7%, according to the Buenos Aires exchange.

Yields from early harvested corn continue to vary widely, ranging from 94 bushels to 153 bushels per acre.

Don’t Blame High Prices on Climate Change…at Least Not Yet

Alan Tracy, US Wheat President

One of the primary findings in a recently released summary report of the United Nations (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that there is a considerable risk to the world's food supply from continued global warming. That is no doubt a legitimate and serious concern. However, a number of news stories about the report have taken that concern a bit too far by blaming recent agricultural commodity price increases on climate change. 

Perhaps the most egregious example was an April 11 story in London's Financial Times headlined "Climate extremes inflate food prices,” by Emiko Terazono. While headlines can often be misleading, the story is even more unjustified in this case. It blames increased volatility in agricultural markets on climatic change and claims that "The frequency of agricultural shocks caused by extreme weather events has risen sharply over the past decade, and [my emphasis] the resulting surge in food commodity prices has hit ... everybody..."

Let's wait just a minute. Yes, we have had relatively high and considerably more volatile grain prices, in particular for the last half dozen years, following decades of relative price stability. But, is it because of climate change or even because of weather?

The facts do not support the author's claims. Let's look at global production of major grains during the last six years. It turns out that the world corn crop has enjoyed record production five of the last six years. Wheat and soybean production have set new records four of the last six years. Rice set new records in every one of those years. Just where is the production shortfall caused by extreme weather ... caused by climate change?! It simply does not exist. The weather is less than ideal at least somewhere in the world every year, but we have managed to produce a string of record crops. The author backs up her price assertions by citing some recent year-on-year price increases, such as for coffee, apparently unaware that coffee is simply rebounding from several years of depressed prices caused by — wait for it — overproduction. 

The other key factor affecting prices is, of course, demand. And, as you might surmise from the fact that food commodity prices have indeed been relatively high and considerably more volatile recently, demand has been at record levels. In fact, global consumption of each of those same top four grains has set a new record every one of the past six years. Now, that is newsworthy! Consumption growth for wheat and rice has roughly tracked with global population growth, while corn and soybean demand growth has been higher, reflecting the growing middle classes in developing countries and their propensity to spend more money on meat, the production of which consumes corn and soybean meal. That demand growth has boosted prices. And, from some perspectives, thankfully so, as the world's agricultural producers have responded to the price incentive by increasing production to meet global needs. The world will need to increase its investment in agricultural technology and infrastructure to keep up with that continued demand growth and to adapt to any further climate change.

The U.N. report documents the pronounced warming trend of the last three decades and evaluates risks to the planet if the trend continues as they project it will. The Financial Times author goes awry in confusing correlation (global warming and higher commodity prices occurring at about the same time) with causality. While she correctly points out that there remain serious future risks to our food production, her blaming high prices on climate change and her failure to recognize the remarkable success of agriculture in meeting the world's burgeoning needs thus far underestimates modern agriculture and is a disservice to this respected newspaper and to its readers.

Mosaic to Acquire Brazil & Paraguay ADM Businesses

The Mosaic Company signed definitive agreements with Archer Daniels Midland Company to acquire its fertilizer distribution business in Brazil and Paraguay for $350 million. The purchase price assumes the delivery of $150 million in working capital at closing.

This acquisition is expected to significantly accelerate Mosaic's previously announced growth plans in Brazil as well as replace a substantial amount of planned internal investments in that country.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mosaic would acquire four blending and warehousing facilities in Brazil, one in Paraguay and additional warehousing and logistics service capabilities.

The acquisition of ADM's fertilizer distribution business would increase Mosaic's annual distribution in the region from approximately four million metric tonnes to about six million metric tonnes of crop nutrients.

In addition to the acquisition, Mosaic is in process of completing approximately $100 million in projects including expansion of the company's port terminals, plants and production capabilities.

Syngenta First Quarter 2014: Sales $4.7 Billion

Sales in the first quarter of 2014 increased by 5 percent at constant exchange rates. The increase in reported sales was 2 percent owing to the depreciation of a number of emerging market currencies against the dollar.

Integrated sales rose by 5 percent at constant exchange rates, with volumes up 2 percent and prices 3 percent higher. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East growth of 10 percent was driven primarily by crop protection, with an early start to the season and high weed, disease and insect pressure. Growth continued in the CIS despite political instability, with price increases partly offsetting local currency depreciation. In North America, prolonged cold temperatures delayed the start to the US season across the corn belt, while drought in California reduced demand for insecticides and fungicides. Canada saw good growth with the continuing success of VIBRANCE seedcare and the expansion of canola and sugar beet seed sales.

In Latin America the pace of growth improved compared with the fourth quarter of 2013 despite dry conditions in Brazil and Argentina. High caterpillar pressure contributed to a significant increase in insecticide sales and in Venezuela business resumed following resolution of a payment delay. Sales of ELATUS progressed well in Paraguay and Bolivia; registration in Brazil was announced on February 28. In Asia Pacific, growth was strong across both developed and emerging markets. In Australasia, herbicide sales in particular benefited from distributor support for our early season offers and from rainfall in March. In China, sales of AMISTAR technology doubled with expansion on rice and vegetables; South Asia saw strong demand for both crop protection and seeds in rice.

Sales of Selective herbicides increased by 6 percent despite the delayed season in the USA. Europe saw strong growth in corn and cereals; in Latin America the greater incidence of glyphosate-resistant weeds boosted demand. In Non-selective herbicides a planned reduction in glyphosate volumes was more than offset by strong growth in GRAMOXONE. In Fungicides sales of our new SDHI product SEGURIS more than doubled, contributing to broad-based growth across Europe. Latin America saw double digit fungicides growth with increased use on cotton. The main driver of Insecticides growth was the continuing expansion of DURIVO, notably in Latin America. Increased pest pressure and the replacement of neonicotinoid chemistry drove sales of FORCE in Europe. Seedcare sales were lower partly due to the suspension of neonicotinoids, including CRUISER, for certain crops in the EU. Latin American sales were also lower on reduced corn acreage. New launches included FORTENZA in Argentina and the new biological product CLARIVA for soybean cyst nematode in the USA.

In seeds, Corn and soybean sales were unchanged, with U.S. growers delaying planting decisions. In Latin America sales reflected lower second season corn acreage in Brazil. Sales of our tropical corn germplasm in Asia Pacific continued to expand rapidly. Growth in Diverse field crops was driven by ongoing growth in the CIS; this was partly offset by lower sunflower acreage in other European countries. In Vegetables the recovery in developed markets continued with strong growth in Europe, and sales continued their growth trajectory in Latin America. Global growth in Vegetables adjusted for the divestment of Dulcinea was 9 percent.

Lawn and Garden reflected modest growth in Europe and a decline in North America due to the weather. Sales in Latin America and Asia Pacific grew strongly.

Mike Mack, chief executive officer said: "We have made a solid start to the year despite adverse weather conditions in North America. For the full year we maintain our sales growth expectation for the integrated business of 6 percent at constant exchange rates. As stated in February, lower seeds costs in 2014 will result in gross margin improvement. Research and development spend will increase and will be at the upper end of the targeted 9-10 percent of sales range. Given the depreciation of a number of emerging market currencies in the first quarter, the impact of currencies on full year EBITDA is likely to be around $100 million compared with an earlier forecast of $50 million. We continue to forecast a significant increase in free cash flow before acquisitions to around $1.5 billion."

Adverse Weather Hurts DuPont Earnings

DuPont Co. reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings as unusually cold weather in North America delayed farmers' decisions to buy seeds and chemicals for this spring's plantings.

The agriculture and chemicals company said growth in its electronics, nutrition and industrial bioscience segments was offset in the first quarter by reduced demand for agricultural products such as herbicides. DuPont said its seed sales declined in part from lower corn plantings in the U.S., South America and Ukraine.

The Wilmington, Del., company reported a profit of $1.44 billion, or $1.54 a share, down from $3.35 billion, or $3.58 a share, last year. The year-earlier period included nearly $2 billion in earnings from the sale of the company's performance-coatings business.

Excluding unusual items, DuPont's earnings rose to $1.58 a share from $1.56. Revenue fell 2.7% to $10.1 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected per-share profit of $1.59 and revenue of $10.45 billion.

"Expectations that farmers will plant less corn this spring in North America, delayed farmer decision making in North America and reductions in herbicide sales" contributed to the pressure on earnings, Chief Financial Officer Nick Fanandakis said on a conference call with analysts.

Executives said DuPont expects to recoup some of the delayed sales from the first quarter during the second quarter, as U.S. farmers decide which crops to plant. The company affirmed its full-year earnings outlook of $4.20 to $4.55 a share.

DuPont shares were down 1% at $67.07 in midday trading. The stock is up 3.2% for the year.

A cold, soggy start to spring--following a harsh winter--has kept many U.S. farmers from completing fieldwork before they sow crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat. U.S. corn growers had planted 3% of the nation's crop as of Sunday, half the pace of the previous five years, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report this week. Plantings were behind schedule in Iowa and Illinois, the largest U.S. producers of corn and soybeans by volume..

DuPont is expected to sell less of its genetically engineered corn seeds because U.S. farmers are cutting back on plantings of the grain this spring in favor of soybeans. The Agriculture Department estimated last month that U.S. planted corn acreage will decline 4% from last year to the lowest total in four years. Corn prices fell sharply last year after growers produced a record U.S. crop, while soybean prices have held up relatively well, making the crop more attractive to farmers.

DuPont also said it has been affected by lower corn plantings in Brazil, a major rival to the U.S. in exporting the grain.

DuPont said currency pressures and political uncertainty contributed to lower sales of agricultural products in Ukraine, one of the world's largest exporters of corn and wheat. Rising tensions with Russia have fueled concerns that grain exports and production will decline in Ukraine.

"Because most of our revenue [in Ukraine] is from agriculture, our first-quarter sales were limited by the actions taken there," DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said on a conference call with reporters.

Ms. Kullman added that because the bulk of DuPont's sales in the Eastern European country occur in the first half of the year, "we're not going to meet our expectations for growth there, but still see opportunity there and are watching the situation closely."

The severe U.S. winter hurt some of DuPont's other businesses, including its performance-materials segment. The weather "temporarily impacted our manufacturing, supply chain and operating costs at several plant locations," Mr. Fanandakis said.

Overall, DuPont said adverse weather reduced per-share earnings in the first quarter by an estimated seven cents, reflecting increased operating costs, lost sales and constrained volume growth in the Americas.

DuPont last year said it plans to spin off its performance-chemicals segment, best known for materials in nonstick frying pans and house paints. The company Thursday reiterated its expectation for the spin-off to be completed by mid-2015.

Wednesday April 16 Ag News

Heineman Signs Water Sustainability Bill into Law

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. The Governor was joined by State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, who introduced the bill in the 2014 Legislative Session, and State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who has been a legislative advocate on water issues.

“This is noteworthy water legislation pertaining to Nebraska’s long-term water utilization and planning,” said Gov. Heineman. “Water is one of Nebraska’s most important natural resources and this bill reflects our emphasis on water sustainability and water management.”

The bill creates the Water Sustainability Fund which will be used to contribute to multiple water supply management goals, assess flood control, increase efficiency of water usage, enhance water quality and comply with interstate compacts and other agreements.

“This is the most significant bill for agriculture and livestock production in my eight years in the legislature,” said Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege. “I want to thank the Governor for signing the bill, the legislature for the 48-0 vote, and the task force and Senators on that task force in an advisory capacity that worked so hard to put LB 1098 together.”

“Basin-wide planning will provide groundwater and surface water users the opportunity to find positive solutions within the Republican River Basin,” said State Sen. Christensen.

This bill would also expand the Natural Resources Commission, from 16 to 27 members. Currently, three members are appointed by the governor and 13 are elected to represent river basins across Nebraska. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including groundwater and surface water irrigators, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

Gov. Heineman added, “Preserving and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those who work in our number one industry – agriculture.”

On Signing of the Water Bill LB 1098

Steve Nelson, NE Farm Bureau President

“Agriculture is our number one industry and water is our lifeblood. We have a wonderful supply of water in the state of Nebraska. We must manage it in a responsible manner so we can be assured that future generations have the water they need not only for agriculture, but for domestic uses, municipalities, industrial uses, outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. By investing in water projects, programs, activities and by setting up a mechanism to make sure those investments are done wisely, we can protect our water uses for years to come.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to thank Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege for making this bill his priority for the session and all the state senators who supported the legislation. Thank you also to Gov. Dave Heineman for making this bill a reality by signing it today (April 16).”

Heineman Seeks Applicants for Natural Resources Commission

Gov. Dave Heineman is seeking qualified candidates to the newly-expanded Natural Resources Commission. Applicants are encouraged to apply with the Governor’s Office.

Today, Gov. Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. That law expands the Natural Resources Commission from 16 to 27 members. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including outdoor recreation users, range livestock owners, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

There are ten areas in which applicants are being sought. Applicants must identify which area of interest they are applying for from the following:
-    Agriculture
-    Agribusiness
-    Irrigation District
-    Manufacturing Interests
-    Outdoor Recreation User
-    Public Power District
-    Public Power & Irrigation District
-    Range Livestock Owner
-    Wildlife Conservation Interests
-    A Lincoln Resident who is Interested in Water Issues

Individuals interested in applying for the Natural Resources Commission should send a resume, along with a completed application form to Kathleen Dolezal in the Governor’s Office, at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509 or The application form can be completed on the Governor’s website or requested by calling the Governor’s Office. Applications will be accepted through close of business on Tuesday, May 6.

Nebraskans with questions about the position may call the Governor’s Office at (402) 471-2244 and ask for Ms. Dolezal.

Stella’s Bar & Grill Reclaims “Best Burger” Title

The Nebraska Beef Council has announced Stella’s Bar & Grill in Bellevue, NE as the winner of the fourth annual “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest. The contest selection was made through online nominations and a panel of judges.

During the month of March, the public was asked to nominate their favorite all beef hamburger served at a Nebraska restaurant. Over 200 restaurants received nominations with the top five moving on to a second round of online voting. During the final phase of voting, a panel of judges also scored each of the burgers based on taste, appearance and proper cooking temperature. The online votes and scores from the judges were combined resulting in the Stella’s Cheeseburger being declared the overall winner. The cheeseburger is made from a 6 ½ oz fresh, never frozen ground beef patty served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mayonnaise. All of the hamburgers served at Stella’s are made to order with a number of toppings available including bacon, mushrooms, a fried egg and even peanut butter.

“This was the first year that we’ve allowed past winners to be eligible in the contest,” said Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “Stella’s quickly surfaced to the top once again with tremendous support from the online votes and rave reviews from our panel of judges. It’s obvious they have a passion for great tasting beef and it’s their hamburgers that have created their loyal fan base.”

The Union Bar in Gering was this year’s runner-up followed by the Peppermill Restaurant in Valentine and Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney who tied for third. Sin City Grill in Grand Island rounded out the top five. A complete list of nominated restaurants is available on

Stella’s Bar & Grill will be awarded the first place plaque and will be featured by the Nebraska Beef Council in May as part of Nebraska Beef Month.

“FFA Members Participated in Fourth Annual Agricultural Issues Academy”

FFA members across Nebraska participated in the fourth annual Agricultural Issues Academy (AIA) on April 9th as part of the 2014 Nebraska State FFA Convention held in Lincoln. AIA is a leadership-based academy that focuses on providing participants with skills needed to become spokespeople for the agriculture industry.  The day-long program exposed participants to current agricultural issues, develop communication skills, and provide an opportunity to meet with industry leaders and law makers.

“Programs like Ag Issues Academy are a great way to involve young people in the political process and encourage networking with their peers while learning about current issues facing agriculture,” said Kelsey Pope, Director of Advocacy and Outreach  for the Nebraska Corn Board and committee member for the Agricultural Issues Academy.  “This is a great opportunity for FFA members to develop communications skills through hands-on activities and help them make connections with industry leaders and law makers.”

Participants were selected from a pool of 80 qualified applicants from across Nebraska and were narrowed down by a selection committee to 30 participants.  Selected candidates were charged with a task to a research current “ag” issue of their choice and be prepared to explain the issue at the academy.

At the Agricultural Issues Academy, participants were a part of the following activities:
·        Round-robin sessions presented by experts on learning how to speak to lawmakers, preparing a successful and positive message for TV and radio, and have first-hand training for written and online communications.
·        A visit to the State Capitol, accompanied by agricultural lobbyists who introduced participants to the State Legislature, and provided an opportunity for them to meet with the senator from their home district.
·        The following day, Academy participants served as peer leaders for the state convention’s annual legislative breakfast with State Senators and other FFA members.
·        Participants were recognized and awarded pins for participating in the Academy at the Opening Session of the Nebraska State FFA Convention on Thursday morning.

The Agricultural Issues Academy is sponsored by Alliance for Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Nebraska Association of Resource Districts Foundation, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Board, and Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

USDA Considers Mandatory Reporting for PEDV Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is discussing the possibility of having rules to require reporting of PEDV outbreaks with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to improve tracking of the disease. PEDV has been difficult to track - partly because veterinarians aren't required to report instances to government officials. Association Executive Director Tom Burkgren says it's a very widely distributed disease - and at this point in the outbreak - he thinks there'd have to be really good reasons to start reporting it.

Cargill Gives $150,000 to National Pork Board for PEDV Feed Research

As the first anniversary of confirmation of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the United States nears, the National Pork Board continues to build an arsenal of information based on its nearly $2 million in Pork Checkoff-funded research funded to date. This work will be aided by a decision by Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork Businesses to donate $150,000 for additional PEDV research directed by the National Pork Board.

"Cargill is committed to supporting research priorities related to PEDV," said Douglas Cook, director of innovation at Cargill's Provimi North America business, which includes the Akey brand, in Brookville, Ohio. "Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork businesses are pleased to provide the National Pork Board with funding to be used for PEDV feed-related research priorities to advance knowledge on this critical topic for everyone in the pork industry."

Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board's vice president of science and technology, said this investment is a welcome addition to the series of funding coming from groups outside of Pork Checkoff that will help further leverage Checkoff-funded research into the costly disease.

"Our main goal with this round of research is to find answers to PEDV and feed-related questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," Sundberg said. "We appreciate the funding by Cargill and will continue to collaborate with all pork industry stakeholders to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The top research priorities for this group of projects are: 1) to investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds, 2) to conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain, 3) to develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures and 4) to continue to investigate the risk of feed systems and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

To view the National Pork Board's PEDV-related research and resources, go to

Researchers Hope New Tests Prevent Pork Industry Endemic

Pork products cost about 10 percent more than they did last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and economists expect the prices to continue rising because of diarrhea viruses currently devastating the pork industry.

That's why researchers at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University have developed new tests they hope will mitigate the spread of these viruses.

"Enteric disease in pigs has turned into a huge, huge problem and we're developing all kinds of new tests to address the old problems but also to address the new diseases that are just destroying everything," said Dick Hesse, director of diagnostic virology at the lab and professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Hesse says there are at least three viruses with similar symptoms affecting pigs, two of which have entered the United States for the first time -- porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and delta coronavirus. Swine specialists and molecular diagnosticians at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have developed tests to detect which virus is infecting the pigs.

"If you know what they've been exposed to and how high the immunity is, you can make adjustments on how you treat the virus," Hesse said.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has already killed an estimated 6 million pigs. The Kansas State University laboratory is one of only four in the United States with the new tests to identify these diseases. The researchers hope the tests will stop the spread of these diseases before they become endemic.

"They're management tools," Hesse said. "With enough information, you can make informed decisions and minimize the impact of the disease."

USDA Helps Open and Expand Export Markets for U.S. Agriculture through 2014 Farm Bill Programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products. The funding was made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA will begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding on April 17, 2014.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program, which focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, is used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Under FMD, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, who are represented by non-profit commodity or trade associations called cooperators. The organizations, which on average contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase the demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.

Applications for 2015 export development program funding will be accepted beginning April 17, 2014. In addition to MAP and FMD programs, eligible organizations can apply for funding through the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program, Quality Samples Program (QSP) and Emerging Markets Program (EMP). The TASC program funds projects that address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. The 2014 Farm Bill amended the program to allow participants to address technical barriers to trade regardless of whether they are related to a sanitary or phytosanitary barrier. QSP helps agricultural trade organizations provide product samples to potential importers. EMP provides funding for technical assistance activities to promote exports to emerging markets. The programs were authorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/11/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 939,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 39.44 million gallons daily. That is up 43,000 b/d from the week before and the highest rate of the year. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 910,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.95 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.0 million barrels. That is a 2.8% decrease from last week, but still the second-highest level in the last six weeks.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 361.9 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.90%, a seven-week high.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.238 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,795 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,426 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.89 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Beef Checkoff Presents the Power of Umami at Northeast Culinary Conference

The beef checkoff, through its Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), made a positive impact on the nearly 500 culinary students, chef instructors and restaurant operators at the 2014 Northeast American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference in Providence, R.I. April 11-14.

The Northeast regional ACF conference is the largest of ACF's regional conferences in the nation. Rhode Island is one of the four states in the Northeast region that does not have a state beef council, making the checkoff’s representation vital in extending national checkoff resources in this heavily populated region of the country.

In the midst of the educational sessions at the conference, participants were able to attend sponsor break-out booths. The checkoff’s BEEFlexible recipes, cut charts and educational materials were distributed during these sessions, when participants also had the opportunity to enter the “Best of Beef” basket raffle.

The beef checkoff also sponsored one 60-minute educational session during the final day of the conference. “Beef Taste, Flavor and the Power of Umami” included a beef-tasting experience to highlight the power of umami and the magnified effect when beef is paired with other umami-containing ingredients. The checkoff’s executive chef, Dave Zino, led this tasting experience.

“The Northeast ACF regional conference gives the checkoff the opportunity to get in front of chef instructors and culinary students and provide them accurate and credible beef information,” Chef Zino said. “It amazes me how hungry they are for our research and educational materials.” After the session, one chef said: “I thought I knew a lot about beef; boy was I wrong.”

Tuesday April 15 Ag News

NE Real Property Value Percentage Change 2013-2014

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, has processed  the 2014 Real Property Abstracts of Assessment  filed by the 93 Nebraska county assessors.  Preliminary analysis indicates that real property valuations have increased  12.45%  from  2013  to  2014, resulting in an increase in valuation of approximately $20.93 billion.

•  $1.99 billion (  9.5%) is attributable to newly-constructed real property.  
•  $18.94 billion (90.5%) is attributable to existing property valuation increases.
•  Total Agricultural Land Value Change was up 29.12% from 2013 to 2014

The real property value percentage change  by property type  is  based on the total property reported in each county. The real property value of individual property in each county may not be affected by the same percentage change. 

Agricultural Land Value Change by County (% change 2013-2014)

Antelope  47.50%
Boone  30.64%
Burt  16.79%
Butler  13.35%
Cass  17.38%
Cedar  25.46%
Colfax  38.88%
Cuming  27.12%
Dakota  23.71%
Dixon  35.84%
Dodge  20.76%
Douglas  20.30%
Knox  13.24%
Lancaster  0.01%
Madison  37.15%
Nance  36.18%
Otoe  16.18%
Pierce  40.99%
Platte  31.30%
Sarpy  14.42%
Saunders  14.75%
Stanton  41.54%
Thurston  37.01%
Washington  10.12%
Wayne  45.59%

Cuming County Ag Land Value Compared to other types of property 

(% change from 2013 to 2014, excluding growth)
Residential and Recreational -1.33%;  Commercial and Industrial +13.42%;  Total Real Property +19.92%

Click here for the county by county numbers across all real estate types...

Real property  valuations  are  set by the county assessors  and  are subject to  review during the statewide equalization proceedings before  the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.  Real property  valuation  change  notices will be mailed  on or before  June 1,  2014  to  real  property owners who had real property values that increased or decreased from 2013 to 2014.  

Increases to  real property  valuations  may  result in an increase  of tax revenue  for local governmental subdivisions.  If the tax rates from the previous year remain unchanged, additional property taxes  would be generated.   Local  property taxes are the product of spending and budgeting decisions made by local governments, based on their  fiscal needs. The  final budgets must be approved by September 20 of each year. Tax rates must be determined by October 15 of each year.  

Statewide Agricultural Land Valuations Double Since 2009

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

“Yesterday the Nebraska Department of Revenue’s Property Assessment Division released the real property value percentage change by property type from 2013 to 2014. As expected, agricultural land valuations again increased, this time by 29.12 percent over the previous year.”

“This increase ensures the statewide valuation of agricultural land for tax purposes will have doubled since 2009 as our estimates suggest nearly a 120 percent increase in valuation since that time. Our estimates also suggest that due to the increase, the statewide property taxes paid by farm and ranch families on agricultural land will near $1 billion in 2015.”

“As we have pointed out on many occasions the unprecedented growth in valuation on agricultural land and the associated increases in property taxes are carried by farm and ranch families who make up less than three percent of our population, but pay more than 25 percent of the property taxes collected statewide.”

“While the Legislature placing more monies into the property tax credit program in the vein of property tax relief is appreciated, the fact remains that Nebraska farmers and ranchers pay the third highest property taxes in the U.S. and will continue to do so until something is done to address this issue.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for change to a tax system which fails to recognize that property is not the sole means of measuring wealth and unfairly relies on farmer’s and rancher’s primary production tool (land) as the basis for funding schools and local government.”

"I Believe in the Future of Ag" Campaign Another Success

With the conclusion of the 2013-14 I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign, I'm excited to announce great growth! In total, almost $428,000 was raised; almost $200,000 of that was at the local level! All $200,000 will be returned to the respective local FFA chapters this spring, along with their portion of the $24,000 matching pot.

34 chapters were recognized at the 86th Nebraska FFA Convention for raising over $1,000 in the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign.

In addition, Stuart, Bridgeport and Bloomfield were each recognized as the top three chapters raising the most money per FFA member. Congratulations to all of our participating chapters and thank you for your support of this program.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Prescribed burning CRP or pasture can improve stands, prepare them for interseeding, control weeds and trees, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve forage quality.  But it must be done safely.

Fire improves many grasslands, but it can be dangerous.  Wildfires occur easily when it is hot, dry, and windy like this spring, especially if you are careless.  So if you decide to burn, do it safely.

Fire is useful on CRP or other fields that are overgrown with much dead mulch from previous years.  This mulch can smother plants and new seedlings, causing stands to get thinner.  Fire removes this mulch, enabling stands to thicken, and it improves wildlife habitat.  Fire also can reduce the invasion of woody plants like cedar trees, weeds, or cool-season grasses into warm-season grasslands.  These less desirable plants are injured or killed by a well-timed burn.  This can be especially useful in summer pastures.

Timing is important, though.  Right now is a bit too early to burn warm-season grasses.  Burning now will open up the ground for weeds to invade, soil to erode, and moisture to evaporate.  The best time to burn warm-season grasses is when they just start to grow, usually late April to early May.  Burning then will result in rapid greenup and thickening of desirable warm-season plants.

Be careful, though.  Never burn unless weather conditions, topography, and other factors enable you to control the fire.  Plus, make sure your burn is legal.  You must obtain a burn permit from your local fire chief.  And finally, never burn unless someone experienced in prescribed burning is part of your burning crew.

Fire is a valuable tool.  But like any other tool, in the wrong hands it can be dangerous.

Johanns Writes FDA on Proposed Livestock Feed Rule

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today wrote Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging FDA to exempt raw agricultural commodities, distillers grain and other byproducts from a promised revision of a proposed rule dealing with livestock feed.  As first proposed, the rule would add new requirements to producers of distillers grains – including brewers and ethanol plants – and increase the cost for livestock producers who use these byproducts.

“As currently drafted, these new requirements would be illogical and could bring a safe, mutually-beneficial system to a screeching halt,” Johanns said. “The proposal would increase costs and create massive amounts of landfill waste – without any improvements to food safety. I’m glad FDA has agreed to revisit this rule and I will continue to advocate for food safety regulations based on sound science and common sense.”

NeFU Board To NE Congressmen: Support Wind Energy Production Tax Credit and the Ethanol RFS

At their recent spring meeting, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution calling on all members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation to actively support and advocate for inclusion and passage of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that were included April 3 with bipartisan support as part of the tax extenders package as reported out by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

“We applaud the work of the Senate Finance Committee and urge Nebraska’s U.S. Senate and House of Representative members to actively push for swift passage of this critically important policy driver for continued growth of the Nebraska and U.S. wind energy industry,” said Dan McGuire NeFU District 5 Director from Lincoln. “It’s one thing to talk about supporting renewable energy, but voting for the PTC and ITC is the real test. We need Nebraska’s entire delegation to weigh in quickly and announce their support so that the PTC and ITC extension will send the right message to investors so wind energy development can expand on the estimated 85,000 jobs it has already created. These incentives have facilitated investments of $15 billion a year into new U.S. wind farms and created orders for over 550 American factories in the supply chain according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Extension of the PTC and ITC is a big economic deal for Nebraska’s future wind energy development. Nebraskans need the U.S. House of Representatives to act in a positive way as soon as possible just as the Senate Finance Committee did,” said John Hansen, NeFU President. “Nebraska is estimated to have an installed capacity of just over 1,200 megawatts (MW) of wind energy by the end of 2015 based on the prior PTC that expired 12/31/2013. Nebraska has the opportunity to do so much more as a state to capture the rural economic development benefits that go hand-in-hand with the wind energy PTC and ITC. These are critical public policy tools that are essential for Nebraska to catch up to our bordering states that are outdistancing Nebraska in terms of wind energy development. Iowa and South Dakota are getting over 20% of their electric generation from wind energy because they know how to use the wind PTC and ITC. The Congressional delegations in those states weigh in and support the PTC and ITC as does the Governor’s Wind Coalition.”

“The time is now and it is critical that Nebraska’s entire Congressional delegation publicly state their support for and commitment to defend the ethanol Renewable Fuels Standards against attacks from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and anti-renewable energy activists,” said Gale Lush, NeFU District 3 Director from Wilcox. “I want to remind everyone that ethanol is an economic superstar for Nebraska’s economy. There are currently 24 active ethanol production plants in Nebraska, with a combined production capacity of over 2 billion gallons of ethanol each year, and requiring more than 700 million bushels of grain in the process. These ethanol plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for some 1,200 Nebraskans.  Nebraska ranks second in the nation in ethanol production, and is the largest ethanol producer west of the Missouri River. Geographic position, abundant ethanol supply and reliable, competitive rail transportation give Nebraska a strategic advantage in serving ethanol markets in the western U.S. And Distillers Dried Grains (DDGS) is helping Nebraska’s livestock feeding industry become the national leader.”

“It’s no wonder that over 5,000 Nebraska farmers sent comments to EPA opposing their plan to reduce the RFS target,” Vern Jantzen, NeFU Vice President from Plymouth added. “Nebraska’s ag economics professor Bruce Johnson’s analysis showed that ethanol is a key component of Nebraska’s “Golden Triangle” of corn, cattle and ethanol. Johnson reports that ethanol’s 2010 economic contribution in Nebraska included: Direct receipts of $3.4 billion with indirect (multiplier) impacts on other businesses results totaling $4.5 billion in business receipts; total direct and multiplier impacts of $928,000,000 in gross state product; direct labor income of $223 million and a total of $585 million with the multiplier; and 3,000 direct jobs and nearly 8,000 more when indirect jobs are considered. Ethanol does all of this while reducing gasoline prices at the pump for consumers by over $1.00 per gallon. We need all hands on deck to protect the ethanol RFS.  It is critical to the ongoing economic success of our state.” 

NRCS Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Craig Derickson announced today the availability of $150,000 in program funding through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to help improve soil health in Nebraska.  Applications must be received by NRCS before the close of business on May 16, 2014.

The grant program enables NRCS to work with public and private partners to accelerate technology development and adopt promising approaches to address natural resource concerns. The natural resource concern Nebraska has chosen to place its focus on is soil health.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Nebraska. While Conservation Innovation Grants aren’t intended to fund research projects, they instead link Federal and local resources to develop and adopt innovative conservation approaches and technologies for agriculture. With soil health being critical to the health and sustainability of agriculture, NRCS is looking forward to helping advance technology and innovation in this area," said Derickson.

Nebraska CIG project proposals will need to address at least one of several soil health topics, such as the effect cover crops have on erosion, soil moisture, grazing management and the impacts of no-till vs. conventional tillage systems.

Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the grants are awarded through a competitive process. At least 50 percent of the total cost of grant projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient. CIG will fund single and multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years (anticipated project start date of September 1, 2014). The maximum award amount for any project will not exceed $75,000 in Fiscal Year 2014.

For more on this grant opportunity, visit To apply electronically, visit

World Pork Expo June 4-6 - Des Moines, IA

Mark your calendar for the 2014 World Pork Expo, June 4-6, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), World Pork Expo features the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars, swine shows and sales, and so much more. 

Online registration is already open; simply go to Register early to secure the discounted admission fee of $5 for an adult (ages 12 and up), which provides entry for the entire Expo — a $10-per-person savings over the on-site fee. 

The world’s largest pork-specific trade show featuring more than 400 exhibitors from around the globe is always a highlight of Expo. You can stroll through more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space to view the newest products, services and technologies available to pork production businesses today. The trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, and Thursday, June 5. On Friday, June 6, trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Free educational seminars on Wednesday and Thursday present updates on current management issues and research. Experts discuss topics from animal health and well-being to production management to legislative updates to feeding strategies and more — all designed to provide practical information to take back home. Business seminars, also scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, address a range of marketing and business strategies and present an opportunity for questions and dialogue. 

Live hogs will be on display in the swine barn from June 3-7.  

To learn more about the 2014 World Pork Expo, check out It has schedules and event details, with updates to come in the months ahead. You also will find the latest information on room availability at the official Expo hotels.

PEDv: 5,500 Cases Confirmed Across 30 States

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is continuing to spread. Citing figures from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, there were 257 more cases of PEDv confirmed last week. This brings the number of confirmed cases to more than 5,500 since PEDv was identified in U.S. swine herds since April 2013. However, the latest weekly increase is the second lowest reported since mid-January, according to Ron Plain and Scott Brown with the University of Missouri.

NAHLN reports 28 states have confirmed cases of PEDv but suggests this count is actually slightly higher.  The number of states reported to the NAHLN as having at least one confirmed case of PED now stands at 28.  Plain and Brown, like other swine veterinarians across the country, are hopeful new outbreaks will continue to decline as the weather warms.

Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt explained recently that the losses attributed to PEDv was expected to be greatest in the winter, and as the weather turns warmer, these losses will decrease.  "The large losses experienced in February probably mean that losses will continue to be large into March but may lighten as the weather warms into April and the rest of spring," he said.

Early estimates put the nation's losses of piglets over the last several months to top 5 million, but this figure has since been revised downward with the USDA's March Hogs and Pigs report.

Sign-Up Begins Today for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also begins today for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.  For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

Anhydrous, P Fertilizers Still Up

Retail fertilizer prices are continuing to rise, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second week of April 2014. This marks the eighth consecutive week all retail fertilizer prices edged higher. Besid the normal seasonal demand prior to planting, some regions of the country also are blaming rail delays for price increases.  Anhydrous jumped 8% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $675 a ton. In January, it averaged about $615 per ton.

The phosphorus fertilizers were also higher in price once again, up 5% compared to a month earlier. DAP averaged $585 a ton and MAP was at $606 a ton. This is the first time MAP has been above $600 a ton since the second week of August 2013 when it was $607 per ton.

The remaining five fertilizer prices were higher but the shift to the high side was fairly minor. Potash had an average price of $475/ton, urea $548/ton, 10-34-0 $516/ton, UAN28 $352/ton and UAN32 $398/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.60/lb.N, anhydrous $0.41/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.62/lb.N.

Although fertilizer prices have rebounded in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers remain double digits lower in price compared to April 2013.  Urea is down 4%, DAP is 5% less expensive and MAP is 8% lower. UAN32 is now 11% lower while UAN28 is 13% less expensive and 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 19% less expensive and anhydrous is 21% lower than a year earlier.

NCBA Awards State Partners for Outstanding Recruiting Efforts

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) awarded two state affiliates for their outstanding recruitment efforts at the 2014 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., last week. In all, 21 states met the criteria to qualify for the award; the choice of a one-year lease for either a New Holland Roll-Belt™ 560 Specialty Crop round baler or a New Holland T6.175 tractor.

NCBA recognizes the importance of a strong partnership with its state affiliate organizations and has joined forces with New Holland Ag to recognize and reward recruiters for their outstanding efforts. Mark Lowery, Dairy and Livestock Marketing Specialist for New Holland Ag emphasized the importance of working together on behalf of the beef industry and the company’s commitment to helping strengthen all of agriculture.

“This conference highlights the strength of our state/national partnerships and showcases the importance of your NCBA membership,” said Lowery. “We are proud of the opportunity to recognize state affiliates for their continued support of NCBA membership programs, which ultimately give the cattle industry a louder voice here on Capitol Hill.”

The 21 state affiliates which reached NCBA’s recruitment goals and qualified for the drawing for a one-year lease for a New Holland tractor or baler were: Alabama Cattlemen's Association, Arizona Cattle Feeders, California Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Kentucky Cattlemen's Association, Louisiana Cattlemen's Association, Michigan Cattlemen's Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, New York Beef Producers' Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Cattlemen's Association, Tennessee Cattlemen's Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia Cattlemen's Association, Washington Cattle Feeders and Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association.

A random drawing of qualifying states was held during the Legislative Conference and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association will choose a one-year lease for either a New Holland Roll-Belt™ 560 Specialty Crop round baler or a New Holland T6.175 tractor to be used to support their efforts on behalf of their membership.

The top five states in NCBA membership recruitment from Jan. 1, 2014 through Mar. 31, 2014 were as follows: Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, Kansas Livestock Association and Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. Texas and Missouri were winners of these leases during the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in February and therefore Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association was awarded the equipment lease.

Angus Association dismisses 12 staff members

(from Leslie Smith, KNEB Farm Director)

A shakeup at the American Angus Association has resulted in staff turnover.  On Friday, American  Angus  Association Chief  Executive  Officer Bryce Schumann addressed members in a letter that is posted on the association's website.  Schumann addressed the events that resulted from a letter from staff members over the management of the association and asked for Schumann's removal.  This letter prompted a six member task force made of officers and board members to conduct staff interviews.  After a lengthy deliberation the American Angus Association sided with Schuman and six  regional  managers  and  six staff  members  were dismissed.

In the letter, Schuman says "We  are  working  with  the  remaining  staff  members  to  provide  the  Association with  assistance  through  this  transitional  period".

25x'25 Welcomes IPCC Recognition of Renewables in Mitigating Climate Change

The 25x'25 Alliance welcomes the recognition by an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work group report released this weekend that renewable energy is a critical element necessary to curb rising global temperatures and the changes in climate that come with them.

While the full report, "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change," will not be released until tomorrow, a summary of the report for policy makers says that global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have risen to unprecedented levels, despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change, and that emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.

The summary shows that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78 percent of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the period 2000-2010. But since the IPCC issued its last global assessment of climate change in 2007, the report notes - and 25x'25 has long advocated - that many renewable energy technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and that a growing number of renewable energy technologies have achieved level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale.

The report shows that renewed investment in the kinds of renewable energy advocated by 25x'25 can bring about the desired outcome of limiting the global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Bioenergy is cited in the summary among the technologies to be pursued, noting that combining it with carbon capture technology "offers the prospect of energy supply with large-scale net negative emissions which plays an important role in many low-stabilization scenarios."

And while the report states that the sustainability of production practices and the efficiency of are issues to be considered, "bioenergy can play a critical role for mitigation."

The report is unequivocal in its assertion that reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere requires cutting back emissions from energy production and use. The 25x'25 Goal, in which America's farms, ranches and forestlands can meet 25 percent of our nation's energy needs with cleaner low- and no-carbon renewable sources - biomass, biofuels, wind energy, solar power, geothermal energy and hydropower - by 2025, will offer a major mitigation strategy to achieve the reductions in emissions called for by the IPCC.

CWT Assists with 8.4 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 28 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 5.340 million pounds (2,422 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, 2.260 million pounds (1,025 metric tons) of 82% butter and 837,757 pounds (380 Metric tons of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the South Pacific. The product will be delivered April through October 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 46.132 million pounds of cheese, 34.163 million pounds of butter and 4.204 million pounds of whole milk powder to 29 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.195 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Futures Traders Sue CME  Over Real-Time Data Distribution

Three futures traders have filed a lawsuit against CME Group Inc. alleging the exchange operator sold data to high-frequency traders ahead of other participants that also paid to see the data first.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in an Illinois District Court, is seeking class-action status on behalf of users that have traded futures contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from 2007 until April of this year.

The plaintiffs allege CME charged exchange and data fees for real-time price data, and purported that the data was sold to the users in real time. The suit further states that CME allegedly also charged high-frequency traders for the ability to see the data before others, including people who paid and continue to pay CME for seeing the same data first.

CME said the lawsuit was "devoid of any facts supporting the allegations and, even worse, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how our markets operate."

"The case is without merit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously," CME said.

High-frequency traders have been in the spotlight in recent weeks after the release of Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys," a book that focuses on traders that use dedicated data cables and specialized algorithms to trade milliseconds ahead of the rest of the market.

Cheminova Launches CERCOBIN™ Fungicide

Cheminova, Inc. today announced the introduction of CERCOBIN™ Fungicide, a broad spectrum curative and preventative systemic fungicide with both soil and foliar activity.  The active ingredient in CERCOBIN is thiophanate-methyl. As a FRAC Group 1 fungicide growers may use it alone, or as a tank mix or rotational partner, as part of a fungicide resistance management program in conjunction with strobilurin and azole fungicides.

CERCOBIN is labeled for use on dry beans, edible beans, soybeans, sugar beets, peanuts, tree nuts, pome and stone fruit, cucurbits, onions, potatoes, strawberries, fall wheat and more. Included among some of the key diseases it controls are white mold, Cercospora blight, frogeye leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot and powdery mildew.  CERCOBIN is packaged in 2 x 2.5 gallon containers and is on sale now.

“Adding CERCOBIN to the broadening fungicide portfolio of Cheminova gives growers another option to help manage diseases.  It supports our existing fungicide portfolio of TOPGUARD®, FORTIX® and KOVERALL® as an efficacious product with another mode of action,” said Deneen Sebastian, Director of Marketing, Cheminova, Inc. “CERCOBIN is the first of three new fungicide offerings planned from Cheminova this year.”

Monday April 14 Crop Progress and Condition Reports

Rain-Snow-Slush Provide Some Moisture in Eastern Counties

For the week ending April 13, 2014, above normal temperatures and dry conditions during the week gave way to precipitation in the form of rain and snow on Sunday, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  High winds created blizzard conditions across the west and south.  Precipitation totals were heaviest in eastern counties, but lighter amounts were welcome in south central and southwestern areas where drought conditions were severe.  Temperatures averaged 4 degrees above normal across the western half of the state and 6 to 8 degrees above normal much of the east.  A few fields of corn were planted in southern counties, but most producers were waiting for the weekend conditions to clear and soils to warm.  Days suitable for fieldwork were 5.8. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 13 percent very short, 42 short, 45 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 17 percent very short, 43 short, 39 adequate, and 0 surplus.
Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 10 poor, 29 fair, 52 good, and  7 excellent. 

Oats planting was 28 percent, behind 56 last year and 51 percent, 5 year average. Oats emerged was  5 percent, behind 9 last year and 11 average.

Sorghum planting was at 1 percent, ahead of 0 last year and 0 average.

Corn planting was at 1 percent ahead of 0 last year and even with 1 average.
Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Stock water supplies rated 5 percent very short, 7 short, 88 adequate, and 0 surplus.  

Hay and forage supplies rated 2 percent very short, 7 short, 87 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Cattle and calf condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 10 fair, 80 good, and 9 excellent. Cattle and calf losses rated 16 percent below average, 84 average, and 0 above average. Percentage of cows calved since  January 1 was 79 percent.

Sheep and lamb condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 10 fair, 83 good, and 6 excellent.  Sheep and lamb losses rated 11 percent below average, 89 average, and 0 above average.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:

Iowa Crop Progress - One-Fifth of the Oats Planted in One Week

Above  average  temperatures  in  Iowa  allowed  over  20  percent  of  the State’s expected oat acreage to be planted during the week ending April 13,  2014,  according  to  the  USDA,  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service.  Precipitation fell towards the end of the week as rain turned to snow  overnight  Sunday.    Statewide  there  were  3.9  days  suitable  for fieldwork.    Activities  for  the  week  included  applying  fertilizer  and anhydrous, tiling, terrace construction, and spring tillage.

Recent  precipitation  helped  improve  soil  moisture  levels.    Topsoil moisture  levels rated 6 percent very short, 25 percent short, 57 percent adequate  and  12  percent  surplus.    Subsoil  moisture  levels  rated 17 percent  very  short,  38  percent  short,  43  percent  adequate  and 2 percent surplus.

Twenty-nine percent of oats have been planted, 10 percent ahead of last year but 22 percent behind average.  The East Central and South Central districts  have  over  50  percent  of  their  oat  acreage  planted.    A  few farmers  reported  oats  starting  to  emerge.    There  were  also  scattered reports of corn being planted, mostly in southern Iowa.  

Pasture  condition  rated  13  percent  very  poor,  26  percent  poor, 43 percent fair, 18 percent good and 0 percent excellent.  Most pastures were still slow to emerge, but rains late in the week helped return some green to the area.  Calving conditions were reported as good.


Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Dept of Ag & Land Stewardship

Mostly dry weather with highly variable temperatures was the rule until Saturday  evening when  showers  and  thunderstorms moved  into  Iowa.    Daytime high temperatures were mostly in the 60s on Sunday (6th) and Monday  (7th).     Highs  on  Tuesday  (8th) were mostly  in  the  50s.   A freeze occurred over most of northern and eastern Iowa on Wednesday (9th) with morning lows of 22 degrees reported at Grinnell, Atlantic and Stanley.      Strong  southerly  winds  brought  a  rapid  warm  up  by Wednesday  afternoon with  highs  in  the mid  60s  northeast  to  low  80s west with Sioux City reaching 83 degrees.       Highs were  in  the 60s on Thursday (10th) and in the 70s on Friday (11th), but in between a freeze was  reported  over much  of  the  northeast  one-half  of  Iowa  on  Friday morning  with  Grinnell  dipping  to  24  degrees.      Windy  and  warm weather prevailed Saturday (12th) with highs in the mid 60s northeast to mid  80s  southwest.    Harlan,  Clarinda  and  Des Moines  were  the  hot spots with 86 degree maximums on Saturday afternoon.     A cold  front slowly  advanced  across  the  state  Saturday  evening  through  Sunday bringing precipitation and much cooler weather to Iowa.   Temperatures for  the week as a whole averaged  from  three degrees above normal at the southeast corner of  the state to nine degrees above normal over  the far  northwest.      The  statewide  average  temperature  was  5.8  degrees above normal.     Meanwhile,  light  rain was  scattered over  the northern two-thirds of Iowa on Sunday (6th) but with amounts mostly under one-tenth of an  inch.     Light  rain also was scattered over much of  the state on Monday (7th) but again only a few areas managed a little more than one-tenth  of  an  inch  of  rain.      Tuesday  through  Friday  was  dry.   Showers  and  thunderstorms  moved  across  the  northern  one-third  of Iowa  early  Saturday  morning  while  thunderstorms  were  widespread Saturday evening into Sunday morning.   Weekly rain totals for the crop reporting week ending 7 a.m. Sunday varied from none across portions of  far  northwest  and  far  southeast  Iowa  such  as  Le Mars,  Holstein, Fairfield and Burlington to 2.44 inches at the Marshalltown Airport and 2.45  inches  at  Fayette.      The  statewide  average  precipitation  was 0.44 inches while normal  for  the week  is 0.76  inches.       The Saturday evening  storms  brought  reports  of  high winds  and/or  large  hail  from 32 counties.   However, moderate to heavy rain fell across the southeast two-thirds  of  Iowa  after  7  a.m.  Sunday  and will  be  included  in  next week’s report.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress - Winter Wheat Conditions Worsen

Three percent of the nation's corn crop was planted as of April 13, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report, and it's no surprise that most of that was in the Southern states.  Texas reported 57% of its corn crop in the ground, North Carolina 20%, Kansas 11%, Missouri 9%. Illinois and Nebraska both reported 1% of their corn planted.  Last year at this time 2% of the U.S. corn crop was planted and the five-year average is 6%.  Winter wheat condition worsened as dry weather with strong winds took their toll during the last week. 

Corn Planted - Selected States

[These 18 States planted 91% of the 2013 corn acreage]
                      :            Week ending            :          
      State       : April 13, : April 6,  : April 13, : 2009-2013
                     :   2013    :   2014    :   2014    :  Average 
                     :                    percent                   
Colorado .......:       -         (NA)          -            2    
Illinois ...........:      1         (NA)          1          10    
Indiana ..........:      -         (NA)           -           5    
Iowa ..............:      -         (NA)           -           2    
Kansas ..........:     3            4           11           9    
Kentucky .......:     6         (NA)          4          17    
Michigan ........:     -         (NA)           -           1    
Minnesota ......:     -         (NA)           -           2    
Missouri .........:     7            2            9          16    
Nebraska ........:     -         (NA)          1           1    
North Carolina .:     25       (NA)         20          31    
North Dakota ...:     -         (NA)          -           -    
Ohio ...............:     1         (NA)          -           2    
Pennsylvania ...:     1         (NA)          -           2    
South Dakota ..:      -         (NA)          -           1    
Tennessee ......:     10           2           7          25    
Texas .............:     56          54         57         55    
Wisconsin ......:       -         (NA)          -           -    
18 States .......:      2         (NA)          3           6    

Oats Planted - Selected States

[These 9 States planted 65% of the 2013 oat acreage]
                      :            Week ending            :          
      State       : April 13, : April 6,  : April 13, : 2009-2013
                     :   2013    :   2014    :   2014    :  Average 
                     :                    percent                   
Iowa ..............:     19           7            29          51   
Minnesota .....:      1          (NA)           -          24   
Nebraska ......:     56           7            28          51   
North Dakota .:      -          (NA)           -           4   
Ohio .............:     22           1             6          32   
Pennsylvania .:     26        (NA)           4          35   
South Dakota :     15        (NA)          16          22   
Texas ...........:    100         100         100        100   
Wisconsin ....:      -          (NA)           -            21   
9 States ........:     38        (NA)          9            47   

Winter Wheat Headed - Selected States

[These 18 States harvested 87% of the 2013 winter wheat acreage]
                      :            Week ending            :          
      State       : April 13, : April 6,  : April 13, : 2009-2013
                     :   2013    :   2014    :   2014    :  Average 
                     :                    percent                   
Arkansas ......:     5            1           1            29   
California ......:    34         (NA)         75           54   
Colorado .......:     -         (NA)          -             -   
Idaho ............:     -         (NA)          -             -   
Illinois ...........:     -         (NA)          -            6   
Indiana ..........:     -         (NA)          -            1   
Kansas .........:     -         (NA)          -            3   
Michigan .......:     -         (NA)          -            -   
Missouri ........:     -         (NA)          -            9   
Montana ........:     -         (NA)          -            -   
Nebraska .......:     -         (NA)          -            -   
North Carolina :     2         (NA)          1          16   
Ohio ..............:     -         (NA)          -            -   
Oklahoma ......:     1         (NA)          4          21   
Oregon ..........:     -         (NA)          -            -   
South Dakota .:     -         (NA)          -            -   
Texas ............:    20           9         16           28   
Washington ...:     -         (NA)          -            -   
18 States .......:     4        (NA)          5         (NA)   

Winter Wheat Condition - Selected States: Week Ending April 13, 2014

[National crop conditions for selected States are weighted based on 2013 planted acreage]
      State       : Very poor :   Poor    :   Fair    :   Good    : Excellent
                     :                          percent                         
Arkansas ......:     -           6          34          48          12    
California ......:     5           5          15          20          55    
Colorado .......:    17          16         31          32           4    
Idaho ............:     -           1           11          73          15    
Illinois ...........:     3           6          35          45          11    
Indiana ..........:     2           5          33          51           9    
Kansas .........:    10          20         44          25           1    
Michigan .......:     3           9          31          50           7    
Missouri ........:     1          11          46          36           6    
Montana ........:     1           4          30          56           9    
Nebraska .......:     2          10          29          52           7    
North Carolina :     2           6          29          52          11    
Ohio ..............:     2           8          43          42           5    
Oklahoma ......:    23          31         32          14           -    
Oregon ..........:     -           5           48          40           7    
South Dakota .:     -           3           30          65           2    
Texas ............:    24          39         24          12           1    
Washington ...:     4          16          45          32           3    
18 States ......:    12          20          34          30           4    
Previous week:    10          19          36          30           5    
Previous year :    12          19          33          31           5    

Monday April 14 Ag News

Farm Bill - Livestock Disaster Program Meetings

A producer informational meeting will be held for the Livestock Disaster Programs that are being implemented as a result of the Agricultural Act of 2014.  The Thurston County meeting will be held:
     - Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am, Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office, 106 South Costello Street, Walthill, Nebraska

Topics to be discussed include the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

If you are unable to attend the Thurston County meeting, neighboring counties are hosting the following meetings.
•         Dixon County – Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm in Martinsburg (new Fire Hall)
•         Dakota County – Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm in Dakota City (NRD Building, 1505 Broadway Street)
•         Burt County – Monday, April 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm in Tekamah (First National Bank Northeast, 448 South 13th Street)

If you are unable to attend any of the above-stated meetings, we encourage you to contact the county office to discuss the types of documentation required and address any questions you may have.  Producers should also contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to apply.

Pre-plant and Pre-emergence Weed Control in Corn and Soybeans

Lowell Sandell, Weed Science Extension Educator

Several summer annual weed species in Nebraska emerge early in the season, prior to planting corn and soybean, and need to be controlled before they grow too large. Of particular concern are giant ragweed, kochia, and marestail; we believe there are numerous populations of these species in Nebraska that cannot be controlled by glyphosate.

We are now observing kochia, giant ragweed, and marestail emergence in some of our research plots. If you have had difficulty controlling these weeds in the last few years, make every effort to control these populations with an effective burndown application or tillage prior to planting. Based on observations in our giant ragweed research studies the previous two years, we have not had success controlling glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed with any herbicide program NOT containing 2,4-D as a component of a burndown application. If you apply 2,4-D prior to planting, be sure to adhere to the planting interval specified on the label.

Some other common weed species that emerge early in the season in Nebraska fields are common chickweed, dandelion, field pennycress, henbit, tansy mustard, and Virginia pepperweed.

Developing a Successful Early Season Weed Management Program

Profitable crop production starts with a weed control program that includes pre-plant and/or pre-emergence herbicides to deliver long-lasting, residual weed control. A spring burndown program in corn and soybean provides effective weed control to prepare for planting and helps to decrease the seedbank during the season. Early season weed competition can greatly reduce yields and profits.


Several studies have shown that if weeds grow to 9 inches, soybean yield can be reduced by as much as 6%; 12-inch weeds can result in up to a 10% yield loss. In corn, 12-inch weeds could cause 22% yield loss when left uncontrolled.  Among the herbicides registered for spring burndown weed control are:
-    Corn: 2,4-D*, Aim, atrazine, Balance Flexx, Corvus, dicamba, glyphosate, Landmaster II, Lexar EZ, and Sharpen
-    Soybean: 2,4-D* (use esters only), Authority First, glyphosate, Gramoxone, Pursuit, and Sharpen
*If 2,4-D is applied at 16 fl oz/acre in a burndown program, the preplanting interval is seven days for corn and soybean; if 2,4-D is applied at a rate above 16 fl oz/acre in a burndown program, the planting interval should be 14 days for corn and 30 days for soybean.


The pre-emergence (residual) herbicide protects the crop with early, effective, and lasting weed control to help maximize yields, regardless of the production system. In addition, including pre-emergence herbicides can minimize the post-emergence herbicide applications and protect against early-season weed competition when weather or busy schedules prohibit a timely post-emergence application. Among the herbicides registered for pre-emergence weed control are:
-    Corn: Aatrex, Balance Flexx, Corvus, Degree Extra, Fierce, Lumax EZ, Outlook, Surestart, Tripleflex, and Zemax
-    Soybeans: Authority MTZ, Boundry, Command, Dual II Magnum, Envive, Optill, Pursuit, Prowl H2O, Valor XLT, and Warrant

For a list of all registered burndown and residual herbicides see the 2014 Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska (EC130) published by University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

40th Annual Cuming County 4-H Beef Preview Results

The 40th Annual Cuming County 4-H Beef Preview Show was held on Saturday, April 12 at the Cuming County Fairgrounds in West Point.  According to UNL Extension Educator in Cuming County, Larry Howard, the show is sponsored by the Cuming County Feeders Association and UNL Extension in Cuming County.  The judge for the show was Katie Ochsner of Torrington, Wyoming.

The Champion Market Steer was shown by Sydney Williams of Wisner while Chase Albers of Wisner showed the Reserve Champion Steer.  The Champion Market Heifer was exhibited by Kali Stratman of West Point and Dax Behmer of Hoskins showed the Reserve Champion Market Heifer.  The Supreme Breeding Heifer was shown by Regan Bellar of Wisner and Dawson French of Wayne exhibited the Reserve Champion Breeding Heifer.

In the Showmanship divisions the winners were: Junior Division-Champion, Dylan Russman, Pender; Reserve Logan Buhrman, Wisner.  Intermediate Division-Champion, Chase Albers, Wisner; Reserve, Megan Schroeder, Wisner.  Senior Division-Champion, Keeley Russman, Wisner; Reserve, Sydney Williams, Wisner.


UNL Extension Forage Specialist Bruce Anderson

Despite receiving some rain or snow recently, most areas still are very dry below the surface.  Today I’ll suggest some ways you can limit the forage problems drought can cause.

Drought is likely to be a problem again this summer, at least somewhere.  Because hay is expensive and pastures short, we need to consider ways to minimize damages if we receive less than average rainfall.  Fortunately, early spring is a time you can take action that can minimize some of drought’s problems.

For starters, prepare a strategy for using any remaining hay.  One of the better options is to feed hay a bit longer this spring before turning cows out to permanent pasture.  I know this action is exactly opposite of my usual recommendation to graze more and feed less hay. But, allowing pastures to accumulate a bit more growth before grazing begins will provide more total grazable forage if drought prevents much regrowth later on.  Leftover hay also can be used later during the summer to give pastures more time to recover between grazings.

Another strategy is planting annual forages for pasture or hay.  Oats planted now or summer annual grasses like sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, and pearl millet are excellent choices.  Wait until soils are good and warm before planting these summer grasses, though.  Late May or early June usually is best.  So reserve some ground now for these drought-insurance grasses, before you plant everything to corn, beans, and other crops.  And don’t forget about possibly planting these grasses or even some fall cover crop forages into wheat stubble as a double crop after harvest.

If the rains don’t come, planning and acting now to reduce potential forage losses from drought will pay big dividends.

CFDC Calls For Ethanol to Stand Up As Alternative Fuel

In a presentation at the annual Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha last week, Clean Fuels Development Coalition Executive Director Douglas Durante called on ethanol supporters to not only defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard but to move beyond it by capitalizing on the economic, energy supply, environmental and health benefits of ethanol in mid and high level blends including E85.  
Durante told attendees at the 9th Annual Ethanol Forum that the obsession with RFS volumes has distracted the industry from pursuing other, often higher values that are not bound by the RFS. The key to capturing that value he said is using ethanol in flex fuel vehicles.
"Ethanol is treated like a second class citizen in the alternative fuels community, and we have had enough," said Durante. " E85 is defined in law as an alternative fuel and is no different from electricity, propane, natural gas, methanol and other non petroleum fuels. Ethanol is denied access to programs, funding and incentives these other alternatives receive. Yet ethanol is clearly the most readily available and efficient of any of them."
He cited the phase out of incentives for the manufacture of flex fuel vehicles as a prime example of this disparity.  Electric and natural gas vehicles receive an “artificial value” in the credit they get for reducing carbon and future mileage calculations. "High levels of ethanol can do more, immediately, to reduce carbon, lower petroleum consumption and improve emissions than any other fuel, period. If we are serious about reducing petroleum use with low carbon fuels how is this possible?  Twenty million flex fuel vehicles are on the road today. These vehicles were produced without a penny of taxpayer cost nor at any additional cost to consumers.  All automakers asked was the ability to capture appropriate credits in the new regulatory structure for the carbon and petroleum savings these vehicles provide."
Durante also cited numerous federal programs such as the $16 Billion loan fund for advanced vehicles at the Department of Energy. "The sole mission of this program is to produce vehicles that can reduce petroleum use and carbon emissions. Why not redirect just one or two billion dollars of that to a loan fund for flex fuel pumps to fuel  the FFVs that are on the road today? That, along with reinstating FFV credits, will make more of an impact in the next year than any other program currently in place. And, we will meet and blow right past the RFS biofuel requirements", said Durante. 
Finally, Durante noted the significant potential for mid and high level ethanol blends to provide reductions in particulates and the potential for substituting clean octane for toxic aromatics. Through CFDC's partnership in the Urban Air Initiative they are raising awareness of the increasing pollution coming from consumer gasoline.
"Just give us a chance to get into the market and compete," said Durante, "and just watch what happens."

Trichomoniasis Standards Forum Results in Significant Inroads

Interstate movement. Best management practices. Testing. Collection and shipment of samples. Neighbor notification. These were just a few of the topics discussed April 3 in Omaha, Neb., at a nation-wide Trichomoniasis Standards Forum conducted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the U.S. Animal Health Association. More than 140 state veterinarians, animal health officials, diagnostic laboratory personnel, beef industry leaders and others gathered at the one-day Forum, learned from each other and identified areas where harmonization among states can lead to more effective management and control of this highly susceptible venereal cattle disease.

“Trichomoniasis is a nation-wide problem and has the attention of state personnel and practicing beef  veterinarians from across the country,” states Dr. Carl Heckendorf, Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, and co-chair of the Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards. “Most states either have a trich control program in place, are formulating a program as I speak or are interested in developing a program that can help stop the spread of trich. 

“While we realize a one-size-fits-all program won’t work, the consensus is that standardization—or at least harmonization—of state regulations, collection of samples prior to shipping, shipping and handling of samples and laboratory procedures can help eliminate confusion and benefit all involved.”

In addition to agreeing that elements of a trich control program must be based on science coupled with practical application, Forum attendees pinpointed several areas where harmonization among states could have significant value:
•  Test results being valid for 60 days as long as a bull has not been exposed to breeding-age females.
•  Using PCR as the defining test, knowing new test methods may broaden accepted test method.
•  Approving the pooling of samples in the laboratory.
•  Defining “virgin status/age,” with 24-month-old virgin bulls as a starting point for further discussions.
•  Developing standards for the shipping of samples, including acceptable temperature range and maximum time frame parameters from collection to in the hands of the laboratory.
•  Veterinarian certification regarding the collection of samples.
•  Management of infected cows—from movement to communication with markets.
•  Follow-up with infected herds.
•  Increased collaboration among diagnostic laboratories.

Forum co-chair Dr. Bud Dinges, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine, stressed that nothing was written in stone at the Forum. Each topic was identified as a starting point for further discussion—and new topics could enter down-the-road discussions.

“That said, areas that have been confusing to individuals were identified, and states showed an overwhelming desire to keep dialogues going,” Dinges stated. “And we all recognize that, for any trichomoniasis control program to be successful, it must be stakeholder friendly and stakeholder driven and the state must have the infrastructure to carry it out.”

Presentations delivered at the NIAA/USAHA Joint Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards should be available online at by April 15.

Iowa Swine Day June 26 to Tackle Topics of Interest to Pork Industry

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity will be some of the pressing topics covered June 26 at the third annual Iowa Swine Day at Iowa State University.

Regional, national and international leaders in swine research, economics, veterinary medicine, production, animal welfare and the marketplace will address challenges facing the pork industry, animal science and the consuming public. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building on the Iowa State campus.

Speakers include Dr. Richard Raymond, former U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for food safety, and Justin Ransom, national director of supply chain management for McDonald’s.

Iowa Swine Day is open to the public, and especially targets pork producers, pork industry suppliers, extension personnel, consultants, researchers, veterinarians and students, who are eligible for a discount on registration if they are currently enrolled in school.

The cost of the meeting is $60, if registered by June 13. The fee includes coffee, snacks, a pork lunch and a copy of the proceedings. Advanced registration is available at

Lilienthal named Iowa Soybean Association’s producer services director

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has named Heather Lilienthal director of producer services, effective April 21. Current Director Rex Hoppes is resigning from ISA to farm full-time near Van Meter. Lilienthal joined ISA in December 2012 as communications manager and has worked in agriculture for more than 10 years, telling the stories of Iowa’s farmers.

In her new role, Lilienthal will develop programs in coordination with ISA staff and District Advisory Councils to help grow the association's membership. In addition, Lilienthal will assist in implementing programs and services that expand opportunities and deliver results for Iowa's soybean growers and their customers.

“Rex has developed a strong producer services team for Iowa’s soybean farmers and we’ll work to take that to the next level by identifying and empowering our association’s new leaders,” said Lilienthal. “Our District Advisory Council structure has been revamped to allow farmers to work in areas that fit their skills and interests and to make the most of their most valuable commodity: time. Exciting things are happening at ISA and I am pleased to be a part of the momentum.”

ILUC Unverifiable and Biofuels Economically Beneficial, Says IPCC

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) released their “Bioenergy and Climate Change Mitigation: An Assessment” report in Berlin on Sunday that confirmed that biofuels production is economically beneficial and that Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) modelling is unverifiable.

“Sunday’s report from the IPCC is further proof that biofuels contribute to local economies and that Indirect Land Use Change modelling is nothing more than a flawed theory,” stated Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

The UN IPCC report found that “Bioenergy projects can be economically beneficial, by raising and diversifying farm incomes and increasing rural employment through the production of biofuels for domestic or export markets.”

The IPCC report went on further to say that “Brazilian sugar cane ethanol production provides six times more jobs than the Brazilian petroleum sector and spreads income benefits across numerous municipalities…Worker income is higher than in nearly all other agricultural sectors and several sustainability standards have been adopted.”

The IPCC report’s findings are consistent with a 2012 GRFA report which found that global ethanol production in 2010 supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors worldwide and contributed over $273 million to the global economy. In the European Union alone the ethanol industry created 70,000 direct and indirect jobs. The IPCC report also reinforces a recent study conducted by ABF Economics, which found that the U.S ethanol industry in 2013 created 86,503 jobs, sustained an additional 300,277 indirect and induced jobs while contributing $44 billion to the United States’ Gross Domestic Product and added $30.7 billion to household incomes.

“Not only do biofuels, particularly ethanol, have the lowest CO2 abatements compared to any other renewable energy but the latest IPCC climate change mitigation report confirmed that they make significant contributions to economies around the world and in some cases like Brazil, biofuels employment is eclipsing crude oil,” stated Baker.

The IPCC report contained another significant finding regarding Indirect Land Use Change, an attempt to predict future land use patterns globally. The report stated that “These estimates of global LUC (Land Use Change) are highly uncertain, unobservable, unverifiable, and dependent on assumed policy, economic contexts, and inputs used in the modelling.”

These significant findings mean that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has joined the overwhelming number of scientists and academics that have found the ILUC theory to be faulty because modeling relies on hundreds of assumptions, not facts, to predict future land use patterns around the world.

“The GRFA applauds the UN for recognizing that the ILUC theory has no ability to accurately predict future land use patterns and hopefully it can now focus on the real challenges to food security like rising crude oil prices and food waste,” concluded Baker.

Ukraine Grain Exports Up on Year Despite Political Unrest

Ukraine's grain harvest this year is greater than last year, and the pace of grain exports exceeds last year's despite the political unrest, the agriculture ministry said Monday.

The ministry said Ukraine exported 28.338 million metric tons of grain between the beginning of the current marketing year July 1, 2013 and April 11.

The ministry did not give last year's figures for comparison but, according to the ministry's past reports, Ukraine had exported just over 20 million tons of grain by the same date in 2013.

The total amount of grain exported to date included 7.932 million tons of wheat. Corn exports to date totaled nearly 17.972 million tons and barley exports 2.154 million tons.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's grain exports in the 2013-2014 marketing year, July 2013 to June 2014, were likely to rise to 33 million tons from about 23 million tons in the previous marketing year as this year's harvest was greater than last year.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's 2013 grain harvest was over 63 million tons in bunker weight, up from 46.2 million tons n 2012, when crops were damaged by drought.

Five Nominated for Cattle Production Veterinarian Hall of Fame

Five distinguished cattle veterinarians have been nominated and voting is underway for the 2014 Cattle Production Veterinarian Hall of Fame, which was created in 2011 to honor exceptional individuals who have made lasting contributions to the veterinary profession. This year's outstanding nominees have played leading roles throughout their careers in preventive health medicine, agricultural policy, rotational grazing, bovine reproduction and milk quality.

"The dedication and contributions of this year's class of nominees are truly impressive, consistent with the standard of excellence that the Hall of Fame represents each year," says Mark Spire, D.V.M., technical services manager for Merck Animal Health, who coordinates the nomination process. "In addition to practicing veterinary medicine, they've managed livestock operations, founded research facilities, served on board of directors and mentored students."

Five organizations founded and sponsor the Hall of Fame – Merck Animal Health, the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC), the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), Bovine Veterinarian and Osborn Barr.

Voting is currently underway and will remain open until Aug. 5. Members of the AVC and the AABP may vote for one beef and one dairy nominee. AVC members may vote during the organization's spring and summer conferences or online at AABP members may vote online at

The fourth annual Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at this year's AABP Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., Sept. 18-20, 2014.

Beef Nominees

     - David Bechtol, D.V.M., from Canyon, Texas, has operated Palo Duro Consulting, a consulting business and feedyard research facility, for more than 30 years, where he has pioneered computerized record systems and diagnostics. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. His leadership roles include president of AVC, AABP, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.
     - Dallas Horton, D.V.M., of Eaton, Colo., is president of Horton Feedlots, a cattle feeding operation started more than 35 years ago. He is a past president of AVC and the Colorado Livestock Association. He is considered a pioneer in promoting the concept of preventive health medicine and is an advocate for progressive agricultural policy.
     - Ed Johnson, D.V.M., and his family own and operate two commercial feedyards and also manage a herd of 1,500 cows in Parma, Idaho. He was a pioneer in rotational grazing in the Pacific Northwest and served as president of the Idaho Cattlemen's Association. Forty years ago, he founded Johnson Research to conduct clinical research specific to beef health and nutritional performance.

Dairy Nominees

     - John Dahl, D.V.M., of Waunakee, Wis., served in private practice for more than 20 years and worked for BouMatic for more than 10 years, advancing to serve as president. He then served as director of the teaching hospital at the newly established University of Wisconsin College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a past president of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medicine Association.
     - Maarten Drost, D.V.M., is a world-renowned expert in bovine reproduction known for his ground-breaking work in embryo transfer technology, pregnancy recognition and fertility management. He's worked in private practice and served as captain in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and on the faculty of both the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Titan Machinery Reports Lower Earnings

Titan Machinery Inc. reported financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter and full year ended January 31, 2014.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, revenue was $708.6 million, compared to $784.5 million in the fourth quarter last year. Equipment sales were $587.9 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to $679.0 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Parts sales were $61.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to $53.5 million in the fourth quarter last year. Revenue generated from service was $36.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to $34.2 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Revenue from rental and other increased to $22.8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 from $17.8 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Gross profit for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 was $97.0 million, compared to $104.5 million in the fourth quarter last year. The Company's gross profit margin was 13.7% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to 13.3% in the fourth quarter last year.

USDA approves new combination vaccine to fight BRD viruses and bacteria

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a Veterinary Biologics License for Titanium® 5 + PH-M, a new vaccine that protects cattle against the viruses and bacteria most associated with bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

Marketed by Elanco, Titanium 5 + PH-M provides modified-live virus (MLV) protection against bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), types 1 and 2, bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and parainfluenza3 (PI3).1-9 Each dose also protects against Mannheimia haemolytica10 and Pasteurella multocida bacteria, and is safe for cattle at all stages of production.3,5-7,11-16

“This means veterinarians and producers can protect cattle against the important BRD-causing viruses and bacteria with just one vaccine,” says Brett Terhaar, D.V.M., Elanco beef technical services. “Titanium 5 + PH-M is well-suited for branding and weaning/preconditioning vaccination protocols in cow/calf operations, as well as arrival programs in stocker operations and feedyards. Producers should partner with their veterinarians to determine the best way to incorporate this new vaccine into herd-health protocols designed to fight BRD.”

Viruses and bacteria: a powerful one-two punch on the immune system

Respiratory viruses can cause BRD on their own, but they also can compromise the immune system that normally protects cattle against bacteria. This allows bacteria to attack their host and cause severe cases of BRD.

“When cattle are exposed to respiratory viruses, their immune system can be weakened,” says Terhaar. “Once that happens, M. haemolytica and P. multocida bacteria can more easily go deep into the respiratory tract. When they reach the lungs, bacterial pathogens are a major cause of serious BRD, leading to increased illness and death.”

BRD still is the No. 1 profit-robber, accounting for 75 percent of feedlot morbidity, and 50 percent to 75 percent of mortality, costing an estimated $800 million to $900 million annually.17-20 Beyond that, one study showed 68 percent of untreated calves had pulmonary lesions at slaughter — demonstrating that a significant number of animals never diagnosed with BRD do, in fact, suffer from some form of respiratory disease.21

A combination vaccine for convenience, effectiveness and safety

Titanium 5 + PH-M is a combination of two trusted vaccines. Its viral component, Titanium 5, delivers modified-live protection against five important viruses that cause BRD. Its PH-M component provides coverage against two bacteria that are well-known for causing pasteurellosis (part of the BRD complex).

The new vaccine is formulated with a low-reactive, water-soluble adjuvant. The result is a low-volume (2 mL), subcutaneous dose that is consistent with Beef Quality AssuranceSM (BQA) guidelines.

Approved for use in cattle 60 days of age and older, Titanium 5 + PH-M is backed by noninterference, efficacy and safety research. It can be given to pregnant cows and heifers,* as well as calves nursing pregnant cows.

“This means added flexibility as veterinarians and producers develop vaccine protocols to protect cattle at all stages of production against BRD,” says Terhaar. “Adding Titanium 5 + PH-M to the portfolio of ViralignTM 6, Master Guard® and other Titanium brand vaccines gives a variety of choices for delivering protection against challenging diseases.”

Titanium 5 + PH-M is available in convenient 10-dose and 50-dose packages through veterinarians and animal-health distributors. For more information, see the product label, contact your Elanco sales representative or technical consultant, or visit

Friday April 11 Ag News

Nebraska's Winter Was 27th Coldest, 18th Driest; No Planting Concerns So Far

            The state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says planting delays should not be a concern and that temperatures should be on the upswing across the state.

            While soil temperatures are still below normal for planting, that problem can be solved if there are persistent 60-degree-and-above-high days so producers can plant without worrying about the viability of their seed, said Al Dutcher, state climatologist.

            A cold winter has put the state about two to three weeks behind normal, Dutcher said.

            Temperatures for the entire state of Nebraska were 1.8 degrees below normal this winter, the 27th coldest since records began in 1896, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Individual locations across eastern Nebraska averaged more than 3 degrees below normal.  In addition, precipitation came in at .70 below normal, the 18th driest winter since 1896.

The latest snowpack information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service as of April 1 shows:
            – The South Platte River Basin snow water equivalent – amount of water in snow pack – is 133 percent of normal.
            – The northern branch of Platte River, north of Seminole Reservoir in Wyoming, is at 140 percent snow water equivalent.
            – South Central Wyoming, the basin that would impact Pathfinder and Alvoca, is at 125 percent snow water equivalent.
            – The Laramie Basin, which is important to Scottsbluff area irrigators, is at 139 percent snow water equivalent.
            – The Sweet Water Basin, in the western extension of the Platte River Basin, is at 114 percent snow water equivalent, while the Casper Drainage Basin is at 129 percent snow water equivalent.

            "With these equivalents and normal moisture for the remainder of April, it should result in above normal stream flow rates through mid-summer," Dutcher said. "We also can expect a great component of runoff this year – 85 to 90 percent of that snowpack will become a runoff component.

            "So, my suspicion right now is if we get normal precipitation, we'll be looking at runoff in the 125 to 130 percent range of normal, which would be a significant improvement over the past two spring seasons."

            However, it most likely will not completely refill northern Platte River Basin reservoirs, he said. In addition, the longer the snowpack stays around, the better likelihood it will hold excessive heat from building into the Central Rockies and should help supplement front range thunderstorm development, at least for the first part of the growing season.

            The primary focus this winter has been the battle between a strong upper air ridge situated over the southwestern U.S. and a deep trough over the eastern half of the country. The resultant upper air ridge has led to the development of extreme to exceptional drought over most of California, Dutcher said.  Further east, heavy moisture has persisted over the eastern Corn Belt since last October.

            "We have seen that ridge weaken in response to above-normal sea surface temps developing in Gulf of Alaska," Dutcher said. "More importantly, a more active precipitation pattern has shown signs of developing across the central and northern High Plains region.  Unless an extended dry pattern develops, significant planting delay issues for the upper Great Lakes and Ohio River valley regions are likely."

            While there was significant moisture this past fall across eastern Nebraska, an exceptionally dry December-March eliminated those surpluses, and the U.S. Drought Monitor is showing moderate drought conditions have developed with exception of northeast Nebraska, he said.

            This is mainly due to lack of snow and its influence on stock ponds, stream flows and water tables.

            Spring crops and native vegetation will begin to extract moisture out of the soil profile during the next couple of weeks, making it critically important that moisture events bring at least normal precipitation so sub-soil moisture reserves continue to build during the summer growing season, Dutcher said.

            "Typically this time of year average weekly precipitation exceeds water use by vegetation, but in about six weeks, actively growing crops normally begin to extract more moisture out of the soil profile than is replaced by precipitation events.

            "If nothing changes, and the persistent eastern U.S. upper air trough remains a player going into growing season, we would expect to see the development of thunderstorms, higher humidity and isolated tornado development as cold fronts sweep southeastward from the southern Prairie province region of Canada. If this pattern doesn't hold, we would see more energy come into the western United States, and those systems would point to more wide spread thunderstorm outbreaks as storm systems move into the southern and central High Plains region," Dutcher said.

            So far Nebraska has been in a holding pattern and hasn't been able to keep temperatures in the 70-degree range for more than a couple of days at a time.

            It is critical that temperatures begin to stay persistently higher to get dew points to rise, soil temperatures to rise and plants start to grow.

            "This is why we haven't seen a big dormancy break with warmer temperatures," Dutcher said. "Right now everything is so cold that everything is delayed. There is moisture underneath the surface, it just hasn't warmed up enough to promote active growth."


UNL Extension Forage Specialist Bruce Anderson

Don’t be caught by surprise. Army cutworms are showing up in high enough numbers to cause damage to alfalfa, especially in western Nebraska so start monitoring your fields today.

Conditions are right for army cutworms this spring.  Cutworms feed on newly emerging leaves near the crown of alfalfa.  This feeding often slows down or delays alfalfa green-up.  Cutworms can be difficult to detect unless you are looking closely for them.  So, if your alfalfa seems slow to get started this spring, examine fields for cutworms.  Alfalfa can die if enough cutworms are present and they are allowed to feed too long.

Look for army cutworms near the crowns of your alfalfa plants.  During daylight they often are found hiding in the loose soil surrounding the plant, so scratch around a little to find them if you don’t see them right away.

Count the number of cutworm larvae per square foot in several areas.  The economic threshold for spraying is four or more army cutworms per square foot on established alfalfa, but just two larvae are needed in fields seeded last year.  Once your alfalfa gets four to six inches tall, spraying is unlikely to be beneficial unless you see a lot of active leaf feeding.

The best insecticides for controlling army cutworms in alfalfa are synthetic pyrethroids.  These include Baythroid, Mustang Max, Proaxis, and Warrior II.  Lorsban also works well.  Before spraying, read and follow label directions to safely apply the correct rate.

Most alfalfa fields should start greening up soon.  If yours does not, check it for army cutworms.  You may need to spray to save it.

Nebraska Cattlemen Pleased with Passage of LR 399

Immigration reform is an issue of great importance to many in agriculture, especially to Nebraska Cattlemen. Due to needed updates in current immigration laws and that the beef industry relies on immigrants as a substantial portion of its labor force, Nebraska Cattlemen supports federal and state immigration reform.

On April 10, LR399 introduced by Senator John Wightman, a resolution which calls upon Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, was passed. Nebraska Cattlemen is extremely pleased with the passage of LR 399 and the support of the following Nebraska State Senators:
-    Senator Greg Adams
-    Senator Brad Ashford
-    Senator Kathy Campbell
-    Senator Tanya Cook
-    Senator Sue Crawford
-    Senator Mike Gloor
-    Senator Ken Haar
-    Senator Tom Hansen
-    Senator John Harms
-    Senator Burke Harr
-    Senator Sara Howard
-    Senator Rick Kolowski
-    Senator Steve Lathrop
-    Senator Amanda McGill
-    Senator Heath Mello
-    Senator Jeremy Nordquist
-    Senator Paul Schumacher
-    Senator Kate Sullivan
-    Senator Norm Wallman
-    Senator John Wightman

Johanns, Fischer to Federal Agencies: Halt Scheme to Regulate Livestock Emissions

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer (R-Neb) and several of their Republican colleagues today called on the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop pursuing regulations on livestock emissions. If enacted, the new regulations could cost medium-sized dairy farms up to $22,000 and medium-sized cattle farms up to $27,000 annually.

“Ag producers have a tremendous stock in maintaining a healthy environment—their livelihoods depend on it,” Johanns said. “These sorts of top-down regulations are not only absurd, but they create a tremendous burden for the industry. Agencies should work with Congress and the ag industry to develop manageable strategies to achieve our mutual goal of caring for our environment rather than trying to regulate them into oblivion.”

“Before these agencies start dispensing fresh reams of red tape, they first should consider the economic impact these new requirements will have on producers and their operations both in Nebraska and across the country,” Sen. Fischer said. “The agriculture community works hard year-round to protect our natural resources, as shown by the measurable progress in reducing methane emissions in previous years. More heavy-handed regulations will only create unnecessary burdens and increase costs for the livestock industry.”

On March 28, 2014, the President released his Climate Action Plan “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.” The proposal calls on the USDA, DOE, and EPA to develop a plan in the coming weeks that would reduce dairy sector methane greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by 2020. If this plan leads to heavy-handed regulations or mandatory guidelines, farmers and ranchers would likely face a steep increase in production costs. Currently, EPA is prevented from regulating GHG emissions associated with livestock production through an annual appropriations rider that expires at the end of each fiscal year.

LB402 Bill Signing is a Positive Step Forward for Wind And Solar Development in Nebraska

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen praised Governor Dave Heineman, State Senators Mello, Davis, Schilz, and Dubas, along with a diverse coalition made up of farm, business, environmental, conservation, and public power stakeholders for successfully updating the state’s C-BED (Community-Based Energy Development) law with the passage of LB402.

In addition to Governor Heineman, State Senator Heath Mello of Omaha who sponsored LB402, Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala who co-sponsored LB402, and Senator Al Davis of Hyannis who made LB402 his Priority Bill participated in the LB402 signing ceremony.  Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton who was also a LB402 co-sponsor was not able to attend.

In addition to the elected officials participating in the ceremony, Jon Crane of Boyd Jones and Blue Stem LLC, David Levy of Baird Holm, Dean Mueller of Omaha Public Power District, John O’Conner of Nebraska Public Power District, Duane Hovorka of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, and John Hansen of Nebraska Farmers Union were present.  Ken Winston of the Nebraska Sierra Club was unable to attend.

NeFU State President John Hansen noted “Governor Heineman publicly asked the wind community to develop and place an update of our state C-BED law he originally signed in 2007 on his desk for him to sign that would move wind energy forward.  Thanks to the hard work and collaborative efforts of this diverse coalition of private and public power interests, we were able to accomplish that mission”, said John Hansen.

LB402 updates and expands the criteria for use of the C-BED law to qualify for sales tax abatement including solar energy in addition to wind energy, allowing Nebraska content of labor, materials, professional services and components, allow corporations domiciled in Nebraska to meet the definition of “qualified owner”, and reduces the qualifying percentage from 33% to 25% to qualify.

“This update of our state’s C-BED law will make it easier to use the C-BED model for renewable energy projects of all sizes.  It also puts smaller renewable energy projects on an equal footing with projects over $20 million in size who can use the sales tax abatement contained in LB104 passed in 2013.  It rewards renewable energy projects who have local ownership and use more local and state content which is good for our state because those kinds of projects help maximize the economic development benefits of the wind or solar development.  LB402 is one more positive step forward in our state’s effort to develop our world class wind and solar resources to the benefit of our landowners, rural communities, environment, and state economy,” Hansen concluded.

UNL's Rural Poll to be Accompanied This Year by Metro Poll from UNO

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is beginning its annual Rural Poll, one of the nation's leading surveys of opinions of rural dwellers, but this time with a twist: The University of Nebraska at Omaha is introducing a similar survey to understand issues facing the state's metropolitan areas.

Organized by UNO's Center for Public Affairs Research, the Nebraska Metro Poll is designed to complement the Nebraska Rural Poll, which has been conducted by UNL for 18 years.

"There are numerous changes happening across the state," said David Drozd, project manager for the new poll. "While we've learned a great deal about the public's perception of Nebraska's rural communities, we do not have nearly as much information from the states' highest population areas."

A 50-question survey is being sent to 7,500 randomly selected households in the Omaha and Lincoln areas. The Metro Poll will survey residents of Cass, Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders, Seward, and Washington counties.

The Rural Poll will be sent to 7,500 randomly selected households in the remaining 86 counties in the state. Results from both polls will be available later this year.

Questions in both the urban and rural polls include how people view changes in their community over the past year, levels of personal satisfaction with public services, perception of crime rates in their area, and other measures used to determine key issues that need to be addressed.

"In addition to some questions the rural poll uses every year, we wanted to include a focus on what makes communities successful," Drozd explained. Comparing how responses are similar or different between urban and rural areas will provide key insights, Drozd noted.

Becky Vogt, Rural Poll manager, said the Rural Poll team also is looking forward to having comparisons.

Iowa Beef Producers Investigate Beef Market in China

"There is a hunger for U.S. beef in China. We anxiously await the opening of the market for U.S. beef," was the consistent message delivered to an Iowa Meat Trade Mission while in China. Iowa beef producers Roger Brummett, Bedford and Dean Black, Somers, represented the Iowa Beef Industry Council on the mission.

"We visited with high Chinese meat traders and staff of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) to learn about the potential for U.S. beef exports," said Brummett, chair of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "They presented an overview of the China market and discussed current policy issues between the two countries that need to be resolved before the market opens," added Brummett.

The three pillars for U.S. and China relations were listed as food safety, food security and sustainability. China has been closed to U.S. beef since 2003 when the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was found, and BSE is still listed as a concern as is ractopamine, a feed additive. The country is working towards a better food safety structure with increased regulations for food producers and manufacturers.

"Their cold chain system is definitely improving," said Black. "We toured a huge brand new cold storage facility in Nanjing and one being built in Suzhou. Each will allow for a thousand or more wholesale 'meat shops' to be indoors, with electricity and near the freezer storage building. Beef is usually frozen when sent to China, so they are better prepared to receive and store beef."

The urbanization happening in China is resulting in a reduction of farmland. "On our travels around Shanghai, we saw thousands of high-rise buildings for housing being built," said Brummett. "They are building everywhere and significantly reducing the amount of land available for farming. Apparently their definition of food security may be changing with China accepting that importing food does not mean China is dependent on another country for their food supply."

Shanghai has the fastest growing E-commerce in the world with young people (born after 1990) ordering food online for delivery to their homes and offices (due to the dense population in high-rise housing.) An online USMEF pork promotion resulted in the sales of almost 10,000 metric tons of pork in one week, so there is great potential to market U.S. beef in this manner.

So what does this mean for U.S. beef? According to analysis by USMEF and the ATO, there is a general distinction between demand for grain vs. grass-fed beef (currently domestic, and from India, Australia and Brazil.) There is no other supplier that compares to the quality of U.S. beef. The demand for U.S. beef will be centered in chain restaurants, hotel fine dining and some retail (hot pot slices). There is also a market for beef offal as the Chinese eat all parts of the beef animal. The demand is there, the cold chain is improved, and the domestic cattle supply is declining, so the outlook for U.S. beef exports is good.

Both Black and Brummett were impressed with the staffs of the USDA foreign agriculture offices and the U.S. Meat Export Federation who are working hard to create opportunities for beef and pork exports. The beef checkoff contributes funds from both the national and state level to USMEF. U.S. beef exports added $277 to the value of a fed steer in February.

The Iowa trade team was coordinated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, and representatives of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Partial funding for the trade mission was provided by the $1-per-head beef checkoff.

US-Japan Struggle to Bridge Gaps on Agricultural Market Access

U.S. and Japanese negotiators finished three intensive days of talks in Tokyo this week without reaching any substantive agreement to resolve differences on automobile issues and access to agricultural products as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. At issue is the U.S. effort to secure concessions to liberalize access to Japan's declared sensitive products—rice, wheat, barley, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar.

Viewed as a comprehensive, 21st century agreement, a guiding principle of TPP is for member countries to eliminate all tariffs. While the United States has called on Japan to make more concessions, it has met continued resistance. Complicating the discussions, Japan and Australia (a TPP member country) announced this week they had concluded a bilateral trade agreement that partially lowered tariffs for Australian beef, some dairy products, but exempted rice from tariff reduction.

However, at the outset of the talks, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman stated that TPP aims for a higher level of trade liberalization than the Japan-Australia agreement and wants Japan to make greater efforts to eliminate tariffs on their sensitive agricultural products. This session of negotiations could be the last opportunity to advance talks ahead a summit between President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 24-25 in Tokyo. Reaching a bilateral deal is seen as crucial to conclude the broader 12-country TPP negotiations later this year.

Adding to the pressure, a bipartisan draft letter to USTR and USDA is being circulated in the House of Representatives urging them not to make a TPP deal with Japan unless it eliminates tariff and non-tariff agricultural barriers, a position that has been taken by U.S. agricultural groups, including the U.S. Grains Council.

House Ag Committee Leadership Change on the Horizon

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said Monday he will give up the chairmanship of the committee at the end of his term. Next in line for Chair is yet to be determined, but Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) has been campaigning for the post and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is another candidate who has not yet decided whether to pursue it. Lucas has reached the GOP Caucus’s limit of six years for committee leadership and will not pursue a waiver. Lucas noted he will never leave the Ag Committee but also looks forward to future leadership responsibilities in the House.

USDA Announces Funding to Train and Educate Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of more than $19 million in grants to help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

"USDA is committed to the next generation of America's farmers and ranchers because they represent the future of agriculture and are the backbone of our rural economy. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established." said Secretary Vilsack. "Reauthorizing and expanding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is one of the many resources the 2014 Farm Bill gave us to build America's agricultural future. Through this program, we can build a diverse next generation of farmers and ranchers."

BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help farmers, ranchers and managers of non-industrial private forest land – specifically those aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 or fewer years. It is managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA will competitively award grants to organizations conducting programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply (applications are due June 12, 2014).

Priority will be given to projects that are partnerships and collaborations led by or including non-governmental, community-based, or school-based agricultural educational organizations. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources in an amount that is at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds requested.

By law, at least five percent of available funding will be allocated to programs and services for limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers and farmworkers. Additionally, another five percent of available funding will be allocated for programming and services for military veteran farmers and ranchers.

BFRDP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, receiving $100 million to be awarded over the next five years. The program was originally funded through the 2008 Farm Bill. Since then, NIFA has awarded more than $66 million through 136 grants to organizations that have developed education and training programs. More than 50,000 beginning farmers and ranchers have participated in projects funded by BRFDP.

NIFA is hosting two upcoming webinars for interested applicants on April 30 and May 6 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The first webinar will focus on general guidelines for the program, while the second webinar will focus on the funding allocations for socially-disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at:

Small Tractor Sales Up, Combines Down in March

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. for March, 2014, were up 14% compared to the same month last year.  For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 27% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 8%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 9%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 2%.  Combine sales were down 22% for the month.

For the three months in 2014, a total of 39,111 tractors were sold which compares to 37,214 sold thru March, 2014, representing a 5% increase year to date.  Year-to-date, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 12% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are up 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 2%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 7%.  Sales of combines for the first three months totaled 1,840, a decrease of 11% over the same period in 2013.

Organic Claims Declining on U.S. Restaurant Menus

Recently, consumer confidence in the food industry has been shaken by food scandals, lack of transparency in food preparation and questionable treatment of animals. As a result, restaurants have shifted their business practices to introduce a greater number and wider variety of claims that reflect trending food concerns, in hopes of regaining consumers' trust. According to Mintel Menu Insights, while "organic" is still the leading ethical claim on restaurant menus, its usage declined 28% between Q4 2010-13.

"The reality is that organic foods are quite expensive and consumers are looking for alternative claims to help them determine what other types of menu items are safe and of good quality to eat. Tying into this, we are seeing a return to tried-and-true, traditional preparations, signaled by claims tied to classic, original, homemade, etc.," says Julia Gallo-Torres, category manager - US foodservice Oxygen reports.

While organic is in decline, claims like "gluten free" are appearing more frequently on restaurant menus, posting a 200% increase between Q4 2010-13, and accounting for 40% of the total growth in ingredient nutritional claims on the menu during the same time period. Meanwhile, the biggest growth in ingredient claims came from nutritional claims (up 14%) and geographic claims (up 12%).

"Many Americans look to menu information to eat better and healthier. Nutritional claims signal that certain foods can contribute to general health. In terms of geographic claims, consumers are seeking dining experiences that are more authentic and these claims also can convey a healthier presentation," continues Julia.

Mintel Menu Insights also found that consumers are looking for foods that are representative of being homemade; for example, the claim "made from scratch" is contributing 10% to the overall growth of all restaurant menu claims. Also tying into this trend is the growth of claims such as original recipe, freshly-picked, farmstead and farm style. And as operators try to signal that their offerings are unique, "signature" as an ingredient marketing claim grew 34%.

"The number of allergen-related claims will continue to gain momentum, as more people are officially diagnosed with specific allergies and their families also go on restricted diets to help keep them healthy. Leaning towards health, there also is a surge in vegetarian and vegan foods. People also want to know where their foods are coming from. Consumers will continue to look to menus for guidance on what to eat," Julia concludes.

Weekly Column: Disaster Assistance Sign Up for Farmers and Ranchers to Begin April 15

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Over the past several years, livestock producers have suffered through long-term drought, blizzards and other extreme weather-related disasters. Without the surety of disaster assistance programs, severe weather has caused economic hardship for producers and many have struggled to survive.

Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which restored and strengthened disaster assistance programs, USDA has made quick implementation of these programs a top priority. I am pleased to say that thanks to the hard work of Farm Service Agency employees across the country to stand up these programs, farmers and ranchers can begin signing up for disaster assistance starting this Tuesday, April 15.

There are several different programs available, depending on the size and type of your farm or ranch operation. For livestock producers, the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. For certain losses not covered by these programs, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish.

Enrollment also begins on April 15 for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

To ensure that your application moves through the process as smoothly as possible, I encourage producers to collect thorough records documenting your losses, including:
-    Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
-    Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
-    Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures;
-    Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed;
-    Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records;

I also encourage you to contact your county office ahead of time for more information on the types of records you’ll need to apply for disaster assistance, and to schedule an appointment to apply. More information is available at

The Farm Bill makes a number of other changes to USDA programs that will impact farmers and ranchers, including recently-announced changes to farm loan programs that help support existing operations and invests in new farmers and ranchers. Visit for more information about our progress towards full implementation of all farm bill programs.

Thursday April 10 Ag News

Shortage of Ag Teachers in Nebraska Prompts New School Loan Assistance Program

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture unveiled an Agriculture Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance Program during the FFA State Convention in Lincoln April 10. The Foundation is supported by Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“Nebraska is facing a critical shortage of agricultural education teachers. The good news is that agriculture education and FFA is expanding in Nebraska. The bad news is that there is not enough agriculture teachers to keep up with the growth. Competition in the market is pulling many students who are potential agriculture teachers into other fields,” said Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “This new program will help entice students to go into the field of agriculture education and young teachers to stay on this career path. Hopefully, this will help address the shortage issue and keep school-based agricultural education programs strong, vibrant and expanding to more schools,” said Nelson.

At a time when Nebraska’s population is becoming increasingly urban and disconnected from agriculture, enticing qualified agricultural education teachers to stay teaching, is critical. While there are missed opportunities for growth, there is a tremendous risk of not having teachers to fill existing positions for the sake of maintaining the quantity and quality of Nebraska agricultural education.

“Since 2011, there have been nine instances of Nebraska schools advertising for an agriculture teacher in an effort to start programs in their schools and there were not enough teachers to fill those positions,” said Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the NFB Foundation for Agriculture.

Agriculture teachers often struggle to justify entering a career where their first year’s salary is less than their total student loan amount. The average starting base salary for Nebraska teachers is about $31,000. Nebraska agriculture teachers cumulatively possess more than $622,000 in student loans today, said Karmazin.

The Agriculture Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance Program would support both pre-service (student) teachers through a scholarship program and in-service (active) teachers through a loan assistance program.

The Student Teacher Scholarship Program is for students enrolled in University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Agricultural Education Teacher Education program. Students would be eligible to apply for a student teaching scholarship for the value of approximately one-half tuition, or $1,200 for the semester in which the student’s student teaching experience occurs, Nelson said.

The Teacher Loan Assistance Program is for current Nebraska agricultural education teachers who have existing student loans have been teaching between 1-5 years. The amount of loan assistance would increase over the course of the teacher’s first five years in the classroom, thus encouraging the teacher to remain in the profession, he emphasized.

“We are starting a Capitol Campaign for the Agriculture Teacher Scholarship and Loan Assistance Program with the goal to entice more students to stay in Nebraska and teach agriculture, and to keep agriculture as part of the curriculum in our Nebraska schools. Agriculture is the number one industry in the state and is responsible for one in four jobs. It’s important we encourage students to understand and value the hard work that goes into raising food in Nebraska,” said Karmazin.

Funding for the program will initially start at about $12,000 for applying students and teachers in August 2014. With a fundraising component built in, we hope to ramp this up to a $35,000 to $40,000 program during the next three years.

“Without agriculture teachers, there is no FFA in the school system. The future growth of FFA depends on the ample supply of teachers and we hope our NFB Foundation for Agriculture program can help,” Nelson said.

NFB Foundation for Agriculture Honors Fullerton, Palmyra Teachers as FFA Advisors of the Year

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (NFB Foundation for Agriculture) along with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Ag Promotion Committee, selected the two recipients for the FFA chapter Advisors of the Year award: Kevin Wetovick of the Fullerton FFA Chapter and Ken Malone of the Palmyra FFA Chapter.

The teachers were chosen based upon their school and community involvement and accomplishments made with their FFA chapters.

“Both teachers are outstanding FFA advisors and spend countless hours working with their students to make them successful in all of their endeavors,” Deanna Karmazin, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture executive director, said April 10.

Kevin Wetovick’s students have seen him as a dedicated education professional who truly cares about each students’ success and will go out of his way to ensure that success with the Fullerton FFA Chapter. Chapter members feel his dedication to his students as he listens and works with his students after school to ensure positive achievements. His steady encouragement, dedication and hard work have made him a role model within his chapter and his community.

Ken Malone of the Palmyra FFA Chapter has a “kids first” attitude, is trustworthy, resourceful, vibrant and honest. It’s these qualities that qualifies him for the FFA Advisor of the Year award. His students have said time and time again that he pushes them to do the best they can and be the best they can be. Malone is not only an outstanding instructor, but is an integral part of the Palmyra Rescue Squad. He serves his community, inspires excellence and encourages personal growth for his students and their families.

The advisors were recognized during the Nebraska FFA Convention held in Lincoln, April 9. The winning advisors receive a plaque, $250 to be used toward their FFA chapter and receive a complimentary one year membership with Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“This year we had outstanding applications, and the selection committee had a very difficult time choosing the two winners. All of the advisors nominated are outstanding agriculture leaders in their community,” Karmazin said.

The nomination form for the 2015 award will be distributed via the FFA intranet in January. It will also be available at Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2015.

Nebraska Producers Could Increase Corn Yield by Increasing Seeding Rate

Many Nebraska producers could increase their corn yields and profits this year by increasing seed rates at planting, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension soils specialist says.

According to current Nebraska research in UNL NebGuide G2216, Row Spacing and Seedling Rate for Corn in Nebraska (, profitable yield increases are likely by increasing plant population at harvest beyond the U.S. Department of Agriculture-reported averages in Nebraska of 29,000 plants per acre  (30,450-31,900 seeds per acre) for irrigated production and 21,850 plants per acre (22,943-24,035 seeds per acre) for rainfed production, said Charles Wortmann, UNL Extension soils specialist.

Planting 34,000 seeds per acre for irrigated corn and 24,000 to 30,000 for rainfed corn, depending on expected yield, with 30-inch row spacing is expected on average to give the best net returns.

This NebGuide provides guidelines to determining row spacing, twin-row planting, and seeding rate for eastern and central Nebraska. It is based on findings of research conducted at UNL research centers and on farmers' fields.

Use of 30- and 15-inch row spacing and twin row versus single row planting are addressed. Guidelines to seeding rates consider seed cost and expected yield for maximizing profit per acre.

The NebGuide was written by Ross Barr, master’s degree graduate student; Stephen Mason, professor of agronomy and horticulture; Mitchell Novacek, former master’s degree graduate student; Jennifer Rees, UNL Extension educator and Wortmann.

For continued information this season about seeding rates this season, visit CropWatch, UNL Extension’s crop production newsletter, at

For western Nebraska rates, see UNL Extension NebGuide G2068, Recommended Seeding Rates and Hybrid Selection for Rainfed (Dryland) Corn in Nebraska at

A-FAN purchased Billboards to Support the Lincoln Food Bank

Earlier this year, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) partnered with the Lincoln Food Bank to promote Nebraska’s effort to end hunger through positive billboard advertisements. The theme for the billboards is: “Brought to you by Nebraskans who grow your food.”

A large thank you goes out to all of those who helped support this effort! Because of your generous donations, Nebraska farmers and ranchers are being positively represented in three different, highly populated areas of Lincoln. The three billboards are located on West O St., South 15th and Cornhusker Highway. So, the next time you’re in Lincoln and drive by these signs, snap a picture and share it through your social media channels!

“Our goal is to continuously build trust with our consumers,” Willow Holoubek, executive director of A-FAN, stated. “These donations are helping us reach this goal.  Another objective of this project was to replace the PETA anti-agriculture message.”

Thanks again for all of the donations! Your involvement is greatly appreciated.

Iowa Corn Receives U.S. Patent for Nitrogen Gene

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board is the recipient of a newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is the first U.S. patent that the Iowa Corn Promotion Board has received for its work in nitrogen use efficiency in corn and related to transgenic plants that have increased nitrogen use efficiency, and/or increased yield using a patented gene. Specifically, patent 8,692,070, Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance demonstrates Iowa Corn's commitment to improving farmer productivity even to the gene level.

"The Iowa Corn Promotion Board collaborated with Strathkirn Inc. and Athenix Corp. to develop improved corn plants that are more efficient in using nitrogen fertilizer," said Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon and chair of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee. "This new trait could result in improved economics on the farm, reduced impact on the environment and reduced energy requirements to grow a corn crop."

The objectives of the research are either to increase yield without increasing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer or obtain the same yield with less fertilizer. Data indicates this patented gene assimilates more nitrogen and increases kernel number, which could translate to greater yields for Iowa farmers.

By patenting this technology, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is able to provide protection for partners who would like to license this technology. "The goal is to get this trait licensed and commercialized by seed companies for commercialization so that farmers, like me, can benefit," said Klever.

The Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance patent number is 8,692,070 and was issued on April 8. A patent for this technology has also been awarded to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board by South Africa. Patents for this gene in other countries are still pending approval of the respective patent offices.

ASA Meets with White House and FDA on PHO Proposal

American Soybean Association Chairman Danny Murphy, ASA CEO Steve Censky and National Oilseed Processors Association President Tom Hammer met with the White House Domestic Policy Staff and FDA to discuss ASA’s concerns with the FDA’s proposal to withdraw Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) status for partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).  ASA shared projections for high oleic soybean production ramp up provided by QUALISOY, emphasizing that not only is more time required, but that the withdrawal of GRAS, even if postponed to 2018 or 2020, will have the immediate effect of driving food companies to substitute highly-saturated palm oil since no company wants to have an ingredient in their product for multiple years that the FDA says is “unsafe.”

ASA emphasized this would be a bad development for both consumers and American farmers.  ASA also emphasized that there has already been a 70 percent reduction in trans fat intake since labeling for trans fats was mandated beginning in 2006, and that the easy switches have already been made.  FDA seemed interested in whether the food/soy industry might be able to develop a standard of identity for soybean oil that limited the amount of trans fats contained in it.  ASA will explore this concept with industry and the soy family.

ASA Testifies Regarding Rail Service Issues at Surface Transportation Board Public Hearing

The American Soybean Association (ASA) emphasized the importance of addressing rail service issues and their negative impacts on soybean growers, at a public hearing before the Surface Transportation Board on Thursday.

ASA Director Lance Peterson, a soybean farmer from Underwood, Minn., represented ASA at the hearing in Washington D.C., highlighting the great impact the railways have on soybean farmers who rely on the transportation to get their crop to the growing world population.

“Soybeans are especially impacted by transportation costs, as over 50 percent of U.S. soybeans are exported and soybeans and soy products are the leading U.S. agricultural export, with an export value of over $28 billion in 2013,” Peterson said. “Many in the world rely on U.S. soybean farmers to meet their protein and vegetable oil demands. U.S. farmers, in turn, rely on trucks, rail, and barges to move our products to those markets.”

Peterson said that while a great deal of discussion has taken place in the last few months in regards to inadequate rail movement in the upper Midwest, centered on slow shipments due to cold weather—warmer weather may not fix the problems.

“The real issue is the shifting of rail assets to the rapidly expanding oil industry. This is occurring at the expense of long standing shippers who rely heavily on rail movement to conduct their business he said. “As an agricultural producer in Western Minnesota I am faced with a direct and substantial financial impact. Inadequate rail service directly drives up the cost per rail car by thousands of dollars. This is reflected in the price I am paid locally.”

When tabulated for the thousands of farm operations across the upper Midwest, the losses will be in the hundreds of millions and potentially over one billion dollars.

“This is making lenders hesitant and could make it difficult for farmers to get operating loans to finance their business. A restriction on operating loans would have a devastating impact on farmers and on the rural economy,” Peterson said. “And the impact to agricultural producers is not just on the shipping of harvested commodities to market, but also in getting inputs, such as fertilizer, to the farm to produce a crop in the first place. For many of us, that time is now or is rapidly approaching.”

Another issue Peterson presented was the fact that the demand for soybean rail shipments is expected to continue growing in key states where rail service issues are already having trouble keeping up today.

Most forecasts indicate that soybean shipments will be increasing and the rail network needs to accommodate this growth along with the growth in crude oil shipments

For our part, to address demand over the long-term, ASA will continue to carry the message to Congress and the Administration in support of policies that encourage or provide direct investments in expanding transportation capacity, including rail, trucks and waterways. These would include a tax credit applied to new rail infrastructure, l, funding for waterways infrastructure, and increased truck weight limits that will expand transportation capacity and increase transportation service competition. Steps to improve and expand energy infrastructure could also alleviate rail demand by providing alternative ways to accommodate the growing domestic oil and gas production.

ASA Endorses Letter to Encourage Full Market Access for Agriculture Products in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently joined several agriculture groups in signing on a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praising previous efforts to expand market access with Japan, but seeking assurances that the U.S. will not close Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with Japan’s participation, unless Japan agrees to eliminate tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to agriculture.

TPP negotiations set an important standard for future trade agreements, and a positive outcome could mean billions in future exports and thousands of American jobs, but only if all 12 participating countries agree to address trade barriers comprehensively.

The groups stated their concerns for the possible outcomes of the negotiations with Japan.

“While we support such endeavors, we are concerned Japan, a member of TPP, has not yet made a comprehensive offer on market access as it relates to agriculture products,” the groups state in the letter. “This success will only be realized, however, if Japan and other U.S. trading partners agree to address trade barriers comprehensively, without broad exclusions for sensitive products such as those submitted by Japan.”

The letter continued, that “not only would special treatment for sensitive agriculture products be inconsistent with U.S. requests in previous trade agreements and assurances provided when Japan was invited to join TPP, but also could undermine the careful balance of concessions the other eleven economies have achieved.  If Japan is allowed exemptions, other TPP countries could demand similar treatment and the entire agreement would be at risk of unraveling.”

The groups concluded by asking for assurance that the U.S. will not close TPP negotiations with Japna unless the country agrees to eliminate tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to agriculture.

NFU's Johnson Testifies Before STB on Rail Access

Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson testified before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) at a public hearing on service problems in the U.S. rail network. South Dakota Farmers Union member DuWayne Bosse is also scheduled to testify, and Montana Farmers Union and North Dakota Farmers Union submitted written testimony to the STB.

“The protection of captive shippers is one of the issues at the core of NFU’s creation more than 100 years ago,” said Johnson. “Access to rail transportation continues to be one of the most important factors in the prosperity of rural America.”

The upper Midwest in particular has experienced a significant rail car shortage for transportation of agricultural commodities, due largely to a rapidly growing energy sector and the prioritization of oil, coal and container shipments over grain. This shortage has led to costly delays and penalties for late shipments that grain elevators then pass on to farmers. The cost of shipping delays amounts to approximately $0.40 to $1.00 per bushel of wheat, which translates to a loss of $9,600 per average farm, at minimum.

Johnson listed three actions for the STB to take to address these problems: holding railroads responsible for losses due to delayed delivery of rail cars, requiring rail companies to guarantee a certain portion of shipments are dedicated to agricultural products, and ensuring there is increased future investment to compensate for the increased demand.

“I hope that the STB will take this issue seriously so that family farmers and ranchers can benefit from immediate and long-term solutions to current rail problems,” Johnson said.

AFBF to Hold Meeting on Data Privacy

The American Farm Bureau Federation organized a meeting with several agricultural technology providers and farm groups, which was held today, in an effort to increase confidence between farmers and companies using their data. Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF's senior director of congressional relations, said she would like to see some kind of standard privacy contract, so producers wouldn't have to worry about different privacy rules with different providers.

Thatcher said 13 groups and tech providers, including AFBF, will be represented at the meeting, and that the forum could be opened up to more groups in the future.

The meeting is a "turning point" for how AFBF will approach the process going forward, she said at the annual meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington on Monday.

The most common concerns among farmers are how the information is used, who will be able to see it, and if the data can be removed.

AFBF decided to take the lead on the issue because several farmer members said they were confused by the privacy standards in the contracts they signed, according to Thatcher.

CARB’s ILUC Analysis Out of Date, Out of Step with Current Independent ILUC Studies

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has submitted comments to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) pertinent to CARB’s draft indirect land use change (ILUC) analysis.

Geoff Cooper, RFA’s senior vice president, notes in his submission that RFA is greatly concerned by many aspects of the draft.

Cooper writes, “….several of the assumptions and methodological approaches chosen for CARB’s draft analysis run counter to the recommendations of the Expert Work Group (EWG). In particular, the values selected by CARB for key GTAP elasticities are in conflict with values recommended by EWG and well-known agricultural economists. More generally, CARB’s draft analysis lacks sufficient justification for certain judgment calls made by staff with regard to important model parameters.

“… the results of CARB’s draft analysis are in conflict with the results of recent independent ILUC studies. As described in a recent letter to CARB Chair Mary Nichols from 14 scientists and researchers (including CARB-appointed Expert Work Group members), the corn ethanol ILUC results from CARB’s draft analysis are significantly higher than estimates from recent peer-reviewed scientific analyses…. We believe CARB should explain and justify the divergence of its draft results with estimates from other recent studies.”

RFA’s comments contain thorough technical analysis and recommendations related to key modeling parameters in CARB’s analysis, such as crop yield elasticities and emissions factors, which would help CARB bring the current draft up to speed with current ILUC science.

Price yield elasticity is perhaps the single more important factor for CARB to correct in its draft. Not only does CARB ignore the recommendations of its own expert working group, its range “is inconsistent with recently estimated long-run elasticity values from the literature, confuses short-term versus long-term responses, and ignores the effect of double-cropping. Additionally, CARB appears to misrepresent the results from some price-yield elasticity studies.”

RFA believes “a range of 0.14-0.53 is scientifically justified, properly recognizes that the price-yield effect occurs primarily over the medium or long term, and appropriately incorporates the effect of double-cropping.”

Brazil Agriculture Ministry Raises 2013-14 Soy Estimate

Brazil's Agriculture Ministry Thursday raised its forecast for the 2013-14 soybean crop to 86.1 million metric tons (mmt) from 85.4 mmt last month.  The figure, compiled by the ministry's crop supply company, or Conab, is 5.6% higher than last year and brings the government number in line with private forecasts issued over the last couple of weeks.  The increase was due to an adjustment in forecast planted area. Conab added 514,000 acres to its April number, taking area to 74.1 million acres.  Drought, pests and disease hurt production in the south, while rain delayed the harvest but did not significantly affect yields in the top soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso.

Brazilian corn output was pegged at 75.5 mmt, slightly higher than the March number of 75.2 mmt but down 7.4% from last year.  The summer crop was pegged 8.9% lower than last year at 31.5 mmt due to dry weather in the southeast and a significant decline in planted area in the southern state of Parana.  The outlook for the second crop is for a 6.4% drop in production to 43.9 mmt. The crop has benefited from ample rain over the last month in Parana, the No. 2 second corn state, and is developing well.

Tips to prepare the herd for spring and summer grazing

Late spring and early summer pastures provide essential nutrients to the cow herd, as the cow cares for herself, the calf at her side and her developing fetus. During this period, pasture management is especially important as pasture forages can provide highly variable nutrient levels.

That’s according to Doug Hawkins, Ph.D., beef cattle consultant for Purina Animal Nutrition. Hawkins says that pasture management beginning in early spring can directly impact the body condition score (BCS) of the cow, the growth of the calf at her side and conception rates post-calving. “Beef producers are most often familiar with supplementing pasture during late summer, as supplementation consumption rates are often highest then. However, taking steps to offer supplements in late spring and early summer, can help the cow perform consistently and help prevent imbalances before forage quality declines,” he says. “Adding a proactive management program during this timeframe will promote consistent cow performance through summer.”

Following are four tips to keep in mind this spring.

1. Design a plan for fly and pest control

“Flies and parasites can tie up nutrients; meaning the cow may consume nutrients but still fall behind in BCS and performance,” Hawkins says. “The goal should always be to eliminate the problem before it begins.”

Horn flies, which can consume up to one-half pound of blood per cow per day,[1] can be prevented through a feed-through fly control supplement that includes Altosid®.  Altosid® is an insect growth regulator available in Purina’s Wind and Rain® Storm® Formula Minerals. By using Altosid® in the mineral, the fly’s reproductive cycle is permanently delayed before reaching maturity.[2]

Most successful fly control programs in the upper U.S. include prevention beginning at least 30 days prior to fly emergence in early spring. The process should then continue through 30 days after the area’s first kill frost. Typically prevention is needed March through October, depending on the area’s climate. Warmer areas should consider a year-round fly control program.

2. Provide continuous access to fresh, clean water

“Water consumption is very critical through all seasons, but especially as temperatures begin to increase,” Hawkins says. “In the summer the cooler the water, the better.”

Providing access to fresh, clean and cool water in early spring and summer will help cows meet their increasing nutrient requirements. Research from the University of Nebraska estimates that water consumption should equal approximately 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight during cold weather and will double to nearly 2 gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight during the hottest weather.[3]

Regardless of season, lactating cows also require nearly twice as much water compared to dry cows.

“To keep water cool and fresh, place the water source in the shade and use concrete troughs rather than plastic troughs,” Hawkins advises. “If feeding out of ponds, make sure the water is fresh. Water consumption impacts feed consumption, so more water can equal more feed and greater performance potential.”

3. Create a flexible supplementation program

“Forage quality is always changing as grasses mature,” Hawkins says. “It’s very difficult to adjust protein and mineral supplementation levels each day, so create a flexible supplementation program.”

One way to fill potential pasture voids in nutrients without over-supplementing is to use products with Intake Modifying Technology®. This technology is formulated to help the cows consume supplements at the rates they need, when they need them to maintain a consistent BCS.

“We’re seeing a lot of ranches going to a 12-month cow care program with year-round supplementation to try and maintain the cow at a 5.5 to 6 BCS at all times,” Hawkins says. “Using supplements with Intake Modifying Technology® allow flexible supplementation for consistent production.”

4. Introduce supplements early

“Traditionally, supplements have been added to pastures in late summer when cows have already begun to slip in body condition,” Hawkins says. “This can be an expensive practice as you’re then working to regain condition rather than maintaining.”

For consistent conditioning, Hawkins recommends introducing supplement to the herd when cows have good BCS and when the pasture is still producing high-quality forage.

“Acclimate the herd to the supplementation program early,” he says. “This way, when the forage starts to decline in late summer, the cows are less likely to over-consume the supplement. It’s all about getting ahead of the 8-ball.”

Wednesday April 9 Ag News

Nebraska Cattlemen Becomes Member of USMEF

Nebraska Cattlemen is excited to announce its membership in the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). At the April 1, 2014 NC Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that membership with USMEF was of utmost importance in continuing NC’s core objective of becoming the global beef epicenter.

“The mission of Nebraska Cattlemen is, “Working for Nebraska beef producers – pasture to plate”. Our membership with USMEF will help further our mission by continuing our industry’s growth and putting Nebraska beef on the world’s table”, said Jeff Rudolph, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

“USMEF represents a diverse cross-section of American agriculture, including all facets of the U.S. red meat industry. We are very pleased to welcome to our membership an organization with the rich history of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, which traces its roots all the way back to the Nebraska Stock Growers Association – founded in 1888.   U.S. beef exports topped $6 billion in value for the first time in 2013, and USMEF is committed to continuing the industry’s growth through exports in collaboration with members like the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association”, said Phil Seng, US Meat Export Federation President and CEO.

Local Grower Is State Winner in National Corn Yield Contest

An area corn grower has been honored as a state winner in the 2013 National Corn Yield Contest, sponsored annually by the National Corn Growers Association.  Gerald Steffensmeier of Howells, Neb., placed first in the state in the A No-Till/Strip-Till Non-Irrigated Class with a yield of 292.1857 bushels per acre.  The hybrid used in the winning field was DEKALB/DKC62-97.

The local grower was one of 434 state winners nationwide.  The 2013 contest set a participation record with 8,983 entries from 47 states.  Of the state winners, 18 growers – three from each of six classes – were named national winners, representing ten states.
The average yield among national winners was 354.67 bushels per acre, greater than the 2013 U.S. average of 158.8 bushels per acre.  Five of the national winners recorded yields of 400 bushels or more per acre.

“This fall, U.S. corn farmers reaped the bounty of their labors, harvesting a record crop that will provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation and our trading partners around the world,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Carmi, Ill. 

“Our contest participants demonstrated that America’s farmers continue to strive for excellence while adopting state-of-the-art tools which help them meet those goals,” Barbre continued.  “The top yield in this year’s contest – a tremendous 454.98 bushels per acre achieved by David Hula of Charles City, Va., – is a testament to these efforts.”

Farmers are encouraged through the contest to utilize new, efficient production techniques.  Agronomic data gleaned from the contest reveal the following:
•    Average planting population for the national winners was 39,166 seeds per acre, compared to 32,160 for all entrants.
•    National winners applied an average of 293 pounds of nitrogen, 76 pounds of phosphorus and 156 pounds of potassium per acre.
•    Average commercial nitrogen use per bushel of yield was 0.83 pounds for the national winners and 0.86 pounds for all entrants.
•    Forty-four percent of the national winners applied trace minerals, compared to 34 percent of all entrants.         
•    Use of manure as a fertilizer was consistent.  Twenty-two percent of national winners applied manure, compared to 14 percent of all entrants.

The National Corn Yield Contest began in 1965 with 20 entries from three states.  The highest overall yield was 218.9 bushels per acre, while the national yield average was in the mid-60 bushel-per-acre range.

Nebraska Soybean Farmers Encourage Everyone to Celebrate Soyfoods Month

April is National Soyfoods Month, and Nebraska soybean farmers encourage their neighbors to explore ways to incorporate all the benefits of adding soy to their families’ diets along with soy-fed beef, pork, and poultry products.

Karen Brokaw has contracted with the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) for the past 15 years to promote soyfoods and says she has seen a tremendous growth in consumer acceptance. “There are definitely more soy products on the market today than there were when I started,” Brokaw says. “A lot of folks are looking for ways to start living a healthier lifestyle and soy can be a big part of that.”

Brokaw and her “Bean Team” members travel to grocery stores in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island to promote soyfoods during the month of April. The Bean Team always features a soy recipe for shoppers to try and can answer questions they may have about soy.

Soy is a complete protein that is packed with B vitamins and low in saturated fat. Incorporating soyfoods is an easy way to contribute to a heart-healthy diet and they have been proven to help lower bad cholesterol.

Brokaw said that when she visits grocery stores, most people are surprised by the taste. “I think a lot of people believe that eating healthy comes at the expense of flavor but with soy, that’s simply not the case. Whether it’s tossing edamame in a soup or on your salad, using black soybeans in your favorite salsa, or substituting tofu for some of the cream cheese in your favorite recipes, there are countless ways to start adding soy to your diet.”

You can access the Bean Team’s schedule, as well as many of their featured soy recipes on their Facebook page at

The Nebraska Soybean Board encourages you to celebrate Soyfoods Month this April, which is why they want you to have the resources to get started. You can find many delicious recipes at or watch one of NSB’s nearly 20 featured soy cooking videos at

Happy Soyfoods Month, and remember, eat well, eat soy!

Livestock Disaster, Farm Loan Info Meeting April 17

A public information meeting will be held on the Livestock Disaster Programs and updates/changes to the Farm Loan programs that were implemented with the 2014 Farm Bill.  The meeting will be held April 17 at 1 p.m. at the Farm Service Agency office at 102 E. Elm St., Hartington.

Topics to be discussed will be the Livestock Forage Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the new Microloan Program, Beginning Farmer & Socially Disadvantaged Programs and updates to the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialst

It seems silly to irrigate alfalfa before first cutting, doesn't it.  But look at your soil moisture profile.  If it's dry, you may need to.  In fact, early spring often is the best time to irrigate alfalfa.  After all, it's about the only time you can actually build a reserve water source for summer use.

The biggest advantage of reserve water comes after each mid-summer cutting.  Alfalfa can develop roots more than eight feet deep.  But it will only do this when surface moisture does not meet crop needs and moisture is available all the way down to those depths.  If you have deep roots and deep reserve moisture, though, it will make your summer irrigating much easier by providing extra moisture when plants use as much as half an inch per day.  Unfortunately, typical shallow watering during summer encourages only shallow rooting.

Shallow summer watering causes other problems.  Alfalfa roots need oxygen in the soil if plants are to regrow rapidly.  Watering right after cutting suffocates roots, slowing regrowth.  Immediate watering also stimulates shallow rooted or sprouting weeds, especially at a time when alfalfa plants are not very competitive.  Both problems are reduced when reserve water is available for use by deep alfalfa roots.  Then the top several inches of soil can remain dry for a couple days until alfalfa regrowth is well underway.

So, improve your alfalfa irrigation by watering early, with a goal of around six feet of soil at field capacity at first cutting.

Farm Bureau’s Stallman Calls for Tax Changes

Farmers and ranchers need tax certainty to thrive in a modern economy, and making permanent deductions that expired in 2013 is a good first step, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the House Ways and Means Committee today.

“One of the major goals of tax reform should be to provide stable, predictable rules for businesses so that they can grow and create jobs,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes that Congress should end its practice of extending important business tax provisions for one or two years at a time. This practice makes it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity.”

Stallman addressed the committee as part of a hearing addressing the economic disruption caused by the end of a series of tax deductions over the past several years. Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently introduced a discussion draft of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in an effort to stimulate discussion of how the tax code could be simpler and fairer, while at the same time aiding economic growth, job creation and wages.

In written testimony submitted to the Committee, Stallman called for extensions of several now-expired deductions to benefit the economy as a whole, including:
-    Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000 instead of depreciating them over several years;
-    Bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment;
-    Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit: a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities;
-    A $1.00 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels;
-    The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit and
-    A provision encouraging donations of conservations casements.

Stallman reiterated the importance of Section 179’s immediate expensing to farming. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business,” he said. “In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced. This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

“Smart business planning that anticipates and budgets for annual capital improvements proves challenging for farmers and ranchers because they operate on tight profit margins. The immediate expensing provided by Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to cash flow purchases that otherwise might be delayed or incur debt expense that impact profitability.”

Japan Mulls Slashing US Beef Tariffs

Japan is considering lowering levies on U.S. beef imports to the high single digits from 38.5% as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, marking progress on breaking the deadlock between two key participants in the pact, The Nikkei reported in its Thursday morning editions.

The final details are being worked out, with a proposal to impose restrictions if imports skyrocket expected to be considered as well.

But Washington is seeking an even steeper drop, and opposition may come from Australia as well. Under a recent agreement with Australia, Japan will ratchet down its duties on frozen beef to 19.5% over 18 years and on chilled beef to 23.5% over 15 years. Japan's livestock industry is also expected to object.

Economic Policy Minister Akira Amari and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman held talks in Tokyo Wednesday, but differences remain regarding Japan's contentious agricultural tariffs. They will meet again Thursday.

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates - April 9, 2014

COARSE GRAINS:  U.S. feed grain ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected lower this month with reductions for corn, barley, and oats.  A 125-million-bushel increase in projected corn exports reduces corn ending stocks by the same amount.  Continued strong export sales and a rising weekly shipment pace for U.S. corn during March support the higher expected export level as does an increase in projected global corn demand.  U.S. barley ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 7 million bushels lower with projected imports decreased and projected exports increased based on the pace of shipments to date.  Oats ending stocks are projected 10 million bushels lower with feed and residual use raised 10 million bushels on higher-than-expected December-February disappearance as indicated by the March 1 stocks.  Sorghum exports are projected 20 million bushels higher based on the high level of outstanding sales and the sharp increase in weekly shipments during March.  Sorghum ending stocks, however, remain unchanged with an offsetting reduction made in domestic use based on the higher-than-expected March 1 stocks estimate.

The 2013/14 season-average farm price for corn is raised 10 cents at the midpoint with the projected range also narrowed to $4.40 to $4.80 per bushel, compared with $4.25 to $4.75 per bushel last month.  The projected range for the sorghum farm price is also raised 10 cents to $4.15 to $4.55 per bushel.  The barley and oats price ranges are narrowed 5 cents on each end to $6.00 to $6.20 per bushel and $3.65 to $3.75 per bushel, respectively.  The June-May marketing year for barley and oats is nearing an end with most of the two crops already marketed and priced.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013/14 are raised 3.6 million tons with increases in foreign corn production far exceeding reductions for millet, sorghum, and barley.  Revisions to coarse grain production for a number of Sub-Saharan African countries account for much of the change in world production this month.  Notable changes, however, are made for several major producing and exporting countries.  

Global corn production is raised 6.4 million tons with a 2.0-million-ton increase for Brazil and 1.0-million-ton increases each for South Africa and Russia.  For Brazil, favorable precipitation in March and early April has supported the developing safrinha corn crop with yields now expected just below last year’s levels in the areas where this second-season corn crop is grown.  For South Africa, improved rains in late February and March have boosted yield prospects for corn grown in the normally lower-yielding western areas.  Corn production is raised for Russia based on recent revisions to official production statistics.  Corn production is also raised 0.2 million tons for Mexico, in line with the latest government estimates.  Global sorghum production is lowered 1.1 million tons mostly on changes to the Sub-Saharan Africa countries, but production is also lowered 0.4 million tons for Argentina and raised 0.3 million tons for Brazil.  Global barley production is lowered with a 0.8-million-ton reduction for China.  Global millet production is reduced 1.7 million tons with more than half of the decline for India.     

Global coarse grain trade for 2013/14 is raised with higher corn and sorghum imports.  Corn imports are increased for the European Union, Algeria, Iran, Egypt, and Vietnam.  In addition to the United States, corn exports are increased for South Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam.  Sorghum imports are raised for China.  Global corn consumption is higher with increases in feeding for Argentina, Russia, and Algeria.  A reduction in European Union corn feeding is more than offset by an increase in food, seed, and industrial use.  Corn use is also raised for several of the Sub-Saharan Africa countries led by increases of 1.0 million tons for Uganda and 0.9 million tons for Ethiopia.  World corn ending stocks for 2013/14 are lowered 0.5 million tons with reductions for the United States and Ukraine outweighing increases for Brazil, Russia, and several other countries.

OILSEEDS:  U.S. soybean supplies for 2013/14 are projected at 3.49 billion bushels, up 30 million on increased imports.  Imports are projected at a record 65 million bushels based on trade reported through February and prospective large shipments from South America during the second half of the marketing year.  Soybean exports for 2013/14 are increased 50 million bushels to 1.58 billion reflecting record year-to-date shipments and large outstanding sales.  Despite relatively high prices and record harvests in South America, U.S. exports have remained strong, especially to China, where imports from the United States have already exceeded the previous marketing-year record.  Soybean crush is reduced 5 million bushels to 1.685 billion with lower domestic soybean meal consumption more than offsetting a small increase in projected soybean meal exports.  Seed use is raised in line with the record plantings reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report, while residual use is reduced based on indications from the March 31 Grain Stocks report.  U.S. soybean ending stocks are projected at 135 million bushels, down 10 million from last month.

Projected prices for soybeans and soybean products are all raised this month.  The projected range for the season-average soybean price is raised 5 cents at the midpoint to 12.50 to $13.50 per bushel.  Soybean oil prices are projected at 38 to 40 cents per pound, up 1.5 cents at the midpoint.  Soybean meal prices are projected at $460 to $490 per short ton, up 5 dollars at the midpoint.

Global oilseed production for 2013/14 is projected at 504.5 million tons, up 0.2 million from last month with lower soybean production mostly offsetting increases for other crops.  Global soybean production is projected at 284.0 million tons, down 1.4 million from last month but still a record.  Brazil soybean production is forecast at 87.5 million tons, down 1.0 million from last month with higher harvested area more than offset by lower yields.  Lower yields primarily reflect the effect of warm temperatures and limited rainfall through mid-February in the south.  India soybean production is reduced 0.8 million tons to 11.0 million reflecting lower-than-average yields resulting from excessive rainfall during much of the growing season.  Changes for other crops include higher rapeseed production for India and the European Union, increased sunflowerseed production for Russia, and increased peanut production for Argentina, Brazil, and India.

Global oilseed supplies, exports, and crush for 2013/14 are projected higher this month while ending stocks are projected lower.  Higher rapeseed crush in China and higher sunflowerseed crush in Argentina and Russia more than offset reduced soybean crush in the United States, Brazil, and India.  Global oilseed stocks are projected at 82.6 million tons, down 1.4 million.

WHEAT:  U.S. wheat ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 25 million bushels higher with lower imports more than offset by a reduction in feed and residual use.  Imports are projected 5 million bushels lower based on available shipment data.  Feed and residual use is projected 30 million bushels lower based on disappearance during the December-February and September-November quarters as indicated by the March 1 stocks and revisions to the December 1 stocks, both from the March 31 Grain Stocks report.  Projected feed and residual use is lowered 10 million bushels each for Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, and White wheat.  The all wheat export projection is unchanged, but small by-class adjustments are made to exports as well as imports.  The projected season-average farm price for all wheat is unchanged at $6.75 to $6.95 per bushel.

Global 2013/14 wheat supplies are raised 0.5 million tons with higher projected beginning stocks, mostly because of reductions in European Union and Ukraine consumption for 2012/13.  World production for 2013/14 is lowered 0.2 million tons with mostly offsetting changes to several countries of 0.1 million tons or less.  

World wheat imports for 2013/14 are lowered 1.7 million tons mostly reflecting a 1.5-million-ton reduction for China.  Smaller import reductions are made for Bangladesh, the European Union, Pakistan, and South Africa, but these are mostly offset by increases for Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia.  Global exports are lowered with 0.5-million-ton reductions each for Australia, Canada, India, and Ukraine, and a 0.3-million-ton reduction for Brazil.  Most of the export reductions reflect the pace of shipments reported to date, but reductions for Australia and Canada are also related to the lower import outlook for China.  For Ukraine, the latest trade data indicate a shift in export business from wheat to corn.  Partly offsetting the reductions is a 1.0-million-ton increase for Kazakhstan exports with reports of larger rail shipments to Russia and strong sales to Iran and China.  

Global wheat consumption for 2013/14 is lowered 2.4 million tons mostly on a 2.0-million-ton reduction in China wheat feeding.  A number of smaller and mostly offsetting changes are also made in consumption for other countries.  Global wheat ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 2.9 million tons higher with the largest increases for Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, Australia, and China.

The 2014 forecast of total red meat and poultry production is lowered from last month as higher beef production is more than offset by lower pork, broiler, and turkey production.  For beef, production is forecast higher as lower forecast slaughter in the first quarter is more than offset by higher slaughter in the second half.  The larger forecast second-half slaughter reflects larger placements of cattle during the first half.  Pork production is reduced from last month as the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report estimated a year-over decline in the December-February 2014 pig crop and revised the June-August 2013 pig crop lower.  Although producers indicated intentions to increase sows farrowing in March-May and June-August 2014, the loss of piglets due to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is expected to result in lower slaughter during the remainder of the year.  Although carcass weights are forecast higher, those gains will be insufficient to offset the reduced slaughter numbers and the pork production forecast is reduced from last month.  Broiler production and hatchery data points to slower growth in eggs set and chicks placed. Production is also reduced as feed prices are forecast higher.  Turkey production for the first quarter is reduced based on February production, but forecasts for production in subsequent quarters are unchanged.  Egg production forecasts for 2014 are unchanged. 

The beef import forecast for 2014 is raised from last month as demand for processing-grade beef remains strong and the export forecast is raised on continued strong sales to Asian markets.  Pork imports are raised on high U.S. pork prices, but the export forecast is reduced as tighter supplies and high prices are expected to constrain sales.  The broiler export forecast is reduced based on February export data.  Turkey exports are lowered on weaker sales.  Egg import and export forecasts are lowered. 

Cattle prices for 2014 are raised from last month, reflecting continued price strength for fed cattle. The hog price forecast is raised on current prices and expected tight supplies of market hogs. Broiler and turkey prices are raised as higher cattle and reduced broiler production support higher prices.  The egg price is raised on continued strong demand. 

The milk production forecast for 2014 is raised from last month as strong returns are expected to encourage a more rapid expansion in cow numbers and increased milk per cow.  Fat-basis exports are raised on higher sales of cheese and butter, but the skim-solids export forecast is lowered on weaker-than-expected nonfat dry milk (NDM) sales.  Skim-solid imports are reduced slightly due to lower imports of milk protein concentrate and casein.  
Product price forecasts for cheese, butter, and whey are higher, supported by strong demand and price strength to date.  However, the NDM price is unchanged at the midpoint as export demand is weaker than expected.  Class III and Class IV prices are raised on higher product prices.  The all milk price is forecast at $22.55-23.05 per cwt.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/04/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 896,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.63 million gallons daily. That is down 26,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 898,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.77 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.4 million barrels. That is a 3.4% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were 38,000 b/d, up from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 377.8 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.96%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.586 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 99,996 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,148 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.67 million pounds of corn oil daily.

New Poll: For 3rd Year in a Row, Americans Overwhelmingly Support the RFS

For the third year in a row, Americans, by an overwhelming majority, consistently support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other key federal initiatives supporting the expanded use of ethanol. A new national poll conducted by American Viewpoint found 65 percent of adults support the RFS, while just 26 percent are opposed. Support for the RFS has been steadily rising. In 2013, 64 percent polled supported the policy, up from 61 percent in 2012.

As you may know, there is currently a renewable fuels standard that requires a certain amount of the fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, bio-diesel and other renewable sources that aren’t fossil fuels to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. Do you favor or oppose this requirement?
Favor: 65%
Oppose: 26%
Don’t Know: 8%

RFA’s President and CEO Bob Dinneen commented, “It is telling that support for the RFS continues to grow in spite of the relentless attacks on ethanol and the RFS financed by Big Oil’s deep pockets. Repeatedly Americans have decisively said they place a premium on energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment. For these reasons and more, Americans overwhelmingly support the RFS for its ability to strengthen this great nation. Members of Congress and the Obama Administration should review this data before taking action to reduce or eliminate a program with broad national appeal and tangible energy and environmental benefits.”

Expanding on the polling results, Dinneen continued, “Americans see great value in investing in the next generation of fuel, cellulosic ethanol, and they support the idea of an open fuel standard which encourages the manufacturing of cars that run on any number of alternatives to petroleum. In fact, Americans appear to have a visceral dislike for the billions and billions of dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment that Big Oil has enjoyed for 100 years.”

The government has considered giving incentives to help fund the expansion of a new fuel known as Cellulosic ethanol, which is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses and other non-edible parts of plants. Do you favor or oppose these incentives?
Favor: 66%
Oppose: 24%
Don’t Know: 9%

Do you favor or oppose requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil, such as electricity, natural gas and bio-fuels?
Favor: 78%
Oppose: 19%
Don’t Know: 3%

As you may know, oil companies receive four to five billion dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment and incentives for things like equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Do you favor or oppose these tax incentives?
Favor: 22%
Oppose: 66%
Don’t know: 11%

The new poll was commissioned by RFA and conducted by American Viewpoint. The poll was conducted via phone with a sample size of 1,000 adults. Margin of error in the poll is +/- 3.1 percent. Approximately 40 percent of respondents were contacted by cell phone.

Linda DiVall, President of American Viewpoint, analyzed several keys themes from the polling results:

“Despite the barrage of negative advertising targeting ethanol recently, ethanol’s image has held strong, largely unchanged from last year. More telling is the fact that the unfavorable rating of oil companies has climbed five percentage points to 47 percent, with a plurality of Americans rating oil companies unfavorably.”

“That rise in negative opinion of oil companies certainly manifests itself in the 66 percent of adults polled who desire a level playing field among fuels and resent the subsidies and special treatment oil companies have held onto at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

DiVall concluded, “The ethanol industry must not be deterred from telling its story. It should stand proudly and champion its ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, lower our dependence on foreign oil, create quality jobs, and reduce fuel costs for American drivers. Ethanol, thanks in large part to the RFS, is a fuel with a proven track record of success and a promising future.”

Soybean Growers Welcome Introduction of Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed the introduction this morning of new legislation to establish a federal voluntary labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would direct FDA to provide guidance for companies that wish to label their products for the presence or absence of GMOs; make mandatory an FDA safety review of all new GMO traits before they are brought to market and enable FDA to mandate labels on any product shown to pose a health, safety or nutrition risk; and directs FDA to define the term “natural” for use on food labels. Additionally, the bill would eliminate a large potential source of confusion among consumers by establishing FDA’s labeling guidance as the national standard and preventing states from enacting a patchwork of conflicting requirements.

“This bill is a commonsense, science-based approach to an issue we realize is close to the hearts and minds of so many consumers,” said Iowa farmer and ASA President Ray Gaesser. “Americans want to know that their food is safe, and the solutions proposed in this bill will ensure that they have that information. It will require that the FDA review all new GMO traits for safety, and stipulate that the FDA require labels for any product that has a safety or health risk. It will allow companies to voluntarily label foods as non-GMO and enable those consumers who wish purchase non-GMO foods to do so. Importantly, however, it won't force consumers to pay more for food just because some interests want to require mandatory labeling of safe and healthy foods made with GMOs."

Economic studies show that an average family of four would pay about $500 more per year for groceries under mandatory GMO labeling schemes being considered in some states.

Gaesser especially praised the bill’s co-sponsors, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) for their foresight in championing the bill. “Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield and each of the sponsors of this bill have taken a brave and progressive step,” he said. “The conversation surrounding GMOs is one that has been crowded with misinformation and hyperbole on all sides, but at its core, must be about science. The Congressmen realize that my fellow farmers and I use these tools—each of which represents a revolutionary and proven-safe scientific advance—to be more productive while consuming fewer resources. They are to be commended for pursuing a science-based step forward on GMOs, and we call on the Energy and Commerce Committee to move forward with hearings on the bill as quickly as possible.”

“Genetically modified soybeans have been in widespread use by American farmers since 1997. Not only have these applications been repeatedly tested and proven safe by the world’s most stringent food safety testing system, they have been so without a single documented instance of a human or animal health risk. Not one. That’s why, as farmers, we grow them, and as consumers, we feed them to our families,” added Gaesser. “It’s time that we have a reasonable, science-based discussion on GMOs and this bill helps get us there.”

NCGA Announces Support Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

The National Corn Growers Association announced its support for legislation introduced at a press conference today that would establish a federal standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill.  “NCGA’s more than 40,000 members work tirelessly to provide America’s families with a wide variety of nutritious, quality food choices that are both safe and affordable. A federal GMO labeling solution will allow consumers to feel confident in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions. GMOs are important to farmers and to our nation’s food supply as they help us grow a stable supply of crops that can withstand a variety of changing conditions while reducing our use of chemicals.  We applaud Reps. Mike Pompeo (R- Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D- N.C.) as well as Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) who introduced this legislation, for their work on behalf of families and farmers.”

The legislation introduced will protect consumers and ensure the safety of food ingredients using solid, science-based information by providing a consistent, informative GMO labeling solution that eliminates confusion and advances food safety.

In setting out a federal labeling system, it reaffirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO food ingredients while providing consumers greater confidence by establishing a required FDA safety review process for all new GMO traits. Notably, the FDA would have the authority to mandate the labeling of any GMO food ingredients it determines would create a health, safety or nutrition issue.

The legislation would also empower the FDA to provide greater consistency in the market by defining the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products. The clear definition of this commonly used term would offer consumers clarity about products allowing them to base choices on information verified instead of marketing claims.

"America's corn farmers want the same things as families across the country. We want to keep families safe and protect our nation's food supply,” said Barbre. “That is why we believe it is imperative important decisions about our safety and how we label what we eat should remain in the hands of experts, the scientists at the FDA. NCGA supports the Congressmen’s effort to ensure America’s food supply remains safe and America’s consumers have access to clear, consistent information based in reputable science.

For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit

Wheat Growers Support Introduction of Federal GMO Labeling Bill

The National Association of Wheat Growers welcomes the introduction of legislation that would establish a voluntary federal labeling standard for foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients, also known as GMOs.

The proposed Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K Butterfield (D-N.C.), would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require safety reviews of all GMO traits, as well as mandatory labels on such foods if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GM ingredients. In addition, the bill would eliminate confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws by affirming the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.

“NAWG is pleased with the introduction of this bill,” said NAWG president, Paul Penner, a wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kan. “It will provide a federal solution on GMO labeling and will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions.”

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

“As the nation’s largest general farm organization, the American Farm Bureau represents farmers and ranchers who use every type of agricultural production system to provide the safest food possible both here in the U.S. and abroad. Our farmers and ranchers are encouraged by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) for introducing H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This measure will make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration should be the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

“The diversity of innovative options farmers and ranchers have in regard to how they grow our food is one of the reasons U.S. consumers enjoy a wide variety of foods that are also among the most affordable in the world. Farm Bureau supports all production practices – and common sense, science-based regulations – that ensure consumers are receiving safe and healthy food. But we will stand adamantly opposed to those who want to take tools and technologies away from America’s farmers and affordable choices away from consumers.

“The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children. They undermine the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology in feeding a growing population – and keeping costs down. With the introduction of this legislation and the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Farm Bureau looks forward to a national-level discussion that will affirm FDA’s role in assuring consumers about GMO safety and reduce the confusion that would result from a patchwork of state labeling initiatives.”

NMPF Praises Introduction of Voluntary GMO Labeling Bill

The National Milk Producers Federation today applauded introduction of legislation establishing federal standards for the safety and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

Under the bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the Food and Drug Administration will set standards for companies that wish to label their products as containing or not containing GMOs. In addition, FDA is required to conduct a safety review of all new genetically modified traits and could mandate labeling if there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with a particular ingredient.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

“Rather than create a patchwork of state policies, what this legislation would do is deal with this important issue at the national level,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.  “And since there is no reason for Congress and the FDA to require mandatory labels on foods produced through GMOs, we need this approach instead:  clarifying how companies can voluntarily label their products in a way that reduces confusion at the consumer level.”

Mulhern added that “genetically modified ingredients have been used in foods in this country for two decades. They add desirable traits so that crops are more plentiful and require less water and fewer pesticides.  If companies want to highlight their presence, they should be able to do so in a way that enhances trust in the food supply.”

The GMO labeling legislation also addresses another problem by ordering the FDA to define the term “natural” when used on food labels. Right now, there is no uniform definition of natural when applied to foods.

Up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients. Agencies including the FDA, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization have found no negative health effects from consuming GMOs.

CFTC Reauthorization Bill Passes House Ag Committee

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on today’s U.S. House Committee on Agriculture markup of H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act:

“Well-functioning, competitive and transparent markets are critical to family farmers, who use commodity derivatives markets as a hedging and price discovery tool. The Dodd-Frank Act authorized long-overdue derivative market reforms and the enforcement of new and existing trading rules to protect commodity-dependent businesses, end-users and consumers. Reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) must reinforce, not undermine, Dodd-Frank’s provisions and CFTC’s expanded oversight.

“I am pleased that a study on the impact of high frequency trading is included in the bill, but there ought to be further studies on excessive speculation and its damaging effects on price discovery and the marketplace in general.

“Furthermore, it’s disappointing that a self-funding mechanism or user-fee for the CFTC was not included in the bill. The annual appropriations battles over CFTC funding are disruptive to the agency’s regulation of the $690 trillion swaps market. While these and other priorities are considered in the legislative process, NFU seeks to continue to work with Congress to enact an effective final bill.

“Additionally, none of the two current CFTC commissioners or three pending nominees has agricultural experience, in spite of the commission’s jurisdiction over agricultural commodity derivatives and the underlying physical markets. I urge Congress to stress to the administration the importance of qualified CFTC nominees who understand the unique needs of farmers and commodity end-users.”

NMPF Statement on Introduction of House Bill Blocking Changes in FDA Regulation

Jim Mulhern, President and Chief Executive Officer

“The National Milk Producers Federation supports the legislation introduced this week by four House members to stop the Food and Drug Administration from making it harder to use beer by-products in animal feed. We need to keep the brew in the moo on our farms, and this legislation is a signal that the FDA needs to rethink the regulation that it is pursuing.

As our comments to the FDA last month pointed out, there is no public health risk associated with the long-standing practice of using brewers’ grains as animal feed. The proposed FDA regulations would unnecessarily increase costs to dairy farmers. Farmers have been using high-protein brewers’ grains in livestock feed for hundreds of years.

Last fall, the FDA suggested imposing stricter requirements for handling spent grains sold or donated to farmers as part of new feed regulations proposed under the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act. The changes would require spent grains to be dried and packaged, before being passed on to farmers. Typically, farmers now receive wet grains, which help hydrate livestock.

Both the beer industry and agricultural groups, including NMPF, object to the planned changes, and we are encouraged that the FDA has said recently it will review its draft language. In the meantime, we support the legislative approach offered by Reps. Steve Womack (R-AR), Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) to highlight the importance of this issue.”

Russia Spring Planting Ahead of Pace

Spring grain planting in Russia for this year's harvest is ahead of last year's pace because of better weather conditions, the agriculture ministry said late Tuesday.

The ministry said farmers planted spring grains on 1.3 million hectares up to April 8--4.2% of the planned total area--which is 775,300 hectares more than on the same date last year.

Russia plans to plant spring grains on 31.8 million hectares this year, 1.7% more than last year. The agriculture ministry is aiming for a grain harvest this year of 97 million metric tons--that projected total includes grain from the recently-joined Crimea Peninsula.

Tuesday April 8 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist
How do you get rid of weeds like wild bromes in native grass? Herbicides and grazing are options in the right situation.

First you must realize that seed of these grasses lasts about 3 years in the soil, so the problem may repeat itself for several years.  In grasslands dominated by warm-season grasses, one option is to spray 1 pint per acre of glyphosate, like Roundup, early this spring after the weedy bromes green up but before warm-season grasses start growing.  This should solve the problem for this year and knock out other early weeds like bluegrass without harming your warm-season grasses.  Another option is to use 4 to 6 ounces of Plateau herbicide or its generics and get similar results.  And with Plateau, residual herbicide activity also will control some later emerging weeds as well.

If herbicides are not desired the job is tougher.  You need to limit seed production with grazing.  Begin grazing as soon as these bromes green up this spring, which could be any day now with our warming weather.  Using these pastures for calving might be a good option.  Graze very hard to keep seedheads from developing as long as possible.  Eventually these grasses will form heads just an inch or two above the soil surface and grazing no longer will help.

Now comes the tough part.  You must remove your animals from this area for six weeks or longer to let the desired grass grow and regain some vigor.  Feed hay if necessary.  Repeat this hard early grazing for a couple springs and you should start seeing results.

You have the tools to control these weeds; just use them right.

UNL Extension Tractor Safety Courses Offered Across Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Tractor Safety/Hazardous Occupations Courses will be offered at seven locations in Nebraska during May and June.  Any 14 or 15-year-old teen who plans to work on a farm other than their parents’ should plan to attend.

Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age from working on a farm for anyone other than their parents.   Certification through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with mechanized equipment.

The most common cause of death in agriculture accidents in Nebraska is overturn from tractors and all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs), said Sharry Nielsen, UNL Extension Educator. Tractor and ATV overturn prevention are featured in the class work.

"Instilling an attitude of ‘safety first’ is a primary goal of the course,” Nielsen said. "where youth have the chance to learn respect for agricultural jobs and the tools involved." 

Classes consist of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. Classes are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day. Dates and locations include:
    -- May 22-23, Fairgrounds, Kearney
    -- May 28-29, Haskell Ag Lab, Concord
    -- June 2-3, West Central Research and Extension Center (WCREC), North Platte
    -- June 5-6, Fairgrounds, Valentine
    -- June 12-13, Farm and Ranch Museum, Gering
    -- June 16-17, College Park, Grand Island
    --June 19-20, Ag Research and Development Center (ARDC), Mead

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged at least one week before a location's start date to the Extension Office at the course site. Cost is $60, which includes educational materials, testing, supplies, lunches and breaks. For more information, contact the Extension Office or Sharry Nielsen at (308) 832-0645,

The first day of class will consist of intensive classroom instruction with hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test that must be completed satisfactorily before students may continue driving tests the next day. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Homework will be assigned to turn in the next day.

The second day will include testing, driving and operating machinery. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course as well as hitching PTO and hydraulic systems.

Responsible Pesticide Use

Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Do you apply or pay to have pesticides applied to your landscape just in case you might have a pest problem?  Hopefully the answer is also no.   A few examples where pesticides tend to be applied where they may not be needed include some weed and feed products for lawns, insecticides for white grubs, and fungicides applied at the wrong time of year or for diseases that are not harmful to a plants overall vigor. 

If one control method is overused, pests can develop resistance.  For this reason, pesticides should only be applied when there is an economically damaging pest population; or a pest known to cause economic damage is present.  Pesticides should not be applied just in case there might be a problem. Avoid using pesticides, or agreeing to pay for pesticide applications, unless there is a good reason for doing so.

Pesticides are costly and the irresponsible use of pesticides is harmful to the environment, kills beneficial insects such as important pollinators, and leads to pest resistance.  Use pesticides wisely this growing season by following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. The first IPM step is to positively identify the cause of a plant problem prior to using any control method. Not all plant problems are caused by a disease or insect.

If brown spots in a lawn are due to an inefficient irrigation system, applying an insecticide just in case the cause might be white grubs is an irresponsible pesticide use. It is a waste of money, can lead to resistance in white grubs, and it will not solve the problem.

After identifying the true cause of a plant problem, determine what the level of damage could be. Many plant pests cause only aesthetic injury such as caterpillars chewing holes in leaves or foliar diseases causing a few brown spots on tree leaves. 

If it is determined control is needed, consider a combination of methods. For example, for dandelions in lawns, use mechanical control (hand-digging) in spring and summer. If dandelions are present in late August, dig again or spot treat with a herbicide (pesticide control) at that time. And don’t overlook cultural practices that help turfgrass better compete with weeds.  Avoid using a weed and feed product for dandelions. Many of these products are sold in spring. Herbicides applied to broad leaf weeds in spring are not as effective as those applied during late summer. And when applying weed and feed products, much herbicide is applied where there are no weeds. Spot treating individual weeds is a more responsible and effective use of a pesticide.

Finally, if it is determined the pest will cause economic or unacceptable damage and a pesticide is selected as a management option, select a pesticide that will be effective and most important, apply it at the time when it will reduce damage.   For example, when working in yards this spring, white grubs will be found. People often apply an insecticide for grubs at this time. However, insecticides applied in April or even May for grubs do not have much effect on the generation of grubs that could cause damage. And finding white grubs in spring does not mean the lawn will be damaged by grubs later that summer. Insecticides for white grubs only need to be applied, typically in mid to late June, if there was a damaging population the previous summer.

Use pesticides responsibly. Follow an IPM approach to help reduce pest resistance and to prevent killing beneficial insects, especially important pollinators like bees, moths, beetles and butterflies.

Countdown to Quality for FREE BQA Certification

Only one week remains to become Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified and take advantage of the free offer from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI). Visit to take advantage of the open certification period through April 15, 2014. Anyone who works with cattle – whether it is beef or dairy – or transports cattle is encouraged to become certified.

BIVI will pick up the $25-50 certification fee for beef or dairy producers who are interested in becoming certified or recertified during this period. And, as an added incentive, anyone who becomes certified this week will be entered to win a personalized farm sign.

“The BQA program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry,” says Sugie Sartwelle, beef producer, livestock trucking company owner  and former auction market operato from Sealy, Texas. “Producers have embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do; but they have also gained through increased profitability. As an educating program, BQA helps producers identify management processes that can be improved.”

And, as added incentive, BIVI is also giving away special prizes this week on Facebook. Check out the BIVI Prevention Works Facebook page to participate in the special giveaways all week long.

The checkoff-funded BQA program is important to the cattle industry as it gives producers a set of best practices for producing a safe and high-quality beef product. It also gives consumers the assurance that the beef they eat is both safe and wholesome.

“Not only is BQA important for the cattle industry as a whole, it can benefit each cattle operation,” says Dave Korbelik, Director of US Cattle Marketing for BIVI. “We are honored to be able to support the cattle industry through this partnership. Please have each individual on your operation take advantage of this opportunity and have your friends and neighbors do the same!”

More than 3,500 producers took advantage of BIVI’s BQA certification sponsorship in 2013. To become BQA certified, or learn more about the program, visit

NFU Names Senate Ag Appropriations Priorities

Last week National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, outlining NFU’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 funding for agricultural programs.

Johnson’s testimony reiterated NFU’s top appropriations priorities, as previously submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. Three of NFU’s main requests are to reject legislative riders or targeted funding restrictions for Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), oppose legislative riders that would undermine the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to write rules to provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers, and fully fund 2014 Farm Bill energy programs at their maximum authorized levels.

“Both COOL and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations survived attempts to defund or dismantle their important provisions. However, our opponents insist on rehashing old fights,” said Johnson.

“These sorts of proposed legislative riders ignore previous congressional decisions and create ongoing uncertainty for family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “It is important that the subcommittee reject misguided attempts to undermine consumers’ right to know about their food through COOL or erode GIPSA’s authority to fight for fair markets.”

“Renewable energy programs are a win-win that boost farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom lines while reducing our country’s carbon footprint. Fully funding these and other 2014 Farm Bill programs should be appropriators’ highest priority,” Johnson said.

Consistent Hay and Cattle Patterns

Matthew A. Diersen, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

Not all relationships hold cleanly over time. One way to keep some perspective and some sanity when trying to evaluate markets is to look for consistency. Are higher calf prices leading to more replacement heifers? Yes. Is the heifer mix on feed lower too? Yes. Thus, there are consistent indicators of expansion. Are the latest hay statistics also consistent with expansion? Here are some thoughts.

The 2014 Planting Intentions report has expected harvested hay acres in the U.S. almost unchanged from a year ago. At face value, the 58.3 million acres are up by 10,000 acres over last year, consistent with expansion. However, the change or increase is slight. Cows and replacements will need hay from this summer as feed this fall and winter. Replenished hay stocks may partly explain a muted acres response in cattle states. As of December 1, several states in the central U.S. had much higher stocks than a year earlier. Of those Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas all have fewer hay acres expected for 2014. Missouri and Oklahoma stand out as states with higher stocks and more hay acres expected for 2014.

Hay prices remain vulnerable to increases on a number of fronts with the stable acres level anticipated. The May 1 stocks a year ago were at a very low level nationally. The prospects are for a slight improvement in 2014, but not by enough to sustain rebuilding demand. The recent weather also points to greater winter use and a potential delay in pulling supply forward in 2014. A second vulnerability is yield. The rolling 10-year average U.S. yield is 2.39 tons per acre. The past few years, the actual yield has been below that figure. Another below-average year would strain supplies. Agriculture price inflation also keeps pressure on hay prices. Some of what has pushed hay prices higher in recent years has been higher prices for other crops. As an input, hay prices have been inflated by those other prices. As the price of corn has fallen, some of that pressure has subsided. However, cattle prices and other crop prices remain high. Any increase in corn prices would quickly push hay prices higher.

Domestic use is the final aspect tying hay prices to cattle numbers. In recent years, backing out trade volumes from hay disappearance gives better insight into domestic use. The use figure bottomed out at 1.83 tons per acre following the 2012 harvest. The longer-run use figure is above 2.00 tons per acre. These figures account for the recent decline in livestock inventories. If cattle expansion is to occur, that use will likely have to increase. As cattle on feed are fed longer, they consume more corn, but also more roughage like hay (more demand). As heifers are retained as replacements, they typically consume a greater portion of forage in rations (more hay demand). As cow-calf operators look to expand, they may also want to have a buffer stock of hay on hand (more demand). The projected hay balance sheet suggests that all of those factors can be accommodated, but with little room to stay consistent with an expanding cattle supply.

Pork PEDv Losses Not as Large as Expected

According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, the headline for the last USDA Hogs and Pigs report could have been PEDv Losses Not as Large as Expected. "A week later, spring and summer lean futures are down nearly $10 per hundredweight, or about 8 percent," Hurt said. "For the pork industry, the USDA's March Hogs and Pigs report was the most anticipated in decades. It was the first national comprehensive measure of baby pig losses over the past six months due to the PED virus and the harsh winter."

USDA received data from 6,100 pork operations across the country that were randomly surveyed in early March. As such, it is the broadest measure of the losses from an unbiased source.

"Analysis of the report numbers suggests the nation's baby pig death loss over the past six months was about 5 percent," Hurt said. "In contrast, one widely circulated report from an investment firm had predicted an 11 percent loss for pigs coming to market in 2014, with peak losses exceeding 20 percent for late summer marketings.

"To gauge the magnitude of losses implied in the report, the actual number of pigs per litter can be compared with the trend-adjusted pigs per litter that would have been expected," Hurt said. "During the September to November 2013 quarter, baby pig losses were about 2 percent. Producers reported 10.17 pigs per litter to USDA compared to an expected trend-adjusted rate of 10.4 pigs for the fall quarter. PEDv is thought to have had its biggest impact during cold-weather months, and as expected, the losses were greater in the winter quarter, which spans from December 2013 through February 2014. The national pigs-per-litter rate dropped to 9.53 compared to an expected trend rate of 10.3, a decline of over 7 percent. Using this method of analysis suggests baby pig losses over the six months from September to February 2014 were about 2.7 million head, a number approaching 5 percent," Hurt said.

Hurt said that data provided by USDA in the Hogs and Pigs report also allow an evaluation of the number of pigs per litter by month. This enables a comparison of the monthly pigs per liter relative to the expected trend-adjusted rate. These results are consistent with the quarterly data but provide more detail regarding the timing of the losses. While PEDv was in some hog herds last summer, the national data does not pick up any impact on pigs per litter during the warm weather. The losses begin to show up in September 2013 with a pigs-per-litter reduction of 1/2 percent from trend rates. Then as the weather cooled, the baby pig losses became greater: October -2 percent; November -3 percent; December -5 percent; January -8 percent; and February -8 percent. The large losses experienced in February probably mean that losses will continue to be large into March but may lighten as the weather warms into April and the rest of spring. The USDA report only contained data through February 2014.

"An additional contributor to fewer pigs per litter could have been the harsh winter weather," Hurt continued. "It is not possible to sort out how much of the lower rate is due to PEDv and how much is due to unusual weather.

"There are also some clues regarding where the virus was most destructive in the winter," Hurt said. "Early indications are that the disease was very destructive in some states, others were moderately impacted, and others had little impact. This again is derived by examining state-level pigs per litter this past winter relative to the trend-adjusted expected pigs-per-litter rate," he said.

USDA reports for only 16 of the major production states. States that had heavy losses this past winter by this analysis were: Ohio -21 percent, Missouri -16 percent, Colorado -14 percent, North Carolina -14 percent; Oklahoma -13 percent, and Michigan -10 percent. Those states that seemed to experience a moderate impact were: Iowa -6 percent; Kansas -6 percent, Indiana -4 percent; Illinois -2 percent; and Nebraska -2 percent. Those states that showed little to no impact on pigs per litter were Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and South Dakota. Hurt added a note of caution that this analysis may be providing misleading implications because the USDA survey was not designed to answer the specific question of pig loss by state.

What about the impact of pig losses on spring and summer slaughter numbers?

Hurt said that April and May hog supplies would be down 3 percent and summer supplies down about 4 percent. One reason these supplies are not even lower is that pork producers were already into an expansion phase in which the winter's farrowings were up 3 percent. So a 3 percent increase in winter farrowings with a 7 percent decline in pigs per litter provides about a 4 percent lower summer slaughter. These more modest reductions in hog slaughter numbers will be further offset by higher marketing weights this spring and summer. Thus, pork supplies will not be dramatically reduced. Weights will run nearly 3 percent higher this spring and summer so pork supplies may only be down 1 to 2 percent if the USDA inventory count is close.

"Hog and pork prices are still so high that they seem unjustified by current USDA inventory numbers," Hurt said. "Wholesale pork prices shot to record highs on anticipation of large baby- pig death loss, but producers told USDA those losses are not so large. The average pork cut price is about 50 cents per pound, or 60 percent higher than at the same time last year while pork loins are up 38 cents, hams are up 55 cents, and pork bellies used to make bacon are up 66 cents per pound. These are extraordinarily high prices, especially if pork supplies are only down marginally this spring and summer as the USDA inventory count suggests. To maintain these lofty prices, some market participants will have to hold to the belief that the death loss was actually much higher than USDA captured in this survey," Hurt said.

Hurt added that hog prices and lean futures are expected to remain unsettled and potentially very volatile over the spring and summer.

"No one knows for sure what the death losses have been or what they will be in the future," Hurt said. "Market participants will watch daily and weekly slaughter rates for signals of what the true death loss was. Even with the nearly $10 drop in summer lean futures in the week after the report, they are still suggesting $89 per hundredweight live prices for the second quarter and $82 for the third quarter. These provide record-high profits for those not heavily affected by PEDv. Live prices for the last quarter of the year are expected to be in the mid-$60s with winter prices in the very low $60s. These would make 2014 a record profit year for the industry, which should stimulate further expansion of farrowings."

Hurt advised that producers using lean futures to hedge spring and summer contracts will want to make sure they have a hedging line of credit with their lender as volatile markets could imply substantial margin calls.

Anhydrous Prices Push Higher

Average retail prices of fertilizers -- including anhydrous for the first time this spring -- continued to rise the first week of April, according to data collected by DTN from fertilizer retailers. This marks the seventh consecutive week all retail fertilizers' prices were higher.  Anhydrous jumped 6% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer averaged $660 per ton, up from last week's price of $633 per ton. 

Phosphorus fertilizers were also higher in price once again, up 5% compared to a month earlier. DAP had an average price of $579/ton and MAP was at $599/ton.  The remaining five fertilizers' prices were higher, but the shift to the high side was fairly insignificant. Potash averaged $475/ton, urea $546/ton, 10-34-0 $515/ton, UAN28 $351/ton and UAN32 $396/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.59/lb.N, anhydrous $0.40/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.62/lb.N.

Although fertilizers have been moving higher in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers remain double digits lower in price compared to April 2013.  Urea is now down 5%, DAP is 6% less expensive and MAP is 9% lower. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 12% lower while 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 19% less expensive and anhydrous is 23% lower than a year earlier.

USGC Releases 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report

The U.S. Grains Council recently released its 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report and will begin presenting the report’s findings to buyers and other stakeholders around the world in coming weeks.

The Export Quality Report measures the quality of U.S. corn sampled at the point of loading for export. Three export channels are reported: the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and inland terminals shipping by rail to Mexico.

“We set out to raise the bar with data reporting,” says Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council president and CEO. “The Council is providing an unmatched level of information about the U.S. corn crop, reinforcing the U.S. reputation for quality, reliability and transparency.”

Now in its third year, the release of the Corn Export Quality Report has become a much-anticipated annual event, attracting large audiences around the world for the roll-out presentations.  Click here to see the full report...  

“Our purpose is to give U.S. corn buyers reliable and timely information,” Sleight said. “The interest generated in the report demonstrates we are meeting and exceeding their needs.”

This year’s report finds – while there is year-over-year variability by each export channel – that overall quality continues to be very good with the average aggregate quality of export corn exceeding standards for U.S. No. 2 on all grading scales. In addition, the incidence of aflatoxin and DON is very low, with all samples tested below the FDA action levels/advisory levels. As compared to a year ago, other findings included slightly lower test weight, higher moisture content due to a wetter year, and a higher incidence of stress cracks and broken kernels, likely due to additional drying.

Rain Lashes Argentine Soy

Rain clouds unloaded over Argentina's principal soy regions over the last 72 hours.  Precipitation reaching 15 inches in isolated spots and commonly totaling 6 inches lashed the provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe, Entre Rios and northern Buenos Aires, with hailstorms also reported.  As a result, soybean harvesting, which is about 10% complete, has been basically halted.

Farmers are worried the humidity will affect the quality of the soybeans ready to be harvested and possibly cause losses further down the line.

Further rainfall is expected Tuesday and Wednesday.  Up until this week, the crop was looking in excellent condition and well on course to hit the 54 million to 55 million metric tons (mmt) predicted by most.

Ukraine Grain Exports Up Despite Current Political Unrest

Ukraine exported just over 28 million metric tons of grain since the start of the current marketing year, despite the current political unrest, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

According to the ministry's past reports, Ukraine exported 19.8 million tons of grain in the same period in the previous marketing year.

The total amount of grain exported since the start of the current marketing year July 1, 2013, to April 7 included 7.879 million tons of wheat. Corn exports totaled nearly 17.703 million tons, barley exports 2.153 million tons.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's grain exports in the 2013-2014 marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, was likely to rise to 33 million tons from about 23 million tons in the previous marketing year as this year's harvest was greater than last year.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's 2013 grain harvest was over 63 million tons in bunker weight, up from 46.2 million tons in 2012, when crops were damaged by drought.

CWT Assists with 6.9 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 4.556 million pounds (2,021 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses and 2.480 million pounds (1.125 metric tons) of 82% butter to customers in Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. The product will be delivered April through August 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 40.792 million pounds of cheese, 31.903 million pounds of butter and 3.366 million pounds of whole milk powder to 27 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.098 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

High SCN populations thrive despite extremely cold winter 

The record low temperatures over the past few months may reduce some pest populations this spring, but university and Syngenta experts predict soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) will still threaten yields.

“Many growers hope the cold weather we’ve been experiencing will help decrease pest populations,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., seed treatment technical product lead at Syngenta. “But it doesn’t affect SCN.”

According to the Iowa State University Extension, unusually large numbers of SCN may infest fields where soybeans were grown in 2012—a year when SCN reproduction was particularly high. The number of SCN eggs in the soil at the time of planting contributes significantly to the degree of damage and yield loss to SCN. With an overwintering survival rate of nearly 100 percent, the potential for damage in 2014 is great.

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln suggests SCN can reduce yield by 20 percent to 30 percent, even when plants appear to be green, healthy and have no visible symptoms. Soil testing is the best way to determine if SCN is present. Since 2005, SCN has been identified in 29 Nebraska counties for the first time as a result of soil testing.

To help manage and reduce SCN populations in SCN-infested fields, researchers at the Iowa State University Extension suggest rotating crops, selecting SCN-resistant varieties and using appropriate seed treatments.

“Choosing a variety with high-yield potential and good nematode tolerance along with a nematicide seed treatment is vital to managing SCN,” Ireland said.

Syngenta offers Clariva™ Complete Beans nematicide/insecticide/fungicide, an on-seed application of separately registered products. It adds a revolutionary nematicide to the market-leading, broad-spectrum CruiserMaxx® Beans with Vibrance® insecticide/fungicide seed treatment, which provides effective protection against SCN throughout the season, on top of broad-spectrum defense against early-season insects and diseases. Clariva Complete Beans is specifically tailored to Midwest growers who are battling SCN in their fields. With Clariva Complete Beans protecting each high-value seed from day one, soybeans have a better opportunity to maximize performance and reach their true yield potential.

“Clariva Complete Beans offers season-long protection against SCN by reducing nematode activity and damage with Pasteuria nishizawae (P. nishizawae), the nematicide active ingredient,” Ireland said. “The treated seed is covered with millions of P. nishizawae spores that colonize and attach to the nematode, ultimately killing it.”

Cargill reports third-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings

Cargill today reported net earnings of $319 million in the fiscal 2014 third quarter ended Feb. 28, down 28 percent from $445 million in the year-ago period. Nine-month earnings were $1.45 billion, down 21 percent from $1.83 billion a year ago. Third-quarter revenues were $32 billion, essentially even with the year-ago period; nine-month revenues totaled $98.7 billion.

“External events affected our quarterly results, even as we saw operational improvements in key businesses,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s president and chief executive officer. “Our animal protein results are much improved from last year, and, with 2012’s acquisition of Provimi, our global animal nutrition operations are on a record pace for the year. Despite one of the worst winters on record, we reliably delivered a near-record tonnage of road salt and deicing products to our customers across North America’s snow belt.”

MacLennan said the company’s earnings were trimmed by a trading loss related to an unprecedented price spike in U.S. power markets in late January, part of which has been recovered; the rejection of certain U.S. corn shipments to China; and weather-related disruptions to railway service in North America.

Among Cargill’s four business segments, third-quarter earnings rose considerably in Animal Nutrition & Protein compared with the same period a year ago. Within the segment, global animal nutrition results were boosted by improved volumes and an effective sales mix. Animal protein results were lifted by increased operating efficiencies and by exports in U.S. and Australian beef. Earnings strengthened in Industrial & Financial Services. Mixed but overall weaker results in energy and metals were offset by good performance in asset management and ocean transportation.

Food Ingredients & Applications earnings were solid, though moderately below last year’s third-quarter performance, a period that included one-time gains from a trade-related claim and the sale of a cultures and enzymes business. Current results were tempered by lackluster consumer demand and by additional costs from recent acquisitions and new or expanding facilities in several countries. Origination & Processing finished the quarter below the year-ago level, with earnings decreased by costs related to China corn trade and, in general, limited opportunities in grain trading and storage.

NASCAR Leader Testifies for Ethanol on Capitol Hill 

At a hearing today of the Senate Ag Committee on the importance of renewable fuels, NASCAR team owner Richard Childress was one of several voices to talk about the many benefits of corn-based biofuels, such as the higher fuel performance he has seen in more than five million miles of racing since the E15 ethanol blend was introduced in the 2011 racing season.

"I think expanding and growing our use of biofuels is a key component to helping farmers make a living, while at the same time delivering environmental benefits that can be enjoyed by all Americans," he said. "I think what NASCAR has done to show the performance side of ethanol is key."

Childress continued: "Biofuels like ethanol keep money we would normally send abroad for oil in the U.S., creating jobs and economic activity here instead of overseas. Studies show that moving the U.S. to the same fuel blend we use in NASCAR would add 136,000 new American jobs, limit greenhouse gas emissions even more and reduce the demand for gasoline produced from foreign oil by up to 7 billion gallons."

In his remarks, Childress also defended the Renewable Fuel Standard, just as he did at a recent teleconference set up by the National Corn Growers Association, to counter a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut the amount of corn ethanol in the RFS.

"The long-term certainty of the RFS has and continues to drive significant investment in the next generation of biofuels and new technologies both in ethanol production and in agriculture," Childress said at today's hearing. "By increasing yields, increasing efficiency, and deploying new technologies, ethanol and agriculture production continues to soften its footprint on the environment - particularly as fossil fuels like crude oil and natural gas become harder and harder to extract."

The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the leadership of Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in scheduling the hearing today. Also on hand were representatives of DuPont and the Advanced Ethanol Council, who both talked about the importance of first-generation biofuels to support the development of the next generation of fuels.

April 7 - 1st Crop Progress and Condition Report of the Season!


For the week ending April 6, 2014, precipitation in the form of snow and rain was light and averaged less than half an inch of moisture across most of Nebraska, providing little or no relief from dry conditions, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Southwestern counties continued to experience severe or extreme drought.  Temperatures averaged 2 to 4 degrees below normal across the northern two-thirds of the state and near normal across the south.  Cool season grasses had yet to show much growth due to below normal temperatures and limited soil moisture.  Fieldwork consisted of spring tillage and fertilizer applications.  Oat planting was underway. There were 5.0 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 16 percent very short, 44 short, 40 adequate, and 0 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 18 percent very short, 40 short, 42 adequate, and 0 surplus.
Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 3 percent very poor, 10 poor, 31 fair, 50 good, and  6 excellent.  Oats planting was at 7 percent, well behind 40 percent last year and 17 percent, 5 year average.
Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Stock water supplies rated 4 percent very short, 14 short, 82 adequate, and 0 surplus.  

Hay and forage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 90 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Cattle and calf condition  rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 10  fair, 80 good, and 9 excellent. Cattle and calf losses  rated  5  percent  below  average,  91  average,  and  4  above  average.  Percentage  of  cows  calved  since  January 1 was 68 percent.

Sheep and lamb condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 14 fair, 82 good, and 4 excellent.  Sheep and lamb losses rated 0 percent below average, 99 average, and 1 above average.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Warmer temperatures allowed some farmers to do fieldwork during the week  ending  April  6,  2014,  according  to  the  USDA,  National Agricultural Statistics Service.   Statewide  there were 1.7 days suitable for  fieldwork.    Farmers  in  northern  Iowa  were  able  to  get  some fieldwork done early  in  the week before being halted by precipitation.  Southern  Iowa  farmers were able  to spend more  time  in  the  field with the South Central District averaging 4 days suitable,  the highest  in  the State.   Activities  for  the week  included applying  fertilizer and seeding oats.   Farmers across  the state were also busy preparing machinery  for the upcoming planting season.  

Topsoil moisture  levels  rated  8  percent  very  short,  30  percent  short, 57 percent  adequate  and  5  percent  surplus.    Subsoil  moisture  levels rated 16 percent very  short, 44 percent  short, 39 percent  adequate and 1 percent surplus.  Frost was still in the ground in most parts of the State causing little moisture to absorb to subsoil levels.

Seven percent of oats have been planted, 2 percent behind last year and 22  percent  behind  average.    Pasture  condition  rated  19  percent  very poor, 27 percent poor, 35 percent  fair, 19 percent good  and 0 percent excellent.   Most  pastures were  dormant  or  just  starting  to  turn  color.  Livestock  conditions  were  reported  as  good,  except  for  areas  where hogs have been affected by Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv).


Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Dept of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Iowa experienced  typically variable early spring weather over  the past week.     The  reporting week began with  temperatures above normal on Sunday  (30th)  and Monday  (1st)  with  high  temperatures  in  the  60’s northeast  and  70’s  southwest  both  days.      Little  Sioux  and  Sidney reached 77 degrees on Sunday while Clarinda had  the week’s highest temperature  with  a  79  degree  reading  on Monday.      Across  parts  of northeastern  Iowa  this  was  the  first  time  since  November  17  that temperatures  climbed  higher  than  the  40’s.     However,  a  strong  cold front entered northwest Iowa late Monday morning and passed through all  of  the  state  by  that  evening.      Temperatures were  below  freezing statewide  by  sunrise  Tuesday  (1st)  with  Holstein  reporting  a  low  of 14 degrees.           Light  rain  fell across most of  the state on Monday but with amounts mostly under one-tenth of an inch.    Cooler than normal weather prevailed  for  the  remainder of  the  reporting week.     Daytime highs were  only  in  the mid  30’s  over  northwestern  Iowa  on Tuesday, Thursday  and  Friday.      The  week’s  heaviest  precipitation  fell  on Thursday  (3rd)  with  early  morning  thunderstorms  bringing  slightly more  than  an  inch  of  rain  to  far  southeastern  Iowa  while  snow  fell across  the  northwest  one-half  of  the  state.        Keokuk  Airport  and Burlington reported the most rain with 1.33 inches while greatest snow amounts were  reported  at  Sibley  (7.8  inches)  and  near Cleghorn  (9.0 inches).   Morning low temperatures on Saturday (5th) fell to 16 degrees at Audubon and Atlantic.     However, Saturday afternoon  temperatures rose to the low 50’s north to low 60’s west.   Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.4 degrees below normal.     Weekly precipitation totals  varied  from  only  0.05  inches  at  Indianola  to  1.38  inches  at  the Keokuk Airport.     The statewide average precipitation was 0.40  inches or about two-thirds of the weekly normal of 0.64 inches.   This was the 18th week  among  the  past  21 weeks with  below  normal  precipitation and below normal  temperatures.         The  topsoil has  thawed  throughout the  state  but  considerable  frost  remains  at  depth  over  parts  of  the northern one-half of the state.


Monday April 7 Ag News

Nebraska Beef Council seeks director candidates for upcoming elections

The Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) will hold Board of Director Elections in four districts in 2014. This opportunity is open to Nebraska beef producers that are at least 21 years of age, a resident and registered voter of a county in the district that he or she will represent, have been actively engaged as a producer in Nebraska for at least the previous five years and is in compliance with all checkoff laws for the 12 months prior to the call for candidates.

Nebraska Beef Council directors volunteer their time to represent beef producers' checkoff collections and investments on the state, national and international level. The Board's major responsibility is to oversee checkoff expenditures by determining promotion, research and education programs for checkoff investments. The term is four years and will begin on January 2, 2015.

Producers interested in becoming a beef council director are encouraged to visit with current and past directors to learn more about this valuable experience and its commitment.

Election packets are available beginning on April 1, 2014 and can be obtained by calling the NBC office at 800-421-5326. Candidates must obtain 100 signatures from beef producers in their districts on a candidate petition. All candidate materials, must be postmarked to the NBC office by June 15, 2014.

"Beef producers who are passionate about the industry and who are willing to provide leadership to the beef checkoff program and its investments are needed as we face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead," said Bosshamer. "We need strong leaders to enhance our mission and strengthen beef demand in the global marketplace."

Districts hosting an election in 2014:
  - District 2- Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine, Loup
  - District 4- Boyd, Holt, Knox, Antelope, Wheeler, Boone
  - District 6- Arthur, McPherson, Logan, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Chase, Hayes, Dundy, Hitchcock
  - District 8- Seward, Lancaster, Otoe, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Gage, Johnson, Nemaha, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, Jefferson, Pawnee, Richardson

For additional information, log onto or contact the Nebraska Beef Council office at 800-421-5326.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Let me paint a verbal picture for you.  Just a little carryover hay following winter.  Thinning alfalfa fields that dried out the last couple years.  And dry soils to start the growing season.

Does this describe your operation?  If so, how does your hay supply picture look for next winter?  Even if you receive average rainfall from now on through the growing season, your hay tonnage could be down ten percent, twenty percent, even more from average due to stress from recent droughts and the dry soils to begin this year.

Maximizing tonnage from every inch of rain your alfalfa hay fields receive this year may be necessary.  Unfortunately, alfalfa uses quite a bit of water for each ton of hay, especially as temperatures rise.  So it is critical to get as much tonnage out of first cutting as possible, before summer heat sets in.

One way to boost first cutting hay yield from older, thinner alfalfa stands is to drill oats right now into those alfalfa stands.  Try to get the seed about one inch deep.  Oats will use spring moisture very efficiently to add tonnage to your first cutting.

Drill one to two bushels of oats per acre directly into your existing alfalfa stand as soon as possible.  Where alfalfa is thick you may not get much but in thin spots the oats should fill in rapidly.  Cut the hay a little later than usual to get the most yield benefit from this oat addition.

Getting the most out of each inch of moisture will be especially important this year.  Using oats is one way to do it.

Alert for CAFOs On or Near Omaha Tribal Lands in N.E. NE

(from NE Cattlemen newsletter)

Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska came out with a ruling regarding the ability of the Omaha Tribe to collect a liquor tax and enforce a liquor licenses in Pender, Nebraska.  Businesses in Pender claimed that as a result of historic land sales they were no longer technically located on federally recognized reservation lands.  The court ruled the original and still current boundaries of the Omaha Tribe encompassed the city of Pender and most of southwest Thurston County,  therefore this tax and the licenses were valid and had to be complied with.  The business owners are appealing  this  ruling; however,  this case has  implications beyond liquor tax and liquor licenses.

Under the Clean Water Act, the federal EPA, not Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, carries out animal feeding operation permitting, inspection and enforcement.  For  a  number  of  years  animal  feeding  operations  on  the Omaha Reservation  in  the  southeast  portion  of Thurston County have dealt with federal permitting and inspection, and moving forward it seems likely that this will expand to the southwestern part of  the county.   Nebraska Cattlemen has already been in contact with the federal EPA Region 7 officials in Kansas City to discuss the implications of this case on animal feeding operations and will keep members in the area up to date as this issue plays out.   If you have any questions feel free to contact Kristen Hassebrook at the NC office, 402.475.2333.

Corn Stover Gains Attention in Iowa for Industrial Uses

Corn stover, used for decades as silage and bedding, is now being harvested for industrial use. Currently in Iowa, two cellulosic ethanol plants have biomass needs for corn stover. Producers can learn about engineering, agronomic and financial issues related to corn stover harvest in a new series of fact sheets from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The fact sheets, available online at, were developed by a corn stover harvest team at Iowa State. The team was formed to address the benefits and constraints of stover harvesting and its sustainable management within Iowa corn production. The Iowa State specialists share the results from several years of research in 21 fact sheets, which were developed with partial funding from the Iowa Energy Center.

According to Kapil Arora, team coordinator, the decision to participate in this industrial supply chain must be evaluated on a field by field basis to ensure stover harvest can be performed sustainably. The publications provide a comprehensive insight for producers into the constraints and the benefits of the industrial scale corn stover harvest process.

Along with the fact sheets, the stover harvest website includes an Ask the Expert function for producers with specific questions. For more information about this or other ISU Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources programs, contact a local county extension office.

Kind Vows to Keep Pushing for Crop Insurance Reform

When the recent federal farm bill was signed into law earlier this year, Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind was disappointed that his colleagues did not cut crop insurance subsidy payments. As a result, he and U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tom Coburn from Okhahoma are introducing legislation to address what he calls a 'bloated crop insurance program.'

"The need to rein in crop insurance subsidies isn't going away, which is why I'm continuing to fight for bipartisan reform in the House and why I applaud these Senators for pushing this issue as well," said Kind. "Unfortunately, the status quo prevailed in the debate over the last farm bill, but Congress can still do the right thing both for taxpayers and family farmers by fixing our crop insurance policies."

Last year, the LaCrosse Democrat authored the Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Measures Act, which called for bold reforms in the crop insurance premium subsidy program to save taxpayer dollars and promote transparency. That measure would have saved taxpayers $11 billion over 10 years while still providing a strong safety net for family farmers, he said.

Kind adds that while the new Senate bill calls for a limit of $70,000 in crop insurance premium subsidies per individual farm, the AFFIRM Act calls for a tighter cap of $40,000. The AFFIRM Act also eliminates crop insurance premium subsidies for individuals with an adjusted gross income of more than $250,000, and requires more of the administrative and operating costs to be shared by the private companies that offer coverage.

Despite Supply Concerns, Red Meat Exports Remain Strong in February

Buoyed by double-digit export growth to Mexico – the largest volume market for all U.S. red meat exports – U.S. pork and beef exports performed well in February despite growing concerns about tight supplies and rising prices, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef sales to Mexico in the first two months of 2014 are up 26 percent in volume to 37,638 metric tons (mt) and 40 percent in value ($183 million), while pork exports are 16 percent higher in volume (113,677 mt) and 21 percent in value ($222.3 million). Mexico also is the largest volume and value market for U.S. lamb exports.

February pork exports totaled 182,412 mt, up 2 percent from a year ago, while export value also rose 2 percent to $506.4 million. Cumulative exports for the first two months of the year similarly were 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (373,973 mt) and value ($1.04 billion).

February beef export volume was down slightly from a year ago to 85,876 mt, reflecting smaller variety meat exports, but value was up 12 percent to $480.3 million. January-February exports were 6 percent higher in volume (183,700 mt) and 14 percent in value ($994.8 million).

“Mexico continues to be an invaluable trading partner for our industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.

Pork highlights

February pork exports equated to 27.5 percent of total pork production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 23 percent of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $58.42 per head slaughtered, up 2 percent from a year ago and the highest monthly average since March 2012.

Strong demand in Mexico continues to be an important driver of U.S. pork exports, as February shipments far exceeded last year’s totals and even topped the very strong results posted in February 2012.

“Just as the PED virus has had an impact on domestic pork production in Mexico, it has likely been a factor in pork imports trending higher to South Korea,” said Seng.

Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included:
-    Mexico, up 25 percent in volume (53,852 mt) and 35 percent in value ($109.1 million).
-    Exports to Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, were 7 percent higher in volume (35,692) but 5 percent lower in value ($139.8 million).
-    Volume edged higher in Korea (12,643 mt, +3 percent) and export value climbed 10 percent to $36.6 million.
-    Exports to Colombia, which has quickly emerged as the largest market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, nearly doubled in both volume (4,288 mt, +88 percent) and value ($11 million, +89 percent).
-    Exports to Australia continued to rebound (5,987 mt, +11 percent with value $20.4 million up 17 percent).

Exports trended lower in February to China/Hong Kong on sharply lower demand for variety meat. Exports to Canada struggled in part due to the weakened Canadian dollar.

Beef highlights

February beef exports equated to 14 percent of total beef production and 11 percent of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $277.40 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 percent from a year ago and just short of the record total achieved in December 2013 ($279.16).

Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included:
-    Japan was sharply higher than a year ago in both volume (14,377 mt, +48 percent) and value ($91.7 million, +40 percent), as exports to Japan under the expanded 30-month age restriction did not gain momentum until March 2013.
-    Exports to Mexico were up 29 percent in volume (17,410 mt, though this was the smallest monthly total since May) and surged 56 percent in value ($89.3 million).
-    Hong Kong continued to build on its strong 2013 performance, with exports increasing 15 percent in volume (10,024 mt) and 32 percent in value ($63.9 million).
-    Coming off two down years caused by import restrictions, and continuing the momentum from October 2013, Indonesia was U.S. beef’s top destination in Southeast Asia with exports totaling 1,136 mt valued at $5.1 million.

Similar to U.S. pork, beef exports to Canada have slumped along with the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar. Exports are also off to a slow start this year in Egypt, Taiwan and the Philippines. Smaller volumes have been exported to Korea, but at higher prices, with value up 17 percent in the first two months of the year.

Lamb highlights

Lamb exports in February rose 1 percent in value ($2 million) on 6 percent lower volumes (849 mt). Mexico continues to be the dominant purchaser, accounting for 86.8 percent of the volume of lamb exports in the first two months of the year and 55.1 percent of the value. The Caribbean is the No. 2 market, with exports through the first two months of 2014 up 49 percent in volume and 23 percent in value. Saudi Arabia, which continues to emerge as a destination for U.S. lamb, is the third-largest single-country export market behind Mexico and Canada.

USDA Officially Announces Sign-Up Date for Farmer and Rancher Disaster Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Quick implementation of the programs has been a top priority for USDA.

"These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I prioritized the implementation of these disaster assistance programs now that the Farm Bill has restored and strengthened them."

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
-    LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary.
-    LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land. An eligible livestock producer must own, cash lease, or be a contract grower of eligible livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of the qualifying drought or fire in a county that is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D2, D3, or D4.
-    ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
-    TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees have worked exceptionally hard over the past two months to ensure eligible farmers and ranchers would be able to enroll to receive disaster relief on April 15.

To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the enrollment in these disaster assistance programs. Information on the types of records necessary can be provided by local FSA county offices. Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

Chinese Market to Lead Continued Strong Global Demand for Beef

Rabobank has published a new report on the global beef industry, forecasting continued strong market fundamentals and continued strong global demand led by the Chinese market.

In the report, Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team says that beef market fundamentals remain positive, with prices driven up across the globe in Q1 2014 by firm demand as well as further tightening supply due to drought-induced herd retention in the U.S. and adverse weather conditions in Brazil and Australia – the three main beef exporters.  Combined with fluctuating exchange rates, these events have impacted competitive positions in export markets, with Brazil and Australia gaining export share in Q1 at the expense of the U.S..

The bank says that, on the demand side, beef demand growth will continue to come mainly from China. Although 2014 imports in China are not expected to reach the growth levels experienced in 2013, they will grow as Chinese farmers take little interest in government-supported production expansion and strong profits, and the market opening for Australian chilled fresh beef products. Chinese market opening to Brazilian beef may happen imminently.

“Prospects for the global beef industry remains positive in Q2, with further possible upside due to continuing pressured beef supply and scarce supply of competing proteins which will continue to impact competitive positions,” explained Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij. “Brazilian cattle prices and exports have surged to record levels, and Australian droughts have encouraged historically high slaughter levels to meet global demand.”

Regional Outlooks

·         U.S.: Volatility was the biggest factor impacting the U.S. cattle complex in Q1 2014. The impact on the hog market due to the rapid spread of PEDv will be the wildcard in the coming months. The shortage in hog slaughter could have a significant impact on total meat supplies, strengthening beef demand during the spring grilling season and into summer.

·         Australia: Poor climate conditions are keeping slaughter levels historically high, but strong international demand has supported record boxed beef exports in Q1. The latest seasonal outlook predicts a drier-than-normal period for Queensland and northern NSW and a continued high flow of cattle to markets is expected.

·         Brazil: Expected continued strong demand, both domestic and export, will result in firm cattle prices in Q2 2014 and likely beyond, even in periods of strong supply. Domestic demand is likely to increase on the back of the World Cup and presidential elections, while exports will be driven by the continued depreciation of the U.S. dollar.

·         New Zealand: Export prospects are positive with strong demand likely from the U.S. and China. However, the relatively high New Zealand dollar continues to put downward pressure on returns, eroding international competitiveness.

·         Canada: The long and extreme winter has been taxing, forcing increased feed usage. This escalation, in conjunction with cattle shipments to the U.S., means Canada is rapidly going through their available cattle supply with limited interest in herd expansion.

·         Argentina: Exports are expected to remain low as government limitations on export markets continue, with the aim of keeping domestic meat prices low.

·         China: Ongoing shortages in the domestic market will continue to support rising imports of frozen beef, with Australia remaining the biggest supplier accounting for 53% of total import volume in 2013.

·         Mexico: Mexico’s beef sector will continue operating under tight margins into Q2 2014 as beef and cattle prices remain high and lackluster consumption continues.

·         EU: With EU markets more or less in equilibrium, beef prices are expected to hold firm at their current levels. Supply of cattle will remain stable while import growth will continue its steady increase of about 10%.

CWT Assists Members in Selling 31.9 Million Pounds of Product in March

For Cooperatives Working Together (CWT), March came in like a lamb but went out like a lion, assisting members during just the last week of the month in selling seven million pounds of cheese, nearly 14 million pounds of 82 percent butter, and just under a half a million pounds of whole milk powder. These assisted sales raised the totals for the month of March to 10.3 million pounds of cheese, 19 million pounds of butter, and 2.7 million pounds of whole milk powder.

For the first three months of 2014, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 36.3 million pounds of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese, 29.4 million pounds of butter, and 3.4 million pounds of whole milk powder. The product is going to 27 countrie s on five continents.

The milk equivalent of these sales on a milkfat basis is equal to 997.8 billion pounds of milk. That is more than double the increase in U.S. milk production for the first two months of 2014, and is equal to the annual production of 47,500 cows.

Annual Energy Outlook 2014 projects reduced need for U.S. oil imports due to tight oil production growth 

U.S. production of tight crude oil is expected to make up a larger share of total U.S. oil output in the years ahead, and help lower imports share of total U.S. oil consumption. 

In its annual long-term projections, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects total U.S. crude oil production to reach a record 9.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2019, under its baseline scenario. That increased production lowers the net import share of liquid fuels consumption from the 60% peak reached in 2005 to 25% in 2016, with a gradual increase thereafter. 

Tight oil is expected to account for four out of every five barrels of oil production growth over the next five years, making up half of total U.S. oil output by 2019. 

Under an alternate scenario using assumptions that lead to even higher production, EIA projects U.S. oil output could reach 11.3 million bbl/d in 2019 and then reach 13.3 million bbl/d in 2036. 

If that alternate scenario is realized, the net imports share of consumption would continue to decline through 2036 and remain at or near zero through 2040.

Japan Must Eliminate Tariffs, Says NPPC

With U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in Japan this week and that country recently concluding a free trade agreement with Australia, the National Pork Producers Council today again called on Japan to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. agricultural products as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks.

The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

Froman is meeting with his Japanese counterparts in Tokyo this week.

In the TPP talks, Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exemption from tariff elimination of certain “sensitive” products. It wants exemptions for 586 tariff lines, or 11 percent of its tariff schedule. In the 17 free trade agreements (FTAs) the United States has concluded since 2000, only 233 tariff lines combined have been exempted from going to a zero tariff.

If the United States meets Japan’s demands, NPPC has pointed out, it would be a radical departure from past U.S. trade agreements and would open the door to tariff line exemptions from other countries in the TPP and in future U.S. trade deals. It would establish a dangerous precedent for exemptions not just in agriculture but on industrial and high-tech products.

In its FTA deal with Japan, Australia did not get tariff elimination on a number of important products, but a clause in the agreement requires the Japanese to provide the same access to Australia that it provides to other nations. Should the United States get better access to Japan in the TPP negotiations, Australia would get that same access.

“The Japanese need to eliminate tariffs on pork and other U.S. farm products,” said NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “Japan is asking for special treatment in the form of exempting myriad tariff lines from tariff elimination, yet tariff elimination is the heart of an FTA.”

Hill said U.S. farmers and ranchers likely would agree with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who last week said that if Japan is not ready to participate in a high-standard, 21st century agreement, which means elimination of tariffs, it needs to exit the negotiations.

“We support the efforts of Ambassador Froman and our trade team to get the same result from Japan that we have gotten from every other U.S. FTA partner: elimination of virtually all tariffs,” said Hill.

Statement by NCBA President Bob McCan on the announced Bilateral Trade Agreement between Australia and Japan

In response to the announcement of a Bilateral Trade Agreement reached between Australia and Japan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Bob McCan, a Victoria, Texas cattleman issued the following statement:

“NCBA is deeply concerned that the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Japan and Australia does not call for full tariff elimination. This Bilateral Agreement undermines the long-standing goals and principles that are the base of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This development only pushes the high-standing ideals of TPP further out of reach for all countries involved, and it is not a move that U.S. beef producers can support. The TPP has been referred to as a 21st century agreement, but this Bilateral Agreement is from the 20th century playbook and will not serve to foster open trade and certainly will not benefit consumers and producers globally.”

U.S. Senate Moves To Protect Bratwurst and Bologna from EU Over-Reach on Geographical Indications

The U.S. Senate is keeping up the pressure on the European Union (EU) to not hamper U.S. production and exports through the appropriation of common food names. This time the focus is on commonly used meat names, such as “bologna” and “black forest ham”. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators urged them to defend common names, especially in negotiations with the EU on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Last month the Senate sent a similar letter focused on common cheese names that are under attack, including “parmesan”, “feta” and “asiago”, among others. But U.S. meat products are also at risk in pending trade negotiations.

“This trade barrier is of great concern to meat and other food manufacturers in our states,” the senators wrote in today’s letter. “We urge you to continue to push back against the EU’s efforts to restrict our meat exports, particularly to nations with which we already have free trade agreements (FTAs).”

In country after country, the EU has been using its FTAs to persuade trading partners to impose barriers to U.S. exports under the guise of protecting geographical indications (GIs). For example, as part of their recently implemented FTA with the EU, countries in Central America agreed to impose new restrictions on the use of “bologna”, effectively closing an export opportunity that the U.S.-Central America FTA opened for U.S. companies. Similar trade barriers are being imposed in other parts of Latin America and are also under discussion in many Asian countries involved in negotiations with the EU.

“We thank the U.S. Senate for once again stepping forward to call attention to this fast-growing type of agricultural trade barrier,” said Jaime Castaneda, Executive Director of the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), an international non-profit alliance. “The EU has been aggressively moving to ‘own’ these names, at the expense of not only U.S. farmers and businesses but also those in many other countries around the world. Countries are beginning to catch on to what the EU is doing, and to cry foul.”

CCFN supports the goal of ensuring that legitimate GIs like Idaho Potatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano are appropriately protected. However, overly restrictive GIs for meats could hit smaller businesses particularly hard, since they often specialize in artisan and other specialty meat products.

“What you call a food is a very big deal,” Castaneda added. “It can add up to billions of dollars for U.S. companies and hundreds of jobs. And for consumers, restricting these names means less choice, more confusion, and very likely higher prices for some of their favorite foods.”

European GIs encompass many food and beverage categories, meaning many areas of food trade worldwide are potentially threatened by the EU’s unfair claims to the exclusive use of common food names and even common-place terms such as “classic”, “ruby” and “chateau”.

“We ask that USTR and USDA continue to work aggressively to ensure the EU’s GI efforts on commonly used meat product names do not impair the ability of U.S. businesses to compete both domestically and internationally. We ask you to make this a top priority through official TTIP, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral negotiations,” the letter concludes.

The full letter can be found here on the CCFN website,

NCBA and PLC are Accepting Applications for 2015 Public Policy Internship

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for the spring 2015 public policy internship. The deadline to submit an application is June 30, 2014.

“NCBA and PLC’s internship is a great opportunity to experience policy making first-hand,” said Emily Buck, a University of Tennessee senior and spring 2014 intern. “I enjoyed working alongside a team that makes a powerful impact on legislation while staying true to their roots. It’s rewarding to be able to advocate for cattle producers across the nation, and I would encourage students interested in agricultural policy to apply.”

NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said this is a great opportunity for students with an interest in the beef industry and public policy.

“From food safety and trade to environmental issues and taxes, this internship will give college students the opportunity to work alongside staff on many critical issues affecting U.S. cattlemen and women,” Butts said. “The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill; to assist with NCBA and PLC’s regulatory efforts; and to work closely with the communications team.”

The full-time internship will begin Jan. 12, 2015 and end May 8, 2015. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information about the NCBA public policy internship is available on

Russia Grain Exports Up 47.3%

Russia's grain exports between July 1, 2013 -- the beginning of the current marketing year -- and April 2 totaled 20.847 million metric tons, 47.3% more than in the corresponding period of the previous marketing year, the agriculture ministry reported Monday.

The exported grain included 15.377 mmt of wheat, 3.106 mmt of corn, 2.111 mmt of barley and 253,000 mmt of other, minor grains.

The ministry said grain exports between March 1 and March 31 totaled 2.015 mmt, including 1.296 mmt of wheat, 593,000 metric tons of corn, 102,000 mt of barley and 24,000 mt of other, minor grains.

In 2013, Russia harvested 89.3 million metric tons of grain in clean weight, 30% more than in 2012, when 68.7 million tons were harvested because crops were damaged by drought.

Russia's grain exports in the 2012-2013 marketing year fell to 15.69 mmt from 27.2 mmt in the previous marketing year. In the current marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, the agriculture ministry expects Russia's grain exports to rise to 22 mmt.

Cowan Joins Animal Health International as Swine Sales Manager—Midwest Region

Animal Health International, Inc. today announces Chris Cowan has joined Animal Health International as Swine Sales Manager—Midwest Region. Chris will report directly to Region President Chuck Vander Ploeg.  Chris joins Animal Health International following 28 years in the animal health industry in Sales and Management roles with other leading animal health companies.

Chris began his career in animal health as Leader/Vet Crew for commercial cattle feeding company Caprock Industries and subsequently joined Upjohn Animal Health as a Swine Specialist.  After 8 years with Upjohn, Chris joined APC Company, Inc. as Eastern Region Sales Manager for plasma feed ingredients and then for value-added nutritional health products.

Immediately prior to joining Animal Health International, Chris spent over 12 years with Pig Improvement Company in sales and gilt multiplication management roles.

On his joining Animal Health International, Chris said “I love the pig business and I’m really excited to join the premier animal health company serving the swine industry. There are tremendous opportunities to grow our swine business and I look forward to working with such a high caliber team of seasoned professionals. Together we can accomplish great things.”

Chris was raised on a farm near Beresford, SD and is the son of a large animal veterinarian.  Chris graduated from South Dakota State University with a BS in Animal Science, and while working for APC Company earned his Masters of Business Administration at the University of Iowa.  Chris lives in Ankeny, Iowa and is devoted to his wife Lisa of 22 years, son Cameron (15) and daughter Brianne (10).

Potash Corp Names New CEO

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Ltd. said late Sunday that Bill Doyle, longtime president and chief executive, will step down in July after a 27-year career with the potash-mining giant.

Potash Corp., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, said mining veteran Jochen Tilk will take over from Doyle, who has held the top post since 1999 and will remain as a senior adviser until June 2015.

A company spokesman said Doyle is 64 years old.

Tilk most recently was president and chief executive of Inmet Mining, which was taken over last year by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. after a hostile battle.

Potash Corp. said Tilk's appointment follows a three-year selection process to identify a successor to Doyle.

"Jochen's successful track record, his reputation among peers and commitment to the industry made him the ideal candidate to serve our customers and lead Potash Corp. through our next phase of growth," Doyle said in a statement.

Potash Corp., which in 2010 successfully fended off a $39 billion hostile takeover attempt by mining company BHP Billiton Ltd., has seen its profits hit recently by slumping potash prices after the breakup last year of a Russian-Belarusian trading partnership that helped control supply in potash, a key fertilizer ingredient. Most recently, the company posted a 45% drop in fourth-quarter earnings and slashed its outlook for 2014.

According to Raymond James, Doyle's decision to step down isn't unexpected, "particularly in light of previous communication that he would look to do so upon reaching 65."

However, Raymond James said the timing of the change is somewhat surprising.

"'s hard not to be a little taken aback, that such a monumental 'changing of the guard' will unfold on the heels of one of the potash industry's most volatile periods," Raymond James analysts said in a note.

The global market in potash has been in disarray since last summer, when Russian potash-mining concern OAO Uralkali announced it would leave a trading partnership with Belarus, which controlled about 40% of the world's potash trade, and promised to increase production. The move effectively ended an informal global pricing cartel, sending prices of the commodity tumbling.

Friday April 4 Ag News

Growth Promoting Implants Add Pounds and Dollars to Calves
Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator, Washington County
Few beef cattle-management practices are more cost effective or have a higher return on investment than properly used growth promoting implants.  Implants have been shown to increase weaning weights of nursing calves in hundreds of research trials.   Research trials show where daily gain from birth to weaning increases by 4 to 6 percent in nursing beef calves that receive a single implant. 

For the sake of illustration, assume that implanting calves on the cow increases gain by 5 percent.  Figure 15-30 pounds more weaning weight.  In today’s market that’s worth $27-54 per head.  The cost of the implant and labor is routinely less than $2/head.  What a great return on investment!

Implants can be quickly administered when working the calves in the spring prior to pasture turnout. Growth promoting implants are pellets that are implanted under the skin of the ear of growing calves.   They can be given the same time calfhood vaccinations and processing is done. 

Implant options for nursing calves include Ralgro©, Synovex C ©, and Component E-C ©.  None of the implants approved for nursing calves are approved for calves less than 30-45 days of age.  Implants work best on steer calves and non-replacement heifer calves.  One implant between 2 months of age and weaning has been shown to have little impact on future reproductive performance of heifers.  However, little benefit has been shown as well.  Therefore, any heifers identified for replacements prior to processing should not be implanted.  Bull calves should not be implanted, as it can negatively impact their reproductive performance.  Calves destined for a natural or organic market should not be implanted.

Implants should be placed in the middle third of the ear between the skin and cartilage, making sure to avoid hitting the blood vessels in the ear.  The needle should be disinfected after each use.  For best results avoid crushing or bunching the implant pellets in the ear and make sure the implant is placed in the ear before pulling the needle out so part of the implant is not lost.

It’s true that beef produced using implants may have a slightly higher amount of hormones present in the meat as compared to beef that was produced without implants.  However, no beef is “hormone free”.  All mammals produce some degree of hormones.  Even some vegetable contain natural hormones.

Implanting nursing calves is a safe, economical management tool available to cow calf producers to maximize returns.

Nebraska Cattlemen Welcomes New South Central Field Staff, Mackenzie Johnston

Nebraska Cattlemen is pleased to announce the hire of Mackenzie Johnston as South Central Field Staff. She will be responsible for assisting with member recruitment and retention efforts in the south central region.  She will also help local affiliates with meeting coordination, membership drives and related activities.  

Johnston holds a Bachelor’s of Animal Science with a business emphasis from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Along with her new position with Nebraska Cattlemen, she also works on her family’s cow/calf operation south of Brewster, Nebraska. Prior to joining Nebraska Cattlemen, she graduated from the Nebraska LEAD program.

“I am incredibly excited to have this opportunity with Nebraska Cattlemen and to work directly with the great cattlemen and cattlewomen of this state.  We are experiencing unprecedented times in the cattle industry that people will someday call “the good ol’ days.”  Nebraska Cattlemen has so much to offer producers, and I look forward to promoting our activities and opportunities, along with increasing involvement.”

“I’m very pleased to announce Mackenzie Johnston has joined the NC team. Mackenzie’s industry experience, education and passion for the Nebraska’s beef industry are an excellent fit for the South Central Field staff responsibilities. Mackenzie will definitely make a difference working for Nebraska Cattlemen members.” said Pete McClymont, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Johnston is a native of Brewster, Nebraska where her family has a Red Angus, cow/calf commercial ranching operation.  She is a fourth generation rancher, and also serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Nebraska Red Angus Association.

Johnston began her employment with the Nebraska Cattlemen on April 1, 2014.

ISA’s On-Farm Network announces new research territories, strip trials

The Iowa Soybean Association’s On-Farm Network recently assigned territories to its field research specialists to improve efficiency and service to farmers.

Tristan Mueller, On-Farm Network operation manager-agronomic research, said by dividing the state into three quadrants --- northwest, northeast and south --- staff members become more familiar with growers and agronomic conditions in their assigned area. Farmers participating in 2014 On-Farm Network Replicated Strip Trials can contact their designated research specialist.

“Now the same research specialists can focus on the same growers year after year, and establish more personal relationships,” Mueller said. “Research specialists will get a deeper understanding of what practices farmers are interested in and learn about their equipment and capabilities.”

On-Farm Network Research Specialist Rich Stessman is assigned to the northwest corner of Iowa, basically west of Interstate 35 and north of U.S. Highway 30. Anthony Martin covers northeast Iowa, predominantly east of Interstate 35 and north of U.S. Highway 30. Brett McArtor will work with growers mostly south of U.S. Highway 30.

Mueller said the move to territories will mitigate redundancy, offer clarity to growers regarding trials and reduce staff travel time. Ultimately, the change will allow the On-Farm Network to grow, he said.

“This will improve efficiency, outreach and the quality of trails,” Mueller said.

The On-Farm Network has a wide variety of replicated strip trials available to sign up for this year, including:

·         Lime: The On-Farm Network is looking for fields that have areas with soil pH values less than 6.0 and no lime applied in the last 4 years to test SuperCal 98G, a pelletized lime product from Calcium Products Inc. Yield data from replicated strips of SuperCal 98G will be compared to untreated checks. In addition to yield, 18 targeted soil samples (nine from each treatment) will be compared before the SuperCal 98G application and annually each year (pending future project funding). This project is limited to 20 sites, so sign up ASAP because this project is filling up fast.

·         Seed treatments: Clariva Complete is the latest nematicide seed treatment from Syngenta. It will be compared to Cruiser Maxx plus Vibrance on soybeans. The treated seed used in each of these trials (10 bags Asgrow 2433 with each treatment, 20 total bags) will be provided. Farmers interested in these trials need to commit fields by April 15 so SCN samples can be collected. This is a collaborative project with Iowa State University (ISU). There’s also another joint ISU project with Valent’s new fungicide seed treatment – INTEGO. This project targets southern Iowa. Ten bags of Asgrow 3231 treated with the INTEGO Suite and 10 bags treated with INOVATE seed protectant will be provided.

·         Soil applied insecticide: With corn rootworm pressure increasing on traited hybrids this may be one option to consider. Any of the granular soil applied insecticides from AMVAC qualify for this trial such as Aztec, SmartChoice, Counter or Force 3G. The sponsor is AMVAC.

·         Fungicide: The On-Farm Network and ISU are looking for 20 fields to be planted to soybeans for fungicide trials. Ten of the locations will have a weather monitor close to the field to see if specific weather contributes to when using a fungicide will be profitable. The 10 sites with weather monitors will be sprayed with Priaxor and Fastac from BASF. Multiple aerial images will be taken, so boundaries will need to be set by planting. Other products that can be used in these trials are Tetraconazole plus αβPro from Arysta LifeScience or Stratego YLD from Bayer. For corn fungicides Astera plus αβPro or Stratego YLD at V5 are options.

·         Nitrogen: A wide range of nitrogen trials are available with the On-Farm Network. Some of the topics that could be tested are rate, form (including manure), timing, placement, stabilizers, or sensors. The links are just some of the example protocols that are possible.

·         Herbicide: Fierce is a broad spectrum soybean herbicide. This trial will compare Fierce as a pre-plant or pre-emerge compared to the farmer’s normal herbicide practice.

·         Biostimulant/Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs): Trials will study RyzUp on corn from Valent, Energy plus Sugar Power on soybeans from Stoller and Vitazyme on soybeans from Vital Earth. All PGRs or biostimulants are applied at the early V stages.

·         Cover Crops: The practice continues to be an important topic due to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This fall, the On-Farm Network will again be looking to do trials.

Farmers interested in participating in trials can sign up online at Or, growers can contact Stessman at (515) 333-8760 or; Martin at (319) 461-0759 or or McArtor at (319) 594-2417 or

Farmers can search the On-Farm Network’s Replicated Strip Trial Database for past results. Information regarding a number of trials ranging from cover crops and planting population to fungicides and insecticides are available. The database,, includes a return on investment calculator.

CHS posts fiscal 2014 six-month earnings of $502.3 million

CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, today reported earnings of $502.3 million through the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year.

Earnings attributed to CHS operations for the first six months of fiscal 2014 (Sept. 1, 2013 – Feb. 28, 2014) declined 19 percent from the $618.8 million reported for the first half of fiscal 2013. Revenues for the six-month period of fiscal 2014 were $20.7 billion, compared with $21.6 billion for the same period of fiscal 2013, reflecting a 4 percent decrease, primarily due to a decline in commodity prices for refined fuels and many of the grain, crop nutrients and processed oilseed products the company handles.

For the second quarter (Dec. 1, 2013 – Feb. 28, 2014), CHS posted earnings of $260.1 million, compared with $275.1 million reported for the same period of fiscal 2013. Revenues for the quarter were $9.7 billion, compared with $9.9 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2013.

Results through the second quarter reflected lower overall earnings for the company's Energy segment due to lower refined fuels margins. This was partially offset by strong results for its renewable fuels marketing, propane, lubricants and transportation businesses.

Six-month earnings were lower for the Ag segment primarily due to decreased margins in CHS wholesale crop nutrients business, as well as expenses associated with the proposed fertilizer plant at Spiritwood, N.D. CHS grain marketing and locally controlled Country Operations retail businesses reported improved earnings for the six-month period due to strong logistical performance and improved margins. CHS processing and food ingredients operations recorded lower earnings overall, primarily due to lower soybean crushing margins.

CHS reports results for its business services operations and its two food processing-related joint ventures under the Corporate and Other category which increased overall earnings through the second quarter of fiscal 2014. Earnings declined for the company financing, insurance and hedging businesses, but rose for its portion of earnings generated by Ventura Foods, LLC, a packaged food joint venture, and Horizon Milling, a wheat milling joint venture.

AFBF Market Basket Survey:  Bacon Prices Up, Eggs Too

Higher retail prices for several food items used to prepare breakfast, including bacon, eggs and bread, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.27, up $1.73 or about 3.5 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 increased, five decreased and one remained the same in average price.

“Several typical breakfast items increased in price, accounting for much of the modest increase in the marketbasket,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “The 3.5 percent increase shown by our survey tracks closely with Agriculture Department’s forecast of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent food inflation for 2014,” he said.

Items showing retail price increases from a year ago included bacon, up 12 percent to $4.80 per pound; ground chuck, up 10 percent to $4.10 per pound; white bread, up 10 percent to $1.81 for a 20-ounce loaf; sirloin tip roast, up 9 percent to $5.03 per pound; eggs, up 8 percent to $1.98 per dozen; whole milk, up 6 percent to $3.68 per gallon; chicken breasts, up 6 percent to $3.51 per pound; flour, up 5 percent to $2.76 for a 5-pound bag; toasted oat cereal, up less than 1 percent to $2.93 for a 9-ounce box; and Russet potatoes, up less than one-half of 1 percent to $2.70 for a 5-pound bag.

These items showed modest retail price decreases: bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.61 per pound; deli ham, down 3 percent to $5.21 per pound; apples, down 3 percent to $1.59 per pound; vegetable oil, down 2 percent to $2.85 for a 32-ounce bottle; and orange juice, down 1 percent to $3.24 per half-gallon.

Shredded cheddar cheese remained the same in price compared to a year ago, at $4.47 per pound.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.46; 1/2 gallon rBST-free milk, $3.87; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $3.97; and 1 dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.33.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $53.27 marketbasket would be $8.52.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, conducted an informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends from 1989 to 2012. In 2013, the marketbasket series was updated to include two semi-annual surveys of “everyday” food items, a summer cookout survey and the annual Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 89 shoppers in 27 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in March.

Back by Popular Demand: Corn Export Quality Report Rolls Out to International Buyers

This week, U.S. Grains Council staff is heading to international destinations to present the Council's 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report to buyers and other stakeholders around the world.

"Our purpose is to give buyers reliable and timely information," said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight. "That's what they expect from us, and the great interest in the report demonstrates that we are meeting a real need."

The Export Quality Report measures the quality of U.S. corn sampled at the point of loading for export. Three export channels are reported: the Gulf, the Pacific Northwest, and inland terminals shipping by rail to Mexico.

"There is always some variability year-to-year and by region," Sleight said. "This year, overall quality continues to be very good, with the average aggregate quality of export corn exceeding standards for U.S. No. 2 on all grading standards. In addition, the incidence of aflatoxin and DON is very low.

"On the other hand, 2013 was a much wetter year, and the U.S. harvest had greater moisture, more drying, lower test weight, more stress cracks and more broken kernels. But the average is strong and, despite year-to-year fluctuations, remained well above U.S. No. 2."

Buyers in Vietnam were briefed yesterday, and USGC staff will be presenting to buyers elsewhere around the world in the coming weeks. Now in its third year, the report has become a much-anticipated annual event, with audiences exceeding expectations in many countries.

"We set out to raise the bar with data reporting and we have," Sleight said. "We're providing a level of information unmatched by any of our competitors, reinforcing the U.S. reputation for quality, reliability and transparency. That's our brand, and we're living it."

MAIZALL to Open Dialogue with EU

Meeting this week in Brazil, MAIZALL's officers were focused on the alliance's mission to Europe. Scheduled for June, the mission will include discussions with EU officials and feed industry leaders on market access and biotechnology issues.

"We face challenges in every region," said U.S. Grains Council Chairman and MAIZALL President Julius Schaaf, "but the EU biotechnology approval system does not follow its own regulatory and statutory timeline requirements perpetuating asynchronous approvals that continue to disrupt corn exports to the EU.

"With the T-TIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations underway, it is timely for MAIZALL to stress the importance of Europe living up to its own regulatory timetables on event approvals, and developing trade-enabling standards on low level presence of unapproved events."

"We know the political obstacles in the EU are substantial," said USGC Vice Chairman and MAIZALL Board of Directors Member Ron Gray. "That's why it is so important to have the Council, NCGA (National Corn Growers Association), and our counterparts in Argentina and Brazil working together. We're not seeking narrow advantage for any one of us. We are seeking a rational and efficient global trading system that works for all of us and for our customers as well."

While in Brazil, MAIZALL also met with the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Neri Geller. Geller strongly supported the efforts of MAIZALL and noted that he will seek to strengthen the partnership between countries on these issues of common concern, particularly with respect to the current situation in China.

"We very much appreciate Minister Geller's strong support for MAIZALL and commitment to advance sound trade policy," Schaaf said.

MAIZALL also met with the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) to introduce the  challenges that maize growers face with the introduction of new technologies in an environment of increasing export opportunities.

MAIZALL was formed by the national corn producer associations of the three major corn exporting countries of the Americas. While MAIZALL is a private sector, farmer-led organization, each of the partners is working closely with the agricultural ministries of their respective countries, which support the goal of export expansion. While in Europe, the MAIZALL mission will also be meeting with Argentine, Brazilian and U.S. diplomatic officials to urge a common front at the inter-governmental level.

Ram Truck Brand Continues its Commitment to American Farm Families with April 26 'The Next Crop Project' Day of Test Drives Benefitting Next Generation of Farmers

The Ram Truck brand extends its support of America's farming industry with "The Next Crop Project," a celebration of and investment in the "next crop" of farmers and future leaders in the agriculture industry.

More than 100 dealers nationwide will partner with local chapters of the National FFA Organization (FFA) Saturday, April 26, in a national day of test drives at participating dealerships where Ram will make a $20 donation to FFA for each test drive.  Ram's donations will support local FFA chapter leadership programs in participating dealer communities.

"'The Next Crop Project' is a great way for the Ram brand to continue our support of the FFA and to further increase awareness as to the importance of farming in our country," said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. "The uniquely American 'farmer spirit' is also consistent with our Ram values of courage, dignity and setting examples through hard work."

A list of participating dealers is located at

"The Next Crop Project" test drive campaign is designed to further the attention that Ram brought to the importance of America's farmers with its "Farmer" video that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl broadcast, by turning the focus even more directly on the future leaders of agriculture. Ram donated $1 million to the FFA after views of the "Farmer" video reached a 10 million view milestone in less than a week.

Ram is supporting "The Next Crop Project" campaign with a 30-second television spot debuting April 6 during the "49th Academy of Country Music Awards" broadcast on CBS, and with print and digital advertising.

USDA Science You Can See

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

While most people have a mental image of research that involves scientists in lab coats, bubbling test tubes and beakers, and technical language that can seem complex, much of the groundbreaking research conducted by USDA scientists actually ends up on your plate, in your home, or on your back. Their discoveries in the lab truly translate into science you can see.

For example, many of us make a conscious effort to eat healthier and cut calories, but it can be tough when faced with a favorite snack, like French fries. USDA scientists have figured out a way to make French fries healthier. Before frying, scientists exposed potato strips to a few minutes of infrared heat. This forms a crispy outer shell on the outside of the fries, which helps to reduce their oil uptake and ultimately reduces calories per serving. If adopted commercially, this method is great news for both food processors and our waistlines.

Or maybe you’re a healthy snack lover and looking for a way to make your snacks pack an even healthier punch. USDA scientists have found a way to add oat fiber to yogurt without affecting its flavor or texture. Yogurt is already a pretty healthy snack, and adding addition fiber can only help—studies have indicated that oat fiber can help to improve heart health.

If you are lactose-intolerant, you may use Lactaid™ so you can still enjoy dairy products. USDA scientists helped to develop the basis for that product, too. USDA scientists also conducted the core research behind ChoiceBatter, a gluten-free rice flour batter that is now being marketed and sold by CrispTek, LLC.

For those who’ve ever woken up late before a big work meeting, USDA scientists have got your back here, too. They helped to develop cotton fabric that is wrinkle-free and fire-resistant.

If you’re a cat person, you may someday see USDA science impact your pet. USDA scientists have developed a kitty litter product that’s nearly 100 percent biodegradable and made from spent grains, often referred to as dried distiller’s grains (DDGs), leftover from the process of making corn ethanol. DDGs are often used as cattle feed, but this new product may provide a higher-value market for the tons of DDGs leftover after ethanol production.

And, to the delight of farmers and people with noses everywhere, USDA scientists are part of a team of researchers investigating ways to combat the brown marmorated stink bug, which in addition to having a distinct odor, can also cause serious damage to valuable agricultural crops.

These are just some of the ways that research conducted by USDA scientists and our partner research institutions touch your daily life. Beyond that, agricultural research also helps to boost the economy. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to the economy. In the past five years alone, research by USDA scientists has led to award of 215 patents covering a wide range of topics and discoveries. One of our research agencies, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), currently has 380 active licenses of ARS-developed technology that are supporting new businesses and job opportunities across the country.

The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill will help to build on these accomplishments by establishing a new research foundation that leverages private sector funding to support groundbreaking agricultural research. You can follow our progress in implementing the new farm bill and establishing the research foundation at

Thanks to the new Farm Bill, we can continue the vital research and innovation that that have enhanced food safety and nutrition, made farming and ranching more efficient, and improved quality of life for millions of people in the United States and around the world.

Thursday April 3 Ag News

The Importance of Testing for Soybean Cyst Nematodes
Keith Glewen, UNL Extension Educator, Saunders County

As many of you are aware, the Nebraska Soybean Board has partnered with UNL Extension in providing growers with a free analysis of soil samples for Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN) over the course of years. ($20 value). Our thanks to the Soybean Board for this investment. SCN have now be found in 56 Nebraska Counties. Sampling bags are available at the Extension Office.

This past year, only 36 growers in Saunders County took advantage of this offer. What is more surprising or shocking, is of the 36 samples submitted, 24 were reported as positive. Yes, you are correct, 66% tested positive for the yield robbing soybean cyst nematodes. In Dodge Co. 65% tested positive. Butler, 39%.

Planting soybean varieties resistant to nematodes is only one step in a controlling this yield robbing pest. Visit with your seeds representative to learn more about developing an effective management plan. Many have been trained by UNL Extension and are qualified to provide information on cyst nematode resistance management. If they can’t help you, drop me a note or give me call... 1-800-529-8030. 

Consider On-Farm Research!

We are currently scheduling appointments to discuss with growers their interest in conducting an on-farm research comparison during the 2014 growing season. These appointments can be done either over the telephone or in person.  In 2013, we had 36 growers representing 50 on-farm comparisons. These studies represented in-furrow fungicide treatments at planting, corn plant populations, nitrogen rates, starter fertilizer use and the list goes on and on. To learn more about using your own farm equipment in your fields to answer production related questions, go to:, drop me a note, or call the Saunders County Extension office at the ARDC near Mead. 


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Fall-planted rye, triticale, and wheat as well as spring pastures soon should be ready to graze.  These fields can give great grazing, but be sure you take steps to avoid problems with grass tetany.

               Grass tetany is caused by low blood magnesium. Low blood magnesium can be due to low levels of magnesium in lush spring grass, but it also is caused by mineral imbalances like high potassium and nitrogen or low calcium in the diet.

               Grass tetany primarily affects older, heavy milking cows or sheep, but young stock also can be affected.  It occurs most frequently in spring during cool, cloudy, moist conditions when lush, immature grass starts growing rapidly.

                 Cattle or sheep affected by tetany often graze away from the herd, are irritable, show muscle twitching, awkwardness, and staggering, and they are somewhat wide-eyed and staring.  When affected severely, the animal will collapse, thrash around, throw its head back, maybe lapse into a coma, and possibly die.

               To prevent grass tetany, first wait to graze until grass is more than 6 inches tall.  Also, feed or graze legumes like clover or alfalfa when you start on pasture since they have high magnesium levels.

               Feeding about 10 to 20 grams per day of supplemental magnesium via commercial or home-made salt-mineral mixes may be the best way to reduce tetany problems, but start supplementing as much as thirty days before grazing begins.  Magnesium oxide is one of the best and cheapest sources of magnesium.  Mix equal parts of magnesium oxide with dical, salt, and ground corn for a simple home-made supplement that provides adequate magnesium when each cow eats about one pound of the mix per week.

               As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


               The open winter left many of you with more hay left over than expected.  Save some of that hay in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that would be especially useful this year is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass weakened by heavy grazing the past couple of years then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.


               Is nitrogen fertilizer too expensive for pasture?  It might be unless your fertilizer applications and grazing are managed well.

               After adding nitrogen to your pastures in past years, did your grass grow really nice in April and May?  Then did it get stemmy in June with cows trampling and laying on more of it than eating it?  And by August was most of the grass brown or dead, much of it matted down, with the only green material so short that cows could barely get any of it?

               If this describes your pastures, do something a little different this year.  For starters, don’t fertilize all your pasture right away.  You’re stimulating more spring growth than your cows can eat, so only fertilize half or three-quarters of your pasture now.  Be sure, though, that the unfertilized area is fenced off from the rest of the pasture.

               Now, go ahead and have your cows graze pretty much like you normally do, but graze the unfertilized area first so you finish with it sometime in mid-May.  Then check the weather and soil moisture.  If you think there will be enough moisture for some good regrowth, then fertilize this previously unfertilized area.  Let it regrow for six weeks or longer and you should have some really good regrowth available for grazing in July or August.

               What if it’s dry in mid-May with poor prospects for regrowth?  In that case, save your money and don’t apply any more fertilizer.  You still will have produced about as much pasture growth as if you had fertilized everything to begin with, but without spending as much.

               If your pastures often are overgrown in spring and run out in summer, change fertilizer timing.  You’ll get more grass when you want it or maybe save some money.

Smith Questions U.S. Trade Representative on Agriculture Exports

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today questioned U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman at a Committee on Ways and Means hearing.  Smith, co-chair of the House Modern Agriculture Caucus, asked what the Administration is doing to address non-tariff trade barriers in China, Japan, Canada, and in future trade agreements.

Video of the exchange is available at:

Congressman Smith is a member of the Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and has led efforts to promote modern, scientific, and fully enforceable standards in trade agreements to boost U.S. agriculture exports.

Nebraska merchandise exports, including agriculture, totaled $7.4 billion in 2012.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.34 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production.


With half of Nebraska’s soybean crop exported annually, international markets are vital to Nebraska farmers and the state’s economic infrastructure. . The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) recently hosted 12 farmers on a “See for Yourself” mission to the Pacific Northwest to see up close how their soybean checkoff dollars are being invested in international market development.

Participants on the tour were able to see a wide variety of areas the checkoff is involved in, ranging from transportation and soy exports to biodiesel production and aquaculture. Stops on the tour included the Port of Grays Harbor, Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP), Imperium Renewables, Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO) and Icicle Seafoods.

The relevancy of the tour keyed on the fact that the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington is the primary port of export for Nebraska-grown soybeans sold to buyers in China and Southeast Asia. With more than 50 percent of Nebraska’s soybean crop being exported overseas, it is vital for Nebraska producers to gain a better understanding of the many links in the international marketing chain. Furthermore, producers can now see their checkoff dollars in real-time operation, ensuring increases in productivity, profitability and demand.

Allan Adams, a farmer from near Peru, Neb. said he gained a better understanding of the many logistical hurdles that need to be overcome to get our soybeans to our overseas customers. “This tour showed me how important the U.S. transportation system is to the exporting of commodities we produce,” Adams said.

Participants visited and toured the Port of Grays Harbor, which includes AGP and Imperium Renewables. Grays Harbor is now the leading export site for American grown soybean meal. Other products shipped from Grays Harbor include: timber, biodiesel, automobiles, liquids and bulk products.

The group thought the stop at TEMCO, a grain facility at the Port of Tacoma was very informative. TEMCO is the fastest loading/discharge yard in the country and contains 100 miles of rail. “TEMCO was the most interesting stop. We got the chance to see how they unloaded a unit train of crops from the Midwest straight onto a ship. I recommend all farmers take advantage of the trip,” said soybean farmer Ron Ackerson of Aurora, Neb.

Don Nelson, a farmer from near Wayne, Neb. said the trip was rewarding and recommended other farmers take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Soybean Board. “This was an informative and educational experience. It provides an opportunity to meet other producers and soybean board personnel from around the state. I would recommend any producer take advantage of the opportunity,” Nelson said.

Interested in seeing these locations for yourself or learning more about your checkoff dollars? Join us next year for our “See For Yourself” international marketing mission. For more information on the program, please contact the NSB office at 402-441-3240 or visit

ASA Announces Regional Succession Planning Workshops for Farmers

Many of today’s farmers are facing the challenge of trying to determine how they will preserve their farm through a successful transition of their operation to the next generation. The American Soybean Association, in partnership with eLegacy Connect, is announcing a series of six regional succession planning workshops to help farmers in this process.

The Succession Planning Workshops, titled “Five Keys to Effective Succession Planning”, are sponsored by Farm Credit and AGCO in addition to the Illinois Soybean Association, Kentucky Soybean Association and the Ohio Soybean Association.

Following are the workshop dates, locations and registration information:

2014 Workshop Dates Locations

-    June 24 Memphis, TN
-    June 26 Paducah, KY
-    July 30 Sioux Falls, SD
-    Aug. 19 Columbus, OH
-    Aug. 21 Fort Wayne, IN
-    Dec. 4 Moline, IL

Registration Information:

Farmers will be able to register online beginning May 1, 2014. Check the ASA website for more details.

ASA Members - $50 – First participant - $30– For each additional family member
Nonmembers - $90– First participant - $70 – For each additional family member

The Succession Planning Workshops will be one-day workshops starting at 9:00 am and ending at 3:00 pm. The exact workshop locations in each of the cities listed above are still to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

“ASA is excited to partner with our member benefit partner, eLegacy Connect and we are appreciative of the support from Farm Credit, AGCO and our state associations, to offer these import educational workshops,” said Bob Worth, ASA Membership and Corporate Relations Chairman. “ASA is dedicated to enhancing and protecting the livelihoods of soybean producers. ASA is conducting these workshops as an important tool in helping ASA members protect their farms and their family legacy.”

Succession planning is the watershed issue facing America’s family farmers. Through these succession planning workshops, participants will learn effective strategies for passing the farm to the next generation and making sure they have the leadership abilities and business management skills to ensure financial security. The workshops will taught by Kevin Spafford, founder of eLegacy by Design.

For more information about these workshops go to the ASA website at

U.S., Canadian Pork Industries Collaborate with Feed Industry, Others on PEDV

More than 60 people representing the U.S. and Canadian pork, feed and other allied industries recently participated in a meeting on the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hosted by the National Pork Board, and in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Producers, in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the disease does not affect humans or pork safety, it has infected and killed millions of young pigs on farms of all sizes in 27 states since May 2013 and in four Canadian provinces since January.

"Our main goal was to bring a group of people together to help us agree on research needs related to PEDV and feed systems so that we can get answers to ongoing questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board.  "We've been working on PEDV research and collaborating with all pork industry stakeholders since the disease was discovered here, and we'll continue doing that to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The meeting participants, made up of producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, academics and government and association officials, also shared what's currently known about PEDV, including transmission routes, possible vectors and current testing limitations. The group reiterated that PEDV is not a human health or food safety issue and agreed the virus is of Asian origin genetically, but its direct pathway to North America remains unknown.

During the day-long session, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered information about the agency's pathways analysis that seeks to identify and describe pathways that exotic viral pathogens of swine may enter the country. The Canadian participants shared their PEDV experiences and actions taken this year, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented its initial survey of early PEDV cases. In addition, participants learned results of veterinary investigations in several states and heard what the feed, feed ingredient and rendering industries are doing to enhance their biosecurity programs and mitigate risk.

"After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a fecal-oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors," Sundberg said.

The top research priorities agreed upon by the group are:
1. To investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds,
2. To conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain,
3. To develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures, and
4. To continue to investigate the risk of feed and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

"If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know that there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus," Sundberg said. "However, there are many variables that can affect feed, including post-processing contamination, which is another area that must be carefully controlled even if inactivation occurs."

To date, the Pork Checkoff has funded 17 PEDV-related research projects totaling nearly $1.7 million. The Institute for Feed Research and Education, AFIA's foundation, has pledged $100,000 toward PEDV research.

NCGA Joins REAP Initiative as Founding Partner

At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s  Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the ATIP Foundation (Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership) has established a public-private partnership to enhance research on sustainable soil health for multiple land uses in agriculture. The National Corn Growers Association has joined USDA and ATIP along with four other founding partners of the Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) public-private partnership to support and strengthen soil health research that addresses the needs of U.S. farmers.

"We live in a nation that can easily satisfy all of its food needs thanks to the extraordinary productivity of our farmers and their careful management of our soil resources," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.  "Through this public-private partnership, led by the ATIP Foundation, the agriculture sector has created a model of leveraging public and private resources to address sustainability and economic prosperity by enhancing research on land management practices."

“NCGA and the other six founding participants of REAP that comprise the Technical Review Council, met recently with ARS scientists to broaden outreach to private, non-governmental and agriculture sectors that would benefit from ARS research,” said Don Glenn, Chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair. “We feel that REAP research will not only identify important soil management practices, but will also contribute to the field work of the Soil Health Partnership launched earlier this year by NCGA with support from Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation.”

The REAP initiative consists of nine multi-state USDA ARS locations and their university partners who will pair regionally significant soil data sets with local practices. The focus of this research will be to identify the production and sustainable advantages of different soil management strategies.

Ryan Budget Calls for Deeper Cuts to SNAP and Farm Programs

(from Nat'l Assoc. of Wheat Growers newsletter)

On Wednesday the House Budget Committee marked-up the latest budget proposal from Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) which would cut $5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Part of those cuts would come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. The Ryan proposal would block grant the SNAP program turning the authority over to the states, saving $125 billion over 10 years. The budget proposal would also eliminate some waivers from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents and end the use of categorical eligibility that allows people to qualify for SNAP automatically if they have received some form of assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Both provisions were included in the nutrition only bill that was passed in the House last fall after their first attempt at passing an all inclusive farm bill failed, but the split farm bill proved to be a non-starter in the Senate. Ryan also calls for an additional $23 billion in cuts from agriculture spending in addition to the $23 billion in cuts already made this year through the 2014 farm bill. For more information on the Ryan Budget Proposal you can visit the House Budget Committee’s website here:

Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy.

“We are making tremendous progress implementing the new Farm Bill,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This law is critically important to America’s farmers and ranchers and to our nation’s economy. Every USDA agency is working diligently to implement the Farm Bill’s new provisions quickly and effectively.”

With 12 titles and over 450 provisions, the Farm Bill drives food, farm, conservation, trade, research, energy policies and more. Implementing such a large piece of legislation within the mandated timeline requires a coordinated effort across all areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Immediately after enactment, USDA established a farm bill implementation team composed of key sub-cabinet officials and experts from every mission area of the Department to put new programs in place and make mandated reforms to existing programs.

USDA also launched a website that provides details on Farm Bill implementation in one convenient location and the Economic Research Service launched a website highlighting some of the economic implications of the new programs and provisions.

In the weeks since enactment, USDA held 12 outreach and listening sessions to share information and hear from stakeholders on the 2014 Farm Bill implementation process.

Important progress has been made on every title of the Farm Bill including updates to risk management tools, modifications to farm loan programs, announcements regarding available funds for agricultural research and much more.

USDA has made providing long-awaited disaster relief to farmers and ranchers a top priority and quick implementation on relief programs is within sight. Beginning April 15, producers will be able to enroll in the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

USDA is also highly focused on providing timely educational materials on new risk management programs to farmers so they can make informed business decisions.  Announcements on new agriculture research partnerships, conservation and nutrition programs, and other Farm Bill provisions will continue to be made in the coming weeks and months.   

Information on Farm Bill implementation accomplishments to date...

TITLE I – Commodity Programs

-    Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Assistance:  USDA will publish a final rule to implement the disaster assistance provisions and begin sign-up by April 15, 2014.
-    County and Regional Loan Rates:  USDA issued a press release on March 28, 2014 announcing county and regional loan rates.
-    Extension of Programs:  On March 28, 2014, FSA published on the Federal Register notices for the extension of the following programs:  (1) Marketing Assistance Loans; (2) Milk Income Loss Contract; (3) Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; (4) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; and (5) Sugar.
-    Dairy Forward Pricing Program:  Final rule published on March 21, 2014, that re-established the Dairy Forward Pricing Program.

TITLE II – Conservation

-    Conservation Programs:  Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.


-    Market Access Program (MAP):  During the week of April 7, 2014, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will announce 2014 MAP funding.
-    Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD):  During the week of April 7, 2014, FAS will announce 2014 FMD funding.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs

-    Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Payments:  On March 5, 2014, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released an Implementation Memorandum to States on the elimination of standard utility allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for LIHEAP payments less than $20.
-    SNAP-related Provisions: On March 21, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States communicating major SNAP related provisions of the Act.
-    Community Food Projects:  On February 27, 2014, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, with $5 million available.
-    Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP):  On March 10, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States on phasing out the eligibility of women, infants and children.
-    Multiagency Taskforce on Commodity Programs:  On March 14, 2014, the Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services issued a memorandum to solicit names for a multiagency task force to provide coordination and direction for commodity programs.  

TITLE V – Credit

-    Farm Loan Programs/Direct Farm Ownership:  On February 7, 2014, FSA implemented changes in the interest rate on Direct Farm Ownership loans that are made in conjunction with other lenders.
-    Modifications to Farm Loan Programs:  On March 24, 2014, FSA issued a news release in announcing changes to Farm Loan Programs as part of the Farm Bill.
-    Microloans:  On March 26, 2014, FSA issued an agency directive implementing non-discretionary microloan provisions.

TITLE VI – Rural Development

-    Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG):  On March 25, 2014, Rural Development published a notice in the Federal Register extending the application period for Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 funding for VAPG, with up to $25.5 million available for these grants.
-    Definition of Rural Housing:   On March 13, 2014, Rural Development issued guidance to State Directors, field staff and stakeholders on implementing new eligibility requirements regarding the definition of rural housing.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters

-    Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, with $20 million available in FY 2014.
-    Specialty Crop Research Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, with $76.8 million available in FY 2014.
-    Citrus Disease Subcommittee:  A subcommittee has been formally established within the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, under the Specialty Crop Committee, and solicitation letters for nominations were issued March 17, 2014.
-    Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR):  Letters soliciting nominations to the FFAR Board were mailed to interested parties and a Federal Register notice was submitted for publication on March 31, 2014.
-    Budget Submission and Funding: On March 10, 2014, REE submitted its first Budget Submission and Funding report to Congress.

TITLE VIII – Forestry

-    Insect and Disease Infestation:  On March 19, 2014, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell sent a letter to all state governors notifying them of the opportunity to submit requests for designating their priority insect and disease areas for treatment. 

TITLE X – Horticulture

-    Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention: On April 3, 2014, USDA announced $48.1 million in funding for 383 projects to help prevent the introduction or spread of plan pests and diseases.
-    National Clean Plant Network: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on March 24, 2014 for the National Clean Plant Network, with $5 million available.
-    Bulk Shipments of Apples to Canada:  On April 3, 2014, AMS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register amending regulations under the Export Apple Act to allow bulk containers to be shipped to Canada without U.S. inspection.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance

-    Premium Amounts for Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT):  During the first week of April, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) will issue documents to revise the premium rates charged for CAT coverage to be based on the average historical “loss ratio” plus a reasonable reserve.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous

-    Catfish Inspection:  On March 14, 2014, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted the first status report to Congress on the development of the final rule establishing a catfish inspection program.

To stay up-to-date on USDA’s Farm Bill implementation progress, visit

$20 Million Effort to Reduce Feral Swine Damage

Undersecretary for USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos announced Wednesday that USDA is kicking off a national effort to reduce the devastating damage caused by feral, or free ranging, swine. The $20 million program aims to help states deal with a rapidly expanding population of invasive wild swine that causes $1.5 billion in annual damage and control costs.

"Feral swine are one of the most destructive invaders a state can have," said Undersecretary Avalos. "They have expanded their range from 17 to 39 states in the last 30 years and cause damage to crops, kill young livestock, destroy property, harm natural resources, and carry diseases that threaten other animals as well as people and water supplies. It's critical that we act now to begin appropriate management of this costly problem."

The Wildlife Services program of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will lead the effort, tailoring activities to each state's circumstance and working closely with other Federal, State, Tribal, and local entities. WS will work directly with states to control populations, test animals for diseases, and research better methods of managing feral swine damage. A key part of the national program will include surveillance and disease monitoring to protect the health of our domestic swine.

Feral swine have become a serious problem in 78% of all states in the country, carrying diseases that can affect people, domestic animals, livestock and wildlife, as well as local water supplies. They also cause damage to field and high-value crops of all kinds from Midwestern corn and soybeans to sugar cane, peanuts, spinach and pumpkins. They kill young animals and their characteristic rooting and wallowing damages natural resources, including resources used by native waterfowl, as well as archeological and recreational lands. Feral swine compete for food with native wildlife, such as deer, and consume the eggs of ground-nesting birds and endangered species, such as sea turtles.

As part of the national program, APHIS will test feral swine for diseases of concern for U.S. pork producers, such as classical swine fever, which does not exist in the United States, as well as swine brucellosis, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, swine influenza, and pseudorabies.

USDA Provides Farm Bill Funding for Pest and Disease Management Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the allocation of $48.1 million, provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), to projects across the country that will help to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy and the environment. The economic stakes for stopping invasive species are high, with scientists estimating the total economic cost of all invasive species to be approximately $120 billion annually.

"Invasive pests cause billions of dollars in damage each year and endanger our nation's food security," said Vilsack. "The funds USDA is making available today will help partners and stakeholders develop strategies, products and treatments to safeguard our farms and natural resources from invasive threats."

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sought project suggestions from states and U.S. territories, universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations that would provide a direct impact in managing pests and diseases, as well as disaster prevention. APHIS is funding 383 projects in 49 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. The projects approved for allocation will help states and other partners continue providing and strengthening protections against agricultural threats and could also allow the reallocation of resources to other critical programs.

A list of selected projects and the FY 2014 funding plan are posted at

Funded initiatives include:

-   $2 million for protection against exotic fruit flies in California;
-   $270,907 to survey and analyze adult honey bee samples collected from apiaries across multiple U.S states and Puerto Rico for pests and diseases, such as the Varroa virus;
-   $290,000 to the Nez Perce Tribe Bio-control Project involving noxious/invasive weed survey and control activities;
-   $224,894 for the National Plant Board to develop a harmonized national systems approach to nursery certification that enhances existing state programs to reduce the risk of plant pests in nursery stock;
-   $227,808 to North Carolina for enhancing exotic plant pest management by creating New Pest Response Guidelines with university collaboration; and
-   $2.4 million for supporting response to the recently detected coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation in Hawaii.

Prospective projects were evaluated by teams comprised of USDA experts and industry representatives and were selected based on criteria that supported six goals -- enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. The teams also evaluated submissions based on expected impacts of the project, the technical approach, and how submissions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other previously funded projects funded under the 2008 Farm Bill (Section 10201).

The 2008 Farm Bill has provided funding for more than 1500 projects over the last five years and has played a significant role in protecting American agriculture and educating the public about the threat of invasive species.

The public can help protect America's agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause. APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these "hungry pests" behind. Visit during April, which APHIS has proclaimed Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, to learn more about invasive plant pest and diseases impacting your area and how you can help. And, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the HungryPests Facebook page.

Pork Checkoff Leaders Finding New Opportunities in South America

Examining emerging market opportunities and creating new partnerships to tackle global challenges was the focus of a recent study mission conducted by the 15 farmer-directors of the National Pork Board during a week-long tour of Brazil and Colombia. The board members visited the two countries March 22 through 29.

“Raising U.S. pork requires a global perspective and outlook. We learned so much from seeing firsthand how pork is produced in South America and now better understand the challenging logistics involved in raising, processing and marketing pork in Brazil and Colombia,” said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “We all face different challenges, like creating consumer demand for our product and fighting disease in our herds. But in the end, our operations are similar and, despite living in a global marketplace, we can learn so much from each other.”
While in Brazil, the board members met with leaders of the swine cooperative SUINCO, the Brazilian Association of Swine Breeders, and met with the leadership of Agroceres PIC, a global pork production company. Before leaving Brazil, the tour group stopped at Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture. Joao Donisete, the general manager of Agroceres PIC in Brazil, agreed that there are many similarities between Brazil and the U.S. in terms of food production. Those similarities include how best to improve meat quality while keeping a continued focus on animal welfare, protecting the environment, and hiring and training workers.

Mid-week, Pork Checkoff leaders flew to Bogota to meet with representatives of Colombia’s association of pork producers and then toured a processing plant that uses U.S. pork as raw material. The board also looked at the marketing and retail distribution side of pork production through meetings with importers, and retail leaders.

During a meeting with Colombian pork industry leaders, the Board learned how the Colombian pork industry is struggling to increase consumer pork demand at a time when local producers are challenged with growing pork imports. As a result of a 2012 free trade agreement, Colombia was the Central/South America region’s largest market for U.S. pork in both volume (34,099 metric tons, up 73 percent from 2012) and value ($88.1 million, up 63 percent). The pork industry leaders agreed that an opportunity exists to benefit both U.S. and Colombian pork producers through mutual efforts to increase Colombian pork demand.

USDA Dairy Products Production February 2014 Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 851 million pounds, 0.6 percent below February 2013 and 10.7 percent below January 2014.  Italian type cheese production totaled 374 million pounds, 3.7 percent above February 2013 but 11.0 percent below January 2014.  American type cheese production totaled 341 million pounds, 1.5 percent below February 2013 and 10.3 percent below January 2014.  Butter production was 166 million pounds, 4.6 percent below February 2013 and 9.1 percent below January 2014.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with February 2013)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 141 million pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Skim milk powders - 34.8 million pounds, down 19.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with February 2013)
Dry whey, total - 65.5 million pounds, down 15.1 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 90.9 million pounds, up 16.2 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 42.5 million pounds, up 24.1 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with February 2013)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 57.7 million gallons, down 7.5 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 29.4 million gallons, down 8.3 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.29 million gallons, down slightly.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 5.77 million gallons, up 0.3 percent.

Oil-Induced Rail Chaos Driving Up Consumer Costs for Gasoline and Other Goods

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), today sent a list of questions regarding the “abject failure of the rail system to adequately address the needs of all of its customers,” to Ed Hamberger, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

U.S. ethanol is the lowest price liquid transportation in the world, saving American consumers between $0.50 and $1.50 per gallon. Dinneen writes, “Over the past several weeks, however, the sheer chaos that is today’s rail system is denying consumers that price relief by driving up the transportation cost for and impacting the supply of ethanol and other commodities. Nothing has changed with regard to ethanol production costs or efficiencies. The only change has been abject failure of the rail system to adequately address the needs of all its customers. The U.S. economy is suffering as a consequence.”

The letter spells out in clear detail the limiting impact the rail situation is having on the ethanol industry. “In response to increasing demand, the ethanol industry was producing at an average rate of 949,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December 2013. But disarray on the rail system in the first quarter of 2014 has forced ethanol producers to significantly curtail output. By the first week of March 2014, ethanol output had fallen to 869,000 bpd, as producers were forced to slow down. Onsite storage tanks were brimming full and, in many cases, the railcars and/or locomotives needed to ship ethanol were simply not available. As a result, ethanol stocks in key regions have been depleted and prices have increased. All of this is due to the turmoil on the rails—dislocated railcars and locomotives, increased terminal dwell times, slower train speeds, an insufficient number of crews, and a shortage of spare railcars and locomotives.”

Dinneen exposes the excuse of winter weather, and drives straight to the heart of the issue, “The railroads have attributed this lackluster performance and inefficiency to winter weather. But they seem to have forgotten that winter comes every year!... Indeed, a more plausible explanation for the severity of the current epidemic is the explosive growth in railcar shipments of Bakken and Canadian crude oil. The surge in crude oil production from fracking has reshuffled the existing fleet of railcars and locomotives, pressured lease rates, changed normal rail traffic patterns, and generally exerted significant stress on the rail system. According to AAR, crude oil shipments have increased from 9,344 carloads in 2008 to 434,032 carloads in 2013. In addition, AAR data show rail shipments of industrial sand nearly tripled between 2008 and 2013, stating, ‘…frac sand is almost certainly the primary driver behind the increased industrial sand movements on railroads over the past few years.’ It seems absurd to suggest, as some have, that the efficiency of the rail system has been unaffected by the 4545% increase in crude oil shipments and the 170% increase in sand shipments since 2008.”

In an effort to better understand the causes, extent, and strategies for resolution of the current situation, Dinneen asks AAR to answer the following questions:
• What role has the explosive growth in crude oil (and frac sand) shipments played in current rail inefficiencies?
• What steps are being taken in the short term by the rail industry to alleviate the current logjam on the rail system?
• When do you expect service on each of the Class I railroads to return to more normal operating conditions?
• How can you assure the ethanol industry—and other rail-reliant industries—that crude oil shipments are not being prioritized over shipments of other goods and commodities?
• Will average train speeds recover to historically normal levels, or do you expect slower speeds to be the “new normal” due to the increase in crude oil shipments?
• What efforts are being made to educate the public about the impact of the current rail situation on the U.S. economy and prices for individual consumer goods?
• As a longtime customer of the railroads, what can the ethanol industry do to assist in your industry’s efforts to ensure similar situations are avoided in the future?

Dr. Kendig Added to Technical Team for Cheminova-Midwest

Cheminova, Inc. today announced it has hired Dr. John Andrew (Andy) Kendig as Technical Manager for the Midwest. His primary responsibilities will be development, technical and sales support for customers in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, as well as North Dakota and South Dakota.  Dr. Kendig will also work on projects for established products including DECLARE® Insecticide, and FORTIX® and TOPGUARD® Fungicides. In addition, he will help develop new products in the growing Cheminova portfolio.

“Andy brings with him a strong background in field testing and project management,” said Diane Allemang, Executive Vice President, Cheminova, Inc. “His experience and relationships within the industry and the research community will accelerate our activities in the Midwest. In addition, his weed science background will be valuable to Cheminova customers as our herbicide portfolio continues to grow.”

For the past seven years, Dr. Kendig worked at Monsanto on product development and technical matters.  Prior to that, Dr. Kendig worked for 15 years at the University of Missouri –Columbia for as an Extension Assistant Professor and then as an Extension Associate Professor.  During that time, he ran an extensive and very successful weed science program on corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat.  

He received both his M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy with an emphasis in weed science from the University of Arkansas.  He received his B.S. from the University Missouri -Columbia.  

ACE Says Blend Wall “Cost” Reports are Incomplete and Misleading

Ron Lamberty, Senior Vice President for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) today called media reports that the “blend wall” cost refiners approximately $1.35 billion dollars last year “incomplete and misleading.”  A recent Reuters article said that was the amount nine companies paid for Renewable Identification Number (RINs), which are credits refiners provide to EPA to prove they bought the amount of renewable fuels required by law. RINs are free to refiners who blend biofuels, while refiners who choose not to blend biofuels can buy RINs from companies that blend more than the law requires.
“Those refiners made a business decision to purchase credits instead of ethanol. Reports aren’t honest if they fail to point out that those nine refiners paid $1.35 billion dollars to other refiners for those companies’ excess RINs.” said Lamberty. “The “blend wall” provided $1.35 billion dollars of income to some refiners, which reduced their cost of fuel.”

Lamberty said ACE would like to see more RINs generated by retailers, since they generally use the additional funds to reduce prices at the pumps. “Unfortunately, at the same time oil companies are complaining about RINs and the “blend wall,” they enforce policies that won’t allow their branded marketers to sell E15 and higher ethanol blends,” Lamberty said. “Station owners who offer E15, E85, and other blends generally sell about 20% ethanol overall, making more RINs available. And when they sell RINs, they pass most of the value of those RINs on to customers in the form of lower pump prices.”

NFU Expresses Tax Extenders Priorities

Yesterday National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance leaders expressing priorities for the renewal of expiring tax provisions in advance of the committee’s markup of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

Johnson praised Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for maintaining the $500,000 maximum deduction for farm machinery, which will help family farmers and ranchers improve their businesses.

The draft legislation also extends tax credits for biodiesel, cellulosic biofuels and energy efficiency but omits other crucial provisions, such as extensions of the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy. Johnson said, “Our country lacks a comprehensive, national energy strategy that moves us toward energy independence and helps mitigate the effects of climate change. These tax credits are some of the only policies we have that support the development of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. Failure to renew these provisions would be taking a giant step backward.”

In the letter, Johnson also expressed disappointment in the legislation’s continuation of tax loopholes for the largest corporations. “Given the widening income inequality gap and our national debt, we cannot afford this sort of tax break,” said Johnson. “Every dollar lost because of these loopholes is one less dollar available to invest in jobs, infrastructure, food for the hungry or to reduce the deficit.”

AEC Commends Chairman Wyden, Senate Finance for Taking Lead on Tax Extenders

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), released a statement today in response to the Senate Finance Committee’s markup of a package of tax extenders. The proposal extends a number of provisions for cellulosic biofuels, including the Producer Tax Credit (PTC) and the special depreciation allowance.

“The cellulosic biofuels industry is very pleased to see tax extenders come out of committee. We commend Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch for taking the lead on extending these important provisions. The cellulosic biofuel industry is just breaking through at commercial scale. Today’s markup sends a clear signal to the marketplace that Congress is making progress on extending its support for one of the most innovative, low carbon industries in the world. It will be very important to move this package along quickly, as executives in our industry are weighing the pros and cons of developing the next wave of projects here or abroad. These provisions are very important to level set against permanent subsidies to oil and gas. We look forward to the next step in the process and appreciate the Senate’s leadership on the issue.”

Novozymes on Tax Extension Vote: Stability Key to Advanced Biofuels Engine

Today’s vote by the Senate Finance Committee to extend tax provisions gives a clear signal for the commercialization of advanced biofuels according to global industrial biotechnology leader Novozymes.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch have recognized the importance of long-term advanced biofuels provisions and Novozymes thanks them for their leadership.

“When you’re on a road trip, you don’t stop every 10 minutes to put in one gallon—you fill up for the long haul. That’s what these tax credits and renewable fuel policies like the RFS need too: Fuel for the long haul to drive investment, create jobs and move our economy forward.” said Adam Monroe, Novozymes President, Americas.

The Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit all expired at the end of 2013.  This package extends them through 2015 adding certainty for the advanced biofuel industry and its investors.

These tax credits help level the playing field for renewables by providing stability during the critical stage of commercialization. Comparatively, the fossil fuel industry receives nearly $5 billion in permanent subsidies.

Continued commercialization of the advanced biofuels industry could create up to 800,000 jobs and $95 billion annual U.S. revenue with stable policy signals.

In May 2012, Novozymes opened the nation's largest advanced manufacturing plant for enzymes dedicated to biofuels in Blair, Nebraska. Novozymes chose the United States for the plant’s location over other international locations because of the RFS. The plant was built with $200 million in private investment and created 100 career positions and 400 construction jobs.

Other U.S. advanced biofuel projects that have steel in the ground or are underway driven by the RFS include:
-    POET’s Project LIBERTY in Iowa;
-    DuPont’s cellulosic facility in Nevada;
-    Fiberight’s existing trash-to-fuel plant in Virginia, and its newest plant in Blairstown, Iowa;
-    Abengoa’s cellulosic facility in Hugoton, Kansas;
-    and INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Florida.

MF Global Clients to Receive All Money Owed

Former customers of MF Global Inc. will soon receive all the money owed them after the brokerage collapsed in 2011, a bankruptcy trustee said on Thursday.

Final distributions of customers' claims will begin on Friday and continue for several weeks, said James Giddens, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the liquidation of the firm, a unit of MF Global Holdings Ltd.

"It gives me great pleasure to say that checks are going in the mail that will make all public customers of MF Global Inc. 100 percent whole, " Mr. Giddens said in a statement. "When MF Global failed more than two years ago, few thought a way could be found to make customers whole."

The trustee, who had arranged to borrow money from MF Global's general estate to make customers whole, will make the final distribution of funds to any U.S. customer who traded on U.S. or foreign exchanges.

The distributions had been expected, though the exact timing has been uncertain. Mr. Giddens had asked last fall in court filings to make the final distributions.

When MF Global failed in Oct. 2011, money slipped away in its final days to banks and clearinghouses, leaving many customers without their funds.

Wednesday April 2 Ag News

Gov. Heineman Approves More Than $400 Million in Tax Relief for Nebraskans

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman announced that Nebraska taxpayers will receive more than $412 million in tax relief over the next five years. He signed several tax relief bills into law at a news conference where he noted the relief as responsible, meaningful and significant.

“I am pleased that Nebraska taxpayers will be receiving more than $412 million in tax relief, which is responsible, meaningful and significant tax relief,” said Gov. Heineman.

Governor Heineman has clearly stated that the priority for this legislative session was providing responsible and meaningful tax relief. In his State of the State address, Gov. Heineman demonstrated how Nebraska could accomplish tax relief between $370 and $500 million citing state financial reports holding the line on state spending, utilizing a portion of the record high state cash reserve fund, and citing Nebraska’s growing economy.

Bills signed into law that affect tax relief include:

LB 987 will index Nebraska’s individual income tax brackets for inflation, as well as exempt portions of social security and veteran retirement. Specifically, the bill will exempt social security income for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less for married persons filing jointly, and $43,000 or less for all others. This bill also allows a veteran to make a one-time election, within two years after separation from military service, to exclude portions of military retirement benefits. The exclusion may be to either exclude 40 percent of the military retirement benefit income for seven consecutive years or to exclude 15 percent of the military retirement benefit for all taxable years after the person turns 67.

LB 96 eliminates sales tax on the sale, lease, rental or storage of repair or replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment that are used in commercial agriculture.

On March 29, Gov. Heineman signed LB 905 into law.  LB 905 increases the Property Tax Credit Program by $25 million on an annual basis, in addition to the current $115 million ongoing funding. In 2007, the Governor worked with the Legislature to create the Property Tax Credit Program to offer property tax relief in Nebraska. The amount contributed has stayed flat over the last few years while statewide property values have increased.

LB 986 will expand Nebraska’s homestead exemption program so that more Nebraskans could qualify. This bill increases amounts of household income limits. For a 100 percent exemption from property tax, single filers can earn up to $26,900. As household income increases up to a maximum of $39,500, the exemption percentage is phased-down incrementally. For a 100 percent exemption, married filers can earn up to $31,600. As household income increases up to a maximum of $46,900, this exemption percentage is phased-down incrementally. This bill also creates a new eligibility category under the homestead exemption program to include certain individuals with developmental disabilities.

LB 1087 will expand eligibility for the current property tax homestead exemption to include a 100 percent property tax exemption for honorably discharged veterans. To qualify, veterans must be drawing compensation for a 100 percent service-connected disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, beginning in 2015. This bill also gives a 100 percent exemption to unremarried widows or widowers of honorably discharged veterans who died as a result of a service-connected disability, as well as to unremarried widows or widowers of servicemen and servicewomen whose death on active duty was service connected.

Additionally, Gov. Heineman outlined an additional bill that just reached his desk Monday that he plans to sign.

LB 867 will exempt sales and use taxes on purchases made by historic automobile museums, and would exempt sales and use tax on the sale, lease or rental of gold or silver bullion and U.S. postage charges. The bill would exempt non-profit corporations that make charitable donations of land from the documentary stamp tax and accelerate the sports arena sales tax turnback payments to the Ralston arena. It would also exempt retail sales of compressed natural gas that is used for motor vehicle fuel.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Backed Farm Truck Bill Passes, Provides Regulatory Relief

Nebraska farmers and ranchers can look forward to regulatory relief in the area of farm truck regulations thanks to the passage of a bill supported by Nebraska Farm Bureau. Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB 983 into law March 28 after state lawmakers gave final approval to the measure. The law includes provisions designed to bring Nebraska farm truck regulations in line with federal farm truck requirements.

“The passage of federal MAP-21 legislation in 2012 provided some exemptions for farm operated vehicles as it relates to Commercial Driver License (CDL) requirements, hours of service, medical testing and some other requirements. Up until now, Nebraska farmers and ranchers haven’t been able to take advantage of those changes. The passage of this bill allows us to do so as has been the case in other states,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

One of the most notable changes allowed by the legislation is the exemption from CDL requirements for farm covered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating less than 26,000 pounds, regardless of how far the farm vehicle travels. The changes also provide the CDL exemption to farm vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds provided they operate within the state or a 150-mile radius from their farm operation.

“Most family farm and ranch operations in Nebraska, and the drivers of the farm-plated vehicles used in these operations, are by no means commercial trucking operations. Yet at the same time, they rely heavily upon trucking and hauling to maintain their farm business. We believe these changes will give the appropriate degree of regulatory flexibility and relief for farm and ranch families and are proud to have helped make these changes reality,” said Nelson.

Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton introduced the original bill containing the changes and Farm Bureau worked closely with the Nebraska State Patrol and others to help bring the bill to fruition.

“We greatly appreciate the work of everyone involved and look forward to continuing that effort as we help bring awareness to what these changes mean for Nebraska farm and ranch families,” said Nelson.

Field Crop Scout Training Offered in May

            A May 6 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension crop scout training course will provide crop scouts an opportunity to enhance their skills.

            The training is designed for entry level scouts who will be working for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers across Nebraska and neighboring states, said Keith Glewen, UNL Extension educator.

            The course is from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. at the university's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

            "Past participants have consistently given the training high marks and state that the knowledge gained from attending improved their scouting skills," Glewen said.

             Topics include: how corn and soybean plants grow and develop, soybean and corn insect management, identifying weeds – plant morphology, using a key to identify weed seedlings, crop diseases and quiz, and nutrient deficiencies.

            "Some of the benefits registrants stated the training provided included practical/working knowledge and better accuracy in field scouting," Glewen said. "Other participants appreciated the hands-on, practical format."

            Cost is $135. Fees include lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and instruction manual. Registrants should preregister one week in advance to reserve their seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session. Updated reference materials are included in this year's take home instruction manual.

            A total of 5.5 Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units is anticipated in the integrated pest management (4.0), crop management (1.0) and fertility/nutrient management (.5) categories.

            For more information or to register, contact the ARDC, CMDC Programs, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, Neb., 68033, call 402-624-8000, fax 402-624-8010, email or visit

            The training is part of the UNL Extension Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics and is sponsored by extension in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Additional diagnostic clinics include: Mid-Summer Diagnostic Clinic – July 17; Precision Ag Clinic – Aug. 27; Physical, Chemical, and Biological Properties of Soil and Water Clinic – Aug. 28.

USDA Sets Date for Soybean Request for Referendum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will offer soybean producers the opportunity to request a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order), as authorized under the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act (Act).

The Act requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a Request for Referendum every 5 years after the initial referendum, which was conducted in 1994.  The last Request for Referendum was conducted in 2009.  Soybean producers who are interested in having a referendum to determine whether to continue the Soybean Checkoff Program are invited to participate.

The Request for Referendum will be conducted at USDA's county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.  To be eligible to participate, producers must certify and provide documentation that shows that they produced soybeans and paid an assessment on the soybeans during the period of January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013.

Beginning May 5 and continuing through May 30, 2014, producers may obtain a form by mail, fax, or in person from the FSA county offices.  Forms may also be obtained via the internet at during the same time period.  Individual producers and other producer entities may request a referendum at the county FSA office where their administrative farm records are maintained.  For the producer not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to request a referendum will be provided at the county FSA office where the producer owns or rents land.  Completed forms and supporting documentation must be returned to the appropriate county FSA office by fax or in person no later than close of business May 30, 2014; or if returned by mail, must be postmarked by midnight May 30, 2014, and received in the county FSA office by close of business on June 5, 2014.

USDA will conduct a referendum if at least 10 percent of the nation’s 569,998 soybean producers support a referendum.  Not more than one-fifth of the producers who support having a referendum can be from any one State.

The Soybean Checkoff Program is administered by a 70-member producer board and is designed to expand uses of soybeans and soybean products in domestic and foreign markets.  The national Soybean Checkoff Program is financed by a mandatory assessment of one-half of 1 percent of the net market price of soybeans.

Iowa Learning Farms’ April Webinar Focuses on Gully Soil Erosion

The Iowa Learning Farms’ April webinar Wednesday, April 16 will feature Rick Cruse, Iowa State University agronomy professor. He will discuss soil erosion that is ignored or unreported by most agencies, and even by the Iowa Daily Erosion Project.

The 11:30 a.m. webinar is part of a free series hosted by ILF through Adobe Connect. The series is held on the third Wednesday of each month.

Cruse is part of research efforts more clearly identifying soil erosion that occurs in ephemeral gullies – the small gullies formed by water runoff typically tilled shut by farm operations. Many fields are scarred by gullies that channel soil and chemicals into streams, which are not accounted for in Iowa State’s erosion estimates or those typical of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Rick Cruse is a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and director of the Iowa Water Center.  His research focus is on soil management and soil erosion processes. He is co-leading the expansion of the Iowa Daily Erosion Project to states adjoining Iowa and has been actively involved with multiple soil erosion studies in China. Cruse also teaches a graduate level soil management class at Iowa State.

To connect to the webinar, go to at 11:30 a.m. on the morning of the webinar and log in using the guest option. A computer with Internet access is all that is needed to participate. The ILF website contains links for archived webinars from all previous sessions at The webinar archive is also available in a podcast through iTunes.

Biodiesel Tax Credit, Section 179 Expensing Included in Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Tax Extenders Package

As part of its proposed taxed extenders package released yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee included two items critical to soybean farmers, including a two-year extension of the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, and a reinstatement of the pre-2014 expensing amounts for farm infrastructure and equipment under Section 179. Both issues are among the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) key policy priorities for the coming year, and ASA First Vice President Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas, issued the following statement on the committee’s proposal:

“More than ninety eight percent of American farms are owned by families, making ours an industry of small businesses, and like our counterparts on main streets across the country, farmers have a crucial stake in the country’s tax structure. That’s why today’s proposal from the Senate Finance Committee is such an important one for agriculture. It extends the biodiesel tax credit through the end of 2015, and reinstates the amounts we can expense under Section 179. Both elements enable us to compete and succeed in the face of growing competition.

“The extension of the biodiesel tax credit is huge. Biodiesel blenders create a renewable and safe domestic energy source for our country and a valuable market for the soybean oil American farmers produce. The credit further encourages the development and sustained success of the biodiesel marketplace, and much credit goes to Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch and specifically Sens. Grassley and Cantwell for recognizing the importance of the biodiesel tax incentive and including it in their proposal. The industry has been operating in the absence of the credit since the end of the fiscal year in September, and we’ve seen the biodiesel industry’s production dip and progress stall in the absence of this tax credit in the past, so this proposal is a welcome first step toward putting the industry back on track for the next two years.

“The proposal’s Section 179 reinstatement is also important. This enables farmers and other small business owners to expense investments made in new technology, equipment and infrastructure in their operations. Given the land-based and capital-intensive nature of farming, not to mention the ever-advancing technology we need to farm sustainably and competitively, this program helps us to stay on the cutting edge of our industry.

“We hope that the full committee will take up and advance this proposal quickly, and we call on the full Senate and the House to pass these provisions in the interest of farmers and our fellow small business owners nationwide.”

NCGA Breaks Membership Record for Second Consecutive Month

National Corn Growers Association membership climbed to even higher heights setting yet another membership record at the end of March, with 40,793 on the rolls. This membership record replaces the former record, of 40,287, set in February of 2014.

"We're thrilled to set yet another membership record at a time when the average membership in trade associations like ours is flat or declining," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "Not only do we offer a terrific set of member benefits, but our growers know the value NCGA offers in Washington and throughout the country and recognize that grassroots efforts have been the strength and driving force behind their organization."

NCGA has members across the contiguous United States and works in cooperation with grower associations and state corn checkoff boards from 28 states, representing the interests of its members and the more than 300,000 growers who contribute corn checkoff funds in their states.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/28/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 922,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 38.72 million gallons daily. That is up 37,000 b/d from the week before and the highest output rate so far this year. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 892,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.67 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 15.9 million barrels. That is a 1.4% increase from last week and the second straight uptick.

Ethanol imports totaled 11,000 b/d, snapping a 25-week streak of non-existent imports dating back to the week of 10/04/2013.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 365.9 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.58%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.980 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 102,898 metric tons of livestock feed, 91,734 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.80 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Hints of Ethanol Price Retreat

Ethanol spot prices have increased steadily since early February, reflecting logistical challenges for the industry, according to "This Week in Petroleum" issued Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

By late March, New York Harbor spot ethanol prices exceeded the price for RBOB, the petroleum component of gasoline, by more than $1 gallon. Ethanol spot prices in Chicago and Gulf Coast markets also climbed above NYH RBOB prices. The NYH premium over Chicago spot ethanol prices had averaged roughly 25 cents per gallon in January, close to the typical transportation costs of moving ethanol from production centers in the Midwest to terminals on the East Coast in recent years. It widened to $1 gallon in early March.

"Logistical constraints in and around ethanol production centers in the Midwest, mainly involving railroads on which approximately 70% of ethanol is shipped, appear to be a key factor driving recent prices," EIA said.

Ethanol futures prices suggest that market participants expect the recent price increase to be short-lived. The Chicago Board of Trade ethanol futures curve is heavily backwardated, meaning near-term contracts are selling at a premium to longer-term contracts. On March 31, the futures contract price for May delivery was more than $1 gallon below the Chicago spot price for immediate delivery.

Rail system conditions appear to be improving, EIA said. In addition, the recent ethanol price increase has driven ethanol operating margins and crush spreads to their highest values in recent years, providing a strong incentive for increased ethanol production rates over the coming weeks.

Extremely cold weather this winter led to rail congestion in and out of Midwestern terminals that delayed shipments to other regions and resulted in significant ethanol stock draws. Railcar dwell times at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.'s Galesburg, Ill., terminal nearly doubled in early 2014 to reach a peak of 60 hours in February and remain above year-ago levels. Dwell times are the time loaded railcars spend in a terminal awaiting movement.

While over 70% of ethanol producers are equipped to load unit trains, only 35% of gasoline blending terminals are equipped to receive them.

The average speed of manifest trains decreased by 20% -- from 22 miles per hour to 17 mph, over the past 12 months. Manifest trains include cars carrying different products and are often used to deliver ethanol to gasoline blending terminals that are not equipped to handle unit trains.

Ethanol stocks were drawn down nationwide by nearly 2 million barrels (bbl) from mid-February to mid-March, partially recovering to 15.9 million bbl on Mar. 28. This is more than 4 million bbl below typical March levels, which averaged more than 20 million bbl from 2011 through 2013. East Coast inventories were especially hard hit, and on March 14 reached their lowest level of 4.5 million bbl since EIA began recording data in June 2010.

Despite an abundant corn supply and strong ethanol margins in early 2014, ethanol production rates also appear to be have been adversely affected by rail system problems and other weather-related issues in recent months. After averaging more than 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) for four consecutive months beginning in November 2013, ethanol production dropped below 900,000 bpd during March.

Oil Spills and Car-Stopping Contaminated Gasoline – Open Ethanol Letter Takes on API Ads

Today’s editions of the New York Times and Politico have published a good-humored, but factual takedown of Big Oil’s false, hypocritical attacks against clean, renewable ethanol.

The full page ad, which is published in Politico and all DC editions of the New York Times, is an open letter to Jack Gerard, President of the American Petroleum Institute. It is signed jointly by the Renewable Fuels Association’s Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy’s Tom Buis.

Dinneen and Buis write, “Despite the millions of dollars your industry has spent on bogus TV ads, there hasn’t been a single reported case of engine damage from ethanol blended fuels like E15. But last week, Exxon admitted selling customers in Louisiana more than 5 million gallons of oil-based gasoline that was so bad that it’s been stopping cars dead in their tracks. In fact, one auto shop reported 40 or 50 customers who had trouble starting their engines as a result of Exxon’s contaminated gas. That’s 40 or 50 more cases of engine problems than have been reported in the entire country from E15, and that’s just one shop in Baton Rouge!”

Going directly at the current API boat ads, the open letter continues, “While your ads are misleading people about the impact of ethanol on marine engines, boats in Houston are in dry dock because of your oil spill! In fact, that one company has been fined for 77 different oil spills since 2008, which means they have averaged more than one oil spill per month for the last six years. That’s a lot of boaters impacted by oil spills, Jack.”

The open letter is summed up in one simple closing thought, “You see, Jack, the real environmental peril is oil, not renewable fuels like ethanol.”

Ukraine Spring Grain Planting Ahead of Last Year

Ukraine spring grain planting for this year's harvest, is picking up pace after a slow start, with 2.385 million hectares planted to April 2, which is 86% of the planned total planted area for early spring grains, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry didn't give last year's figures for comparison but, according to its past reports, Ukraine planted spring grains on 678,000 hectares to April 1, 2013.

The ministry said Ukraine's farmers had begun planting spring grains for the 2014 harvest on time, despite the current political uncertainty, and the planting campaign would be carried out within the optimal timeframe for the development of the crops.

In 2012, Ukraine planted spring grains on 32,200 hectares to March 20. In 2011, Ukraine planted spring grains on 113,300 hectares to March 17. In 2010, planting was also delayed by the weather, with no spring grains reported planted to March 16, while in 2009, 200,000 hectares was planted to March 16 and in 2008 400,000 hectares was planted to March 16.

Satellite Shows High Productivity from U.S. Corn Belt

Data from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists.

Healthy plants convert light to energy via photosynthesis, but chlorophyll also emits a fraction of absorbed light as fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow is an excellent indicator of the amount of photosynthesis, or gross productivity, of plants in a given region.

Research in 2013 led by Joanna Joiner, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., demonstrated that fluorescence from plants could be teased out of data from existing satellites, which were designed and built for other purposes. The new research led by Luis Guanter of the Freie Universitat Berlin, used the data for the first time to estimate photosynthesis from agriculture. Results were published March 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to co-author Christian Frankenberg of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., "The paper shows that fluorescence is a much better proxy for agricultural productivity than anything we've had before. This can go a long way regarding monitoring – and maybe even predicting – regional crop yields."

Guanter, Joiner and Frankenberg launched their collaboration at a 2012 workshop, hosted by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, to explore measurements of photosynthesis from space. The team noticed that on an annual basis, the tropics are the most productive. But during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the U.S. Corn Belt "really stands out," Frankenberg said. "Areas all over the world are not as productive as this area."

The researchers set out to describe the phenomenon observed by carefully interpreting the data from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) on Metop-A, a European meteorological satellite. Data showed that fluorescence from the Corn Belt, which extends from Ohio to Nebraska and Kansas, peaks in July at levels 40 percent greater than those observed in the Amazon.

Comparison with ground-based measurements from carbon flux towers and yield statistics confirmed the results.

The match between ground-based measurements and satellite measurements was a "pleasant surprise," said Joiner, a co-author on the paper. Ground-based measurements have a resolution of about 0.4 square miles (1 square kilometer), while the satellite measurements currently have a resolution of more than 1,158 square miles. The study confirms that even with coarse resolution, the satellite method could estimate the photosynthetic activity occurring inside plants at the molecular level for areas with relatively homogenous vegetation like the Corn Belt.

The research could also help scientists improve the computer models that simulate Earth's carbon cycle, as Guanter found a strong underestimation of crop photosynthesis in models. The analysis revealed that carbon cycle models – which scientists use to understand how carbon cycles through the ocean, land and atmosphere over time - underestimate the productivity of the Corn Belt by 40 to 60 percent.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

CME Group Wins Case Over Grain Settlement Rules

CME Group Inc. can keep in place rules that factor in electronic trades for settling end-of-day grain futures prices, an Illinois judge ruled on Monday following a legal challenge from veterans of the Chicago trading floor. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jean Prendergast Rooney in Chicago ruled that CME Group, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade, had the authority to implement the settlement method in June 2012 without taking a vote among certain stakeholders.

A group of traders from the CBOT's 140-year-old agricultural trading floor in June 2012 sued the exchange to overturn the method, saying that it was putting them out of business. Prior to the change, the CBOT had a century-old tradition of settling futures prices for crops like corn and soybeans based on transactions executed in open-outcry pits.

The lawsuit was seen as something of a last stand for open-outcry traders, whose business has declined since the rise of electronic trading. The floor traders traditionally did much of their business at the close of trading and said CME Group's new settlement procedures made the pits largely irrelevant.

The traders had argued in court that CME Group failed to hold a required vote to approve the new settlement method among certain holders of CBOT memberships. CME said it did not need to take a vote, and the judge agreed.

Some traders believe CME wants to shut down the floor in favor of electronic trading because the pits are expensive to maintain. CME executives have said they are committed to keeping the floor open.

Monsanto Profit Improves on Soybean-Seed Sales

Monsanto Co. said its fiscal second-quarter earnings grew 13% as the agribusiness giant reported continued strength in its soybean seed sales as well as improved margins.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, closed its $930 million acquisition of farm-analytics company Climate Corp. late last year, a deal that enables Monsanto to offer tools including individualized weather statistics, part of a yearslong effort by Monsanto to expand its range of services to farmers to improve their crop yields.

Such "precision farming" technology already has started to change how some farmers operate, and has attracted the interest of rivals including DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co.

The new tools are being developed as farmers in the U.S. and elsewhere are confronting sharply lower grain prices after bumper crops last year in the U.S. and South America.

For the latest period, total seeds and genomics sales rose 6.9% to $4.65 billion. Corn seed and traits sales, which account for most of the segment's revenue, rose 4.1%, while soybean seed and traits sales jumped 21%.

Sales in the agricultural productivity business, which consists of crop-protection products and herbicide, grew 5.2% to $1.18 billion.

For the period ended Feb. 28, Monsanto reported a profit of $1.67 billion, or $3.15 a share, up from $1.48 billion, or $2.74 a share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 6.6% to $5.83 billion.

Compass Minerals Completes Acquisition of Wolf Trax

Compass Minerals expands its position in the agricultural fertilizer market through the acquisition of Wolf Trax Inc., a global innovative plant nutrition company. The acquisition was finalized April 1, 2014.

“We are excited about this opportunity and looking forward to fueling the growth that Wolf Trax has demonstrated,” says Keith Espelien, senior vice president, specialty fertilizer with Compass Minerals. “It’s important to emphasize that business continues as usual – we understand how critical this busy spring season is to the agricultural industry. Fertilizer dealers can continue to access DDP® Nutrients and other Wolf Trax products through their traditional distribution channels.”

Wolf Trax nutrients ideal for compressed, late spring

Mark Goodwin, vice president of research and development for Wolf Trax, emphasizes that DDP Nutrients and PROTINUS® seed-applied fertilizer are ideal for fertilizer dealers and farmers dealing with a compressed, late spring. “Wolf Trax nutrients are designed to get into the plant early, which will be very important to get the crop up and out of the ground in cool, wet soils, or if planting is delayed. PROTINUS is also a good fit under challenging conditions as it enhances early plant vigor, resulting in earlier emergence and longer, stronger root growth.”

The Wolf Trax DDP (Dry Dispersible Powder) formulation is available for zinc, boron, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and calcium.

Compass Minerals becomes one-stop shop for premium fertilizers

“We are extremely pleased to be adding the leading products and strong pipeline of innovations from Wolf Trax to our Compass Minerals portfolio,” says Espelien. “Compass Minerals will become a one-stop shop for growers and retailers seeking premium plant nutrition products.”

Wolf Trax nutrients have been recognized by fertilizer retailers and growers around the world as doing a better job of delivering important micronutrients and secondary nutrients to crops, compared to traditional granular micronutrients. Over the past decade, proven product performance in farmers’ fields has resulted in strong growth throughout North America, Latin America and Europe.

“Wolf Trax has built a business on innovation and a commitment to technical and sales service,” explains Espelien. “Compass Minerals looks forward to nurturing that legacy and allocating additional resources to provide even more value to the agricultural industry in the future.”

Tuesday April 1 Ag News

Researchers Launch Two New Farm Decision Tools

A group of Purdue University researchers has led the Useful to Usable climate initiative in launching two free online tools to help farmers make crop decisions in variable weather conditions.

In addition to Purdue, U2U project partners are Iowa State University, Michigan State University, South Dakota State University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin, High Plains Regional Climate Center, Midwestern Regional Climate Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Useful to Usable, or U2U, aims to improve profitability and longevity of U.S. farms amid a variable and changing climate. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is composed of a team of 50 faculty, staff and students from nine universities who specialize in applied climatology, crop modeling, agronomy, cyber technology, agricultural economics and other social sciences. The team is led by Linda Prokopy, Purdue associate professor of forestry and natural resources.

One of the recently launched tools, "AgClimate View," offers users access to historical climate and crop yield data for the Corn Belt, including monthly temperature and precipitation, and plots corn and soybean yield trends. It also allows users to compare climate and yield data from the past 30 years.

The second tool, "Corn Growing Degree Day," gives producers the ability to track current and historical growing degree day accumulations. Growing degree days are a measure of heat accumulation that helps farmers predict plant development rates and maturity dates.

This tool also offers information to help farmers assess spring and fall frost risk and make planting, harvest and seed-selection decisions. It integrates corn development stages with weather and climate data and allows farmers to find location-specific information.

"We're excited to announce the launch of our first of several decision-support tools," Prokopy said. "Our social science research on the front end helped our team create easy-to-use tools that make climate data accessible and useful to the agricultural community.

"We'd like to think we are demystifying climate data one user at a time and hope producers will use the information to make better decisions and ultimately increase yields with minimal environmental impact."

Both tools are designed for crop producers and agricultural advisers in the North Central region of the U.S., as well as Kentucky and Tennessee. They can be found on the U2U website at

Also on the site are a number of other decision-support resources from U2U partner universities. Those resources include a corn nitrogen calculator, nitrogen watch, irrigation scheduling and a cover crop decision tool. All of these can be found by clicking on "Decision Dashboard" tab.

E15 Delayed in Iowa Senate

Iowa Democrats are pushing to pass a package of bills designed to increase the state's production of energy from solar power, wind and renewable fuels.

The wind and solar bills passed the Senate without opposition and were sent to the House, but the biofuels bill was delayed by Senate Republican leader Bill Dix, who says he wants more time to study it. The measure is estimated to cost $23 million over six years.

The bill increases the tax credit for E15 to 10 cents per gallon from June 1 through Sept. 15. During the remaining months the credit is 3 cents. The fuel must be reformulated during summer when it's more volatile, increasing distributors' costs.

Democratic Sen. Robb Hogg says it will help encourage use of E15 year around.

Reynolds to Lead Trade Mission to Thailand

Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, accompanied by Gov. Terry Branstad, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) director and soybean farmer from Maxwell, Iowa, Grant Kimberley, Monday announced that she will lead a trade mission to Thailand to encourage the purchase of Iowa soybeans, soymeal and other Iowa-made products. The trade mission was organized by ISA. The lieutenant governor and the Iowa delegation will depart April 5 and will return April 12.

"Last year, Iowa exported $5.6 billion in oilseeds and grains, and with new markets opening up in Asia, we want to encourage those markets to buy Iowa-grown soybeans and other Iowa-made products," said Reynolds. "Thailand, with a population over 69 million, has the largest and most sophisticated soy food industry in Southeast Asia. With Iowa producing more soybeans than most countries in the world, there is tremendous potential to increase Iowa's exports."

The Iowa delegation will travel to Bangkok and Nakhon Rathasima, Thailand, for three days of meetings with industry leaders, site visits to processing facilities and feed companies, and talks directly with potential buyers. Reynolds will be accompanied by Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, and Brian Kemp, ISA president and farmer from Sibley, Iowa.

"With 95 percent of the world's consumers residing outside the United States, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I understand the importance of creating and fostering global partnerships to increase economic development and job creation in Iowa," said Branstad. "With one in five Iowa jobs depending on international trade, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I are committed to promoting and growing Iowa's trade reach beyond our domestic borders."

Over the past three years, the Branstad-Reynolds administration has organized and led trade missions leading to impressive economic development in the state. Since January of 2011, the Iowa Economic Development Authority has assisted foreign direct investment projects that are expected to result in the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs and over $2 billion in capital investment for Iowa.

The visit to Thailand represents an important investment in Iowa's soybean industry.

"According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture report, at more than $30 billion, Iowa ranks second nationally for the total value of ag products sold, representing both crops and livestock and exports represent an important component. These trips are truly an investment; for our farmers and our state," says Kimberley. "And we can identify the return on these investments when we see shipments of U.S. soybeans to Thailand. These didn't exist just a few years ago. ISA understands the importance of connecting with our partners by visiting their facilities and businesses overseas and also hosting these partners at our own farms."

AgriBank Pays Quarterly Preferred Stock Dividend

Today St. Paul-based AgriBank paid a quarterly cash dividend of $1.7188 per share on its 6.875 percent non-cumulative perpetual class A preferred stock to holders of record as of March 1, 2014.

AgriBank issued 2.5 million shares of preferred stock on Oct. 29, 2013 to provide the Bank and the 15-state Farm Credit District it serves with long-term access to high-quality capital, helping ensure the District is well-positioned to meet the long-term growth and credit needs of farmer and rancher customers.

AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with more than $85 billion in total assets. Under the Farm Credit System's cooperative structure, AgriBank is owned by 17 affiliated Farm Credit Associations. The AgriBank District covers America's Midwest, a 15-state area stretching from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas. More than half of the nation's cropland is located within the AgriBank District, providing the Bank and its Association owners with exceptional expertise in production agriculture.

U.S., South American Soybean Farmers Unite in China

Farmers representing countries that produce 90 percent of the world’s soybeans recently met with the customers who buy 25 percent of the world’s soybeans. As part of the International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA), leaders from the soy checkoff, American Soybean Association (ASA), and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) met with customers and government officials in China to discuss the farmers’ commitment to providing a safe and abundant supply of soybeans and the importance of eliminating trade barriers.

“China is without a doubt the largest importer of U.S. and South American soy, so it’s really powerful when we can stand side-by-side with farmers we usually consider competitors to deliver a message,” says Jared Hagert, soybean farmer from Emerado, N.D., and United Soybean Board (USB) treasurer. “Our common goal is to build on these partnerships and strengthen trade relations so we can remain the premier supplier of soy for China.”

One trade barrier that concerns soybean farmers is the approval of soybeans improved through the use of biotechnology. While in China, the ISGA delegation will highlight the importance of timely, transparent approval processes of new biotech soybeans to help keep trade moving smoothly.

“There’s really no way to overstate just how important the Chinese market is for soybean farmers, not only here in the U.S., but in South America as well,” added Ray Gaesser, ASA president and soybean farmer from Corning, Iowa. “The cooperation and coordination of our three organizations – ASA, USB and USSEC – makes our partnership with our South American counterparts possible, and the more we’re able to stand together as the world’s primary producers of soy, the stronger we can make this trading partnership and the more each of our countries stands to benefit. That’s why we’re all here, together, in interest of farmers, consumers and stakeholders in each country.”

ISGA brings together soybean farmers from South America and the United States to address common issues. Its members include Argentine, Brazilian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan and U.S. soybean farmers.

U.S. Senate Eyes Biofuel Tax Credit Extension

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee will consider reinstating tax incentives for two years for biodiesel and other advanced biofuels in a markup scheduled Thursday, April 3.

The committee, chaired by Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released a description Tuesday that includes four biofuel-related extensions of credits that expired Dec. 31, 2013, that would be retroactive to the start of this year and extended for two years.

The biofuels incentives, all of which would be extended to Dec. 31, 2015, include:
-- The incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel, which provide a $1 per gallon tax credit.
-- The alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures incentive, which provides 2 cents per gallon for alternative fuels, and includes compressed or liquefied natural gas, liquefied hydrogen and liquid fuel derived from coal through the Fischer-Tropsch process.
-- The second-generation biofuel producer credit, which allows a $1.01 per gallon credit for qualified second-generation biofuel production, including cellulosic biofuel.

The Senate will also consider extending the special depreciation allowance for second-generation biofuel plant property, equal to 50% of qualified second-generation biofuel plant property. The credit applies to property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2013, and extends the incentive to Jan. 1, 2016.

NMPF Asks FDA to Rewrite Draft Animal Feed Regulation

The National Milk Producers Federation has asked the Food and Drug Administration to rewrite a draft livestock feed regulation, saying the agency went beyond the intent of Congress by seeking to impose requirements that will not make animal feed safer.

In comments sent to the agency Monday, NMPF asked FDA to substantially revise the regulation and requested the agency establish a new round of comments from industry and the public. “FDA has the authority to re-propose the regulation and still comply with (a) court-ordered deadline to publish a final rule by August 30, 2015,” NMPF said. NMPF made the request in two sets of comments, one focused on dairy plant safety and the other addressing animal feed.

The draft regulations were issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the FDA broad new authority to regulate food. NMPF said it supports efforts to implement the 2010 law, but believes that the draft animal feed regulation goes too far, particularly because it would make it harder to use brewers’ grain as animal feed, a practice in use for hundreds of years.

Among other things, NMPF, the Washington voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers, said the draft regulation incorrectly imposes safety standards on animal feed that are similar to those for human food. The proposed regulation incorrectly establishes manufacturing standards that equate animal feed and human food. “The innate hygienic standards of humans exceed the hygienic standards of livestock,” the organization said. It asked FDA to propose manufacturing standards specific to animal feed.

The proposed regulation also unnecessarily regulates by-products from brewing when they are used in animal feed, even though there is no public health risk associated with these products.  This “will result in unnecessary increased costs to dairy producers,” NMPF said. It joined the Beer Institute and the American Malting Barley Association in requesting FDA use the existing authority in the FSMA to exempt animal feed products made during the production of alcoholic beverages.

In separate comments submitted jointly with the International Dairy Foods Association, NMPF also identified unnecessary and duplicative requirements for dairy processing plants which may divert some food production materials such as cheese trim and liquid whey to animal feed. These plants are already subject to FSMA requirements for human food production. NMPF stated the proposed standards “do not reflect the inherent differences between foods for human and animal consumption” for diverted food production materials and requested regulatory relief for these dairy processing plants.

With the substantial changes requested, NMPF asked FDA to conform the regulations with the intent of the FSMA and issue a new draft. “Given the very significant nature of these regulations, a second opportunity for stakeholders comment is essential to ensure the final rule is practical, achievable and fosters the safe production and distribution of animal feed,” NMPF said.

Great American Milk Drive Launches Wednesday

On April 2, dairy farmers (through the National Dairy Council) and milk companies (through the Milk Processor Education Program) will launch The Great American Milk Drive, which will help deliver much-desired milk to 12.5 million families who need it most across the country. The campaign, in partnership with Feeding America, is the first-ever, multi-year, nationwide program that will deliver gallons of milk to the one in six Americans who are food insecure. Through the Feeding America network of more than 200 food banks that serve thousands of local community agencies and pantries, consumers will provide milk in donations made online, via text or at retail and processor events. While MilkPEP is providing some initial matching funds, the dairy farmer-funded checkoff is not purchasing any milk -- it will be donated by consumers, helping to expand milk sales. The Great American Milk Drive effort was formed as a result of National Dairy Council’s partnership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Feeding America.  Midwest Dairy will co-host launch events in Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis on Wednesday. The national launch event will be held in New York City.

CWT Assists with 21.5 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 47 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Land O’Lakes, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and Upstate Niagara Cooperative (O-AT-KA) to sell 7.037 million pounds (3,192 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, 13.928 million pounds (6.318 metric tons) of 82% butter and 485,017 pounds (220 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the South Pacific. The product will be delivered April through September 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 36.337 million pounds of cheese, 29.423 million pounds of butter and 3.366 million pounds of whole milk powder to 27 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 997.8 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

In the long term, assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Fertilizers Higher Once Again

DAP and MAP led retail price increases for all fertilizers, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of March. This marks the sixth straight week all fertilizers have been higher.  Both DAP and MAP were up 6% compared to the previous month. DAP had an average price of $573/ton while MAP is at $595/ton.  The remaining six fertilizers' prices were higher but the shift higher was fairly minor. Potash had an average price of $474/ton, urea $542/ton, 10-34-0 $514/ton, anhydrous $633/ton, UAN28 $349/ton and UAN32 $393/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.59/lb.N, anhydrous $0.39/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.61/lb.N.

Fertilizers have been moving higher in recent months, but six of the eight major fertilizers remain double digits lower in price compared to March 2013.  Urea is now down 5%, DAP is 7% less expensive and MAP is 10% lower. UAN32 is 11% lower, UAN28 is 14% less expensive while 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 20% less expensive while anhydrous is 27% lower than a year earlier.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for April 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for April 2014. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for April is 0.125 percent, unchanged from 0.125 percent in March.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during April is 1.125 percent, unchanged from 1.125 percent in March.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for April are as follows, 2.125 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.125 percent in March; 2.750 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.750 percent in March and; 2.875 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.875 percent in March.

Controversial tractor campaign takes ‘tough love’ approach with children

Controversial and blunt, the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network’s “Keep Kids Away from Tractors” campaign has rattled traditional thinking.

Stating that it is never okay for a child younger than 12 years to be on a tractor, the campaign takes a “tough love” approach. The earliest a child should be on a tractor is when he or she is old enough to take and pass tractor safety educational classes, according to the network.

The campaign may be unpopular or even upset parents and farm owners. Riding a tractor with parents, or grandparents, is considered a childhood tradition in many rural areas. Some adults consider this “quality time” with the child. During the past year, however, a number of fatal, high-profile incidents underscored the danger of allowing children -- some just toddlers -- to ride on a lap, sit on a fender, or stand on the axle. In an eye-blink a child can fall in the path of a tire, mower or other implement. Some of the fatalities occurred despite cabs.

The Childhood Agricultural Safety Network is a coalition of 38 health, safety and youth organizations who advocate for child safety on the farm. The network urges individuals and groups to incorporate its resources in their safety initiatives. An archived webinar, posters, radio ads and more information can be found at

The message may be controversial and blunt, but the lives it saves will be worth it. Remember -- “It’s easier to bury a tradition than a child.”

American Ethanol to Plant Trees and Put a Little More Green in Spring

During the month of April, the National Corn Growers Association will join NASCAR® in kicking off its second year of the NASCAR Race to Green Campaign. The campaign is intended to highlight the environmental accomplishments of green programs put in place by NASCAR and its partners like American Ethanol.

The goal of NASCAR Race to Green is to highlight the accomplishments of NASCAR Green™ programs like the move three years ago to Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol, and its massive tree planting initiative to help reduce the sport's carbon footprint.

"American Ethanol is a key part of NASCAR's efforts to reduce the sport's carbon footprint," said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, Neb., farmer and chairman of NCGA's NASCAR Advisory Committee.  "These high-performance cars have put more than five million tough competition miles on E15 in the last three years, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Combine this with the massive tree planting effort underway, and the results are phenomenal."

American Ethanol, which is supported by corn checkoff investments and ethanol plant members of Growth Energy, has committed to plant 50 trees for every American Ethanol Green Flag waved during NASCAR's national series races in the month of April.

In 2013, the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States reduced greenhouse gas emission on our roads and highways by 38 million metric tons.

"That's equivalent to removing eight million cars from the road." Holzfaster said. "Through the course of one mature tree's lifetime, it absorbs one metric ton of carbon dioxide -the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ car driving 500 miles. American Ethanol and trees offer a great one-two punch for the environment."

NASCAR Green, the largest sustainability effort in professional sports, includes everything from recycling of racing tires and engine oil to cleaning up the emissions by using 15 percent ethanol fuel blend, made from American grown corn. The model environmental program, which includes American Ethanol, will be featured in a nationally televised commercial that will break on Sunday, April 6th during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series broadcast. The race from Texas Motor Speedway begins at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX.

To date, NASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program Delivered by UPS™ has planted 188,000 trees. This is enough to completely offset carbon emissions for all three NASCAR national racing series for the past five years of NASCAR Green, plus the next 18 years.

As an environmental leader, NASCAR is taking its commitment to the next level by using American Ethanol and introducing impactful initiatives in recycling, alternative energy and carbon mitigation.

NASCAR Green has championed the adoption and implementation of sustainability practices across the sport. Since 2008 NASCAR and its stakeholders have:
- Recycled more than 20 million bottles and cans
- Recycled 600,000 race tires
- Recycled more than 200,000 gallons of automotive engine oil which is enough to power the Empire State Building for one year.
- Installed the world's largest renewable energy project to-power a sports facility. The solar array at Pocono Raceway represents an energy savings equivalent to more than 806,000 gallons of gasoline.

The NASCAR Race to Green program will run until April 25. To learn more about American Ethanol and NASCAR Race to Green log on to or

Make reproductive health top priority this spring

The spring calf crop is a natural focus for beef producers this time of year, but the most important thing a producer can do to maintain productivity and help improve profitability potential is to keep reproductive health of the cow herd top of mind.

“Reproduction is the top performance tool that producers can use to impact their bottom line,” explained Richard Linhart, DVM, DACT, managing veterinarian for Zoetis. “Cow/calf producers can impact their herd’s reproductive success fairly easily through proper management, good nutrition and by making sound animal health decisions”

Reproductive diseases are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to visibly diagnose since they rarely cause clinical symptoms. However, no producer wants to learn of the problem with a late-term abortion, by not having cows calving when we expect or potentially not calving at all next season.

“Diseases such as bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), vibriosis or leptospirosis may be to blame, and are best diagnosed by a veterinarian,” Dr. Linhart continued. “The losses from reproductive disease can be devastating to producers.”

In fact, a study showed that when all reproductive diseases and conditions are considered — including infertility, abortions or stillbirths, dystocia, retained placentas, and metritis or pyometra — cow/calf producers can see an annual loss of $13.10 to $14.90 per cow.1 And that doesn’t factor in reduced efficiencies and losses from unvaccinated animals.

“Developing and updating a reproductive vaccination program that helps ensure a productive and efficient cow herd can be a seamless process when utilizing the technical expertise of a veterinarian.” Dr. Linhart said. “Veterinarians can be a great asset in helping producers understand current disease challenges in certain geographies and how to help prevent those diseases.”

Achieving optimal reproductive health for your cows doesn’t stop with implementing a comprehensive vaccination program. With their reproductive health at risk, Dr. Linhart encourages producers to:

    Take a hard look at day-to-day management practices such as nutrition and bull fertility. Maintaining an adequate nutrition program that includes protein and minerals to maintain body condition will help ensure cows are ready to conceive this summer. Breeding soundness exams will help ensure the bulls are ready, too.

    Look for vaccines that help protect against viruses and bacteria that can cause poor reproductive performance, including IBR virus, BVD Types 1 and 2 viruses, Campylobacter fetus (vibrio) and Lepto hardjo-bovis.

    Examine fetal loss between pregnancy checks and calving to determine reproductive issues that may exist in a herd. Fetal losses of over 2-3% may be indicative of a reproductive disease. Recognize that it is not just about how much the calves weigh at weaning. It is equally important to consider the number of cows that deliver and raise those healthy calves.

The Zoetis portfolio of reproductive vaccines offers producers the flexibility to choose a reproductive vaccination program that best fits their operation and helps reduce the risk of reproductive problems. The portfolio includes BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP®*, PREGGUARD GOLD FP* and CATTLEMASTER® GOLD vaccines lines. Modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines, such as BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP and PREGGUARD GOLD FP, help give cattle effective protection and, can be used in pregnant cows provided they are vaccinated according to label directions.

“Producers can help minimize losses from reproductive diseases with MLV vaccines because they help provide a long lasting demonstrated protection when compared to killed IBR and BVD vaccines,” Dr. Linhart said. “Reproductive diseases such as BVD can hurt productivity and can cause significant losses in a herd — and MLV vaccines help protect cows from the reproductive impacts of the BVD virus.”

With cattle prices reaching all-time highs, it’s more important than ever for cow/calf producers to be proactive about their reproductive vaccination programs and make sure a healthy, productive calf hits the ground next spring.

Dow AgroSciences Receives EPA Registration for Seeker™ Insecticide

Dow AgroSciences announces that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved federal registration for Seeker™ insecticide with Isoclast™ active. Seeker provides effective, long-lasting control of troublesome insects such as aphids, beetles and weevils. Seeker is powered by two modes of action that enhance pest control by moving up into new plant growth and throughout the canopy. This provides quick knockdown of targeted pests with the benefit of extended residual control.

“In University trials, Seeker has demonstrated superb control of key pests in Midwest crops,” says Phil Jost, portfolio market leader for Dow AgroSciences. “Seeker is a reliable insecticide that can work effectively across multiple crops. It will address a wide variety of insect problems across crops with the convenience of one product.”

Seeker™ will be available for use in soybeans, wheat, and canola for the 2014 growing season. Additional crops are anticipated for the future.

Seeker provides insect control through both contact and ingestion activity, and maintains its effectiveness after rainfall or irrigation due to excellent rainfastness. Seeker also does not flare other secondary pests.

In addition, Seeker will offer tank-mix compatibility with nutrients, adjuvants and other pesticides, including fungicides.  A planned approach of mixing the insecticide with an effective fungicide can help control both insects and diseases with a single application.

“We are extremely excited to bring Seeker to the Midwest market,”  Jost says. “It is products like Seeker that have made Dow AgroSciences the leader in foliar insecticides.”

Isoclast™ active designates that Seeker contains sulfoxaflor as one of its active ingredients.  Isoclast belongs to a novel chemical class called sulfoximines, discovered by Dow AgroSciences, and offers extremely effective control of many important sap-feeding pests and can be used in a large number of major crops.

Initiative Aids in Development of Barley Varieties with Improved Scab Resistance

         Like wheat, barley production faces threats from a myriad of diseases – one of the most important being Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), or scab.  Since the early 1990s, scab has inflicted billions of dollars in damages to U.S. wheat and barley crops by causing lower yields and test weights and by triggering formation of a mycotoxin known as DON.  Above a certain level, DON can make barley unhealthy for direct human or animal consumption and likewise can make it unsuitable for malting and brewing purposes.

         That’s why barley has been part and parcel of the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) since the group’s establishment in the latter 1990s.  Through funding support and information exchange venues, the USWBSI provides substantial assistance to barley researchers as they combat scab via the development of cultivars with higher levels of resistance to this disease.

         While there are, as yet, no barley varieties that can be considered “highly resistant” to scab, progress definitely has been – and is being – made.  In 2010, for instance, the University of Minnesota released a new six-rowed barley variety called “Quest,” which is significantly more resistant to scab and DON accumulation, compared to most other Upper Midwest barley varieties.  And North Dakota State University has released a two-rowed malting barley variety, “Conlon,” that accumulates less DON than any other currently malting-approved variety.

         University of Minnesota barley breeder Kevin Smith says one of his program’s main priorities is to develop and test methods that improve the efficiency of breeding barley with lower DON, high yield and acceptable malting quality.  His work is intertwined with research conducted by other scientists in the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative, such as UM cereal plant pathologist Brian Steffenson and UM molecular geneticist Gary Muehlbauer, as well as North Dakota State University barley breeder Richard Horsley.

         All four of these scientists emphasize that the financial support provided by the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative has been integral to the progress made by their respective programs in the development of enhanced scab resistance.  “We have invested a lot of resources into FHB/DON breeding because this is an important disease in our region,” Smith states.

         NDSU’s Horsley says that a key challenge when developing a malting barley variety with improved FHB resistance is “making sure that the variety also has agronomics acceptable to the producer and the malt quality acceptable to the maltster.”  Much of the resistance used by the NDSU and Minnesota breeding programs originates from Chinese sources of resistance that are agronomically unsuitable for the Upper Midwest.  That reality can add several years to the already-long process of developing a new malting barley variety acceptable for release to producers.

         “Finding the potential variety that has improved FHB resistance – and acceptable agronomic performance and malt quality – is a ‘numbers game,’ ” Horsley observes.  “To identify variety candidates, we had to increase the size of our breeding program, which would have been extremely difficult without the USWBSI funding.” 

Monday March 31 Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.40 million acres this year, down 6 percent from 2013, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be a record high 5.40 million acres, up 13 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.45 million acres, down 2 percent from last year’s acreage.

Winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2013 are estimated at 1.50 million acres, up 2 percent from last year. 

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 180,000 acres, up 38 percent from 2013. 

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 160,000 acres, down 44 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 100,000 acres, down 33 percent from last year.

Sugarbeet acres are expected to be 48,000 acres, up 4 percent from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 33,000 acres, down 23 percent from 2013.  Oil type varieties account for 25,000 acres, down 11 percent from a year ago.  Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 8,000 acres, down 47 percent.

Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.

Iowa Prospective Plantings

The annual Prospective Plantings report published by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service  is based on  the  voluntary  responses  from  approximately  two  thousand  Iowa  producers.    This  report  provides  an indication  of  the  acres  farmers  intend  to  plant  for  the  2014  crop  year.   Actual  plantings  will  depend  upon weather, economic conditions and  the availability of production  inputs at  the  time producers must make  their final planting decisions.

Iowa  farmers  intend  to  plant  14.0 million  acres  of  corn  for  all  purposes  in  2014,  according  to  the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Prospective Plantings  report.  This  is an  increase of 400,000 acres from 2013. 

Producers intend to plant 9.6 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is an increase of 300,000 acres from 2013.  

Iowa  farmers  intend  to  plant  130,000  acres  of  oats  for  all  purposes,  down  90,000  acres  from  last  year.   If realized, this would be the second smallest acreage since record keeping began.

Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.05 million acres of dry hay for the 2014 crop year. If realized, this will be the lowest in state history, below the 1.14 million acres harvested in 2012.  

U.S. Farmers Expect to Plant Record-High Soybean Acreage

Producers surveyed across the United States intend to plant an estimated 81.5 million acres of soybeans in 2014, up 6 percent from last year and an all-time record high, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). If realized, soybeans will surpass the previous record of    77.5 million acres planted in the United States set in 2009.

Planted acreage intentions for soybeans are up or unchanged in all states except Missouri and Oklahoma. The largest increase is expected in North Dakota with a record high 5.65 million acres, an increase of one million acres from 2013. If realized, the planted area of soybeans in Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin will also be the largest on record.

Corn growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres in 2014, down 4 percent from last year and if realized the lowest planted acreage since 2010. Expected returns for corn are anticipated to be lower in 2014 compared with recent years. Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts and Utah are expected to increase planted acreage from last year. If realized, planted acres in Idaho will be a record high.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2014 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,000 farm operators across the United States. Other key findings in the report are:
-    All wheat planted area for 2014 is estimated at 55.8 million acres, down 1 percent from 2013.
-    Winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million, is down 3 percent from last year but up slightly from the previous estimate.
-    Area planted to spring wheat for 2014 is expected to total 12.0 million acres, up 4 percent from 2013.
-    Durum wheat is expected to total 1.80 million acres for 2014, up 22 percent from last year.
-    All cotton planted area for 2014 is expected to total 11.1 million acres, 7 percent above last year.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 809 million bushels, up 38 percent from 2013, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Of the total, 440 million bushels are stored on farms, up 54 percent from a year ago.  Off-farm stocks, at 369 million bushels, are up 22 percent from last year. 

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 86.7 million bushels, up 23 percent from last year.  On-farm stocks of 17.5 million bushels are down 15 percent from a year ago, while off-farm stocks, at 69.2 million bushels, are up 39 percent from 2013. 

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 25.6 million bushels, down 32 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 1.50 million bushels are down 17 percent from 2013 and off-farm stocks of  24.1 million bushels are down 32 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 6.31 million bushels, up 132 percent from 2013.  On-farm stocks of 900,000 are up 125 percent and off-farm holdings of 5.41 million are more than double last year. 

Iowa Grain Stocks

Iowa  corn  stocks  in  all  positions  on March  1,  2014  totaled  1.22 billion bushels  according  to  the  USDA  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service March 1 Grain Stocks report. This is 16 percent more than last year, but still the  second  lowest  level  since  2004.   Of  the  total  stocks,  58  percent were stored  in on-farm  storage  facilities.   The  indicated quarterly disappearance from December  2013  through  February  2014  totaled  520 million  bushels, 2 percent more  than  the  510 million  bushels  used  during  the  same  quarter last year.

Iowa soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 208 million bushels,  up  slightly  from March  1,  2013.   Of  the  total  stocks,  36 percent were  held  in  on-farm  storage  facilities.    Indicated  disappearance  for  the December 2013 - February 2014 quarter was 132 million bushels, 1 percent more than the 130 million bushels used during the same quarter last year.

Iowa  oat  stocks  stored  in  all  positions  on  March  1,  2014  totaled 2.45 million  bushels,  down  12  percent  from  the  2.78  million  bushels  on hand March  1,  2013.    This  is  the  lowest March  1  stocks  since  estimates began  in  1950.    Of  the  total  stocks,  45 percent  were  stored  in  on-farm facilities.   Disappearance  during  the  December  2013  -  February  2014 quarter  totaled 2.04 million bushels, 30 percent  less  than  the  same quarter last year. 

United States Grain Stocks

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 7.01 billion bushels, up 30 percent from March 1, 2013. Of the total stocks, 3.86 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 45 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at  3.15  billion  bushels,  are  up  15  percent  from  a  year  ago.  The December  2013  -  February  2014  indicated disappearance is 3.45 billion bushels, compared with 2.63 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 992 million bushels, down 1 percent from March 1, 2013. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 382 million bushels, down 16 percent from a year ago.  Off-farm  stocks,  at  610 million  bushels,  are  up  13  percent  from  last March.  Indicated  disappearance  for  the December 2013 - February 2014 quarter totaled 1.16 billion bushels, up 20 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored  in all positions on March 1, 2014  totaled 1.06 billion bushels, down 15 percent  from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 238 million bushels, up slightly from last March. Off-farm stocks, at  818 million  bushels,  are  down  18  percent  from  a  year  ago.  The December  2013  -  February  2014  indicated disappearance is 419 million bushels, down 4 percent from the same period a year earlier.


For the month of March, precipitation averaged less than 50 percent of normal across much of Nebraska, causing further depletion of soil moisture supplies, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Temperatures averaged 2 to 4 degrees below normal for the month.  Windy conditions dried soils and caused fire warning levels to remain high.  Crop producers focused on spring field work preparations.  Available soil moisture continues a concern going into spring.  Topsoil moisture supplies rated 16 percent very short, 46 short, 38 adequate, and 0 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated  18 percent very short, 42 short, 40 adequate, and 0 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 11 poor, 32 fair, 48 good, and 7 excellent. 
Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Stock water supplies rated 4 percent very short, 14 short, 82 adequate, and 0 surplus.  

Hay and forage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 90 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Cattle and calf condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 10 fair, 80 good, and 9 excellent. Cattle and calf losses rated 5 percent below average, 91 average, and 4 above average. Percentage of cows calved since January 1 was 52 percent.

Sheep and lamb condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 14 fair, 82 good, and 4 excellent.  Sheep and lamb losses rated 0 percent below average, 99 average, and 1 above average.

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:,HP.

Northeast Nebraska RC&D Hears of Farm-to-School Program

The Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council met March 24th at the Winside Public Library.  Caryl Guisinger, Center for Rural Affairs Farm-to-School Fellow, shared information on this program’s progression around the country.  Nebraska is one of only seven states without a farm-to-school program.  Caryl said that 1/3 of US children under age 17 are overweight and only 2% of US children eat sufficient fruits and vegetables.

Farm-to-School programs are seeing many gains through improved K-12 academic achievement, fewer behavioral issues, and improved diets.  Participating farmers have seen a 5% increase in income, new opportunities for diversity, and they’ve developed positive connections with students.  Communities are seeing it as a win-win for everyone.  The RC&D Council voted to start a Farm-to-School project and will be seeking input from citizens and schools. 

Dates And Probabilities For The Last Spring Freeze Across Nebraska

As spring planting approaches, it is important to understand factors that influence planting decisions. In addition to environmental and agronomic factors such as the crop planted, calendar date, soil temperature, and soil moisture, a major climatic factor is spring freeze risk. While each season is different from the previous ones, long-term average (30 years) spring freeze risks calculated based on available historic data provide valuable information for making planting decisions.  At the UNL Extension Cropwatch website, there is an article that features maps generated from High Plains Regional Climate Center data which shows an average date when spring freeze risk (32ºF) is low (10%), medium (50%), and high (90%), respectively.  Click here to see the maps and read the article...  

April 15, Deadline Nears to File Candidacy Petitions for Nebraska Soybean Board July Election

There are two district seats on the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) eligible for election this year.  Soybean farmers in Districts 5 and 7 are invited to run for election to the Nebraska Soybean Board by filing a candidacy petition by the April 15, 2014 deadline. The election will be conducted via direct-mail ballots and candidate information will be provided to all soybean farmers residing within the district in which an election is to be held.

The At-Large position on the Nebraska Soybean Board is open to all soybean farmers in Nebraska and will be elected by the NSB Directors at the July Board meeting.  A candidacy petition must also be filed by the April 15, 2014 deadline for the At-Large position.

This is an opportunity to see for yourself how the soybean checkoff money is invested, and become a part of the decision making.  You will become a VOICE representing your District on the Board.

NSB Directors and the At-Large Position receive no salary but are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out Board business and will serve a three-year term which would begin October 1, 2014.

Director seats open are:
District 5:    Counties of Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Richardson.
District 7:    Counties of Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster.

Candidates for the NSB seats and the At-Large position must be:
A resident of Nebraska
21 years of age or older
Soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least 5 previous years

Prospective candidates must collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district using an official NSB Candidacy Petition and return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2014, to be eligible for placement on the ballot.  To obtain a candidacy petition, contact Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director, at 402-432-5720.

The nine-member Nebraska Soybean Board collects and disburses the Nebraska share of funds generated by the one half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold.  Nebraska soybean checkoff funds are invested in research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

For more information about the Nebraska Soybean Board, visit


Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll’s new feature length documentary, Farmland, will be released nationally May 1, 2014. The film will be distributed via D&E Entertainment in more than 60 major markets. Numerous national exhibitors will be carrying the film including: Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres and many key independent theaters.

The film will have its New York premiere at a private screening on April 17, during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, Farmland has been selected to be in competition this year at Cleveland International Film Festival on March 28-29, 2014; Atlanta Film Festival on April 6, 2014; Nashville Film Festival on April 19, 2014; and Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2014.  

The "FARMLAND" film will be able to be seen at several venues in Nebraska on its national release date of May 1st, including: 

The "FARMLAND" movie is scheduled to be shown in Wayne, NE, as well.  However, a venue, time, and date have yet to be determined. 

Farmland offers viewers an intimate and firsthand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers across the U.S., chronicling their high-risk/high-reward jobs and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

Among the cast of the movis is David Loberg, a fifth generation corn and soybean farmer from Carroll, Nebraska.  He runs the family farm with his mother. The farm also custom feeds 500 head of cows for a local dairy operation and runs an irrigation business. The 25-year-old Loberg and his wife have an infant son.  Other farmers are from Georgia, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. 

“In Farmland, audiences will hear thoughts and opinions about agriculture, but not from me, and not from a narrator,” Moll says about his film. “They’re from the mouths of the farmers and ranchers themselves.”

The documentary features an original score composed by Nathan Wang with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The film also includes an original recording of “This Land is Your Land” performed in a first-ever collaboration with platinum rock band Everclear and Grammy® Award-nominated artist Liz Phair.

Visit to locate a theatre near you where Farmland will be screening, as well as additional information about the film and to watch the trailer.

Farmland was produced by Moll’s Allentown Productions, with generous support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®).


The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) organization is pushing for the advancement of LR 414 introduced by Senator Al Davis.

LR 414 is a resolution which asks the President, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Congress and the United States Trade Representative to protect Nebraska citizens as well as all citizens of the United States, by supporting Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation identifying meat purchases and refuse any attempt to change the current law governing the labeling process.

“We need to send a message to Washington,” said Davis. “A message from the number one industry in Nebraska – the cattle industry, to protect our residents by giving them the same advantage as foreign consumers; the opportunity to have country of origin labeling on our meat purchases so we can make informed choices.”

The resolution goes one step further and encourages those same leaders to express their concerns to the World Trade Organization and ask the WTO to abide by U.S. law and regulations for COOL.

“I find it interesting that Nebraska Farm Bureau (NFB) and Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) are worried about WTO compliance for COOL,” said ICON president Dave Wright. “The testimony against LR 414 NFB points out that Canadian beef will have a disadvantage to U.S. beef if COOL is passed. What would be the disadvantage? Are foreign auto makers at a disadvantage to U.S. auto makers? Are foreign clothing manufacturers at a disadvantage to U.S. clothing manufacturers? “

In recent years, opposition from Canada and Mexico weakened the COOL legislation by changing the labeling law so beef born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. was mislabeled as a mixed-origin product. Action by the USDA in November of 2013 changed the regulations so U.S. beef was not labeled as a mixed-origin product.

 “NC is afraid that if the U.S. is not compliant with WTO then Canada and Mexico will retaliate against the U.S. and we will have lost all the benefits that we now enjoy with our export market,” said Wright. “Benefits like the $6 billion in beef export in 2013, which equals $251/head slaughtered. Or the fact that 15% of Nebraska’s total exports consists of beef.” What NC fails to see is that those exports are LABELED as U.S. or in the case of Nebraska they are labeled as NEBRASKA Wright said. They also ignore the fact that the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) spends $6 million on foreign marketing and the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) sends $50,000 to the Nebraska Department of Ag for foreign marketing. So NC makes it clear that labeling U.S. beef in a foreign market is profitable, but in the domestic market, not so much.

Wright added the Washington DC court of Appeal has just upheld COOL.

There is a move by Canada, Mexico and domestic meat importers now once again to weaken COOL. ICON encourages cattlemen in Nebraska to encourage their state leaders as well as national leaders to move forward with this legislation. It will not only protect the Nebraska and U.S. cattle industry but all consumers who, now more than ever, are seeking to be familiar with the background of the food they eat.

Animal Welfare and Agriculture Organizations Make Headway on Markets for Family Farmers

(from HSUS)

Various groups met Saturday to discuss ways family farmers in eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa can compete against industrial farms. The Humane Society of the United States, the Nebraska Farmers Union, the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, and Nebraska and Iowa farmers met with individuals representing various pork companies who presented opportunities to raise hogs under the Global Animal Partnership 5-Step Program.

Global Animal Partnership brings together farmers, scientists, ranchers, retailers and animal welfare advocacy organizations to continually improve the lives of farm animals. The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards recognize the welfare practices of producers who are certified by authorized, independent third parties; promote continuous improvement through its unique, multi-tiered design; enable retailers to have a selection of animal welfare labeled products for their customers; and better informs consumers about the way animals are raised.

Most breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined in "gestation crates" for virtually their entire lives. These individual crates are approximately two feet wide—so small the animals can't turn around or take more than a step forward or backward. Global Animal Partnership’s minimum standards prohibit crates, cages and stalls, the sub-therapeutic (preventative) use of antibiotics and tail docking.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union said: “The pork marketplace has changed. Doing business the conventional way has not worked well for most independent hog producers in recent years as the U.S. has lost 91 percent of our hog producers since 1980 thanks to concentrated, non-competitive, inaccessible, vertically integrated pork markets. The changing marketplace comes with both challenges and opportunities for hog producers. This event has focused on the positive opportunities that our smaller and newer pork producers might want to pursue.”

Angela Huffman, market development coordinator for The HSUS said: “Opportunities have never been greater – national food trends, rising consumer interest in animal welfare, and growing consumer health consciousness favor sustainable family farmers who demonstrate good stewardship of the land and the animals under their control. We are pleased to work with family farmers in opening these emerging markets and to do our part to assure their economic viability.”

William Powers, executive director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society said: "People deserve to know that what they are eating was grown and raised in the very best conditions, which involves care of the land and the animal."

The HSUS advocates compassionate eating – or the Three Rs: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards. The HSUS supports those farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures under their control, and practice and promote humane and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

Iowa Farmland Values Begin to Dip

Iowa farmland values dropped 5.4 percent during the past six months, marking the end of a five-year run that saw land prices surge to record highs. The average price of an acre of tillable crop land was $8,268, down from $8,690 during the six months ending September 1, according to the semi-annual survey from Iowa Realtors Land Institute.

Land values declined the most in southeast Iowa (down 8.4 percent) and remained the steadiest in southwest Iowa (down 2.1 percent).

Farmland values rose 1.2 percent from March to September 2013. The last time farmland values dropped was in 2009, according to Agri-Pulse.

Despite softening prices, farmland values are still nearly double that of 2010, when tillable cropland sold for $4,268 an acre, according to the report.

The value of pasture and timberland rose in most parts of the state, driven by strong livestock prices and demand from hunters.

USTR:  Obama Administration Removes Barriers to Food and Agriculture Exports

In 2013, the Obama Administration opened markets worldwide by resolving unwarranted sanitary (human and animal health) and phytosanitary (plant health) barriers to the exportation of a wide range of food and agricultural products.  While each country should implement necessary measures to protect human, animal, and plant health, some countries impose arbitrary import restrictions to protect their products from foreign competition.  Expanding U.S. food and agricultural exports improves income for farmers and ranchers across rural America and supports jobs for workers in the food and agricultural sector.  Our efforts helped the United States to export a record $148 billion in food and agricultural products in 2013.  Exports of agricultural products supported over 929,000 U.S. jobs.

USTR’s fifth annual Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures identifies the Administration’s ongoing efforts to eliminate discriminatory or otherwise unwarranted measures that impede U.S. food and agricultural exports.  These unjustified barriers harm U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, workers, and their families and deprive consumers around the world of access to safe, high-quality American food and agricultural goods.

Examples of Obama Administration successes in removing unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to U.S. exports include:

Expanded Access for Beef and Beef Products

After the United States demonstrated the safety of U.S. beef, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, and Panama opened their markets to a wider variety of U.S. beef and beef products.  This allowed increased exports and streamlined trade, reducing costs for U.S. exporters.  Previously, Indonesia only accepted boneless U.S. beef originating from cattle less than 30 months of age, while the Dominican Republic previously allowed U.S. beef and beef products, both boneless and bone-in, only from animals less than 30 months of age.  Additionally, Mexico has agreed to allow imports of all U.S. beef and beef products recognized under international standards as being safe for human or animal consumption.  Previously, Mexico only allowed the importation of U.S. beef derived from animals less than 30 months of age.

Additionally, the Obama Administration worked intensively with the European Union to obtain approval for U.S. beef treated with lactic acid.  The February 2013 approval of this pathogen reduction treatment made it substantially easier for many U.S. producers to produce beef for sale into the European Union market.  A larger number of U.S. companies are exporting beef to the European Union as a result of the approval.  This helped U.S. beef exports to the European Union reach a record $252 million in 2013.

Overall, total U.S. beef exports world-wide grew 12 percent in 2013 to reach over $6 billion.

Increased Market Opportunities for Swine and Pork Products

After the Obama Administration provided robust scientific justification on the safety of U.S. swine, in February 2013, the European Union lifted its ban on the importation of live pigs from the United States.  Since the ban was lifted, the United States has exported high value live breeding pigs to the European Union.

Additionally, U.S. fresh and chilled pork products can now be sold in the Colombian market due to a U.S. government and industry collaboration to document the safety of U.S. pork from trichinosis and the strength of U.S. regulatory oversight over pork production.

After extensive U.S. engagement to demonstrate the effectiveness of the U.S. food safety system in reducing health risks from pathogens and other contaminants, Kyrgyzstan and Bahrain have agreed to reopen their markets to pork imports from the United States.

In 2013, the United States exported over $6 billion in pork and pork products worldwide.

Increased Fruit Exports to Australia

The Obama Administration reached agreements with Australia that allow the exportation to Australia of peaches and nectarines from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  In addition, following extensive U.S. engagement in 2013, the state of Western Australia lifted its unwarranted ban on U.S. origin grapes.  Exports of U.S. peaches, nectarines and grapes to Australia reached $54 million in 2013.

Bolstered Horticulture Exports to Asian Markets

We also worked cooperatively with Japanese authorities to resolve Japanese pest risk concerns with U.S. cherries, leading to an opening of the Japanese market to U.S. cherries.  Additionally, the Obama Administration worked together with the U.S. pear industry to enable China to open its market for a certain type of U.S. pear.  U.S. businesses exported $2.7 million of pears to the Chinese market in 2013, up from $44,000 in 2012.

Soy Goes Global Inside New Nutritious, Delicious Foods

Guatemalan food company Alimentos Sociedad Anonima (Alimentos SA) launched three soy-based Amelia cream soups in March. Ugandan food maker SESACO Ltd. has introduced SoySip, a just-add-hot-water beverage that comes with packets of ginger and sugar. As the United States recognizes April as Soyfoods month, the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) salutes its partners in developing countries for their 2013-2014 introductions of exciting new African and Hispanic foods made with soy protein ingredients.

"We are seeing a bumper crop of new foods containing soy offered by companies and groups that WISHH has assisted through training, product samples and more,” said WISHH Chairman David Iverson, a South Dakota soybean grower. “The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Agency for International Development (USAID) and soybean checkoff funds are assisting WISHH and its partners to help meet the enormous need for protein in nutritious foods that are also affordable and available for developing country diets.”

Thanks to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service support, WISHH’s many spring 2014 activities include hosting educational conferences in Kenya and Ghana. At these programs, African and U.S. food industry as well as government participants explore opportunities in school feeding and retail programs to offer healthier foods.

WISHH’s USAID-supported work in Liberia is also an example of how production of new soy-based foods creates jobs, including for women, and makes much-needed protein available to local diets. Under the USAID-HANDS program, WISHH and Opportunities Industrialization Centers International have built two processing facilities where women manufacture fortified-blended “Super Gari” cereal made with local cassava. Adding U.S. defatted soy flour helps fill the protein gap that was in the traditional gari.

Click here to see SoySip, Amelia Cream soups and other examples of the new products that WISHH’s partners have introduced in the last year.

Interested in trying to make some international soyfoods yourself? Click here for WISHH and the World Soy Foundation’s recipe book produced by the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

U.S. and developing country diets share common ground in that protein is needed for good health. The majority of U.S. consumers (78 percent) agree that protein contributes to a healthy diet and more than half of adults say they want more of it in their diets, reported the NPD Group in a study released in March.

Global protein ingredient market revenues are expected to reach USD 28.90 billion by 2020, according to a new study by Grand View Research. Plant proteins—led by soy-- accounted for over 56 percent of global volumes in 2013, and are expected to continue dominating the market over the next six years, growing at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 6.3 percent from 2014 to 2020. Soy-based ingredients accounted for more than 70 percent of global volumes in 2013.

WISHH is a trade-development program. Since U.S. soybean farmers founded WISHH in 2000, it has worked in 24 countries to improve diets, as well as encouraged growth of food industries. The WISHH program is managed from ASA’s world headquarters in St. Louis. For more information, visit

Mixed Messages on Brazil Soy

Private Brazilian analysts are giving mixed messages on the size of the country's soybean crop.  Over the weekend, Safras e Mercado raised its 2013-14 soybean view to 86.9 million metric tons from 86.1 mmt following a small upward adjustment in planted area and improved weather conditions over the last month.  In contrast, AgRural lowered its crop view from 86.0 mmt to 85.6 mmt following reports of lower-than-expected yields in the northeastern states of Bahia and Maranhao and the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

Despite the diverging news coming out of Brazil, with the harvest over 70% complete, opinions about the eventual crop size are firming. Many forecasters now peg the crop at between 85 mmt and 88 mmt, although some still have higher figures -- most notably the Brazilian Vegetable Oils Industry Association's 88.6 mmt number.

The Key to Weed Control Comes Early in the Season

Want to improve yields, control weeds and fight resistance this growing season? Experts agree the key to success is early season weed control.

“Effective weed management today means starting the growing season with a clean weed-free seedbed,” said Bryan Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of weed science, Purdue University. “That typically means tillage in corn and in some cases a spring burndown in soybeans. Then make sure that the field stays clean from that point forward throughout the season. Residual herbicides are critically important in helping us reduce weed competition to optimize crop yields and to improve control of our most problematic weeds.”

Residual weed control can save time and money by reducing the amount of post-emergence applications needed throughout the season.

Studies have shown that preplant and preemerge herbicides can improve net return by a potential $36 to $60 per acre after the cost of herbicide application in soybeans.

“Weeds are easiest to control at the beginning of the season,” said Mark Oostlander, Technical Market Manager, BASF. “Early in the season, weeds aren’t taking as many important resources such as water, sun and nutrients from your crops as they will later in the season. Controlling weeds in the beginning is the most efficient and cost-effective step you can take in weed control. I would recommend a preplant or preemergence herbicide with residual control.”

As weeds grow larger, they become a greater threat to crops. Studies have shown that soybean yields can be reduced six percent if weeds grow to nine inches. In corn, 12-inch weeds can cause up to 10 percent yield loss.

Not only is early season weed control an effective strategy for combatting weeds at their easiest stages, but it can also help in the fight against weed resistance.

“When you have weeds resistant to glyphosate and are utilizing different herbicide chemistries, a two-inch weed might be the maximum height you can control with the herbicide,” explained Young. “We’ve seen resistance happen before and it’s too risky to allow these weeds to emerge and depend solely on the timing of a post-emergence herbicide. For some weeds, we don’t have effective post-emergence herbicide options, it’s all about never letting these weeds get a start.”

USDA Prospective Plantings + Grains Stocks Reports - March 31, 2014

USDA Prospective Plantings:  Record Soybean Plantings Expected

Corn Planted Acreage Down 4 Percent from 2013
Soybean Acreage Up 6 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Down 1 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 7 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2014 is estimated at 91.7 million acres, down 4 percent from last year. If realized, this will represent the lowest planted acreage in the United States since 2010; however, this will represent the fifth largest corn acreage in the United States since 1944.

Soybean planted area for 2014 is estimated at a record high 81.5 million acres, up 6 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged across all States with the exception of Missouri and Oklahoma.

All wheat planted area for 2014 is estimated at 55.8 million acres, down 1 percent from 2013. The 2014 winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million acres, is down 3 percent from last year but up slightly from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 30.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 8.43 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.35 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2014 is expected to total 12.0 million acres, up 4 percent from 2013. Of this total, about 11.3 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2014 is estimated at 1.80 million acres, up 22 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2014 is expected to total 11.1 million acres, 7 percent above last year. Upland area is expected to total 10.9 million acres, up 7 percent from 2013. American Pima area is expected to total 158,000 acres, down 21 percent from 2013.

Corn Area Planted - States and United States: 2012-2014

                     :                                 Area planted                                 
        State     :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                     :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Iowa ..............:      14,200              13,600              14,000            103       
Kansas ..........:       4,700               4,300               4,400              102       
Nebraska .......:      10,000               9,950               9,400               94       
United States .:      97,155              95,365              91,691              96       

Soybean Area Planted - States and United States: 2012-2014

                       :                                 Area planted                                 
        State       :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                     :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Iowa ..............:       9,350               9,300               9,600                103       
Kansas ..........:       4,000               3,600               3,900                108       
Nebraska .......:       5,050               4,800               5,400                113       
United States .:      77,198             76,533             81,493                106       

Sorghum Area Planted - States and United States: 2012-2014

                       :                                 Area planted                                 
        State       :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                       :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Kansas ...........:       2,500               3,100               2,700               87       
Nebraska ........:         145                 285                 160                 56       
United States ..:       6,244               8,061               6,681               83       

All Wheat Area Planted - States and United States: 2012-2014

                        :                                 Area planted                                 
        State        :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                        :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Iowa ................:          18                   30                    25                 83       
Kansas ............:       9,400               9,500               9,300               98       
Nebraska .........:       1,380               1,470               1,500              102       
United States ...:      55,666             56,156             55,815               99       

Oat Area Planted - States and United States: 2012-2014

                        :                                 Area planted                                 
        State        :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                       :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Iowa ................:         130                 220                130                 59       
Kansas ...........:         105                 100                  65                 65       
Nebraska ........:          75                 150                 100                 67       
United States ..:       2,760              3,010              2,794                93       

All Hay Area Harvested - States and United States: 2012-2014

                        :                                 Area planted                                 
        State        :-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        :        2012         :       2013        :      2014       : % of prev. yr.   
                        :      ----------------- 1,000 acres ----------------              percent     
Iowa ................:       1,140               1,170               1,050                 90       
Kansas ............:       2,750               2,750               2,650                 96       
Nebraska .........:       2,570               2,500               2,450                 98       
United States ...:      56,260             58,257             58,267               100       

USDA Grain Stocks Report - March 13, 2014

Corn Stocks Up 30 Percent from March 2013
Soybean Stocks Down 1 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 15 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 7.01 billion bushels, up 30 percent from March 1, 2013. Of the total stocks, 3.86 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 45 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.15 billion bushels, are up 15 percent from a year ago. The December 2013 - February 2014 indicated disappearance is 3.45 billion bushels, compared with 2.63 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 992 million bushels, down 1 percent from March 1, 2013. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 382 million bushels, down 16 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 610 million bushels, are up 13 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2013 - February 2014 quarter totaled 1.16 billion bushels, up 20 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 1.06 billion bushels, down 15 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 238 million bushels, up slightly from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 818 million bushels, are down 18 percent from a year ago. The December 2013 - February 2014 indicated disappearance is 419 million bushels, down 4 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 38.1 million bushels, down 10 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 20.7 million bushels, are down 3 percent from March 1, 2013. Off-farm stocks totaled 17.4 million bushels, down 17 percent from a year ago. The December 2013 - February 2014 indicated disappearance of 15.8 million bushels is down 14 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 122 million bushels, up 4 percent from March 1, 2013. On-farm stocks are estimated at 43.8 million bushels, 25 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 77.7 million bushels, are 5 percent below March 2013. The December 2013 - February 2014 indicated disappearance totaled 47.9 million bushels, 17 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 35.1 million bushels, 33 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2013. Of the total stocks on hand, 19.8 million bushels are stored on farms, up 5 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 15.3 million bushels, down 55 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2013 - February 2014 totaled 12.9 million bushels, down 37 percent from the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 173 million bushels, up 88 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 16.0 million bushels, are up 47 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 157 million bushels, are up 94 percent from a year earlier. The December 2013 - February 2014 indicated disappearance from all positions is 58.9 million bushels, up 22 percent from the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2014 totaled 806 million pounds, down 33 percent from March 1, 2013. All stocks stored on farms totaled 305 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 501 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 612 million pounds; of this total, 237 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 374 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 194 million pounds, with 67.2 million pounds stored on the farm and 127 million pounds stored off the farm.

Corn Stocks by Position - States and United States: March 1, 2013 and 2014

                      :                    2013                         :               2014              
     State         :      On      :    Off       : Total all       :    On       :   Off         : Total all
                      :    farms    :  farms     : positions     :   farms     : farms      : positions
                      :                                           1,000 bushels                           
Iowa ..............:   560,000    490,191    1,050,191        710,000     507,036   1,217,036
Kansas ..........:    34,000    134,976     168,976           68,000      153,412     221,412
Nebraska .......:   285,000    302,555     587,555         440,000      368,902     808,902
United States .: 2,669,200  2,730,726   5,399,926     3,860,500   3,145,432   7,005,932

Soybean Stocks by Position - States and United States: March 1, 2013 and 2014

                      :                    2013                         :               2014              
     State         :      On      :    Off       : Total all       :    On       :   Off         : Total all
                      :    farms    :  farms     : positions     :   farms     : farms      : positions
                      :                                         1,000 bushels                           
Iowa ...............:   89,000      118,577     207,577        74,000     134,204     208,204 
Kansas ..........:    9,700         24,616       34,316        9,200       30,721       39,921 
Nebraska .......:   20,500        49,818       70,318       17,500       69,227       86,727 
United States .:  456,700      541,320     9 98,020     381,900     610,425     992,325 

Friday March 28 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2014, was 3.05 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  This was up 2 percent from March 1, 2013, but down 2 percent from December 1, 2013.  

Breeding hog inventory, at 400,000 head, was up 3 percent from March 1, 2013, and up 3 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.65 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, but down 2 percent from last quarter.  

The December 2013-February 2014 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.79 million head, was up 4 percent from 2013.  Sows farrowed during the period totaled 170,000 head, up 3 percent from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was 10.55 for the December-February period, compared to 10.50 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 175,000 sows during the March-May 2014 quarter, up 9 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for June-August 2014 are 175,000 sows, up 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  

Iowa Hogs and Pigs Down 3%

On  March  1,  2014  there  were  19.8  million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  to  the  latest  USDA  National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1  inventory was down 3 percent  from December 2013 and 1 percent from a year ago. 

The December 2013-February 2014 pig crop was 4.90 million head. A total of 495,000 sows farrowed during this period, up 3 percent from  the last quarter.   The average pigs saved per  litter was 9.90 for the December-February period, down from 10.6 the previous quarter and the lowest pigs saved per litter in three years.  

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 500,000 head of sows and gilts in the March-May 2014 quarter. Farrowing intentions for the June-August 2014 period are estimated at 510,000 as of March 1, 2014. 

United States Hog Inventory Down 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2014 was 62.9 million head. This was down 3 percent fromMarch 1, 2013, and down 5 percent from December 1, 2013.  Breeding inventory, at 5.85 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 2 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 57.0 million head, was down 4 percent from last year, and down 5 percent from last quarter.

The December 2013-February 2014 pig crop, at 27.3 million head, was down 3 percent from 2013. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.87 million head, up 3 percent from 2013. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 9.53 for the December-February period, compared to 10.08 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.70 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 9.60 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.88 million sows farrow during the March-May 2014 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2013, but down 2 percent from 2012. Intended farrowings for June-August 2014, at 2.96 million sows, are up 2 percent from 2013, and up 1 percent from 2012.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 47 percent last year.

Breeding, Market, and Total Inventory - States and United States: March 1, 2013 and 2014
                      :         Breeding                :          Market                           :           Total          
                      :            :  2014  :2014 as :         : 2014 :2014 as:              :  2014   :2014 as
      State        :  2013   :           :percent  : 2013 :         :percent:       2013 :         :percent
                      :            :           :of 2013  :         :         :of 2013:               :         :of 2013
                      :     1,000 head   percent  -- 1,000 head --   percent  -- 1,000 head --   percent
Colorado ........:    145       160     110       575        520     90              720        680      94 
Illinois ............:    490       500     102      4,110     3,850   94           4,600      4,350      95 
Indiana ...........:    270       270     100      3,280     3,180   97            3,550     3,450      97 
Iowa ..............:  1,020     1,010      99     19,080   18,790   98          20,100    19,800     99 
Kansas ..........:    170       170     100     1,630     1,500    92           1,800      1,670      93 
Michigan ........:    110       110     100       950       910      96           1,060     1,020      96 
Minnesota ......:    570       550      96      7,080     7,250    102          7,650     7,800     102 
Missouri .........:    340       355    104      2,410     2,095     87           2,750     2,450      89 
Nebraska ........:    390       400    103      2,610     2,650    102          3,000     3,050     102 
North Carolina .:    870       870    100      7,830     7,130     91           8,700     8,000      92 
Ohio ...............:    165       170    103     1,935     1,850      96          2,100     2,020      96 
Oklahoma .......:    410       430    105     1,880     1,560      83          2,290     1,990      87 
Pennsylvania ...:    100        95      95     1,040     1,045     100         1,140     1,140     100 
South Dakota ..:    175       170     97       975      1,030     106         1,150      1,200     104 
Texas .............:    105       100     95       605      460        76            710         560      79 
Utah ...............:     80        75      94        660      635        96            740        710      96 
United States ..:  5,836    5,851   100     59,236  57,048     96         65,072    62,899      97 

Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture

Governor Dave Heineman

It has been another great year for Nebraska agriculture. Every year, I join with our farmers and ranchers to ask Nebraskans to take a moment reflect on the importance of the agricultural industry in our state.  Nebraska Agriculture Week lines up with the national week for citizens throughout our country to recognize how our ag families are feeding our families and feeding the world.

Agriculture is our state’s largest industry. Our farmers and ranchers work hard to raise the food, fuel and fiber we use in our everyday lives. For these efforts, they deserve our appreciation every day, but especially during National Agriculture Week.

Farming, ranching and related agribusiness activities are responsible for just over a quarter of our state’s economic activity. Ninety-three percent of our state’s land is used for agricultural production, and we recently became the number one cattle feeding state in the nation. Our farmers raised the largest corn crop in history last year, and according to the most recent Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in Nebraska grew over the past five years.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture celebrated National Agriculture Week by unveiling the second edition of the “Nebraska Agriculture and You” magazine, a publication designed to share information about the Nebraska agriculture industry. The free, annually produced magazine will be available in places such as doctors and dentists office lobbies, as well as at public libraries, University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Cooperative Extension offices and chambers of commerce. You can also view the magazine online by visiting the Department of Agriculture’s website at

While telling the story of agriculture to consumers is important, sharing that message with our younger generation, many who are two or three generations removed from a farm or ranch operation, is also necessary. That’s why the Nebraska Department of Agriculture hosts a statewide agriculture poster contest each year. It is a way for elementary students to have the opportunity to discuss agriculture, while creating their own works of art. This year marks the 11th anniversary of the contest, with a theme of Nebraska’s Family Farms. The Department of Agriculture received over 2,000 poster contest entries this year and winners are posted on the department’s website.

The winners in the first and second grade division are Hope McDonald a 1st grader from Centura Elementary in Cairo, first place; Ellie Tramp a 2nd grader from St. Rose of Lima School in Crofton, second place; Dustin Kapke a 2nd grader from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Plymouth, third place and the Governor’s Choice is Lucas Urbanski a 1st grader from St. James Seton School in Omaha.

The winners in the third and fourth grade division are Faith McDonald a 4th grader from Centura Elementary in Cairo, first place; Alexis Mogensen a 3rd grader from Weeping Water School in Weeping Water, second place; Abby Gilreath a 4th grader from Rohwler Elementary in Omaha, third place and the Governor’s Choice is Kennady Schmidt a 4th grader from Howells Community Catholic School in Howells.

The winners in the fifth and sixth grade division are Dabatha Sanchez a 5th grader from Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island, first place; Zoey Kreikemeier a 6th grader from Guardian Angels Central Catholic in West Point, second place; Jazzlyn Nava a 5th grader from Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island, third place and the Governor’s Choice is Chloe Hoffschneider a 6th grader from St. Paul’s in Arlington.

I want to thank the farmers and ranchers in Nebraska for their dedication and commitment to the land and animals in their care. If you see a farmer or rancher, please thank them for the important role they play in producing the food, fuel, and fiber we use every day.


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for March 2014 averaged $7.15 per bushel, an increase of 68 cents from the February price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary March corn price, at $4.50 per bushel, increased 23 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary March sorghum price averaged $7.95 per cwt, an increase of 45 cents from February.

The preliminary March soybean price, at $13.50 per bushel, was up 50 cents from last month.

The preliminary March dry edible bean price, at $42.00 per cwt, was up $2.40 from February.

The March alfalfa hay price, at $133.00 per ton, was down $9.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $104.00 per ton, was down $1.00 from last month.

The preliminary March oat price was withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations. The February price for oats was $4.12. 

Iowa Monthly Prices

The preliminary March 2014  average price  received by  farmers  for  corn  in  Iowa  is $4.60 per bushel  according  to  the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service  – Agricultural Prices  report. This  is up $0.17  from  the February price, but $2.53 lower than March 2013.

The preliminary March Iowa average soybean price, at $13.50 per bushel, is up $0.40 from the February price, but $1.10 lower than the previous March.

The preliminary March oat price is $5.20 per bushel, up $0.03 from February and $0.57 above March 2013. 

All hay prices  in Iowa averaged $167.00 per  ton in March, unchanged from  the February price, but $63.00 per  ton less than March 2013.  Alfalfa hay prices fell $68.00 per ton from one year ago, to $180.00 and other hay prices were $45.00 per ton lower than last year, at $115.00.  

Iowa dairy farmers received an average of $26.20 per cwt for milk sold in March, up $0.40 from February, and $6.40 per cwt above one year ago.

March Farm Prices Received Index Up 5 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in March, at 111 percent, based on 2011=100, increased 5 points (4.7 percent) from February. The Crop Index is up 2 points (2.2 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 6 points (5.0 percent). Producers received higher prices for broilers, hogs, corn, and cattle and lower prices for market eggs, grapefruit, and sunflowers. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of cattle, milk, and calves offset the decreased marketing of cotton, soybeans, and hay.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 1 point (0.9 percent) from March 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 121, increased 5 points (4.3 percent) from last month and increased 12 points (11 percent) from March 2013.

All crops:

The March index, at 95, increased 2.2 percent from February but is 15 percent below March 2013. The index increase for oilseeds & grains more than offset the index decrease for fruit & tree nut production.

Food grains: The March index, at 103, is 6.2 percent above the previous month but 3.7 percent below a year ago. The March price for all wheat, at $6.90 per bushel, is up 41 cents from February but 89 cents below March 2013.

Feed grains: The March index, at 76, is up 4.1 percent from last month but 36 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.54 per bushel, is up 19 cents from last month but $2.59 below March 2013. Sorghum grain, at $8.18 per cwt, is 53 cents above February but $4.02 below March last year.

Oilseeds: The March index, at 108, is up 3.8 percent from February but 6.9 percent lower than March 2013. The soybean price, at $13.60 per bushel, increased 40 cents from February but is $1.00 below March 2013.

Other crops: The March index, at 98, is up 2.1 percent from last month but 3.9 percent below March 2013. The all hay price, at up $173 per ton, is up $5.00 from February but $22.00 lower than last March.  The price for upland cotton, at 80.3 cents per pound, is up 1.3 cents from February and 2.8 cents above last March.

Livestock and products:

The March index, at 127, is 5.0 percent above last month and up 18 percent from March 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for milk, cattle, hogs, calves, eggs, and turkeys. The price for broilers is down from last year.

Meat animals: The March index, at 126, is up 5.0 percent from last month and 21 percent higher than last year. The March hog price, at $75.90 per cwt, is up $10.40 from February and $16.70 higher than a year ago. The March beef cattle price of $147 per cwt is up $3.00 from last month and $22.00 higher than March 2013.

Dairy products: The March index, at 126, is up 1.6 percent from a month ago and 33 percent higher than March last year. The March all milk price of $25.40 per cwt is up 50 cents from last month and $6.30 from March 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The March index, at 133, is up 9.0 percent from February and 0.8 percent above a year ago. The March market egg price, at $1.05 per dozen, decreased 18.0 cents from February but is 9.8 cents higher than March 2013. The March broiler price, at 65.0 cents per pound, is up 10.0 cents from February but 1.0 cent below a year ago. The March turkey price, at 67.0 cents per pound, is up 0.6 cents from the previous month and 2.0 cents higher than a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The March Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is at 107 (2011=100). The index is unchanged from February but 1 point (0.9 percent) above March 2013. Higher prices in March for feeder cattle, feeder pigs, concentrates, and nitrogen offset lower prices for LP gas, supplements, tractors, and complete feeds.

NCTA To Start Pilot Project with Omaha Home for Boys

An agriculture college in southwestern Nebraska is bringing a little bit of country to the city, and to the farm where urban youth can learn about raising crops and livestock.

     Next fall, high school students in Omaha area schools and adult learners interested in boosting their knowledge of horticulture and farm animals can enroll in courses offered by the University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) and the Omaha Home for Boys at the Cooper Memorial Farm, 8502 Mormon Bridge Road.

     Officials unveiled class details Friday at the Farm, located 3 miles north of downtown Omaha.

     “The joint effort between NCTA and the Omaha Home for Boys is a pilot project for anyone in the Omaha area.  It is designed to support locally-produced food, produce job-ready agricultural graduates, and foster social and economic development for youth and adults,” said Ron Rosati, PhD, NCTA Dean. “Omaha Home for Boys is a real gem in guiding young men and women on their life path.

     “Our NCTA faculty and staff are fortunate to be part of this new academic venture with OHB, by providing hands-on learning here in Omaha in gardening, horticulture, and animal science,” Rosati said.

     Courses offered this Fall will be organic and alternative agriculture, and livestock and carcass evaluation.  Spring, 2015, classes will include plant propagation, and seed stock preparation and marketing (feeding and fitting livestock to show in 4-H or FFA).

     In future semesters, if students garner sufficient hours of college credits, they may be eligible for a college certificate or an Associates Degree.  Livestock classes will include a summer camp in preparation for showing and grooming (fitting) livestock for county fair exhibit.

     The project is a good fit for the urban classroom offered by two long-standing institutions, said Jeff Moran, president and CEO of the Omaha Home for Boys.  OHB was founded in 1920 as an orphanage and today educates boys and girls, young men and women, ages 12 to 24.

     The community-based organization includes Inspiration Hill residential care, Jacobs’ Place transitional living, Branching Out independent living and the Cooper Memorial Farm.  Students attend various high schools in Omaha.

     “The Omaha Home for Boys is excited to partner with NCTA in offering an agricultural academic program on our Cooper Memorial Farm,” Moran said. “We believe this collaboration with classroom and experiential education will provide both youth and adults in the greater Omaha metropolitan area an opportunity to explore an agricultural curriculum within an urban setting.”

     Based in Curtis, Nebraska, since 1913, the agriculture school was first a residential high school for 55 years.  Many individuals from western and southwestern Nebraska and the Sandhills area attended school at Curtis.

     When it became part of the University of Nebraska system in the late ‘60s, NCTA offered an Associate’s degree program and is the only NU institution emphasizing two-year, open enrollment programs.  NCTA also teaches computer-based online and distance learning courses for high school students concurrently earning college credits.  In the Omaha program, NCTA will provide faculty, curriculum and supplies.  The OHB provides the site, farm manager and laboratory support.

     While Omaha-area schools consider adding agricultural or horticultural sciences to their curriculums, the pilot project helps meet that demand, Rosati said.  It may complement the urban ag and natural resources classes and FFA recently added at Bryan High School.

     “I see the partnership with NCTA as a win, win, win,” said Jeff Hallstrom, M. Ed., OHB program manager-educational services. “We see the potential in having our youth participate and work on various agriculture projects.  For example, we would like to work towards a farmers market where our youth learn how to grow healthy, locally grown produce that can be eaten in our Dining Hall and be sold to the community. Members of our community will also benefit as there will be educational opportunities for traditional college students and adult learners.”

     For further information on the OHB-NCTA Collaborative Agricultural Education Program, see or contact 1-800-3CURTIS.

USDA Seeks Nominees for Cattlemens Beef Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominations to serve on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

Vacancies for producer and importer member positions will occur in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, the Southwest Unit (California and Nevada), and the Importer Unit.

Any beef producer within the United States that owns cattle or any importer who imports cattle or beef can be considered for nomination. All eligible producers and importers are invited to seek nomination by June 1, 2014. A beef producer must be nominated by a USDA Certified Producer Organization and submit a completed application.

USDA encourages board membership that reflects the diversity of the individuals served by its industry. Diversity includes gender, race, disability, length of service, and size and type of operation.

For the contact information of the Certified Producer Organizations in your state or region, visit:

Currently composed of 103 members representing 35 states and six geographically contiguous units, the board administers a research and promotion program authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. The Secretary of Agriculture selects appointees from producers nominated by Certified Producer Organizations.

Research and promotion programs are industry-funded, were authorized by Congress, and date back to 1966. Since then, Congress has authorized the establishment of 21 research and promotion boards. They empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight, paid for by industry assessments, which ensures fiscal responsibility, program efficiency and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.

For more information, contact Angie Snyder, Deputy Director, Research and Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, STOP 0251, Room 2092-S, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-0251; tel. (202) 680-3714, e-mail; or fax (202) 720-1125.

USDA Proposes to Reapportion Membership on Beef Promotion Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing to reapportion membership on the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board from 103 to 99 members. The law authorizing the board requires the board’s size to change with shifts in cattle inventory levels.

This decrease is due to changes in cattle inventories since the last board reapportionment in 2011. Under the proposal, domestic cattle producer representation on the board would decrease from 96 to 93, and importer representation would decrease from seven to six. The decrease is based on requirements of the Beef Promotion and Research Order, authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. The Order provides for a review of geographic distribution of U.S. cattle inventories and the volume of imported cattle, beef, and beef products at least every three years and not more than every two years. Board membership then must be reapportioned accordingly.

A state or unit must have an inventory of 500,000 head of cattle to be represented on the board and is entitled to an additional member for each additional 1,000,000 head of cattle. In considering reapportionment, the board reviewed cattle inventories, as well as cattle, beef, and beef product import data, for 2010 through 2012. The revised representation would be effective with nominations in 2014 for appointments effective early in the year 2015.

In addition, technical amendments would be made to update and correct information in the Order and regulations.

Details of the proposed changes will appear in the March 25, 2014, Federal Register. Comments may be submitted online at, or sent to Angie Snyder, Deputy Director; Research and Promotion Division, Room 2092-S; Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program; AMS, USDA, STOP 0249; 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.; Washington, D.C. 20250-0249; telephone number (202) 720-5705; fax (202) 720-1125. Copies of the proposed rule and additional information are available from the same address.

Iowa Soybean Association encourages close review, farmer input on EPA proposed rule

A proposed rule released this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clarifying its jurisdiction over waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act deserves a thorough review and farmer input, says the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA).

“This rule will impact farmers,” says ISA Policy Director Carol Balvanz. “What is required is time to fully digest and comprehend the full report and encourage farmers to provide their unique insights to make sure the rule works for those who will be most impacted by its implementation and enforcement.”

The proposed rule will soon be open for public comment. Balvanz encourages farmers to make their opinions heard during the 90-day comment period that will begin once the rule is published in the Federal Register. To access the rule and to make a comment, go to

Soybean farmers, Balvanz says, are pleased that the rule recognizes 53 conservation practices established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Farmers are extremely interested in how the directives and definitions will be implemented.

“The details will matter,” says Balvanz. “This is too important of an issue to engage only in a battle of sound bites and headlines. That is why our members will thoroughly review the language in the proposed rule and evaluate how its implementation may impact soybean farmers.”

Roger Wolf, ISA director of Environmental Programs & Services (EPS), adds that farmers are active participants in environmental issues and frequently engage with the EPA. The ISA, he says, recognizes the work of EPA head Gina McCarthy and her commitment to listening to and learning from farmers.

“Farmers recognize the public benefits of clean water and that what occurs in the landscape impacts water downstream,” Wolf says. “They have increased their adoption of practices designed to improve environmental performance and invested millions of dollars during the past year to match Water Quality Initiative funding provided by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Wolf says the ISA’s EPS department and On-Farm Network® bring credible and reliable data and research programs to the table to improve the long-term sustainability of soybean production and improve the competitiveness of soybean farmers.

New Probiotic Improves Pig Health, Reduces Manure Output

A new probiotic for pigs could mean less manure to manage, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists conducted the first published investigation of the use of bacteria as a probiotic to increase fiber fermentation rates and reduce manure output in pigs that consume high-fiber diets. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

Pig producers would like to supplement livestock feed with dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and other agricultural coproducts generated from biofuel production. But adding hard-to-digest fiber to livestock diets also increases the production of manure.

Microbiologist Cherie Ziemer and animal scientist Brian Kerr at the ARS Agroecosystems Management Research Unit in Ames, Iowa, fed the pigs in their study either a typical diet or a high-fiber diet. The high-fiber diet contained 10 percent soybean hulls and 20 percent corn DDGS.

The pigs were also given one of three bacterial supplements the scientists developed from different strains of Bacteroides ovatus, which had been obtained from human fecal samples and cultured in fiber-rich media. The three bacterial supplements were designated Bacterium B, C, and D.

Pigs that received the bacterial supplements designated as Bacterium B reduced their manure output by 20 percent. These pigs also gained more weight and had improved blood cholesterol and glucose levels, both indications of an improved energy status, compared to pigs not given probiotics.

Ziemer believes the probiotic could improve pig performance and reduce manure volumes, which in turn would increase producer profits and reduce the environmental footprint of pork production. She thinks the bacterium could be fed in a liquid supplement or possibly freeze-dried and mixed with feed.

This work was supported by a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as part of the Intestinal Fortitude Program, which investigates how to help people obtain more energy from fiber. Results were published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2012. Read more about this work in the March 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

USDA Prepares to Accept MAL and LDP Requests; Sets 2014 MAL Loan Rates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin accepting requests for marketing assistance loans (MALs) and loan deficiency payments (LDPs) for eligible 2014 commodities. Notice of the authorization is published in today’s Federal Register.

MALs and LDPs for the 2014 crop year become available to eligible producers beginning with harvest/shearing season and extending through a specific commodity’s final loan availability date.

Sugar commodity loans for 2014 crop will be available to sugar processors beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

MALs and LDPs provide financing and marketing assistance for wheat, feed grains, soybeans, and other oilseeds, pulse crops, rice, peanuts, cotton, wool, mohair and honey. MALs provide producers interim financing after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows. Allowing farmers to store their products at harvest facilitates a more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the year. A producer who is eligible to obtain a loan, but agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain an LDP if such a payment is available.

Marketing loan provisions and LDPs are not available for sugar and extra-long staple cotton.

The 2014 Farm Bill also establishes payment limitations per individual or entity not to exceed $125,000 annually on certain commodities for the following program benefits: price loss coverage payments, agriculture risk coverage payments, marketing loan gains (MLGs) and LDPs. These payment limitations do not apply to MAL loan disbursements. Please consult your local FSA office for details.

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) provisions were modified by the 2014 Farm Bill, which states that a producer whose total applicable three-year average AGI exceeds $900,000 is not eligible to receive an MLG or LDP.

The 2014 Farm Bill establishes national loan rates for the 2014 crops of wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, pulse crops, milled rice, peanuts, extra-long staple cotton, wool, mohair, sugar and honey. The 2014 Farm Bill requires the upland cotton base quality loan rate to be determined annually according to the applicable statutory provisions. The 2014 crop loan rates are:

Wheat    $2.94 per bushel
Corn    $1.95 per bushel
Grain Sorghum    $1.95 per bushel
Barley    $1.95 per bushel
Oats    $1.39 per bushel
Soybeans    $5.00 per bushel
Other Oilseeds    $10.09 per hundredweight for each "other oilseed"
Small Chickpeas    $7.43 per hundredweight
Large Chickpeas    $11.28 per hundredweight
Dry Peas    $5.40 per hundredweight
Lentils    $11.28 per hundredweight
Long grain rough rice    $6.50 per hundredweight
Medium/short grain rough rice     $6.50 per hundredweight
Peanuts    $355.00 per ton
Upland Cotton    $0.52 per pound *
Extra Long Staple Cotton    $0.7977 per pound
Graded Wool    $1.15 per pound
Nongraded Wool    $0.40 per pound
Mohair    $4.20 per pound
Raw Cane Sugar    $0.1875 per pound
Refined Beet Sugar    $0.2409 per pound
Honey    $0.69 per pound

*The 2014-crop upland cotton loan rate was previously announced in a separate press release on Feb. 18, 2014.
County loan rates also are announced for the 2014 crops of wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, soybeans and other oilseeds (sunflower seed, flaxseed, canola, rapeseed, safflower, mustard seed, crambe and sesame seed); national milled rice loan rates by class and state rough rice loan rates by class for the 2014 rice crop; and regional loan rates for 2014 pulse crops (dry peas and lentils). The rates are posted on the FSA website at

Later announcements will include peanut loan rates by type, refined beet sugar loan rates by region, raw cane sugar loan rates by state, and the schedule of premiums, discounts and other related information.

USDA Announces the Extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract Program for 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today announced the extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program.

The extended MILC protects dairy farmers enrolled in the program against income loss through Sept. 1, 2014, or until a new Margin Protection Program for dairy producers (MPP), established by the 2014 Farm Bill, is operational.

Contracts for eligible producers enrolled in MILC on or before Sept. 30, 2013, are automatically extended until the termination date of the MILC program. Dairy operations with approved MILC contracts will continue to receive monthly payments if a payment rate is in effect.

MILC compensates enrolled dairy producers when the Boston Class I milk price falls below $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt), after adjustment for the cost of dairy feed rations. MILC payments are calculated each month using the latest milk price and feed cost, just as in the 2008 Farm Bill. The payment rate for October 2013 through January 2014 marketings is zero. Payment rates during the months after January 2014 until the termination of the MILC program will be determined as the appropriate data becomes available.

Since MILC payments are limited to a maximum amount of milk production each fiscal year, dairy operations may select a production start month other than October 2013 (the start of fiscal year 2014). Producers who want to select a different production start month must visit their local FSA office between April 14, 2014, and May 30, 2014.

FSA will provide producers with information on program requirements, updates and sign-ups as the information becomes available. For more information on MILC, contact a local FSA county office or visit the FSA website at

NFU Applauds Appellate Court’s Decision Not to Enjoin COOL Labels

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied plaintiffs’ appeal of a denial of their request for a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction would prevent revised Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations from remaining in effect while the plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging the COOL regulations proceeds. Today’s ruling affirms a Sept. 11, 2013, decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that also denied the request for a preliminary injunction. As a result of today’s decision, the revised COOL regulations will remain in place while the case is pending.

“I am extremely pleased with today’s decision,” said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union (NFU) president. “Yet again, claims that the revised COOL regulations are unconstitutional or inconsistent with the COOL statute have been rejected in federal court.”

“Today’s decision notes that COOL advances legitimate values, including consumer information and consumer choice. The Court of Appeals also explained that COOL labels can be seen as a sign that retailers ‘take pride in identifying the source of their products.’ NFU’s family farmer- and rancher-members certainly take pride in the products they produce, and I am glad that consumers will be able to continue to identify their products at retail as a result of today’s decision.”

Today’s decision is the latest setback for plaintiffs who filed the case in an effort to have the revised COOL regulations invalidated. The case was filed on July 8, 2013, by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, North American Meat Association, American Association of Meat Processors, National Pork Producers Council, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations.

NFU, together with the United States Cattlemen’s Association, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America, intervened to defend the COOL regulations from challenge, and they actively participated in a briefing at the District Court and the Court of Appeals, as well as the preliminary injunction hearing at the District Court.

Johnson is currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the World Farmers Organization’s fourth general assembly, where many of the speakers have discussed the need for farmers to connect more directly with consumers and be more transparent to enhance consumer confidence.

“I note that plaintiffs may seek to have today’s decision reheard by the full Court of Appeals. If they do so, NFU will continue to defend COOL on behalf of our members,” said Johnson. “In the meantime, producers and consumers will continue to benefit from improved origin information as the revised COOL regulations remain in effect.”

Administration’s Methane Strategy Recognizes Ag’s Role in Climate Change Mitigation

Today National Farmers Union (NFU) Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule issued the following statement on the administration’s release of its strategy to reduce methane emissions as a part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan:

"NFU is pleased that the administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions recognizes that farmers and ranchers are important partners in the effort to solve our nation’s climate challenges. These efforts build on the robust support for renewable energy production included in the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill.

“Technologies such as methane digesters are underutilized, but can significantly reduce methane emissions. The strategy’s voluntary on-farm methane reduction opportunities, supported by financial and technical assistance, will add to farmers’ bottom lines and support rural economies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“I urge Congress to build on the Climate Action Plan and do its part to mitigate climate change by enacting legislation that puts a price on non-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

“Agencies must consider the impact on the climate when proposing regulatory changes, such as reducing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets, as both corn-based and cellulosic ethanol have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline. Although I applaud the administration for today’s announcement, I hope it takes a consistent, comprehensive, long-term approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by restoring the original RFS volumes.”

Thursday March 27 Ag News

Free Farm Finance Clinics in April

NE Dept of Ag and Legal Aid of NE are hosting free Farm and Ranch clinics two times in Norfolk in the month of April.  This is your opportunity to sit down one on one with an experienced ag law attorney or ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranging, from financial planning, estate and transition planning, to farm loan programs, water rights, and more.  Clinic dates include:

Wednesday April 2nd
Thursday April 24th

To sign up for a clinic time or for more information, call Michelle at the NE Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

Farmer Appreciation Day in Newman Grove

Inviting all farmers to come to Fellowship Bible Church in Newman Grove for a morning of appreciation.  We will begin our day Saturday, April 5th, at 8am with breakfast followed by 3 great speakers.  Starting at 8:45am, Al Dutcher, Nebraska State Climatologist, will highlight weather patterns for the growing season ahead; Ray Ward of Ward Laboratories will focus on soils and plant health; and Roy Smith AKA "Soy Roy" will talk on marketing trends and give analysis.  There will be several vendors to visit with as well.  There will be plenty of breaks, snacks, giveaways, and time to interact with other farmers.  There will be a lunch available at the close of the program, you can either eat it there, or take it to go.  Best of all, the entire event is FREE!  For more information call John at the church at 402-447-6322 or go online to 

Saunders County Livestock Ladies Night

Saunders County Livestock Association will hold their annual Ladies Night on Sunday April 6th, 5pm at St. John's Parish Hall in Prague.  5pm Social, 6pm meal, followed by a program and entertainment.  Sponsor is Black Dirt Land Sales and Management, and owner Carrie Duffy of Yutan will share her background and an overview of her company.  ALSO, Jerry and Barb Soukup will share pictures and comments of their recent trip on the Panama Canal's 100th anniversary cruise.  Rounding out the evening the Dolezal Sisters - Haley, Miranda, Bourbon, and Lara - will perform a variety of musical selections.  And before the evening's over, the 2014 scholarship winners will be recognized!  It's sure to be a fun-filled-packed-full-of-activities evening!  For more information, call Dan Benes in Valparaiso.

Tickets available for Cuming Co Feeders Banquet

Tickets are now available for the annual Cuming County Feeders Banquet this year to be held on Saturday April 26th at the Wisner Auditorium in Wisner, NE.  Social will start at 6pm, with the meal and entertainment to follow.  In addition to the many elected officials and dignitaries that attend the banquet, this year's attendees will include entertainer Greg Hann and also a special appearance by the Peterson Brothers from Assaria, Kansas (made famous by their "Farming and I Grow It" YouTube video).  Corporate sponsorships and ticket requests are due by April 16th, so the tickets can be mailed out by April 21.  Contact Angie Ernesti ASAP at either 402-372-3036 or 402-372-8036.

Ethanol Emerging Issues Forum Features Key Issues and Trends

Ethanol and biofuels experts from across the U.S. will be in Omaha for the 9th annual "Ethanol 2014: Emerging Issues Forum" held April 10-11 at the Magnolia Hotel.  The forum is targeted to ethanol producers and others integrally involved in the production, technology, policy and marketing of ethanol and its co-products.   The forum runs from 1:00 to 5:30 pm on Thursday and from 8:00 am to noon on Friday.

The keynote address at 1:15 pm on Thursday will be presented by Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition in Washington, DC.  Durante will discuss the Federal Policy Impacts on Ethanol Production and Marketing.

Steve Bleyl of Green Plains Renewable Energy of Omaha will speak about the Blend Wall and  Market Access via Higher Blends.  A panel of experts from the University of Illinois Law & Policy Center, Novozymes and U.S. Department of Agriculture will discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard and Public Policy.

Other topics during the forum include domestic and international ethanol marketing opportunities and barriers, ethanol co-products, low carbon fuel standards and integrating technology trends into the ethanol processing platform.

Some 130 ethanol industry leaders are expected to be in attendance.  Registration for the event is open until 5:00pm April 7th.

The event is presented by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, American Coalition for Ethanol, Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers, and the Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition.  A detailed agenda for the Ethanol 2014: Emerging Issues Forum can be found at

Prepare for PEDV Ahead of Show Season

PEDv presents a very serious issue that requires careful attention from hog exhibitors. PEDv poses no danger to humans or to the safety of the food supply. However, now is the time to educate and plan on how to deal with the many questions and challenges associated with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV).

In light of the devastating effects of PEDV, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association urges that swine health protocols should be re-emphasized and an increased awareness about the need for strict biosecurity needs to be a priority before, during and after every show. Although the virus has less impact on the older, growing pigs headed for a show ring, the potential to spread PEDV and other pathogens rises since the pigs are commingled at weigh-ins and then taken home.

Swine Show Biosecurity Recommendations

When pigs come together at events such as shows and weigh-ins, spreading disease is a risk; but the risk can be minimized through proper biosecurity procedures. Organizers and advisors scheduling commingled pig events should assess each situation and the associated risks to pig health. Having a plan in place to manage pigs from many different locations, identifying sick pigs, completing certain tasks such as taking a pig's temperature, knowing health certificate requirements and best practices for returning home will also help reduce the chance of disease spread.  Jodi Sterle, Iowa State University Extension specialist, offers some biosecurity recommendations that swine exhibitors should make part of their regular routine.
·    Bring only healthy pigs to a show. Observe them daily because the pigs will tell you a lot.
·    Clean out the tack box and do it away from the barn or pigs. Remove any organic material, then wash and disinfect all equipment—pails, brushes, waterers, whips, panels, gates—even the boots you wore at the show. Use a commercial disinfectant according to label directions and allow everything to dry.
·    Clean out the truck cab and trailer. Use the same basic approach—remove organic matter, floor mats, gates, ramps—and wash, disinfect and dry.
·    Take only the feed and shavings that you will need, and leave anything not used behind. Don’t bring any feed or shavings home—it’s not worth the risk. To not waste feed, weigh and bag the amount of feed you will need for each day of a show, add in a couple extra servings for a safety net and that’s it.
·    Pigs that return home should go into isolation—if at all possible—for at least 30 days, and 60 days is best. A shed or another room in a low-traffic area is good.
·    Do the chores in the isolated area last each time and wash your hands before and after. Wear disposable boots and coveralls, and put them in the trash away from other pigs. Finally, be sure no equipment crosses out of this area.

Regardless of PEDV's presence though, certain measures should always be a priority for anyone involved in swine shows. The Pork Checkoff has created several resources for swine show organizers, as well as swine exhibitors, to help them minimize their risk of contracting or spreading PEDV. Pork Checkoff’s fact sheets “Swine Health Recommendations: Exhibitors of All Pigs Going to Exhibits or Sales” is an excellent resource for answers and guidance. Biosecurity information for show organizers also is available through these fact sheets: “Swine Health Recommendations: Organizers of Exhibitions and Sales” and “Swine Health Recommendations: Biosecurity for Organizers of Weigh-ins or Tagging Events.”  For all of the PEDV resources and research available please visit

As a hog exhibitor, the bottom line is educate yourself, be aware, and take all steps necessary to protect your animals

Energy is the Most Important Nutrient for Post Calving Cows

Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator, Washington County

The winter of 2013-2014 has brought challenges in the form of cold weather and now spring is slow to arrive.  This may result in some cows calving in marginal body condition.  Unfortunately, this is a season where maintaining or gaining body condition on spring calving cows is really quite difficult.  Cool season grasses are slow to green up and warm season grass pasture feels like a long ways off.   Energy is the most important nutrient that cows need after calving.  Feeding a low quality hay along with only a self-fed, self-limited protein supplement, the cows may become very deficient in energy.  Remember, the instructions that accompany these self-fed supplements.  They are to be fed along with free choice access to adequate quantity and quality forages. 

Body condition at the time of calving is the most important factor affecting rebreeding performance of normally managed beef cows.  Nonetheless, condition changes after calving will have more subtle effects on rebreeding especially in cows that are in marginal body condition.  Body condition changes from the time the cow calves until she begins the breeding season can play a significant role in the rebreeding success story.  This appears to be most important to those cows that calve in the marginal body condition score range of "4" or "5".  An Oklahoma research trial illustrates the vulnerability of cows that calve in the body condition score of 5.  Two groups of cows began the winter feeding period in similar body condition and calved in very similar body condition.  However, after calving and before the breeding season began, one group was allowed to lose almost one condition score.  The other group of cows was fed adequately to maintain the body condition that they had prior to calving.  The difference in rebreeding rate was dramatic (73% vs 94%).  Again this illustrates that cows that calve in the body condition score of 5 are very vulnerable to weather and suckling intensity stresses and ranchers must use good nutritional strategies after calving to avoid disastrous rebreeding performance.

Continue feeding a source of energy, such as corn silage, alfalfa or a moderate to good quality grass hay free choice and high energy supplements until the brome pastures green up or the warm season grasses grow enough to provide both the energy and protein that the lactating cows need.  Yes, the feed is high-priced.  But the cost of losing a good portion of next year’s calf crop is even greater!

LEAD Fellowship Applications Available for Group Thirty-four

            Fellowship applications for Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) Group 34 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.

            "Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director.

            In addition to monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April each year, Nebraska LEAD Fellows also participate in a 10-day National Study/Travel Seminar and a two week International Study/Travel Seminar.

            Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy, leadership through communication, our political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, agribusiness and marketing, advances in health care and the resources and people of Nebraska's Panhandle, Hejny said.

            The Nebraska LEAD Program is designed to prepare the spokespersons, problem-solvers and decision makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry.

            In its 33rd year, the program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in cooperation with Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.

            Applications are due no later than June 15 and are available via e-mail from the Nebraska LEAD Program. Please contact Shana at  You can also request an application by writing Room 318 Biochemistry Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0763 or by calling 402-472-6810. You can visit for information about the selection process.

            Nebraska LEAD Program offices are in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Thin alfalfa stands can be rejuvenated by interseeding and converting them to pasture.

Most alfalfa fields start to lose stand and production ability after cutting hay for several years.  Sometimes winterkill thins stands.  When this happens to you, interseed grasses, and maybe some other legumes, to turn your thinning alfalfa into high producing pasture.  Not only might you extend the useful life of your alfalfa field by several years, you also will develop excellent grazing for your livestock.

The most common grasses interseeded into alfalfa are orchardgrass and smooth brome, but other grasses like endophyte-free tall fescue, meadow brome, festulolium, and wheatgrasses also can be used.  In addition, include other legumes like red clover for short-term pasture or birdsfoot trefoil if you plan to graze this pasture more than three years.  This will add diversity to your animals' diet and help assure good legume growth for several more years.

You must get these new seedlings off to an early start, so be sure to interseed as soon as soils thaw and conditions allow tractor and drills to operate properly.  If your alfalfa still is relatively thick and vigorous, also take a very early hay cutting well before buds form, probably during the first week of May.  This will allow sunlight to continue to reach new seedlings below the alfalfa.  Then use your good judgement regarding competition from the existing alfalfa for subsequent hay cuts.  By mid- to late summer you could be able to start to rotationally graze.

Inter-seeding grass into existing alfalfa takes timely planting and haying, but both land and livestock can improve with your efforts.

Iowa Corn Checkoff Legislation Signed by Branstad

Progressively started in 1977 by farmer referendum, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board checkoff legislation signed Wednesday by Governor Branstad removes current restraints limiting future control of farmer dollars. The legislation specifically raises the legislative cap (HF 2427) on the checkoff, allowing for incremental growth only by farmer referendum. Specifically, the legislation signed today, does not implement any changes to the current collection rate of one cent.

"Any decision regarding the checkoff rate would continue to be in the hands of Iowa corn farmers through a referendum, just as it was when created by the legislature in 1976 and voted on by farmers in 1977," says Roger Zylstra, a farmer from Lynnville and current ICGA President. "We thank Governor Branstad and the Iowa Legislature for unanimous passage of this bill and for the recognition that farmer dollars are best managed by farmers."

The bill unanimously passed both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law this afternoon. HF2427 changes the current legislative cap progressively from one cent to three cents, and reaffirms that any future increase in the checkoff rate may only be made by farmer referendum.

Historically, the Iowa Corn Checkoff was established by producer referendum in 1977. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board, made up of farmers elected by their peers, invests checkoff dollars for research, education, promotion, and market development. The checkoff is collected on corn that enters commercial channels, but not on grain used on-farm. The corn checkoff was moved in 2012 via referendum to the current rate of 1 cent per bushel marketed. Producers are able to request a refund of their checkoff contribution.

Farm Poll: Soil Compaction Concerns Increase

As tractors, combines and other farm equipment have become larger and heavier, Iowa farmers’ concerns about soil compaction and its impacts on crop yields have increased as well, according to the 2013 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

Combine and grain cart axle loads are some of the heaviest on row crop land, with axle loads for larger grain carts easily exceeding 75,000 pounds, said Mark Hanna, an extension agricultural engineer with Iowa State University.

“The 2013 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll results show that many farmers are concerned about soil compaction impacts of heavy equipment traffic. As farmers start to plan fieldwork, they should consider strategies such as controlled traffic lanes to mitigate potential compaction,” Hanna said.

ISU Extension and Outreach sociologists J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr. and Paul Lasley co-direct the annual poll. The 2013 poll included a series of questions examining farmers’ experience with soil compaction, their concerns about the issue and their perspectives on common compaction management techniques. The questions were developed in partnership with the ISU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. These questions were asked only of farmers who had planted corn, soybeans or other row crops in 2012, Arbuckle said.

“About 71 percent of farmers indicated they were concerned about soil compaction on the land that they farm,” Arbuckle said. “About 75 percent agreed that they were concerned about the impact of heavy machinery on soil health. Half of the farmers agreed or strongly agreed that they consider the weight of equipment when making purchasing decisions.”

Impact of Soil Compaction

“Compaction is variable depending on soil conditions and wheel loads,” said Hanna. “Some research suggests that yields may be depressed 2 to 5 bushels per acre or more in seasons with wetter soil, and we wanted to know if farmers are noticing yield losses.”

Respondents were asked to consider all of the land that they farm and estimate the average annual impact of soil compaction on corn yield over the past five years, Arbuckle said. Sixteen percent reported that they do not have soil compaction, while another 33 percent indicated that they have soil compaction issues, but with negligible effect on yields. However, more than half of farmers estimated that soil compaction has had an impact on yields: 25 percent estimated that those losses were 2 bushels or less per year; 20 percent reported yield losses of between 2 and 5 bushels an acre; 6 percent estimated loss of five to 10 bushels; and, 2 percent reported annual losses greater than 10 bushels per acre.

Managing Soil Compaction

Arbuckle said 91 percent of farmers indicated that they attempt to avoid compaction by taking soil moisture content, a major mediating factor, into account as they plan fieldwork. Sixty-five percent agreed that wheel traffic pattern control, a best management practice, is an effective means of reducing soil compaction.

“Compaction can be significantly reduced by aligning combine, grain cart, tractor and other wheel tracks into a controlled traffic pattern,” said Hanna. “Using the same wheel tracks helps minimize the amount of land damaged. Farmers also should carefully evaluate wheel tread patterns when acquiring machinery.”

Other practices were also seen as effective. Sixty percent of farmers agreed that removing crop residue can lead to increased soil compaction, and 57 percent agreed that no-till is an effective way to reduce compaction. Fifty-five percent indicated that fall tillage is an important compaction management strategy for their operation. Forty-seven percent indicated that winter freeze and thaw and summer shrink and swell are sufficient to address soil compaction on the land they farm.

Seventy-five percent of farmers reported they use “simple observation” to determine whether soil compaction is an issue. Fifty-nine percent use evaluation of plant growth, 24 percent dig the root system, and 21 percent use a penetrometer or other metal rod to measure soil resistance, Arbuckle said.

“Digging and inspecting old root masses to look for compaction is a good practice before investing in deep tillage operations,” added Hanna. “Excessive tillage can destroy natural soil structure that helps prevent compaction.”

More information about soil compaction can be found in the publication “Understanding and Managing Soil Compaction” (PM 1901B), available from the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store.

Neuberger named Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year

Darrell Neuberger, DVM, was honored as the Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) Annual Meeting this month in Dallas. This recognition is given annually to the technical services or allied industry veterinarian who has demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency and effectiveness in veterinary service to their company and its clients as well as giving tirelessly in service to AASV and the swine industry.

Dr. Neuberger has spent his career working in the swine industry in Iowa. Since 2009, Dr. Neuberger has served as a senior manager in Technical Services for Zoetis. Prior to joining Zoetis, he worked as a Technical Services veterinarian for Fort Dodge Animal Health and in a mixed-animal veterinary practice. Dr. Neuberger received both his undergraduate degree and doctorate of veterinary medicine (DVM) from Iowa State University (ISU).

“Dr. Neuberger is dedicated to improving the lives of the people and pigs around him, and that dedication has been duly acknowledged with this well-deserved award,” said Shelley Stanford, DVM, director, U.S. Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to have Dr. Neuberger and his years of committed service to veterinarians, producers and the swine industry as part of our team.”

In addition to his daily responsibilities of supporting veterinarians and producers, Dr. Neuberger enjoys mentoring veterinary students at ISU, as well as coordinating the Zoetis Summer Veterinary Student Intern Program. He also continues learning as he helps educate students, other veterinarians, producers and caregivers. Dr. Neuberger has been involved in countless research projects and completed the University of Illinois Executive Veterinary Program in 2000.

“I am most humbled to receive this recognition,” Dr. Neuberger said. “The swine industry is a wonderful community to work in, and I am honored to be spending my career as part of it. I would like to sincerely thank those who nominated me and the talented Zoetis team that I share this recognition with.”

Outside of work, Dr. Neuberger and his wife, Diane, keep busy by traveling and visiting their three daughters and four grandchildren. Dr. Neuberger also is an avid fisherman and Iowa State Cyclones fan.

NCGA Seeks Tomorrow's Leaders

The National Corn Growers Association reminders farmers they are invited to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the Leadership at Its Best Program or the Advanced Leadership Academy, both co-sponsored by Syngenta.  Growers must be nominated by their state corn association for either program.  Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by April 9.

"Since it began in the mid 1980s, Leadership at Its Best has helped train strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level," said NCGA President Martin Barbre.  "This year, we again ask that farmers come forward and act upon their desire to give back to their peers. NCGA depends upon grassroots leadership, and I can personally attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in full through the incredible relationships built with like-minded individuals."

Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership at Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The first session, held in August in Greensboro, N.C., addresses personal communications skills, public speaking and association management.  The second session, which will be held in January of 2015, addresses public policy issues, working with the Hill and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and many state organizations.

Since 1986, the National Corn Growers Association, the state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the Syngenta- co-sponsored Leadership At Its Best Program.  More than 550 growers have gained invaluable media, communications, association management and public policy knowledge and skills over the lifetime of the program.

Advanced Leadership training aims to help develop top-notch state and national leadership that is empowered to elevate the leaders around them within the industry and their communities. It builds upon the Leadership at Its Best Program.  States may nominate two applicants, one as a primary candidate and one to serve as an alternate. Nominees must be a member of NCGA, a graduate of Leadership at Its Best, and about to assume, or already in, a senior national or state leadership post.

"As a graduate of the program, I understand the important role this program plays in helping develop the skills and build the relationships necessary to lead such a dynamic organization in an ever-changing environment," said Barbre.

Participants must be registered members of NCGA.  Those interested should contact their state corn organization which will submit nominees for the programs.

The first session of the Advanced Leadership Academy will take place Minneapolis, MN September 8-11, 2014. During this session, participants will focus on leadership, communication and negotiation skills. The second session, held January 25-29, 2015 in Washington D.C., will focus on the further development of lobbying and media training abilities.

Those interested should contact their state corn organization, which will submit nominees for the programs.

Farm Bureau on Water Quality Trading: It’s Complicated

Managing nutrients is complicated and any water quality trading system must take this into consideration, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today. Although Farm Bureau supports the concept of water quality trading, such programs should remain under state management rather than federal government control.

Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment. Click on the image for a high resolution version.

“There are major scientific, market and regulatory challenges to water quality trading,” said Carl Shaffer, president of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, testifying to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment on behalf of AFBF.

If properly designed and implemented, trading can help make reaching nutrient water quality standards more affordable, said Shaffer.

However, “Achieving the goals of trading depends on having easily understood rules that clearly define what is being traded and exchange procedures,” Shaffer explained. He also noted that farmers are deeply concerned about the environment.

“Farmers and ranchers constantly take advantage of new technology, new practices and programs as they become available, to grow quality food products while protecting natural resources,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer closed by emphasizing that although the concept of water quality trading has the potential to be a useful tool, in practice, it is not so simple, as regulatory and cost barriers can be a hindrance.

Fed Cattle Inventories Remain Low, But Growing

John Michael Riley, Extension Economist, Mississippi State University

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (Mar 21). The report revealed that 10.790 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on March 1, 2014. Placements into feedlots during the month of February totaled 1.650 million head while marketings totaled 1.549 million head.

Placements were expected to be larger once again in February. The average of analysts' expectations called for an increase of 9.1% from last year's number and the range of expectations ran from an increase of 2.2% to 18.2%. So, while the range was wide, everyone who was polled looked for a year-over-year increase. The reported placement number, 1.650 million head, was an increase of 14.7% from February 2013 and a 1.0% increase from the five-year average from 2009 to 2013. Based on this, it is apparent that last year's number was a bit out of line. Indeed, the February 2013 placement number was the lowest since the current on feed data started in 1996.

Placements by weight revealed a tendency toward heavier cattle being put on feed, but overall placements were up across all weight classes. Despite lower feed prices in recent months, keeping cattle on grass remains an advantage. Placements in 600 to 699 pound weight group showed the largest year-over-year percentage increase, but were the smallest in terms of total head placed. This weight group saw a total of 330 million head put on feed versus 515 head for the 800 and up group, which was the largest. The average placement weight was 713.9 pounds, employing the common method of using the midpoint from each weight group, which was on par with last year and the average from 2009 to 2013. Nebraska once again led the nation in total placements with 430 million head. Texas accounted for 410 million head and Kanas placed 330 million head.

Cattle marketed in February totaled 1.549 million head, down 3.4% versus last year and down 9.4% compared to the average from 2009 to 2013. Pre-report expectations called for marketings to come in at a 2.9% drop, so the reported value was a tad worse than that. This marks the lowest level of February cattle marketed since the data began in 1996 and the second lowest across all months. Before being too alarmed, keep in mind that supplies are extremely tight and will limit marketings. Also, February is typically one of the three lowest months for marketings during the year due to the timing of placements five to six months earlier (August and September 2013 placements were, respectively, the lowest and second lowest on record for their respective months) and the lack of prominent demand, for example, given the start of the Lent season.

As a result of the higher placements than were expected and the lower marketings, total cattle on feed inventories were higher than anticipated. The 10.790 million head were 0.5% lower than March 1, 2013 and 3.6% lower than the average from 2009 to 2013. Interestingly, inventories have risen month-over-month for the past two months, which is typically not the case. So, we are noticing a build-up of inventories at a time when they historically shrink. While this comes across as concerning the more likely result will be fewer placements in future months and then fewer cattle on feed in the latter part of 2014. Therefore, the general tightening of supplies has not suddenly evaporated and continues to provide underlying price support.

Demand for US Corn in Egypt, North Africa on the Rise

According to USDA's Production, Supply and Distribution database, Egypt is expected to import 6.2 million metric tons (244 million bushels) of corn in the year that began Oct. 1, 2013, which is the second highest level of corn imports to Egypt ever. In this dramatic turnaround, the United States is projected to enjoy at least a 30 percent market share in the 2013/2014 marketing year that began Sept. 1, 2014, after the market share dropping to less than one percent during the 2012/2013 marketing year. The U.S. Grains Council has been active in Egypt promoting the United States as the long-term, reliable supplier of corn.

USGC Regional Director of the Middle East and Africa Cary Sifferath has spent the past week in Egypt, meeting with major corn importers and end-users in the poultry sector. Sifferath was joined by Hesham Hassanein, hired last January as USGC Egypt marketing manager.

"Despite a still-struggling economy in Egypt, demand is picking up for livestock feed," Sifferath said. "Because of an abundant supply of U.S. corn from an exceptional harvest last year, U.S. corn prices are much more competitive in Egypt and the rest of North Africa."

According to USDA's Export Sales Report, Sept. 1, 2013, to March 20, 2014, accumulated exports and outstanding sales to Egypt have already exceeded 1.6 million tons (63 million bushels). Industry insiders project sales are likely to total 2 million tons (78.7 million bushels) for the 2013/2014 marketing year, which ends Aug. 31. The last three years, Egypt has imported a majority of its corn from Ukraine and South America.

"Due to the on-going difficulties in Ukraine, resulting in increased prices, we've seen importers switch to placing orders for U.S. corn from March through the summer months," Sifferath said. "We're also seeing a rebound in other North African countries, including Morocco and Tunisia, where market share has also been near zero the last two years."

A Welcome Rebound: US Corn Exports to Mexico

According to USDA's Export Sales Report, as of March 20, 2014, accumulated exports of U.S. corn to Mexico are 5.5 million metric tons (216.5 million bushels), more than 3.3 million tons (131 million bushels) greater than at the same time last year. For perspective, Mexico only imported 4.5 million tons (177 million bushels) of U.S. corn for the 2012/2013 marketing year than began on Sept. 1, 2012. This dramatic turnaround is due to an abundant U.S. corn crop harvested in 2013, which allowed for U.S. corn to be competitively priced in the export market.

The 2012/2013 corn marketing year that began on Sept. 1, 2012, was marked by a tight supply of U.S. corn due to a severe drought in large part of the U.S. Corn Belt. Some top markets, including Mexico, were forced to diversify sourcing to meet demand. During 2013, Mexico imported approximately 609,000 tons (24 million bushels) of corn from Argentina and Brazil.

However, despite the availability of South American origin corn, the United States is still the preferred long-term reliable supplier of corn. The U.S. Grains Council helps bolster this reputation by providing yearly Corn Harvest and Export Cargo Quality Reports that evaluate the U.S. corn crop at harvest and again at the export channel.

Mexican grain traders confirmed their preference for U.S. corn by stating they anticipate a slight increase in corn imports compared to imports in the 2011/2012 marketing year, which was a more normal corn importing year than 2012/2013. The traders have indicated the only difference this year is the lack of competition from other suppliers such as Argentina and Brazil.

However, later this year, a projected large Mexican corn crop could dampen the rate of corn exports to Mexico. There could be a slowdown in the volume of U.S. corn imported when Mexico's corn crop is harvested, but for now the Mexican market is demonstrating its longstanding preference for U.S. corn.

IDFA and NMPF Urge Congress to Reject New Legislation Allowing Interstate Sales of Unpasteurized Milk

The nation’s dairy farmers and dairy companies today expressed their opposition to new legislation in Congress that would allow the interstate sales of raw milk, saying that any additional availability of the product will increase the number of sicknesses and deaths of people who consume it.

The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation said that “the risks inherent in raw dairy products are not worth any imagined benefits to either consumers or producers of unpasteurized milk products. Raw milk skips the pasteurization safety process, and this is playing Russian roulette with the health of too many Americans – including many of our children.”

The two associations urged lawmakers to reject the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014,” a bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), which would repeal a long-standing ban on the sales across state lines of unpasteurized milk. Federal law currently gives states the discretion to regulate raw milk within their borders, but the dairy organizations expressed concern that repealing the interstate ban would greatly increase the production and consumption of a known health hazard.

“If this measure passes, those most vulnerable to dangerous pathogens – children – are the ones who will suffer the most. The benefits of consuming raw milk are illusory, but the painful costs of illness and death are very real,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Productions Federation.

“Consumption of raw milk is a demonstrated public health risk. The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well‐documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens, including E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella,” he stated.

Several states in recent years have considered and approved legislation expanding the sales of raw milk, even as the product has been repeatedly linked to serious illnesses from coast to coast.

“Our dairy industry benefits from a very high degree of consumer confidence – confidence built in large part due to the excellent food safety record of milk and dairy products,” said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre‐empt consumers’ well‐being. To further ease the regulations surrounding the national sale of raw milk is an unnecessary risk to consumer safety.”

The two dairy groups said that the Centers for Disease Control has reported that nearly 75 percent of raw milk‐associated outbreaks have occurred in states where sale of raw milk was legal. Only one to two percent of reported foodborne outbreaks are attributed to dairy products. However, of those, over 70 percent have been attributed to raw milk and inappropriately‐aged raw milk cheeses.

“Seldom has the science behind public health policy been so clearly one-sided. Pathogenic bacteria can be found on any dairy farm, regardless of its cleanliness or the good intentions of its owner. This legislation is a threat to public health and should not be approved,” the organizations said.

China Soybean, Rubber Importers Renege on Deals

Chinese importers of soybeans and rubber are backing out of deals, adding to a wide range of evidence showing rising financial stress in the world's second-biggest economy.

Most purchases are private, with little data on the volumes affected, but traders at Asian trading firms say they are seeing a sharp rise in canceled contracts this year while other buyers are demanding heavy discounts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that China has canceled orders for 517,000 metric tons of soybeans, used to make cooking oil, and compares to imports of 63.4 million tons last year. South American soybean contracts have also been canceled because of weak demand, says trade journal Oil World.

The cancellations are a big worry for the commodity markets as exporters around the world had relied for years on China's insatiable appetite for a wide range of raw ingredients. But now as jitters rise over the health of the economy, the fallout is rippling through into agricultural commodities, just weeks after the price of copper and iron ore tumbled on worries they had been used in risky Chinese financing deals.

Natural rubber, mostly grown in Southeast Asia and used to make products ranging from tires to latex gloves, is also getting hit as some buyers from China refuse to honor existing agreements, or look for ways to negotiate discounts. Two large Asian rubber producers, who asked not to be named, said Chinese buyers had defaulted on them.

Traders say buyers are trying to ask for discounts, citing reasons such as cargo arriving a few days late and claims about poor quality or contamination, said Bundit Kerdvongbundit, vice president of Von Bundit Co., Thailand's second-largest natural rubber producer. The contracts are already signed, but Chinese importers "refuse to take cargo or pay unless they get discounts."

Wednesday March 26 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Where do you spread manure?  What crops benefit most from manure application?  One good choice is a field about to be seeded to alfalfa.

Applying manure before seeding alfalfa may seem counter productive since alfalfa is not likely to benefit from the nitrogen in the manure.  But manure also is rich in phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and many micronutrients that alfalfa needs in large quantities.

Research studies show that applying as much as 12,000 gallons or 50 tons of dry manure per acre before planting alfalfa can boost alfalfa yield more than commercial fertilizers at the same nutrient levels.  And, yield increases occur on both low and high fertility soils with manure.  Sometimes higher fertility soils do not respond to commercial fertilizer.  Other factors like improved soil tilth, increased soil microbial activity, micronutrients, and early nitrogen availability may be the reason manure increases alfalfa yield so well.

Do not heavily apply manure prior to alfalfa seeding if you also plant a companion crop like oats that you plan to harvest for grain.  It is likely to lodge and smother much alfalfa.  If you cut the companion crop early for hay, though, it will be alright.

Use a soil test and a manure test to determine how much manure to apply.  Then mix manure well into the soil using tillage, making sure to prepare a firm seedbed so new alfalfa seedlings will emerge rapidly and vigorously.  Also, plan your weed control program carefully since manure can also stimulate weed seedlings.  Proper timing of seeding, firm seedbeds, and herbicides or clipping can control weed pressure.

Looking for a place to spread manure?  A heavy dose before planting alfalfa can pay big dividends.


Monsanto Company has announced that six new recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Research Program.  The program, which started in early 2013 and recently was extended to 2016, provides merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research projects that address specific aspects of corn rootworm biology, genomics and management issues.

“The program is extremely beneficial to the research and academic community as its goal is not to examine product-specific issues, but rather look at the broader challenges farmers face when dealing with corn rootworm,” said Dr. Spencer, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, who received one of this year’s grants. “I’m honored to receive this grant, which will help further my research into the behavioral, physiological and ecological factors that contribute to the western corn rootworm’s adaptations to a variety of pest management strategies.”

The CRW Knowledge Research Program is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Steve Pueppke, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and AgBioResearch Director at Michigan State University, and Dr. Dusty Post, Monsanto’s global insect management lead. Additional committee members include experts from academia and agricultural organizations, and were selected based on their expertise in corn rootworm biology and insect management practices.

“The valuable research that is being generated through this program is continuing to improve our understanding of this challenging pest and provide economical, practical and sustainable solutions for farmers,” said Post.

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from evaluating how best to manage corn rootworm under current production practices to evaluating strategies to delay the onset of resistance evolution. The award recipients are:
    Joseph Spencer, University of Illinois
    Nicholas Miller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Paul Mitchell, University of Wisconsin
    Blair Siegfried, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Douglas Golick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Mike Caprio, Mississippi State University
    Christian Krupke, Purdue University

A listing of the winners and background on their projects is available on the Monsanto Corn Rootworm Knowledge Program Web page.

“The Corn Rootworm Knowledge grant has enabled field and laboratory research on western corn rootworm that would not have been possible without this support,” said Aaron Gassmann of Iowa State University and Kenneth Ostlie of the University of Minnesota, two recipients of last year’s grants. “Bt corn for management of western corn rootworm is a valuable tool for farmers in the Corn Belt. Information gained through this research will help to preserve the efficacy of Bt corn for management of western corn rootworm, and will enhance the ability of farmers to effectively manage this pest.”

Smith Honors Nebraska Producers on House Floor

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today honored Nebraska agriculture producers in a speech delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives as part of National Agriculture Week.  Remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize National Agriculture Week, a time to celebrate the extraordinary diversity, abundance, and evolution of American agriculture.

In 1960, the average U.S. farmer fed 26 people; today, Mr. Speaker, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people, using less land, water, energy, and fertilizer.

Thanks to agriculture research which has given rise to exciting new technologies and techniques, America’s producers are adopting practices which allow them to meet food, fiber, feed and fuel demands and preserve our natural resources for generations to come. 

From high-tech irrigation tools to modified crops, growers are producing a more stable, safe, quality and affordable food supply.

As we recognize National Agriculture Week, we have much to celebrate and many challenges ahead.

Knowing the forward-thinking nature of producers combined with these exciting advances in agriculture, I am confident we will meet all demands of our growing world.

As co-chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and Rural Caucus, I am committed to ensuring federal policy reflects sound science and strives to compliment, not undermine, this innovation. 

Video of Congressman Smith’s speech is available at:


Results from a five-year on-farm research project are helping  a northwest Iowa farmer keep valuable land in production as well as reduce nitrogen runoff into shallow wells that supply water for a nearby community of 7,000 people. The project also shows how research can be used to expand farmer options outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

The project brought together local landowners, officials from the city of Sioux Center, the Sioux County Soil and Water Conservation District, state and federal service providers and professors from nearby Dordt College. This unique partnership looked at five alternative cropping systems and how nitrogen moves through the soil over time. It was funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Source Water Protection Program for Targeted Community Water Supplies. Findings were presented at a March 20 public meeting attended by more than 50 people.

At the forefront, offering land and labor, was Matt Schuiteman of AJS Farms, whose family has been farming the land used in this study for more than 30 years. Beginning with the Leopold Center research grant in 2009, Schuiteman worked with Dordt College environmental studies professor Robb De Haan. They designed and implemented five experimental cropping systems on roughly 40 acres of land adjacent to and above a bank of shallow wells that provide more than 50 percent of the drinking water for Sioux Center.

“The idea was to use perennial crops and cover crops to keep the nitrogen in the upper layers of the soil and available for the next season, and apply just what the crops need when they need it,” De Haan said.  

The systems were designed for standard farm equipment ranged from continuous corn with a winter rye cover crop to perennial grass for hay (common for wellheads but generally a low-income choice for the landowner). Three other systems used rotations of oat-alfalfa-corn; oat/red clover-corn; and soybean-winter wheat-corn. The perennial grass and alfalfa systems receive no commercial nitrogen applications; other systems received nitrogen fertilizer as needed.

Researchers collected 6-foot-deep soil samples from each plot every fall, and divided these into 1-foot segments for analysis of nitrate N concentration. The information was used to construct nitrate N profiles for each plot, and to track nitrate N movement over time. Results illustrate opportunities for farming the land as well as managing water quality.

As expected, the continuous corn with rye left high levels of residual nitrate N in the top 2 ft. of soil. The grass hay averaged five-fold fewer residuals for every year and at every depth, proving to be the most effective system for reducing nitrate N escape into local drinking water.  However, wheat with soybean and corn performed better than continuous corn with rye. Adding a tap-rooted legume, such as red clover or alfalfa, to corn dramatically dropped residual nitrate N levels throughout the profile.

Schuiteman said he was surprised at the effectiveness of alfalfa in managing both the amount and distribution of nitrates in the soil profile. But he was disappointed that wheat and oats were less effective in cleaning up nitrate at the lowest depth.  Based on the findings, he is planning to implement a four-year rotation of two years of alfalfa followed by two years of corn. Oats may be included for weed and erosion management during alfalfa establishment.

Dordt College agriculture professor Ron Vos will analyze profitability of the systems using ISU annual custom rates and prices. Preliminary analysis comparing two of the systems, oat-alfalfa-corn and continuous corn with a winter rye cover crop, showed the continuous corn-rye with the highest average profit per acre but also the most variable for 2009 through 2012. Full results from the project are expected later this year.

For more information and links to a video about the project, go to the Leopold Center website,     

Pre-World Pork Expo tours provide snapshot of U.S. agriculture

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has developed two tours in conjunction with the 2014 World Pork Expo for visitors who want a further glimpse into U.S agriculture. A two-day tour, June 2-3, will feature a broad agricultural overview, from crop and pork production, to farm equipment and shipping. A one-day tour will highlight agribusiness in central Iowa. Both options include meals on tour days and free admission to World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.
“These tours give visitors first-hand exposure to U.S. agriculture and farming methods for both grain and pork production,” says Greg Thornton, NPPC director of producer services. “They provide an excellent snapshot of the Midwest, which many feel is the breadbasket of the world.”

A look at Midwest agriculture

The two-day tour, underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, will venture into eastern Iowa, western Illinois and northern Indiana, giving visitors an up-close look at U.S. corn and soybean production. A highlight will be an afternoon at the Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms, which shows visitors modern pork production in action. After an overnight stay at Harrah’s Joliet in historic Joliet, Ill., Day 2 will include a barge trip on the Mississippi River — a vital waterway for shipping U.S. agricultural goods around the world, as well as a visit to the John Deere Harvester Works.

The one-day tour on Tuesday, June 3, will feature insights into crop research and production at DuPont Pioneer, and advances in swine nutrition and feed ingredients at Kemin’s new research center. Leading Midwestern pork producers will join the group for lunch at an Iowa institution, The Machine Shed Restaurant. A stop at the John Deere Des Moines Works will provide a look at equipment used by both livestock and crop farmers. A visit to a new, innovative Hy-Vee grocery store will provide a look at the U.S. retail food sector.

Tuesday evening, both tour groups will have dinner with National Pork Board representatives at the organization’s headquarters, with a chance to learn about NPB’s research, education and promotional programs — including international activities.

“These tours are a particularly good opportunity for visitors from other countries to get a perspective on U.S. agricultural businesses and practices,” says Howard Hill, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Then, as they participate in World Pork Expo, they can apply their real-world insights to the products and technologies on display within the trade show, as well as the seminars and other educational activities.”

Sign up early to secure a spot

The registration deadline for both tours is Friday, May 2. The fee for the one-day tour is US$175 per person. The cost of the two-day tour, which includes hotel accommodations for the night of June 2, is US$400 per person. Space for both tours is limited, so don’t delay.

Both tours will start and end at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport. Included in the packages are bus transportation and three meals during each day of the tour. Registration also includes a three-day pass to World Pork Expo, and access to free transportation between the hotel and Expo grounds, June 4-6.

For more information and to register for these tours, go to and select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours."

The website also has the latest details about room availability at the official Expo hotels, a schedule of activities, and answers to frequently asked questions about traveling to World Pork Expo. Regular updates are available when you connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook, follow World Pork Expo on Twitter (#NPPCWPX) or download the official app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

World Pork Expo takes place June 4-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. More than 400 commercial exhibits will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, and Thursday, June 5, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 6. The swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 7, from 8 a.m. until they're completed (at approximately noon).

World Pork Expo, the world's largest pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/21/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 885,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.17 million gallons daily. That is down 6,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 885,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.57 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol rose to 15.7 million barrels, halting a five-week slide. Stocks were up 2.5% increase from the previous week.

Imports of ethanol were zero b/d for the 25th consecutive week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 378.1 million gallons daily, its highest level of the year. At 857,000 b/d, refiner/blender input of ethanol also hit its highest point of the year.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.83%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.419 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 98,769 metric tons of livestock feed, 88,053 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.61 million pounds of corn oil daily.

House Passes Legislation to Provide Public Input in National Monument Designations

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1459, Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments (EPIC) Act with a vote of 222-201. The Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applaud this action to give local governments, ranchers and other stakeholders a voice in the national monument designation process.

Introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), this bill would prevent the President from making vast, unilateral special land designations without thorough public review of the potential environmental, social and economic impacts.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, as interpreted today, the President has the unfettered authority to make “national monument” designations. The EPIC Act would amend the Antiquities Act to require potential monument designations of 5,000 acres or more are given full review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA reviews include in-depth analysis of the impacts of a proposed action, as well as the opportunity for local government and public involvement in the decision-making process.

While intended to protect small, defined areas that are historically or scientifically unique and important, abuse of the Antiquities Act by Presidents has led to vast monument designations that are outside the original intent of the law. Large monument designations have had devastating impacts on local economies and culture due to the restrictions they place on productive uses of the land. Applying NEPA to large proposed designations would ensure that the public was made aware of those impacts and give the opportunity for input.

Currently, minor federal agency decisions regarding livestock grazing are subject NEPA analysis, but national monument designations that could encompass millions of acres are not. Brice Lee, Colorado rancher and president of PLC, said the EPIC Act would rectify this inequity.

“This legislation will help protect our members’ livelihoods by preventing rash, oversized national monument designations that impose new regulations and restrictions on multiple uses such as livestock grazing,” said Lee. “The Antiquities Act is being abused and utilized to subvert the role of our elected representatives in making impactful decisions on the management of our federal lands. Congress enacted this law with the best of intentions—now it must be fixed to respond to the continued abuse.”

The EPIC Act would also allow a President no more than one monument designation per state, per term. While it would not require NEPA review for designations smaller than 5,000 acres, it would place a 3-year expiration date on those designations unless the designation is approved by Congress. Additionally, it would require any monument designation to be followed by a study estimating long-term management costs and potential loss in federal and state revenue. Finally, it would not allow monuments to include private property without the informed written consent of the affected private property owner.

NCBA President Bob McCan added that the negative impacts of monument designations on ranchers has unintended consequences, not just for local economies but for the environment as well.

“Grazing encourages healthy plant growth, cuts down on fuel loads that lead to catastrophic wildfires, and supplies water sources to wildlife. Keeping ranchers in business is good policy for conservation of both private and public land,” the Texas cattleman said. “By preventing unilateral de facto wilderness designations by the executive branch, the EPIC Act will promote greater stability for the livestock industry. It is common sense and only fair to hold the President to the same standards that all other agencies and entities must live by when they make decisions on behalf of the federal government.”

PLC and NCBA encourage the Senate to take up the bill without delay.

2012 Drought Affects Louis Dreyfus

Agricultural trading giant Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV Wednesday reported a sharp dip in profits last year thanks to the aftereffects of a severe drought in the U.S. in 2012.

The company, which together with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill dominates the global trade in agricultural commodities, said net income fell to $640 million last year, compared with $877 million including discontinued operations in 2012.

A poor harvest of grains in the U.S. two years ago created a difficult environment in the first half of 2013 as tight supply limited trading opportunities, Louis Dreyfus said. By contrast, oversupply and unusual weather conditions in Brazil pressured the company's so-called Tropicals segment, which trades coffee, cotton, sugar and juice.

Louis Dreyfus's results reflect a testing year for the big agricultural traders. In February, Archer Daniels Midland also reported a dip in profits in the fourth quarter after earnings from its grain-trading unit dropped by about a third. Bunge swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, but sales in its agribusiness, sugar and bioenergy segments declined.

Executive chairman of Louis Dreyfus, Serge Schoen, described 2013 as "more difficult" than 2012 when the company recorded record profits. Overall, Schoen said the results were "very good," citing an 11% increase in revenue and a 10% increase in shipped volumes.

Louis Dreyfus estimates it accounts for around 10% of global trade flows in agricultural products, and has plans to double in size over the next four years. Its sales have already quadrupled since 2006.

Tuesday March 25 Ag News

2014 National Agriculture Week & Agriculture Day
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is readily accessible and safe. For this, we're fortunate, but that does not mean we don't have an obligation to recognize how it's made possible. National Ag Day falls on March 25th during National Ag Week which is March 23-29, 2014. The theme for this year is appropriately - "Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed".”  Farms both large and small have a proud tradition of nourishing generations. That is why people are encouraging consumers from all walks of life to learn more about farmers’ roles in providing nourishment for our families, our animals and our soil.

One out of three Nebraskans derive their income from working directly with agriculture. Cash receipts from farm marketing contributed over $24 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2012 which translated into a record net farm income of over $7.5 billion and 6.2 percent of the U.S. total. Nebraska has a vibrant export market and we need to remember that every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.29 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production. You can find where Nebraska ranks nationally in ag commodities by going to: 

This week we honor National Agriculture Day and join in with thousands of these other agriculturalists to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. Our very existence may depend upon when and how we tell our story. It is important, particularly during a week like National Ag Week, for all of us to show our gratitude to the many men and women who make agriculture possible.  Farmers and ranchers are those responsible for supplying a safe and abundant food supply.

Food and fiber doesn't just arrive at the grocery or clothing store. There's an entire industry dedicated to providing plentiful and safe food for consumption, as well as a wide range of comfortable clothing choices. We rely on agriculture for the very necessities of life.  And with new technology farmers are more environmentally friendly than ever before. American agriculture is not just producing more food it’s producing higher quality goods.  Less than 2 percent of our population is involved in modern agriculture and produces enough food for 6.3 billion people worldwide. With today’s successful commercial agriculture, one U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people and is the leading producer of more than 50 foods of importance to diets throughout the world. In 1940, the average U.S. farmer fed only 19 people. Today, American agriculture is doing more with less and doing it better. Farm families are overcoming increasing challenges to provide this food. They face increased pressures on farm and ranch land, including excess regulations and paperwork requirements, tax uncertainty, high input costs, limited water, emerging pests and plant and animal diseases.

As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States. We will need to provide enough food and fiber for 9 billion people by the year 2050; a big task that will be taken on by your Nebraska and American Farmers.  American farmers are working harder than ever, and it shows. The need for food produced in the United States is dramatic. Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy. And it's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, from farm to all the way to the grocery store, is full of vital links in a chain that brings food to every citizen - and millions of people abroad.  That's really what this day and week is all about . . . recognizing the role of agriculture - and celebrating it!

 Vilsack on National Agriculture Day

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement:

“Today and every day, we celebrate the extraordinary diversity and productivity of American agriculture. Farms and ranches of all forms and all sizes contribute to the safe, healthy, affordable food supply we enjoy in the United States.

Fittingly, Dr. Norman Borlaug is honored today with a statue at the U.S. Capitol, joining an array of American heroes commemorated in the National Statuary Hall. Dr. Borlaug’s statue reflects not only the magnitude of his own achievements, but the power of science to change lives in a positive way.

Dr. Borlaug’s legacy influences our work at USDA to equip the next generation of researchers and agricultural leaders with the sophisticated tools they’ll need to address the challenges of a changing climate and a growing global population.

On this National Agriculture Day, we thank the farmers, ranchers, and others at the heart of American agriculture, an industry that provides for our food and fiber needs, supports one in twelve jobs, and drives our nation’s economy.”

Heineman Announces Dawson & Merrick Counties Designated Livestock Friendly

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman announced the official designation of both Dawson and Merrick counties as Nebraska’s newest counties to receive the Livestock Friendly County designation through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“The designation of Dawson and Merrick counties as Livestock Friendly is a fitting way to celebrate Ag Week in Nebraska,” said Gov. Heineman. “Agriculture is our state’s most important industry, and livestock production is an essential part of success. Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is significant and it is a great way to recognize the tremendous positive impact the livestock industry has on Main Streets and the local economy.”

With the addition of Dawson and Merrick counties, there are now 26 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program. These counties join Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Deuel, Dodge, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Morrill, Otoe, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster counties.

In Dawson county, Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Dawson County Commissioners Dean Kugler, Bill Stewart, Dennis Rickertsen, P.J. Jacobson and Everett Hagan. In Merrick County, Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Merrick County Supervisors Jim Helgoth, DL Hahn, Carolyn Kucera, John Jefferson, Jimmie Graves, Roger Wiegert and Rex Weller.

Each county will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The state program is coordinated by the Department of Agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said the official designation makes a positive statement about each county’s commitment to rural economic development through livestock production. “It is clear from the submitted materials that county officials have given some purposeful thought to supporting the livestock industry. We are pleased to welcome both Dawson and Merrick counties into the program.”

To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to Department of Agriculture for review. Local producers or community groups can encourage their county board to submit a livestock friendly county application.

Additional information on the Livestock Friendly County program is available by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture toll-free at 800-422-6692, or by visiting the Department of Agriculture website at and clicking the Livestock Friendly County link.

Nebraska Cost-Share Programs for Irrigation Management Tools

Gary Zoubek, Extension Educator

With spring finally here, it's time for irrigators to check out cost-share programs and consider investing in additional tools to improve irrigation management.  ETgages (atmometers), soil water sensors, and other equipment can provide valuable information to make informed decisions. Many of Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have programs to assist with equipment purchases.

The Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN), which has been using these tools since 2005, has expanded from 15 growers in the Upper Big Blue NRD to over 1,100 participants statewide.

At the annual NAWMN Conference in February, Rod DeBuhr, Upper Big Blue NRD water manager, shared a statewide summary of NRD cost-share programs. Sixteen NRDs offer assistance for equipment: Central Platte, Little Blue, Lower Big Blue, Lower Elkhorn, Lower Platte North, Lower Platte South, Lower Republican, Middle Republican, Nemaha, North Platte, South Platte, Tri-Basin, Upper Niobrara White, Upper Republican, Upper Big Blue, and the Twin Platte.

The programs vary widely between NRDs, so it's important to check with them or your area NRCS field office for more information.

Lower Elkhorn

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost). Cost-share on capacitance probe systems (50%), purchase only. No leases.
Technical Assistance: NRD and UNL Extension assist with installation for first-time user and data interpretation.  Participation:  Over 75 producers, over 60,000 acres. 

Lower Platte North

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost).  Technical Assistance: UNL Extension assists with installation for first-time user and data interpretation. Participation:  120 producers, 15,000 acres. 

Lower Platte South

Cost-share:  50% on soil moisture sensing equipment; 75% in "priority areas." No maximum.  Technical Assistance: Yes, upon request.  Participation: 1,000 acres. 

Central Platte

Cost-share:  Cost-share program for the high-intensity (web-based) system only; provides $2,000 the first year. Recipient is required to use the system for three years and report to the NRD annually after the growing season for three years. The NRD allows reports sent directly from the computer program used with the probes.  Participation: New program in 2013.  Technical Assistance: Yes

Lower Loup

Cost-share:  Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages.  Technical Assistance: Yes, upon request.  Participation:  15-20 producers, 2,000 acres. 

Upper Big Blue

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost).  Technical Assistance: NRD and UNL Extension assist with installation for first-time users and data interpretation.  Participation:  Over 400 producers, over 100,000 acres. 

Papio Missouri
- No program at this time. Looking into program for the future.

Lewis and Clark
- No program

Upper Elkhorn
- No Program

DeBuhr also shared a map of statewide efforts by Nebraska's 23 NRDs to manage its water resource. The map covers:
-    Allocations
-    Flowmeter Requirements
-    Well Drilling Moratorium
-    Required Water Use Reports
-    Rainfall Yearly Average

The map, which shows restrictions on groundwater irrigation in Nebraska, is intended for general reference only.  Rules and regulalations specific to districts and sub-areas are established and changed by a locally elected board of directors for each NRD. Not all regulations pertaining to water management are represented on this map.  Please contact your local NRD to obtain the most current rules and regulations for your district.  A list of Nebraska NRD water programs can be found at:  (Click on the "NRD Programs" tab and select "Water.")

Do You Need to Boost Your Corn Seeding Rate?

Charles Wortmann, UNL Extension Soils Specialist

Most Nebraska producers could increase corn yield by increasing seeding rate, according to research reported in UNL NebGuide G2216, Row Spacing and Seeding Rate for Corn in Nebraska...

"Current Nebraska research suggests that yield increases may be possible by increasing plant population at harvest beyond the USDA-reported averages in Nebraska of 29,000 plants per acre (30,450-31,900 seeds per acre) for irrigated production and 21,850 plants per acre (22,943-24,035 seeds per acre) for rainfed production," it notes.

Planting 34,000 seeds per acre for irrigated corn and 24,000 to 30,000 for rainfed corn, depending on expected yield, with 30-inch row spacing is expected on average to give the best net returns.

This NebGuide provides guidelines to determining row spacing, twin-row planting, and seeding rate for eastern and central Nebraska. It is based on findings of research conducted at UNL research centers and on farmers' fields.

Use of 30- and 15-inch row spacing and twin row versus single row planting are addressed. Guidelines to seeding rates consider seed cost and expected yield for maximizing profit per acre.

The NebGuide was written by Ross Barr, masters degree graduate student; Stephen Mason, professor of agronomy and horticulture; Mitchell Novacek, former masters degree graduate student; Charles Wortmann, Extension soils specialist; and Jennifer Rees, Extension educator.

Additional corn seeding rate research will be shared in the coming weeks.

Scoular Partners with Invest an Acre to Help Eliminate Hunger in Nebraska

The Scoular Company recently partnered with Invest an Acre, a program that encourages farmers across the country to donate one acre or more of crop proceeds to help eliminate hunger in their local communities.

Beginning June 1, 2014, The Scoular Foundation will provide a $100 gift to Invest an Acre for each Nebraska farmer’s donation to the program. Donations in Nebraska are also matched by Monsanto and Farm Credit Services of America, with 100 percent of every donation going to the food bank serving the donating farmer’s local community.

Scoular offices and facilities in the following Nebraska locations will be participating in the Invest an Acre program:  Atlanta, Big Springs, Brandon, Fremont, Grainton, Hershey, Holdrege, Lamar, Madrid, North and South Grant, Omaha, Paxton, Rushville, Sidney, Sutherland, Venango, and Wallace. 

When farmers sell grain to Scoular, they can designate an amount to be donated to Invest an Acre. The local Scoular location will then make the farmer’s designated donation to Invest an Acre and deduct the donation amount from the farmer’s grain settlement. Feeding America will distribute 100% of the donation, plus the matching gifts, to the food bank serving the farmer’s local community. For more information, please visit

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act.

Determining when the Clean Water Act protected streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity.

The proposed rule does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The proposed rule preserves the Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture. Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption.

The health of rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities – they trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. They are also economic drivers because of their role in fishing, hunting, agriculture, recreation, energy, and manufacturing.

About 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S only flow seasonally or after rain, but have a huge impact on the downstream waters. And approximately 117 million people – one in three Americans – get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on these streams. These are important waterways for which EPA and the Army Corps is clarifying protection.

The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 90 days from publication in the Federal Register.  We look forward hearing your views on this proposal.

For more information, please see the attached press release and visit

EPA and Army Corps Proposal Expands Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) proposed an expansion of their federal authority over “waters of the United States.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is deeply concerned by this vast overreach by the EPA and the Administration. Under this expansion, essentially all waters in the country would be subject to regulation by the EPA and the Corps, regardless of size or continuity of flow.

“This is a step too far, even by an agency and an administration notorious for over-regulation,” said NCBA President Bob McCan, Victoria, Texas cattleman. “This proposal by EPA and the Corps would require cattlemen like me to obtain costly and burdensome permits to take care of everyday chores like moving cattle across a wet pasture or cleaning out a dugout. These permits will stifle economic growth and inhibit future prosperity without a corresponding environmental benefit. This proposed regulation and the burdensome federal permitting scheme will only hinder producers’ ability to undertake necessary tasks and, in turn, result in an exodus of ranchers from the field.”

Almost all activities on our open land will now touch a “water of the United States” under the expanded definition. For the first time, ditches are included in the definition of a “tributary” and now will come under federal jurisdiction. Activities near a jurisdictional ditch will now require a federal permit. Many cattle operations will be required to get Sec. 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, Sec. 404 Dredge and Fill permits or Sec. 311 Spill Prevention Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) spill plans.

“NCBA policy states we oppose expanding federal authority over non-navigable waters,” McCan said. “This proposal flies in the face of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the EPA and Corps’ jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It takes the authority Congress granted EPA beyond the scope of Congressional intent. This is an illegal act by the EPA, and we will defend the rights of our members and producers.”

The proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. NCBA will submit comments on behalf of the over 175,000 producers it represents.

NFU Statement on EPA's Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Chandler Goule, National Farmers Union (NFU) senior vice president of programs, issued the following statement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule regarding provisions of the Clean Water Act:

“NFU has long advocated for increased certainty surrounding Clean Water Act requirements for family farmers and ranchers in the wake of complicating Supreme Court decisions. Today’s draft rule clarifies Clean Water Act jurisdiction, maintains existing agricultural exemptions and adds new exemptions, and encourages enrollment in U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs.

“In addition, farmers and ranchers who are voluntarily enacting certain conservation practices on their farms will be exempt from Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting requirements.

“Today’s ag-friendly announcement clearly indicates that NFU and other agricultural stakeholders made their voices heard, and EPA took notice. I encourage EPA to continue to rebuild trust with the agricultural community by withdrawing its proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard targets.”

EPA proposes Major Upgrade for Clean Water Rules

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed an administrative rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that have left more than half of America’s streams and millions of wetland acres unprotected from pollution. The Center for Rural Affairs predicts that the new rules will provide much needed clarity in Clean Water Act enforcement that will be advantageous across rural and small town America.

“Rural America - and the family farmers, ranchers and small towns therein - are the tip of the spear in protecting the quality of the water of the United States,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “The proposed rule is a commonsense effort to clear the regulatory waters, protect the quality of the nation’s surface waters, and provide an environment in which economically vital activities such as hunting, fishing and birding as well as farming and ranching can both thrive and contribute to a better quality of life and safer drinking water for those of us that live here, and also for our neighbors downstream.”

This rulemaking comes after a decade of uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006. The new rule, which will be published in the Federal Register and available for public comment as soon as this week, would restore Clean Water Act protections to 20 million acres of wetlands and more than half the nation’s streams, restoring protections to drinking water for 117 million Americans.

“By providing clarity on what constitutes protected Waters of the United States, the EPA has an opportunity to ensure that the rule will provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to partner with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service conservation programs to better utilize sustainable agriculture practices to enhance water quality,” continued Crabtree. “And the rule can help reduce some of the economic burden currently faced by many small towns in improving drinking water quality.”

“Water is the basis of life, and it is at the heart of everything we do here on our farm,” said Charlie Johnson, who owns and operates a 2,000 acre organic farm near Madison, South Dakota. “The clarity this rule will provide will be important as we work to improve soil health, increase water retention and reduce runoff through buffer strips, cover crops and other sustainable farming practices.”

The EPA will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register and upon that publication announce a 90 day public comment period. According to Crabtree, that process will provide the opportunity for individuals and organizations to provide input to EPA on ways that the rule can be further improved upon. “Although we are encouraged by this first step in providing clarity and a better regulatory framework for protecting the quality of surface waters across the nation, we also know that no rule is perfect.”

“We are analyzing the full text of the rule now, all 370 pages of it, and we will share our analysis with the Administration and with the public. And we will work to encourage our supporters, friends and allies from across the U.S. to offer their insights as well,” Crabtree concluded.

Informa: Corn Acres Projected at 93 MA; Beans at 81.2 MA

Farmers will plant 6% more soybean acres this spring while corn acreage will drop 2.4%, according to forecasts released Tuesday by Informa Economics.  Informa projects 93 million planted acres of corn, a decline of 2.3 million acres from last year, down slightly from last month's estimate.

Soybean acres would go to 81.2 million acres, a boost of nearly 4.7 million acres from 2013 soybean planting, Informa said. If those projections are accurate, it would be a record planting for soybeans. The previous record soybean planting was 77.5 million acres in 2009-10.

Informa estimated 56.648 planted wheat acres is slightly bearish for wheat as it is up from last month's estimate of 55.798 million acres and above USDA's February estimate of 55.5 million acres. Cotton plantings are projected to be 11 million acres, up 548,000 from last year's total. Grain sorghum planting is expected to be 7.7 million acres, down 318,000 from last year. Informa estimated 535.5 million total planted acres, up 3.2 million from last year.

Informa and other analyst groups are releasing their acreage forecasts ahead of USDA's Prospective Plantings report that will come out Monday at 11 a.m. CDT. USDA will also release its quarterly Grain Stocks report.

U.S., Canadian Pork Industries Collaborate with Feed Industry, Others on PEDV

More than 60 people representing the U.S. and Canadian pork, feed and other allied industries recently participated in a meeting on the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hosted by the National Pork Board, and in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Producers, in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the disease does not affect humans or pork safety, it has infected and killed millions of young pigs on farms of all sizes in 27 states since May 2013 and in four Canadian provinces since January.

"Our main goal was to bring a group of people together to help us agree on research needs related to PEDV and feed systems so that we can get answers to ongoing questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board.  "We've been working on PEDV research and collaborating with all pork
industry stakeholders since the disease was discovered here, and we'll continue doing that to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The meeting participants, made up of producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, academics and government and association officials, also shared what's currently known about PEDV, including transmission routes, possible vectors and current testing limitations. The group reiterated that PEDV is not a human health or food safety issue and agreed the virus is of Asian origin genetically, but its direct pathway to North America remains unknown.

"The feed and ingredient associations appreciate the National Pork Board and pork industry for organizing this important roundtable discussion," said Richard Sellers, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). "The research agenda outcome from the meeting is one we are optimistic will assist in investigating this devastating disease more in depth, helping to develop mitigation steps and communicating to those in our respective industries."

During the day-long session, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered information about the agency's pathways analysis that seeks to identify and describe pathways that exotic viral pathogens of swine may enter the country. The Canadian participants shared their PEDV experiences and actions taken this year, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented its initial survey of early PEDV cases. In addition, participants learned results of veterinary investigations in several states and heard what the feed, feed ingredient and rendering industries are doing to enhance their biosecurity programs and mitigate risk.

"After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a fecal-oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors," Sundberg said.

The top research priorities agreed upon by the group are: 1) to investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds, 2) to conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain, 3) to develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures and 4) to continue to investigate the risk of feed and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

"If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know that there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus," Sundberg said. "However, there are many variables that can affect feed, including post-processing contamination, which is another area that must be carefully controlled even if inactivation occurs."

David Fairfield, vice president of feed services for the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), said, "This meeting ilustrates the ongoing commitment that all participants in the pork industry have in eliminating PEDV. The dialogue was constructive and transparent, and facilitated a better understanding on what is known and not known about the disease. NGFA believes the feed-related research priorities identified during the meeting are appropriate and will provide important information that can be used as part of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate PEDV."

To date, the Pork Checkoff has funded 17 PEDV-related research projects totaling nearly $1.7 million.The Institute for Feed Research and Education, AFIA's foundation, has pledged $100,000 toward PEDV research.

AFIA's Sellers added, "To show our dedication, industry groups are committing resources and funding to the research effort and will continue to communicate updates to those affected in order to minimalize further effects."


Rabobank has published a new report on the impact of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) on the North American herd, forecasting significant impacts on production and slaughter through 2015, and identifying the opportunity for U.S. poultry to step into the market gap.

In the report, published by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) and Advisory team, Rabobank says that PEDv thus far has impacted about 60 percent of the U.S. breeding herd, 28 percent of the Mexican herd, and is beginning to develop in Canada.  If PEDv spreads in Canada and Mexico at the pace seen in the U.S., Rabobank says that North American hog slaughter could decline by nearly 18.5 million hogs over 2014 and 2015, or 12.5 percent relative to 2013 levels.  Overall U.S. pork production is anticipated to decline 6  to 7 percent in 2014, the most in more than 30 years.

“In the U.S., we see the outbreak of PEDv causing a significant shortfall in the availability of market hogs in 2014 – to the tune of 12.5 million hogs or 11 percent of annual slaughter,” explained Rabobank Analyst William Sawyer. “Given the ever-rising number of PEDv cases reported, coupled with a six-month average lifecycle, the months of August through October are likely to be the tightest for processors, where slaughter could decline by 15 – 25 percent against 2013 levels. If the virus continues at its current rate, the shortfall to U.S. slaughter in 2014 could be as much as 15 million hogs.”

The specific origin of PEDv in the U.S. has not been definitively identified but comparison of strains of PEDv in the U.S. have indicated a close relationship with strains in China. What is clear is that once the virus enters a region, it can spread quite easily and rapidly throughout an entire population. The most common avenue is on livestock and farm equipment that come into contact with hogs positive with PEDv or their feces.

In regard to productivity, 2014 will be a story of “the haves and have-nots” where hog producers who experienced mild cases of PEDv, or none at all, could realize margins of more than $ 60 per head, the highest calendar year average seen in Rabobank’s 40-year record.  Conversely, hog producers who have had difficulty eradicating the virus could suffer significant losses as the pain of the high fixed costs of modern hog production compounds prolonged periods of weak productivity.

Packers for the year to date have been in a “haves” position as the fear of possible stockouts have pushed pork cutout prices up much faster than hog prices. The gross margin for packers reached $63 per head, up from $37 this time last year.  Profitability is likely to wane in the spring and summer, as prices continue to climb, testing pork demand, and hog shortages force packers to idle plants.

The real winner in the PEDv situation, however, will be the U.S. poultry industry. U.S. beef production is forecast to decline by nearly 6 percent in 2014 and, coupled with Rabobank’s estimate of 6  to 7 percent less pork production, this implies an exceptional opportunity for the U.S. chicken industry as the protein of last resort. U.S. chicken production would have to rise by 8 to 9 percent to offset the shortfall from beef and pork, but a limited breeder flock and continued high demand for fertilized eggs from Mexico will keep supply growth restrained. As a result, Rabobank expect chicken prices and margins to climb this spring and summer, yielding a very favorable year for the U.S. chicken industry.

ACE meets with Administration and Capitol Hill decision makers during grassroots fly-in this week

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and more than 80 of its members are in Washington, DC to meet with top Administration officials and Members of Congress as part of the advocacy group’s “Biofuels Beltway March” annual fly-in today and tomorrow.

Ethanol advocates and supporters will have nearly 170 meetings with lawmakers or their staff representing 45 states during the two day event.  ACE members will also meet with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe, and Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Dan Utech.  Meetings with Administration officials are closed to the press.  The group’s priorities include promoting the success of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), highlighting the safety and affordability of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85, and showing how independent fuel retailers have successfully gotten over Big Oil’s so-called E10 “blend wall.”

“In recognition that the messenger is as important as the message, several independent retailers who installed equipment to sell E15 and E85 in response to the RFS will join us this year to share their first-hand success stories getting over the E10 blend wall,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President.  “These station owners will make a convincing case to Congress, EPA, and the White House that they’ve been able to do what the oil companies suggest cannot be done; offer their customers more affordable and cleaner fuel choices.”

“While we’re going to equip Congress and the Administration with facts which will demystify RINs and show that consumers want E15 and E85, our most effective weapon will be the personal and authentic stories from our members about why the RFS is a success,” said Jennings.  “More than 80 people representing 15 states are in the nation’s Capital this week because they know what’s at stake with respect to the RFS.  If we are to keep the momentum going it’ll be thanks to their grassroots advocacy.”

Oscar winner James Moll's New Documentary Feature "Farmland" Confirmed For Theatrical Run

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll's new feature length documentary, Farmland, will be released nationally May 1, 2014. The film will be distributed via D&E Entertainment in more than 60 major markets. Numerous national exhibitors will be carrying the film including: Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres and many key independent theaters.

The film will have its New York premiere at a private screening on April 17, during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, Farmland has been selected to be in competition this year at Cleveland International Film Festival on March 28-29, 2014; Atlanta Film Festival on April 6, 2014; Nashville Film Festival on April 19, 2014; and Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2014.

Farmland offers viewers an intimate and firsthand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers across the U.S., chronicling their high-risk/high-reward jobs and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

"In Farmland, audiences will hear thoughts and opinions about agriculture, but not from me, and not from a narrator," Moll says about his film. "They're from the mouths of the farmers and ranchers themselves."

The documentary features an original score composed by Nathan Wang with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The film also includes an original recording of "This Land is Your Land" performed in a first-ever collaboration with platinum rock band Everclear and Grammy® Award-nominated artist Liz Phair.

Visit to locate a theatre near you where Farmland will be screening, as well as additional information about the film and to watch the trailer.

Farmland was produced by Moll's Allentown Productions, with generous support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®).

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Edge Upwards

Retail fertilizer prices are higher for the third week of March, but none of the eight major fertilizers saw moves of any significance, according to locations tracked by DTN. This marks the fifth straight week all fertilizer prices have been higher.  Urea, which had been the fertilizer leading the way higher in recent months, pulled back some. While the nitrogen fertilizer was higher compared to month earlier, it was only up just slightly. Urea had an average price of $522/ton.  DAP had an average price of $541/ton, MAP $561/ton, potash $472/ton, 10-34-0 $509/ton, anhydrous $621/ton, UAN28 $341/ton and UAN32 $387/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.57/lb.N, anhydrous $0.38/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.60/lb.N.

Although fertilizers have moved higher in recent months, seven of the eight major fertilizers remain double-digits lower in price compared to March of 2013.  Urea is now down 9%, DAP is 12% less expensive and UAN32 is 13% lower. UAN28 is 14% lower, MAP is 15% less expensive while 10-34-0 is down 17%. Potash is 20% less expensive while anhydrous is 28% lower than a year earlier.

CWT Assists with 3.6 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 2.094 million pounds (950 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 1.185 million pounds (538 metric tons) of 82% butter and 308,647 pounds (140 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered March through August 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 29.299 million pounds of cheese, 15.495 million pounds of butter and 2.881 million pounds of whole milk powder to 21 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 619.5 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

In the long-term, assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Russia Spring Grain Planting Slows Because of Adverse Weather

Spring grain planting in Russia for the 2014 harvest is slightly slower than last year due to adverse weather conditions, the agriculture ministry said late Monday.

The ministry said farmers planted spring grains to March 24 on 396,400 hectares or 0.8% of the total planned planting area, which is 47,000 hectares less than on the same date last year.

Russia plans to plant spring grains this year on 31.8 million hectares, 1.7% more than last year. The agriculture ministry aims at a grain harvest this year of 95 million metric tons.

In 2013 Russia harvested 89.3 million tons of grain in clean weight, 30% more than in 2012, when 68.7 million tons was harvested because crops were damaged by drought. Russia's grain export in the 2012-2013 marketing year fell to 15.69 million tons from 27.2 million tons in the previous marketing year. In the current marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, the agriculture ministry expects Russia's grain exports to rise to 18-20 million tons.

Ukraine Jul 1-Mar 24 Grain Exports Rise 41% on Year

Ukraine's grain harvest this year is bigger than last year's, and the size of its grain exports so far in the current marketing year are 41% larger despite the political unrest in the country, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

Between the beginning of the current marketing year--July 1, 2013--and March 24, Ukraine exported 26.8 million metric tons of grain, 41% more than in the corresponding period of the previous marketing year.

The total amount of grain exported to date included 7.66 million metric tons of wheat. Corn exports to date totaled nearly 16.72 million tons, and barley exports 2.15 million tons.

The agriculture ministry said earlier that Ukraine's grain exports in the 2013-2014 marketing year--July 2013-June 2014--were likely to rise to 33 million tons from about 23 million tons in the previous marketing year because of a bigger harvest this year.

The agriculture ministry said earlier that Ukraine's 2013 grain harvest was over 63 million tons in bunker weight, up from 46.2 million tons in 2012, when crops were damaged by drought.

Inoculants Help Preserve Feed Quality all the Way to the Bunk

An upward trend in milk and beef prices may have growers putting more emphasis on feed value and the importance of inoculants to help preserve the amount and quality of stored forages.

“Dry-matter recovery is important because feed is still relatively expensive,” says Bill Ramsey, DuPont Pioneer livestock information manager.  “To maximize the value of their forage investment, many producers I meet with are also working with nutritionists and agronomic consultants on plans to prevent dry-matter loss in stored forages.

Managing pH immediately after harvest is the key to forage preservation.
“Dry-matter loss begins with plant-cell respiration and aerobic bacteria utilizing plant sugars, water and carbs as an energy source, literally consuming nutrients and feed,” Ramsey says. “A quick drop in pH and a fast start to fermentation preserves silage, maintains a high level of silage quality and results in decreased fermentation losses.”
To accurately estimate the overall value of inoculants on feed, producers can use the Pioneer Inoculant Value Calculator to gain a “hands on” look at how inoculants can make an economic difference on their operations through improved feed bunk life and increased feed cost savings. Utilizing 27 years of research data to quantify the value of inoculants to preserve dry matter, the easy-to-use online tool enables growers to evaluate 10 variables, including the crop, storage system, feeding rates and market prices. Growers can access the calculator on the website or in the app from the Apple® iTunes® store.
Inoculants have two primary functions in preserving forages. The first priority is to spark a fast and efficient pH drop of the silage as soon as it is stored. The second is to help suppress spoilage yeast, mold and bacillus for improved aerobic stability. DuPont Pioneer also has silage inoculants with a third mode of action that improves fiber digestibility and increases fermentation and aerobic stability.

Cheminova Launches STATEMENT™ Herbicide

Cheminova, Inc. today announced the launch of STATEMENT™ Herbicide, a new choice for growers looking for control of glyphosate and ALS-resistant weeds in both soybeans and cotton. A premix with two active ingredients, metolachlor and fomesafen, STATEMENT may be used preplant and for preemergence for control of annual grass and broadleaf weeds on soybeans, while also providing residual control and reducing early weed competition. 

STATEMENT may also be applied postemergence on cotton to control grasses, broadleaf weeds and sedges. It may also be tank mixed with other labeled post-directed herbicides to broaden the weed control spectrum in cotton.

“Soybean growers looking for an affordable preemergent herbicide will love STATEMENT for its dual modes of action and residual control of broadleaf and grassy weeds,” said Ken Phelps, Product Manager, Cheminova, Inc. “Cotton growers will enjoy the flexibility it gives them for post-directed sprays on grasses, broadleaves and sedges.”

STATEMENT will be packaged in 2 x 2.5 gallon containers and is on sale April 1.

RhinoGator Adds 14.9x24 Size to Pivot Tire Portfolio

RhinoGator® has announced the new 14.9x24 version of its popular no-flat pivot tire. This option was developed for use in areas where this size tire is already popular especially in non-grain crop applications. Features of the RhinoGator® 14.9x24 option include a lower tread profile, reinforced center rib and wide tread lugs. Built for a 10x24 rim, this poly tire will increase flotation in light or heavy soils and on any brand of pivot.

Like the original RhinoGator®, the new 14.9x24 RhinoGator® is guaranteed to never go flat. Constructed of super-tough, high-density composite plastic resins (including corn-based plastic), RhinoGator® tires are engineered especially for the rugged conditions of pivot irrigation. Manufactured in the United States, RhinoGator® comes with the highest UV protection package available and is covered by a 5-year limited warranty.

The high-traction, non-directional tread design of RhinoGator® provides optimum performance regardless of pivot direction. The sturdy center rib and large anti-slip plate provide overall integrity, reliability and strength.

RhinoGator® is precision manufactured for consistency and easy assembly. RhinoGator® fits standard pivot wheels and is available pre-mounted if desired. Both the original and shallow tread RhinoGator® tires are available in 11.2-38 and 11.2-24 sizes. The new 14.9x24 is available in a single tread depth combining the shallow tread design with increased traction lugs.

Monday March 24 Ag News


Ag Day is Every Day Campaign

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is asking you to donate to a new campaign that will help children understand where their food comes from and remind others that “Ag Day is Every Day.”

“National Agriculture Week is March 24-28 and National Agriculture Day is March 25. Why should we celebrate agriculture only at that time? We need people to help us spread the good word about agriculture year-round,” Deanna Karmazin executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, said March 12.

Today we have people who are two, three or four generations removed from the farm. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is trying to build relationship with consumers and educate teachers, children and their parents that food comes from a farm or ranch.

“We need dollars to provide books and resources to schools and libraries, organize farm tours, develop agriculture related museum and zoo exhibits and nature nights, provide free resources to Nebraska classrooms and a whole lot more,” Karmazin said.

The Foundation wants to embrace the future by working with teachers and students through the Agriculture in the Classroom program, advance young farmers and ranchers to be spokesmen for their industry, promote and educate the public about modern agriculture, develop leaders and offer student scholarships. The Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization making a difference in the lives of all Nebraskans.

“Giving a positive public perception of agriculture today is vital! We can no longer take for granted that people know where their food comes from – they don’t! By building awareness and understanding of agriculture, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture uses education and leadership development to tell agriculture’s story. That’s why we need your help to plant seeds of knowledge about agriculture,” Karmazin said.

Day @ the Farm Video Contest Announces Three Winning Classrooms

The Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture are pleased to announce three Nebraska classrooms who were selected as grand prize winners in their Day @ the Farm video contest. The two organizations teamed up to host the Day @ the Farm video contest to promote agricultural literacy.

Winning classrooms will go on an all-expense-paid field trip to farms or ranches near their school in April and May and also received a surprise party congratulating them. Grand prize winning classrooms are:
     - Mrs. Christy Kleffman’s first grade class from St. Vincent de Paul in Omaha, Neb.
     - Mrs. Jessica Tjaden and Mrs. Kalynne Breunsbach’s kindergarten classes from Southern Public Elementary in Blue Springs, Neb.
     - Mrs. Ashley Mueller’s second grade class at Jefferson Elementary in Grand Island, Neb.

Agriculture is a staple of Nebraska’s economy accounting for one in four jobs across our state. But with a growing disconnect between farmers and ranchers to teachers and students, an understanding of the impact of agriculture is becoming a major issue.

“The Day @ the Farm contest was designed to educate students about the importance of agriculture in their lives no matter where they live,” said Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Through the contest, we have provided these classrooms with hands-on educational opportunities that will have a lasting impact on these students.”

Teachers and their classrooms, grades K-12, were invited to submit a video answering the question – What would your life be like without Nebraska agriculture? Many wonderful entries were received and the competition was tough, said Karmazin.

“We are looking forward to getting these students out to the farms and ranches. We have had several Farm Bureau members offer to host these students and are very excited to showcase agriculture in our state to the future generation. We want to make sure these visits are memorable and positive,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Celebrating Agriculture

Senator Mike Johanns

In Nebraska, where agriculture is our top industry, we have a great understanding and appreciation for how our food gets to the table.  We know how much work goes into growing our food products, and we know quality when we see it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many parts of our country.

Often in our nation’s urban hubs, the closest many Americans ever get to agriculture is the supermarket shelf. When they purchase their steak, they don’t see the rancher caring for a newborn calf in the middle of a bitterly cold winter night. Hours of tedious maintenance on a combine that costs more than some homes is not a prerequisite for someone to buy a can of corn. Our nation’s ag producers and distributors work hard so that stocking the pantry is as simple as checking off a grocery list.

This week is National Agriculture Week, a time to celebrate the hard work by ag producers across Nebraska and the nation to feed and fuel the world. It’s also a great opportunity to consider the important role agriculture plays is in our daily lives.

It may be easy to take agriculture for granted when food is so readily available in our country, but it is important to remember that our ag producers are not only providing a necessity for life, but also a fundamental source of security.

Imagine what would happen if you went to the grocery store and the shelves were empty, or food prices were so high that you couldn’t afford to feed your family. The question no longer is what are you having for dinner, but how are you going to sustain yourself?  The unfortunate reality is, in some parts of the world, this is a real problem. I’ve traveled to places where food is in short supply and families suffer from severe hunger every day. Communities cannot develop and advance when they are focused on survival. With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, feeding the world is only going to become more challenging, making agriculture even more important.

Nebraska has been a leader in providing the needed food, feed and fuel for our global neighbors, exporting $7.2 billion in ag products in 2012 alone. Our farmers and ranchers are exploring new and innovative ways to feed more and more people while taking good care of our limited natural resources. At places like Chadron State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, research is being done to develop techniques to increase ag efficiency and yields, even in the face of severe drought and other natural trials. Science and technology continue to change the face of one of the world’s oldest industries. I remain committed to pursuing policies that keep our ag products safe and affordable, while expanding markets to help meet demand in other parts of the world.

We are blessed in our country to have access to an abundant food supply, and fortunate that many hard-working farmers and ranchers call Nebraska home. This week, take a moment to consider how important agriculture is to your health, security and opportunities as an American. And be sure to thank a farmer and rancher.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Small grains planted last fall are greening up and will soon grow rapidly in most areas.  Many fields soon will be ready to graze.  This spring, let’s make these pastures productive and safe.

Did you look ahead and plant rye or triticale or even wheat last fall to use as early pasture this spring?  If so, you soon will be rewarded.  Many of these fields are about ready to graze.

These small grain pastures are an extremely important resource this spring.  Not only will they relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains, they also will help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to recover from recent stresses.

To maximize grazing from small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4 to 8 inches tall before starting to graze.  Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6 and 12 inches.  To accomplish this, either adjust the number of animals according to grass growth or sub-divide the pasture into paddocks and graze rotationally.  Grass stands, soils, fertility, and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions.  With careful management, you can have good grazing all the way to mid-June.

One concern when grazing small grain pasture is animal death from grass tetany.  Tetany is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock.  Reduce tetany by feeding magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain.  Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about one-quarter pound of magnesium oxide per cow each week.                                               

Small grain pastures can be convenient and profitable.  Just use good management to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.

Third Annual Husker Food Connection Set for April 24th

The 2014 Husker Food Connection is coming up fast and your help is needed! The event is scheduled for Thursday, April 24 at the north entrance of the Student Union on the UNL city campus, lasting from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The theme of Husker Food Connection is, "MEATing in the Middle." 

"We chose this theme to help promote unity between consumer opinion and farmer fact," A-FAN intern, Lukas Fricke said. "The goal is to create an environment that promotes interaction and helps tell our story in a non-threating way."

Husker Food Connection is being brought to the doorstep of urban society in the heart of UNL. It is going to bring agriculture to a personal level by allowing conversations to flow freely in a fun, interactive way.

Last year, 2,000 students faced the chilly, rainy weather to learn about agriculture at Husker Food Connection. Fricke is planning for 2,500 students attending this year. Students will receive free lunches made from Nebraska-grown products. Exhibits will display live animals and tractors for up close and personal learning opportunities. There will be games revolving around livestock production and prizes.

If you or anyone you know would like to be involved in the event, contact Lukas Fricke at Help is encouraged and appreciated through any form of donations or volunteering. 

NeFBF Hires New CFO

Kevin Burch is the new chief financial officer for Nebraska Farm Bureau. His employment with NFBF officially began March 19.

Kevin and his wife, Penny, reside in South Bend, Neb., and are members of the Douglas County Farm Bureau. Kevin brings a long and diverse background of experience in accounting, business operations, finances, human resources and controller duties associated with a CFO position. He is currently providing CFO work on a contractual basis for a few insurance companies that provide services to over-the-road haulers and truck companies based in Omaha. Earlier in his career, he spent eight years as a financial manager in the U.S. Air Force.

Kevin grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa and has been a member of Nebraska Farm Bureau since 2004. He brings an excellent skill set to the position with his experience and education in the financial and accounting world of business as well as communication, systems applications and human resources skills.

Kevin takes the place of Kathy Stephenson who recently became the accounting manager at Lincoln Public Schools.

AMPI reports $1.8 billion in sales

Leaders of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) announced that the dairy marketing cooperative recorded sales of $1.8 billion and earnings of $7.5 million in 2013. The annual business meeting of the cooperative owned by 2,600 Upper Midwest dairy farmers concludes tomorrow at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.

“Our manufacturing capacity and production flexibility made it possible for AMPI to reap the benefits of increased demand for our core product line — cheese, butter and powdered dairy products,” AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch told some 400 members, employees and guests at the meeting. “Coupled with plant improvements, the cooperative’s performance improved and balance sheet strengthened.”

American-style cheese production totaled 400 million pounds in 2013, and remains the cooperative’s top product category. AMPI was also a leader in Midwest powder production. Products such as nonfat dry milk, whey protein concentrate and lactose were sold to domestic and global customers as demand for milk proteins increased worldwide.

Cheese and butter packaged for consumers at the cooperative’s manufacturing plants grew once again. Cheese sales increased 7 percent, while butter sales rose for the eighth consecutive year, posting a 3 percent gain. Nearly 70 percent of AMPI’s consumer-packaged business is sold to foodservice customers.

AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen reviewed the steps taken in the past year to position the cooperative for strategic growth. “Being the best milk market for Midwest dairy farmers requires constant improvement,” Schlangen said. “Through carefully considered moves made at every level of our cow-to-consumer business, we made great progress in 2013. This was done by focusing on a core product line and taking an active role in reforming dairy policy that provides meaningful options for reducing price risk.”

The annual meeting culminates with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities.

Additional AMPI 2013 operational highlights:
5.8 billion pounds of milk marketed through 10 manufacturing plants.
Sales of $1.8 billion yielded earnings of $7.5 million.
2,600 AMPI dairy farmer-owners shared $10 million in equity payments.
Nearly 70 percent of AMPI’s consumer-packaged cheese and butter was sold to foodservice customers.
The export market accounted for 23 percent of AMPI powder sales, primarily to Mexico.
A Parmesan cheese wheel produced at AMPI’s Hoven, S.D., plant was named Best Italian entry at the 2013 National Milk Producers Federation Championship Cheese Contest.

About AMPI

Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) is a dairy marketing cooperative owned by 2,600 Midwest dairy farm families who operate farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members own 10 manufacturing plants and market cheese, butter and powdered dairy products, serving foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers. In 2013, these dairy farmer-owners marketed 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.8 billion in sales for the cooperative.

NFU Board of Directors Elects Executive Committee

The National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors has elected members of its 2014 Executive Committee, comprised of the following:

·         Secretary: Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union president
·         Treasurer: John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union president

Other members of the Executive Committee:
·         Jim Benham, Indiana Farmers Union president
·         Terry Detrick, Oklahoma Farmers Union president
·         Alan Merrill, Montana Farmers Union president
·         Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president
·         Darin Von Ruden, Wisconsin Farmers Union president
·         Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president

NFU President Roger Johnson and NFU Vice President Donn Teske, elected by delegates at the recent NFU convention, join the above as members of the Executive Committee. Teske is also the president of Kansas Farmers Union.

Top Ten named for Iowa’s Best Burger contest

The nominations for Iowa’s Best Burger show that whether you live in a town of 800 people or a metropolitan area of more than half a million people, great hamburgers are being served across the state.

Iowans submitted more than 9,600 nomination votes between Feb. 12 and March 17 that selected the 2014 Top Ten restaurants and their burgers.

In its fifth year, Iowa’s Best Burger contest received nominations for 456 Iowa restaurants. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association counted the nominations that came in via online, texting and paper ballots. Those getting the most nominations are (in alphabetical order):
Ankeny Diner, Ankeny
Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines
Brick City Grill, Ames
Elm’s Club, Creston
Ferg’s My Tighe’s, Grand Junction
First Street Grille, Keosauqua
Ride’s Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge
Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll
The Ritz, Arnold’s Park
Zombie Burger, Des Moines

Brick City Grill joined 163 other new restaurants at being nominated for the contest; and it’s the first year that the Ames eatery, along with Ride’s Bar and Grill and Big City Burgers & Greens have made it to the Top 10.

“When we look at the Top 10, you’ll see a restaurant from Grand Junction, which is a community of 824 people in Greene County, to three nominations from the Des Moines metropolitan area,” said Roger Brummett, a Bedford cattle producer who is also chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “The nominations covered restaurants from more than 215 Iowa communities. That response shows that Iowans and Iowa restaurants know that burgers will always be a popular item. Restaurants love to make burgers and their customers love to eat them.”

Iowa’s Best Burger contest now moves to the next stage. All Top Ten restaurants will be visited by judges who will evaluate the hamburgers based on taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

“We’re really happy to promote Iowa restaurants who do a great job of serving beef,” said ICA President Ed Greiman of Garner. “We have a lot in common. Cattle producers and local restaurants are both small business owners who have a great passion for food – either producing it or preparing it. And, both local restaurants and farmers are important to the economic well-being of hundreds of communities around the state.”

“Although we won’t announce Iowa’s Best Burger until the first week of May, we encourage everyone to stop at one of the Top Ten restaurants for a burger,” Brummett said. “Iowans have a very special place in their heart for burgers. The burger is the all–American classic served in almost every restaurant from the local café to the finest white tablecloth establishment.”

To continue to learn more about the contest, you can visit where you’ll find a map showing the locations of the Top Ten restaurants. 

Iowa Layers Total 54 Million, Up 1 Percent from January

Egg production in Iowa for during February 2014 was 1.13 billion eggs, down 10 percent from last month, but up 1 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs release from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The total number of layers on hand during February was 54.0 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 2 percent from the 53.0 million in February 2013. Eggs per 100 layers for the month of February were 2,087 down 10 percent from last month, and down 1 percent from 2,101 last year.

United States egg production totaled 7.36 billion during February 2014, up 2 percent from last year. Production included 6.40 billion table eggs, and 968 million hatching eggs, of which 899 million were broiler-type and 69 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during February 2014 averaged 350 million, up 1 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,104 eggs, up 1 percent from February 2013.

All layers in the United States on March 1, 2014 totaled 350 million, up 1 percent from last year. The 350 million layers consisted of 294 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 52.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.02 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2014, averaged 75.3 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2013.

Connecticut Stands Up For Family Hog Farmers’ Rights

The National Pork Producers Council today thanked the Senate Environment Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly for standing with local Connecticut farmers by defeating a measure banning the use of gestation stalls, a safe and humane form of housing pregnant sows.

Proponents Friday attempted to add language outlawing gestation stalls – stripped earlier – to a bill establishing an animal care standards board. The attempt failed on a 15-9 vote after the committee heard from farmers from across the state that the ban would make criminals of farmers using humane farming practices.

The vast majority of the country’s hog farmers use gestation stalls to house pregnant sows because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows. The housing method is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows.

Defeat of the stall ban measure in Connecticut was the latest in a series of losses for animal-rights groups, which over the past few years have expended significant resources on the issue in several northeast states with no results. Led by the Humane Society of the United States, the groups have claimed such housing systems are inhumane to sows.

In voting against the measure, Environment Committee Co-Chair Linda Gentile said, “I absolutely resent the state of Connecticut being used as a political fundraising piece or leverage.”

“Farmers are learning how to stick up for themselves and to fight back against extremely well-funded activist groups that think they know better than farmers and veterinarians how to care for animals,” said Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, who is president of NPPC. “Hog farmers everywhere are appreciative of the level-headedness and compassion for family farmers Environment Committee members have shown on this issue.”

Russia to Allow U.S. Pork Imports from Smithfield

Russia has allowed U.S. pork imports from two firms of Chinese-owned producer Smithfield Foods Inc. after it received additional guarantees, Russia's veterinary watchdog said on its website. Russia banned most meat imports from the United States early last year because of concerns over the use of the feed additive ractopamine.

As Reuters reports, the decision to allow imports only from Smithfield Foods Inc, which was bought by China's Shuanghui International Holdings last year, comes amid the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War over Russia's decision to annex Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork from two Smithfield firms in early March, but asked for more food safety guarantees about the refrigerators used for supplies.

The VPSS website says that out of 179 firms which produce and store pork in the U.S., Russia is now ready to accept it from two Smithfield firms and from four owners of refrigerators.

Other firms are still not allowed to ship the product to Russia, according to the website.

President Obama said Washington was considering sanctions against key economic sectors in Russia, including financial services, oil and gas, metals and mining and the defense industry, if Russia made military moves into eastern and southern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Ag Producers’ Confidence Remains Slightly Positive

Overall agriculture producer confidence remains unchanged since last March despite a drop in producers’ feelings about their current situation, according to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer (DTN/PF) Agriculture Confidence Index.

Producers’ overall confidence remained somewhat positive at 106.9, up slightly from 105.5 last December and unchanged from March 2013. The value of 100 is considered neutral. Values above 100 indicate optimism, whereas values below signify pessimism.

The DTN/PF Agriculture Confidence Index, which surveyed 500 producers between March 1 and 10, measures the sentiments of agriculture producers on their overall impressions of the agriculture sector. Farmers are also asked to rate current and long-term input prices and net farm income to gauge their attitudes toward the present situation and future expectations.

Producers viewed their present conditions as positive with a score of 128.1, a drop from 135.3 last March but up slightly from 123.5 in December. Producers’ future expectations dropped to 92.8, a decrease of just 0.8 since December but up from 88.2 in March 2013.

Despite an overall positive confidence score, there was a significant disparity in confidence levels between crop and livestock producers. Driven by higher meat prices and lower input costs, livestock producers’ confidence rose to a near all-time high of 116.4, up from 107.5 last March and off just 0.2 from the record set in September 2010. In addition, livestock producers view their present situation as very positive (145.1) but were considerably less optimistic for the upcoming year (97.3).

Crop producers’ confidence dropped to the lowest level in four years to 102.7, down from 104.3 in December and from 106.8 last March. Crop producers’ expectations for the coming year fell to 90.7 from 93.4 in December but were up from 87.9 in March 2013. Their feelings on their present situation remained unchanged at 120.8 since December but declined from 135.2 in March 2013.

“Much of the crop producers’ attitudes about their current situation can be attributed to lower corn prices from the previous year, although current prices are at a level higher than what analysts had anticipated at this point for the year,” said DTN/The Progressive Farmer Markets Editor Katie Micik, director of the confidence index, which is conducted before plantings, prior to harvest and after harvest each year.

While producers’ attitudes remained mixed, agribusinesses were more confident about the industry, according to the DTN/PF Agribusiness Confidence Index, which is similar to the producer index and measured the sentiments of 100 agribusinesses between Feb. 28 and March 5. Agribusiness confidence climbed to 107.3 in March from 102.5 at the end of 2013, due in large part to stabilized crop prices. Seventy-two percent of agribusinesses surveyed felt good about their current sales, marking an increase of 14.6 percent since December and a 12 percent increase since last March. However, 76 percent of those agribusinesses surveyed believed sales expectations over the next 12 months will remain the same or get worse.

“Fertilizer retailers are somewhat concerned that reductions in corn acres could impact fertilizer sales and profits,” Micik noted. “With incomes narrowing, producers may turn to higher-priced soybeans over corn.”

Farm Futures Survey Confirms Shift From Corn To Soybeans

Major shifts in acreage first noted last summer by Farm Futures Magazine appear to be holding as farmers make final plans for spring plantings. The magazine's latest survey of farmers shows they intend to boost soybean seedings more than earlier estimates, while cutting back corn ground.

Farm Futures estimates 2014 soybean intentions at a record 82.93 million acres, easily an all-time high. If achieved, seedings would be up 8.4% over last year's total, which was cut by wet conditions last spring. All key states showed increases, with some of the biggest shifts possible in Illinois, where farmers pushed corn-on-corn in recent years to capture profits from the ethanol boom.

Though projected profits for both crops are lower this year, prices favor soybeans, making it easier for farmers to shift ground and improve crop rotations.

Corn planting intentions could fall to 92.06 million, down 3.5% from last year's lower than expected total, when farmers failed to put in more than 3.5 million acres of corn due to wet, cold conditions. Still, that would be the fourth largest area since 1944 if achieved.

The latest survey is Farm Futures third that asked growers about 2014 planting intentions. The initial tally, released in August at the Farm Progress Show, showed that farmers wanted to plant more soybeans and less corn.

That trend increased with the magazine's December survey, released at the Farm Futures Business Summit. March results projected another increase in the shift, counting around 200,000 fewer corn acres and 600,000 more soybean acres than in December.

"While the ratio of new crop soybean to corn prices actually pulled back a little over the winter, the strong rally in old crop soybeans appeared to convince many farmers to take the plunge and plant more soybeans," says Farm Futures Senior Grain Market Analyst Bryce Knorr. "November futures are following a more bullish seasonal trend than December corn, which gives soybeans a better chance for rallies during the spring and summer."

However, Knorr cautions that USDA's March 31 estimate could provide more surprises to a market that's already seen plenty from recent government reports.

"Interpreting data from surveys this year will be more difficult than usual, because so much corn ground wasn't planted," he says. "The range of potential outcomes from USDA is fairly wide, so farmers should be prepared for both bullish and bearish reactions.

Farm Futures also found growers hoping to plant 12.3 million acres of spring wheat, up 12.4% from last when wet conditions affected the total. All wheat acreage is estimated at 56.05 million, down only slightly from 2013.

"Another wet spring on the northern Plains could mean more acres planted to soybeans in an area where growers have demonstrated an eagerness to plant them already," says Knorr.

Knorr and new Farm Futures Senior Editor Bob Burgdorfer will discuss the impact of the March 31 reports, along with the spring weather outlook, in a special agricultural outlook webinar April 7 at 7 p.m. CDT.

Farm Futures questioned 1,775 growers nationwide March 4 to March 20 by email, the largest non-government survey of farmers about their plans.

State Crop Progress Reports - Continued Dry Conditions in Southern Plains

Continued dry conditions in winter wheat-growing areas of the Southern Plains was among the highlights of weekly Crop Progress and Condition reports issued by some states Monday.  USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service will begin issuing its Crop Progress reports, which give a weekly snapshot of crop development and conditions nationwide, on Monday, April 7.  The following are highlights from weekly crop progress reports issued Monday by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states. 


Although not yet widespread, planting activities gained momentum last week. Isolated precipitation was concentrated in eastern districts, while moist conditions held some producers from gaining access to fields. High winds were reported in the southeast district where soil erosion occurred as a result in some cases. Overall, mountain snowpack was 116% of average as of March 19. Farmers were allowed 5.0 days in the field for spring operations.

Topsoil moisture was 13% very short, 35% short, 49% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture was 24% short, 31% short, 43% adequate and 2% surplus.

Producers seeded an additional 3% of the intended barley crop last week, with 4% of the crop seeded by week's end. Spring wheat was 1% seeded, behind 6% last year and the average of 9%. Four percent of the winter wheat crop was pastured as of last week, compared with 7% last year and 8% on average. Spring wheat is 1% planted.


For the week ending March 23, 2014, dry conditions prevailed for another week with precipitation limited to a quarter of an inch or less across portions of northern Kansas, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. As a result, soil moisture supplies continued their downward trend with less than half of the state reporting adequate supplies. Windy conditions were again noted with soils blowing in portions of the western half of the state. Temperatures continued to average below normal, slowing wheat development. Corn planting was noted in some southeastern counties. There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 22% very short, 38% short, 40% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 21% very short, 42% short, 37% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Winter wheat condition rated 5% very poor, 16% poor, 46% fair, 31% good, and 2% excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 3%, compared to 5% last year and 11% average.


Only a few showers fell in Oklahoma in the past week, mainly in Southeastern district. The Southeast district received 0.82 inches of rain, which lessened drought conditions in that area. However, five of the nine districts received no measurable rainfall at all. Statewide temperatures averaged in the high 40s to the low 50s, ranging from 18 degrees at Burbank on Monday, March 17, to 83 degrees at Burneyville on Tuesday, March 18. Low moisture and high winds were a major concern last week. There were wind speeds as high as 40 mph in some parts of the state. High winds kept field work to a minimum. Wind erosion and dust storms were experienced in the Panhandle and Southwest Oklahoma this past week. Significant moisture is needed across the whole state, assuredly in the Panhandle and Southwest for winter wheat development. Wildfires were reported in central Oklahoma, in both Logan County and northeast Oklahoma County, but damages were minimal. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated 28% adequate to surplus and 72% short to very short. Subsoil moisture conditions were rated 20% adequate to surplus and 80% short to very short. There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork on average across the state.

Small grains continue to be rated mostly fair to poor. Winter wheat jointing reached 29% by Sunday, 11 points behind the previous year and 19 points behind the five year average. Canola conditions were rated 64% fair to poor. Seventy-seven percent of oats had been seeded by Sunday, 8 points behind the previous year and 11 points behind the five-year average. Rye jointing reached 10%, 29 points behind last year and 50 points behind the five-year average.

Seedbed preparation for row crops continued. Corn seedbed preparation reached 47% by week's end, 4 points behind last year. Sorghum seedbed preparation was 24% complete compared to 26% last year and 23% on the five-year average. Soybean seedbed preparation reached 15% complete by Sunday, four points behind both the previous year and the five-year average. Seedbed preparation of cotton was 36% complete by the end of the week, 9 points ahead of last year, but on track with the five-year average.


Warmer temperatures were reported early in the week. Windy weather brought cooler temperatures and dust storms to the Panhandle late in the week. Many areas of the Upper Coast and Coastal Bend received a tenth of an inch to a quarter of an inch of precipitation. Areas of the Edwards Plateau and South Central Texas observed trace amounts up to a quarter inch of precipitation. The remainder of the state received no precipitation to a half of an inch.

Winter wheat in the Southern Low Plains and the Edwards Plateau continued to show signs of stress brought on by dry, windy conditions. In the Coastal Bend winter wheat was entering the boot stage.

Wet field conditions delayed corn planting in the Blacklands. Producers in South Central Texas finished planting corn and turned their attention to planting cotton and sorghum. Rice planting was progressing well. Cotton fields continued to be prepared in the Northern Low Plains.

Wheat condition was reported at 1% excellent, 10% good, 34% fair, 37% poor and 18% very poor. Corn planting is 20% complete, compared to 15% last week and a 43% 5-year average.

FDA Announces New Tool for Livestock Animal Food Problems

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is announcing the availability of a new website for the public to report problems related to livestock animal food.

The Livestock Food Reporting portal will accept reports about foods made for species considered to be livestock, including but not limited to, horses, cattle, swine, poultry and fish. FDA encourages anyone with concerns about animal feed to file a report, including veterinarians and livestock producers.

This new online portal provides an additional means for consumers to register complaints, and FDA's District Office consumer complaint coordinators will continue to accept reports via phone.

The Livestock Food Reporting portal is the latest addition to the Safety Reporting Portal, an online system designed to streamline the process of reporting product safety issues to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers and public health officials at the federal, state and local level should continue to use the Reportable Food section of the Safety Reporting Portal.

The Portal can be found at

Vilsack Announces Increased Opportunity for Producers as part of New Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced increased opportunity for producers as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. A fact sheet outlining modifications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loan Programs is available here.

"Our nation's farmers and ranchers are the engine of the rural economy. These improvements to our Farm Loan Programs will help a new generation begin farming and grow existing farm operations," said Secretary Vilsack. "Today's announcement represents just one part of a series of investments the new Farm Bill makes in the next generation of agriculture, which is critical to economic growth in communities across the country."

The Farm Bill expands lending opportunities for thousands of farmers and ranchers to begin and continue operations, including greater flexibility in determining eligibility, raising loan limits, and emphasizing beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.

Changes that will take effect immediately include:

Elimination of loan term limits for guaranteed operating loans. Modification of the definition of beginning farmer, using the average farm size for the county as a qualifier instead of the median farm size. Modification of the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership Interest Rate to 2 percent less than regular Direct Farm Ownership rate, with a floor of 2.5 percent. Previously, the rate was established at 5 percent. Increase of the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000. Elimination of rural residency requirement for Youth Loans, allowing urban youth to benefit. Debt forgiveness on Youth Loans, which will not prevent borrowers from obtaining additional loans from the federal government. Increase of the guarantee amount on Conservation Loans from 75 to 80 percent and 90 percent for socially disadvantaged borrowers and beginning farmers. Microloans will not count toward loan term limits for veterans and beginning farmers.

Additional modifications must be implemented through the rulemaking processes. Visit the FSA Farm Bill website for detailed information and updates to farm loan programs.

Biofuel Trade Organizations Ask for Extension of Advanced Biofuel Tax Incentives

A group of biofuel trade organizations today sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) encouraging extension of critical advanced biofuel tax incentives – the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. The trade groups signing the letter included the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

The letter reads, in part, “The advanced biofuels industry is at a critical stage of development. Despite a difficult financial market, we are now operating commercial plants across the country and continue to make progress on dozens of additional projects in the final stages of development. Advanced biofuel tax credits have allowed the biofuels industry to make great strides in reducing the cost of production and developing first-of-kind technologies to deploy the most innovative fuel in the world.

“As leaders in a critical innovation sector in the United States, we are well aware of the financial constraints facing this country. However, the United States’ global competitors are offering tax incentives for advanced biofuels and in fact are attracting construction of new facilities – and associated high skilled jobs. If Congress wants American companies to continue developing these homegrown technologies in the United States, it must extend these credits. Biofuel producers are also competing with incumbent fossil energy industries who continue to enjoy tax incentives on a permanent basis.

“In the interests of energy security, job creation, global competitiveness, and forward-looking policy, we urge you to move quickly to extend expired advanced biofuel tax provisions for multiple years retroactive to January 1.”

NFU Submits Testimony to House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee

Last week National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, outlining NFU’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 funding for agricultural programs. In his testimony, Johnson listed five main requests.

NFU opposes any legislative riders or targeted funding restrictions to limit or restrict the enforcement, legal defense or study of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL). New COOL regulations enacted in 2013 are currently being evaluated by the World Trade Organization and the legal system, and efforts to undermine these proceedings through appropriations are unwarranted and premature. Studies have found that more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL.

“Because of appropriations riders in the last three years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not been allowed to write rules that would provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers in the agriculture marketplace, as directed by the 2008 Farm Bill,” said Johnson. “I strongly urge the subcommittee to reject any legislative riders that would undermine the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s authority and ignore congressional intent.”

“Homegrown renewable energy helps our country reduce its carbon footprint while building the future of the rural economy,” said NFU Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule. “NFU requests the subcommittee fully fund Congress’ substantial discretionary investments in existing energy programs through the 2014 Farm Bill to help meet our country’s renewable energy goals.”

Finally, NFU has two agricultural research requests, calling for the implementation of a 2008 Farm Bill directive to make conventional plant and animal breeding a priority for research grants, and fully granting the administration’s request for funding for the development and release of regionally adapted, public cultivars.

“With the passage of a new, comprehensive farm bill, Congress has clearly established its agricultural priorities for the next five years,” said Goule. “It is critical that appropriators not reduce funding through changes in mandatory programs for the entirety of the 2014 Farm Bill in order to achieve Congress’ legislative goals.”

Recent BASF herbicide studies show important finding for resistant weed management

With more than 60 million U.S. acres affected by glyphosate-resistant weeds and nearly every state affected by some form of resistant weeds, the challenge facing growers is increasing every year. In a 2013 survey of Midwest growers, BASF found that 76 percent will be changing their weed management strategies in 2014 to address this ongoing issue.

To help determine the best strategies for combatting weed resistance, BASF scientists continue to research solutions to help growers achieve optimal weed control. In a recent Verdict® herbicide study, BASF reaffirmed the importance of using a preemergence herbicide with multiple sites of action.

Multiple Sites of Action

BASF scientists tested the effectiveness of Verdict herbicide for control of weeds in preemerge and preplant applications. Verdict herbicide, powered by Kixor® herbicide technology, combines the active ingredients in Outlook® herbicide and Sharpen® herbicide to provide two sites of action.

“There are two key reasons for choosing products that use multiple effective sites of action,” said Mark Oostlander, Technical Market Manager, Herbicides, for BASF. “The first is better weed control in general and the second is superior control of resistant weeds.”

Oostlander explained that if there is a weed resistant to one of the sites of action, having two or more provides backup to ensure the weed is controlled and prevents it from going to seed.

To show a living demonstration of these advantages, scientists conducted a greenhouse trial where they took soil and weed seeds – foxtail, common waterhemp and common ragweed – from fields throughout the U.S. and grew weeds in four separate pots. They then applied a different herbicide to each of the pots; one with Outlook herbicide, one with Sharpen herbicide and one with Verdict herbicide. The fourth pot was left untreated. The multiple sites of action in Verdict herbicide proved to have the most complete control on all three of the weeds planted.

“From a scientific perspective, we understand how critical having multiple sites of action is for controlling and preventing resistant weeds, but it’s hard to really show that to people,” said Chad Brommer, Herbicides Biologist for BASF. “So in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. The study visually shows the strengths and weaknesses of using just one site of action compared to using multiple sites of action.”

Residual Control

To show the importance of using a preemerge herbicide like Verdict herbicide, which includes long-lasting residual control, BASF scientists conducted the same greenhouse trial two weeks apart. Four weeks after the first trial started, the soil still remained weed-free, reaffirming the benefits of using a preemergence herbicide for clean fields.

“Applying a preemerge herbicide with residual control also plays a critical role in controlling weeds,” said Oostlander. “This is because weeds can be controlled for weeks after applying the herbicide.”

The Complete Weed Control Plan

Verdict herbicide is one of many BASF products that are a part of the Advanced Weed Control program. Advanced Weed Control provides growers with an extensive weed control portfolio and best management practices for efficient application and the most complete control.

Comprehensive Approach to Plant Nutrition Management Yields Success

WinField has launched the NutriSolutions® 360° system, a complete solution to plant nutrition management that provides timely, critical agronomic insights and product recommendations. Spanning pre-planting to post-harvest, the system offers actionable insights to help farmers map and execute the individual nutrition plan that will generate the most profitable return.

“In a time where the margins are getting tighter than in previous years, farmers need to closely manage their inputs to capitalize on every return on investment opportunity. This includes making decisions based on agronomic facts,” said Tyler Greznow, WinField plant nutrition marketing manager. “By using the proprietary insight tools in the NutriSolutions® 360 system, farmers can efficiently apply nutrients that boost performance in high-potential areas of the field and minimize waste on areas with low potential.”

Multi-dimensional approach to plant nutrition

The NutriSolutions® 360° system provides farmers with tools like soil, resin and tissue sampling, for more robust agronomic insights that lead to more effective product recommendations. Proven performers such as Ascend® plant growth regulator can jump-start plant growth and minimize yield-limiting stresses, and supplementing MAX-IN®micronutrients in-season, can correct nutrient deficiencies before yield is compromised.

Since 2009, approximately 250,000 plant tissue samples have been collected through the NutriSolutions® Tool — now part of the NutriSolutions® 360° system. Those samples get uploaded into additional applications, including the WinField® R7® Tool database, for even more targeted data. Along with in-season satellite imagery showing a field’s biomass profile, this approach helps farmers capitalize on in-season opportunities to improve their return on investment.

In addition, the NutriSolutions® 360° system can provide a complete analysis of previous seasons to help farmers prepare for next season. The personalized insights from these tools combined with insights from replicated side-by-side trials at Answer Plot® locations across the country allow WinField agronomists to help farmers place nutrient inputs only where there is the greatest potential to increase their return on investment.

New product, established technology

WinField offers a complete portfolio of products formulated specifically to enhance plant growth and health.

“WinField is committed to providing recommendations based on agronomic insights and products that have been proven to deliver results,” said Greznow. “For the 2014 growing season, we’re excited to announce the newest addition to our MAX-IN® micronutrient line, MAX-IN® Zinc, which can be used in a broad spectrum of crops.”

MAX-IN® Zinc features patented CornSorb™ technology, which helps increase movement of nutrients through the leaf cuticle to internal leaf structures, leaving more zinc available for plant metabolism. Zinc is one of the key ingredients for success in a plant nutrition program, because it plays a critical role in leaf and vascular growth as well as root development. According to 2013 NutriSolutions® Tool results, zinc deficiencies were a common yield-limiting concern in multiple crops. Tissue analysis shows that 80 percent of the corn, 70 percent of the wheat and 60 percent of the cotton tested was deficient in zinc.

Another cornerstone product in the NutriSolutions® 360° system is Ascend® plant growth regulator. It has been proven to help crops germinate and emerge earlier, grow a more robust root system, and develop larger leaves and wider stems for a stronger plant. When applied in furrow with a starter fertilizer (10-34-0) and Ultra-Che® Zinc(chelated), Ascend® has a 4.8 bushels-per-acre advantage versus untreated acres over a three year period at 195 sites with replicated trials across the Corn Belt.


Monsanto Company is announcing the last call for nominations in its search for the next America’s Farmers Mom of the Year.  Those who would like to nominate an amazing farm mom – one who works every aspect of the farm, keeps everyone on task, and even advocates for the industry she loves -- will have through Monday, March 31, 2014, to submit their entry.

“Last year we received nominations from 48 different states – all featuring wonderful stories of active and empowered women who make a positive impact on their families, farms and communities,” says Jessica Simmons, Corporate Marketing Director for Monsanto. “We know there are still so many great stories out there to share and more women to recognize, so we want to hear from you.”

Anyone can nominate their favorite farm mom for a chance to win up to $10,000 -- whether it’s their own mom, sister, aunt, daughter, friend or community member.

To nominate a favorite farm mom, visit between now and March 31 and submit a brief essay online or by mail that explains how the nominated farm mom contributes to her family, farm, community and agriculture. Each nomination will be judged based on published criteria by a panel of judges from American Agri-Women, and Monsanto will select five regional winners based on the judges’ decisions. Each regional winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Profiles of the regional winners will then be posted to, where the public can vote for one national farm mom winner. Announced just prior to Mother’s Day, the national winner will receive an additional $5,000 cash prize above and beyond her regional prize.

“We carefully review every nomination and enjoy reading the phenomenal stories of farm moms who give selflessly to better the world they live in,” says Kris Zilliox, Vice President of Education for American Agri-Women. “We are glad to be a part of a program that recognizes the important role women play in agriculture and are looking forward to seeing what the 2014 nominations will bring.”

For more information on the program or for complete eligibility requirements and official contest rules visit Interested parties may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America's Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Sue Dillon, 349 Marshall Ave., Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63119.

March 21 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.50 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 3 percent from last year.  Placements during February totaled 430,000 head, up 26 percent from 2013.  This is the largest number of placements for February since the data series began in 1994.  Fed  cattle marketings  for  the month of  February  totaled 375,000 head, up 1 percent  from  last year.   Other disappearance during February totaled 15,000  head, up 50 percent from last year.

Iowa Cattle on Feed

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,290,000 on March 1, 2014 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service   Cattle on Feed   report.  The inventory is up 2 percent from February 1, 2014 and unchanged from March 1, 2013.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head had 670,000 head on feed, up 2 percent  from  last  month  and  up  6  percent  from  last  year.    Feedlots  with  a  capacity  less  than  1,000  head  had 620,000 head on feed, up 2 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year.

Placements during February totaled 131,000 head, a decrease of 27 percent from last month but up 19 percent from last year.   Feedlots with  a  capacity  greater  than  1,000  head  placed  86,000  head,  down  25  percent  from  last month  but  up 41 percent  from  last year.   Feedlots with a capacity  less  than 1,000 head placed 45,000 head. This  is down 31 percent from last month and down 8 percent from last year.

Marketings  for  February  were  107,000  head,  down  19  percent  from  last  month  and  down  5  percent  from  last  year. Feedlots with a capacity greater  than 1,000 head marketed 74,000 head, up 4 percent from  last month and up 9 percent from  last year.     Feedlots with a capacity  less than 1,000 head marketed 33,000 head, down 46 percent from  last month and down 27 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Down 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on March 1, 2014. The inventory was 1 percent below March 1, 2013.

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.65 million, 15 percent above 2013. Net placements were 1.58 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 390,000, 600-699 pounds were 330,000, 700-799 pounds were 415,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 515,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.55 million, 3 percent below 2013. Marketings for February are the lowest for the month since the data series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 71,000 during February, 18 percent above 2013.

Number of Cattle on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014
                      :                 :                 :               March 1, 2014             
                      :                 :                 :     -----------------------------------------------
       State       :  March 1, 2013  :Feb 1, 2014 :    :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                      :                :     Number    :     :previous year :previous month
                      :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:        270               272              272          101            100     
California ........:        480               520              500          104             96     
Colorado ........:        990               970               940           95             97     
Idaho .............:        225               215               210           93             98     
Iowa ..............:         630               660              670          106            102     
Kansas ..........:      2,050             2,050          2,060          100            100     
Minnesota ......:        132               137              135          102             99     
Nebraska .......:      2,430             2,460          2,500          103            102     
Oklahoma ......:        305               265              270           89            102     
South Dakota .:        230               240              240          104            100     
Texas ............:      2,550             2,440           2,470           97            101     
Washington .......:     233               206              198           85             96     
Other States .....:      320               325              325          102            100     
United States ....:  10,845            10,760        10,790           99            100     

Number of Cattle Placed on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014
                      :                 :                 :               March 1, 2014             
                      :                 :                 :     -----------------------------------------------
       State       :  March 1, 2013  :Feb 1, 2014 :    :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                      :                :     Number    :     :previous year :previous month
                      :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       23             31              28           122             90     
California ........:       50             70              38            76             54     
Colorado ........:      155            190            135            87             71     
Idaho .............:       34             41              37           109             90     
Iowa ..............:       61            114             86           141             75     
Kansas ..........:      285            435           335           118             77     
Minnesota ......:       12             18              11            92             61     
Nebraska .......:      340            545          430           126             79     
Oklahoma ......:       37             47             43           116             91     
South Dakota .:       45             54             39            87             72     
Texas ............:     335            405           410           122            101     
Washington ....:       35             42             30            86             71     
Other States ...:       26             37             28           108             76     
United States ..:  1,438          2,029        1,650          115             81     

Number of Cattle Marketed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US:2013 and 2014
                      :                 :                 :               March 1, 2014             
                      :                 :                 :     -----------------------------------------------
       State       :  March 1, 2013  :Feb 1, 2014 :    :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                      :                :     Number    :     :previous year :previous month
                      :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       27             32             27            100             84     
California ........:       43             58             55            128             95     
Colorado ........:      165            170            155            94             91     
Idaho .............:        33             45             41           124             91     
Iowa ..............:        68             71             74           109            104     
Kansas ..........:      335            385            315           94             82     
Minnesota ......:        15             10             12            80            120     
Nebraska .......:      370            470            375           101             80     
Oklahoma ......:        55             40             36            65             90     
South Dakota .:        39             41             36            92             88     
Texas ............:      390            385            360           92             94     
Washington ....:       34             35             36           106            103     
Other States ...:       29             46             27            93             59     
United States ..:    1,603        1,788        1,549           97             87     

USDA Cold Storage Highlights - March 21, 2014 

Total red meat supplies in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 5 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 17 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 3 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 1 percent from last month and up 105 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 28, 2014 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 5 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 14 percent from last month but down 21 percent from February 28, 2013.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 28, 2014 were down slightly from the previous month and down 6 percent from February 28, 2013.  Butter stocks were up 20 percent from last month but down 31 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 10 percent from last month but up 10 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month and down 2 percent from a year ago.


Agland Values Up 5 Percent Statewide in Last Year

            Agricultural land markets in Nebraska remained relatively steady in the last year, according to preliminary findings from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

            Overall, the average statewide farmland value rose by about 5 percent, as of Feb. 1, to $3,195 per acre, said Jim Jansen, research analyst with UNL's Department of Agricultural Economics, which conducts the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Developments survey annually.

            Survey reporters across the state reported percentage gains for all the farmland classes for the period from Feb. 1, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014. Current figures are preliminary; a final report will be available this summer.

            Farmland values in recent years have increased sharply. The overall increase of 25 percent in 2013 followed increases of 22 and 32 percent in the two previous years, leaving the 2013 all-land value more than double the value in early 2010.

            In the last year, the largest increase by land class occurred for non-tillable grazing land, at 7 percent. Non-tillable grazing land includes pasture and rangeland that does not have the current potential to be converted into cropland for small grain or row crop production.

            Record high livestock prices translated into strong increases seen throughout the state for pasture and rangeland. The increases in non-tillable grazing land varied greatly among the districts, with a low of 4 percent reported in the Northwest District to a high of 32 percent in the South District, but the Northeast, Central, East and Southeast districts all averaged around 15 percent.

            Expectations among survey participants also indicated high future cattle prices to be a strong factor fueling the increase in non-tillable grazing land.

            Increases in dryland cropland values also varied across the state depending upon the location and potential for irrigation. Generally, changes of less than 10 percent occurred in the eastern third of Nebraska for dryland cropland with or without irrigation potential. The Eastern District had a decline of 5 percent in the value of dryland cropland with no irrigation potential, but this should be noted as more of a negligible change given the strong increase in this district over the prior several years, Jansen said.

            The western two-thirds of the state had the strongest increases in dryland cropland values, with increases averaging around 20 percent. Increases in the value of dryland cropland of the western two-thirds of Nebraska are comparable to those of the eastern third of Nebraska reported by survey participants during the past several years.

            Trends observed for the value of tillable grazing land are comparable to those of dryland cropland for the western two-thirds and eastern third of Nebraska, Jansen said. The hayland class proves to be a critical component of forage production in the state for cattle producers. Increases in the value of hayland generally averaged around 10 percent across the districts in 2014, whereas in 2013 the increases ranged from 25 to 30 percent, spurred by the devastating effects of the 2012 drought. Future changes in the value of this land class likely will be tied to the value of forages and cattle production in Nebraska.

            Observed changes in the value of gravity irrigated and center pivot irrigated cropland ranged from 2 percent decreases to almost 20 percent increases. Weighting these ranges across the districts equated to an overall increase of about 4 percent for each of the two irrigation land classes.

            For the prior two survey years in 2012 and 2013 the land value averages had an annual increase of about 30 percent. The smaller increases in the value of irrigated cropland in 2014 suggests the market is holding steady given current expectations and commodity prices.

            Surveyed 2014 cash rental rates for cropland on average declined with lower commodity prices while pasture and cow-calf pair rental rates significantly increased due to higher beef cattle prices, the lingering effects of the drought, and the conversion of some marginal land to crop production.

            Lower anticipated grain prices in 2014 have led to lower average cash rental rates for dryland, gravity irrigated, and center pivot irrigated cropland as profit margins begin to tighten, Jansen said.

            The preliminary report can be found at

            Survey results are preliminary findings from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2014 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey. Land values and rental rates presented in this report are averages of survey participants' responses by district. Actual land values and rental rates may vary depending upon the quality of the parcel and local market for an area. Also, preliminary land values and rental rates are subject to change as additional surveys are returned. Final results from the survey will be published in early June 2014 and will be available electronically via the Nebraska Farm Real Estate website:

            Land appraisers, farm managers, or agricultural finance professionals from Nebraska interested in participating in future Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Surveys are invited to contact the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Interested parties can directly contact the Agricultural Economics Department by phone: 402-472-3401 or email

Nebraska Students Selected to Participate in National Ag Day Program

Six students were selected as delegates to represent Nebraska for the National Ag Day on the Hill program.  The Ag Day on the Hill program allows college students from Nebraska to join with other students from across the country to learn more about policy, natural resources and agriculture. Natural resources districts (NRDs) protect the future of natural resources by educating young people through programs such as Ag Day on the Hill. The Nebraska representatives and the Ag Day on the Hill program are supported by the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation.

“Programs like Ag Day on the Hill are a great way to engage young people in the political process and encourage networking with their peers from other states and to learn firsthand the workings of our United States Government,” said Terry Martin, NARD Board President. “This is a great opportunity for Nebraska students to take an interest in national agriculture and natural resources issues and to be better prepared for leadership in our state,” said Martin.

The six Nebraska representatives are Valerie Kesterson, Bryce Doeschot, Morgan Kowaleski, Casey Campbell, Tayler Goertz, and Dustin Renken.  All six representatives are students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“By attending Ag Day on the Hill, I will experience firsthand valuable networking opportunities with agriculturists and legislators from across the nation.  I will also have the chance to expand my knowledge and understanding about current issues facing the industry and related policies designed to address those issues,” said Morgan Kowaleski, Nebraska Ag Day on the Hill Representative. 

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Foundation is a supporter of Ag Day on the Hill for the Nebraska representatives.  The Foundation uses funds raised to help youth develop an interest in a variety of natural resources programs including Nebraska 4-H, FFA and others.   Funds for the NARD Foundation are raised through a variety of activities such as live and silent auctions at the NRD Annual Conference held every September.  The NARD Foundation was established to support students with a desire to enter the field of natural resources.

“The Foundation helps provide scholarships, internships, education opportunities, and support for students to continue to learn about natural resources,” said Martin.

Ag Day on the Hill takes place in March during National Ag Week, March 23-29, 2014, with National Ag Day celebrated on March 25.  Representatives will be in Washington D.C. March 24-25 to learn more about agriculture and natural resources policy and meet policy makers.  As part of Ag Day, the Ag Council organizes an essay contest and sponsors outstanding student representatives from across the country to participate in activities on the Hill.  The students—from FFA, 4-H and AFA—put a face on the future of agriculture and spread a message of awareness to lawmakers and other national leaders.


Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, has scheduled a meeting of the Climate Assessment Response Committee (CARC) for Friday, March 28.  The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. in Room 901 at Hardin Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Climate officials will brief CARC members on existing, as well as predicted, weather conditions and provide a water availability outlook.  Mitigation activities will be discussed.

For more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.

Iowa Corn Urges Strict Adherence to Agrisure Duracade Stewardship

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) urges farmers, handlers and exporters to strictly adhere to the stewardship program for the release of Syngenta seed trait Agrisure Duracade to minimize the risk of export trade disruption and negative impacts on the market price for the 2014 corn crop.

While approved in the United States, Agrisure Duracade is not yet approved in the European Union and China. Leakage of Agrisure Duracade into export channels risks the rejection of U.S. shipments to these important markets, and may potentially close those markets to U.S. exports entirely until regulatory approval is gained. Farmers are strongly encouraged to steward their grain appropriately to ensure it is delivered only to approved end-use markets and exported only to approved locations.

Syngenta has begun an introductory launch of Agrisure Duracade for the 2014 season and will work closely with growers to identify appropriate marketing options. Syngenta has entered into a partnership with Gavilon, to pick up and purchase -- at fair market value -- any Agrisure Duracade corn for which an alternative approved buyer is not found.

"Iowa Corn is monitoring this situation very closely and is ready to provide further information as needed," says Roger Zylstra, a farmer from Lynnville and current ICGA President. "Stewardship guidelines provide multiple options for grain marketing to include shipping corn to appropriate domestic elevators, feed mills, feed lots and some ethanol plants."

"It's important for all sectors of the value chain -- individual farmers, technology providers, shippers and exporters alike -- to recognize the potentially significant international implications of their actions," says Tom Sleight, President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. "The Council urges producers who choose to plant Agrisure Duracade in 2014 to adhere carefully to their stewardship responsibilities in order to minimize the risk to U.S. export sales."

Biotechnology approval systems around the world are not synchronous. In addition, some countries still lack effective, trade-enabling policies regarding the low level presence of unapproved biotech events in grain shipments. Inadvertent commingling is almost certain to occur in the high volume U.S. commodity handling system, and modern testing methods are likely to detect trace levels of unapproved events.

The presence of unapproved events in the export stream therefore carries a significant risk of major international trade disruptions. Given the availability of competitively priced corn from other countries and the ability of buyers to source anywhere in the world, leakage of unapproved events into export channels may result in the closure of important markets to U.S. corn and DDGS exports for an indefinite period.

"Continued technology development is essential to achieve global food security as well as creating new opportunities for producers and agribusiness but the risk of costly trade disruption is significant and should be taken seriously," says Zylstra.

In the short term, ICGA urges all stakeholders to weigh the consequences of their actions, recognize the international implications of planting and marketing decisions, and stringently adhere to their stewardship responsibilities. In the long run, we encourage working toward a resolution of the low-level presence and asynchronous approval issues. That solution will ensure the protection of common interests of producers, agribusinesses and consumers around the world.

USDA Encourages Early Registration for FSA Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today recommended that farmers and ranchers who plan to participate in FSA programs register in advance. Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to a local FSA Service Center before April 15, 2014.

Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will begin by April 15, 2014.

"We expect significant interest in these programs,” said Garcia. “Early registration should help improve the sign-up process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time.”

Examples of updates or changes to report include:

New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.

Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates the producer had/has control of the acreage.

Producers that have changed business structures (e.g. formed a partnership or LLC) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that this is recorded accurately as it may impact payment limits.

Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need. In addition, bank account information should be supplied or updated if necessary to ensure that producers receive payments as quickly as possible through direct deposit.

While any producer may report farm records and business structure changes, it is especially important for producers who suffered livestock, livestock grazing, honeybee, farm-raised fish, or tree/vine losses for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.

Argentine Bourses Firm Up on 54.5 MMT Soy Crop Forecast

Soybean crops promise very good yields across key parts of Argentina's grain belt, local bourses said in reports this week.  Both the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange and the Rosario Cereals Exchange are pegging the crop as 54.5 million metric tons, up from around 48 mmt last year and higher than initial forecasts of 50 mmt to 53 mmt.

Early soybean yields have been above those recorded last year, and the top-of-the-range yields have been exceptional, said the Rosario exchange.  But with only 1% of the crop harvested, it remains too early to draw firm conclusions. The harvest will begin in earnest in April, as long as rains ease.

While above-average rainfall has been generally beneficial to soybean development, it has also aided the spread of disease and pests. This means it will be difficult for Argentina to produce in excess of 54.5 mmt, said the Buenos Aires exchange.  Flooding in parts of Cordoba and Santa Fe provinces will also affect production, it added.

New Poll Identifies Top 10 Consumer Questions on GMOs

The results of a new national survey, commissioned by GMO Answers and the Council for Biotechnology Information, identify the leading questions consumers have about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and how our food is grown. The survey was conducted in order to identify, for the first time, the top 10 questions consumers have about GMOs and to open up the conversation on biotechnology's role in agriculture. Over the next several weeks, scientists, farmers, doctors and other experts will be answering one of the top 10 questions each week on the GMO Answers website and via Twitter.

Ipsos, a global market research company, conducted a national, random telephone survey of 1,006 American adults ages 18 and older. Participants were asked: The following are questions some people have asked about GMOs. Which of the following questions around the use of GMOs would you be most interested in having answered? From a list of 23 environmental, business and health-related questions regarding GMOs, respondents identified these questions as the top 10 they want answered:

1. If GMOs cause cancer
2. If GMOs are causing an increase in allergies
3. If big companies are forcing farmers to grow GMOs
4. If GMOs are increasing the price of food
5. If GMOs are contaminating organic food crops
6. Why long-term health studies aren't conducted on GMO plants
7. If GMOs are causing an increase in the use of pesticides
8. Why GMO companies seem like they are so against labeling GMO foods
9. If GMOs are contributing to the death of bees and butterflies
10. If livestock eat genetically modified grain, will there be GMOs in my meat

"A national dialogue is taking place about GMOs and it's important for us to listen to the questions consumers are asking so we can provide the information to help address their concerns," said Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., spokesperson for GMO Answers. "We are committed to transparency about how our food is grown, including an open discussion about GMOs. This is why we asked independent, third-party experts to answer these questions publicly. Our goal is to ensure consumers have the information they need to make up their own minds about GMOs."

Since its launch last year, more than 500 questions about GMOs, food and agriculture have been answered by experts on GMO Answers.

Dr. Kevin Folta, University of Florida Interim Chairman and Associate Professor Horticultural Sciences Department, answered the first question: If GMOs cause cancer? "The short answer is no, there is absolutely reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer. Cancer is a name applied to a spectrum of diseases where cells proliferate abnormally. There is no way that the subtle and well understood alterations of a plant's genes can cause cancer. There is nothing about the Bt protein (used in insect resistance, also in organic pest control), the EPSPS enzyme (which confers herbicide resistance, simply by substituting for the native enzyme in the plant) or the process itself, that would induce the genetic changes in human cells that would lead to cancer. It is just not plausible.

Some of the confusion comes from reports where the Bt protein or glyphosate (the herbicide used on some GM crops) is applied to cell lines in a petri dish, and the cells show changes associated with stress and perhaps abnormal proliferation. However, cells in a dish do not behave like cells in the body. Through years of careful evaluation there is no reliable evidence that GM foods cause the same changes in a living organism.

Quite to the contrary, future plants may be engineered to produce nutrients that fight/prevent cancer, or even eliminate compounds that increase cancer risk. One such product is close to commercialization. Potatoes produce a small amount of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, when heated to high temperatures. A potato has been engineered to not produce that compound, leading to safer food."

Among the questions not selected in the top 10, but have been the focus of conversations on GMO Answers include: if the development of GMOs is unnatural; if GMOs are causing gluten intolerance; if GMOs are contributing to obesity; if GMOs are contributing to infertility; if GMO companies are suing farmers; and if GMOs are contributing to the growth of super weeds.

"We recognize that consumers have questions about our products, and we need to do a better job explaining our technology, role in agriculture and the safety of our crops. In the coming weeks, we invite consumers to come back and follow the answers to the top 10 questions offered by experts at GMO Answers and become a part of this important conversation," Enright concluded.

GMO Answers is produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta.

Thursday March 20 Ag News

Hall of Agricultural Achievement to Honor Moeller, Taylor

            The former assistant vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a longtime food scientist are being honored this year by the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement.

            Alan Moeller, who retired last year, and Stephen Taylor, known internationally for his food-allergen research, will be honored at NHAA's annual banquet, March 28 in the Nebraska East Union. Reservations for the banquet cost $25 and can be made by contacting Linda Arnold, 402-472-3802, or by email The banquet will begin at 6 p.m.

            Moeller, a West Point native, was raised on a small, diversified farm. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduation, he worked in several positions related to agriculture before joining the university in 1977.

            Moeller served under five of IANR's six vice chancellors. He had a hand in many of the institute's achievements and established many of its business and personnel policies, including the creation of business centers that serve units with specialized teams.

            Moeller served as the primary contact person for state senators and other government officials for agriculture, natural resources and related items on behalf of the university for more than 30 years. He also helped secure funding for a number of capital construction projects such as the Beadle Center; Food Industry Complex; Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center; Veterinary Diagnostic Center; greenhouse renovations; several projects on the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture campus including the new Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center, student housing, and the expanded Veterinary Teaching Hospital; and several Greater Nebraska projects.  Also, he had a major role in the agreement with Iowa State University for a joint Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine.

            Moeller's honors include the Public Service to Agriculture Award, Exemplary Service Award by the American Distance Education Consortium, Omtvedt Innovation Award, Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association, memberships in the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, Carl A. Donaldson Award for Excellence in Management, and recognition as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America.

            Moeller and his wife, Lana, have two sons, Cameron and Todd, and three grandchildren.  Alan is a member of First Lutheran Church in Lincoln.

            Since Stephen Taylor joined UNL in 1987, he has been instrumental in educating the commodity agriculture industry, the food industry, regulatory bodies, consumer advocate groups, clinicians and individual consumers on food allergens.

            Taylor has dedicated much of his career to research in food safety and toxicology and has become one of the world’s foremost authorities in the areas of sulfite sensitivity and food allergens, publishing well over 2,000 manuscripts on these topics.

            During the 1990s, Taylor recognized the need to assist the food industry with better management of food allergens due to the number of packaged food recalls attributed to undeclared allergens. Since there was no federal funding for applied food allergy research in existence at that time and no single food manufacturer could afford to address the issue of food allergens, Taylor organized an industry funded consortium at UNL.

            Seven founding industry charter members collectively funded research at UNL to increase the understanding of allergen thresholds, characterization and detection. Under Taylor’s direction, this group has grown to more than 75 member companies. Throughout the world, Taylor and FARRP are recognized as the authority for food allergens, thresholds of concern, how to best manage allergens in a commercial plant and for the development of immunochemical assays.

            Taylor’s development of assays has led to the creation of an industry segment that provides commercial test kits for use by the food and regulatory industries worldwide. These test kits are used to protect consumers from inadvertent contamination of a food product and to ensure proper labeling of food.

            FARRP also has sponsored several studies to determine the threshold doses for specific allergens to consumers. This work has been conducted in collaboration with many of the leading allergists around the world. The use of population threshold data, along with several additional variables, to quantitatively model the risk of an allergic reaction due to the potential of an undeclared allergen in a food product is the objective.

            Steve and his wife, Susan, met as students at the University of California-Davis and have been married for 41 years. They have two children, Amanda Kalina and Andrew Taylor.

The following were named new members of the NHAA:

            Lisa Ann Lunz of Wakefield is very active with the production of, and promoting, agriculture. She is active in state and national corn and soybean commodity groups, Farm Bureau, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, Nebraska Agribusiness Club, the Wakefield School Board, Wakefield Community Club and 4-H.

            State climatologist Allen Dutcher’s weather outlooks and forecasts are well known to Market Journal, KRVN and other audiences. Nebraska producers and agribusinesses rely on Dutcher in planning their daily operations.

            UNL Extension Educator Randy W. Pryor of Wilber is very active with education about conservation tillage, irrigation-saving technology, soil carbon and wind energy. He helped create the Saline County Wind Association, which informs landowners of wind energy rights and opportunities.

            Fourth-generation producer Mark Jagels of Davenport farms with his father and lives on the home place, homesteaded in 1885. Jagels’ diversified interests include irrigated yellow and white corn, and soybeans; a cow/calf operation; custom feeding; and a trucking company

            Jana K. Kruger of Arlington is president of the Nebraska State Fair Board. Among her major accomplishments is serving on the board when the state fair moved from Lincoln to Grand Island. Kruger is a landscaper, and counts farming and agricultural promotions among her professions.

            Todd C. Sneller is administrator of the State of Nebraska Ethanol Board, and principal of Sneller Associates, a consulting partnership. Sneller began working with Nebraska ethanol development through the Nebraska Agricultural Products Industrial Utilization Committee. At the time there were no ethanol plants in Nebraska; today there are 24.

            President/owner of T-L Irrigation Leroy W. Thom of Hastings was a Soil Conservation Service supervisor in Scottsbluff, an irrigation and farm boss for Foxley Co. in Montana, then selling hand-moved irrigation systems for Farm Improvement Co. in Hastings. T-L Irrigation Co. today employs more than 300. He was the first to develop the Tractor Towline Sprinkler System, and is the sole manufacturer of the oil-driven Hydrostatic Pivot sold throughout the U.S. and 50 other countries

            Francis Jon Holzfaster of Paxton contributes to agriculture and to Western Nebraska by positioning farming and ranching to be innovative, progressive and value-added. A third-generation family farmer, Mr. Holzfaster produces corn, popcorn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and edible beans.

            Donald H. Beermann is interim associate dean and director of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, former director of the Institutional Animal Care Program and head of the Department of Animal Science.

            Leading Nebraska groundwater expert James W. Goeke is emeritus professor and research hydrologist, formerly with the Conservation and Survey Division at UNL. Key among his research was gathering data for modeling the unconfined aquifers near the Platte River in the central Platte region, and similar stream-aquifer studies in the Republican River Valley.

            Early eco-fallow adopter Paul Schaffert of Indianola farms and owns Schaffert Manufacturing and Sales of innovative planter and drill attachments sold nationally and internationally. Schaffert holds numerous patents on planter attachments, and his innovations have been featured nationally in magazines and in his presentations.

            Lifelong farmer and former state senator Wayne W. Ziebarth of Wilco cochaired  the appropriations, and water and resources committees. He was principal sponsor of the Nebraska Technical Community College Bill, which brought together State Technical Colleges, Area Technical Colleges and Academic Junior Colleges.

Plan Now for On-Farm Research Projects

Carl and David Sousek farm about 900 acres of corn and soybeans near Prague, Neb.  Like most grain producers, experience plays an important role in their operation.  But they also have come to rely on the importance of research, especially research on their own farm.

The Souseks are participating with a network of growers in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN). Research is typically conducted with the producer's equipment, on the producer's land, using the producer's management practices.

Carl Sousek said he liked the idea of tailoring a research project to meet specific questions about practices on our farm and then having access to university extension personnel who possess the expertise needed to plan the project and analyze the results.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension soil fertility specialist Charles Shapiro is part of a team of Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty involved in the on-farm research project.  Shapiro noted that on-farm research participants say the research is relevant to their operations.  He said, "Combining the strength of University personnel with producers' interests is a cost-effective and practical system to answer "real world" questions."

Tom Hoegemeyer, professor of practice in UNL's Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and other UNL Extension faculty give guidance to design experiments for scientific and statistical validity, as well as making sure the research can be done with typical ag equipment.  He said, "Participants value cooperating with other producers in the network and studying the same questions.  This allows comparisons over a range of real environments – giving participants more confidence in the results and conclusions."

NOFRN is sponsored by UNL Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.  The goal of the network is to implement a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

UNL Extension Educator Keith Glewen has worked with farm operators conducting on-farm research for many years.  He said, "The farm operator makes the final decision as to the research topic to be evaluated. We encourage growers to give careful thought as to what production practice may be limiting profitability or could enhance the use of soil and water resources on their farm".

Some of the current research includes irrigation, nitrogen management in corn production, corn population and cover crops.

For more information on the project or how to participate, contact Glewen at 402-624-8030 or, their local Extension office, the Nebraska Corn Board at 402-471-2676 or Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459.  The NOFRN website is at:

National Ethanol Expert to Speak at the Nebraska Ethanol Board April Meeting 

Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, will speak on the status of the Renewable Fuel Standard and other biofuel industry challenges at the April 4th

meeting of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  Mr. Durante has spent nearly 35 years working in the areas of biofuel policy and ethanol market development.  He worked as a staff member on Capitol Hill and has served as a technical and policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.  The Clean Fuels Development Coalition is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Ethanol Board meeting agenda also includes a presentation on trends in distillers grain feeding issues by Dr. Galen Erickson of the University of Nebraska and an update on Food Safety Act provisions by a representative of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Doug Durante will deliver his presentation at the April 4th Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting at 9:15 a.m. The presentations related to distillers grain will follow. The meeting will be held at the Crane Trust Center located near the Alda Exit on Interstate 80.  The meeting will commence at 9:00 a.m. 

For more information about the 2014 Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum on April 10-11 please visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board web site at:

Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council Elects New Officers

The Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council recently elected new officers and board members during its annual meeting.

Newly elected officers include Chairman of the Board, Bob Balfany of Lincoln; Vice Chair, Terry Schutte of Lincoln; Secretary, Ron Pavelka of Glenvil; and Treasurer, Rob Robertson of Roca.

Newly elected board members include: Cindi Allen of Ogallala, Bryan Barrett of Gering, Galen Frenzen of Fullerton, and Royce Schaneman of Denton. Re-elected for a second three-year term were Greg Ibach of Sumner and Terry Schutte of Lincoln. 

Other board members include:  Eric Brown of Lincoln, Jill Brown of Lincoln who serves as the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Liaison Representative, Jarid Childears of North Platte, Jim Farrell of Omaha, Mark Holubek of David City who serves as President of the Nebraska LEAD Alumni Association, Carol Hudkins of Malcolm, Stephanie Liska of Wayne, Brad Lubben of Eagle, Larry Pearson of Bennington, Leland Poppe of North Platte, William Rhea III of Arlington, and Ray Ward of Kearney.

The Council's president is Terry Hejny, who also serves as the director of the Nebraska LEAD Program.

The Nebraska LEAD Program includes men and women, currently active in production agriculture and agribusiness and is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 34, which will begin in September of 2014, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 318 Biochemistry Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0763.  You may also call 402-472-6810 or email  Applications will be due June 15, 2014.

NCGA, USGC Officers Kick Off Marathon Trade Tour to Colombia, Mexico

This week, officers from the National Corn Growers Association joined with U.S. Grains Council leadership to begin a ten day mission that will promote U.S. corn exports in Colombia and Mexico.  Through a series of high-level meetings and on-site visits, the U.S. delegation will explore key trade issues including biotech policy, the outlook for both countries feed industries and the future of trade talks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Pacific Alliance.

"Corn farmers today are keenly aware of the need to foster all markets, both at home and abroad," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "By working hand-in-hand with our partners at the Council, we have developed a schedule that will maximize the impact we have as we work cooperatively to expand the market for U.S. corn in these two important trade partners."

While in Colombia, the group will visit Italco Feed Company before a series of meetings with: Agri-BIO; Contegral; Ingredion; National Business Association of Colombia; Solla; U.S. Embassy staff; and Colombian staff for Cargill and Monsanto.

The team will then travel to Mexico where they will meet with officials from members of: the grain traders association APPAMEX; AGROBIO; ANFACA; CONAFAB; Emresas Guadalupe; Ferromex; Gavilon; Industrias Melder; OGM International; Pronua; Scoular; and representatives from Mexico's poultry and swine producers associations. Representatives from the Agricultural Trade Office, Illinois Marketing Office, Iowa Marketing Office, U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Meat Export Federation will join during portions of the agenda. They will also tour the MINSA flour plant and PROAN, the largest poultry and livestock industrial complex in Mexico.

Reinforcing trade ties with Mexico holds special importance as it has been the second largest export market for U.S. corn for several years, importing 876 million bushels total over the last three marketing years. At the same time, the Colombian market holds significant potential as imports of U.S. corn are expected to increase given the continued implementation of the trade agreement with that country.

The delegation from NCGA includes:  President Martin Barbre; Chairwoman Pam Johnson; First Vice President Chip Bowling; and CEO Rick Tolman. Grains Council members of the delegation include: Chairman Julius Schaaf; Vice Chairman Rob Gray; Secretary/Treasurer Alan Tiemann (of NE); Past Chairman Don Fast; President and CEO Tom Sleight; Director of Global Programs Kimberly Atkins; Regional Director of Western Hemisphere Kurt Schultz; Director of Mexico Julio Hernandez; Marketing Specialist of Mexico Javier Chavez; and Colombia Consultant Jaime Cuellar.

Rural Mainstreet Economy for March is Still Weak with Declines in Farmland Prices

After moving below growth neutral for February, the Rural Mainstreet economy rose slightly above 50.0, according to the March survey of bank CEOs in a 10-state area.   

Overall:  The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, with 50.0 representing growth neutral, increased to 50.1 from 48.4 in February.

Scott Tweksbury, president of Heartland State Bank in Edgeley, N. D. reported, “Our market had yield reductions due to drought in 2013 and that has had some bearing on local conditions. Livestock producers, cow-calf in particular, are generally enjoying record profits offsetting reductions in crop farming income.”

“The overall index for the Rural Mainstreet Economy indicates that the areas of the nation highly dependent on agriculture and energy experiencing slow, to no growth over recent months. Slight upturns in agriculture commodity prices over the past several months have yet to boost the Rural Mainstreet Economy. We will need to see additional increases in farm commodity prices to push the agriculture based economy back into healthy growth territory such as was experienced in 2012 and early 2013,” said Ernie Goss, the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University Heider College of Business.

Nebraska: For a second straight month,  Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet Index moved below growth neutral. The index improved slightly to 49.5 from February’s 48.8. The farmland-price index for March plummeted to 27.7 from February’s 42.6. Nebraska’s new-hiring index declined to 48.4 from February’s  52.2.

Iowa: The March RMI for Iowa expanded to 49.8 from February’s 48.4. The farmland-price index for March advanced to 37.6 from February’s 36.3. Iowa’s new-hiring index for March rose to 56.3 from 49.1 in February.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for March sank to 40.9, its lowest level since March 2009, and down from February’s very weak 41.7. “This is the fourth straight month that the farmland and ranchland-price index has moved below growth neutral,” said Goss.

Farm equipment sales remained below growth neutral for the ninth straight month. The March index sank to a weak 29.3, its lowest reading since May of 2009, and down from 30.9 last month.  “Agriculture equipment and implement dealers in the agriculture based areas of the region are experiencing very weak sales to farmers even as farm equipment manufacturers are experiencing positive growth due to healthy sales abroad,” said Goss.

This month bankers were asked the current value of annual cash rents for farmland in their area and how much they expected values to change over the next 12 months.  A regional average of $258 per acre was recorded with growth of only 0.6 percent expected over the next 12 months.  More than one-third, or 35.8 percent, expect cash rents to decline over the course of the next year. “Last March when we asked this same question, bankers anticipated that cash rents would rise by 9.3 percent over the next year. This is a significant deterioration in the outlook for cash rents from this time last year,” said Goss.

Tweksbury said, “We are seeing renters requesting reductions from landlords but few landlords agreeing.  I think little will change for 2014 but if commodity prices remain unchanged then some reductions likely for 2015.”

“With the Federal Reserve continuing to withdraw their economic stimulus, I expect rising interest rates to put even more downward pressures on farmland prices and cash rents,” said Goss.

Banking: The loan-volume index advanced to a robust 65.5 from February’s 50.0. The checking-deposit index expanded to 65.5 from February’s 61.7, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments was unchanged from February’s 42.5. 

This month bankers were also asked to report factors restraining loan demand for their banks. More than one-third, or 34.7 percent, indicated that loan demand was normal and with lending advancing as usual. However, 44.9 percent reported that lack of demand from borrowers was limiting lending. More than 10 percent detailed lending pullbacks due to poor credit quality of applicants. Additionally 10.2 percent of bankers reported that banking regulations were restricting bank loans.

Bryan Grove, CEO of American State Bank in Grygla, Minn., “Strong (farm) profits over the past few years and excellent working capital positions (of farmers) limit operating loan demand from existing customers.”

Furthermore, Grove indicates that his bank has plenty of liquidity but demand is soft and 2014 projections show tighter cash flows for farmers.

Hiring: Rural Mainstreet businesses continue to hire at a solid pace. The March hiring index advanced to 60.0 from 54.3 in February.  “While the farm economy slows, businesses on Rural Mainstreet continue to expand their payrolls,” said Goss.

Confidence: The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, fell to 47.3 from last month’s 47.4. “Weaker agriculture commodity prices have not only reduced overall economic activity and farmland prices, they have undermined economic confidence,” said Goss

Home and retail sales: The March home-sales index declined to 51.8 from February’s 53.4. The March retail-sales index rose to 49.2 from 40.1 in February. “Even though the index remained below growth neutral, weather improvements pushed the index higher from February’s poor reading.” said Goss. 

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included. The survey is supported by a grant from Security State Bank in Ansley, Neb.

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

Iowa Lawmakers Looking to Raise State's Corn Checkoff

Legislation that could lead to a future increase in the per-bushel corn check-off if approved in referendum by Iowa corn producers passed the Iowa Senate and is on its way to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk for his consideration. House File 2427 would raise the maximum amount of marketing money authorized to be assessed on each bushel of corn that an Iowa producer sells from the current one-cent level to as much as three cents if approved by producers voting in future special referenda, reports the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

The maximum rate must stay at one cent per bushel through Aug. 31, under the bill. The maximum rate for the next five marketing years - from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2019 - cannot exceed two cents if approved by corn growers, and the maximum check-off rate is capped at three cents per bushel for all future marketing years beginning Sept. 1, 2019, according to the bill that won Senate approval 46-0. The measure was adopted on a 98-0 vote by the Iowa House on March 4.

Officials with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association say that raising the maximum check-off authorization does not mean that producers will be asked to pledge that amount. The check-off began in 1976 and reached one cent per bushel in 2012.

"It increases their authority but it doesn't mean the check-off is going up," said Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone. "I'm happy that we've got this where it is today and we can move on."

Kapucian said there are some producers who have concerns, but he was satisfied adequate checks and balances are in place for the legislation to move forward. The Gazette reports that he was pleased lawmakers decided to keep a cap in place and hold it to a maximum of three cents a bushel if that level is approved by Iowa farmers at some future time.

Last fiscal year, the Iowa corn check-off generated more than $17 million.

Iowa Beef Industry Council Elects Officers

Roger Brummett, cow-calf producer from Bedford, was elected chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC). Brummett will lead the group of cattle producers who oversee the $1 per head Beef Checkoff Program in Iowa.

Scott Heater, Wapello, will serve as vice-chairman with Steve Rehder, Hawarden, as secretary and Daryl Strohbehn, Boone, as treasurer. Tom Shipley, cow-calf producer from Nodaway, was seated as a new director on the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC). Elected at the IBIC annual meeting in December, Shipley will serve a three-year term.

Other members serving on the IBIC Executive Committee are Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Wendy Wintersteen, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University; and Joe Wright, Knoxville, representing the Iowa Livestock Market Association.

Nine cattle producers appointed to one-year terms include Terri Carstensen, Odebolt; Dan Cook, New Providence; Scott McGregor, Nashua; Butch Neumeyer, Walker; Scott Niess, Osage; Phil Reemstma, DeWitt; Connie Richards, Tingley; Dan Schmitt, Waukon; and Helen Wiese, Manning.

The IBIC administers the Iowa portion of the national beef checkoff. The 2013-2014 Iowa budget will invest about $1.6 million in state and national beef promotion, research, consumer information, and industry information programs. In addition, Iowa forwards approximately $1.6 million to the Cattlemen's Beef Board for national beef promotion programs to market beef domestically and internationally. For more information, contact the Iowa Beef Industry Council, P.O. Box 451, Ames, IA 50010 or call 515-296-2305.

Margin Management Series Continues with 'Big Data'

Farmers have long documented and stored their data to be more efficient on the farm. Just as technology has changed the way we farm, data has become a modern agricultural commodity with the ability to revolutionize agriculture, but it doesn't come without questions and concerns. On April 3 at 1 p.m., Matt Erickson from American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will present a live webinar, "The Power and Pitfalls of Big Data." Erickson will explore what big data is, the challenges and opportunities, data ownership, value, privacy and more.

For years, farmers have used technological advances to better match hybrids and seed varieties with specific field characteristics. Now, several seed, fertilizer, and equipment companies are collecting and monitoring real-time variables on site-specific ground related to planting population, seed hybrid planting, soil topography, fertilizer usage, yield data, and a growing list of other variables to better utilize resources.

"We know that farmers have questions about the emerging field of big data in agriculture and they are seeking insight into the challenges and opportunities, said Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. "This webinar will help farmers know questions they should consider about the tradeoffs between privacy, value, security, and return on investment regarding big data.

Participants can access the webinar from their home or farm office by going to, and clicking on the webinar banner shortly before the event. Pre-registration is not required for online viewing. Participants will have the opportunity to text questions to the speaker during the webinar.

For more information, contact Kordick at


This April 8 at the Ames Quality Inn, farmer Penny Brown Huber will discuss the success of her Marshalltown-based flash-freeze fruit and vegetable packaging plant, Iowa Choice Harvest.

The start-up food processing business was established by a handful of central Iowa farmers in 2013, includes 24 member-owners, and is just one example for attendees at the 2014 Iowa Local Food Conference of how to successfully tap into the local community to grow their business.

To match this year’s conference focus, speakers from various food processing and local foods businesses will share their ideas on how to approach business expansion and opportunities to increase profitability. Conference workshop tracks include food hubs, processing centers and value-added products, and marketing strategies for expanding the customer base.

Early registration for the Iowa Local Food Conference ends on March 28 at:

The conference targets small growers, business owners and food service personnel, in addition to general audience members with an interest in expanding the reach of local food networks in Iowa.

Brown Huber, president of Iowa Choice Harvest, discusses in an interview from earlier this year the important niche their small network of producers and consumers occupies. “It could build a really dynamic local food system for Iowa,” she says, noting that their products allow consumers, even in the peak of winter, to enjoy food produced in their own neighborhood.

The conference will include refreshments and lunch provided by local farmers, including Craig Griffieon. The Ankeny-based farmer is able to grow sweet corn because Iowa Choice Harvest is close enough to his operation that he can flash-freeze his produce within the day of his harvest for sale throughout the year.

The Iowa Local Foods Conference is sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Local Food and Farm Initiative (LFFI) and the Iowa Food System Working Group of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Keynote speakers include: Lucie Amundsen of the pasture-raised chicken business, Locally Laid; USDA Rural Development State Director, Bill Menner; and Kamyar Enshayan, director of University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

Vendors can set up booths at the conference for a fee of $100. Follow the link to find additional conference details, in addition to the schedule and speaker line-up. Contact Lynn Heuss for other information, including some scholarship application options.

Commercial Red Meat Production Down Slightly From Last Year

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.65 billion pounds in February, down 1 percent from the 3.67 billion pounds produced in February 2013.

Beef production, at 1.79 billion pounds, was 5 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.24 million head, down 5 percent from February 2013. The average live weight was up 10 pounds from the previous year, at 1,330 pounds.

Veal production totaled 8.2 million pounds, 9 percent below February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 52,200 head, down 12 percent from February 2013. The average live weight was up 9 pounds from last year, at 267 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.84 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.67 million head, up 1 percent from February 2013. The average live weight was up 6 pounds from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.6 million pounds, was up 1 percent from February 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 168,200 head, 4 percent above last year. The average live weight was 138 pounds, down 4 pounds from February a year ago.

January to February 2014 commercial red meat production was 7.9 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 5 percent from last year, veal was down 10 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up slightly.

By State (million pounds, % of Feb 2013)

Nebraska ...:       510.5             97      
Iowa ..........:       535.4            107      
Kansas .....:        363.3             92      

Soy Paints the Town with the Help of Sherwin-Williams

The Soy Checkoff recently joined with Sherwin-Williams to develop paints made from soybean oil and recycled plastic bottles. This effort will help increase demand for U.S. soybean oil and the profitability of U.S. soybean farmers.

“This partnership is about driving innovation and utilizing a renewable raw material,” says Steve Revnew, vice president of product innovation for Sherwin-Williams. “Soy is an excellent product to use because it’s a renewable resource and can help create an environmentally responsible formulation.”

Domestic use of U.S. soybean oil in industrial applications recently hit a record high of 1.5 billion pounds, or the oil from 122 million bushels of soybeans, in the 2011-12 marketing year. Ten years ago, the industrial market used 736 million pounds of soybean oil, or the oil from 63 million bushels of soybeans.

In addition to paints, soy can be found in many products, including turf, insulation, candles and plastics — it’s the miracle bean. To learn more about products that contain soy, flip through the Soy Products Guide.

The paints won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 Presidential Green Chemistry Award for reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 60 percent, making them safer to use.

Recently, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system used for coating solutions issued more stringent requirements. One product that meets the new requirements is Sherwin-Williams ProClassic® Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd Interior Paint, which contains soy.

Sherwin-Williams’ use of soy in coatings is one example of its commitment in leading sustainability efforts through the development of technology that meets or exceeds LEED standards.

These renewable and sustainable attributes continue to expand industrial uses for soy. In addition to recent product developments, the checkoff is currently sponsoring Sherwin-Williams research for the development of new soy-based coatings.

House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Talks 2015 Budget

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack testified last Friday before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department’s 2015 budget. The discussion focused mainly on food—school meals, food stamps and food safety. Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt urged the Secretary to consider temporary waivers for school meal operators who need more time to meet new nutrition rules that have proven to be costly. The Secretary stated that only 10 percent of school meal providers seem to be struggling, a comment that the Chairman did not agree with.  The Department is requesting close to $20 billion in discretionary funding, which the subcommittee has control over. USDA also proposes $122.4 billion in mandatory funding in which $104.7 billion of that is spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. The House will work towards passing the agriculture appropriations bill along with other appropriations sometime this summer.

Revised Agricultural Worker Protection Standard Released by EPA

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard regulation was printed in the Federal Register, starting the official 90 day comment period.  In February, EPA posted summary documents on their website outlining proposed updates to the 20 year old regulation regarding pesticide application. Some of the new requirements include mandatory pesticide safety training every year (currently every 5 years), no entry buffer areas of 25-100 feet, posting warning signs around treated areas, mandatory record keeping for two years, and making information regarding pesticide application available to farm workers or their advocates. These proposed changes are the first since the regulation was changed in 1992 and subsequently went into effect in 1995. The full proposal can be viewed at Fact sheets are available on EPA’s website at Comments must be received on or before June 17, 2014.

Ethanol Industry files to take LCFS fight to United States Supreme Court

Following the January decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny rehearing en banc in the litigation regarding California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy are today petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari to make a final determination relating to the constitutionally flawed LCFS.

“California, through adoption of the LCFS, has violated the most basic, structural features of interstate federalism. LCFS not only discriminates against out-of-state commerce, but it seeks to regulate conduct in other States in direct contravention of our constitutional structure and at the direct expense of Midwestern farmers and ethanol producers.”

RFA and Growth Energy moved forward with a Supreme Court challenge after a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court (O’Neill, J.) finding that the California LCFS discriminates against interstate commerce and constitutes extraterritorial regulation in violation of the Commerce Clause. By its own admission, California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (“LCFS”) seeks to regulate greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions occurring in other states by rewarding and punishing industrial and agricultural activity taking place outside California. And it bases the size of these rewards and penalties on whether production took place in “California” or in the “Midwest”—systematically favoring California. The Constitution denies states such authority.

Setting the Record Straight on FSIS Inspector Vacancy Rates

Aaron Lavallee, FSIS' Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education

Recently, the New York Times published an article claiming that job vacancies in the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are leading to more food recalls. That’s not true.  The fact is, vacancies within the agency do not mean there are less inspectors on the job in our nation’s meat plants.

FSIS is legally required to have a sufficient number of inspectors present in every single meat and poultry plant in the country.  No plant in America is allowed to operate if it does not have the required number of safety inspectors in the plant at all times, and every plant currently operating in America has the necessary food inspection staff.

The New York Times article was based on misleading and inaccurate information, and to the paper’s credit it ultimately ran at least a partial correction.  The article was supposedly based on data from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by an outside group called Food & Water Watch-but Food & Water Watch had not yet received that FOIA report.  Yet, they told the Times they had received it, and the Times unfortunately reported faulty information without verification.

The FOIA referenced in the article is actually just being released today.  You can view it here. The report will show that, at the end of Fiscal Year 2013, there was a vacancy rate of 7.64% among FSIS’ inspectors. Food & Water Watch claimed, and the New York Times reported, that inspectors in the Raleigh District faced an 11% vacancy rate. In fact, the vacancy rate there is currently 8.27%.

Like all organizations, FSIS has a vacancy rate that fluctuates as inspectors leave work or retire.  FSIS is working to fill open positions. FSIS always prioritizes food safety inspection and dedicates significant resources toward ensuring that all plants have the required number of inspectors.  Again, if a plant does not have enough inspectors, it is illegal for that plant to operate.

It is irresponsible to attempt to confuse FSIS vacancy rates with plant inspector shortages and then imply that meat and poultry products are less safe as a result.  There is no connection between recent recalls and FSIS vacancy rates, and any claims that these issues are linked are false.

Dairy Situation and Outlook

Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

Strong dairy product prices resulting in record milk prices continue into 2014. On the CME cheddar barrels were a record $2.32 per pound back on February 5th. But by mid-February the price fell by more than $0.25 to $2.0625 only to resume price increases. Cheddar barrels reached $2.16 per pound the beginning of March and as of March 19th barrels were close to the earlier record at $2.305. The situation is similar for 40-pound cheddar blocks. Cheddar blocks were a record $2.36 on February 4th, fell by more than $0.25 to $2.105 with the price rebounding beginning in March at $2.2275, setting a new record on March 14th at $2.3625 and as of March 19th the price was $2.42. CME butter averaged $1.80 per pound in February and as of March 19th it was $1.905. Dry whey averaged $0.62 per pound in February and will average about $0.64 in March. Nonfat dry milk has been about $2.07 per pound February and March.

The February Class III price was a record $23.35 and will be near that for March. The February Class IV price was a record $23.46 and will be near $23.60 for March. The February average U.S. All Milk Price was a record $24.70 and will average near $25 for March. Compared to March a year ago the Class III price will be about $6.40 higher, the Class IV price $5.85 higher and the average U.S. All Milk Price $5.90 higher.

Good domestic demand for cheese and strong exports of cheese, butter and nonfat dry milk is a major factor for these record prices. Exports of dairy products set a record last year totaling 15.5% of U.S. milk production on a total solids basis. Exports above a year ago continued into January. Compared to January a year ago exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder were 22% higher, total cheese had a new record at 46% higher, butterfat 136% higher, and lactose 3% higher. On a total solids basis exports were equivalent to 14.5% of milk production compared to 12.3% a year ago.

Domestic sales and exports have tightened stocks of dairy products. The latest stock report is for January 31st stocks. Compared to a year ago butter stocks were 33% lower, American cheese stocks and total cheese stocks were both 2% lower. Nonfat dry milk stocks were 25% lower and dry whey stocks 8% lower.

Milk production is also a key factor for record prices. With corn prices around $4.50 per bushel compared to near $7 a year ago, and alfalfa hay averaging lower for most parts of the country except for some states like California and Texas margins (returns over feed costs) are very favorable for milk production. But, milk production was flat the last two month of 2013 with milk production for the year up just 0.7% (adjusted for leap year). January’s milk production for the U.S. was up just 1.0% and February’s milk production was up 1.1%. Milk cow numbers which had small increases last December and January did not increase in February resulting in February cow numbers slightly lower than a year ago at a -0.1%. Milk per cow was 1.2% higher than a year ago.

California’s milk production continues to improve after production declining 1.3% last year. Compared to a year earlier California’s milk production was up 4.4% in January and 5.3% in February. California has added milk cows and improved milk per cow. The severe drought is not impacting milk production at this time. With much stronger milk prices and feed cost lower than a year ago except for alfalfa hay California dairy farmers are producing all the milk they can to pay down accumulated debt incurred from the crash in milk prices back in 2009 and high feed prices the fall and winter of 2012/13 from the drought of 2012. Idaho had fewer cows but higher milk per cow resulting in a 2.6% increase in milk production. Milk production was up 2.2% in Arizonian and 3.2% in Texas. Both states had added milk cows and had improved milk per cow. New Mexico however, had 1.4% less milk all due to lower milk per cow. Upper Midwest states continue to have lower milk production. Milk production was down 2.7% in Iowa, 2.3% in Minnesota and 2.0% in Wisconsin. Each of these states had lower milk per cow and except for Wisconsin had fewer milk cows. Milk production was up just 0.2% In New York and down 0.2% in Pennsylvania and 3.7% in Ohio. Cow numbers were lower in Pennsylvania and Ohio and milk per cow was lower in New York and Ohio. Of the 23 reporting states 8 had fewer milk cows, 10 had less milk per cow and 7 had less total milk production.

Normally with the level of milk prices and favorable margins we would expect to see milk production increase as producers add milk cow numbers and feed for higher milk per cow. But, many producers are still recovering financially from the very depressed milk prices experienced in 2009 followed by the widespread drought the summer of 2012 pushing up feed prices from the fall of 2012 through the first half of 2013. So rather than expansions of dairy operations some producers are paying off accumulated debt. Also dairy producers may be more cautious on expansions recognizing the milk prices will not stay at record levels for ever and feed costs can increase again. Also last year a wet spring followed later by drought conditions in much of the Midwest reduced the quantity and quality of forages which appear to now be impacting milk per cow. The extreme cold this winter may also have added to some herd health issues.

But, as we move through the year we can expect milk production to pick up as milk cow numbers increase and milk per cow improves. Despite rather high slaughter cow prices dairy cow slaughter thus far this year has been 9% below a year ago. With favorable margins lower producing cows that normally would be culled are still profitable to milk. Milk production is also improving in the major exporting countries of the EU-28, New Zealand, and Argentina with Australia the exception. So more dairy products will be available for export. But, with current world stocks of dairy products rather tight and world demand remains strong led by China it will take some time to rebuild stocks. U.S. exports may slow the last half of the year but yet total 13% to 14% of U.S. milk production on a total solids basis for the year.

So we can expect milk prices to average lower for the second half of the year, but no sharp decline in milk prices is anticipated. The Class III price which now is over $23 is likely to be in the $20 to $19 range by early summer and end the year near $18. If this holds the Class III price for the year will average well over $19 compared the average of $17.99 last year. The U.S. All Milk Price will average over $21 compared to $20.01 last year. Current Class III futures are at levels that would support prices even a little higher than this.

Ukraine Unrest Gets Too Much Credit for Higher Wheat Prices

Casey Chumrau, U.S. Wheat Market Analyst

Regular readers of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Weekly Price Report have seen a month-long uptick in wheat futures prices. Each week, many headlines pointed to political instability in Ukraine as a key factor in the run-up. There is little doubt that the market was factoring in some concern over the political situation in a country that captured 6 percent of the world wheat market in 2013/14. But the primary fuel for a 15 percent increase in the Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT) May hard red winter (HRW) wheat contract in just 13 trading days include real fears about droughts around the globe, potential freeze damage in the southern U.S. plains and position changes by the big index funds.

USW believes speculation and uncertainty are driving the market reaction about Ukraine. The facts seem to tell the story — at least for now.

All signs still point to normal export operations in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry released its monthly export report on March 19 showing no indication that grain shipments suffered in the last four weeks. Moreover, journalists from Ukraine report regular operations at export terminals on Ukraine’s mainland and the Crimean peninsula. The Ministry reported exports of 108,500 metric tons in March, bringing total exports since July to 7.49 million metric tons (MMT). Wheat export volume from Ukraine is typically lower this time of year as old crop supplies diminish. Adding in June 2013 exports of 129,000 MT reported by the Global Trade Atlas, Ukraine has already shipped more than 76 percent of the 10.0 MMT total USDA expects the country to export in 2013/14 (June-May). It is also important to note that a large percentage of Ukraine’s wheat exports are destined for feed use.

The location of Ukrainian ports puts grain logistics relatively far away from the current political situation. The Ukrainian agriculture ministry recently reported that grain from Crimea only account for about 7 percent of Ukraine’s total grain exports. That number was even lower in February, when grain exports through Crimean ports were just 3.6 percent of the total. Furthermore, the country’s biggest grain port of Odessa is about 180 km (112 miles) from the Crimea region, while the other major ports, Yuzhniy and Nikolaev, are more than 145 km (90 miles) away. The agriculture ministry also reported that other ports have more than enough capacity to handle shipment diversions from Crimea if necessary.

The political turmoil has not hindered old crop wheat sales so far and should not significantly disrupt or decrease 2014 new crop production. Financial fallout from the crisis could make spring planting difficult, but that represents only 5 percent of Ukraine’s crop, on average, so the majority of the crop will be ready for harvest in June or July. Crimea is not a major wheat-producing region so any lost planted area there would have little impact on global supplies.

There have been some reports that traders and customers are hesitant to enter into new contracts for Ukrainian wheat given the political and financial uncertainty. If it persists, a perception of higher risk could affect the global supply and demand balance, particularly into the 2014/15 marketing year. Global supplies are already tight due to record-breaking consumption four of the past six years. As it is in the United States, the real concern for the new wheat crop in Ukraine and southern Russia is drought.

Once more, we are reminded that in the world wheat market, precipitation is always more important than politics.

Regardless of what happens, the U.S. wheat store is always open. U.S. wheat farmers have always produced enough wheat to supply the domestic market and still make half their crop available to the world and the U.S. wheat supply chain is always ready to help customers with both planned and unforeseen demands.

Wheat is Moving More Efficiently in the United States

Shawn Campbell, U.S. Wheat Assistant Director

While logistical problems continue to hurt farmers and delay grain movement to export facilities in Canada, similar challenges in the United States appear less disruptive as U.S. railroads have more flexibility to respond to market demand. And that is helping build confidence that the United States remains the most reliable wheat supplier in the world.

Canadian farmers produced record wheat and canola crops in 2013/14. But after seeing their highest monthly grain exports in 10 years in October and November, they began seeing the backlog all but dry up the cash market for old crop grain. The situation has not improved in March at a time when many farmers need to sell grain to help finance new crop inputs.

According to the Western Grain Elevator Association, early this month 53 vessels were waiting to load at British Columbia’s Vancouver and Prince Rupert ports. Additionally, 60,000 railcars, representing a volume of 5.4 MMT of grain, are behind schedule to be loaded, adding to an already difficult situation with some of the harshest winter weather in recent memory. For example, trains have had to haul fewer cars and run slower because temperatures repeatedly plummeted below -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Under this stress, grain companies and farmers see fault with the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads. For their part, the railroads claim they are hauling more grain than ever before and attribute problems to elevator inefficiencies, bad weather and the record Canadian grain crop.

On March 7, the Canadian government had its say by ordering the railroads to jointly increase grain movements within four weeks or face significant fines. The railways say they will most likely be unable to reach that goal until the Lake Superior port of Thunder Bay opens again for grain exports, possibly by early April. Until then, rail shipments to eastern export terminals have to make a much longer journey, limiting railcar movements and locomotive availability. For similar reasons, the railroads have already limited grain shipments to the United States. This has roiled the North American oat market but may have limited movement of wheat south across the border. While the Canadian government’s goal may be achievable, many analysts wonder if it would negatively affect service for other rail-dependent industries.

As Canada faces its challenges, the movement of grain across the northern United States to export terminals in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is dealing with similar issues. Large crop volume, strong overseas demand, competition with other commodities and increased export capacity combined to create a shortage of railcars and locomotives. Yet the United States is generally moving grain more efficiently. For example, grain railcar deliveries to the PNW set decade highs from October through January and PNW grain export volume remains close to its November peak. 

Much of this performance can be attributed to a less regulated U.S. rail system. U.S. railroads offer more flexible forward contracting for grain railcar orders compared to their Canadian counterparts. Grain companies in the United States may also buy and sell these forward contracts with each other in a secondary market that increases the overall system efficiency. Therefore, while U.S. grain companies may have to pay a premium, they can still guarantee on-time delivery when needed. 

Some U.S. rail carriers also recently announced major new investments to deal with this year’s backlogs and help minimize similar problems in the future. For example, BNSF, the largest rail carrier in the northern U.S. states, announced in February a $5 billion capital investment for 2014, including 500 new locomotives. 

The latest estimates by the BNSF predict that rail delays in the United States likely will clear up by June. In comparison, estimates by the Canadian National Railway project that that the rail backlog in Canada may not be fully fixed until 2015.

USDA Announces Growth of U.S. Organic Industry and Additional USDA Support Available with New Farm Bill

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new figures today that show the organic industry continues to grow domestically and globally, with over 25,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries around the world.

Through the Agricultural Marketing Service's National Organic Program, USDA has helped an additional 763 producers become certified organic in just 2013, an increase of 4.2 percent from the previous year. The industry today encompasses a record breaking 18,513 certified organic farms and businesses in the United States alone, representing a 245 percent increase since 2002. The 2013 list of certified USDA organic operations shows an increased rate of domestic growth within the industry, resuming previous trends.

"Consumer demand for organic products has grown exponentially over the past decade. With retail sales valued at $35 billion last year, the organic industry represents a tremendous economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers and rural communities," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "New support in the 2014 Farm Bill will enhance USDA's efforts to help producers and small business tap into this market and support organic agriculture as it continues to grow and thrive."

USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad. During this Administration, USDA has signed three major trade agreements on organic products, first with Canada and then with the European Union and Japan. Our trading partners are eager to establish organic equivalency arrangements with the U.S. because they recognize the strength of the National Organic Program and the value of the USDA organic label.

USDA is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. Funds are currently available for research projects under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems. The program also funds research projects to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market their products. Additional information is available online, and request for proposals are due by May 8, 2014.

Additionally, the recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill includes provisions that are a greater support to the organic community, including:
-    $20 million annually for dedicated organic research, agricultural extension programs, and education. The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Every U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices staffed by experts that provide useful, practical, and research-based information.
-    $5 million to fund data collection on organic agriculture that will give policymakers, organic farmers, and organic businesses data needed to make sound policy, business, and marketing decisions
-    Expanded options for organic crop insurance to protect farmers
-    Expanded exemptions for organic producers who are paying into commodity "check off" programs, and authority for USDA to consider an application for the organic sector to establish its own check off
-    Improved enforcement authority for the National Organic Program to conduct investigations
-    $5 million for a technology upgrade of the National Organic Program to provide up-to-date information about certified organic operations across the supply chain
-    $11.5 million annually for certification cost-share assistance, which reimburses the costs of annual certification for organic farmers and livestock producers by covering 75 percent of certification costs, up to $750 per year

Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on the USDA Organics Resource page.

New Holland Agriculture Sponsors Great American Wheat Harvest Documentary Film

Conrad Weaver of ConjoStudios, LLC announces New Holland Agriculture as a Silver Sponsor for the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film.

With a history of innovated agricultural equipment, Weaver says New Holland products are represented in the documentary by two harvesting crews from the United States and Canada.

The Zeorian Harvesting & Trucking of Manley, Nebr., and the L. Petersen Farms of Hodgeville, Saskatchewan, both run New Holland combines on the wheat harvest route from Texas and Canada. The Great American Wheat Harvest follows three other farm equipment crews and kicks off its national premiere screening at the 2014 National Ag Day on March 25 in Washington, D.C.

“We appreciate the New Holland sponsorship and the collaboration of all our sponsors who have made our national premiere screening possible,” Weaver says.                                                   

New Holland is a brand of CNH Industrial N.V., a world leader in Capital Goods. With North American headquarters in New Holland, Pa., and more than 1,000 dealers throughout the United States and Canada, New Holland sells and services a full line of tractors, harvesting, crop production, and hay and forage equipment, as well as skid steers and compact construction equipment.

“We’re pleased New Holland, and two of our customers, have the privilege of playing a role in this important documentary. As an advocate for agriculture, we feel this film is a smart way to connect consumers with the people who harvest a crop that feeds the world,” says New Holland Vice President Abe Hughes.