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Chad Moyer | KTIC Radio

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
Monday March 27 Ag News

Status of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Nebraska 
Amit Jhala - NE Extension Weed Management Specialist

There are 480 unique cases of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes globally in 252 weed species (147 dicots and 105 monocots). Weeds have evolved resistance to 23 of 26 known herbicide sites of action and to 161 herbicides ( Control of herbicide-resistant weeds is one of the greatest challenges for crop producers in Nebraska. Repeated and intensive use of herbicide(s) with the same site of action can rapidly select for weed shifts and the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds, especially without integrating other weed control options.

Six weed species — common ragweed, common waterhemp, marestail, kochia, giant ragweed, and Palmer amaranth — have been confirmed resistant to glyphosate in Nebraska. Management of glyphosate-resistant weeds is challenging because no-till corn and soybean growers are primarily depending on glyphosate for post-emergence weed control.

Four weed species have also evolved resistance to multiple herbicides. For example, common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have evolved resistance to atrazine and HPPD inhibitors (Calliso, Laudis, Armezon/Impact), which made weed control in seed corn and popcorn more challenging in Nebraska. Additionally, marestail and common waterhemp have evolved resistance to glyphosate and acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibiting herbicides. Kochia resistance to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors is now widespread in western Nebraska.

Preserving the efficacy of herbicides and herbicide resistance technology depends on awareness of the increasing resistance of weeds to herbicides and coordinated action to address the problem at the farm level and beyond.

Nebraska Farmers Union Board of Directors Call for a Ban on Brazilian Food Imports

At their spring meeting, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Board of Directors issued a renewed call for the reinstatement of Country of Origin labeling following the breaking news over extensive corruption involving the Brazilian meat-packing giant, JBS and BRF, the largest poultry packager in the world.  The Board also called for the imposition of a ban on importation of product from Brazil pending the results of further investigation by Brazilian authorities. 

Press reports said Brazilian authorities recently conducted extensive undercover investigations in packing plants in Brazil controlled by the two entities, which uncovered the bribery of health inspectors in which payments were made to avoid health inspections; the addition of cardboard and potatoes to some of the products produced; and the use of a cancer-causing acid on some products so that they could acquire the Brazilian stamp of approval despite being rotten or of questionable origin.

NeFU President John Hansen said “In light of this food safety scandal, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union have all banned the importation of Brazilian product, resulting in a dramatic decline in exports from the South American nation.  Those countries took decisive actions to protect their nation’s food safety and food consumers.  The Trump Administration should act decisively and do likewise.”

The United States has not imposed a ban, despite unrest among consumer groups and farmers and ranchers across the nation.  Sonny Perdue stated in his confirmation hearing that he would oppose instituting a ban because this could result in retaliatory actions by the Brazilians.  But clearly, public health issues should have priority over any other considerations, including trade considerations.

In addition to food safety risks, the NeFU Board was also concerned about the potential risk of reintroducing Hoof and Mouth disease into the United States.  Hoof and Mouth Disease was eradicated in the United States in the l920s, but remains endemic in South American herds.  Recently the United States relaxed impositions on the importation of fresh and frozen meat from regional states in Brazil which are free of Hoof and Mouth, but the corruption uncovered by Brazilian authorities in the investigation of JBS should cause USDA to reconsider the risks and the potential horrific costs to the American livestock industry should Hoof and Mouth Disease reappear in the United States. 

Nebraska Farmers Union is also urging our Congressional Delegation to support Montana Senator Jon Tester's bill which would immediately impose a 120 day moratorium on the importation of Brazilian into the United States. 


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Got your herbicides selected for your corn, beans, and other crops?  Better double check if a cover crop, pasture, or hay planting is a possibility during the next year and a half.

               Many of our biggest success stories with forage and pasture crops recently have come from using annuals.  No matter when you could use something to graze, including winter, an annual plant could be found that would work well if managed properly.

               Many times a small grain like oats or rye fit our needs.  Other times it’s been a brassica like turnips and forage rape.  Once in a while we’ve used millets.

               But there have been frustrations.  One of the biggest frustrations has been herbicide limitations.  Many forages are affected by herbicide carryover, such as from atrazine.  Often we identify a cover crop or a forage to plant but the risk of failure is too high due to herbicides.  This problem isn’t limited to annual forages, either.  Perennial grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover.

               Legal replant and rotation restrictions also cause herbicide limitations.  With many herbicides it may be okay to plant a cover crop, but that cover crop cannot be used legally as a forage.

               So, is this important to you?  Do you want to fly rye or turnip seed into your standing corn later this year for extra fall pasture?  How about planting triticale this fall or oats next spring?  Or maybe irrigated pasture or alfalfa?

               These options may not be available if you use many common herbicides.  So keep you options open.  Rethink your herbicide plans.  Maybe you can control weeds and maintain the flexibility to plant any forage just by making a small change in the herbicides you use now.

               Then you, too, can build a success story from annual forages.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Celebrates Its Centennial; 100 Years of Representing Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural dignitaries from across the state will help honor the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) in a year-long celebration. A new centennial web page is launched and Governor Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation to recognize Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 100 years and its ability to unite thousands of Nebraska farm and ranch families under a common banner—doing together what they can’t do alone.

“100 years of engagement, 100 years of passion for Nebraska agriculture, and 100 years of representing Nebraska farmers and ranchers, the very people who grow our food, fuel, and fiber. It is not very often that an organization can say they have reached this milestone. I am very excited about our yearlong centennial celebration,” said Steve Nelson, NFBF president Feb. 14.

As part of honoring the past, renowned Nebraska sculptor Sondra L. Johnson, of Cambridge, will create a cast bronze bas-relief sculpture to mark the centennial. The sculpture, in the shape of the State of Nebraska, includes the many landscapes and crops found across the state. Looking to the future, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation announced the Cornerstone Campaign. “Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future” is the theme of the fundraising campaign to provide a financial foundation for its programs that promote an understanding of and appreciation for Nebraska agriculture.

“Through our new Foundation, we will equip the next generation of Nebraskans for careers, leadership positions, and consumer roles that intersect with agriculture,” said Nelson. “Foundation programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, student scholarships, and leadership development are an investment in the continued success of agriculture and all of Nebraska.”

The cast bronze centennial sculpture and corresponding Cornerstone Campaign donor recognition wall will be installed at the Nebraska Farm Bureau state office in Lincoln. An unveiling is planned for March 30, 2017.

Throughout this centennial year, Nebraska Farm Bureau will hold other statewide events including events for members in Western Nebraska, to be held in Scottsbluff June 8, Northeast Nebraska in Norfolk Aug. 8, and a tailgate will be held prior to the Sept. 22, Nebraska Husker football game against Rutgers in Lincoln. You can find out more about the celebration at our website

“As part of our centennial, Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to look ahead to the next century of possibilities, especially for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Helping them get excited about agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau is vital to strengthening the future of our organization and Nebraska agriculture,” Nelson said.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green and Chief Communication and Marketing Officer Teresa Paulsen were named 4-H Luminaries by the National 4-H Council March 21 in Washington, D.C.

Luminaries are an exclusive group of accomplished and influential 4-H alumni who will help raise awareness of 4-H's life-changing impact and generate support for bringing 4-H to more youth. Green and Paulsen are part of the 40-member inaugural class. Other Luminaries include Grammy award-winning artist Jennifer Nettles, NBA star Kent Bazemore, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth and MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin.

Chancellor Green was a 4-H member in Botetourt County in Virginia. Paulsen is an alum of Nebraska 4-H and is a National 4-H Council Trustee.

"I'm humbled to be part of this inaugural group of people who were influenced by 4-H, which today is the largest youth development organization in the U.S.," Green said. "Millions of people across the nation are testament that 4-H membership is a strong predictor of lifelong success and leadership."

Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council, said: "Whether they are running Fortune 500 companies and performing to sold-out crowds or leading community programs and volunteering to empower local youth, 4-H alumni represent the epitome of true leadership. These remarkable alumni are committed to paying it forward and ensuring the next generation has the opportunity to benefit from the 4-H experience."

The prestigious group is part of the 25 million 4-H alumni across the nation.

In Nebraska, one in three age-eligible youth participates in 4-H, which is present in all 93 counties. These youth, ages 5-18, participate through camps, clubs, school enrichment and after-school programs. All 4-H programs place strong emphasis on life skills, such as problem solving, responsibility, citizenship and leadership. To learn more about Nebraska 4-H, visit

Nebraska Farmers Union 2017 Spring District Meetings

District 7 Spring Meeting: Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th St, Norfolk, NE 68701
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker:  Michael  J. Sieh, Superintendent from Stanton Community Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and
adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0942 or (402) 887-1396.

District 3 Spring Meeting:  The Speakeasy Restaurant, 2993 S. Rd, Holdrege, NE 68949

Friday, March 31, 2017, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 3 Director’s Report:  David Mohlman
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker: A leader in the education community who will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.  
For more information, call Darrell Buschkoetter (402) 469-3451

District 4 Spring Meeting:  Valentino’s, 701 Court Street, Beatrice.

Monday, April 3, 2017.  6:00 pm buffet supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 4 Director’s Report:  Vern Jantzen
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
·Featured speaker: John Skretta, Superintendent for Norris School District will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info call Karen Sysel (402) 946-6561 or (402) 381-8047.

District 6 Spring Meeting:  Office Bar and Grill Restaurant, 121 N Main St., Hooper, NE

Tuesday, April 6, 2017, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker will be a leader in the education community who will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information, call Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508.

District 5 Spring Meeting:  Harry’s Restaurant, 308 W. 2nd Street, Valparaiso.

Thursday, April 13, 2017.  6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker:  Mike Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member who needs to be a member.
For more information, call Zack Hamilton (402) 875-1433.

Lawrence Named Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach

John Lawrence, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of extension and outreach, has been named interim vice president for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Lawrence will succeed Cathann Kress, who is leaving to become vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. He will become the acting vice president on March 31, and assume the interim role April 29.

“John was raised on a crop and livestock farm in southwest Iowa, and has decades of experience serving Iowans,” notes Jonathan Wickert, Iowa State's senior vice president and provost.

“He’s also a great servant of Iowa State, and an excellent choice to serve as interim leader of extension and outreach,” Wickert said.

Lawrence joined Iowa State as a professor of economics in 1991, after serving as an extension livestock economist, assistant director of the Agriculture Experiment Station, and director of the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State. He currently leads the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, which was established in 2013 to develop a science-based approach to reduce the amount of nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

Wickert said a national search for a permanent vice president will be launched in the coming months, and expressed thanks to Kress for her many contributions to the university, and to the state of Iowa.

Prepare for Sometimes Contrary Spring Weather

No one wants to think about a disaster, but floods and tornadoes are two of Iowa's most common hazards.

Heavy rains, flooding, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards and heavy snow -- hazardous storms have caused most of Iowa's 27 Presidential Disaster Declarations since 2000.

"Being prepared is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from severe weather," says Adam Broughton with DNR's field services' emergency response. "March 27 to 31 is Severe Weather Awareness Week -- a good opportunity to check your supply kit and review your communications plan."

Broughton suggests putting together a supply kit with food and water for three days--enough time for emergency responders to reach you in extreme situations. Other essentials include batteries and solar-powered or hand-cranked chargers, a light source, medicine and prescription lists, doctors' numbers, insurance cards and pet supplies. It's good to have supply kits for home, work and on the road.

Having a communication plan ensures friends and family stay in touch. Take time to review it together, discussing where to meet during an emergency and who to notify. Update emergency contacts, including listing someone out-of-town as a central contact. In an emergency, use texts and short calls to avoid tying up phone lines needed by emergency responders.

Get organized by storing important documents in the Cloud or on a secure flash drive. Include insurance, identification and banking information. Place important print documents in a fire and waterproof safe.

U.S. Beef Industry to President Trump: Please Help Get U.S. Beef Back into China

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today sent a coalition letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to raise the restoration of U.S. beef access to China when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April. Leaders from the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute also signed the letter.

American beef producers have been denied access to China – a $2.6 billion import market -- since 2003. Last fall China announced that it had lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef, but attempts since then to negotiate the technical terms of access have been unsuccessful.

“We believe that access to the large and growing Chinese beef market is essential to the future health of the U.S. beef industry,” read the letter, which was signed by NCBA’s CEO, Kendal Frazier. “We understand that you have many important issues to discuss with President Xi, but we strongly encourage you to take this important opportunity to convey the urgent need for China to reopen its market to U.S. beef.”

In 2016, American beef producers sold $6.3 billion worth of U.S. beef to customers around the world, with three of the industry's top foreign markets located in Asia.

XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology - Now Approved for Tank-Mixes with Certain Glyphosate Products

Monsanto on Monday received approval for certain glyphosate tank-mixes with XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology.   They then listed the following products containing potassium salt formulations of glyphosate on as approved tank-mix products, including:
·         Roundup PowerMAX®Herbicide
·         Roundup PowerMAX® II Herbicide
·         Roundup WeatherMAX®Herbicide
·         Honcho® K6™ Herbicide
·         Abundit® Edge Herbicide

Monsanto is committed to offering growers the lowest dicamba volatility potential solutions we can offer them. Monsanto believes that tank mixes of dicamba with potassium salt formulations of glyphosate have lower volatility potential than tank mixes with IPA and DMA salts of glyphosate based on humidome testing via published ASTM methodology.  For this reason, Monsanto plans to include only glyphosate products containing potassium salt of glyphosate as approved tank mix products with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology to the website at this time.

Approved glyphosate products will be limited to a maximum use rate of 32 fl oz per acre for each application when tank-mixed with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and cotton with XtendFlex® technology.  This maximum use rate for glyphosate is consistent with expert recommendations for effective weed management within Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions.  In addition, the listed glyphosate options will require the use of SPECIFIC approved drift reducing adjuvants (DRAs) when tank-mixed with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology.

In addition to the newly listed glyphosate products, we added two additional approved drift reducing adjuvants, AG16098 and CapsuleTM, providing additional DRA options along with the previously approved product Intact™.  Specific DRAs are required for certain products specified on the tank mix website.  Monsanto supports enabling flexibility for growers to tank mix the most appropriate combinations for the best weed management recommendations specific to each grower’s field.

As a reminder, only after tank-mix products and/or nozzles are listed on the established tank-mix website are they considered approved and lawful to use or recommend as stated on product labels. All approved tank-mix products and nozzles for XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology are listed on:

New Legislation an Investment in Agriculture’s Future

A pair of recently introduced bills gives a boost to young people in agriculture by allowing 4-H and FFA students to keep more of the modest income they earn. The students can turn around and put the money toward their education or future agricultural projects.                    

The Agriculture Students Encourage, Acknowledge, Reward, Nurture (EARN) Act (S. 671) and the Student Agriculture Protection Act (SAPA) (H.R. 1626) would create a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income students 18 years of age or younger earn from projects completed through 4-H or FFA.

The Farm Bureau-supported measures were introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“The long-term sustainability of agriculture depends on talented young people pursuing careers in farming and ranching and other agricultural production and food chain professions. Student agricultural projects increase awareness of and foster an interest in fields of study that will provide the next generation of farmers and ranchers, food scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists and soil scientists,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Moran, Ernst and McCaul.

Representatives from Domino’s and investor engagement firm to speak at 2017 Summit

Two expert speakers – Tim McIntyre of Domino’s Pizza and Kathryn Hembree Night of CamberView Partners – will give attendees at the 2017 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit advice for handling activist investors and responding to shareholder resolutions. The 2017 Summit, themed “Connect to Protect Animal Ag” will be held May 3-4 in Kansas City, Mo. The panel, titled “Extremists in the Boardroom: Responding to Activist Investors” is sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council and will be moderated by Lyle Orwig of Charleston|Orwig.

Orwig will lead McIntyre, executive vice president, communication, investor relations and legislative affairs at Domino's Pizza, Inc., and Night, principal, CamberView Partners LLC., through a conversation on how activist groups are connecting with investment firms as well as using the shareholder resolution process to pressure consumer-facing brands into changing their policies for suppliers of milk, meat, poultry and eggs.

“We continue to see activist groups attempting to influence the policies of brands by purchasing shares themselves or reaching out to investment firms,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “It is essential for animal agriculture to understand this tactic and learn how we can help our restaurant, retail, foodservice and branded company partners respond to these pressures and make informed decisions. I personally cannot wait for this lively discussion and know it will be a highlight of the Summit.”

McIntyre has been with Domino’s for 31 years, serving many communications roles over the years before being appointed to his current position in March 2016. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and serves on its College of Business Marketing Advisory Board. He is a board member of Food Gatherers, an Ann Arbor based organization which exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in the community. Founded in 1960, Domino’s Pizza is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, ranking among the world’s top public restaurant brands with a global enterprise of more than 12,500 stores in over 80 international markets.

Night joined CamberView - which provides independent, investor-focused advice to help public company management teams and boards build strong, productive relationships with institutional investors – in 2014. Previously, Night was an associate in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group at Goldman Sachs in New York. While in the M&A Group, she helped deliver advice to companies in connection with shareholder activism, proxy fights, contested mergers, cross-border transactions, special committee situations, and complex corporate governance issues. Night graduated with honors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a B.A. in chemistry and philosophy.

Orwig is the founding partner and chairman of Charleston|Orwig, a communications agency with a special focus on reputation management, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. From his youth on a family farm in east-central Illinois through his rise to state office in FFA and graduation from the University of Illinois’ College of Agriculture and, ultimately, the founding of Charleston|Orwig, Lyle Orwig has maintained his focus on and passion for agriculture, marketing communications, reputation management and corporate social responsibility programs. He leads the agency’s crisis communications work and continues to be intimately involved in working with clients.

Be sure to check the Alliance website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA17 and #ActionPlease2017 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Discovery opens ‘new field of research’ into SCN resistance

Five years ago, a team of scientists led by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Khalid Meksem discovered which gene was key to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistance in soybeans. Now they are learning which genes work as partners to combat the pest.

Soybeans are a major element in the Midwest economy. In Illinois, for example, soybeans alone are worth nearly $6 billion a year in direct sales, not counting money and employment in soybean processing and other post-harvest jobs. The soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic roundworm that feeds on soybean roots, can be a big problem for more than just the farmer.

“This year alone, the soybean cyst nematode cost the soybean industry $1.2 billion in damage,” Meksem, professor of plant genetics and genomics, said. “Nematicides are harmful to the environment and expensive for the farmer to control the disease. The best way to manage the disease is to use the soybean’s disease resistant genes and plant resistant soybean lines in infected soils.”

Meksem and his team made soybean history in 2012 when they discovered which gene – GmSHMT08 -- was crucial to SCN resistance. Now, in 2017, he, and scientists from SIU and the University of Missouri Columbia, are finding out more about how a major partner gene called GmSNAP resists the SCN. They had already learned that the gene codes an SCN-resistant protein. Now they are finding out more about how that happens, and how the two partners work together for optimum SCN resistance.

The most common SCN-resistant type soybeans grown in the United States derive their resistance either from a soybean line called PI 88788 or Peking. Meksem’s team found that resistance in the Peking-type soybean requires the two different genes (GmSNAP and GMSHMT) with a specific allele combination to trigger SCN resistance. An allele is an alternative form of a gene, one member of a pair, located in a specific position on a specific chromosome. Based on this different allele requirement, and differences in amino acids in resistant soybeans and susceptible soybeans, the researchers conclude that the Peking-type GmSNAP18 gene is performing a different role in SCN resistance than the PI 88788-type GmSNAP 18 gene.

“This opens up a whole new field of research,” Meksem said. “We should not be looking at one gene and one mechanism of that gene. We need to find more about their allele partners to understand how they sense the presence of the SCN, how do they recognize the threat, what is the trigger?

“To our best knowledge, this is the first report of a gene that evolved to possibly use two mechanisms to ensure the same function within the same species – in this case, resistance to a pathogen,” Meksem said. “The knowledge from this study can be readily used to improve nematode resistance in soybeans.”

Meanwhile, the nematode isn’t idly waiting in the field, picking only on plants with less disease-resistance. It is evolving and adapting and changing its own gene sequences to find ways to attack even those plants with strong gene-resistance. Consequently, even a consistently SCN-resistant variety of soybean can lose its resistance over time. That’s one reason it is important to understand how SCN disease-resistant genes function.

There is some urgency for this research, Meksem said. The possibility of the soybean cyst nematode building complete resistance to the PI 88788 line could be catastrophic. The answer, Meksem said, is genetic diversity in the soybean – using other disease-resistant genes and develop more sources of SCN resistant soybean lines -- which, to be successful, requires a better understanding of disease-resistant genes. Meksem’s research is a step in that direction.

In the meantime, he suggests adding a new element to current SCN management. Farmers already rotate crops to manage the SCN. In Illinois, that often means soybean rotating with corn, and sometimes with winter wheat as well. Meksem said adding another element to the crop rotation -- rotating the type of soybean resistant lines used – would make it harder for the SCN to develop immunity to the disease-resistance type deployed in the field, or at least will slow this process.  

The paper detailing the work and results of the research teams, “The GmSNAP18 is the Peking-type rhg1-a Gene for Resistance to Soybean Cyst Nematode,” appears online in “Nature” today (March 27). “Nature Communications” is widely considered the top scientific journal, especially as far as its impact on the international scientific community and on the public as well. Publication in “Nature Communication” is a career highlight for any scientist, Meksem said, noting that it is often a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. This paper, though, is his second in the “Nature” journal family.

QuikTrip Joins Prime the Pump, Will Expand E15 Availability in Dallas-Fort Worth to 44 Stores

Today, QuikTrip, the Oklahoma based chain of convenience stores, has joined major retailers selling E15—a biofuel that contains 15 percent ethanol—by announcing it will sell the fuel at 44 of its locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in Texas.

QuikTrip joins, Family Express, Kum & Go, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuels, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons in offering their customers expanded fuel choices at the pump.  Approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, E15 is a high-octane fuel that burns cleaner and cooler than traditional gasoline, giving consumers improved vehicle performance and savings of up to 10 cents per gallon, while contributing to a greener environment.

“We are pleased to have QuikTrip join our retailer family and look forward to expanding access to clean-burning, homegrown E15 with them,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “QuikTrip is clearly committed to providing exceptional value for its customers at the pump. E15 is a high-performance fuel that has higher octane and burns cooler, providing better engine performance, and saving consumers money. Thanks to QuikTrip, drivers in the Dallas-Fort-Worth area will now be able to make the smart choice for E15.”

ACE 2017 DC fly-in promotes RVP relief, RFS support

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and over 70 of its grassroots members lobbied Members of Congress last week in Washington, D.C., during the organization’s ninth annual fly-in. The two-day event brought together retailers, ethanol producers, investors, corn growers, service and product providers, and more to participate in over 120 meetings on Capitol Hill.

This year’s fly-in was focused on encouraging co-sponsorship of bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate (S. 517, H.R. 1311) to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 to allow its use year-round, as well as expressing that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) works; it’s an America first energy policy and supports a strong rural economy. “People who have been on multiple ACE fly-ins reported that there is more awareness on Capitol Hill about ethanol and the RFS,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President.

A handful of retailers, including representation from Jetz Convenience Centers, Cresco Fast Stop, Midway Service, Good and Quick, Sheetz, and Propel Fuels, provided lawmakers with real-life examples of the importance of the RFS and RVP regulatory relief. Attendees met with both ethanol supporters and opponents, inside and outside of the corn belt.

“We’re encouraged by our meetings because there seemed to be growing support for RVP legislation, even with Members of Congress from outside the corn belt,” Jennings said. “When you explain to them that retailers aren’t allowed to sell E15 in the summer months, even though E15 has lower evaporative emissions than gas and E10, they see this as a problem that needs to be fixed, whether Congress takes that step or EPA decides they can do it on their own.”

This year’s fly-in agenda included a visit from Eric Branstad, Senior White House Advisor to the Department of Commerce. He addressed the crowd at the Wednesday evening reception. “At the end of the day, you have the White House and the President’s support because you’ve earned it,” Branstad said. “I want to make sure Washington D.C. is educated on ethanol and it’s so important that you share that message.”

Adam Gustafson with Boyden Gray & Associates was another guest speaker, who provided insight on the Urban Air Initiative’s regulatory strategy for higher octane fuels.

CWT Assists with 2.4 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 21 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 2.381 million pounds (1,088 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses plus 52,360 pounds (23.75 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 21.483 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.427 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 207.252 million 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. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

President Signs Resolution to Repeal BLM Planning 2.0

President Trump today signed a congressional resolution directing the Bureau of Land Management to repeal their Planning 2.0 Rule. Wyoming rancher and NCBA and PLC member Joel Bousman was in attendance at the White House for the signing. Ethan Lane, executive director of PLC and NCBA federal lands, applauded the action and called it a significant victory for western ranchers.

“BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule would have caused a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing ‘social and environmental change’ over ensuring the multiple use of public lands,” said Lane. “When you couple the wholesale shift away from multiple-use with the elimination of stakeholder and local input, the rule was unworkable for western communities. We applaud the action by President Trump and look forward to working with the new Administration to bring together a streamlined planning process that works for livestock ranchers and the western communities that depend on the use of BLM lands.”

Friday March 25 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.44 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 1 percent from last year. Placements during February totaled 425,000 head, up 8 percent from 2016. Fed cattle marketings for the month of February totaled 420,000 head, unchanged from last year. Other disappearance during February totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 650,000 head on March 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 2 percent from February 1, 2017, and up 3 percent from March 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 600,000 head on feed, up 3 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,250,000 head, up 2 percent from last month but down 2 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 102,000 head, a decrease of 20 percent from last month but up 11 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 59,000 head, down 27 percent from last month and down 20 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 161,000 head, down 23 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 89,000 head, up 3 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 42,000 head, down 19 percent from last month and last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 131,000 head, down 5 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on March 1, 2017. The inventory was slightly above March 1, 2016.

By State   (1,000 hd - % of March 1 '16

Colorado .......:      910          102         
Iowa .............:       650          103         
Kansas ..........:      2,210        102      
Nebraska ......:      2,440        101      
Texas ............:      2,440        100       

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.69 million head, 1 percent below 2016. Net placements were 1.64 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 315,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 330,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 490,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 395,000, 900-999 pounds were 124,000, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 40,000 head.

By State  (1,000 hd - % Feb '16)   

Colorado .......:     180           106       
Iowa .............:      102           111       
Kansas ..........:      380           101     
Nebraska ......:      425           108      
Texas ............:      320            93      

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.65 million head, 4 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during February, 3 percent below 2016.

By State  (1,000 hd - % Feb '16)   

Colorado .......:      165           106        
Iowa .............:        89           114        
Kansas ..........:      370           107         
Nebraska ......:      420           100         
Texas ............:      320           102        

Additional Land to be Enrolled in CRP Program

New additions to the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) were announced in December 2016 by former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“The CRP program has benefits for both landowners and the environment and is one of the most important initiatives for wildlife habitat on privately owned land in Iowa,” said Adam Janke, assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist with Iowa State University.

These new initiatives are known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR), designed to combat water quality challenges in places like the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basin, and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), which sets aside 300,000 acres for wetland restoration and 100,000 acres for pollinator habitat across the country.

Filter strip (CP21) and riparian buffer (CP22) practices that are already enrolled in CRP or in areas with a need to reduce nitrate loading to surface water from subsurface drain tile outlets are being targeted through CLEAR. Iowa State University research has shown the potential positive water quality impacts of bioreactors and saturated buffers in Iowa and this new program will help landowners install these practices on their properties.

Iowa is slated to enroll 115,000 new acres in SAFE programs that target high-profile wildlife habitat needs. The goal for 2017 additions are 40,000 acres of habitat for the northern bobwhite quail and an additional 75,000 acres in grassland and wetland habitat targeting ring-necked pheasants, meadowlarks, pollinators and other grassland-dependent wildlife.

“This project is a creative approach to creating wildlife habitat within the Conservation Reserve Program,” Janke said. “It addresses an important need in our state as the northern bobwhite quail has been a declining farmland bird for several years. The program is unique in that it focuses on producing the habitat that bobwhites need to raise their young and find food throughout the winter.”

Additionally, the USDA will now offer an early termination opportunity for certain CRP contracts to socially disadvantaged or beginning farmer or military veterans, including family members. Normally there is a financial penalty for terminating a CRP contract early.

Additional details about CRP acres and the additional acres of land that can be enrolled can be found in the article “UDSA announces CRP changes to help improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and land transfers to beginning farmers.” The article was written by Janke and Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State, and can be found in the March issue of Ag Decision Maker.

Options for landowners with expiring CRP acres is also covered in the article.

ISU's Lawrence Testifies Before U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee

John Lawrence, associate dean for Extension Programs and Outreach and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension at Iowa State University, spent Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. talking about the future of family farms.

Lawrence testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee, speaking about the link between family farms, local communities and global markets, as well as the challenges facing family farms and the role of land-grant universities in addressing them. Lawrence also used the opportunity to highlight Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programming for farm succession planning and beginning farmers.

“Iowa’s landscape gives the impression of homogenous farms,” Lawrence told the House’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade. “Crop rotations, tillage methods, machinery, facilities and farmsteads often look similar. However, the number of acres farmed, financial conditions and reliance on off-farm income are difficult to see from the road.”

Currently farmers are being forced to use more working capital and short-term borrowing to meet their cash flow obligations as market prices have fallen sharply over the last two years. If commodity prices continue to remain low, the financial conditions of most farmers will slowly deteriorate, Lawrence said, but added economists are not expecting a crisis as was experienced in the 1980s.

“Farmers have working capital challenges, not a debt crisis,” Lawrence said. “Most farmers have the assets to refinance short-term debt to a longer term loan with more manageable annual payments and continue to operate.”

The impact of these financial conditions differ with the age of the farmer. Older farmers have less debt and more current assets than younger farmers. An increase in interest rates as indicated by the Federal Reserve will have a greater impact on younger, higher leveraged farmers as opposed to older farmers.

Family farms are also facing significant challenges managing a global marketplace while also communicating and planning for the future of the business. Sustaining family farms, and ISU Extension and Outreach’s efforts through the Beginning Farmer Center, was a focus of Lawrence’s testimony.

Lawrence highlighted two specific programs from the Beginning Farmer Center:
-    The Returning to Farm seminar is a pair of two-day workshops for farm owner/operators and their known business successors. The focus is on starting the communication and planning that may continue over multiple years.
-    The Ag Link program links beginning farmers with established farmers desiring to transition their farm business to a new generation and who have not identified a family member as their successor.

Lawrence also informed the subcommittee on the efforts of Iowa State’s Women in Agriculture program, Start-to-Farm groups and partnerships with Iowa Veterans in Agriculture to address the needs of veterans returning to the farm, working in agribusiness or interested in starting a farm business.

To continue to make these kinds of programs available, Lawrence emphasized to the Congressional committee the importance of federal investment in agricultural research and extension programs.

“Federal competitive funds and capacity-building funds help assure innovative research and attention to local challenges,” he said. “State funds leverage federal resources and assure integration between research and practical extension education to address state and regional needs. Local resources help address a broad range of family farm issues from youth, to family nutrition and finance to agriculture. They also relay emerging questions back to land-grant researchers.”

Top 10 Best Burgers in Iowa Announced

Iowans have submitted more than 9200 nominations between February 13 – March 13 and the votes are tallied. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association counted the nominations that were received via the website, texting and paper ballots.

The number of votes each restaurant received determined the 2017 Top Ten restaurants and their burgers. Those restaurants making the Top Ten list (in alphabetical order) include:
- Ankeny Diner, Ankeny                               - Elm’s Club, Creston
- BeerBurger, North Liberty                          - Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids
- BW’s Burgers, West Des Moines               - Smokin’ Hereford, Storm Lake
- Doc’s Stadium Bar & Grill, Jefferson        - The Irish Shanti, Elgin
- Down Right Delicious, Clarinda                - Vaughn’s Café and Bakery, Clarinda

"Celebrating Iowa's best burgers is a subtle way to say 'thank you' to our hardworking cattlemen and women across the state," says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Nearly 500 Iowa restaurants were represented in the total nominations, which is a new record for the contest. “The previous record for the number of restaurants nominated was set in 2014, so we are thrilled that we were able to break that record this year with 487 restaurants represented,” comments Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “This proves that there are a lot of great tasting burgers all across the state of Iowa.”

New restaurants to the Top 10 list include: BeerBurger, North Liberty; Doc’s Stadium Bar & Grill, Jefferson; Smokin’ Hereford, Storm Lake; and The Irish Shanti, Elgin.

The quest for the winner of the Iowa’s Best Burger will now begin. All Top Ten restaurants will be visited by a panel of anonymous judges who will evaluate the burgers based on taste, appearance, and proper doneness (160 degrees). The judges’ scores and comments will be accumulated and the winner will be crowned on May 1.

“We encourage everyone to visit the Top Ten restaurants,” says German. “These are only a few of the many restaurants in Iowa that do an outstanding job of promoting and serving our beef product to their customers on behalf of Iowa’s beef farmers.”

To learn more about the Top Ten restaurants and the contest, visit

Aptimmune Biologics Receives Iowa Biotech Innovation Showcase's Top Company Award

Aptimmune Biologics was awarded this year’s Biotech Innovation Showcase’s Top Company Award at the 2017 Partnering for Growth Biotech Innovation Showcase & Forum that took place this week in Ankeny, Iowa.

At the Showcase, 12 emerging companies in four categories (agricultural technology, animal health, human health and bio materials) made formal presentations to a panel of eight business leaders from the fields of agricultural biotechnology, intellectual property, human health and small business development. Steve Berger, Aptimmune Biologic’s development director, made the award-winning presentation to the judges.

“We are pleased Aptimmune has been recognized as a bioscience leader by the Iowa Biotechnology Association. This award will only continue to inspire our employees to reach new levels of innovation in the animal health industry,” said Aaron Gilbertie, CEO of Aptimmune Biologics. “Being chosen as Top Company from this group of outstanding innovators says a great deal about the quality of work being done by Aptimmune. The Showcase was an excellent opportunity for our employees to network with other innovators and industry leaders and to highlight some of Aptimmune’s best and brightest ideas.”

The Iowa Biotech Association’s Partnering for Growth Showcase features an investor conference and industry forum that joins innovators, investors and biotech leaders together over the course of a day and a half. It is a premier event for learning, investing and networking with various sectors of the biotech industry.  Start-up presentations focused around the development of biofuels and biomaterials; advances in food, ag and plant genetics; progress in animal health; as well as human health and medical technology. The Innovation Showcase winner received a $5,000 cash prize from the Association.

Aptimmune Biologics, based in Champaign, Ill., specializes in developing and marketing a portfolio of revolutionary mucosal vaccines that provide answers for the most costly viral diseases impacting the swine industry. Aptimmune’s first vaccines are focused on addressing two major viral respiratory pathogens, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Virus (PRRSV) and influenza.

Cattlemen Call on USDA to Withdraw Damaging GIPSA Rules

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called on USDA to withdraw the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act interim final and proposed rules, collectively labeled with the misleading title, Farmer Fair Practices Rules. Craig Uden, NCBA president, said the rules stand to threaten market incentives, the quality of American beef the industry is known for, and will ultimately cost $954 million to the cattle industry.

“These rules are just as troubling as they were when USDA initially proposed them in 2010, after which Congress immediately stepped in to defund the rules, recognizing them as a flawed concept that limits producers’ ability to market their cattle and adding layers of crippling bureaucracy,” said Uden.

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on December 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry. 

Alternative Marketing Arrangements reward cattle producers for producing the quality beef consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm but rather one only needs to say that he or she was treated "unfairly" to sue a packer or processor.

“This approach is counter to the decisions of seven federal courts of appeals and it is this change that ultimately makes the interim final rule a trial attorney’s dream and jeopardizes the Alternative Marketing Arrangements cattle producers utilize,” said Uden. “What incentive would a packer have to pay for superior cattle when they may be sued for rewarding quality? The industry will be forced back to treating all beef as commodity beef under a one-size-fits-all approach.” 

Much like the interim final rule, this proposed rule introduces more litigation into the cattle marketing system. The unfair practices and undue preferences provisions in the proposed rule are extremely vague and so ambiguous that broad interpretation is expected and compliance will be difficult.

“Vague and ambiguous rules typically result in producers and each segment of the beef supply chain unable to determine which practices are prohibited or permissible,” said Uden. “The resulting uncertainty will simply lead producers to incur litigation costs to protect their respective marketing arrangements. Conversely, it provides other producers an opportunity to file a lawsuit to challenge such arrangements.”

Furthermore, GIPSA admits it is “unable to quantify the benefits” of these proposals.

 “This is concerning since issuing rules with no discernable benefits should alone be grounds to withdraw the interim final rule and the proposed rule,” said Uden.

NPPC Asks USDA To Abandon GIPSA Rules

Citing grave concerns that they would “cause serious harm to the pork industry,” the National Pork Producers Council in comments submitted today said the U.S. Department of Agriculture should not finalize – or at least exempt pork producers from – regulations related to the buying and selling of livestock.

According to NPPC, the so-called Farmer Fair Practices Rules – an interim final rule and a proposed regulation – would “enable a torrent of lawsuits against members of the pork industry,” replace carefully negotiated contracts with standard terms that are unworkable, ignore crucial differences among the various sectors of the meat industry and raise serious constitutional concerns under the First Amendment.” The regulations were issued in the last weeks of the Obama administration by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

“GIPSA’s one-size-fits-all approach would restrict livestock transactions, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “These regulations could impose staggering costs on the pork industry. The only people who would benefit from this heavy-handed government intrusion in the hog market are trial lawyers.”

NPPC is most concerned with the interim final rule, set to take effect next month, which would broaden the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) on the use of “unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practices” and “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages.” Specifically, the regulation would deem such actions per se violations of federal law even if they didn’t harm competition or cause competitive injury, prerequisites for winning PSA cases.

USDA in 2010 proposed several PSA provisions – collectively known as the GIPSA Rule – that Congress mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill; eliminating the need to prove a competitive injury to win a PSA lawsuit was not one of them. In fact, Congress rejected such a “no competitive injury” provision during debate on the Farm Bill. Additionally, eight federal appeals courts have held that harm to competition must be an element of a PSA case.

The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, NPPC pointed out in its comments, “invites the courts to regulate the meat industry in ways that courts have repeatedly refused to do. This judicial regulation threatens to replace the innovative practices that have arisen over time out of specific market conditions and based on the needs of the industry as a whole.”

“Eliminating the need to prove injury to competition would prompt an explosion in PSA lawsuits by turning every contract dispute into a federal case subject to triple damages,” Maschhoff said. “The inevitable costs associated with that and the legal uncertainty it would create could lead to further vertical integration of our industry and reduce competition.”

An Informa Economics study found that the 2010 GIPSA Rule coupled with the interim final rule would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually, with most of the costs related to the interim final rule’s “no competitive injury” provision.

Discussions Begin Heating up for the 2018 Farm Bill: What Does it Mean for the Cattle Industry?

Brian R. Williams, Asst Extension Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, Mississippi State University

The 2016 elections are now a distant memory and the transition into a new presidential administration is nearly complete. Only three cabinet picks have yet to be confirmed, one of which is the Secretary of Agriculture whose confirmation hearing is set to begin Thursday. Now that the dust has settled a bit and most of the cabinet picks have been confirmed, talk about the 2018 Farm Bill has begun to heat up. Which programs will be cut, which will be changed, how will the new programs look, and will any funding be cut? These are just a few of the questions being asked regarding the next farm bill. Much of the focus has been on traditional row crops, with cotton and STAX gathering attention here in the South while potential changes to ARC and PLC dominating discussions in other parts of the country.

With all the discussion surrounding row crops, where does that leave livestock producers? On the dairy side of things, perhaps the item gathering the most attention is the Margin Protection Program (MPP). Under the MPP portion of the current farm bill, dairy producers receive payments based upon a "margin" that is calculated using a predetermined formula and current feed and milk prices. Any time the two-month calculated margin falls below the producer selected coverage level, a payment is received. At the time the farm bill was written, this seemed to be a great program that would provide a safety net for dairy producers. This did not turn out to be the case, as feed prices have fallen substantially and producer payments have been limited over the life of the farm bill. Current discussions regarding changes to the MPP include the possibility of altering the formula, using regional prices rather than national prices, and scrapping the program completely in favor of a new program similar to the revenue-based programs in past farm bills.

For beef cattle producers, there are two program areas that are being discussed. First, there is a discussion surrounding animal disease. Much of this discussion concerns the response to a potential foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. The most recent case of FMD in the U.S. was several decades ago, however there has been a push to develop more robust preventative measures and a better response plan if an outbreak were to occur in the future. The current plan is based upon a "stamping out" philosophy that involves euthanizing any infected or susceptible animals. However, this approach is dated and was developed in an environment entirely different than current conditions. We are living in a much more mobile world today, and cattle are being shipped across state lines much more frequently. As a result, discussions surrounding a multi-faceted approach of euthanasia and vaccination are becoming more frequent. The next farm bill could offer a few solutions in the form of funds to support the creation of a vaccination supply, indemnity programs if depopulation were necessary to stop an epidemic, or authorizing new FMD vaccine manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

Second, what changes are coming to the livestock insurance programs? There are currently two primary insurance products for cattle producers: Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance and Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance. Although these insurance products are readily available, the adoption rate remains very low. Rather, most in the cattle industry elect to "self-insure" in the form of working capital. One proposed solution to increase enrollment and make the insurance programs more appealing to producers is to increase the premium subsidies. However, it is going to be quite difficult to find additional funding for the new farm bill, so any subsidies offered to cattle producers would likely have to come at the expense of reduced funding for other commodities.


The National Pork Producers Council's trade team this week completed a series of meetings in Peru and Colombia to explore promising opportunities for U.S. pork producers. Peru is a small but growing market where current consumption of U.S. pork has considerable potential to expand. Colombia is an important and rapidly growing pork market where strong cooperation has expanded market opportunities in mutually beneficial ways.

In partnership with U.S. pork producers and the National Pork Board, domestic producers have worked aggressively to expand consumption of pork in Colombia. The meetings included a gathering of NPPC’s Trade Policy Committee in Lima to discuss trade policy issues and to meet with Peruvian pork producers, U.S. Embassy officials and Peruvian government officials. Nick Giordano, NPPC counsel and vice president of global government affairs, traveled to Colombia where he explored trade opportunities with staff for Colombia’s national pork producers group, government officials, including the Colombian Minister of Trade, and importers.

ASA Supports National Biodiesel Board Anti-Dumping Petition

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has signaled its support for an anti-dumping and countervailing duty petition filed yesterday by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). The petition alleges that Argentine and Indonesian companies are flooding the U.S. market with dumped biodiesel—biodiesel sold at less than the cost of production—and subsidized biodiesel in violation of America’s trade laws. Soybean oil remains the primary biodiesel feedstock in the U.S., and the biodiesel industry provides a significant market for surplus soybean oil that is a co-product of protein meal production. ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill., confirmed ASA’s support for the NBB petition in a statement:

"Biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia have flooded the U.S. market in recent years and these imports receive trade and market distorting subsidies in their home countries that provide an unfair advantage over U.S. biodiesel. Soybean farmers have a vested interest in the biodiesel industry, having made substantial investments over the past several decades to established and build a domestic biodiesel industry and market. We believe an investigation by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission will show that unfair subsidies provided by Argentina and Indonesia are resulting in imports being unlawfully dumped on the U.S. market. We look forward to the appropriate anti-dumping and countervailing duties being imposed to remedy these unfair and unlawful practices.”

IDFA Urges Congress to Address Dairy Risk Management

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), testified before the House Committee on Agriculture about dairy policy and its impact on potential provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill. Dykes said that IDFA's top priority is to enhance demand for U.S. dairy products--both at home and in the global market.

"First and foremost, the dairy industry needs better mechanisms for risk management -- and that's on both the farm and processor side," Dykes said. Dykes pointed out that processors could also benefit from better tools to protect against the negative impact of price volatility on the U.S. dairy industry.

"Just as farmers are now looking to improve the Margin Protection Program and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program, dairy manufactures also need access to effective risk management tools in this farm bill," said Dykes. "Forward contracting has provided an important mechanism for manufacturers to directly contract with individual farmers or their cooperatives at a fixed price to reduce price volatility. This program should now be expanded to include all classes of milk and be made permanent."

Dykes said that IDFA will work collaboratively with National Milk Producers Federation to improve risk management for both farmers and processors.

The global marketplace is critical, Dykes noted, as that is where the U.S. dairy industry can expect the most potential growth.

"Exports are driving growth in demand for U.S. farm milk," said Dykes.

Dykes testified that Mexico is the number one export market for U.S. dairy, accounting for one-fourth of total dairy exports. "We need to ensure that a renegotiation of NAFTA preserves our important Mexico market and gains increased access to the Canadian market," said Dykes.

Dykes also said that the Asia-Pacific region, already the world's largest market for food and agriculture, is expected to double by 2050. "Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will allow our dairy industry to compete," said Dykes.

On the domestic side, Dykes noted that only 1 out of every 10 Americans consumes the recommended 3 servings of dairy a day as recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. To address this shortfall and encourage more dairy consumption, Dykes advocated for voluntary incentives under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and more school milk options.

Thursday March 23 Ag News


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s (NDA) weeklong celebration of National Ag Week continues with the release of the fifth edition of the popular magazine, Nebraska Agriculture and You. The magazine,  available in print and online, highlights agriculture as our state’s number one industry and strives to help consumers better understand the extensive role agriculture plays in their day-to-day lives.

“This magazine is a great place to share information about how diverse and expansive the agriculture industry is in Nebraska,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We’ve included stories about Nebraska families who operate and maintain some of the more than 48,700 farms in the state. Farm families work hard to provide us all with nutritious, affordable and safe food.”

The magazine will be distributed to several locations throughout the state including office waiting rooms, banks, libraries, county extension offices, chambers of commerce, etc. The magazine is also available online at by clicking on the magazine cover on the right side of page.

“Nebraska’s agriculture industry goes far beyond the farm gate, and this magazine helps highlight the numerous contributions agriculture makes to our state,” said Ibach. “It’s a great communications tool to tell the true story of Nebraska agriculture.”

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you going to plant a new hay field this year?  Instead of automatically planting pure alfalfa, think about mixing some grass into your planting.

               Hay growers in our area often plant new fields to pure alfalfa without even thinking about other alternatives.  For lots of folks, pure alfalfa is the best choice, but many of you might find it better to mix in some grass, like orchardgrass, smooth brome, or festulolium, with your alfalfa.

               Let’s look at some advantages of a grass-alfalfa mixture.  If you regularly feed more than 5 or 6 pounds of alfalfa per day to stock cows during winter, they probably are getting way more than enough protein but maybe not enough TDN or energy.  Mixing grass with alfalfa usually lowers the protein but slightly increases the TDN content of hay.  So your cows actually could receive a more balanced diet.  Also, if you sometimes graze your hay fields, grass will reduce the risk of bloat.

               In the field, grass can grow in areas where alfalfa is not well-adapted or fill in spots as alfalfa dies out.  This is better than having weeds invade bare areas.  Grass-alfalfa mixtures often dry out more rapidly after cutting than pure alfalfa so you might get more hay made without rain damage.  And if it does rain, the mixture usually suffers less injury, both in the windrow and in the bale.

               Yield-wise, protein yield may be less with the mix, but total tonnage usually is about the same or higher than pure stands.  Most of the grass yield will come at first cut, so regrowth will be mostly alfalfa.  Selling a mixture can be more difficult, though, because dairies prefer pure alfalfa and grass is more difficult to grind.

               You know alfalfa is good, but maybe for you, mixing it with grass is even better.


Fellowship applications for Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) group 37 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, Nebraska's 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 spokespersons, problem-solvers and decision-makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry.

In its 36th year, the program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.

To request an application, email Kimberly Braaten at Requests can also be sent to 104 ACB, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0940. Applications are due by June 15.

For information about the selection process, visit or call 402-472-6810.

Farmer-Leaders Graduate from Leadership At Its Best Program

Farmer-leaders from 13 states graduated from the 2016-17 American Soybean Association (ASA) Leadership At Its Best program this week near Washington, D.C. The Leadership At Its Best program is sponsored by Syngenta and develops valuable leadership, communication and advocacy skills in farmers who have already shown potential to be strong leaders through the positions they hold with their state soybean organizations. This select group of farmer-leaders participated in the first part of their Leadership At Its Best training this past summer in Greensboro, N.C. This week, their training focused primarily on development of stronger communications skills, increasing their understanding of how policies are formed in Washington, D.C., and learning how to advocate for issues important to soybean farmers. The class participants concluded their training with a day of Hill visits with their state soybean associations.

Leadership At Its Best Program participants are nominated by their state soybean association. This year’s class participants included: Craig Williams, Oaktown, Ind.; Morey Hill, Madrid, Iowa; Brent Gatton, Bremen, Ky.; Laurie Isley, Palmyra, Miss.; Howard Reyburn, Oxford, Pa.; Paul Dahlseng, Starbuck, Minn.; John Mark Looney, Leland, Miss.; Peter Rost, Jr., New Madrid, Mo.; Leon Dern, Firth, Neb.; Christopher Naylor, Clinton, N.C.; Scott Metzger, Williamsport, Ohio; Brandon Wipf, Huron, S.D.; and Casey Youngerman, Lexington, Tenn.

ASA appreciates the continued support provided by Syngenta that makes this valuable leadership program possible. ASA will be reaching out to state soybean associations soon to begin collecting nominations for the 2017-18 class.

USDA Livestock Slaughter:  Veal Production at Record Low for February

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.94 billion pounds in February, up 1 percent from the 3.90 billion pounds produced in February 2016.

By State (million lbs.  - % of Feb '16)

Nebraska ....:          601.8            101      
Iowa ...........:          553.8             98      
Kansas ........:          398.8             97      

Beef production, at 1.93 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.37 million head, up 3 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was down 12 pounds from the previous year, at 1,360 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.6 million pounds, 8 percent below February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 40,200 head, up 10 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was down 46 pounds from last year, at 241 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.99 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.37 million head, down 1 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 284 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.2 million pounds, was down 11 percent from February 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 159,400 head, 9 percent below last year. The average live weight was 140 pounds, down 2 pounds from February a year ago.

January to February 2017 commercial red meat production was 8.2 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 7 percent, pork was up 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Soared in 2016

Exports of ethanol last year rose by 26 percent in 2016 when compared to the year earlier to over 1 billion gallons.

The US Energy Information Administration says the U.S. shipped 267 million gallons to Brazil in 2016. The Latin American country, a major producer of ethanol itself, now ranks ahead of Canada in that regard. China was third in U.S. ethanol import volumes with 179 million gallons last year.

There were 34 different countries that purchased U.S. ethanol last year.

EIA also said ethanol imports in 2016 contracted by 60% to 36 million gallons, the lowest level since 2010.

Corn is the primary feedstock for ethanol production, which stood at 15 billion gallons in 2016.

NCGA Statement on USDA Nominee Sonny Perdue’s Confirmation Hearing

Today the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Sonny Perdue as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:

“The National Corn Growers Association reiterates our support for Governor Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture, and we urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm him.

“Today, Governor Perdue promised to be a ‘strong and tenacious advocate’ for America’s farmers and ranchers and ‘USDA’s chief salesman around the world.’ We could not agree more on the need for strong leadership at USDA, especially when it comes to trade. Governor Perdue pledged to work closely with the rest of the Administration to negotiate strong trade deals that benefit America’s farmers and ranchers. We also appreciate his commitment to a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.

“USDA has been without a Secretary for more than two months, at a time when there is much work to do. NCGA stands ready to work with Governor Perdue and the rest of the Trump Administration to support strong trade policy, continue investing in renewable fuels, protecting risk management programs, and preparing for the next farm bill. We urge the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.”

Growth Energy Statement on Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Agriculture

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement regarding the Senate Agriculture Committee’s confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

“The role played by the Secretary of Agriculture is of critical importance to the biofuels industry and rural America. We look forward to hearing Governor Perdue’s perspective on how to move American agriculture forward.

“President Trump’s vocal support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol gives us confidence that his cabinet nominees understand his commitment, and we are eager to hear more from Governor Perdue about the role biofuels, including ethanol, can play in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s agricultural industry. Should he be confirmed, we will look forward to working with him to protect the economic wellbeing of American farmers, all while providing consumers access to higher performing, American-made biofuels.”

 NFU Urges Swift Confirmation of Perdue as Ag Secretary

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue appeared before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee today for the confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Urging a speedy confirmation vote of Mr. Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“If confirmed, Sonny Perdue will be stepping into a position of great importance within this administration. To this point, agriculture and rural America have not had a seat at the table in this administration.

“NFU is encouraged by the secretary-nominee’s focus on trade, particularly on being a strong advocate for agriculture and easing restrictions on trade with Cuba. Ensuring the administration goes about trade deal renegotiations in a way that both deals with our country’s overall trade deficit and does not adversely affect agriculture’s strong footing in international trade will be very important.

“NFU is also pleased that Mr. Perdue intends on finding an immediate solution for family dairy producers who are struggling amidst years of depressed milk prices. We’re thankful for the Committee’s attention and Mr. Perdue’s commitment to explore options advocated for by NFU and other industry partners.

“We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Sonny Perdue so that he can get to work on behalf of American family farmers and ranchers.”

Cattleman Testifies before U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee

Today, Tim White, a cattle producer from Lexington, Kentucky, testified before the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade regarding the future of America’s small family farms. In his testimony, White called on Congress to address the overly burdensome regulatory environment that is hampering rural America, repeal the federal estate tax, and to ensure the 2018 Farm Bill works for America’s cattle producers.

White said that as a small business owner, one of the biggest concerns he faces is over-regulation. EPA’s “waters of the United States” he said is a prime example of overregulation that would subject farmers and ranchers to unnecessary and costly permitting process.

“As a family-owned business, and knowing the detrimental impact this regulation could have on my operation, it is appalling that the agencies asserted that it would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses.”

White also called for the repeal of the federal estate tax, which is a leading cause of the breakup of multi-generational family farms.

“U.S. livestock producers understand and appreciate the role that taxes play in maintaining and improving our nation in many ways, however, they also believe that the most effective tax code is a fair one,” explained White. “For this reason, a full, immediate repeal of the estate tax must be a top priority as Congress considers comprehensive tax reform legislation.”

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 permanently extended the estate tax exemption level to $5 million per person/$10 million per couple. White said, “While we are grateful for the ATRA, the current state of our economy has left many agricultural producers guessing about their ability to plan for estate tax liabilities.”

White concluded his testimony discussing the 2018 Farm Bill and how it could positively or negatively affect many small family farms and ranches.

White stressed the farm bill must include a strong research title to ensure that the industry can remain as efficient and competitive as we can be in producing beef, a strong conservation title to protect programs like EQIP which have been very successful in helping producers do even more to protect our resources, as well as a robust animal health program including a FMD vaccine bank to respond to any potential outbreaks which would have a devastating impact on the nation’s beef industry.

“Estimates show that an FMD outbreak in the United States could cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone, “said White. “NCBA will be requesting support for the creation of a larger and more adequate FMD vaccine bank within the 2018 Farm Bill to include funding of $150 million dollars a year over five years. We feel that this FMD vaccine bank is vitally important to the beef industry as countries around the globe continue to grapple with this disease.”

Additionally, White said cattlemen oppose any attempt at government intervention in the marketplace, including mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling.

 NFU Public Comments Strongly Endorse Fair Practice Rules

On behalf of nearly 200,000 family farm and ranch members, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted public comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday, advocating for the agency to finalize the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. The rules would provide family farmers and ranchers with protections against anti-competitive and abusive practices.

“Family farmers and ranchers are operating in an extremely consolidated agricultural marketplace, where lack of competition provides the major meat companies with tremendous power,” said Johnson. “Farmer Fair Practices Rules provide family farmers and ranchers with the most basic of protections against egregious and anti-competitive practices. They are long overdue and we urge the USDA to finalize them as soon as possible.”

In his comments, Johnson highlighted the extreme consolidation in the livestock and poultry sectors, noting that just four giant meatpacking companies control 85 percent of the beef market, 74 percent of the pork market, and more than half of the market for poultry.

“Due to a lack of competition across the agricultural sector, farmers are subject to both the bargaining power of sellers of agricultural inputs and the bargaining power of buyers of the products farmers grow,” said Johnson.

Johnson said that this bargaining power has allowed processors and integrators to institutionalize many unfair and abusive practices, particularly in the poultry and pork industries.

“The development of contract farming as the model in the poultry and hog sector has institutionalized the ‘monopsony/monopoly relations between farm and agribusiness and the ability of the latter to capture value by the producer through price manipulation.’  The two parties that negotiate the contract are not equal. This asymmetrical power results in undue influence over contract farmers.”

“The status quo system of indentured servitude by contract growers who are subject to increasingly offensive demands by integrators is simply unacceptable,” he added.

Johnson noted that the Farmer Fair Practices Rules update the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, which was passed to protect competition in the meatpacking industry.

“Congress passed the Act with recognition that the previous antitrust acts did not adequately protect farmers and consumers from the monopolistic practices of the meatpacking industry,” stated Johnson. “The Act set out to regulate meatpackers engaging in unfair or deceptive practices that harm individual farmers.”

“Over the last few decades, judicial decisions have weakened the original act, providing farmers and ranchers with less protection in a more challenging marketplace. These rules will go a long way to make sure that farmers and ranchers can continue to operate with basic protections under the law,” he concluded.

U.S. biodiesel industry calls out illegal trading

Today the National Biodiesel Board filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition, making the case that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers.

“The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to fair trade, and we support the right of producers and workers to compete on a level playing field,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “This is a simple case where companies in Argentina and Indonesia are getting advantages that cheat U.S. trade laws and are counter to fair competition.  NBB is involved because U.S. biodiesel production, which currently support more than 50,000 American jobs, is being put at risk by unfair market practices.”

Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers.

“The resulting imbalance caused by unfair trade practices is suffocating U.S. biodiesel producers,” Rehagen explained. “Our goal is to create a level playing field to give markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true and fair competition.”

Based on NBB’s review, Argentine and Indonesian producers are dumping their biodiesel in the United States by selling at prices that are substantially below their costs of production.  This is reflected in the petition’s alleged dumping margins of 23.3percent for Argentina and 34.0 percent for Indonesia.  The petition also alleges illegal subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries.

This is not the first time that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers have been charged with violating international trade laws.  In 2013, the EU imposed 41.9 to 49.2 percent duties on Argentina and 8.8 to 23.3 percent duties on Indonesia.  Just last year, Peru imposed both antidumping and countervailing duties on Argentine biodiesel.

2016 USGC Annual Report Now Available Online And In Poster Format

The U.S. Grains Council's (USGC's) 2016 annual report is now available online and via mail to members, highlighting the organization's work in developing market share, finding new grain demand and serving long-term buyers of U.S. corn, barley, sorghum, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol.

The 2015/2016 marketing year experienced large exports as commodity prices remained low, with 100 MMT of U.S. feed grains exported across the world. This boom continued into the 2016/2017 marketing year, which started Sept. 1, 2016, with almost 28 MMT of feed grains in some form exported in the first quarter alone.

Working together with members, the Council’s global team continues to hone strategy and find new opportunities to work in a changing market and policy environment in order to benefit U.S. agriculture. The report reviews these sales with a focus on Council activities in more than 50 grain markets.

Highlights from 2016 included the biennial Export Exchange, co-sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association, which brought together more than 200 international buyers of coarse grains from 35 countries, resulting in sales of 2.6 million metric tons (102.4 million bushels) of coarse grains and co-products valued at $460 million.

The Council also conducted activities essential to building and maintaining trust in the United States as the long-term supplier of high-quality grain for buyers in loyal markets like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea while working to recapture share in markets like Algeria and Malaysia and laying the foundation for sales farther into the future in markets like Cuba and Tanzania.

The online report, supplemented with videos, infographics and photos produced throughout the year, is available at

EPA Chief: Agency Will be States’ Partner in Addressing Environmental Issues

Just days into his tenure as EPA chief, Administrator Scott Pruitt was at President Donald Trump’s side as the president signed an executive order repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. In an exclusive interview with the American Farm Bureau, Pruitt said the WOTUS repeal is ushering in a new era at EPA, one in which states have primacy and private property owners have certainty. 

According to Pruitt, regulators totally missed the marked with WOTUS, going well beyond the authority afforded the agency under the Clean Water Act and writing a rule that had farmers, builders and many others fearful for their livelihoods.

Pruitt is particularly focused on restoring states’ leadership when it comes to the environment.

“At the end of the day the goal has to be regulatory certainty, objectively measured, so that the role of the EPA and the role of the state departments of environmental quality, and the water resources boards and all those agencies at the state levels—as well as private property owners and towns and municipalities across the country that make land-use decisions—that their authority, their power, their decision-making is respected and that we stay in our lane,” he said.

In that vein, Pruitt said the agency will no longer issue de facto rules under the guise of guidance.

“Guidance is supposed to do what? It’s supposed to give you guidance in respect to rules that are already in existence,” Pruitt noted, emphasizing that there’s a well-defined rulemaking process designed to ensure that all stakeholders’ voices are heard by regulators.

“We don’t have all the answers here, and when agencies make rules, they need to know how it impacts people in all the states across the country and they need to hear from those people and respond to those folks and say, ‘I hear you, and here’s how we’re going to address that and we think that’s an important point.’ That’s what rulemaking should be about,” he said.

Acknowledging that there’s a time and place for enforcement, and, if need be, prosecution, Pruitt emphasized that the agency will first approach states as allies, rather than adversaries.

“I really believe citizens care about the water they drink and the air they breathe. We need to believe that, trust that and restore that trust between this agency and the states,” he said.

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC Launches STAVE, Their Newest Post-Emerge Broadleaf Herbicide

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC announces STAVE™ as the newest addition to­ its expanding portfolio. STAVE will be a great tool for hard to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds in wheat and barley.

STAVE is a selective, post-emergence herbicide for control of the most difficult broadleaf weeds in cereals, corn, fallow and CRP ground. It is an ideal tank mix partner when tackling weeds such as Russian thistle, morning glory, and ALS resistant kochia. Additionally, STAVE offers a wide application window from 2 leaf to flagleaf and allows rotation flexibility to most crops in 120 days.

“STAVE is a great addition to our post-emergent herbicide lineup. STAVE contains the active ingredient Fluroxypyr, a Group 4 herbicide. Herbicides in this class consist of synthetic auxins/growth regulators and were among some of the first selective herbicides developed. STAVE, when added to certain post-emergence herbicide programs, will provide our growers with enhanced herbicide efficacy on tough to kill weeds such as kochia, cocklebur, and many others,” says Will Scott, Tech Services and Market Development Manager for INNVICTIS.

Wednesday March 23 Ag News

 Ethanol Shines In Nebraska Agriculture

Recent reports indicate a strong future for ethanol production in 2017. With added capacity and a diversified platform, ethanol is a bright spot in a bleak agriculture forecast.

An impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists in 2015 revealed Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth between 1995 and 2014 was tenfold with a $5 billion annual economic impact. Just a few years later, that growth continues.

With an operating capacity of approximately 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol, Nebraska ethanol producers used 31 percent of the state’s corn crop in 2016. This operating capacity is an increase of five percent compared to 2015. Production is expected to rise in 2017 with a projected record year for ethanol.

“In a challenging time of agriculture finances, the ethanol sector continues to be a strong market for corn growers,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “This increase in Nebraska ethanol production shows that more corn is being purchased locally and turned into not only ethanol, but a number of valuable co-products.”

In 2016, Nebraska’s ethanol industry produced more than 7.2 million tons of distillers feeds and 268,000 tons of corn oil.  Additional co-products include corn syrup, dry starch and specialty livestock feeds.

“We see what economists describe as an economic ‘bounce’ when we take advantage of the added value as grain is converted to food, fuel, fiber and bio-products,” Sneller said. “There is enormous potential for biofuels to continue to strengthen the economic health of Nebraska.”

In addition to purchasing more corn, several ethanol producers have invested in new technology to increase capacity and product diversification. Sneller noted approximately $150 million in new investments to local ethanol plants like Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson, Flints Hills Resources in Fairmont, E-Energy in Adams, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Columbus.

“Plants in Lexington and Ravenna that were recently bought by Nebraska companies are running at capacity and investing in expanded capacity,” Sneller said. “These expansions and new co-products mean additional jobs and income in Nebraska.”

As the second largest producer in the United States, Nebraska’s ethanol production makes a global impact. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States exported more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, an increase of 26 percent compared to 2015. EIA estimates net exports of ethanol to rise another six percent in 2017.

“We continue to see huge demand for ethanol in Asian and South American markets,” Sneller said. “The robust ethanol export trade means we expect another record-level year in ethanol production.”


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of a $6.6 million research initiative to promote soil health through the development and adoption of new cover crops across the United States. The initiative was launched March 22 by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, which is the lead institution. 

The initiative, made possible by a $2.2 million grant from FFAR, will bring together representatives from the seed industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, a producer network and multiple land-grant universities including Nebraska.

Cover crop is a term applied to a number of plant species that farmers, ranchers and landowners may plant to help manage soil erosion and fertility, preserve moisture content, and control weeds and diseases. The focus of the initiative will be to identify cover crop germplasm with the greatest potential to improve soil health across a broad geographic area. Germplasm improvement will focus on species within three groups: small grains (wheat, rye, oat and triticale), annual legumes (hairy vetch, winter peas and clovers), and brassicas (turnips, radishes, kale and mustards).

"Once The Noble Foundation identifies superior germplasm of these cover crop species, the role of the trial site collaborators is to test their regional adaptation," said John Guretzky, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and co-leader of the project. "We'll be evaluating the germplasm to see how it performs in different environments."

Nebraska will be the Northern Plains trial site for the cover crop evaluations. Trials will also be conducted in Maryland for the Northeast, North Carolina for the Southeast, Oklahoma for the Southern Plains and Missouri for the Midwest.

"These sites have experience in cover crop evaluation and will allow us to effectively screen each species and variety for its effectiveness, its role with other crop mixes and its range of adaptation," said Twain Butler, Noble Foundation research agronomist and project manager. "These sites will also illustrate the use and effectiveness of cover crops for the purpose of sharing our findings with agricultural producers."

The project is not limited to traditional breeding and evaluation. Engaging both producers and industry, researchers will also seek to identify and introduce key traits that can improve crop performance and soil enhancement. Additionally, scientists at the Noble Foundation will utilize advanced breeding techniques – which have traditionally been limited in application to high-value, row-crops – to bring new and value-added characteristics to cover crops.

The short-term goals of the research are to identify the best cover crop species and varieties currently available through evaluation and screening, promote them to farmers and ranchers, and increase effective options within the marketplace.

"I expect that this project will generate a lot of performance data for producers, which should lead to better adoption of the new cover crop varieties," Guretzky said.

Researchers from this project will share results with the public through national meetings and peer-reviewed publications. Certain outcomes, including molecular markers, will be made available through publication and publicly accessible databases.

Michael Sieh, Stanton Community Schools Superintendent is the Featured Speaker at the NeFU District 7 Spring Meeting in Norfolk

In response to the growing new coalition “Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education” comprised of 21 agricultural and educational organizations, Michael Sieh, Stanton Community Schools Superintendent will be the featured speaker at the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) spring District 7 meeting.  The public is invited to participate in the 6:00 pm meeting at Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th Street, Norfolk Thursday, March 30th.  The “eat and meet” meeting will begin after the “on your own” supper.

“We are really excited to formalize and grow the relationship and conversation between agriculture and education.  Superintendent Sieh was born and raised on a northeast Nebraska farm, and has been working with farmers in rural school districts for many years.  We welcome the opportunity to share information and perspectives between our farmers and Superintendent Sieh.  We need to work together because we share common interests and goals,” said NeFU President John Hansen.

The new coalition issued a joint statement that included:  “As a coalition representing homeowners, business owners, farmers and ranchers, taxpayers, and groups across the spectrum of public education, we believe the Nebraska Legislature must work to provide adequate and sustainable funding for high quality education and do so in a way that reduces the over-reliance on local property taxes to fund education.”

For more information, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0952 on his cell or (402) 887-1396 at home. 

NE Farmers Union District 7 Spring Meeting

Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th St, Norfolk, NE 
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker Michael  J. Sieh, Superintendent for Stanton
Community Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0952 or (402) 887-1396.

Nebraska Brand Committee Announces New Payment Methods

The Nebraska Brand Committee has announced the acceptance of five types of payment methods when the new technology program rolls out in July, 2017.

“With the introduction of the new technology program this July, producers are going to have more options than they have ever had to process payments,” said John Widdowson, Vice Chair of the Nebraska Brand Committee and Chair of NBC’s Technology Working Group.

Currently the Nebraska Brand Committee accepts two forms of payments, cash and check.  With the transition from paper to electronic the Committee in July, will accept cash, check, ACH, credit/debit card on file, and credit/debit card swiped at time of inspection.

“Our priority is to increase the efficiency of inspections for our producers, by offering these additional options we are hoping to increase the value of the service we are providing,” said Widdowson. 

All payment options will be available for producers this coming July 2017 until July 2018.

“We will offer the five different payments method until July 2018, after that date, we will not accept cash as a payment method,” said Bill Bunce, Executive Director of NBC.  “Producers will have over a year to determine what other payment method(s) fits their operation, and what their preference is, but cash will no longer be an option starting July of 2018.”

“Producer security will be of the utmost importance, and Nebraska Interactive currently works with over one hundred partners in state and local government in the state of Nebraska,” said Widdowson referring to the technology company that is developing and hosting the electronic program for NBC.  “They have the utmost security procedures and expertise in place which we will be utilizing with the program.”

The Nebraska Brand Committee was created by the Legislature in 1941 to inspect cattle and investigate missing and/or stolen cattle.  It is a self-supporting cash fund agency.  Its operating fund comes solely from fees collected for brand recording, brand inspections, and registered feedyards. 

Statement by Steve Nelson on behalf of the Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Working Group Regarding Tax Reform Proposal

“While we understand the give and take of the legislative process, we are very disappointed in the tax reform proposal being considered by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. Throughout the legislative hearing process, the Agriculture Leaders Working Group testified before the Revenue Committee on numerous bills that would provide a pathway to provide meaningful property tax relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, and all Nebraska property taxpayers.”

“Unfortunately, during National Ag Week, a tax reform proposal is being considered that would do the exact opposite of what farmers, ranchers, and other Nebraskans are seeking in tax reform. This proposal would intentionally divert dollars currently used to provide property tax relief and repurpose them to fund income tax cuts.”

“The message from Nebraskans has been clear. Property tax relief is the priority and it must be meaningful. Taking money away from property tax relief for income tax cuts will not do that. Should the Legislature go this direction it will be viewed by Nebraska taxpayers as a deliberate decision to increase the property tax burden on Nebraskans.”

“That said, we will continue to work with the members of the Revenue Committee, and others in the Legislature to find alternatives which meet the goals of meaningful property tax reform for all Nebraskans.”

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group includes member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.

Those participating in the Agriculture Leaders Working Group include:
Troy Stowater – Nebraska Cattlemen, president
Galen Frenzen – Nebraska Cattlemen, president-elect
Dan Wesely – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, president
Steve Ebke – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, past president
Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau, president
Mark McHargue – Nebraska Farm Bureau, first vice president
Russ Vering – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, president
Darin Uhlir – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Kevin Peterson – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Tim Chancellor – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Dennis Fujan – Nebraska Soybean Association, president
Dwaine Junck – Nebraska State Dairy Association, vice president
Doug Temme – Nebraska State Dairy Association, past president

Pork Checkoff Tours the No. 1 Customer for U.S. Pork Exports

With Mexico’s hunger for U.S. pork continuing to grow, members of the National Pork Board spent March 13-18 in Mexico City building trade relations. The delegation invested its time immersing itself in Mexico, which is one of America’s most important export markets. During the visit, the group emphasized the safety and reliability of the U.S. pork supply.

“Our visit to Mexico was eye opening. As board members, we were able to witness why Mexico is such an important trading partner,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a North Carolina pig farmer. “The average Mexican family spends 30 to 40 percent of its income on food, so they appreciate the ability to access safe, nutritious and affordable U.S. pork.”

The delegation received a warm welcome and were encouraged and enthused about the future of trade with Mexico. Within the next five years, economists predict Mexico may become the largest market for all U.S. goods, surpassing both Canada and the European Union.

During the week, board members saw firsthand the market opportunity and benefit of expanding trade with Mexico. The key objectives of the trip were to discuss and define areas of mutual interest, to extend appreciation to Mexico’s trade industry for the high volume of U.S. pork purchased and to emphasize the reliability and availability of U.S. pork and the next steps needed to support expanding trade.

In 2016, Mexico was again the No. 1 importer of U.S. pork in terms of volume. Mexico imported more than 730,000 metric tons of U.S. pork last year. In terms of value, Mexico was again No. 2 at $1.4 billion. In January 2017, which is the most recent data available, Mexico became No. 1 in both volume and value. The U.S. accounts for more than 90 percent of the total pork imported to Mexico.

At a high-level, the trip agenda included opportunities for board members to:
-    Meet with the USDA's Foreign Ag Service to understand Mexico’s economy and its current political environment.
-    Learn about new pork product development and innovation.
-    Visit places where pork is sold and marketed to Mexican consumers. Those outlets include high-end club stores, regional supermarkets, fast-casual restaurants and a traditional wet market.
-    Meet with Mexico’s largest retail chain that sells and processes almost exclusively U.S. pork and hear about plans for further growth.
-    Meet with some of Mexico’s largest importers to discuss mutual interests and ways U.S. pork can maintain its role as a strong supplier.

“We saw that our investment of producer dollars in the U.S. Meat Export Federation returns great dividends as it develops relationships with importers and retailers,” Archer said. “Our Mexican neighbors import fresh pork and ham, but also the products that have less value to the U.S. consumer. Pork byproducts, such as offal and pig heads, fill an important need in the Mexican marketplace.”

More than 35 percent of the U.S.-produced pork hams are exported to Mexico and processed in Mexican facilities where they are transformed into deli meats and formed-ham products. These products are crucial for low-income diets. That is why the National Pork Board is committed to sharing information with the National Pork Producers Council as it works on trade access issues. This cooperation enables the entire U.S. pork industry to work together efficiently.

“Pork is a mainstay in Mexican culture – consumers appreciate it and know how to prepare it,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board chief executive officer. “The challenge Mexico faces is getting more protein-rich food into the diets of low-income residents and children. This requires a focus on new product development and education.”

The National Pork Board works directly with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to address this key issue, specifically through outreach to dietitians and other medical professionals in Mexico. USMEF also educates students on the role pork and protein play in the diet and, to Mexican consumers, provides point-of-sale promotional materials at retail stores.

Beyond these direct consumer messages, Checkoff-funded USMEF activities include work with trade representatives – importers, brokers and processors – to educate these trade groups on the benefits of U.S. pork and its quality, safety and availability.

“As a producer, I value our trade relationship with our neighbor even more after visiting this beautiful country,” Archer said. “Growth in our industry is the result of a strong trade balance.”

In 1989, the U.S. had very few trade agreements, but today has 20 in place. Free trade agreements contribute to increased exports and enhance the opportunity to distribute U.S. pork worldwide.

USDA Cold Storage February 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on February 28, 2017 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 9 percent from the previous month but down 9 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 15 percent from last month but down 74 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 28, 2017 were up 5 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 12 percent from last month and up 11 percent from February 29, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 28, 2017 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from February 29, 2016.  Butter stocks were up 28 percent from last month and up 20 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 5 percent from last month but up 28 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 4 percent from a year ago.

DTN Retail Fertilizer Survey Shows Slightly Higher Prices.... Again

As has been the case in recent weeks, retail fertilizer prices are still on the rise but at a fairly small clip the second week of March 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the eighth consecutive week prices have moved higher.

All eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, the fourth week in a row all were higher. While all fertilizers were higher once again, none of the eight were up any noteworthy amount. This is the third consecutive week prices were not up any noticeable amount.

DAP had an average price of $443/ton, MAP $462/ton, potash $337/ton and urea $360/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $441/ton, anhydrous $507/ton, UAN28 $247/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Half of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 21% lower from a year ago, both anhydrous and UAN32 are 11% less expensive and UAN28 is 10% less expensive. Potash is 9% less expensive, both MAP and urea is 8% lower, and DAP is 7% compared to year earlier.


 This week, more than 1,500 members and guests gathered in Kansas City for the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) Cooperative’s 19th annual meeting.

This year’s meeting emphasized what sets the Cooperative apart and those ideals and values that matter most to members, leaders and employees.

“We’re proud of who we are and what we do, and we want to show the world why,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “We want to show them what’s behind our pride in our name, pride in our family farmer owners, pride in our businesses, pride in our products that deliver everyday simple pleasures to millions of consumers and pride in our role in society reflected in communities across the country.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy farm in Rogersville, Mo. Mooney, who also serves as chairman of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), talked about the importance of the dairy community working together as well as the Cooperative’s ongoing efforts with trade negotiations and regulatory issues impacting the dairy industry.

An overview of DFA’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His presentation highlighted DFA’s financials for 2016 as well as how the Cooperative strives to take advantage of positive market trends, while also protecting its members from unpredictable market risks. Smith also discussed how the Cooperative remains focused on growing its commercial businesses, in order to better serve and provide value to members.

“Our dairy farmer members are at the heart of everything that we do at DFA, which is why we want to show the industry, as well as our customers and consumers, why being a part of DFA matters,” said Smith. “As we look to the future, we will continue to look for ways to maximize the milk check, while also identifying growth areas for our commercial businesses and providing on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
• A look at the dairy industry’s role in U.S. trade negotiations from Secretary Tom Vilsack, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council
• Futurist Mike Walsh shared the mega-trends shaping the future of business and lessons learned from successful companies on leveraging innovation, embracing data and transforming agriculture for the digital age
• An overview of dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2017 Members of Distinction. Every year, family members at one farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas are recognized for service to their dairies, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board Directors Bill Beeman of Kingsley, Pa., Marilyn Calvin of Mount Vernon, Mo., Willem De Boer of Tulare, Calif., Jim Eschliman of Ericson, Neb., Mike Faulkner of Greeley, Colo., Don Gurtner of Fremont, Ind., George Mertens of Sonoma, Calif., Jerry Peterson of Harbor Beach, Mich., Ed Schoen of Phelps, N.Y., and John Woelber of Belen, N.M., were recognized for their contributions to DFA.

Winners of the 2017 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. DFA Cares Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year, 45 recipients will receive a combined total of $53,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.

Annual Meeting concluded on Wednesday with the resolutions process, which brought together more than 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.

DFA Reports Record Profits

At the Cooperative’s annual meeting today, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) officials reported net income of $131.8 million, compared to $94.1 million of net income for 2015. The increase was attributable to higher sales volumes, overall operating efficiencies and lower commodity input costs. The record earnings were also buoyed by the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent equity interest in DairiConcepts, a manufacturer of cheese, dairy ingredients and dairy flavor systems with eight facilities across the United States.

DFA’s net sales totaled $13.5 billion for 2016, compared to $13.8 billion in 2015. This decrease is primarily a result of lower milk prices. The U.S. annual average all milk price was $16.24 per hundredweight in 2016 compared with $17.12 per hundredweight in 2015.

“Being owned by dairy farmers, we are always working to strengthen our milk marketing business and to bring value to our dairy-farmer members,” said Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer. “While 2016 was a year of challenges for many of our farmers, DFA itself continues to grow, and remains focused on continuing our investments in new and existing plants, as well as progressing on our strategic initiatives.”

In 2016, DFA directed the marketing of 62.6 billion pounds of milk for both members and others through the Cooperative’s consolidated businesses, which represent approximately 29 percent of the total milk production in the United States. The average 2016 price paid to members per hundredweight of milk was $16.22 compared with $17.18 in 2015.

Cash distributed to members in 2016 totaled $42 million compared to $35 million in 2015. In 2016, members received $21 million in equity retirements and $21 million of allocated patronage dividends.

In 2016, DFA continued to expand its commercial investments. The Cooperative announced plans to construct a new cheese plant in Michigan with Glanbia PLC, the largest maker of American cheese in the world. This project is driven by Michigan’s growing milk supply and an increasing worldwide demand for dairy products. Joining DFA and Glanbia in this partnership are two other cooperatives, Foremost Farms USA and Michigan Milk Producers Association. DFA also broke ground on a premium cheddar cheese facility in Western New York, which is a joint venture between the Cooperative, DFA members from western New York and Arla Foods of Denmark. Additionally, progress continues on the construction of a new dairy ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan.

DFA’s Consumer Retail and Fluid Milk and Ice Cream divisions also had continued growth and success. Kemps® introduced a new line of frozen yogurt, Yo2, with a generational target: millennials. Borden® Cheese also launched a new campaign, “Love. Always an ingredient,” with an updated website and graphics that highlight the goodness that comes in every package.

Trade and infrastructure top concerns for NGFA members at 121st Annual Convention

More than 650 National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) members gathered in New Orleans this week for the NGFA's 121st Annual Convention, where they discussed and debated industry priorities on trade, infrastructure and farm policy.

NGFA Chairman John Heck, senior vice president of Scoular in Omaha, Neb., told grain, feed and processing company executives that the NGFA will "fight tooth-and-nail to preserve the many positive features of the North American Free Trade Agreement" for U.S. agriculture, while also offering ideas to the Trump administration on how to modernize the 23-year-old trade accord in its effort to modernize and update the deal.  The NGFA noted that the Trump administration has been receptive to the offer of the NGFA and selective other agricultural organizations to be constructive, proactive partners.  "We have a seat at the table," Heck said.

John Murphy, senior vice president of international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said during a panel discussion at the convention's Transportation and Trade Open Forum on Sunday that 14 million American jobs depend on trade with NAFTA members Canada and Mexico, "and if we mess that up there could be a cost. He added that "happily, I think that message is getting through" to the Trump administration.

Murphy noted that the U.S. Chamber is recommending a pragmatic approach to NAFTA renegotiation that improves on the agreement and doesn't undermine or put at risk any benefits. "We can start doing a better job just by enforcing the agreement as it exists today...just enforcing what we've got would be a big step forward," he said.

The chairman, president and CEO of Union Pacific, Lance Fritz, echoed that sentiment during a general session speech on Tuesday, noting that NAFTA is critical to the health of the U.S. economy. "NAFTA can be modified and should be modified," he said. "But vacating the agreement is not the right answer."

During his chairman's address, Heck summarized NGFA members' concerns about investing in infrastructure, particularly waterways and ports. "Given the commitment of the Trump administration to work with Congress to invest significantly in U.S. infrastructure, we have a golden opportunity to front-load investments to jumpstart and expedite construction and rehabilitation of our dilapidated locks and dams, as well as updating of our harbors and ports," he said.

When it comes to them next farm bill, Heck noted the association's specific concerns surrounding the Conservation Reserve Program, while reiterating its support for federal crop insurance.

"As consideration of the new farm bill begins, those in Congress who would repeat the (supply control) mistakes of the past are proposing massive increases in land-idling through the CRP that would cripple U.S. agriculture's future competitiveness and deny young farmers the chance they deserve to get into production agriculture," he said.

"The need for more active membership engagement has never been greater nor more immediate, Heck concluded.

USDA on Tainted Brazilian Meat: None Has Entered U.S., 100 Percent Re-Inspection Instituted

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced additional steps to keep the food supply safe for American families in light of the recent investigations of Brazil’s meat industry. 

While none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, FSIS immediately instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil upon hearing reports of the Brazilian investigation.  FSIS has also increased its examination of all these products at ports-of-entry across the country.  The agency will indefinitely maintain its 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil.

"Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” said Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government's investigation closely.”

The FSIS import inspection system (including equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes) is designed to ensure that imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that these products are safe before they enter the country.

“FSIS will take any additional actions necessary to protect public health,” said Al Almanza, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “It is our mission to keep the food on American dinner tables safe.”

Although none of the establishments implicated in the Brazil scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, effective March 18, FSIS instituted 100% point-of-entry re-inspection of all Brazilian beef imported into the United States, including conducting product examination on 100% of the lots. This re-inspection includes 100% testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). The 100% re-inspection also includes 100% testing of ready-to-eat products from Brazil for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS will take immediate action to refuse entry of product into the United States if there are findings of food safety concern. 

ACE DC fly-in underscores biofuel’s importance to rural economy

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and over 70 of its grassroots members are in Washington, D.C. as part of the organization’s 9th annual fly-in today and tomorrow.

“This unique event brings together a group of advocates from all walks of life, putting a human face on the ethanol industry to communicate our policy priorities to Members of Congress and Executive Branch decision makers,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President. “What sets ACE and this event apart is the emphasis we place on using our most persuasive and effective spokespeople for our industry; the people whose everyday life experiences and authenticity illustrate how the decisions made in Washington, D.C. impact their businesses and communities.”

ACE members will have more than 100 meetings with lawmakers representing 35 states to convey the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), bipartisan legislation to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends (S. 517 and H.R. 1311), and the biofuels sector to a robust rural economy. Attendees will also hear from Senior White House Advisor to the Department of Commerce Eric Branstad, who played a critical role in President Trump’s successful presidential bid, serving as state director for the campaign in Iowa. 

“As this fly-in is taking place during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, there is no time like the present to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill as Trump begins to prioritize his campaign promises into action,” Jennings said. “Rural America helped deliver President Trump’s victory on Election Day, and our fly-in provides corn farmers and biofuel advocates the opportunity to educate our newly elected office holders about how high-octane ethanol can help jumpstart economic growth in the U.S.”

To restore economic security in rural America, Congress needs to maintain the RFS. The point of obligation is one of the most important remaining tools to help drive higher blends in the RFS, and RVP relief and the RFS are a critical tandem. Shifting the RFS point of obligation away from refiners to downstream parties would put blenders, retailers and consumers at the mercy of refiners.

Other 2017 policy priorities include updating the corn ethanol lifecycle analysis, raising the minimum octane content in gasoline and streamlining the certification fuel petition process, and correcting the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model.

 NMPF President Says Strengthening Dairy Safety Net Program Must be Priority as Farm Bill Discussions Commence

As Congress begins its deliberations on the next farm bill, improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program must be a top priority for lawmakers, said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, who spoke today before the House Agriculture Committee.

During the farm bill hearing on Capitol Hill, Mulhern told committee members that the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) is failing to live up to its intended role as a viable economic safety net for farmers, and that a series of changes is needed to restore dairy producers’ confidence in the program. Mulhern’s full testimony can be found here.

“While MPP was, and is, the right approach for the future of federal dairy policy, the program in its current form does not provide meaningful safety net support to the nation’s dairy farmers,” Mulhern said.

The MPP is designed to allow farmers to insure the gap between milk prices and the cost of purchasing feed for dairy cattle. Farmers can choose to pay higher premiums for additional levels of margin coverage, although a decreasing number have elected that approach as they saw the program underperforming. The MPP will continue to falter “without action by this Congress to move it closer to the program it was originally proposed to be,” Mulhern said.

Since its creation in the 2014 farm bill, the MPP has offered little effective support to dairy farmers, resulting in dwindling participation in the program. To rectify that problem, Mulhern shared with the committee members the recommendations to improve the MPP that NMPF’s Board of Directors unanimously approved earlier this month.

NMPF’s proposal includes a series of adjustments that will affect the way both feed prices (including corn, alfalfa and soybean meal) and milk prices are calculated. The most needed improvement is restoring the feed cost formula to the one originally developed by NMPF, he said. During Congress’s deliberations in 2014, lawmakers implemented a 10-percent cut to the weightings of all three feedstuff components of the MPP feed cost formula, due to what turned out to be an inaccurate budget score from the Congressional Budget Office. The resulting feed formula “understates the price to farmers of producing 100 pounds of milk, thereby overstating the actual margins farmers are experiencing,” Mulhern said, adding that the Agriculture Committee “got the calculation right the first time,” and thus needs to restore the MPP feed formula to its original level. Margins using the current formula are approximately $1 per hundredweight higher than they would be if the original feed formula were in place.

NMPF is also asking that Congress direct the Agriculture Department to obtain more precise data for the prices dairy farmers are paying for corn, soybean meal and hay, while also collecting better data for the price farmers receive for milk. These changes will more accurately reflect the true margin dairy producers are experiencing, Mulhern said.

The other NMPF recommendations include: Improving the affordability of the program’s premiums; changing the timing of payments and annual enrollment to be more farmer friendly; and expanding the use of additional risk management tools, such as the Livestock Gross Margin Program, to complement the risk management offered by the MPP safety net.

“We look forward to working with this committee to enact these changes in the next farm bill,” Mulhern said.

His testimony also addressed an issue of great concern to many in the dairy community: the need for immigration reform. The importance of immigrant workers to the U.S. dairy industry cannot be overstated, Mulhern said. At least 50 percent of the U.S. dairy farm workforce is comprised of foreign-born labor. Because the seasonal H-2A visa program does not apply to dairy farms with a year-round demand for labor, Congress must provide the agriculture industry with an effective guest worker program to meet its future needs, while also providing a way to address current workers with improper documentation.

“Without access to a steady and reliable workforce, our industry will not be able to survive, let alone thrive, in the future,” Mulhern said.

Mulhern also touched on trade’s impact on dairy, which has expanded considerably in the last decade. The United States has gone from exporting less than $1 billion of dairy products in 2000 to a record $7.1 billion in 2014 – an increase of 625 percent. Because of this, Mulhern said, the United States must preserve and enhance successful elements of its free trade agreements, such as its partnership with Mexico, America’s No. 1 dairy export market. The federal government should also work to rectify problematic trade issues, such as Canada’s protectionist attempt to undermine its trade commitments to the United States, and the European Union’s attempts to co-opt the use of common food names like parmesan and feta.

“If we aren’t in the game actively negotiating on these issues, we are ceding ground to our competitors and those looking to make it tougher for us to do business in their markets,” said Mulhern.

Mulhern’s testimony also stressed the need for congressional support for the DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced by Reps. Peter Welch, Mike Simpson and Sean Duffy in the House, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the Senate. The legislation would force the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce its long-standing rules defining the composition of products that use the term “milk.”

Mulhern said that plant-based alternatives lack real milk’s consistent level of nutrition, and that in the absence of proper labeling enforcement, increasing numbers of nutritionally inferior dairy imitators will lead to confusion in the marketplace.

NFU Urges Administration to Keep COOL as a Priority for Trade Agenda

The Trump Administration this week released a list of 24 trade practices, including Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), that trade negotiators should prioritize in future negotiations. National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to keep COOL on the list, and to ensure a reinstatement of COOL would be allowable under any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“For thirty years, NFU has championed Country-of-Origin Labeling, and we strongly believe the issue is important to American producers and consumers alike,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “American producers raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from. The President should stick up for American consumers and producers by ensuring COOL is a priority for his administration’s trade negotiations.”

Mandatory COOL, first passed in 2002 and then again in 2008, required that muscle cuts of meat and some vegetables, nuts and fruits sold at retail must contain a label informing consumers about the country where the product was sourced. A May 2013 opinion poll showed more than 90 percent of consumers supported the law.

“COOL provided consumers with information they care about, and it allowed American family farmers and ranchers to differentiate their product,” noted Johnson.

The COOL law was repealed by Congress in December 2015 after a lengthy World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada and Mexico and pressure from multinational meatpackers. Faced with either making the law compliant by switching it to a voluntary system, paying more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs, or repealing the law, Congress chose to repeal the law. And when doing so, they even removed COOL labels from meats like ground beef and ground pork that were never at issue with the WTO.

“The U.S. Congress kowtowed to threats from an international tribunal and foreign governments, even as one of those foreign governments maintained a country-of-origin labeling system in their own country,” said Johnson. “The current administration has an opportunity to right an important consumer right to know and serious sovereignty issue here, and that is the ability of foreign governments or institutions to dictate the laws of our land.”

The administration’s priority list came just days after Brazil’s largest food-processing giants JBS and BRF were raided by government authorities for allowing rotten meat to be distributed in Brazil and exported to Europe.

“Without Country-of-Origin Labeling, cases such as this Brazilian rotten meat scandal can affect consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line,” said Johnson.

“American consumers prefer meat from the U.S., and they used and preferred COOL to draw inferences related to a food product’s safety, taste and freshness. We’re hopeful Trump stands with American consumers, family farmers and ranchers, and negotiates a path forward for Country-of-Origin Labeling in the U.S.”

Bird Flu Confirmed in 3 Southern States

(AP) -- A bird flu outbreak that has resulted in the euthanasia of more than 200,000 animals in three Southern states already is the nation's worst since 2015 and new cases are still popping up, an expert said Wednesday.

Agriculture officials are trying to limit the damage from the disease, but it's unclear whether quarantines, transportation bans and mass killings will stop the spread, said Joseph Hess, a poultry science professor at Auburn University.

The disease was first confirmed in southern Tennessee earlier this month and has since been detected in northern Alabama and western Kentucky.

"We're at the point where it's a little here and a little there. It could fade away, but it could blow up into something bigger," said Hess, who also works with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

State officials say no infected birds have entered the nation's poultry supply, and the U.S. food chain isn't at risk.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that it was temporarily banning the transportation of poultry after a low-pathogenic form of the disease was found in a commercial flock of 22,000 hens in western Kentucky. The farm was placed under quarantine and the birds were killed.

The announcement came as the state of Alabama confirmed the presence of low-pathogenic bird flu in two flocks there, where more than 42,000 animals have been euthanized. High-pathogenic bird flu, a deadlier form of the illness, was previously detected in Tennessee, where 145,000 birds were put to death.

Hess said the illness is carried by waterfowl, which don't get ill but can pass along the disease to poultry.

The current outbreak has affected large commercial poultry houses, where at-risk birds typically are put to death by the thousands with foam that smothers them, and smaller, backyard operations.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said a flock of 84,000 turkeys had been confirmed with a low-pathogenic bird flu virus in Wisconsin.

None of the current outbreaks have been linked to the same high-pathogenic virus that resulted in the loss of millions of birds in the Midwest chicken egg and turkey industry in 2015.

Spring Vaccinations Set Calves Up for Long-Term Success

It’s never too early to think about a calf’s respiratory health. The steps producers take this spring with young calves not only help protect them through grazing season, but can prepare the calves for a more complete immune response with pre-weaning and weaning booster vaccinations.

“Spring vaccinations for respiratory disease set calves up for success during the summer grazing season,” said Jon Seeger, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “Fall vaccinations help calves respond to disease challenges during weaning and comingling.”

Seeger says it is key to protect calves against viral diseases that cause respiratory challenges like bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine respiratory (IBR) disease and parainfluenza 3 (PI3).

“With INFORCE™ 3 we see a great value in the rapid, lasting immune response to the intranasal administration in the spring with young calves,” said Seeger. “But we also see a more robust immune response when we booster at pre-weaning with modified-live combination vaccine, like BOVI-SHIELD GOLD ONE SHOT®, when it follows the intranasal in the spring.”

Research at North Dakota State University demonstrated a significant (p=0.006) immune response to BRSV in calves given INFORCE 3 at approximately 74 days of age, and again when boosted 153 days later with BOVI-SHIELD GOLD ONE SHOT.

“The North Dakota study showed us that we had a solid immune response following primary immunization with the intranasal vaccine and had a significant boost in immunity when we gave the combination respiratory vaccine several months later in the fall,” explained Seeger. “The real benefit for calves to have the first dose in the spring is that if they are exposed to a disease challenge mid-summer they have a better immune response and are less likely to get sick, than if they aren’t vaccinated before summer grazing.”

Seeger also says it is important not to forget protecting against Mannheimia haemolytica and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) types 1 and 2.

“The virals are our leading concern, but with a dose of ONE SHOT® BVD in conjunction with the intranasal, we can more completely protect the young calf from viral and bacterial challenges,” said Seeger. “And that first dose of Mannheimia really helps improve the response to the second dose at pre-weaning when bacterial pathogens are a bigger threat.”

Seeger concludes that producers should think of spring vaccinations as first steps in building a complete immunization plan for the calf. “Our goal is to set the calf’s immune system up for success in responding to disease challenges,” said Seeger.

Vibrating Membrane System Helps Turn Cow Manure into Clean Water & Organic Fertilizer

New Logic Research announced today the successful commissioning of a VSEP® vibrating membrane system to make clean water from digested cow manure. The VSEP® system, located in the Italian Alps region of Wipptal, takes the effluent from an anaerobic digester and transforms it into clean water which can either be reused or safely discharged to the environment. The project was implemented with the expert assistance of O.B. Impianti, New Logic's distribution partner in Northern Italy.

Although cows have a simple diet, the digestive system of ruminant animals makes for complicated wastewater treatment scenarios. VSEP's patented vibratory shear mechanism coupled with an innovative filter pack design means it can uniquely create crystal clear permeate from water heavily laden with biological material like cow manure. 

"Digesters are great at making green power and reducing contaminant levels in the waste, but in most cases, further treatment of the liquid effluent is still necessary. Many have tried to treat digester effluent with standard spiral-wound reverse osmosis membrane systems only to find that it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible," said New Logic CEO Greg Johnson. "That's why VSEP® is a perfect fit for digester effluent treatment: you get the reverse osmosis separation you desire, but deployed in a robust system designed to tackle the world's toughest applications."

The Wipptal project is a cooperative one, taking cow manure from more than three dozen local farmers. The liquid manure is transported to the treatment facility where more than 60% of it is transformed into clean water, while the remainder is turned into concentrated organic fertilizer. The only pretreatment between the digester and the VSEP is a 100 micron screening device to remove large particles from the feed material.

O.B. Impianti and New Logic are already building on the success of the Wipptal installation—they are currently working on two additional installations on the continent, where EU funding is frequently available for such projects.

Tuesday March 21 Ag News

Fremont Chamber Excellence in Ag Awards Program

Governor Pete Ricketts spoke today at the Fremont Chamber’s Excellence in Agriculture awards luncheon.  He thanked farmers for the work they do each and every day.  He thanked the community of Fremont for being forward-thinking to partner with Lincoln Premium Poultry to initiate a poultry enterprise in the state and help “Grow Nebraska” agriculture.  Ricketts also thanked Dodge County for being the first in the state to adopt the Nebraska Department of Ag’s livestock siting matrix as a tool to expand livestock production.

Another guest speaker was Dr Steven Waller, Dean of the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources at UNL.  He highlighted some of the many contributions given by Nebraskans to agriculture overall, from genetics research and development of nutrition information and innovative production practices.  Waller says Nebraska is pushing agriculture innovation world-wide, as UNL researchers are consistently in the top 10 with their projects.

The Fremont Chamber recognized three enterprises for their outstanding contributions.  The Terry Rassmussen Family was recognized as the Farm Family of the Year.  He is a 5th generation crops and livestock producer near Arlington.  With family ties to the land dating back to the 1880’s, Terry is very proud that generations six and seven are also living on the farm!

The Ag Business of the Year is Monke Fertilizer based in Fontanelle, along with offices throughout their trade area of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Douglas counties.  And finally, the newest award, the Ag Innovator of the Year award, was presented to Seitec Genetics of Fremont.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Accepting Applications for FLAGship Program

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is now accepting applications for the second class of the FLAGship Program. The FLAGship Program is a scholarship program for future ag leaders in Nebraska. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) will award up to 5 $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors or college freshman in the state of Nebraska. The NeCGA Future Leaders in Ag Scholarship Program (FLAGship Program) is open to Nebraska high school seniors or college freshman who are continuing their education in state and pursuing a degree in an ag-related field.

“We were blown away by the applicants for the first class of the FLAGShip Program,” said Dan Nerud, Chairman of the Grower Services Committee. “It is exciting to see how many great young people are interested in entering the agricultural field.“

To be eligible for this scholarship students must be a member of NeCGA or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. The application for the FLAGship Program must include two letters of recommendation, a current resume, as well as proof that the student is continuing their education. The students are also asked to explain why they are seeking a degree in the agricultural field as well as what issues they feel the ag industry is currently facing.

Applications must be postmarked by May 5th, 2017. Packets can be mailed to 1111 Lincoln Mall, Suite 308, Lincoln, NE 68508 ATTN: Scholarship, or emailed to Recipients will be notified in May 2017 and scholarships will be distributed in December 2017. For more information about the scholarship and an application, please visit or call (402) 438-6459.


Bruce Anderson, NE 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.  And when is it not windy in Nebraska?  So if you decide to burn, do it safely.

               Fire is useful on CRP or other fields that are overgrown with much dead growth 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 invading warm-season grasslands.  These less desirable plants are injured or killed by a well-timed burn.  This can be especially useful for 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 mid-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.


It’s National Ag Day, and all across America people are celebrating the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers produce every day.  To celebrate the day, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced the winners of the Department’s annual youth poster contest.  The contest, open to first through sixth grade students in Nebraska, featured the theme “Good Life, Great Roots.” and received over 1,850 entries.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and the poster contest gives students the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and showcase their creative sides,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “A number of teachers across the state use this contest as a way to help their students learn more about where their food comes from and the essential role it plays in our day to day lives.”

The posters were judged in three separate categories.

In the 1st and 2nd grade division:
•           1st place: Kimber Boyer, 2nd grade, Norris Elementary in Firth
•           2nd place: Allie Dirkschneider, 2nd grade, Howells Dodge Consolidated in Dodge

•           3rd place: Emily Schack, 2nd grade, Dundy County Stratton in Benkelman
•           Governor’s Choice:  Ella Gabriel, 2nd grade, Seward Elementary

In the 3rd and 4th grade division:
•           1st place:  Bree Pojar, 3rd grade, St. Wenceslaus School in Dodge

•           2nd place:  Gage Rasmussen, 3rd grade, Johnson-Brock Elementary in Johnson
•           3rd place:  Lucas Urbanski, 4th grade, St. James Seton School in Omaha
•           Governor’s Choice:  Braelynn Renz, 4th grade, Heartland Community Schools in Henderson

In the 5th and 6th grade division:
•           1st place:  Daisy Villatoro, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
•           2nd place: Bryana Vargas-Paiz, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
•           3rd place:  Frances Hoover, 6th grade, Saint Margaret Mary in Omaha
•           Governor’s Choice: Sophia Harding, 6th grade, Saint Margaret Mary in Omaha

The winning posters and the names of the schools submitting entries are on NDA’s website at

IA Egg Prod Down 10%

Iowa egg production during February 2017 was 1.24 billion eggs, down 10 percent from last month, but up 33 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during February 2017 was 55.8 million, up slightly from last month, and up 24 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for February were 2,220, down 11 percent from last month, but up 8 percent from last year.

U.S. February Egg Production Up 2 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.10 billion during February 2017, up 2 percent from last year. Production included 7.08 billion table eggs, and 1.02 billion hatching eggs, of which 941 million were broiler-type and 74.7 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during February 2017 averaged 375 million, up 3 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,157 eggs, down 2 percent from February 2016.
All layers in the United States on March 1, 2017 totaled 375 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 375 million layers consisted of 317 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 55.1 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.43 million layers producing egg-type
hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2017, averaged 76.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 5 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during February 2017 totaled 48.2 million, down 5 percent from February 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 51.5 million on March 1, 2017, up 2 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 180 thousand during February 2017, down 5 percent from February 2016.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during February 2017 totaled 730 million, down 2 percent from February 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 667 million on March 1, 2017, up 3 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 7.83 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during February 2017, down 3 percent from February 2016.

Nominations for 12th Annual BQA Awards Now Being Accepted

Nominations for the 2018 national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted. The beef checkoff-funded program, now in its 12th year, recognizes five winners in the areas of beef and dairy beef production, marketing and education.

Categories for the award are:

BQA Cow-Calf, BQA Feedyard and BQA Dairy awards recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of day-to-day activities on their respective operations;

The BQA Educator Award is open to individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals who care for and handle cattle throughout the industry chain; and

The BQA Marketer Award is open to livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified.

Nominations for the national BQA Awards are submitted by organizations, groups, or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy beef producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, although nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. While applications from past nominees are encouraged, previous winners may not reapply.

Winners of the BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA-certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups.

For the application and nomination requirements, go to Applications are due by June 2, 2017, and should be submitted to Grace Webb at

NPPC Farm Bill Priority: FMD Vaccine Bank

The U.S. pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill is establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, the National Pork Producers Council told a House Agriculture subcommittee in testimony today.

“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” said NPPC Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newtown Grove, N.C., who testified on behalf of the organization before the agriculture panel’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork and soy bean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to:
-   Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
-    Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
-    Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

“We need the capacity to produce enough FMD vaccine to quickly control, then eradicate the disease, and we need the funds to make that happen,” Herring said.

Herring, who also is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., which makes hog farm equipment, told the subcommittee that pork producers want a Farm Bill that supports the U.S. pork industry rather than hinders its ability to continue producing safe, lean and nutritious pork for the global marketplace.

In addition to an FMD vaccine bank, he said the next Farm Bill should include policies for disease surveillance, research and trade promotion, which would help pork producers. Among policies that could hamper producers, said Herring, are the pending Farmer Fair Practices Rules and the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. NPPC wants the Trump administration to withdraw both regulations.

NCBA President Testifies on Cattlemen’s Priorities for 2018 Farm Bill

In testimony on Capitol Hill today, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Uden testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony.  “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”  

Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)

“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”

Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers.  On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”

Uden concluded his Farm Bill testimony by stressing the importance of international trade to the American beef industry.

“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Uden said. “Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside U.S. borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the U.S. cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”

USDA Announces $6 Million to Aid Fire-Affected Farmers and Ranchers in Midwest

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the availability of more than $6 million in funding to implement practices that will help private farmers, ranchers and forest landowners affected by the wildfires blazing in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We have seen the devastating effects of these wildfires on agricultural operations and the funding announced today can help communities of farmers and ranchers start the process of recovery,” said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. “USDA is here to offer assistance, and I encourage producers who experienced losses to take full advantage of our financial and technical assistance to aid in their recovery efforts and alleviate part of the financial burden caused by these tragic events.”

The funding, made available by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will assist local producers as they begin to restore scorched grazing land, rebuild fencing, protect damaged watersheds, and implement various conservation measures to mitigate losses.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address priority local and state resource concerns. Producers must submit a complete program application, establish “farm records”, and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. Step-by-step assistance can be found at

States will begin accepting applications in the near future. Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local NRCS service centers for additional information.

2017 Renewable Volume Obligations Go into Effect Today

In November 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the final 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for conventional biofuel at a level of 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The 2017 RVO rule aligned with bipartisan Congressional intent to increase the amount of transportation fuel that comes from renewable sources. President Trump issued a regulatory freeze memorandum in January to give his administration the opportunity to review a host of regulations before they were implemented, including the 2017 RVO rule. Today, the 2017 RVOs go into effect. In response to this positive news, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“In November 2016, Growth Energy was pleased to see the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule achieve the 15-billion-gallon statutory volume for conventional biofuel that Congress originally intended. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is America’s most successful energy policy, and it continues to guarantee competition and consumer choice in the vehicle fuels marketplace, while also lowering prices at the pump and reducing harmful emissions. Strong RVOs are integral to a robust RFS, the vibrancy of rural America, and the continued value that ethanol brings to drivers across the United States.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the EPA, Administrator Pruitt, and the Trump Administration to ensure that the biofuels industry continues to thrive, and that rural America remains vibrant and strong.”

Farmer Fair Practices Rules Needed to Address Lack of Competition in Livestock and Poultry Sectors, NFU Testimony States

Highlighting the iniquities of today’s extremely consolidated livestock and poultry sectors, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony today to the U.S House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

The testimony advocates for the adoption of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules to offer family farmers and ranchers basic protections from anti-competitive and abusive practices.

“Farmers and ranchers are subject to both monopolistic practices in the agricultural inputs sector and monopsonistic practices in the agricultural production sector,” states Johnson. “For years, USDA has attempted to address the anticompetitive behaviors of the meatpacking industry most recently by promulgating the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. These rules are long overdue.”

Johnson notes that the livestock sectors are more consolidated today than they were 100 years ago. In 1916, the top five slaughterhouses controlled 82 percent of the cattle market and 61 percent of the hog market. Today, just four companies control 85 percent of the beef industry and 74 percent of the pork industry.

“In 1921, Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act ‘to regulate the sale of livestock by farmers to the more economically powerful livestock buyers,’” says Johnson. “With the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, the USDA is attempting to clarify the P&S Act, it’s scope, and the rights of farmers and ranchers.”

Johnson also notes that more than half of the poultry industry is dominated by just four firms, and the development of contract farming as the model in the poultry and hog sectors has institutionalized the “monopsony/monopoly relations between farm and agribusiness and the ability of the latter to unfairly capture value by the producer through price manipulation.”

“The two parties that negotiate the contract are not equal,” says Johnson. “This asymmetrical power results in undue influence over contract farmers.”

Johnson says that judicial decisions have weakened the original Act, providing farmers and ranchers with less protection in a more challenging marketplace.

“Family farmers and ranchers operating in an extremely consolidated marketplace should have the full protection of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921,” says Johnson. “The Farmer Fair Practices Rules will go a long way to make sure that farmers and ranchers can continue to operate with basic protections under the law.”

House Passes Pesticide Registration Bill in Time for Ag Day

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017, by a voice vote. The bill reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003 (PRIA). The current authority for PRIA, the pesticide industry’s fee-for-service program, will expire on September 30, 2017. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, noted in his announcement of the bill yesterday that, “This bipartisan legislation improves PRIA to ensure transparency, consistency, and efficiency remains within the pesticide registration process.”

“We are pleased to see undivided support for PRIA, especially in time for National Ag Day,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA). “Ag Day inspires us to come together, as one national community, to support our farmers and their dedication to keeping farmland productive for generations. Industry, users of pesticides, state and federal regulators, and the NGO community alike have all shown their support for PRIA. We thank Chairman Davis and others on the House Ag Committee for championing this bill, and we look forward to similar bipartisan support in the Senate. A better funded, stable and predictable Environmental Protection Agency regulatory program represented by PRIA ensures that investment in tomorrow’s innovative products can continue!”

National Ag Day is an annual celebration of the food, fiber and fuel grown by American agriculture. Each year, producers, government officials and ag-related organizations hold and attend events to recognize how much agriculture contributes to our daily lives. The Agriculture Council of America helps to organize events and promote National Ag Day, including through an essay and photo contest which focuses this year on the theme, Agriculture: Food for Life. For more information on National Ag Day and to see the winning entries, visit



America's farmers and ranchers help feed the world, fuel our Nation's economy, and lead global markets in output and productivity.  The efficiency of American agriculture has provided this country with abundance our ancestors could not have imagined.

The agriculture sector of the United States is endlessly innovative.  It continuously builds on its centuries of progress through advances in science, research, technology, safety, production, and marketing to meet the demands of changing consumer needs and complex world markets.  The agriculture sector provides jobs across our Nation, not just for farmers and ranchers, but for foresters, scientists, processors, shippers, firefighters, police, and retailers.

American agriculture is the largest positive contributor to our Nation's net trade balance, generating 10 percent of our exports and millions of American jobs.  America's farmers and ranchers provide a safe and plentiful domestic food supply, which is vital to our national security.  Moreover, they safeguard our sustainable resource base for future generations.  As my Administration fights for better trade deals, agriculture will be an important consideration so that its significant contributions will only increase in the years ahead.

American farmers and ranchers are the heart and soul of America and they represent the determined, self-reliant character of our Nation.  We are proud of American agriculture and we recognize agriculture's critical role to our Nation's bright future.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 21, 2017, as National Agriculture Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this day by recognizing the preeminent role that agriculture plays in Americans' daily life, acknowledging agriculture's continuing importance to our country's economy, and expressing our deep appreciation of farmers and ranchers across the Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

ISU Extension and Outreach Celebrates National Ag Day

Agriculture is more than a way of life in Iowa. 85 percent of the state’s land is used for agriculture, with its products accounting for approximately 25 percent of Iowa’s economy.

The importance of agriculture on Iowa and the rest of the United States cannot be understated. Celebrating the efforts of American agriculture and reminding citizens that agriculture is part of all of us is the focus behind the 2017 National Ag Day - March 21.

“We take a big tent approach to what we do,” said John Lawrence, director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Agriculture is very diverse in this state. We cover everything from local foods to biotechnology.”

ISU Extension and Outreach carries its land grant mission throughout the state, working to provide science-based research and information to all Iowans.

“We try to tie university research to the practice taking place in the Iowa field,” Lawrence said. “We have great people in place who believe very strongly in being objective and finding true solutions. They are the best in the nation at what they do, and they bring that to bear on Iowa’s challenges and opportunities.”

ISU Extension and Outreach saw its impact felt through a variety of avenues in 2016:
-    Over 5.7 million people visited ISU Extension and Outreach webpages.
-    Specialists made 2,600 presentations at meetings, workshops and field days, coming in contact with over 209,500 people.
-    109,000 people subscribe to 33 ISU Extension and Outreach newsletters.
-    ISU Extension and Outreach specialists created 762 articles, with over 331,000 print publications being distributed and downloaded. Specialists also contributed to 1,223 popular press articles.
-    Face-to-face connections remain popular, with 6,861 meetings between specialists and their clients.

All these efforts are aimed at building a stronger Iowa, one that is able to confidently move forward to face the new challenges and opportunities presented in agriculture.

National Agriculture Day Reflects New Hope of the Year Ahead

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers celebrated American wheat farmers as part of National Agriculture Day.  Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America, National Agriculture Day is held to tell agriculture’s story and the role farmers play in producing safe, abundant and affordable food.

“It couldn’t be more fitting that National Agriculture Day is being celebrated at the beginning of spring,” said NAWG President David Schemm, a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, KS.  “Farmers are facing a lot of economic challenges, but with spring comes renewed hope for producers all across the country as they prepare for the crop year ahead.  American wheat farmers are some of the best in the world, producing high quality wheat demanded throughout the world and widely demanded right here at home.  National Agriculture Day is a recognition of all the work my fellow wheat farmers do year in and year out to feed the world.”

Wheat is a one of the most important crops around the world.  Right here at home, wheat flour is used in approximately three quarters of all U.S. grain products.  One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour or 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.  And each of those bushels also goes into 42 one-and-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread or 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread.

Statement from Agriculture Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young on National Agriculture Day

Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young today released the following statement:

"Today is National Agriculture Day, set aside to pay tribute to the farmers and ranchers of our nation.  The work of American producers and growers ensures consumers in our country have plenty of safe food and a wide variety at a cost lower than much of the world.

“Through their efficiency, they are able to produce more food and fiber than is demanded in our country, generating a trade surplus in agricultural products for the United States.  As President Trump noted in the Presidential Proclamation declaring today National Agriculture Day, ‘American agriculture is the largest positive contributor to our Nation’s net trade balance, providing 10 percent of our exports and millions of jobs.’

“Farmers and ranchers also play a role in helping sustain rural communities in the face of shifting populations and economic challenges.  In these and many other ways, agriculture is a key part of the American economy.

“So today, the employees of USDA thank our farmers and ranchers for all they do to feed our nation and the world, for their work conserving and preserving the land, and for being actively engaged in their local communities."

NFU Salutes Family Farmers and Ranchers on National Ag Day

Highlighting the important roles family farmers and ranchers play in ensuring food security, National Farmers Union (NFU) joined the agriculture community today in celebrating National Ag Day.

“Family farmers and ranchers play a critical role in providing food, fuel, feed and fiber to both our country and the global population,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In order to ensure our food security for future generations, we need to be fostering the next generation of family farmers and ranchers today.”

The average age of the American farmer is 58 years old, and, according to the 2012 Ag Census, 57 percent of the nation’s farmers are within 10 years of retirement age or older. The good news is that the number of young people who said farming was their primary occupation increased by 11 percent between 2007 and 2012.

“The influx of new farmers is a welcome sign in an occupation as critical as food, feed and fuel production,” said Johnson. “Now we need to keep the momentum up by encouraging more new family farmers and ranchers, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment.”

New farmers and ranchers who entered the industry in the past five to ten years have had to deal with the worst farm economy in well over a decade. In fact, net farm income this year is projected to be less than half of what it was just four short years ago.

“While all of us in agriculture grapple with prolonged periods of low prices, it is beginning farmers and ranchers that are the most vulnerable during these periods,” said Johnson. “We need to be doing all we can as policymakers, mentors, neighbors and colleagues in family agriculture to ensure the success and economic well-being of the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

Johnson noted that NFU provides a bevy of education programs designed to encourage and develop future leaders in American agriculture.

“NFU’s education programs focus on community engagement, leadership development and youth outreach,” said Johnson “Many of those who have participated have indeed gone on to be farmers, leaders in agriculture, key decision-makers in international food and aid organizations and even elected officials.”

BASF investments aid growers and local communities

BASF today announced the completion of its Beaumont, Texas, facility expansion, the only dicamba manufacturing facility in the U.S. for the agriculture industry. The Beaumont site received more than $270 million in capital improvements in the last three years, making it BASF’s largest agricultural products facility investment in company history.  In addition, BASF has invested more than $290 million in its eight other North American agricultural products production sites and facilities that support its agricultural business, helping to provide solutions for growers and contributing to the economic development of the communities it serves.

“Our commitment to North America is clear. The agricultural market is changing, and growers are demanding the newest and most effective technologies to increase profitability,” said Paul Rea, Senior Vice President, Crop Protection, BASF North America. “BASF responded to growers’ needs by making significant investments in production to deliver effective solutions to help farmers manage weed resistance and produce higher yields. We could not have done this without our skilled workforce in Beaumont and across North America who not only help growers, but also help drive our economy.”

BASF has more than 50 years of technical experience with the active ingredient dicamba and today is the market leader in global dicamba supply. With glyphosate-resistant weeds identified on more than two-thirds of U.S. crop land, it is crucial for growers to have new tools to build effective weed control programs that utilize multiple sites of action.

Engenia™ herbicide, BASF’s newest innovation, is part of a complete weed control system, providing a simple and reliable herbicide option following a residual herbicide. The herbicide features a completely new dicamba molecule, BAPMA salt, which is designed specifically for dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This innovative formulation is unique to BASF and contains a heavier weight and stronger bond relative to DGA and DMA dicamba formulations. The advancements in formulation and application reduce volatility and off-target movement of the dicamba molecule.

“Of the many hurdles growers face each season, weed resistance has become a top challenge in recent years,” said Matt Huie of Texas-based 1349 Food & Fiber. “We rely on innovative, new technologies to help us control weeds and maximize crop output. The current environment makes high yields an absolute necessity and that is only accomplished with clean, weed-free fields.”

As part of the Engenia herbicide launch, BASF is also offering in-person and online training through the On Target Application Academy (OTAA). This one-of-a-kind educational opportunity provides extensive training that promotes correct and effective herbicide application.

“We expect the demand for dicamba and herbicides like Engenia to increase and the Beaumont facility will be critical in meeting this need,” said Thomas Bereswill, Director, BASF AP Manufacturing Americas. “This expansion not only served our customers, but our community as well. We were able to hire 700 contractors in addition to the current 175 on-site employees to complete the project on time.”

BASF has completed similar expansion projects at eight of its other North American agricultural production facilities, including its Hannibal, Missouri, and Sparks, Georgia, sites.

Monday March 20 Ag News

Two Featured Presentations Scheduled for Nebraska Ethanol Board Meeting

Connie Lindstrom, senior biofuels analyst at Christianson CPAs and Consultants, and Jamie Rhodes, president of Trestle Energy, are the featured presenters at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Wednesday, March 29.

Lindstrom will present on trends in Nebraska ethanol plant performance. Her company specializes in Biofuels Benchmarking, which allows ethanol plants to access a vast database of anonymized industry data, insights and reports.

“By observing trends, decision-makers can set priorities and improve processes,” Lindstrom said. “Benchmarking information is key to managing risks, identifying opportunities and prioritizing resource use.”

A growing set of opportunities are emerging for Nebraska ethanol plants and agricultural producers, ranging from process optimizations to plant expansions and development of innovative co-product streams. Rhodes will discuss Trestle’s approach to one set of these opportunities and share his vision for developing crop residue fuel pellets as a co-product of Nebraska ethanol.

“These fuel pellets can be used in Nebraska’s existing coal-fired power plants and industry boilers,” he said. “And because the pellets are a co-product of ethanol, their use can dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of Nebraska ethanol in West Coast markets. These projects can offer a lot of value for both ethanol plants and feedstock producers, and Nebraska’s industries are well positioned to benefit.”

The Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Place Hotel (600 Q St.) in Lincoln at 8:30 a.m. March 29. Lindstrom and Rhodes will speak at approximately 9 a.m.

Gloves May Help Prevent Parkinson's Among Those in Ag

Clyde Ogg - Pesticide Safety Educator, Nebraska Extension

One key to pesticide safety is literally in the palm of your hand: wearing proper gloves.

In 2011 the Agricultural Health Study reported that study participants who used the herbicide paraquat or insecticide rotenone were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s as were people who didn’t. AHS has studied more than 89,000 farmers and their spouses since 1993 and continues to serve as a benchmark for agricultural health issues.

A 2015 AHS study update reports that wearing chemical-resistant gloves and changing clothes after using pesticides may help prevent Parkinson’s. The study showed that Parkinson’s was associated with applicators who did not wear gloves when applying paraquat or the insecticide permethrin. Parkinson’s was not associated with applicators who regularly wore gloves.

Gloves are only one part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) stipulated by the pesticide label to help pesticide handlers and applicators protect themselves.

At minimum PPE calls for gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes, and socks. How do you know what else to wear, such as goggles, respirators, and aprons?

The simple answer is: Check the label. The pesticide label is a legal document with all the details of using a particular product, including what gloves and other PPE to wear.

The Right Glove for the Job

All gloves are not the same. Chemical-resistant gloves, for example, are made of barrier laminate, butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, neoprene rubber, natural rubber, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or Viton®.

Glove Recommendations

-    Water-resistant is not chemical-resistant. Typical household, cotton, or leather gloves should never be used for protection from pesticides.
-    Never re-use any disposable, one-time use gloves or other PPE.
-    Glove length — such as elbow-length — also may be specified on the product label.
-    Chemical-resistant gloves for use with pesticides are unlined, to prevent the lining from absorbing any pesticide and transferring it to the wearer’s skin.
-    Before removing gloves, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Then, carefully remove gloves without touching skin or the glove’s interior.
-    Pesticide product labels undergo scheduled reevaluations and can be changed at any time —even within a season — due to new research and/or regulatory requirements. That’s why it’s imperative to read the entire label every time you buy a pesticide product and always follow label directions.

Agricultural Health Study

In February 2017, the AHS also reported that farm workers who have had a high pesticide exposure event — such as a spill — are more likely to experience molecular changes to DNA that may lead to certain cancers.

Other AHS studies are ongoing with pesticides and potential memory loss and kidney disease.

The Agricultural Health Study is a prospective study of cancer and other health outcomes in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses from Iowa and North Carolina. The AHS began in 1993 with the goal of answering important questions about how agricultural, lifestyle, and genetic factors affect the health of farming populations. The study is a collaborative effort of investigators from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

More than 89,000 farmers and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina have been involved in the study since 1993.

NePPA Announces Participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program. Participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program are:
  - Paul Segner operates a contract wean to finish operation as a production partner with the Maschhoffs near Friend.
  - Matthew Marquardt operates a small farrow to finish hog operation near Tekamah.
  - Justin Hankins of Omaha works for Farm Credit Services of America as a Swine Industry Credit Analyst.
  - Connor Sharp of Omaha works for Standard Nutrition Company and is responsible for overall marketing efforts, as well as regional training and business development activities for consultants.
  - Chad Moyer of Beemer works for the Nebraska Rural Radio Association as a Farm Broadcaster.
  - Brady McNeil of Columbus helps customers maximize genetic potential and provides technical support for DNA Genetics.

The 2017 Pork Leadership Program is comprised of six talented professionals. Each participant shares unique experiences that shape their perspective based on their particular career path as well as their personal involvements and interests.

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will participate in six meetings and activities over the course of a year, where they will learn about various aspects of the pork and agriculture industries.

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will learn more about:
·  Current and diverse pork production methods
·  Current research efforts to improve pork production as it relates to overall pig health and well-being
·  Current domestic issues and their impacts on the pork industry as it relates to economics and trade
·  Current policy and regulations being developed on the local, state, and national levels

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will:
·  Interact with the general public and elected leaders and will serve as positive advocates for the pork industry
·  Define their personal leadership style and know how to work with different leadership styles in a group
·  Develop a working knowledge of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and other key organizations that agriculture groups can work with to broaden perspectives and build coalitions

The Pork Leadership Program was created to build awareness, interest, and involvement in the pork industry. Members will further develop their skills as leaders and will naturally emerge as the next wave of active and engaged members of committees and board members at the local, state, and national levels.

Katie Jantzen of Plymouth Graduates from NFU's Beginning Farmers Institute

Beginning farmer, Katie Jantzen of Plymouth, graduated from the sixth class of the Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) of the National Farmers Union.  On March 4th, 17 beginning farmers from across the country received certificates at the awards banquet of the National Farmers Union (NFU) preceding the national convention in San Diego, California.

The Beginning Farmer Institute brings together beginning farmers for class sessions, discussions, and farm tours.  The first session of this year's class was held in Washington, D.C. and featured a tour of an urban farm, discussions on land access, and presentations on topics such as farm liability issues and farm policy.  At the second session, held in Salinas, California, participants toured several large-scale organic vegetable and berry farms as well as local food restaurants. At the final session in San Diego, the participants heard from speakers on topics ranging from farm succession issues to farm accounting and tax considerations.

Jantzen commented, "The real value of the program for me lies in the opportunity to network with such a diverse group of other young farmers from around the country.  This year's group represented organic vegetable farmers, conventional grain farmers, livestock operations, and fruit/nut farms. I appreciated the chance to get to know other beginning farmers from around the country to discuss common challenges we face and to share resources."

“Katie is a former Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) youth camper and youth camp counselor.  The BFI is Farmers Union’s effort to identify beginning farmers and help them acquire the financial and networking skills they need to get started in farming.  If we as farmers and as farm organizations want the next generation of young farmers to get started farming, we must aggressively work and take action to give them a foothold and running start in agriculture.  We are pleased that Katie participated in our BFI program and that it was helpful to her.  We are always pleased when we see young people that want to become involved in the noble profession of producing food for others,” said John Hansen, NeFU President.   Hansen urged anyone interested in the BFI program to contact the NeFU state office or Melissa Miller at NFU at (202-554-1600.

Applications for the 2017-2018 class are currently being accepted and can be found at

 Smith Recognizes National Agriculture Week

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) spoke on the House Floor today in recognition of National Agriculture Week.  Smith’s remarks were as follows:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of National Agriculture Week and the farmers and ranchers who have made Nebraska’s Third District the top-producing agriculture district in the country.

One in four Nebraska jobs is tied to agriculture.  The hard work and innovative practices of our producers have made our state a leader in feeding the world.

For too long, the heavy hand of the federal government has threatened agriculture’s future.

Thankfully, we have seen important victories under the Trump administration, including the beginning of the end for the EPA’s dangerous Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.

Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of our natural resources and take many steps to keep our water sources clean.

President Trump ordered a reset on WOTUS, agreeing farmers and ranchers deserve better than having Washington bureaucrats controlling the water puddles and irrigation ditches on their land.

As founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus, I will continue to promote policies designed to get the government out of the way and open more markets around the world for Nebraska producers.

Celebrating Agriculture

Governor Pete Ricketts

The spotlight will be on Nebraska’s number one industry this week as Nebraskans across the state celebrate National Ag Week.   I’ll be joining Nebraskans from Scottsbluff to Omaha at 11 events over three days to highlight how our state’s number one industry continues to grow Nebraska.  While commodity prices in many markets are lagging, there are many reasons to be optimistic about agriculture’s future in Nebraska.

Some may think growing agriculture only matters to our farm and ranch families, however, this $23 billion industry has a big economic impact on every part of our state.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, one in four jobs in Nebraska are agriculture-related.  In addition to our state’s 48,700 farms, ag-related industries employ Nebraskans who manufacture irrigation equipment in Hastings, process food in Omaha, and conduct research at the University in Lincoln among many other occupations.

Nebraska’s commodity production leads nationally in numerous categories.  In 2016, Nebraska ranked number one among all states for red meat production, cattle on feed, and Great Northern beans.  We rank second for our total number of cattle and calves, ethanol production, and pinto beans.  We are third in the nation for corn for grain production and corn exports.

These successes did not happen by accident – they happened because Nebraskans worked together to grow agriculture.  There are several successes over the past year we’ll be celebrating this week.  In 2016, six more counties received Livestock Friendly County designations, sending the message they are open to new livestock operations.  We cut red tape for ag producers with a new vehicle designation allowing them to move equipment without additional licensing.  In 2015, the Legislature and I put in place a new Livestock Siting Matrix to streamline the siting process for new projects.  Just in the last few months, Dodge County became the first county to adopt this matrix.  The county recently welcomed a new $1 billion investment from Costco, which is locating a new chicken processing plant in Fremont.  This investment alone is equivalent to approximately one percent of our state’s GDP!

Trade has been key to growing agriculture in Nebraska.  Over the past two years, we have led successful trade missions to the European Union, Japan, and China, and signed a new $400 million trade agreement with Taiwan.  This last week, I hosted my annual Governor’s Ag Conference where trade was front and center in the discussion.  Many ag producers are concerned about President Trump’s desire to renegotiate trade deals, which have helped open up markets for Nebraska’s commodities around the world.  In the opening days of the Trump Administration, I have urged the President to protect Nebraska agriculture, and to move quickly to negotiate trade deals favorable to Nebraska.

Nebraska’s ag producers have received good news from Washington recently.  Before President Trump took office, Nebraska was suing the federal government over burdensome regulations placed on our ag producers.   Shortly after President Trump was sworn in, he took swift action to roll back the Waters of the U.S., an onerous rule that threatened to hurt Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.  Rolling back this rule means Nebraska’s ag producers will retain more control over their ability to farm and ranch without interference from federal regulators.  The President has pledged to cut more red tape, and I am hopeful he will continue to do away with unnecessary regulations.

Tax reform will also help grow agriculture.  Over the last couple of years, the Legislature and I have worked to deliver meaningful property tax relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.  We have delivered over $400 million in direct property tax relief with an additional $40 million for our ag producers over the next two years.  I am currently working with senators to change the way we value ag land for taxation purposes.  Today, we value ag land based on market sales.  With the Agricultural Valuation Fairness Act, we would move to an income potential valuation system, which will help taxes track more closely with land values. 

Throughout National Ag Week, I will be visiting with Nebraskans about how we can work together to grow agriculture.  We must continue to grow agriculture to grow Nebraska, so the Good Life continues to provide the great opportunities the next generation is seeking.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share on the state of agriculture in Nebraska, I hope you will contact my office by emailing or by calling 402-471-2244.  We look forward to hearing from you!

ASA DuPont Young Leaders Explore Issues, Marketing During Training

The 33rd class of American Soybean Association (ASA) DuPont Young Leaders completed their training, Feb. 28 – March 3, 2017 in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio, Texas.

“For more than 30 years, the ASA DuPont Young Leader program has identified new and emerging leaders for the soybean industry. The program provides training that strengthens their voices while networking opportunities create a connected and more collaborative organization,” said ASA President Ron Moore. “We’re grateful to DuPont Pioneer and DuPont for their commitment to this program and for helping secure the future of the soybean industry.”

While in San Antonio, the Young Leaders participated in leadership and marketing training, issues updates and discussion and were recognized at ASA’s annual awards banquet.

The 2017 Class of Young Leaders includes: Cade Grace (AL); Layne & Ryane Miles (AR); Brock Willard (IL); Jonathan & Derika Spaetti (IN); Alex Brownlee (IA); Casey Schlichting (IA); Brandon & Blair Geiger (KS); Brett Neibling (KS); Kyle Bugg (KY); Mike & Lindsey Gaspard (LA); Angela & Wenceslaus Provost (LA); Andrew Crawford (MI); Matthew & Jessica Swoish (MI); Trevore Brekken (MN); Chad & Monica McCollough (MO); Blake Hokamp (NE); Leslie Hamilton & Dan Stein (NY); Greg Manning & Jessica Harris (NC); Kasey Bitz (ND); Trish Levering (OH); Jean Lam (OK); Jeff & Janie Harrison (Ontario, Canada); Justin & Jessica Rivers (SC); Nick & Shelly Lorang (SD); Rob Holman (TN); Doug & Britni Singleteary (TN); Grayson Kirby & Cindy Dykes (VA); Wes & Amanda Marshall (VA) and Tony & Katie Mellenthin (WI).

“This year’s class is a remarkable group of young leaders,” said Steve Reno, DuPont Pioneer vice president, business director -- U.S. & Canada. Reno spent time with the growers when they were in Johnston earlier this year and then again at Commodity Classic. “This year’s class has focused significant energy into taking on the challenges facing our industry. I’m proud of our continued commitment to this program and impressed by the leadership skills being demonstrated already by these young leaders.”

JBS to Acquire Plumrose USA Pork Company

JBS USA announced a definitive share purchase agreement with Danish Crown A/S to acquire the company's U.S.-based bacon, ham and deli meat business, Plumrose USA, for $230 million. It is anticipated that the proposed transaction would close during the second quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory review and approval, and customary closing conditions.

"Today's announcement is further demonstration of our commitment to disciplined growth through strategic acquisitions that further diversify our product portfolio, expand our branded offerings and strengthen our direct relationship with consumers," said Andre Nogueira, CEO, JBS USA Food Company.

The acquisition includes five prepared foods facilities, including one in Elkhart, Indiana, two in Council Bluffs, Iowa, one in Booneville, Mississippi, and one in Swanton, Vermont, and two distribution centers in South Bend, Indiana, and Tupelo, Mississippi, respectively. Plumrose offers an array of branded, prepared foods including bacon, hams, sliced deli meats and cooked ribs. Plumrose annual net revenues are estimated at $500 million.

The announced transaction is a clear continuation of the JBS global strategy to increase its presence in the prepared foods and branded product categories.

International Team Discovers Resistance Gene in Global Corn Threat

An Iowa State University agronomist has contributed to research identifying a corn gene that resists a virus that has caused substantial yield losses in most corn-cultivating countries.

Thomas Lubberstedt, a professor of agronomy, said the research will lead to crop varieties that can fight off sugarcane mosaic virus. The virus, in concert with maize chlorotic mottle virus, causes a condition known as maize lethal necrosis disease, which has led to total yield losses in East African fields. Maize lethal necrosis disease first appeared in Africa in 2011, most likely traveling from southeast Asia, and has become a major concern for African corn famers, Lubberstedt said.

"We hope our research can be used in countries where these viruses are present and contribute to getting these viruses under control," Lubberstedt said. "Ultimately, we want to help solve problems for farmers."

Sugarcane mosaic virus and closely related potyviruses threaten corn crops in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, though it hasn't been a major disease in the United States in recent years. The virus also infects sugarcane, sorghum and other crops.

Lubberstedt is a co-author of a study published this month in the peer-reviewed academic journal Molecular Plant detailing a possible genetic source of resistance to the virus. The study identifies a gene called Scmv1 that, when expressed at a high enough rate, helps corn plants fight off the virus.

The virus hijacks a protein in the plant related to photosynthesis that's critical for plant energy production and spreads from there, Lubberstedt said. Scmv1, the resistance gene, binds with the same photosynthesis protein and competes with the virus. If the gene is expressed at a high rate, it can stop the disease from spreading.

Lubberstedt has worked on corn trait mapping since the 1990s, but previous experiments managed to narrow down sugarcane mosaic virus resistance only to a cluster of genes. The new paper pinpoints the specific gene that governs resistance, which should make it possible to use transgenics and other methods to increase the expression of Scmv1 in plants.

The research was funded in part by the U.S. Agency of International Development. Lubberstedt worked with an international team on the project, led by long-term collaborator Mingliang Xu of China Agricultural University. The research benefited from a collaboration agreement struck by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and China Agricultural University, Lubberstedt said.

Study Dispels Claim of Female Teen Weight Gain from Dairy

Creighton University announced today groundbreaking research results, now published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) regarding dairy consumption and weight gain in adolescent females.

The study titled "The effect of increasing dairy calcium intake of adolescent girls on changes in body fat and weight" found that increasing dairy intake in adolescent girls neither decreases nor increases gain in percent body fat or weight compared to similar girls who do not increase dairy intake.

The study was done by Joan M Lappe, PhD, Criss/Beirne professor and associate dean of research, College of nursing and professor of medicine, Osteoporosis Research Center, Creighton University.

"In adults, studies show that increasing dairy food in overweight persons may result in weight loss," said Lappe. "Ours is the first study to test this concept in adolescent girls. Our findings indicate that moderate increases in dairy do not affect weight gain in adolescent girls."

Lappe added that this is positive news, as many adolescent girls avoid dairy because they are afraid of weight gain. However, girls in the adolescent age range need calcium for maximizing their peak bone mass, and dairy foods are the best source of calcium from the diet.

Full study results can be accessed at The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition website.

February Milk Production in the United States down 1.2 Percent

Milk production in the United States during February totaled 16.7 billion pounds, down 1.2 percent from February 2016. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,782 pounds for February, 33 pounds below February 2016.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.37 million head, 56,000 head more than February 2016, and 4,000 head more than January 2017.

Milk production in Iowa during February 2017 totaled 399 million pounds, up 1 percent from the previous February according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. However, production was up 5 percent when adjusted for the leap year. The average number of milk cows during February, at 216,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month, and 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,845 pounds, down 25 pounds from last February.

CWT Assists with 3.5 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 22 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 3.523 million pounds (1,598 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 19.102 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.375 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 207.252 million 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. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

US Infrastructure Report Card: Waterways, Dams Get Failing Grade

The nation's infrastructure received an average grade of D+ in the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 2017 Infrastructure Report Card released on March 9. The report is an assessment of the conditions of the nation's infrastructure across 16 categories.

Of the 16 categories graded, six are essential to the success of commodity shipments and, in particular, agriculture shipments. Those categories are bridges, which were graded C+, ports C+, railroads B, roads D-, levees D and inland waterways D.

While our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair, the poor condition of our inland waterways, specifically our aging locks and dams, remains a detriment to our infrastructure.

The U.S exports nearly one quarter of the grain it produces. When it comes time to move these crucial commodities to export grain elevators, barges account for the transporting of 61% of corn, 42% of soybeans, 40% of wheat and 26% of sorghum, according to the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).

Rabo AgriFinance Strengthens Partnership with National FFA Organization

For the past 12 years, Rabo AgriFinance has worked with the National FFA Organization to ensure the future of agriculture and agricultural education. Through a generous donation, Rabo AgriFinance has worked with FFA to provide FFA members the opportunity to grow into leaders, build their communities and strengthen agriculture.

In 2017, Rabo AgriFinance will serve as a Five Star sponsor. They currently support supervised agricultural experience grants, scholarships, the beef production-entrepreneurship proficiency as well as the Living to Serve platform.

“We appreciate that the goals and values of Rabo Agrifinance align with FFA and that they see agricultural education and FFA as a critical part of their industry and company success,” said Molly Ball, National FFA Foundation president.  “We are thankful for their increased support to become a Five Star sponsor.”

"Rabo AgriFinance understands the importance of supporting National FFA and youth in agriculture education as we were founded by farmers for farmers,” said Van Dewey, Rabo Agrifinance general manager/senior vice president west territory. “We have over 40 offices across the U.S. located in rural towns, agricultural centers and farming regions where our clients live and work and are proud to partner with such a great organization that is creating great leaders for the future. " 

With limited release of 10 new NK® Corn hybrids, Syngenta showcases advanced genetics, new naming system

Syngenta is offering an early look at its next wave of advanced genetics, releasing a limited quantity of 10 additional new NK® Corn hybrids for 2017 planting. They represent the company’s latest seed innovations and are the first to be identified by a new, more grower-friendly naming system.

The hybrids will be featured in 2017 trial plots and are available in limited commercial quantities this growing season, giving retailers and growers a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2018. The 10 hybrids join an existing portfolio including 22 other new NK Corn hybrids released for 2017 planting.

“Research and development drives innovation at Syngenta, and these new NK Corn hybrids are a direct result of those efforts – offering growers even more advanced seed choices,” said Joe Bollman, corn seed product manager at Syngenta.

Ranging from 89-day to 115-day relative maturities, the new hybrids are also equipped with Agrisure® traits to help protect genetic yield potential amid unexpected, adverse conditions. The Agrisure Artesian® trait enhances water optimization while Agrisure Duracade® and Agrisure Viptera® traits are two options for comprehensive corn insect control.

Additionally, the hybrids will be the first to feature a new naming structure designed to make NK Corn hybrids easier to identify. Using NK Corn hybrid NK0962-3022A brand as an example, this new structure is built as follows:
·         “NK” is the brand marker
·         The first two numbers reflect the last two digits of the hybrid’s relative maturity (“09” for 109-day maturity)
·         The final two numbers (in this case, “62”) are selected at random
·         A hyphen distinguishes genetics from traits
·         For hybrids that contain either the Agrisure Duracade or Agrisure Viptera traits, the name ends with four numbers (in this example, “3022”) aligned with the Agrisure traits nomenclature system to help classify stack technology
·         Hybrids that contain Artesian™ – like this one – end with the letter “A”

“It should be very easy for a grower to identify the relative maturity of an NK Corn hybrid. This was the thinking that drove our approach for a revamped NK Corn hybrid numbering system,” Bollman said.

The entire NK Corn portfolio will feature the new naming structure starting with 2018 seed sales. For additional information or to find an NK Retailer, visit

Brazil Meat Scandal Deepens

(AP) -- A scandal over alleged bribery by meatpackers to allow the sale of expired meat in Brazil deepened Monday as the European Union, China and Chile decided to halt some meat imports from Latin America's largest nation.

The developments represent a major blow to Brazil, one of the world's largest exporters of meat, which is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in decades.

The announcements came despite a flurry of meetings that Brazilian President Michel Temer held with ambassadors and numerous assurances from the government that Brazilian meats in general are safe.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, European Union spokesman Enrico Brivio said the Brazilian companies involved in alleged bribery would be temporarily barred from shipping meat to the EU.

The EU "will guarantee that any of the establishments involved in the fraud will be suspended," said Brivio, who didn't cite companies by name or say how long the ban would last.

A few hours later, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said China had suspended the unloading of Brazilian meats in Chinese ports. Maggi played down that development, saying Chinese authorities were in the process of asking for more information.

"There is no Chinese embargo," Maggi told reporters in Brasilia. "What we have are containers there that can't leave the port to local markets."

Chile followed suit, announcing the temporary suspension of Brazilian meats, said Angel Sartori, director of that country's Agricultural and Livestock Service.

On Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants involving the giant meatpackers JBS and BRF. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.

Investigators charge that the companies bribed health inspectors to overlook the sale of expired meats. The companies allegedly improve the appearance and smell of expired meats by using chemicals and cheaper products like water and manioc flour. Three plants have been shut down.

Temer called an emergency meeting Sunday with ambassadors of several countries. He assured them that Brazilian meats are safe and invited them to a Brazilian-style barbeque.

On Monday, Temer again sought to calm nerves, saying Brazil's meat industry should not be judged by a single investigation.

"The agro business for us in Brazil is very important and it should not be marred by a small nucleus (of bad actors), a small thing," he said, speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo.

Brazil was the world's largest producer of beef and veal in 2016 and one of the top exporters, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products.

On Monday, sanitation officials were out in force in several cities.

Marcia Rolim, head of Rio de Janeiro's municipal sanitary inspections, said routine investigations were being intensified in light of the investigation. Investigators collected several carts of meats for analysis. Some of the packages from at least one supermarket appeared to be rotten, with a greenish color.

Browsing meats on Monday at a supermarket, Carla Simone Macedo said she had periodically seen products that looked to be repackaged.

Antonio Fernando, another customer, said called investigation "an exaggeration."

"We have very good meats," he said, adding it was good to see more inspectors.

Friday March 17 Ag News

Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More!

Apply now to participate in the 2017 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference, Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! sponsored by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Extension, and the UNL Department of Animal Science.

The conference will be conducted from Wednesday afternoon, May 31st through approximately noon, Friday, June 2nd.

What Participants Experience

Participants will evaluate market animals, grade carcasses, fabricate carcasses into wholesale and retail cuts, and exercise basic culinary methods on a variety of different pork products.

Throughout the program, a conscientious effort will be made to highlight and discuss, within the context of other material, related industry and/or consumer issues. Additional lab activities include a hands-on genetics lab, a food safety lab, and a biosecurity and animal health activity. Not only will youth learn about pork as a wholesome food product, but they will also learn how the pork industry is using science to address many significant challenges.

Finally, various and engaging life skills activities will be intermixed throughout the program that focus on development of communication, leadership, and networking skills. Upon conclusion of this workshop, our youth will have a more thorough understanding of the product we produce, the consumers who purchase those products, and will have greater confidence in their ability to effectively communicate with one another regarding the many issues and challenges facing the pork industry.

Apply Today!

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high-school are encouraged to participate in the 2017 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference, Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! Applications will be reviewed and up to 32 students will be selected to participate.

The deadline to apply is April 1st. Please email a letter of recommendation in .PDF form from an advisor or educator to to complete your application.  More details are online at

Other than the youth’s transportation to and from Lincoln, there will be NO COST to participate. All lodging, meals, and conference materials are covered!


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

              What’s it cost to rent pasture this year?  Every year I get that question – and I hate it!  Fortunately, preliminary results from the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey were just released.

               As you know, pasture rent varies for many reasons.  Quality of the grassland, location of the pasture, fence, water, and management responsibilities, as well as tradition, individual relationships, and local demand all influence individual pasture rental rates.

               According to this year’s survey, the average monthly rent being paid to graze a cow-calf pair this grazing season is lowest in the West, the Panhandle, at just over thirty-five dollars per month.  The highest average rate is in the Northern District at a little more than sixty-one dollars per month.  All other districts are around fifty dollars per pair per month, plus or minus five dollars.  Projecting these rates over a five-month grazing period, it will cost an average of one hundred seventy-five to three hundred dollars to graze a cow-calf pair for the summer.

               Now please note that these are only averages.  Some pastures in Nebraska are being rented for as little as twenty dollars per pair per month, maybe even less.  Other pastures cost up to ninety dollars.

               Overall, pasture rent per cow-calf pair month dropped 5 to 10 percent compared to last year.  This is similar to the drop in cropland rental rates and reflects the decline in row crop and cattle prices the past couple of years.

               Pastures are a major resource for the ranching and cattle industry in Nebraska and pasture rent is a critical factor in the financial well-being of both landlords and tenants.  Knowing what other pastures are renting for can help you negotiate a fair rate for yours.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association will host a two-and-a-half-day course about new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations affecting animal food in the grain and feed industry. The course, developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), will be held March 28-30, 2017, at the Country Inn and Suites in Lincoln. A $75 registration fee covers course materials.  Participants who complete the course will receive a FSPCA certificate that is needed to comply with FDA regulations.

“Those involved in the grain and feed industry want to know more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and how it impacts daily operations,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “This course allows participants a place to discuss these regulations in detail and will provide answers to questions regarding compliance requirements.”

Course topics include: regulatory overview, current Good Manufacturing Practices, animal food safety hazards, overview of the Food Safety Plan, hazard analysis, preventive controls components and processes, and recall plans.

To register for the course, contact Sara Bishop at the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association at (402) 476-6174 or by email at More information about the course can be found at:

Consolidated Ag Solutions Welcomes Jeff Grawe as President/CEO

Consolidated Ag Solutions, Inc. (CAS) is pleased to announce the hiring of Jeff Grawe as President/CEO. He will be responsible for the strategic direction and project execution of CAS.  Grawe comes to CAS from Central Valley Ag where he worked as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Projects. Prior to this, he served as Vice President-Relationship Manager for CoBank and was the owner of Heartland Strategies Business Consulting. Grawe, replaces Robert (Bob) Dude.

CAS is an innovative cooperative formed and founded in 2015 to create strategic advantage for three forward thinking cooperatives, Central Valley Ag (York, NE), Landus Cooperative (Ames, IA) and South Dakota Wheat Growers (Aberdeen, SD). 

“We are excited to have Jeff accept the position of CEO/President, his background and experience will be a valuable asset for CAS as we develop new opportunities for the three cooperatives and their respective member-owners,” said Carl Dickinson, Chairman of the Board for Consolidated Ag Solutions. “We look forward to the leadership that Jeff will provide, and the progress that CAS will enjoy going forward.”

Grawe has a BA in Finance Management from Loras College in Dubuque, IA and a MBA in Finance from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, MO. In addition, he also is a graduate of the Land O’ Lakes Executive Development Program and the Institute for Cooperative Leadership from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.

Jeff and his wife Shelley have a son and a daughter and reside in the Omaha, Ne area.

Consolidated Ag Solutions (CAS) is a cooperative collaboration between Central Valley Ag (York, NE), Landus Cooperative (Ames, IA) and South Dakota Wheat Growers (Aberdeen, SD). CAS is focused on creating strategic advantages and pooling resources to create efficiencies and value for the members of each cooperative partner. You can find more information about Consolidated Ag Solutions by visiting

Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Amaranth Confirmed in South-Central Nebraska

Amit Jhala - NE Extension Weed Management Specialist

In 2016, control failure of a Palmer amaranth population following sequential glyphosate applications was observed in a grower’s field under glyphosate-resistant corn-soybean rotation in Thayer County in south-central Nebraska. Palmer amaranth seeds were collected from that field and greenhouse dose response studies were conducted to confirm its suspected resistance to glyphosate and to determine the level of resistance.

Dose response analysis was performed to estimate the ED90 (effective dose required to control 90% population) values for the glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth compared with two glyphosate-susceptible Palmer amaranth populations. Based on the ED90 value, glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth exhibited a 37- to 40-fold level of resistance depending on the susceptible Palmer amaranth population being used for comparison.  For example, glyphosate─susceptible populations were controlled 90% at a glyphosate rate of 9-10 fl oz/acre, while 365 fl oz/acre was required for glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth control. This is 17 times the labeled rate (22 fl oz).

The evolution of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth in south-central Nebraska is of great concern as glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in glyphosate-resistant corn and glyphosate-resistant soybean and would not be effective in controlling this weed anymore. Moreover, a Palmer amaranth population with resistance to PS II- and HPPD-inhibitors was reported in a seed corn field within 10 miles proximity.

Glyphosate is the most widely used agricultural pesticide globally and glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth populations have been reported in 26 states due to the continuous and repeated use of glyphosate for weed control. In Nebraska glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth had previously been confirmed in the southwest.

Half of Iowa Farmers Interested in Cover Crops

More than half of Iowa's farmers are interested in cover crops. In Iowa State University Extension's Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll, 20.6 percent of farmers used cover crops in 2015 and another 33.5 percent said they might use it in the future.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says it's encouraging to see those numbers, "It also shows the potential for significant growth in acreage of cover crops. In many cases farmers are trying cover crops on a limited acreage and then starting to expand that as they become more familiar with the practice and better understand how it fits into their farming operation."

For other conservation practices, 42 percent of farmers say they used no-till practices in 2015, with another 20 percent who might use it in the future. And while fewer than a percent used bioreactors, more than 15 percent are interested in trying it out.

The poll sent surveys to more than 2,000 farmers, about 1,000 responded. Participants averaged 65 years old, with larger than average farms at a mean of 450 acres.

Producers Invited to Field Days on Successful Cover Crop Use in Beef Production

Producers interested in learning more about cover crops and how to successfully incorporate their use in both stocker cattle and cow-calf operations are invited to two field day events in northwest Iowa on Tuesday, April 11. Erika Lundy, extension beef program specialist with Iowa Beef Center said the events will be held on the same day in two different locations. There’s no cost to attend either site.

“The morning session will be held at the Iowa State University Allee Research Farm near Newell, 2030 640th Street, and will focus on using stocker cattle to graze cereal rye,” Lundy said. “This session runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with presenters from Iowa State University -- extension field agronomists Joel DeJong and Mike Witt, and extension beef specialist Beth Doran.”

Rebecca Vittetoe, ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist said other presenters will offer information on cover crop termination and management going into corn.

“Mark Hanna, ISU Extension and Outreach agricultural engineer, will talk about planter settings and managing row crops being planted into cover crops,” she said. “Michael Henderson, Area 1 agronomist with Natural Resources Conversation Service, will describe cost share options and crop insurance considerations when integrating cover crops into a row crop system.”

Following the Allee field day, producers are invited to travel to the Mark Schleisman farm located at 1635 365th Street, Lake City, for a complimentary lunch. The afternoon field day there will run from noon to 3 p.m.

“This program will look at cover crop planting and grazing strategies for cow-calf production,” Lundy said. “Topics for the afternoon session include cover crop economics, herbicide considerations for grazing and establishing cover crops, and soil compaction.”

There is no cost for either field day thanks to the sponsorship of ISU Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Center, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and Practical Farmers of Iowa. However, those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to ensure adequate meal and materials. To RSVP, contact Alisha Bower of PFI by phone at 515-232-5661 or email

Iowa cattlemen come together to help wildfire victims

Statewide Wildfire Relief Fundraiser April 7

Over the past two weeks, as cattlemen across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas fell victim to wildfires, there has been an overwhelming desire among Iowa cattlemen to help. In response, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation are partnering with DreamDirt Farm and Ranch Real Estate on an online auction fundraiser.

The most immediate need has been for hay to feed the surviving cattle. Many Iowans have stepped up and donated hay already, and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is helping facilitate these donations, matching donations with transportation. Governor Branstad today issued a disaster proclamation lifting restrictions on oversize and overweight loads of forage throughout the state of Iowa, to help facilitate these donations.

“Our cattlemen across the state are eager to help brethren cattlemen and women recover from these devastating fires,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “We are grateful for the governor’s support of our relief efforts.”

While forage donations continue to come in, additional needs continue to surface for those affected. Milk replacer for orphan calves, fencing materials, and seed to re-establish pasture are merely a few examples. But as the needs grow diverse throughout the recovery process, cash donations will be important to those affected.

Many county cattlemen’s associations and individual ICA members have already begun to organize generous relief efforts. The online auction idea was a result of the same desire to help felt by many in Iowa’s cattle industry.

“We couldn’t stand by and not do something. We know how to raise money and the idea of an online auction quickly made its rounds in our office.  We approached the good folks at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association with our idea to give Midwesterners a way to donate to the relief efforts and they were on board from the first contact and have worked with us for days to get this up and running,” says Jason Smith, DreamDirt.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, a 503(c) nonprofit organization, will coordinate the donations and auction proceeds, with 100% of the funds going to help the affected ranchers. Parties interested in donating items to the auction or taking part in the auction should visit for more information.


Former Georgia Gov. George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of agriculture, finally will get a hearing on his nomination. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry next Thursday, March 23rd will hold a hearing to consider him.

Trump tapped Perdue, who is a veterinarian and businessman, Jan. 19. He served on Trump’s agricultural advisory team during the 2016 presidential campaign. Perdue was governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, and prior to that, he served in the Georgia Senate for 10 years. In his two terms as governor, Perdue presided over the state’s top-performing agricultural economy. He grew up on a row crop farm in central Georgia and owned agricultural businesses.



President Trump this week announced he will nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo to be chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The CFTC oversees and regulates the futures markets, which farmers use to manage risk. It ensures the futures, options and swaps markets work properly and helps deter and prevent fraud and manipulation.

Giancarlo, who was sworn in as a commissioner on the five-member CFTC in June 2014, was named acting chairman on Trump’s first day in office. He is expected to have a nomination hearing soon before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Strong Trade Numbers and Good Technicals

Stephen R Koontz, Ag and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

The market fundamentals news released last week was excellent for all the meat production sectors.  The USDA released meat and poultry trade data last week for the month of January.  The main conclusion from the information is that exports were stronger and imports were weaker.  And this is in the face of a continuing strong dollar.  The U.S. dollar did not strengthen appreciably in January but did rally to two-year highs during the last half of 2016.  This is likely when the export sales occurred.  The relatively low meat prices - as opposed to any dollar incentive - are creating exports opportunities and limited economic incentive to import.

During the month of January, U.S. beef export tonnage was up 21% year-over-year.  Beef exports are rather seasonal and usually peak in July.  However, last year exports strengthened almost every month and finished the year at monthly well above those of the summer.  This year started very strong compared to prior January but not to December.  The seasonal pattern appears to be returning.  Exports were the largest since the early 2000s.  Year-over-year, exports were up 41% for both Japan and Mexico, followed by 38% for South Korea, and 10.5% for Canada.  Increases greater than 10% were seen for exports to the major destinations of Vietnam and Taiwan.  Further, for January, beef import tonnage continued its relative decline.  Imports were steady compared to December and down 25% compare to the prior year's January.  Imports from Australia accounted for most of the decrease and were down 47% compared to the prior year.

The 2016 and January 2017 information communicates that price drives trade and not the reverse - it is not trade or specifically imports that drive meat prices lower.  Low cattle, beef, and other protein prices drive exports and it is not imports that are the cause of the low prices.  It's in the data.

And the news is not just specific to cattle and beef markets.  The trade data show strong export and weak import performance for pork and poultry.  Why should readers of, "In the Cattle Markets" care?  Exported protein does not weigh on domestic markets.  Exported pork and poultry is not consumed in the U.S. where increased supplies of both would necessitate lower price for both and for beef through a substitution effect.  Pork exports were 20% higher than the prior year.  Mexico and South Korea drove those gains with 36% and 34% increases.  And exports to Japan were up 6%.  Also during January, pork imports off 14% from the prior year.  For poultry, exports increased 12% compared to the prior year.  January was strong and is typically a weaker month.  Another underlying story is that poultry exports were very broad based.

All in all, the export and import perspective is very solid news for U.S. protein producers and for cattle and beef producers.

What do the technical say?  There continues to be bullish news here.  The long-term down trends seen on most weekly live and feeder cattle charts are clearly pressured.  They are not solidly broken but have been pressured through March.  Daily charts show strong rallies off the October-November lows.  There were very modest corrections during January and February following these rallies.  But during March most of the contracts are no longer correcting and are instead approaching January's highs.  The technical communicate that the collapse of 2015-16 is over.  Technical patterns for 2017 will likely be sideways as the herd expansion and trade dynamics manifest.

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC Announces New VANDAL MOC Soybean Herbicide

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC announces the US EPA registration for VANDAL MOC, a combination of sulfentrazone plus metolachlor. VANDAL MOC is a great addition to the Innvictis premix line up and will provide a cost effective alternative to Authority Elite and BroadAxe.

VANDAL MOC is a multi-mode of action soybean herbicide offering long lasting residual and broad spectrum grass and broad leaf control. It is especially effective on glyphosate resistant weeds such as waterhemp and amaranth. With a flexible application window and 45 to 60 days residual, VANDAL MOC is an easy choice for soybean farmers.

“A good soybean production plan starts with excellent weed control. Having a pre-emergent herbicide product that incorporates a multi-mode of action approach is crucial. VANDAL MOC is our first line of defense which offers both group 14 and 15 MOA support for an excellent addition in our soybean production system,” says Will Scott, Tech Services and Market Development Manager for INNVICTIS.

VANDAL MOC is labeled for use in soybeans both pre-plant and pre-emerge. It is also labeled for use in sunflowers and dry shelled peas.

Thursday March 16 Ag News

Newly Elected Leaders of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Look Forward to Future

New officers for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) were elected during the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Board meeting on March 6, 2017.

Jim Bendfeldt from the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) was re-elected as President of the association. Bendfeldt is a retired farmer/feeder from Kearney. He has been a member of the Central Platte Natural Resources District Board for 13 years and served as Vice-President from 2014-16 and Secretary-Treasurer from 2012-14. In 2011, Bendfeldt was awarded the NARD Director of the Year. Currently, Bendfeldt also serves on the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Board as a land acquisition member.

“The Natural Resources Districts have helped protect Nebraska’s natural resources for the last 45 years,” President of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Jim Bendfeldt said. “I’m honored to serve as the NARD President and look forward to the future.”

The NARD Board re-elected Larry Reynolds from Tri-Basin Natural Resources District (TBNRD) as Vice-President. Reynolds has been a member of the TBNRD Board for 32 years and served in the United States Air Force for eight years and in the Nebraska Air National Guard for 18 years. Reynolds currently farms and helps manage the family cow/calf operation near Lexington. Reynolds served as Secretary-Treasurer from 2014-16.

“The NRDs are making huge strides when it comes to creating a sustainable Nebraska,” Vice-President of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Larry Reynolds said. “I’m honored to be a part of an organization that’s the envy of the nation.”

The NARD Board elected Shane Rippen as Secretary/Treasurer. Rippen has served as the Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD) representative to the NARD Board since January 2016. Rippen was elected in 2015 to the Middle Republican NRD Board. He farms with his father near Culbertson. The irrigated and dryland operation includes cattle, soybeans and corn. Rippen is the fourth generation on the family farm.

“Every day, the NRDs work to conserve the state’s natural resources,” Secretary/Treasurer of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Shane Rippen said. “I’m excited to be a part of such an innovative and hard-working organization.”

The officers serve on the NARD executive committee along with chairs from the Information and Education committee, Legislative committee and the past NARD Board President. Bendfeldt re-appointed Jim Johnson from South Platte Natural Resources District (SPNRD) as chair of the Information and Education committee and Jim Meismer, Twin Platte Natural Resources District (TPNRD), as chair of the Legislative and Government Affairs committee.

Terry Martin from the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD), will serve on the executive committee as the past NARD Board President. Martin has served 17 years on the URNRD Board and currently is board Chairman. He has served 10 years as an NARD Board representative. Martin previously held the President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer positions.

The NARD Board consists of representation from each of the 23 local NRDs. The board members meet five times throughout the year and help guide the association and the NRDs in decision-making that protects lives, protects property and protects the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.

At the March 1, 2017 NRD Managers meeting, Mike Sousek, Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Manager, was elected as Chair of the Managers Committee and John Berge, General Manager of the North Platte Natural Resources District (NPNRD), was elected Vice-Chair of the Managers Committee. The Managers Committee includes managers from all 23 districts. The committee meets five times a year to coordinate NRD activities with state and federal agencies, conservation partners and other parties to protect natural resources.


A new publication from Nebraska Extension focuses on one of the nation's most debated topics: petroleum pipelines.

"Assessing Petroleum Pipelines – Facts and Safety" was written by Steven S. Sibray, geoscientist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, and Douglas R. Hallum, hydrogeologist at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte. The publication does not take sides or answer every question about pipelines, according to the authors. Rather, it gathers factual information to facilitate discussion.

Readers will find sections on the historical and social context of pipelines; some basic facts about construction, engineering and preventive safety measures; a look at the human and environmental impacts of spills and leaks; and ways to detect and respond to spills.

Many miles of pipeline run beneath Nebraska, Sibray said. In many locations, they cross surface water bodies such as streams and rivers. Many existing pipelines are natural gas lines that people rely on to heat their homes, he said.

"Today natural gas is plentiful and relatively cheap as a result of the development of horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing," Sibray said.

Pipelines date back to the 19th century. Natural gas has been extracted since 1821, but natural gas pipelines didn't become important nationally until after World War II. More than 25 million miles of pipeline run underneath the United States.

According to the publication, residential natural gas pipelines are present in much of the United States and distribute natural gas to customers in 79 counties in Nebraska. Large interstate petroleum transmission lines cross under large parts of Nebraska and surrounding states.

"When we build new pipelines, we're modernizing the overall ability to transport petroleum across the country," Hallum said.

The topic of spills, leaks and their consequences is also included in the publication. It features a list of selected pipeline spills and various incidents from 1950 through 2015, including about a half-dozen Nebraska occurrences. Several case studies describe spills and leaks, and their consequences, in more depth.

The human role in pipeline monitoring is vital, the authors said, even with advanced leak-detection technology. The publication notes that modern pipelines are cleaner and safer than they used to be. The volume of spilled material has declined by more than 70 percent in the past 50 years.

Sibray and Hallum said they hope the new publication is a meaningful contribution to the pipeline discussion.

"The goal was to create a succinct document that had a lot of information that would allow a casual reader to spend five minutes and get something out of it, but also have enough information that you could spend a significant amount of time and really dig into the meat of what's going on,” Hallum said.

To view the publication online, visit

USDA Confirms Second Avian Flu Case in Tennessee

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee. It is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case.

Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee's Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun. Federal and State partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.

The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA works with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

USDA will be informing the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ?F kills bacteria and viruses.

Wild waterfowl are natural hosts for avian influenza, including H5 and H7, and can shed the virus without appearing sick. These low pathogenic viruses can mutate to highly pathogenic forms after introduction to poultry. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Wilkins Testifies to House Ag on Importance of Research Funding in Farm Bill

American Soybean Association (ASA) Chairman Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del., testified Thursday on the significant role that public-sector research plays in continuing the stream of technological innovations that drive the agriculture industry. Wilkins testified in his capacity as vice president of the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NCFAR) before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research.

In his testimony, Wilkins spoke to the user-driven nature of the public-sector research industry, and how stakeholders from all points in the farm-to-consumer supply chain benefit from robust agricultural research.

“Tools provided through publicly funded research, extension and education are needed to help achieve safer, more nutritious, convenient and affordable foods delivered to sustain a well-nourished, healthy population; more efficient and environmentally friendly food, fiber and forest production; improved water quality, land conservation, wildlife and other environmental conditions; less dependence on non-renewable sources of energy; expanded global markets and improved balance of trade; and more jobs and sustainable rural economic development,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins advocated continued funding and support for the intermural and extramural research functions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To accomplish these funding goals, Wilkins noted the active role that NCFAR as a customer-led coalition plans on the research title of the 2018 Farm Bill.

“The research title of the farm bill represents the nation’s signature federal investment in the future of the food and agricultural sector,” Wilkins said. “In fact, the success of every other title in the farm bill and those who are charged with carrying out their respective missions is arguably dependent in significant part on scientific outcomes and tools generated by programs authorized through the research title, and then funded by Congress.”

Wilkins testified to the danger that the current lack of attention to the public research system presents in terms of missed opportunity for innovation.

“We as a nation are not investing enough in in publicly funded research to permit discovery necessary to regain and then maintain our nation’s place as the leader in agricultural research,” Wilkins said. “Federal funding for food and agricultural research, extension and education has been essentially flat for over 20 years despite much greater demonstrated needs, and has reportedly declined by about 25 percent in real terms since 2003. At the same time support for other federal research has increased substantially. Our nation’s competitiveness in global markets is at risk, as investments in food and agricultural science by our global competitors have been growing rapidly.“

Ag groups conduct 'substantive, productive' meeting with Trump administration on trade

Executive staff leaders from 11 major U.S. agricultural and agribusiness organizations commended the Trump administration for engaging in a substantive and productive meeting yesterday focused on the importance of continued growth of U.S. food and agriculture exports.

The meeting followed a series of written communications to the Trump administration from the broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, as well as a number of the individual organizations, stressing the importance of agricultural trade. Those communications also have expressed an eagerness on behalf of the food and agriculture sector to work actively and constructively with the administration in preserving the major benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the sector while seeking further improvements to modernize the 23-year-old accord, as well as to reinvigorate trade negotiations with important U.S. agricultural trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn participated in the meeting with representatives from the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and USA Rice.

"It is clear from this meeting and other interactions that the Trump administration understands the importance, and intends to pursue expansion, of U.S. food and agriculture exports, which contribute to U.S. manufacturing, job creation and economic growth," the groups said following the meeting. "We are committed to offering substantive proposals and ideas, and look forward to further opportunities to work with the administration and its trade team as they develop specific strategies for engaging in trade negotiations with our most important trading partners. We are pleased that we received assurances from the Trump team that it will take us up on that offer."

During the meeting, the agricultural organizations noted that 95 percent of their potential customers live beyond the U.S. border, and that the diverse food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs, creates more than $423 billion in annual U.S. economic activity, and is the single largest U.S. manufacturing sector, representing 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs. 

NAWG Expresses Concern about President’s Budget Proposal

Today, President Donald Trump issued his first budget proposal, covering Fiscal Year 2018, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”  After reviewing the budget document, NAWG President David Schemm, a wheat grower from Sharon Springs, Kansas issued the following statement:

“While we’re pleased that this budget outline doesn’t include any cuts to crop insurance or Title 1 farm programs, we are very concerned about the impact that the deep discretionary cuts, particularly at USDA, will have on wheat farmers across the country,” said Schemm.  “Many of the proposals in the budget blueprint would have an outsized impact on rural America, particularly the possible cuts to agricultural research and to USDA county offices. Given the rough economic conditions and perpetual low prices, now is not the time to make such drastic cuts.”

The budget blueprint, which is the President’s recommendation to Congress about areas to prioritize funding, includes a reduction from the FY 2017 level of $22.6 billion down to $17.9 billion in discretionary spending, a 21 percent reduction, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  NAWG is concerned about what these cuts could mean for wheat research, the functionality of farm programs resulting from cuts to NASS and USDA county offices, rural infrastructure programs, and anti-hunger programs like the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program.  The blueprint also contains a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  While NAWG believes the EPA needs to be reined in, NAWG wants to ensure that the agency is funded at a level that allows for timely work on registration review of crop protection tools and evaluation of new products.  Growers rely on EPA to evaluate the safety of crop protection tools and they need to do so in an efficient and effective manner.

“As the budget process gets underway, we will work with the House and Senate to ensure a common-sense approach to their proposals for FY18 Budget and Appropriations,” said Schemm.  “We will also work with the Trump Administration regarding support for important farm safety net programs to ensure they are not subject to mandatory spending cuts or limitations as additional budget details are released this spring. Let’s also remember the $23 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years that was generated by the 2014 Farm Bill.  USDA programs generated budget savings and continue to do so, as shown by the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that the 2014 Farm Bill actually reduced spending by $100 billion over ten years.”

President’s Budget Shuns Rural America with Deep Cuts to Agriculture, Programs Serving Rural America

President Donald J. Trump issued his fiscal year 2018 federal budget blueprint today, calling for a drastic reduction in spending on agriculture and rural related agencies and programs. Lamenting further cuts being proposed for agriculture, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“Family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring the worst farm economy in well over a decade and an inadequate safety net that is hamstrung by $23 billion in budget cuts. The last thing our members need right now is more cuts to agencies and programs that provide incredibly important work, especially in the midst of the current farm crisis. These cuts and the message they send to rural America are deeply disappointing.

“President Trump’s budget blueprint calls for a $4.7 billion cut to USDA, which equates to a 21 percent drop for programs that serve rural and farming communities across the U.S. This huge cut to discretionary spending will put rural development, food safety, conservation and research programs on the chopping block.

“The proposal recommends eliminating the Senior Community Service Employment Program that provides job training for older unemployed Americans. This program serves older Americans across the country, but is critical at addressing the challenges faced by older people in rural America.

“The President’s blueprint also provides for a $2.6 billion cut to EPA funding. This 31 percent drop guts the agency’s ability to provide very important environmental services and pesticide approval. It even limits the administration’s ability to rewrite or remove the unnecessary regulations that the President promised to address. Regulatory relief comes from having a system that works.

“To this point, the president has put the needs of rural America and agriculture on the backburner, and, in many cases, on the chopping block. We call on Congress to reject these budget cuts and adopt funding levels that ensure the success and vibrancy of farming communities and rural America.”

Saudi Arabia Ramps Up U.S. DDGS Purchases

US Grains Council

A recent sale of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to Saudi Arabia is an example of an increasingly diverse number of markets interested in the feed product and the impact of sustained market development in areas showing potential for long-term growth.

Last month, Saudi buyers purchased 18,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS, a relatively large amount and a dramatic increase from total sales of just 8,400 metric tons in 2014.

While the dairy and poultry sectors in Saudi Arabia are large and modern with an estimated annual compound feed demand of 6.9 million metric tons, the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) progress in persuading the Saudi industry to utilize DDGS has been limited by shipping distance and local subsidies that did not incentivize use of the product.

Now, those policies are changing, and DDGS is priced well in the market. As a result, Saudi buyers - and others in the region including in Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Pakistan - are taking a closer look at U.S. DDGS.

The recent purchase is a clear signal to the Council to continue market development, training and marketing efforts in Saudi Arabia to help capture the half million tons of estimated DDGS demand from buyers there.

Ramy Hadj Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, will visit Saudi Arabia in March as part of the Council's efforts to promote U.S. grains and co-products to Saudi importers and end users. In addition, the Council is working with agribusiness members on logistical challenges.

“The timing of the purchases by Saudi Arabia could not be better,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director for global strategies. “The DDGS export market has been under pressure with a slowdown in exports to key markets like China and Vietnam. However, other countries like Saudi Arabia are helping to fill that void.

“Total DDGS exports are down only 2 percent from last marketing year, highlighting the importance of the Council’s marketing efforts and the ability to respond quickly to changing trade flows.”

National Biodiesel Day gives communities something to celebrate

Rudolf Diesel couldn’t have imagined how far his vision would have come by 2017. In the U.S., nearly 3 billion gallons of clean, renewable fuel replacing its petroleum counterpart. A thriving and growing diesel vehicle market. And 64,000 jobs supported by biodiesel, many the highest paying jobs in the area.

Diesel, who invented the engine that bears his name, ran early models on peanut oil, and was an ardent believer in vegetable oil-based fuel. That’s why the biodiesel industry honors Diesel by making his birthday, March 18, National Biodiesel Day.

“For National Biodiesel Day, we’re highlighting the people who make this industry great. American biodiesel has infused jobs and prosperity in communities throughout the nation,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “Rudolph Diesel would be proud.”

Here are just five of the impressive stories from the manufacturing sector of America’s Advanced Biofuel:

    Lead Technician, Hero BX. Jim Wilwohl serves as a shift foreman, overseeing a four-man crew at biodiesel producer Hero BX in Erie, Penn. With a capacity of more than 45 million gallons per year, the plant employs about 50 people. Born and raised in Erie, Wilwohl says the plant has some of the best manufacturing jobs in the area. “I like that my job is part of a green industry,” Wilwohl said. “It’s nice to work in a modern facility, and we have what I consider great pay, benefits and profit sharing.”

    Owner, Emergent Green Energy. Matthew Jaeger grew up on a Kansas farm, and his brother Luke’s vision of producing fuel for their equipment spurred the beginning of EGE Biodiesel. Based in Minneola, Kan., EGE is a family agricultural-based business specializing in the delivery of American biodiesel to local and regional customers. With multi-feedstock capabilities, the company partners with local farmers, and with restaurants to recycle cooking oil and grease for use in the production of biodiesel. “Our success in producing biodiesel has led us in other directions of business, all connected back to the goal of helping farmers and adding value to what they do for other customers,” said Matthew Jaeger.

    Plant Chemist, Louis Dreyfus Company. Mike Morgan heads special projects, testing method development and validation in the laboratory for the largest fully integrated soybean processing and biodiesel plant in the U.S.  Located in Claypool, Ind., the annual capacity for biodiesel production is 110 MGPY. Morgan first became passionate about biodiesel while in college at Utah State University, serving as a co-chair of NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. He also used biodiesel he made at USU to set record speeds on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    Quality Consultant. Kent Bullard has served as an auditor for BQ-9000, the biodiesel industry’s voluntary quality assurance program, since 2004. With a master’s degree in quality assurance, he has audited 38 producers, marketers and labs. Auditors like Bullard have helped the program become a success; certified producers now account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. biodiesel volume. As a user himself, Bullard is also considered a biodiesel pioneer. While serving as fleet manager at Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Los Angeles, he led one of the first biodiesel programs at a national park, from 2000 until he retired in 2012.

    General Manager, Western Iowa Energy. An accountant by trade, Brad Wilson spent several years as a financial auditor, mainly auditing grain cooperatives. He became president and general manager of the facility in Wall Lake, Iowa, in 2016. The multi-feedstock plant recently grew from 30 to 45 MGPY and employs 30 people, many with young families in the town of about 800 residents. “It’s gratifying to me knowing that we provide green jobs with good pay in a community that benefits greatly from the economic development that brings,” Wilson said. “Our workers in turn support the schools and local housing market, among other things. Our plant also contributes to other businesses in the area, from family farms, to truckers to the railway.”

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry.

Wednesday March 16 Ag News

Nebraska Agricultural Land Values Decline an Average of 10% 
Jim Jansen - Agricultural Systems Economics Extension Educator

Preliminary findings from the 2017 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey conducted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln indicate that as of February 1, 2017, the weighted average farmland value declined by about 10% over the prior 12-month period to $2,805 per acre. This decline marks the third consecutive year of downward pressure totaling to approximately 15% for the weighted average farmland value in Nebraska. Farmland value peaked in 2014 at $3,315 per acre.

The southeast district saw the largest decline at 15% averaged across all land classes ($4840/acre). The south ($3985/acre) and north ($1180/acre) districts, at 6% and 5% respectively, saw the smallest average declines. Other declines by district, averaged across all land classes, were: southwest (12%, $1720/acre), central (11%, $3360/acre), northeast (10%, $5410/acre), east (9%, $6330/acre), and northwest (8%, $755/acre).

Lower commodity prices in 2016-2017 and concerns about water resources were reported as key pressures on the ag land market and cash rental rates.

Jansen wrote "Survey participants expressed the availability of water for irrigation and policies guiding the utilization of this resource as potentially negative forces in the market value of these two land classes [gravity- and pivot-irrigated] into the future. Technological advancements in the application of irrigation water might be able to enhance the utilization of these resources and offset potential challenges."

Expenses related to owning land, including rising property taxes, were also a major factor reported as influencing rental rates.

Report Highlights

The largest price declines by land classes, on a statewide weighted average, occurred in dryland cropland with irrigation potential at 13%, followed by tillable grazing land at 12%.

Dryland cropland without irrigation potential and nontillable grazing land reported the next highest rate of decline at about 10% across Nebraska, with the sharpest declines noted in the central, southwest, and south districts at about 15%.

For nontillable grazing land the highest rates of decline, ranging from 13% to 18%, were reported for the central, east, and southwest districts.

Center pivot irrigated cropland in the northwest, southwest, and southeast districts dropped 13% to 16%; other districts recorded declines of 5% to 7%.

Gravity irrigated cropland in the northwest and southeast districts followed similar double-digit deteriorations.

Rental Rates

Irrigated cropland rental rates on average declined 5% to 10% across Nebraska. Eastern Nebraska districts along with the southwest district recorded the highest declines, ranging from 9% to 12% for center pivot irrigated cropland.

Pasture and cow-calf pair rental rates fell 5% to 15% across Nebraska.

The preliminary findings from the 2017 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey reported in the March 15, 2017 Cornhusker Economics, include ag land values and cash rental rates for eight districts in Nebraska plus a weighted state average. The districts, the same ones used by USDA Agricultural Statistics Service, are northwest, north, northeast, central, east, southwest, south, and southeast Nebraska.

Growth Energy CEO to Speak at Ethanol 2017: Emerging Issues Forum

Ethanol and biofuels experts from across the nation will be in Omaha for the annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum April 13-14 at the La Vista Conference Center. Gov. Pete Ricketts will open the event issuing a welcome address to attendees.

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, is one of the featured speakers April 14. Growth Energy represents producers and supporters of renewable energy, who feed the world and fuel America in ways that achieve energy independence, improve economic wellbeing and create a healthier environment for all Americans.

“The production and use of ethanol generates a variety of economic and public health benefits,” said Todd Sneller, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “We are fortunate to have Emily Skor provide an overview of health and environmental benefits that accrue by using ethanol-blended fuels.”

The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency will soon roll out an array of ground-level ozone mitigation steps that can help the Omaha Metro area combat pollution challenges in 2017. Skor will highlight consumers’ role in reducing pollution when they select ethanol fuels at the pump, Sneller noted.

“Ethanol will play an increasingly important part in reducing the toxicity of gasoline,” he said. “By replacing some of the most dangerous chemicals in gasoline with ethanol, we can reduce adverse health and environmental risks.”

Skor joined Growth Energy in May 2016 as the CEO of the organization. Prior to Growth Energy, she served as the vice president of communications of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. For more than a decade, she helped Fortune 500 companies and industry associations manage issues affecting brand confidence and corporate reputation through media, advocacy, coalition building and consumer education campaigns.

Wrapping up the final day of the conference, Skor will present at 11:30 a.m. April 14.

The two-day forum, which is in its 12th year, is arranged for ethanol producers and others integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of ethanol and its co-products. The forum runs from noon to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday.

Other topics during the forum include ethanol marketing challenges; trade policy and its impact on ethanol and DDG exports; emerging trends in ethanol co-products; octane and higher ethanol blends; and integrating technology for efficiency, profitability and sustainability.

More than 130 ethanol industry leaders are expected to be in attendance. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available at Registration is open until 5 p.m. April 12. Scholarships also are available to college and university students and can be accessed online.

The Ethanol 2017: Emerging Issues Forum is presented by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, American Coalition for Ethanol and the Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition.


Bruce Anderson, NE 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.

               Animals 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.

Kansas State University study counters common beliefs about marbling texture in steaks

A Kansas State University study has found the marbling texture of steak makes no difference to consumers in appearance and taste of the food.

The marbling texture of meat is based on the amount of white, visible flecks of fat within meat.

Meat scientist Travis O'Quinn said the finding was surprising and that it countered previous beliefs that consumers preferred finely marbled meat, which has smaller specks but the same amount of fat, for tenderness and overall taste.

"Marbling texture had no impact on the consumer's perception of beef, not only from a visual standpoint but when they ate it as well," O'Quinn said.

The finding is significant because approximately 80 percent of the more than 100 branded beef programs available to consumers do not accept coarsely marbled beef.

"Typically, coarse marbled beef is discounted or there is a prejudice against coarse marbled beef," O'Quinn said. "By coarse marbling, I mean the flecks of fat within the ribeye are larger. The pieces of fat are actually bigger in coarse marbled beef, though there is no difference in the total amount of fat in the steak."

This is the first scientific study to look at the impact of coarse marbling on a consumer's willingness to buy the product, according to O'Quinn.

"It's amazing to me when we talk about marbling texture and what is commonly held to be true in terms of fine marbling being better, that there hadn't been any other studies to evaluate this," O'Quinn said. "This was the task that we wanted to take up."

The university's study evaluated steaks that fell into three marbling categories — coarse, medium and fine — in three quality grades — top choice, low choice and select — for a total of nine steak treatments.

Each of the samples were tested by a consumer panel and a trained sensory panel, which were asked to evaluate the steaks for tenderness, juiciness and how much beef flavor was present. The consumers also were asked how much they liked the steak overall.

"Our goal was to create a very robust study evaluating this marbling texture and identifying any differences that may be present," O'Quinn said. "Our results showed that when we fed consumers the beef, they found no difference among the different marbling texture groups. They did find differences between choice and select, which we expected; they told us the choice was more tender, more flavorful and they liked it better overall."

The trained sensory panels did indicate that coarse marbled steaks were more juicy and flavorful than fine and medium marbled steaks, a finding that differed from the consumer panels.

In another part of the study, consumers completed an online study in which they viewed pictures of the steaks with differing levels of marbling. O'Quinn said the consumers were asked to judge how desirable the steak was and their willingness to purchase the steak, based solely on pictures.

"The results were the same," he said. "The consumers showed no preference for one marbling texture over another."

The data will become part of industry knowledge that could affect how branded beef programs are managed in the future.

"If consumers aren't willing to pay more for fine- or medium-texture beef, and they don't taste the difference, then there's really no reason to discriminate against those coarse marbled steaks," O'Quinn said. "If you're going to create a new branded beef program in the future, maybe you won't include marbling texture as part of your program's specifications."

Fertilizer Prices Still Increasing

Fertilizer prices were still on the rise the first week of March 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the seventh consecutive week prices have moved higher.

For the third week in a row, all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, though none were up by a significant amount. This is the second consecutive week prices saw only slight increases.

DAP had an average price of $436 per ton, MAP $460/ton, potash $336/ton and urea $361/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $441/ton, anhydrous $503/ton, UAN28 $246/ton and UAN32 $279/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Only three of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, UAN32 is 11% less expensive and potash is 10% less expensive. DAP is 9% less expensive, both MAP and anhydrous is 7% lower, UAN28 is 6% less expensive and urea is 5% compared to year earlier.

Trump reinstates review of GHG, fuel economy standards

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) supports President Donald Trump’s decision today to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the final determination of greenhouse gas standards (GHG) for model year (MY) 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles and, in harmony with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to reinstate the midterm evaluation of the GHG and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks for MY 2022-2025.

“Today’s action does not roll back the CAFE-GHG standards but rather directs EPA to put the midterm review of the standards back on track,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president. “This is good news because reconsideration of the 2022-2025 standards will enable us to emphasize the need for EPA to allow high-octane, high-ethanol blends to be used in meeting future efficiency standards.”

President Trump met with auto executives and workers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, today where he announced he’s directing the EPA to put the midterm review back on the original schedule and make a new final determination by April 2018. The Federal Register Notice signed by DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is available here.

In November, EPA issued a proposed determination on the appropriateness of the MY 2022-2025 standards. ACE submitted comments to EPA in December on this topic, available here. Shortly after in January, the Obama administration issued a final determination, 14 months ahead of schedule, that those late-term standards remain feasible and should be kept as is. Trump has directed EPA to revisit the final determination to allow additional consultation with the public, NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board.

 “Now that the review of MY 2022-2025 standards will return to the original schedule, we will also be able to make the case that EPA and NHTSA need to provide meaningful incentives for flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) and engines designed to operate most efficiently on high-octane, high-ethanol blends,” Jennings said.  “Currently, the standards are biased in favor of electric vehicles and ignore the role that FFVs and engines optimized to run on blends in the range of E25-40 can play in meeting fuel economy and GHG reduction goals.”

ACE has been in dialogue with automakers, agricultural organizations, government researchers and many others to develop strategies and action plans to accelerate the transition of North American transportation fuels to low-cost, fuel-efficient, high-octane biofuels such as ethanol, to which CAFE-GHG standards present a natural and timely opportunity for this transition to occur. ACE recommends increasing the minimum market gasoline octane rating, commensurate with increased use of ethanol. ACE also believes FFVs should be encouraged by credits and can play a role as a bridge to new engine technologies dedicated to run on higher octane, higher level ethanol blends. 

Sonny Perdue Confirmation Hearings a Step Closer to Happening

Donald Trump's nominee to head the U.S. Agriculture Department said in Senate ethics disclosure forms that he would place his assets, which include part ownership of a grain merchandising company, into a blind trust.

Republican Sonny Perdue was tapped to head the department the day before Trump's inauguration. Progress on his confirmation has been slow, with media reports suggesting that undoing his various business entanglements caused the delay in the ethics filings, reports Reuters.

The divestiture plan was disclosed in filings posted online over the weekend by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Submitting the ethics filings is a key step toward possible confirmation.

Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, also said he would resign his positions from the National Grain and Feed Association, the Bipartisan Policy Center Governor's Council and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet released a schedule for his confirmation hearings.

AFBF Econ Team Delivers March 2017 Crop Market Update

In his latest crop market report—Cropland Area and Production Projected Lower, Prices Higher in 2017—AFBF economist John Newton says USDA experts late last month indicated total cropland area for the eight principal crops was projected at 249.8 million acres, down 1.4 percent from 2016.

If realized this would be the lowest planted area since 2011 when 249 million acres were planted to the eight crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, rice and cotton.

USDA believes that in addition to fewer acres being planted, projected crop yields will also decline from last year—a combo that compelled USDA to reduce its production expectations for many crops in 2017. 

In the report, Newton also addresses the spring price discovery and its implications for crop insurance policies and projections for acreage changes in corn and soybeans for the upcoming year.

Download the full March 2017 Crop Market Update here...

Farmers, Ranchers Ask Congress to Strengthen Safety Net

The American Farm Bureau Federation and 11 other farm and ranch groups today asked congressional budget and appropriations committees to increase funding for farm programs in the 2018 farm bill.

The coalition underlined in a letter the need for a strong farm safety net in the face of financial hardship not seen for decades.

“While we do not yet have a full-fledged financial crisis in rural America, a good many farmers and ranchers are not going to be able to cash-flow in 2017,” the groups wrote. “With USDA projecting continued low prices in 2018 and beyond, this situation threatens to quickly and vastly expand with each and every crop year.”

The advocates also applauded the House Agriculture Committee for drawing attention to the severe economic downturn facing rural America. Net farm income has dropped 50 percent in the last four years—the largest four-year percentage decrease since the Great Depression.

With no relief in sight, many farmers and ranchers are burning through capital reserves, and beginning farmers may be forced out of business altogether without reserves from good years to carry them through. Banks and other community lenders are finding their hands are tied as well. Without a strong safety net, farmers are unable to secure the loans they need to help with operating costs to keep their businesses running.

Farmers also face the challenges of a strong American dollar as other countries heavily subsidize and protect their producers.

“U.S. farmers have long said they were willing to compete with farmers elsewhere on a level playing field, but they cannot compete with the treasuries of foreign governments,” the groups wrote.

The 2018 Farm Bill presents a prime opportunity for Congress to respond to these sharp declines in farm prices and farm income. In previous years, agriculture was the only industry to take voluntary cutbacks to help reduce the federal deficit.

“Now we look to Congress to provide the resources necessary to help America’s farmers and ranchers through this very difficult period,” the groups wrote.

Thousands “Farmer Up!” at 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio

In spite of challenging times in the farm economy, thousands of growers and agricultural advocates opted to “Farmer Up!” and attend the 2017 Commodity Classic March 2-4 in San Antonio, Texas, in huge numbers.

“Commodity Classic continued in its tradition of excellence this year, demonstrating the enthusiasm America’s farmers have for continuous learning and improvement,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer.  “From the exhibit halls to the learning sessions, the men and women who attended generated an electric energy sparked by their passion for agriculture.”

Total attendance was 9,303, the second-largest total in event history, second only to the 2016 Commodity Classic in New Orleans.  Growers represented 4,102 of that total.  Among the throng were 920 attendees who were enjoying Commodity Classic for the very first time. 

The trade show featured 425 participating companies, including 83 first-time exhibitors.  These exhibitors filled 2,266 booth spaces and represented a wide range of technology, innovation, equipment, products and services.

Educational sessions were also a huge draw, with many sessions enjoying standing-room-only audiences.  “Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic and this year’s line-up was no exception,” said Ed Erickson, Jr., a North Dakota farmer and Commodity Classic Co-Chair.  “Farmers are continually seeking information, ideas and innovation that can give them an edge—and Commodity Classic is the place to find it.”

The General Session featured remarks from U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, and inspirational speaker John O’Leary.

Country music star Pat Green performed during the Evening of Entertainment on Saturday.

The 23rd annual Commodity Classic will take place February 27-March 1, 2018, in Anaheim, California.  Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

For more information and to sign up for email updates, visit

Ag Groups Conduct ‘Substantive, Productive’ Meeting with Trump Administration on Trade

Executive staff leaders from 11 major U.S. agricultural and agribusiness organizations commended the Trump administration for engaging in a substantive and productive meeting today focused on the importance of continued growth of food and agriculture exports.

The meeting followed a series of written communications to the Trump administration from the broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, as well as a number of the individual organizations, stressing the importance of agricultural trade.  Those communications also have expressed an eagerness on behalf of the food and agriculture sector to work actively and constructively with the administration in preserving the major benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the sector while seeking further improvements to modernize the 23-year-old accord, as well as to reinvigorate trade negotiations with important U.S. agricultural trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn participated in the meeting with representatives from the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and USA Rice.

“It is clear from this meeting and other interactions that the Trump administration understands and intends to pursue expansion of U.S. food and agriculture exports which contribute to U.S. manufacturing, job creation and economic growth,” the groups said following the meeting.  “We are committed to offering substantive proposals and ideas, and look forward to further opportunities to work with the administration and its trade team as they develop specific strategies for engaging in trade negotiations with our most important trading partners.  We are pleased that we received assurances from the Trump team that it will take us up on that offer.”

During the meeting, the agricultural organizations noted that 95 percent of their potential customers live beyond the U.S. border, and that the diverse food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs, creates more than $423 billion in annual U.S. economic activity, and is the single largest U.S. manufacturing sector, representing 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs.

U.S. Dairy Leaders Promise Steadfast Commitment to Mexico

The leaders of three major U.S. dairy organizations Wednesday promised to continue a strong commitment to their time-tested partnership with Mexico’s dairy industry and consumers.

“We have always seen Mexico as a partner first and a customer second,” U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) President and CEO Tom Vilsack told Mexican dairy leaders attending the National Dairy Forum in Mexico City. “That’s why we intend to continue working with you and your industry to expand the consumption of dairy products in a way that benefits both countries.”

“Mexico is our friend, ally and most important trading partner,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Our goal this week in visiting Mexico is to communicate our steadfast commitment to our partnership with the Mexican industry, even as we continue to explore ways to deepen that relationship by working on issues of mutual benefit.”

“The United States proudly provides the majority of imported dairy products to Mexican consumers,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy food companies and their suppliers. “We strongly believe that it’s in the best interest of both countries to preserve and enhance our excellent trade relationship, now and in the future.”

Vilsack and Mulhern spoke at the Femeleche conference here, which brought together Mexican dairy industry leaders, farmers and government officials. As part of the coordinated message of collaboration and partnership with Mexico, the three CEOs of the leading U.S. dairy policy organizations are also meeting with a variety of government officials, including the Mexican Minister of Agriculture and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

The reassurance from U.S. dairy leaders comes during a time of political uncertainty on both sides of the border.

Since NAFTA became law in 1994, U.S. dairy exports to Mexico have more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion. That makes Mexico the U.S. dairy industry’s No. 1 export market, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year.

Put another way, exports to Mexico require the milk of 345,000 American cows. They create approximately 30,000 U.S. jobs, according to USDA, and $3.6 billion in U.S. economic impact.

Tuesday March 14 Ag News

Help Celebrate 2017 National Agriculture Day and Agriculture Week next week
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Next week is National Agriculture Week and is celebrated March 19 – 25, 2017 and it is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America take time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture. This year’s Ag Day theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life.”  March 21 is the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day, celebrating agriculture and all those who feed our world, care for crops and livestock, and bring awareness to agricultural production.

Ag Day is about recognizing and celebrating the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages everyone to: 1) Understand how food and fiber products are produced  2) Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy 3) Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products and 4) Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in some of our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.  By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.  Agriculture is thisnation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy.

It's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, all the way to the grocery store, are the vital links in a chain that brings food to every resident and millions of people abroad.  It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America as our food is readily accessible and safe.

If you are a farmer, an agricultural producer or anyone in that food chain, we say thanks to you for all that you do each and every day to provide food for the world.  I would encourage each of you to share your agricultural story with a friend, your neighbor or share your story on social media using #AgDay or #National AgDay so others know what you do on a daily basis. The rest of us need to be sure to tell those individuals that we appreciate what they do.

For nearly 30 years, the West Point Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Council has been hosting an Ag Day Appreciation celebration to thank our area agriculture producers.  It will be held once again this year, next Monday night, March 20th at the Nielsen Community Center.  Please stop by any of the local business sponsors to pick up your free ticket to attend this enjoyable event of entertainment and a meal.

Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance Trainings Offered

Nebraska Extension will be offering three Beef Quality Assurance informational meetings for area beef producers.

The dates and locations are:

Wednesday, March 29 – 9:00 a.m., Stanton County Community Building, 302 6th Str., Stanton
Wednesday, March 29 – 1:30 p.m., Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room, 200 S Lincoln Str., West Point
Thursday, March 30, 10:00 a.m., First Nebraska Bank Meeting Room, 1000 Main Str., Emerson

Topics that will be covered at the meetings include Antibiotic Stewardship, Veterinary Feed Directive, and General Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Assessment topics.  These meetings are also for those producers that need BQA certification or recertification. There is a $20 fee for those who wish to become BQA certified.

Pre-registration is encouraged by contacting Larry Howard, Nebraska Extension Educator in Cuming County located in West Point at 402-372-6006.  For additional information contact the Nebraska Extension office in Cuming County or Rob Eirich, Nebraska Director of Beef Quality Assurance at 308-632-1230. 

Debra Schroeder Being Honored at a Retirement Reception, March 26

Debra Schroeder is being honored at a Retirement Reception, Sunday, March 26, 2017 at the Nielsen Center from 2:00-5:00 p.m. with the program at 4:00 p.m.

Debra began her career in Carbon County, WY on August 1, 1977. She joined Nebraska Extension serving Cuming County on July 5, 1978. 

Join us in thanking Debra for the impact that she has made in the lives of families in Cuming County over the past 40 years.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Alfalfa has greened up and started to grow in many areas.  The recent cold weather has stopped it temporarily.  When it begins again, stands need to be evaluated soon.

               Alfalfa usually comes through the winter in pretty good shape in our area, so rarely do I worry much about it.  And I hope we will avoid serious losses this year.

               But this has been an unusual winter.  The lack of snow cover during cold temperatures this winter could have permitted cold injury.  Or more likely, it enabled dry winter winds to dry out and kill some exposed plants.  Then high temperatures in February and early March caused much alfalfa to break dormancy early; recent cold set it back.

               Evaluate your own stands early this spring.  Older, dryland fields that have fewer than 30 new shoots per square foot coming from 2 or 3 plants may need to be rotated soon to a different crop and new fields planted to alfalfa.  Very productive sites, such as irrigated and sub-irrigated fields, should have at least 40 shoots per square foot from 4 to 6 plants.  Anything less is a strong candidate for rotation.  We tend to lose about one tenth of a ton in yield potential for every shoot below these numbers.

               Check for these densities in several areas of your fields when the early shoots are 4 to 6 inches tall.  Since some shoots begin growing later than others, stands with enough plants but slightly low shoot density may be alright, especially if shoot height and distribution is fairly uniform.  But, if plant density is low, or shoot growth is not uniform, yields probably will be lowered.

               Check your alfalfa stands soon after growth begins.  Then you will still have time to make any needed changes in your cropping plans.

Herbicide Effectiveness Focus of Weed Control Results

Results of Iowa State University's 2016 weed science research are now available through the ISU Extension Store. The report includes data on herbicides and how they work on various weeds and soil types.

The data was collected at the Agricultural Engineering/Agronomy Research Farm in Ames, Iowa and the Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm in Nashua, Iowa.

"The products being developed by the ag chemical industry need to be vetted at a number of different levels," said Mike Owen, university professor and extension specialist in agronomy and weed science with Iowa State. "Those products need to be checked to make sure the research is science-based and doesn't consider the marketplace when being developed. Iowa State can provide objective information when evaluating these products. This isn't to say the science of the companies is in question, but our research is done to unbiasedly verify their scientific claims."

The study, titled "Weed Science Program 2016 Weed Control Results" (CROP 3111) was authored by Iowa State Department of Agronomy and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach scientists Owen, Bob Hartzler, Damian Franzenburg, James Lee and Iththiphonh Macvilay.

Testing a variety of herbicides in Iowa, instead of in a lab or different part of the country, provides a better look into how the herbicides will function in the field.

"Many times these protocols have been developed in Germany or North Carolina, for example, so we try to provide a more Iowa-centric look at how the herbicides work," Owen said. "We implement the study in our conditions, with our weeds and our soil. Certain herbicides don't fit as well in Iowa as they do in other parts of the country."

That information shapes the type of recommendations ISU Extension and Outreach staff provide to farmers.

"We try to look at the results from the Iowa farmer's perspective," Owen said. "We take the approach that the final data feeds into our extension programming to inform the farming community of what these products actually do and what they don't do."

An archive of results of the trials conducted by Iowa State dating back to 2002 is also now available through the ISU Extension Store.

Grassley, Stabenow Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect American Agricultural Interests in Foreign Acquisitions

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan today introduced new bipartisan legislation to give top U.S. agriculture and food officials permanent representation on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The “Food Security is National Security Act of 2017” will also include new agriculture and food-related criteria for CFIUS to consider when reviewing transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign company.

“As we think about the future and the growing global population, it’s important to consider who will control the food supply.  Today, there may not be a food shortage in the world, only distribution problems that are more the result of politics not logistics, but in the decades to come, it may be a different story,” Grassley said. “The approval by CFIUS of the sale of U.S. agricultural assets seem more focused on the present state of the food industry instead of the future supply situation. We owe it to our farmers and Americans who rely on farmers to grow their food to be more strategic. Especially as countries around the world are making moves to ensure adequate supplies.”

“Protecting the integrity, safety, and resiliency of America’s food system is core to our national security,” Stabenow said. “As foreign entities continue their aggressive acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies, it’s imperative that these transactions face additional scrutiny. This bill ensures that the U.S. has the appropriate tools and people in place to safeguard America’s food security, food safety, biosecurity, and the highly competitive U.S. farm sector as a whole.”

CFIUS is a panel of government officials tasked with reviewing proposed mergers and acquisitions of U.S. companies, including foreign entities seeking to purchase U.S. agricultural and food assets. The job of CFIUS is to assess whether or not transactions initiated by foreign entities threaten to impair U.S. national security interests. Currently, CFIUS does not include permanent representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—the two departments of government with primary responsibility for safeguarding the integrity, resiliency, and quality of our food supply.

The Food Security is National Security Act of 2017 recognizes the contribution agriculture makes to the country’s national security and the vital role it plays in the economy. The legislation gives both the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (who oversees the Food and Drug Administration) permanent representation on CFIUS to protect U.S. food security.

The legislation also adds new criteria to the CFIUS review process to ensure that proposed transactions are reviewed specifically for their potential impact on American food and agricultural systems, including availability of, access to, or safety and quality of food. Specifically including food and agriculture in the review process is an important national security safeguard and sends a strong signal to potential foreign purchasers.

Key agriculture stakeholders also understand the importance of bringing an agricultural perspective to the CFIUS review process. Two of the largest farm organizations, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, support the Food Security is National Security Act of 2017, echoing the call to evaluate the potential effects of mergers and acquisitions in agriculture.

“The food system in the United States is world class not only because of our great farmers and ranchers, but for the entire supply chain as well. Monitoring and evaluating the effects of mergers and acquisitions in agriculture as well as food production and distribution is critical and the Secretary of Agriculture would bring vital knowledge to the table,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau.

Kansas Companies Participate in Trade Mission to Russia

In February 2017, the Kansas Department of Agriculture sponsored seven Kansans in an agricultural trade mission to AgroFarm Russia to expand market opportunities in productive animal husbandry. AgroFarm Russia is a leading exhibition for animal husbandry and animal breeding, and provided the group an opportunity to interact with breeders and genetics companies to promote the use of U.S. livestock genetics.

Crystal Carothers of Carothers Brothers in Anthony, Kansas, appreciated this trip of a lifetime to advocate for agriculture and the U.S. livestock industry in Moscow. “I walked away with many new connections and a better understanding on ways to promote agriculture trade in Russia,” she said. “Through the work of KDA and the U.S. Embassy in Russia, we were given opportunities to visit with producers and see the actual marketing and production of agricultural products in Moscow.”

Other participants on the trade mission included: Mike Callicrate, No-Bull Enterprises, St. Francis, Kan.; George Eakin, Osborne Industries Inc., Osborne, Kan.; Thad Geiger, Geiger Cattle Inc., Troy, Kan.; and Lynne Hinrichsen, Suzanne Ryan-Numrich and Kerry Wefald, KDA.

No-Bull Enterprises and Osborne Industries also promoted their Kansas-made products in the booth at AgroFarm. Following the trade show, the group visited a dairy and dairy processing business outside of Moscow and experienced a retail tour of three supermarkets and one open market. One of the stops on the tour, a Miratorg supermarket, now features case-ready beef cuts merchandised and labeled with Black Angus branding. Over the past five years, Miratorg agricultural holdings has imported live purebred cattle from Kansas and surrounding states to establish production of high-quality marbled beef in Russia.

“Just a few years ago, Kansas was sending record numbers of cattle to Russia, although exports have decreased as sanctions were put in place by the Russian government in August 2014,” said Geiger. “Despite these current trade barriers, we believe it is necessary to foster trade relationships with Russia knowing at some point the sanctions will be lifted. Their initiative to become self-sufficient in feeding their people allows for the state of Kansas to develop relationships that place agriculture in a lead position. This trade mission planted many seeds to grow these trade relationships.”

The trade mission was sponsored by KDA with assistance from funds from U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. and a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration using a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant.

Louisiana latest state to expand consumer choice at the pump

Louisiana is now the 29th state to offer consumers a better choice at the pump – gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol known as E15.

The latest in this market expansion is a RaceTrac station in Baton Rouge – now one of 672 locations nationwide to offer Americans this more affordable, cleaner biofuel. Growth Energy applauds RaceTrac and all additional major retailers who currently sell E15 including Sheetz, Kum and Go, Thorntons, Minnoco, Murphy USA, MAPCO, Family Express, Cenex, and Protec Fuels.

“The ethanol industry stands ready to provide American drivers with this performance-boosting, homegrown fuel and with every new pump offering E15, we are doing just that. Growth Energy is committed to working with our retail partners to continue this expansion,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.

“American consumers have surpassed 750 million miles on E15. When given the option, consumers choose E15, and, thanks to dedicated retailers who care about their customers, more Americans can make this choice.”

E15 saves consumers an average of 5 to 10 cents per gallon and burns cleaner and cooler than regular gasoline, allowing engines to perform at their peak while reducing drivers’ impact on the environment. Visit to learn more facts like this about E15 and to locate your nearest E15 station.

Growth Energy Highlights Benefits of Ethanol in Comments Regarding Ontario’s Development of a Renewable Fuel Standard

Growth Energy recently filed comments and exhibits to Canada’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on the Canadian province of Ontario’s discussion paper, “Developing a Modern Renewable Fuel Standard for Gasoline in Ontario.”

The comments focused on the importance of including ethanol in the development of any gasoline fuel standard to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and other harmful emissions, underscoring that the easiest way to do so is to increase ethanol blended gasoline at a minimum of 10 percent (E10).

However, the comments encouraged Ontario to look beyond E10 to include higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85, highlighting how increasing ethanol concentrations in fuel would present tremendous benefits to the public in the form of lower GHG emissions, lower levels of other pollutants, improved fuel properties, and economic benefits to Canada’s critical agricultural economy.

“Canada continues to be a strong market for U.S. ethanol, and we think that by further advancing ethanol blends, it will be a win for ethanol producers, the ag economy, and Canadian consumers,” said Chris Bliley, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Growth Energy.

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales Rose During February

The Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report" noted that the sales of all tractors in the U.S. in February were up 13% compared to the same month last year.

For the first two months in 2017, a total of 22,398 tractors were sold which compares to 21,304 sold through February 2016 representing a 5% increase for the year.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 22% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were down 3%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 17%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 25%.

Combine sales were down 29% for the month. Sales of combines for the year totaled 415 a decrease of 29% in 2016.

Cow Infected with BSE Found in Spain

Spain has reported a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly called mad cow disease, the World Organization for Animal Health says.

The diseased cow belonged to a herd of 134 cattle on a farm near the city of Salamanca in the northwestern region of Castilla-Leon, according to a report issued on Friday to the OIE by Spain's ministry for agriculture, food and the environment.

The Associated Press reports that the animal was destroyed after routine controls found that it tested positive for atypical BSE type L.

BSE was first reported in Britain in the mid-1980s and linked to a human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease.

The number of cases of BSE plummeted after bans were introduced on feed that included meat and bone meal from infected cows believed to cause the disease.

Bayer Extends Annual Award Eligibility to Beekeeping Collaborations and Youth

Bayer today announced it is seeking nominations for its fifth annual Bee Care Community Leadership Award. New in 2017, the program recognizes a partnership between a beekeeper and a grower, researcher, golf course superintendent or other stakeholder whose collaboration protects pollinators and benefits their community, as well as recognizing a young beekeeper undertaking pollinator-focused initiatives in his or her school or community.

This year’s award, an initiative of Bayer’s North American Bee Care Program, provides the winning partners a $5,000 prize to continue their valuable collaborative work to promote and protect pollinators in the community. A $1,000 prize will be awarded to a young beekeeper to research ways to improve pollinator health, establish an apiary on his or her school campus or amplify existing beekeeping efforts.

The award winners are selected from a pool of applicants by a panel of three judges. Returning in 2017, the judges include Pamela Smith, editor at The Progressive Farmer, Joe Graham, editor at the American Bee Journal and Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, project manager for the Bayer Bee Care Program. The judges will select winners based on responses to two essay questions and a reference from one of several stakeholders, such as an apiarist, community organization, grower, agricultural group, teacher, school official, or member of a relevant organization, such as a beekeeping or gardening association.

“We’ve found that growers, researchers, golf course superintendents and similar stakeholders play an essential role in helping beekeepers provide pollinators sustainable habitats and diverse food sources, and youth are critical to promoting and preserving the overall health of pollinator species for generations to come,” said Dr. Becky Langer, project manager for the Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “We’re passionate about celebrating these strategic partnerships and young beekeepers and supporting the valuable work they’re doing in their communities.”

The past winners of the Bee Care Community Leadership Award exemplify beekeepers who leveraged their passion for honey bees to benefit their neighbors and communities. The 2016 winners, Scott Witte, director of agronomy at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Illinois, and Luke Cella, executive director of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (MAGCS), were the first partners to be recognized for their efforts to promote healthy ecosystems for honey bees on golf courses through the Bee Barometer Project. The teamwork they demonstrated inspired Bayer’s decision to expand eligibility of the 2017 Bee Care Community Leadership Award to beekeeping collaborations and young beekeepers.

Any beekeeper and grower, researcher, golf course superintendent or other stakeholder who have created a pollinator-supportive partnership may apply for the $5,000 prize, and any student under 18 who has approval from a legal guardian and sponsoring mentor, such as an apiarist, grower, community leader, teacher, school official, beekeeper, etc., may apply for the $1,000 prize. To review application requirements and expectations of the award winners, enter online or download an entry form, as well as learn more about former award recipients, please visit The deadline for submission is May 19, 2017.

The Community Leadership Award is one of several Bayer North American Bee Care Program initiatives. Others include:
  - Founding Healthy Hives 2020 to develop new strategies and key areas of research focus to improve hive health in the United States by the year 2020 through investing $1 million in research grants over four years.
  - Helping improve nutrition for pollinators through Feed a Bee, an initiative to plant more ­flowers and establish additional forage acreages by working with individuals and organizations across various sectors.

Monday March 13 Ag News

NE Extension Grain Marketing Workshops this Month

Location- and commodity-specific grain marketing information will be presented during the Nebraska Extension Grain Marketing Workshops to be held across Nebraska this winter. The meetings will provide information and tools to help grain producers minimize losses during this time of low prices.

Topics include developing a written marketing plan and developing an understanding of basis and carrying charges. The workshops feature the Marketing in a New Era (MINE) simulator and the Grain Marketing Plan smartphone application.

March Sites include....
    David City — March 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the David City Library; to register call Michael Rethwisch at (402) 367-7410

Register for these meetings at Each workshop begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. A complimentary lunch is provided. Workshops, which are funded by the Nebraska Corn Board, are limited to 40 participants each.

NE Extension Quicken Workshops at 5 Sites in March 

When commodity prices go down, it’s important for farmers and ranchers to keep financial books on the ranch for more than just tax time. This March Nebraska Extension is continuing its workshops on how to use Quicken software for farm finances.

Nebraska Extension Educators will teach how to use Quicken, a popular commercial record-keeping package that is user friendly, inexpensive, and easy to find. Quicken is flexible for ag and non-ag business enterprises and separates out family living expenses.

Quicken’s checkbook register makes for a familiar environment to begin computerized record-keeping. Quicken comes with home and general business income and expense categories, and educators will demonstrate how to easily import farm categories to match the tax Schedule F.

Quicken allows finances to be organized by category and subclasses, and includes a tag feature useful for splitting enterprises, by partnership share, or by ranch. Quicken allows users to split transactions, so one check written at a local gas station can be divided among several expenses: fast food, oil for the tractor, and farm fuel for the feed pickup.

Reports such as transactions, cash flow, account balances, balance sheet, comparison, and tax summary can be easily generated, information filtered, and layout modified. Quicken files can also be exported to QuickBooks®, used by many tax accountants.

The hands-on training will include computer time with Quicken. Educators will also demonstrate how to run reports helpful for financial decisions.

Workshop Sites & Dates include
    Columbus — March 23 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Farm Credit Services of America office; to register call the Platte County Extension Office at 402-563-4901

Each workshop is limited to 10 participants. The cost to attend the workshop is $20/participant.

Pender Implement's Spring Clinic

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 2pm
Pender Implement will be host their annual spring clinic. There will be 5 class options covering: Planters, Tractors, Hay Tools, Sprayers, and Tillage.  For more information, email or call 402-385-2211. 

PVC March Meeting will be 3/20

Bradley Christensen, President, Platte Valley Cattlemen

The year is quickly moving along and many of our members are in the middle of calving while others are trying to figure out this cattle market. The local weather has been almost perfect and luckily we have not had to deal with the fires that some our neighboring states have been dealing with.

Our March meeting will be on Monday, March 20st at Wunderlich’s Catering in Columbus. Dr. Galen Erickson from UNL will be presenting on new nutrition and management information for growing and finishing cattle. Some of the updates will include feeding enogen corn to cattle, distillers and byproducts and current economics, silage in growing and finishing programs, implant strength and impact on performance. Dr. Erickson will also touch on feedlot assessments.

Social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is being sponsored by Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc. The meal will be at 7:00 p.m. and sponsored by Kit Held Trucking/Mycogen Seed. See you Monday, March 20st, for drinks, steak, and great discussion.

Ricketts Announces National Ag Week Visits

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach announced three days of activities and stops across Nebraska to support and celebrate National Ag Week.  During March 21-23 the Governor and agriculture industry representatives will visit several Nebraska communities including Ainsworth, Auburn, Fremont, Friend, Grand Island, Omaha, Plattsmouth, Scottsbluff, Wakefield, and West Point.  National Ag Week will be celebrated on March 19-25, 2017 across Nebraska.

“Visiting these communities during National Ag Week is a great way to highlight agriculture in Nebraska and celebrate our state’s number one industry,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Our planned stopovers around the state pay tribute to those who contribute to agriculture from livestock and crop producers to the innovative technology, processing, and infrastructure that goes along with it.”

NDA Director Ibach stated the three-day tour will showcase Nebraska’s number one industry – agriculture.

“Nebraska’s agricultural industry is quite diverse from the east to west,” said NDA Director Ibach.  “With three days of stops and activities planned, we’re able to highlight a variety of Nebraska agriculture products and family farm operations.  Nebraska is a leader in production of meat, grain, dry beans, and many other commodities while also showing promise in new areas, like hops production.”

Gov. Ricketts said the group will use the stops to talk about the importance of Nebraska agriculture, livestock and value-added agriculture development, international trade, and agriculture education.  The Governor will also unveil the 2017 edition of the Nebraska Agriculture and You magazine.

The public is invited to attend many of these events.  Private events are indicated below.

Tuesday, March 21st

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. - Fremont Chamber Agriculture Awards Luncheon - Fremont Golf Club - 2710 N. Somers Ave., Fremont, NE
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. - Tour of Diamond 6 Feeders - Diamond 6 feeders - 294 18th Rd., West Point, NE
4:30 – 6:00 p.m. - Tour of Wakefield Farms, LLP - Wakefield Farms, LLP - 86051 588th Ave, Emerson NE
6:00 – 8:30 p.m. - National Ag Day Celebration Dinner - Wakefield Legion Hall -211 Main Street, Wakefield, NE

Wednesday, March 22nd

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. - Tour of Beel Ranch - Beel Ranch – 41347 Beel Lane, Johnstown, NE
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Luncheon Event - The Flight Deck, 250023 Airport Terminal St., Scottsbluff, NE
3:30-4:30 p.m. - Raising Nebraska Open House - Raising Nebraska, S Locust St. & State Fair Boulevard, Grand Island, NE

Thursday, March 23rd

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. - Pork and Poultry Industry Breakfast - Pour House, 511 2nd St., Friend, NE
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. - Auburn FFA Tour and Town Hall Student Luncheon - (PRIVATE EVENT)
2:00 – 3:30 p.m. - Tour of Midwest Hop Producers - 18003 Club View Drive, Plattsmouth, NE
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. - Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Ag Week - Upstream Brewing Company, 514 S. 11th Street, Omaha, NE

RSVP required as space is limited.  Please RSVP directly to:

RSVP Information for Events – Your RSVP is not required, but appreciated.  To RSVP to attend any of the above events (unless otherwise noted), please email  In the email please include:  the location you are submitting the RSVP for, and all names / affiliations for all parties attending.

Accepting Applications for the 2017 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More!

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high-schools across Nebraska  are encouraged to apply to participate in the 2017 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! Applications will be reviewed and up to 32 students  will be selected to participate. The deadline to apply is April 1st. Students may apply for the opportunity by visiting the youth tab on

The conference will be conducted from Wednesday afternoon, May 31st through approximately noon, Friday, June 2nd, at the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s East Campus. Other than the youth’s transportation to and from Lincoln, there will be  no cost  to participate. All lodging, meals, and conference materials are covered!

Due to the activities in the meat lab, students must be 16 years or older at the time of the conference. Current seniors who will be graduating in May are also welcome to apply to participate in this conference.

Participants will evaluate market animals, grade carcasses, fabricate carcasses into wholesale and retail cuts, and exercise basic culinary methods on a variety of different pork products. Additionally, lab activities include a hands-on genetics lab, a food safety lab, and a biosecurity and animal health activity. Not only will youth learn about pork as a wholesome food product, but they will also learn how the pork industry is using science to address many significant challenges, plus, throughout the conference, participants will discuss consumer issues.

Finally, participants will enjoy engaging life skills activities will be intermixed throughout the program that focus on development of communication, leadership, and networking skills.

Upon conclusion of this workshop, our youth will have a more thorough understanding of the pork products produced, the consumers who purchase those products, and will have greater confidence in their ability to effectively communicate with one another regarding the many issues and challenges facing the pork industry.

The 2017 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, as well as Nebraska Extension and the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Department of Animal Science.

Nebraska Pork Producers Provide Input at National Programs

Nebraska pork producers traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to serve as delegates to the Pork Act Delegate (NPB) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Delegate assembly on March 1-3. Pork Act Delegates are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and NPPC delegates are elected at the state level from producers that participate in the Strategic Investment Program.

Serving as Pork Act Delegates were Tim Chancellor of Broken Bow, Michael Luckey of Columbus, and Duane Miller of Davenport, Nebraska. They were among the 168 appointed delegates who traveled from 49 states across the country to represent pork producers and importers who sell pork products in the United States. The duties of the delegate body include nominating members to serve on the National Pork Board, establishing how much of the Pork Checkoff is returned to state pork organizations, and providing direction on pork promotion, research and consumer and producer education priorities funded by the Pork Checkoff.

To fund programs, America’s pork producers contribute 40 cents of every $100 of sales to the Checkoff. Importers use a sales formula to contribute a similar amount. The role of the Pork Checkoff is to promote and enhance consumer demand for pork on a global basis, as well as invest in research designed to improve production practices and safeguard the pork supply, the environment and animal well-being. Building consumer confidence and educating America’s pig farmers about livestock production practices through training and certification programs are also key priorities.    
The National Pork Producers Council Board set its number of delegates at 125. Those producers attending from Nebraska were Russ Vering of Howells, John Csukker of Columbus, Mike Wisnieski of Omaha, Aaron Reichmuth of Humphrey and Dave Harrington from St. Paul, Nebraska.  The number of delegates that can attend is based on the Strategic Investment Program (SIP) total income attributable from each state. Pork producers voluntarily contribute 10 cents of every $100 of sales to the program to fund legislative and regulatory issues. Al Juhnke, Executive Director for the Nebraska Pork Producers Association also made the trip to Atlanta.  

Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation to Shut Down, Scholarship to Continue

After a decade of providing scholarships for non-traditional students, age 25 or older living in Nebraska’s rural communities, the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation (NRRF) has announced it will dissolve on April 1, 2017.

“Following a strategic planning session last year it became apparent that without some major changes our Foundation was not large enough to sustain a full-time executive director and support staff and still continue to provide scholarships to qualified applicants,” noted Barb Bierman Batie, NRRF marketing director.

With Executive Director Eric Brown’s retirement approaching, the board began to research options for continuing the mission of NRRF. On Nov. 10, 2016, the NRRF voted to transfer $150,000 to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and create an endowment titled, “The Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation Scholarship in honor of Max and Eric Brown.”

“It has been enjoyable to work with the Rural Radio Foundation Board for the past ten years. It became apparent that we needed a strategic partner and the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation was a natural fit to continue providing scholarships,” said Brown.

“The Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation has made a tremendous positive impact on rural Nebraska. I am grateful for the confidence placed in the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation by the Rural Radio Foundation Board of Directors. Our staff is excited to continue the important work of providing scholarships to students in rural Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

A $5,000 donation has been made to the Nebraska L.E.A.D. Foundation and once all expenses have been paid, the remaining NRRF funds will be transferred to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation endowment.

Non-traditional students seeking funding to complete a degree or pursue new education options are encouraged to apply for the NRRF scholarship through the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s website. Go to, click on the Scholarships for Students and Awards tab and scroll down to the NRRF scholarship tab. Application forms for one-time funding up to $2,500 are available for download and are due April 1.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               High quality pasture always seems to be in short supply.  If you need high quality early pasture, use oats and Italian ryegrass.

                I like oat forage.  It grows during spring when we are likely to receive rain and when moisture is used efficiently to produce forage.

               Oats can be grazed earlier than anything else you plant this spring.  Once it gets five or six inches tall, it quickly can shoot up to a foot tall in almost no time.  Unfortunately, once oats gets that tall it may not stool out, tiller, and regrow after grazing very well.  So it’s important to start grazing early when oats get six to eight inches tall to stimulate it to form new tillers.

               After this first grazing, keep oat regrowth between six and sixteen inches tall. Begin with a light stocking rate, about one animal every two acres.  Then adjust animal number as oat growth changes.

               For a longer grazing season, plant a mixture of oats and Italian ryegrass.  Oats comes on strong early while Italian ryegrass tends to wait until June before it grows rapidly.  Then it just keeps growing high quality leaves the rest of the year if moisture is available.

               For straight oats, drill at least three bushels per acre as soon as possible.  Oats will be 6 to 8 inches tall and ready to graze in about 6 weeks.  With good moisture and 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen, oats can provide a couple months of grazing for 1 or 2 cows per acre.  For extended grazing, drill just a couple bushels of oats plus around twenty pounds of Italian ryegrass per acre.  Your stocking rate might need to be a little lighter at first, but with some timely moisture or irrigation you can continue to get great grass all summer and fall.

               Do you need reliable high quality pasture this year?  Oats, with or without Italian ryegrass, may be your best option.

New NebGuide on Planning the Transition to Organic Crop Production 

Nebraska farmers considering a transition to organic production will gain a broad overview of the planning needed to be successful in this new NebGuide, Planning the Transition to Organic Crop Production (G2282).

The NebGuide identifies issues and outlines a path for farmers and their consultants to start the transition to organic certification. It provides Nebraska-specific guidance and on-line resources for:
-    preparing to meet organic certification requirements;
-    assessing farm resources;
-    choosing a transition strategy;
-    integrating a market-based strategy;
-    developing a business plan and record keeping system; and
-    developing a farm management approach for weed and soil fertility management, crop rotation, and integration of livestock.

NebGuide authors are Charles Wortmann, extension soils specialist; Richard Little, farming systems research technologist; Colin Kubik, former graduate student; Charles Shapiro, Nebraska Extension soils specialist-crop nutrition; and Charles Francis, professor of agronomy and horticulture.
Related Information

New Financial Assistance for Organic Producers (CW article): Beginning on March 20, 2017, certified organic producers may apply through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for federal assistance for certification cost share reimbursement.

Find additional Nebraska Extension NebGuides, circulars and other publication at

New Soybean Herbicides for 2017

Amit Jhala, Nebraska Extension Weed Management Specialist

Several new herbicides have been registered for weed control in soybean. These new herbicides do not have an active ingredient with a new mode of action, but they are tank-mixtures of existing herbicides. A season-long weed management plan should include herbicides with Multiple Modes Of Action. (For more information see the newly revised industry Herbicide Classification chart.)

Following are new soybean herbicides that should be available for the 2017 growing season.

Authority®Elite [sulfentrazone (7.55%) + S-metolachlor (68.25%)]. It is a soil-applied herbicide for control of broadleaf, grass, and sedge weeds in soybean. The crop rotation restriction for corn and sorghum is 10 months. It should not be applied at a rate of more than 38.7 fl oz/acre per year. EPA Reg. No. 279-3442. BroadAxe XC has similar herbicide active ingredients as Authority Elite. EPA Reg. No. 279-3442-100. Modes of Acton: 14 + 15.

Authority®Maxx [sulfentrazone (62.12%) + clorimuron-ethyl (3.88%)]. It can be applied pre-plant or pre-emergence in soybean for broadleaf and partial grass weed control. The application rate is 6 to 9 oz/acre depending on soil texture and organic matter content. EPA Reg. No. 279-9560. Modes of Acton: 14 + 2.

Enlist™ Duo [2,4-D choline (24.4%) + glyphosate (22.1%)]. Enlist Duo can be applied only in Enlist corn and in Enlist soybean for control of annual and perennial weeds. Do NOT apply this product in Roundup Ready or Liberty Link soybean. This herbicide is based on Colex-D technology. Products with 2,4-D that do not contain Colex-D technology are  not authorized for use in conjunction with Enlist corn and soybeans. It is a systemic herbicide intended for control of annual and perennial weeds. Apply 3.5 to 4.75 pints of Enlist Duo per acre. Make one to two applications with a minimum of 12 days between applications. In Enlist Soybean, apply 3.5 to 4.75 pints of Enlist Duo per acre. Apply when weeds are small and any time after soybean emergence but no later than R2 (full flowering stage). Do not apply more than 4.75 pints of Enlist Duo per acre per application. Do not apply more than 14.25 pints/acre of Enlist Duo per season. EPA Reg. No. 62719-649. Modes of Action: 4 + 9.

Fierce® XLT [flumioxazin (24.57%) + pyroxasulfone (31.17%) + chlorimuron (6.67%)]. Fierce XLT in Nebraska can only be used in the fields south of Route 30 and east of US Highway 281. This herbicide provides residual control of broadleaf and grass weeds in soybean. It also provides additional burndown activity when used as part of a burndown program. Moisture is necessary to activate this herbicide in soil for residual weed control. Do not apply more than 5.25 oz/acre per growing season. Do not apply additional chlorimuron-containing herbicides to fields treated with Fierce XLT. EPA Reg. No. 59639-194. Modes of Acton: 14 + 15 + 2.

Marvel™ [fluthiacet-methyl (1.2%) + fomesafen (30.08%)]. This is a new premix herbicide from FMC for post-emergence weed control in soybean. It can be applied at 5 to 7.25 fl oz/acre from pre-plant through full flowering stage (prior to R3). It is a contact herbicide; therefore, good coverage is essential for optimum weed control. Do not apply more than 7.25 fl oz/acre per application and 9.75 fl oz/acre per year. EPA Reg. No. 279-3455. Modes of Acton: 14 + 14.

Presidual™ [S-metolachlor (58.2%) + metribuzin (13.8%)]. Presidul is for control of certain grasses and broadleaf weeds in soybean. The application rate of this herbicide is 2.0 to 2.9 pt/acre depending on soil texture and organic matter content. EPA Reg. No. 1001162-1381. Modes of Acton: 15 + 6.

Warrant® Ultra [acetochlor (30.2%) + fomesafen (7.1%)]. In Nebraska Warrant Ultra can be applied only in counties east of or intersected by US Highway 281. It can be applied as a preplant surface, pre-emergence, or post-emergence treatment in soybean. A maximum of 48 fl oz/acre of this herbicide can be applied in alternate years in soybean fields in these Nebraska counties. It can provide residual as well as burndown activity. This herbicide can be applied only once per growing season. EPA Reg. No. 524-620. Modes of Acton: 15 + 14.

XtendiMax™ [dicamba (42.8%)]. XtendiMax is a new dicamba product to be used on dicamba-tolerant (Roundup Ready 2 Xtend) soybean. The formulation contains Vapor Grip, which reduces the volatility of this product. This product has 2.9 lb/gallon of DGA salt of dicamba in liquid, so 22 fl oz provides 0.5 lb of dicamba, which is equivalent to 16 oz of Clarity and other 4 lb/gallon dicamba products. The minimum application rate for any use is 22 fl oz/ac. The maximum rate per application prior to soybean emergence is 44 fl oz/acre, which is also the total maximum allowed for all applications prior to soybean emergence. The maximum rate per application after soybean emergence is 22 fl oz/acre. The total of all POST applications cannot exceed 44 fl oz/acre. The cumulative application rate per year cannot exceed 88 fl oz/ac. Use of ammonium sulfate, UAN, etc. is not allowed due to their potential to increase the volatility of dicamba. Certain adjuvants can be mixed with XtendiMax and are listed at Post-emergence application of XtendiMax can be made from emergence up to and including the R1 stage of soybean growth. Weeds should be less than 4 inches tall at time of post-emergence application. EPA Reg. No. 524-617. Mode of Acton: 4.

Zidua® PRO [imazethapyr (13.45%) + pyroxasulfone (23.06%) + saflufenacil (4.81%)]. Zidua PRO is a premix of Pursuit, Zidua, and Sharpen. It provides contact burndown and residual pre-emergence control of annual grass and broadleaf weeds in soybean. It can be applied from 4.5 to 6.0 fl oz/acre depending on tillage system. It has three modes of action and will be a good herbicide to consider in a resistant weed management program. EPA Reg. No. 7969-365. Modes of Action: 2 + 15 + 14.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has highlighted the continued biosecurity efforts by Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers and the preparations undertaken on the state and federal level following the confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Tennessee and low pathogenicity avian influenza in Tennessee and Wisconsin in the past week.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock. Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness.  LPAI can occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness.

“Iowa saw firsthand the devastating impact of avian influenza in 2015 and in response our poultry farmers have made significant investments and an ongoing commitment to increase biosecurity efforts to keep their birds healthy. We have also worked to learn from the 2015 outbreak to improve the response from both the state and federal governments.”

Biosecurity Important for Farmers

Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers have updated their biosecurity measures and made significant investments to help prevent the disease from getting on their farm. They focus every day on biosecurity in recognition of the potential that Avian Influenza and other diseases are always a risk.

All poultry farms need to have a biosecurity plan to qualify for USDA indemnification.  It is also recommended all livestock premises that have 1 or more animals have an official premises identification number, which may be obtained for free by contacting the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.  Information on how to obtain premise identification can be found at or by calling the Department toll free at 888-778-7675.

Iowa's egg and turkey companies have implemented company-wide biosecurity plans. The Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine has produced numerous materials to help farmers update biosecurity measures on their farm.  More information about their suggestions can be found at

State and Federal Preparations

In addition to the work by poultry farmers, state and federal partners have taken numerous steps to learn from the 2015 incident and prepare for any future outbreaks.

The Iowa response to Avian Influenza operates under a Unified Command involving the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services.  We also work closely with partners in the Poultry industry as well as other state agencies, including the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Links for additional information

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Avian Influenza Page

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Avian Influenza page

Iowa State University Egg Industry Center

USDA APHIS Biosecurity Information for Backyard Flocks

Agronomy in the Field Meetings for Women Farmers Continues this Spring

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Agronomy in the Field for Women will be held this spring across Iowa. The program is in its third year bringing together women landowners, farmers and ag retailers to learn about Iowa crop production.

The goals of this series are to strengthen agronomic skills for women that allow for better decision-making, provide a better understanding of inputs for crop production, see and understand different conservation practices and increase confidence in communication with their spouse, farming partner, ag retailer or tenant.

These programs are hosted by ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists Angie Rieck-Hinz, Meaghan Anderson, Rebecca Vittetoe and Mike Witt. Five locations, covering many areas of the state, will be used.

“Depending on the location, we plan to have biweekly or monthly workshops to cover topics on crop growth and development, pasture management, pest management principles, scouting techniques, cover crops and water quality, and additional practices and topics as they come up this spring and summer,” said Anderson. “The individual groups really lead the topic selection and discussion.”

Following each session, a recap of the workshop with resources and information will be sent to those interested in the meetings. There is no charge to participate and women are not required to attend every session to participate. While a start date for the meetings is yet to be determined, please contact the location host to be kept up-to-date on individual sites:

Central Iowa: Meetings in central Iowa, hosted by Rieck-Hinz, will meet approximately biweekly at the Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) near Boone, Iowa this spring and summer. Please contact Angie Rieck-Hinz at 515-231-2830 or

West Central Iowa: Meetings in west central Iowa, hosted by Witt, will meet approximately biweekly in Guthrie County this spring and summer. Please contact Mike Witt at 641-430-2600 or

East Central Iowa: Meetings in east central Iowa, hosted by Anderson, will meet approximately biweekly on farms in Iowa and Benton Counties in conjunction with the Price Creek Watershed Project. Please contact Meaghan Anderson at 319-337-2145 or

Southeast Iowa: Meetings in southeast Iowa, hosted by Anderson and Vittetoe, will meet monthly at the Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Crawfordsville, Iowa. Please contact either Meaghan Anderson at 319-337-2145 or, or Rebecca Vittetoe at 319-653-4811 or

South Central Iowa: Meetings in south central Iowa, hosted by Vittetoe, will meet monthly at the McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm near Chariton, Iowa. Please contact Rebecca Vittetoe at 319-653-4811 or ,

Agronomy in the Field is sponsored by an NCR-SARE Partnership Grant Project. Local support is provided by Story, Boone, Iowa, Benton, Washington, Guthrie, Lucas, Wayne, and Warren County Extension.

University of Missouri Releases FAPRI 10-year Baseline Projections

Net farm income could fall for the fourth straight year in 2017, and the farm debt-to-asset ratio is rising. Even with a modest recovery in farm income in 2018 and beyond, pressure on farm finances is expected to continue, according to the University of Missouri's Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute's "U.S. Baseline Briefing Book". 

These baseline projections for agricultural and biofuel markets were prepared using market information available inJanu-ary 2017. Macroeconomic assumptions are based primarily on forecasts by IHS Global Insight which suggestmoderate growth in the U.S. and global economies. The baseline incorporates 2014 farm bill provisions andassumes a continuation of current agricultural and biofuel policies.

The world is an uncertain place and commodity markets will continue to be volatile. We use our models to develop arange of projected market outcomes that takes into account some major sources of uncertainty about future supplyand demand conditions. In some of the resulting 500 outcomes, prices, quantities and values are much higher ormuch lower than the averages reported here.

Some key results:
· Record U.S. yields and world production have resulted in further declines in the prices of corn, wheat and many other crops in the 2016/17 marketing year.
· Because of shifts in relative prices, projected soybean and cotton planted acreage increases in 2017, while wheat and corn acreage declines.
· Projected corn prices average $3.60 per bushel for the 2017/18 marketing year, up slightly from 2016/17. Cornprices average $3.71 per bushel for the 2018-2026 period.
· Strong export demand has supported soybean and cotton prices in 2016/17. Projected soybean prices average $9.57 per bushel in 2017/18 and remain near that level in later years.
· Cattle, hog, chicken and milk prices have all declined sharply since 2014. Production has increased, and a strong dollar is constraining meat export sales.
· Cattle and hog prices both fall in 2017 because of large domestic supplies. U.S. milk prices increase in 2017 with stronger international markets.
· Net farm income has declined by 48 percent since its 2013 peak. It increases in 2018 and later years, but in real terms, projected net farm income remains below the 2015 level.
· Lower farm income and rising interest rates result in lower projected land prices and farm asset values. The debt-to-asset ratio increases from 11 percent in 2012 to nearly 14 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2026.
· Agricultural risk coverage (ARC) payments are expected to decline rapidly, largely because ofreduced guarantees tied to moving averages of past market prices. More farmers are assumed to choose price loss coverage (PLC) in 2019 if current program rules are extended by a new farm bill and producers are allowed to make a new election.
· Crop insurance net outlays are projected to average about $8 billion per year for fiscal years 2018-2026. Major commodity program outlays average about $7 billion per year over the same period.
· Food price inflation was just 0.3 percent in 2016, and is expected to reach 1.7 percent in 2017. In later years, pro-jected food price inflation is similar to the overall rate of inflation in the U.S. economy.

See the complete report at this link...

NCGA Study Shows Crop Insurance Returns Have Decreased

Private crop insurance company returns have decreased significantly since the 2010 renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) between the insurance companies and the federal government, and are in line with benchmarks established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, according to a new study released today by the National Corn Growers Association.

“The federal crop insurance program is the cornerstone of farm bill risk management programs, and it is more important than ever given the state of the farm economy,” said Steve Ebke, chairman of the NCGA Risk Management Action Team and a farmer from Daykin, Nebraska. “We commissioned an independent analysis of the crop insurance industry’s performance to determine whether criticisms against the insurers’ returns have merit. What we discovered is that the returns private crop insurance companies receive are much smaller than opponents claim, and they are well within the standards set by RMA.”

According to the findings, from 1998 to 2010, crop insurance companies had an average net return on retained premium of 14.1 percent. From 2011 to 2015, returns averaged 1.5 percent, a decrease of 12.6 percentage points.

Private crop insurance companies are part of a public-private partnership for delivering federal crop insurance to American farmers. Crop insurance companies are responsible for delivering policies to farmers and managing the claims adjustment process. Crop insurance companies bear a portion of the risks associated with crop insurance policies. In return for these services, companies receive compensation in the form of Administrative and Operating (A&O) reimbursements and underwriting gains.

The SRA establishes the levels of compensation for the companies. The 2010 renegotiations substantially cut A&O reimbursements and limited the share of underwriting gains that crop insurance companies could receive. As a result, net returns to retained premiums are expected to average approximately 5.7 percentage points lower compared to pre-2010 levels.

The study was commissioned by NCGA and conducted by Dr. Gary Schnitkey, professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois; Dr. Joshua Woodard, assistant professor and the Zaitz Family Faculty Fellow of Agricultural Business and Finance at Cornell University; and Dr. Bruce Sherrick, professor of agricultural and consumer economics and Director of the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research at the University of Illinois.

 UNIQUE PROGRAM Spotlights the Evolving Role of Women in Agriculture

Just as rural communities are the backbone of America, farm moms play a vital and integral role on the farm, with their families, in their communities and across the entire agriculture industry. To honor the significant contributions these women make in their communities and beyond, the America’s Farmers Mom of the Year Contest program, sponsored by Monsanto, will help some of the most outstanding farm moms make an even bigger difference in their communities.

In 2017, the program will focus even more on the communities in which these women live and work by providing financial support to nonprofit organizations these moms are passionate about.

“Looking at our previous Farm Mom of the Year winners, one commonality stood out – their dedication to their communities,” said Tracy Mueller, Monsanto marketing communications manager. “This year we’ve enhanced the program to further highlight farm moms’ efforts in their local communities and provide financial support to nonprofit organizations they care about.”

March 1 through March 31, an eligible person can nominate an eligible exceptional farm mom for the chance to be named America’s Farmers Mom of the Year. A panel of judges from American Agri-Women will judge the nominations based on published criteria and Monsanto will select five regional winners based on the judges’ decisions. Each of the regional winners will receive $2,000 to direct to an eligible nonprofit organization of her choice, as well as $3,000 for her personal use. Among the five regional winners, one woman will be named America’s Farmers Mom of the Year based on public voting and receive an additional $2,000 to direct to an eligible nonprofit she cares about in her community.

To nominate your favorite farm mom, an eligible person can visit and complete an online entry or print a form for mailing by March 31, 2017. Nominations are limited to 300 words and should include details about the nominee’s contributions to her farm, family, community and the agricultural industry. For the Official Contest Rules, including a complete list of program rules and eligibility information, please visit More information on the America’s Farmers Farm Mom of the Year program can also be found at

“It’s so humbling to read about all of the amazing farm moms who give so much of themselves and ask for nothing in return,” says Doris Mold, American Agri-Women President “It’s their selflessness that makes our job to judge the nominations extremely difficult, but also so rewarding.”

New ASTM High-Octane Fuel Standard Published

Last week, ASTM International published an important new high-octane fuel standard, ASTM D8076 – 17, Standard Specification for 100 Research Octane Number Test Fuel for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines. A major victory for the ethanol industry, this new specification intends to describe and align the fuel properties needed to enable high compression ratio, turbocharged boosted engines that will utilize fuels with up to 50 percent ethanol.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement regarding the specification:

“A significant milestone and high priority Growth Energy effort was achieved at ASTM last week – the first publication of a high-octane fuel specification to support the development of new engine technologies that can harness ethanol’s powerful octane boost while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 “One of Growth Energy’s primary goals is to facilitate the expansion of higher ethanol blends in markets across the United States, and this new specification is a great sign for what’s to come with higher blends. Moving forward, optimizing engines to use up to 50 percent ethanol will be a victory for engine performance, the environment, and the American consumer.

“The ASTM process is rigorous and requires the review and approval of premier automotive and fuel experts from around the globe, so it is very common for new standards and specifications to take up to five years to be fully developed and reach publication status. Specification D8076 went from concept to completion in record time at ASTM due to the tremendous partnership among the automotive, agriculture, and ethanol industries. I also want to give a special thanks to Dr. Robert McCormick of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for leading the effort to get this standard published.”

ASTM International is a leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards. Today, over 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.

Friday March 10 Ag News


State groundwater levels continue to recover from the 2012 drought, according to the 2016 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

Released by the Conservation and Survey Division in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's School of Natural Resources, the report showed that groundwater levels in spring 2016 continued to rise following above-normal and near-average precipitation recorded for the year across the state. However, many parts of Nebraska still showed groundwater levels that remain 10 to 15 feet below spring 2012 conditions.

Report authors found water levels rose an average of 0.69 feet from spring 2015 to spring 2016. Significant rises were measured in the Panhandle, along the Platte River Valley and the eastern third of the state. The rest of Nebraska recorded near-average precipitation and modest, localized water level changes.

The report was authored by Aaron Young, survey geologist; Mark Burbach, environmental scientist; Leslie Howard, geographic information science and cartography manager; Michele Waszgis, research technician; Matt Joeckel, state geologist and associate director of the Conservation and Survey Division; and Susan Olafsen Lackey, research hydrogeologist.

Available online and in the Nebraska Maps and More Store in Hardin Hall, the report examines groundwater level changes, using data collected from nearly 5,000 wells across the state. It studies the rate of drawdown and recharge measured in regional wells and gives a general depiction of the current state of groundwater levels on a yearly basis. It also looks at historical trends, comparing regional water levels during extended periods of time.

In-depth maps in the report look at one-year groundwater level changes, but also examine five-year and 10-year changes, in addition to changes since the beginning of irrigation development. The maps are based on information collected by the Conservation and Survey Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Natural Resources Districts and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District.

The reports and maps are produced by the Conservation and Survey Division and have been since the 1950s. Groundwater monitoring began in Nebraska in the 1930s.

For more information on the report and groundwater-related data, visit or call 402-472-8339.

LENRD public hearing to certify irrigated acres will be held March 23rd

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will conduct a public hearing to certify irrigated acres on March 23, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.  The hearing will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center, located on the campus of Northeast Community College - 601 East Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk. 

You can find a list of individuals are those who have fields in this certification hearing  on the web site.  If you have any questions about this hearing or the certification process, contact Mike Murphy at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313.

Grower to Speak at New Series of Poultry Informational Meetings
Graham P. Christensen, GCResolve

As the proposed Costco-owned chicken processing operation in Fremont continues to be discussed and challenged by local residents, farmers and their families from surrounding Nebraska counties are weighing the benefits and the costs of entering into the life of a contract-grower. Major questions need to be asked -- and answered.

To continue to help provide real-world information and separate the myths from the facts of contract- growing, a second series of informational meetings will be held across Northeast Nebraska featuring a nationally-recognized expert and whistleblower on the industrial poultry industry.

Craig Watts is a former contract-grower for agribusiness giant Perdue in North Carolina who stood up to the industry and the shortcomings common and harmful to growers. Currently an independent family farmer and consultant for Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, Watts offers a unique, experienced perspective on contract-growing and the issues local Nebraska farmers will face.

The meetings will also include a showing of the short documentary film “Sharecropper,” which explores the ongoing struggles of America’s chicken farmers.

The following is the calendar for informational meetings:

-Norfolk Library | 308 West Prospect Ave, Norfolk, NE | 9:30am & 12:00pm (two separate events)

-Keene Memorial Library |1030 North Broad Street, Fremont, NE | 9:30am
-Tekamah Auditorium | 1315 K Street, Tekamah, NE | 1:00pm

Nielsen Center | 200 Anna Stalp Ave, West Point, NE | 9:30am
-Wahoo Library | 637 North Maple St, Wahoo, NE | 1:30pm
-Columbus Library | 2424 14th Street, Columbus, NE| 5:30pm

This meeting series is co-sponsored by Nebraska Communities United, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, Farm Aid and GC Resolve.


Terry Hejny, director of the Nebraska LEAD Program was honored with the Agri-Award on March 8 at the Triumph of Agriculture Exposition Farm and Ranch Machinery Show in Omaha.

The Triumph of Agriculture Exposition established the annual Agri-Award as part of Nebraska’s Centennial Celebration in 1976 to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals that have contributed to the agricultural development in the Midwest.

“I am honored to be selected as this year’s recipient of the Agri-Award by the Triumph of Agriculture’s Farm and Machinery Council. As I look at the names of the previous recipients, I am humbled to be included among them,” Hejny said.

Hejny began his career with the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1998. He worked as an educator for Nebraska Extension in Fillmore County specializing in grain marketing and risk management before transitioning to the Cass County Extension office in 2005. Hejny has served as director of the Nebraska LEAD Program since 2007. In addition, Hejny is the president of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement to honor two, elect new members

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement will honor Robert Andersen and Eugene Glock at a banquet on March 16 in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union in Lincoln.    

Formed in 1916, the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and inducts new members.

As president of the Nebraska Cooperative Council for 42 years, Robert Andersen spent his professional career making contributions to Nebraska’s agriculture industry and its natural resources. He effectively mentored cooperatives statewide by assisting with their organization, leadership, education and financial stewardship. He also was an effective leader at the national level, serving as a director of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives for more than 20 years.

A 1972 graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Andersen has been a strong supporter of the University and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He helped establish $130,000 in scholarships that have been awarded to 170 students and helped establish the University’s professor of agricultural and rural cooperatives tenure-track position.

A few of Andersen’s honors include the Nebraska Corn Board Elevator Industry Award; the Nebraska Ag Relations Council Ag Relations Award; the Nebraska Rural Radio Association Service to Agriculture Award and the Nebraska Agri-Business Club Public Service to Agriculture Award.

Eugene Glock is a lifelong native of Butler County, Nebraska. He raises corn and soybeans, primarily for seed production, on the family farm near Rising City. Adopting progressive soil and water conservation practices has always been a high priority for him. Glock is recognized as a leader in water conservation.

Glock was instrumental in establishing the Nebraska Soybean Association and served as its first president in 1973. He was also a founding member of the Nebraska Soybean Development Board that administers the soybean check-off program and served in that capacity for 15 years. His leadership in the soybean industry extended to the national level where he served nine years on the American Soybean Association Board and seven of those years on the executive committee.

Eugene’s leadership contributions extend to all corners of Nebraska’s agricultural industry. He served 12 years on Senator Bob Kerrey’s staff as the Senator’s State Agriculture Representative; six years on the Board of Directors of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska; and on numerous University of Nebraska advisory committees. He currently serves on NU President Bound’s Advisory Council. He also served in a leadership role for the Ag 40 Group that was instrumental in establishing the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A few of Glock’s honors include the Nebraska Agribusiness Club Service to Agriculture Award; Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Agricultural Achievement Award; Nebraska Crop Improvement Association Premier Seed Grower Award; University of Nebraska CASNR Alumni Achievement Award; Nebraska Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers Distinguished Service Award; and Nebraska Rural Radio Association KRVN Service to Agriculture Award.

NHAA will also welcome new members at the banquet. New members are nominated by a fellow member of the hall for their significant contributions to the state’s agriculture industry.
This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown are:
· BRIDGEPORT: Nick Lapaseotes, farmer, feedyard and cow-calf operator
· CHADRON: Connee Quinn, rancher, retired Elanco Animal Health sales rep
· COLUMBUS: Debora Hamernik, interim associate vice chancellor for research, associate dean of the Agricultural Research Division, associate director of Agricultural Experiment Station, professor of animal science, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; James Hellbusch, owner and operator, DuoLift
· KEARNEY: Anne Marie Bosshamer, executive director, Nebraska Beef Council
· LINCOLN: Dean Eisenhauer, emeritus professor, biological systems engineering, University of Nebraska­ –Lincoln; Galen Erickson, Nebraska Cattle Industry Professor of Animal Science, beef feedlot nutrition specialist, University of Nebraska­ ­ ­ ­ –Lincoln
· PAXTON: Mark Spurgin, owner, Spurgin Inc.
· SHELTON: Randy Gangwish, owner and operator, Gangwish Seed Farms
·YORK: Gary Zoubek, retired educator, Nebraska Extension

Collaborative Program Connects Dietitians with Beef Community

The Nebraska and California Beef Councils recently collaborated on a program to provide culinary dietitians with a taste of beef production practices set in the ranching communities of Napa and Sonoma County California.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ conference focused on the link between nutrition, cooking and the enjoyment of food.

“Beef has a unique and versatile culinary appeal,” said Mitch Rippe, Director of Nutrition for the Nebraska Beef Council. “We wanted to showcase those aspects, but also hear from the farmers and ranchers who produce our beef to learn how the nutritious and responsibly-raised product gets to our table.”

The program began with an interactive session entitled Plates and Palates. The Plates and Palates presentation included beef cut identification, an interactive taste and flavor session, and suggestions on creating nutritious meals with beef. The session was led by Chef Laura Hagen, Senior Director of Culinary and registered dietitian Erin Weber, Associate Director of Health Communications Outreach, both from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. Subject matter was delivered via a carcass diagram with retail cuts of beef and appropriate cooking methods, a hands-on exploration of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (savory) and fermented with umami-rich beef and tastings of two checkoff-developed recipes to show how beef fits in a balanced and healthy dietary pattern.

“It was so nice to talk to a group of foodies who were really interested in the beef umami tasting exercise,” said Hagen, who is responsible for the Beef Culinary Center and works alongside culinary staff members to implement food production, recipe testing and food photography. “Hearing what attendees are doing with beef in the kitchen validates the current work we’re doing testing new recipes and preparation methods like sous vide and pressure cooking.”

In the afternoon, 22 dietitians travelled to Kunde Estates, home of the Sonoma Mountain Hereford ranch. Jim and Marcia (Kunde) Mickelson, fourth generation ranchers and winegrowers, provided a tour of operations at the ranch. At the center of the discussion were the production practices that contribute to meeting a growing global beef demand while balancing environmental responsibility, social diligence, and food safety. The dietitians were provided a tour of the ranch and given a direct approach to understanding the production cycle by handling a sale bull.

Regrouping at the Kunde family winery, the dietitians were treated to a tasting of five Kunde wines. During the tasting, the group also took a walking tour of the wine caves and discussed the barrel aging process of premium wines. During the event, Rippe and Weber also led a nutrition presentation on the health aspects of lean beef.

“We are helping people to learn more about their food, not just about the nutrients in it, but how all the hard work and efforts by our farmers and ranchers contribute to the high quality, nutritious beef we all enjoy.” As the trusted health and nutrition resource, consumers look to registered dietitians to help them in choosing and selecting the most beneficial foods to feed their families, Rippe said. “Therefore, it is important that we provide dietitians the opportunity to join us in the production experience, so they can see and understand the direct correlation between beef production and beef nutrition.” 

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Winter will be over soon and another grazing season will begin. Who knows how much moisture lies ahead.  Today I’ll suggest some ways you can limit the forage problems drought could cause.

               Drought is likely to be a problem again this summer, at least somewhere.  Because hay can be costly when pastures are 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 good option is to feed hay a bit longer into 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 grazing season to give pastures more time to recover between grazings.

               Another strategy is planting annual forages for pasture or hay.  Some excellent choices are oats planted as early as possible or summer annual grasses like sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, and pearl millet planted once soils are good and warm.  Late May or early June usually is best for these grasses.  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.

Ricketts Temporarily Waives Hauling Requirements

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts directed the Nebraska State Patrol to temporarily waive certain requirements for trucks traveling in and through Nebraska in support of efforts to aid citizens of Kansas impacted by wildfires.

“Due to the recent fires in Kansas, the Governor has temporarily waived the length and weight requirements for trucks traveling in and through Nebraska in support of efforts to assist the citizens of Kansas,” said the Governor’s Chief of Staff Matt Miltenberger.  “There is likely to be an increased number of trucks carrying hay and livestock, and this temporary waiver will expedite efforts to provide assistance to victims of the wildfires.”

The directive is effective immediately until Friday, March 17th, 2017 at 11:59pm pending further notice from the Governor.

Wildfire Relief Efforts: How You Can Help

As the wildfires that recently ravaged the plains are put out, our fellow cattlemen in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado are left with devastating loss. If you are interested in donating funds, hay, feed, or fencing supplies, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has compiled information on how to help here...

Donate at or call the Kansas Livestock Association at (785) 273-5115.

Donations of hay, feed, and fencing supplies can be taken to CHS Grainland in Haxtun. Information on monetary donations can be found at  Checks can be mailed to Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, Attn: Disaster Fund, 9177 E. Mineral Circle, Centennial, CO 80112.

Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation and put "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit  To donate hay or trucking services for hay, contact either the Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530.

Three supply points have been established to collect donated hay. Each are listed here...  If you have hay that you can donate and transport to either supply point, please contact the location directly prior to transportation.

Investing in Research for the Good of Science, Agriculture and the Environment

Through the Iowa Corn Promotion Board’s (ICPB) investment in research, Iowa corn farmers continue making strides in sustainably increasing corn plant efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of corn production.

In 2014, ICPB embarked on creating a public, broad-umbrella initiative to translate genomic information for the benefit of growers, consumers and society. The initiative, called Genomes To Fields (G2F), is funded with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, National Corn Growers Association and now includes 21 states plus Ontario. This program leverages the mapping of the corn genome to identify key corn genetic traits that impact yield and the plant’s ability to respond to environmental stressors to design a better corn plant in the future.

“When the genes of corn were mapped back in 2009, for the first time we could see all the genes in a corn plant,” said Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee Chair Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan. “But having the complete corn gene sequenced doesn't tell us anything about what all these genes do in terms of crop growth and production. So, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board has been taking the initiative to do something about this.”

Corn growth and productivity is determined by its genes and how those genes interact with the environmental conditions in which a corn plant is placed, such as temperature, rainfall, soil types, and pests, something researchers refer to as the Genotype x Environment interaction, or GxE. To understand how genes affect corn growth, we need to evaluate this GxE effect for a large number of hybrids (genotypes) grown in a wide range of environments.

At the beginning of the program, Iowa Corn’s Research and Business Development committee funded the Genomes To Field Initiative (aka Phenotyping), with the initial emphasis on the GxE Trial, where hundreds of genotyped corn hybrids grown across dozens of environments in several states, from New York to Arizona to South Dakota to Georgia. The objective was to understand how genes and environments interact to impact corn traits and performance.

“One of the requirements of the committee has always been that the results of this work needs to be public,” explained Mether. “A key step is building an open source data information site for corn research. This past month that finally happened. The 2014 and 2015 data is now publicly available with the 2016 data available to G2F researchers.”

This represents the largest dataset of corn genotype, environmental and phenotypic data that has ever been made available to researchers at universities and agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“This knowledge base will assist seed companies in commercializing improved corn hybrids and will advance farmers’ precision farming techniques including the more efficient use of land and the more precise use of pesticides and fertilizers,” Mether said.

But the release of this dataset marks just the beginning, not the end.  Unlike sequencing the corn genome, which was completed in 2009, researchers will never be finished collecting phenotype data and understanding how plants respond to various environmental factors. This dataset represents the beginnings of a resource that will continue to grow and become more valuable over time. It will allow researchers to convert the corn genome sequence into functional knowledge and develop new methods and devices to analyze the relationship between genetic, trait and environmental data to predict performance of plants.

2017 will be the fourth year of the G2F GxE Trials including three new states. The initiative is working closely with Iowa Corn Growers Association in developing a strategy to use with Congress and government agencies to obtain research funding. Funds raised by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Illinois Corn and Nebraska Corn boards have been matched by grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA‐NIFA) totaling $500,000.

To learn more about ICPB’s research and science funding, please visit:

Congress Sends Resolution to Halt BLM Planning Rule to President

The Senate earlier this week joined the House in approving a Farm Bureau-supported resolution (H.J. Res. 44) to stop an Obama administration rule that would weaken the influence of local and regional input on Bureau of Land Management decisions.  The resolution now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Known as “Planning 2.0,” the far-reaching rule incorporated numerous Obama-era presidential and secretarial orders, along with internal agency guidance and policy documents. By reducing the opportunity for public comment, minimizing federal requirements to coordinate with state and local governments and imposing new mitigation requirements, Planning 2.0 would have caused significant problems in the federal land use planning processes.

White House Submits Some Nomination Paperwork for Agriculture Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House has submitted nomination paperwork for agriculture secretary pick Sonny Perdue -- more than seven weeks after President Donald Trump nominated him.

The Senate Agriculture Committee received the nomination on Thursday. But it still doesn't have Perdue's ethics paperwork or FBI background check. That's according to a spokeswoman for Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the panel's top Democrat.

The forms are necessary to schedule a confirmation hearing.

Perdue's ethics forms are also missing from the Office of Government Ethics website, which posts them when they are completed. The ethics agreements identify potential conflicts of interest and how they will be resolved.

Perdue is a former Georgia governor who's had businesses in grain trading, trucking and exports. It's unclear whether any of those interests are causing the holdup.

Thursday March 9 Ag News

Sasse Convenes Nebraska Meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Nominee

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after convening a meeting with Robert Lighthizer, nominee to lead the U.S. Trade Representative office. Sasse and Lighthizer were joined by leaders from Nebraska agriculture, including Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater, Nebraska Pork Producers President Russ Vering, Nebraska Wheat Growers President Randon Peters, Nebraska Corn Growers President Dan Wesely, and U.S. Soybean Export Council Chairman Jim Miller.

“Free trade is a clear-cut win for Nebraska,” said Sasse. “I’m glad that some of Nebraska’s agriculture leaders brought their perspectives directly to U.S. Trade Representative nominee Lighthizer. Nebraska feeds the world and, to continue on that mission, we need to build trade networks around the globe."

“Senator Sasse and members of the Farm Bureau are going to keep talking about the future of trade,” said Nelson. “Free trade creates networks and opportunities for Nebraskans, especially those of us that farm, and it needs to be a top priority. Nebraska Farm Bureau looks forward to continuing these conversations with Senator Sasse and nominee Lighthizer.”

“Nebraska Cattlemen greatly appreciates Senator Sasse’s leadership on promoting trade for agriculture,” said Stowater. “It is a virtual certainty that U.S. red meat production will be at new all-time annual records in both 2017 and 2018, and we have an immediate need to emphasize export opportunities with our global trading partners. We look forward to working with USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer in promoting U.S. beef exports and removing barriers to trade."

“On behalf of Nebraska’s pork producers, I am very appreciative of Senator Sasse’s leadership in arranging this meeting with United States Trade Representatives nominee, Robert Lighthizer,” said Vering. “Nebraska’s progress in expanding its pork industry for the next generation will rely heavily on foreign markets and sound free trade agreements.”

"Access to foreign markets is important for wheat growers as half of the wheat in our state is exported,” said Peters. “On behalf of the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association, I’d like to thank Senator Sasse for his continued efforts to highlight the importance of international trade and support our state’s farmers."

“Nebraska is known for its corn,” said Wesely. “That being said, we still have work to do when it comes to promoting our products and educating our leaders about the benefits of free trade. Senator Sasse, by leading these conversations, is an advocate Nebraskans should be proud of.”

“We want to thank Senator Sasse for bringing Nebraskans to the table today,” said Miller. “With sixty to seventy percent of Nebraska soybeans being exported, our farmers know the importance of free trade. Our nation, through our trade representatives, needs to ensure that the agriculture industry is given every opportunity to succeed.”

Steve Nelson, of Axtel (Kearney County)
Troy Stowater, of Wayne (Wayne County)
Russ Vering, of Scribner (Dodge County)
Randon Peters, of McCook (Red Willow County)
Dan Wesely, of Morse Bluff (Saunders County)
Jim Miller, of Belden (Cedar County)


A new project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln aims to prepare students to address the challenges of food production and the environment through hands-on learning experience and peer interaction. 

Funded by a $281,475 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the project will bring 24 students from across the country to Nebraska to conduct summer experiential internships related to their career interests and goals. Throughout the 10-week internships, the students will hold weekly think-tank sessions where they will share experiences, findings and challenges with their peers.

"Student internships tend to focus on tasks, but we want students to be systems thinkers so they can recognize how those tasks connect to a major challenge," said Martha Mamo, Weaver Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture and lead investigator on the project. "Peer learning is powerful. We'll bring a cohort of students together with different interests, so they have the opportunity to recognize that they're all actually addressing the same challenge."

Students can choose from a wide variety of internship programs in the applied plant, soil and environmental sciences. One example involves working directly with crop-consulting agronomists during the growing season to perform field checks, identify and diagnose pest and crop growth problems, monitor soil moisture, schedule irrigation, assist with equipment calibration, and take plant and soil samples.

As part of the grant requirement, half of the participants must be from outside of the host institution. Each student will have a mentor throughout the internship, who will facilitate the think-tank sessions. The mentors will include faculty in the university's Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, private crop consultants and USDA Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives.

At the conclusion of their internships, the students must create a tangible outreach or extension component explaining what they learned. Mamo said the students will create a video, infographic or lesson plan to disseminate their discoveries.

“It doesn't always have to be a peer-reviewed publication," she said. "Tomorrow's scientists must be able to present science in a way that the public will understand."

The first group of seven students will begin their internships in June.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic work we're doing at UNL, but bringing in individuals with diverse backgrounds and ideas will only add to the overall experience," Mamo said. 

Others working on the project include David Lambe, associate professor of practice in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Donald Lee, professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Gina Matkin, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication; Leah Sandall, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Walter Schacht, Sunkist Fiesta Bowl Professor of Agronomy in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; and Carol Speth, educational assessment specialist in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.

Valmont Board Declares Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Valmont Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI) has declared a quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents per share payable on April 14, 2017 to shareholders of record on March 31, 2017. The dividend indicates an annual rate of $1.50 per share.

Valmont is a global leader, designing and manufacturing engineered products that support global infrastructure development and agricultural productivity.

Its products for infrastructure serve highway, transportation, wireless communication, electric transmission, and industrial construction and energy markets. Its mechanized irrigation equipment for large scale agriculture improves farm productivity while conserving fresh water resources.

In addition, Valmont provides coatings services that protect against corrosion and improve the service lives of steel and other metal products.

Four colleges and universities represented at IPPA Student Taste of Elegance

The Iowa Pork Producers Association held its annual Student Taste of Elegance competition on March 6 at the Des Moines Area Community College's Iowa Culinary Institute in Ankeny.

Eleven teams of students from Iowa Western Community College, Iowa State University, Scott Community College and the Iowa Culinary Institute each prepared an original pork tenderloin entrée for judging on taste, appearance and design.

The Red Hats from Iowa Western took first place honors with their "Pistachio Encrusted Pork Tenderloin." The students on the team were Katelynn Hunter-Mullin, Ann Snyder, Jennifer Christensen, Taylor Post and each student received $100 from IPPA. In addition, their culinary program at Iowa Western received a $750 check for scholarships or classroom supplies.

The DMACC Swine and Dine team placed second. The team prepared "Apple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin with Bacon and Creamed Corn Succotash." IPPA awarded each student $50 and DMACC will receive a $500 check for scholarships or classroom supplies.

The third-place team was Jalapeno Business, also from DMACC. The team prepared "Un Sabor De Cuba." Each student received $25 from IPPA and their school will receive a $250 check for scholarships or classroom supplies.

"We were blown away," said Cristen Clark, a pork producer, award winning baker and food blogger who served as a judge for the competition. "The students came to compete and their hard work and creativity was apparent on every plate throughout the day! There was a lot of diversity amongst the entrees, so it was great to see them thinking outside the box with the versatility opportunities with pork!

The event is held to inspire innovative and exciting ways for culinary arts students to use pork in their menus, measure their progress and practice working as a team in the kitchen. A team of judges provided immediate feedback, critiques and professional advice for the student teams.

"This event is always a ton of fun," said IPPA Marketing and Programs Director Kelsey Sutter. "The students are excited to be there, they eagerly await their kitchen start time and their entrees never fail to impress! The future culinary scene is in good hands!"

The IPPA Student Taste of Elegance is open to any Iowa college that has a culinary arts program.

Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine appoints Brad White director of Beef Cattle Institute

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University has appointed Brad White to director of the Beef Cattle Institute.

Founded in 2007, the Beef Cattle Institute is comprised of veterinarians, agricultural economists, nutritionists and other experts in beef production. The institute integrates multidisciplinary expertise from Kansas State University to deliver results for complex issues facing the beef industry.

Since October 2015, White has served as interim director of the institute. He has been on the faculty in the agricultural practices section of the college's clinical sciences department since 2005, and was elevated to the rank of professor in 2016. White earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri in 1997 and a Master of Science from Mississippi State University in 2005. He worked for the Perry County Veterinary Hospital in Perryville, Missouri, from 1997 to 2003.

"We thank Dr. White for his excellent service as the interim director, and we have great confidence in his ability to guide the Beef Cattle Institute toward continued success," said Tammy Beckham, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "During his time as interim director, Dr. White has assembled a multidisciplinary leadership team composed of faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture. He has worked with industry leaders to establish a vision for the future of the institute, and I have complete confidence he will continue to build partnerships and strengthen the relevance of the institute and its ability to serve the beef cattle industry of Kansas and the nation."

"The Beef Cattle Institute is a great environment to work as it brings together experts from multiple disciplines allowing us to provide holistic answers to pertinent industry questions," White said. "We work closely with our external advisory team comprised of industry leaders to maintain our focus on issues important to the beef industry. The overall goal of the institute is to make a positive impact by providing actionable information from our research and education programs to decision-makers throughout the beef value chain."

White has authored or co-authored 99 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 10 book chapters. As a principal investigator or co-investigator, he has obtained 25 grants in extramural research funding, totaling more than $3 million. White currently serves as president-elect for the Academy of Veterinary Consultants. He also is a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association, Kansas Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

The mission of the Beef Cattle Institute is utilizing collaborative multidisciplinary expertise to promote successful beef production through the discovery and delivery of actionable information and innovative decision support tools.

USDA Seeks Project Proposals to Protect and Restore Critical Wetlands

Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing up to $15 million in technical and financial assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands. Restored wetlands improve water quality downstream and improve wildlife habitat, while also providing flood prevention and recreational benefits to communities.

Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP​), part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a Farm Bill conservation program. The partnership is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the leading federal agency for wetland conservation on private lands. Through WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties.

“These strong, locally led partnerships help improve water quality, prevent flooding, enhance wildlife habitat and provide landowners the financial resources needed to voluntarily conserve our lands,” Young said.

Easements enable landowners to adopt a variety of conservation practices that improve the function and condition of wetlands. The voluntary nature of NRCS' easement programs enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to the local and rural communities where the wetlands exist.

This year, NRCS is encouraging partners to propose projects that focus on improving water quality as well as habitat on working landscapes in high-priority areas, ranging from the sagebrush of the West to the Chesapeake Bay. A number of at-risk species rely on wetlands, including the American black duck, bog turtle, wood turtle, spotted turtle, Blandings turtle and greater sage-grouse as well as a variety of mussel and fish species.

Proposals must be submitted to NRCS state offices by April 24, 2017.

NCGA Supports Ag Data Transparency Evaluator

The age of big data means big decisions for farmers as they decide who to trust with their information. An industry-wide effort to bring transparency to ag technology contracts is gaining momentum with the launch of a new website:

The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator is a tool designed to help farmers understand how their ag data is used when signing up with technology providers to use precision ag products.

Companies must answer a set of ten questions to determine compliance with certain core principles for ag data ownership, consent and privacy. Products are reviewed by a third-party administrator, based upon the answers to the questions for transparency, and then awarded use of the "Ag Data Transparent" seal if approved.

Since the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator effort was launched at Commodity Classic in 2016, the organization's webpage has been hosted at American Farm Bureau Federation's website. American Farm Bureau was instrumental in getting the Evaluator off the ground.

"After our first year of operation, the Evaluator tool has grown up," says Todd Janzen, administrator for the project.  "That means moving to our own, independent website, enabling technology companies to easily link and show their compliance with the Ag Data Core Principles.  The ultimate winner is the farmer who can easily find background to research precision ag products," Janzen explains.

The new website allows farmers to easily review how their ag tech provider answered the 10 questions. The site also publishes the Core Principles the industry established for ag data in November 2014.

 "Growers know the data we produce and collect on our farms comes with a huge value. So, it matters how and when that data may be used by third parties. The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator takes the guesswork out of understanding how companies may collect and use the data I produce as a farmer," says Britt Raybould, a farmer from St. Anthony, Idaho. "Instead of losing myself in the fine print of terms and conditions, I get straightforward answers to ten questions that help me make smarter decisions about the data partners I work with in my operation."

To date, several precision ag products have been evaluated and awarded the Ag Data Transparent Seal:  Onsite (AgIntegrated), Morning Farm Report (Agrible), FARMserver (Beck's Hybrids), Conservis, Farmobile, Granular, FS Advanced Information Services (GROWMARK), and MyAgData (Independent Data Management). More products are currently under evaluation.

ASA Establishes Policy Resolutions for 2017

Progressive policies for a strong farm safety net, increased funding for agricultural export programs, ambitious global trade negotiations, an aggressive support for biodiesel policies and robust funding for agricultural research and conservation programs will guide the American Soybean Association (ASA) in 2017. The 2017 Commodity Classic concluded this weekend in San Antonio with ASA’s voting delegates, representing its 26 state and regional ASA affiliates, gathered to decide policy priorities for the nation's soybean farmers in the coming year.

The nascent debate on the coming farm bill guided the majority of new resolutions this year. Many focused on strengthening the risk management programs in Title 1 of the legislation, as well as other key programs for soybean farmers in the areas of trade, biofuels, conservation and research.

In the Commodities Title, ASA committed to continuing to work closely with other agriculture organizations to enhance risk management tools and strengthen the farm safety net, which the association maintains is necessary to offset the significant reduction in farm prices and income incurred since 2013. ASA affirmed its support for renewing both the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, as well as its long-standing policy to base payments under those programs on historical rather than planted acres. Delegates passed language in support of utilizing federal crop insurance yield data available through USDA’s Risk Management Agency as a more accurate basis for payments under Title I programs, and supported allowing producers a one-time choice to reallocate or update base acreage.

In the Trade Title, delegates formally approved ASA's position that advocates for doubling funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and Market Access Program (MAP) to $69 million and $400 million, respectively. Other resolutions highlighted the importance of global trade to soybean farmers. Delegates voted to include strong language on pursuing bilateral or multilateral trade agreements with nations in the Pacific Rim, as well as Canada and Mexico amid uncertainty surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In the Conservation Title, ASA will support increasing the acreage cap for the Conservation Reserve Program to aid in implementation of the program. Delegates also approved language supporting Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plans to improve the long-term viability of the species, as well as a resolution supporting efforts by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to prevent the spread of weeds while maintaining refuge areas for monarch butterflies during migration.

The ASA delegates also reaffirmed the association's strong support for keeping the nutrition and farm components of the farm bill together, as well as for agricultural research and for energy title programs that help to expand the biodiesel and biobased products industries.

Considering the potential for a large-scale tax reform package from Congress in the coming year, delegates supported several tax-related resolutions, including renewal of the biodiesel tax credit and a restructuring of the credit to promote domestic production. Other major tax concerns included full and immediate expensing of capital investments, maintaining farmer access to cash-based accounting, repeal of the estate tax, and maintaining the Section 1031 provision for like-kind exchanges. Delegates also included language supporting the establishment of tax-deferred savings accounts for farmers.

ASA delegates added new resolutions defending the growing soymilk market and advocating the expansion of high-speed broadband connectivity to rural areas. ASA also went on the record supporting the need for plant breeding innovations (PBI) and opposing undue regulatory burdens that discourage scientific innovations in gene editing technology, and codified the association's position supporting thorough evaluation of mergers and consolidation within the seed technology and crop protection sectors.

A copy of the ASA policy resolutions handbook is available by contacting the ASA Washington office at 202-969-7040.

ASA Honors Joe Jobe with Special Meritorious Service Award

The American Soybean Association (ASA) recognized Joe Jobe, from Jefferson City, Mo., with its Special Meritorious Service Award at its annual awards banquet during the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

The Special Meritorious Service Award honors individuals who served the soybean industry above and beyond the ordinary.

Jobe, president of Rock House Advisors, is a recognized leader in the areas of energy, agriculture and environment. For nearly 20 years he's worked in these areas, helping to shape and advance the industries.

Much of his work was with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), including 17 years as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer. During his time there, Jobe grew NBB into a world-class organization that helped build the biodiesel industry into a continuously growing and competitive market.

Jobe has testified multiple times before Congress and given speeches in 10 countries. He’s appeared on national television and radio programs and been interviewed by major newspapers across the country, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Washington Post.

"Joe’s commitment and dedication helped build and grow a biodiesel industry that has benefited U.S. soybean farmers and many other agricultural stakeholders," said ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill.

"I'm so honored and grateful to my friends in the soybean industry," Jobe said. "ASA has always been a tremendous partner to the biodiesel industry and to me, and a highly effective advocate on behalf of the soybean farmers they serve. As a farm boy myself, I'm proud to have worked in an area that benefits farmers. And I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to work in an area where agriculture, energy and sustainability intersect. None of the successes that ASA is honoring me for would have happened without the hard work and commitment of ASA and America's soybean farmers. Thank you."

Duff Testifies Before Congress on Behalf of Sorghum Industry for Strong Energy Title

National Sorghum Producers testified today before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit on the Next Farm Bill: Rural Development & Energy Programs. John Duff, NSP strategic business director, appeared before the congressional committee representing the views of NSP's farmer and ethanol members expressing support for a strong energy title.

“Ethanol remains one of the foundations of the U.S. sorghum industry,” said Duff. “Ethanol producers annually grind about one-third of the domestic crop and support sorghum farmers with local demand. As America moves toward greater energy independence, we must remember what ethanol brings to the table for both farmers and U.S. consumers."

Duff's testimony emphasized the following points:
-    The state of renewable energy technology and markets have evolved significantly since the groundwork was laid by the 2002 and 2008 farm bills for the current energy title.
-    With the last decade of change some of the old programs should be combined or consolidated, making the farm bill more reflective of the current environment while still rewarding renewable energy producers who have taken risks and proven themselves to have staying power.
-    Sorghum has been a constant—with actual increased investment with recent Department of Energy commitments of over $70 million—and the crop and its producers and end-users stand ready to increase production with the right policies in place.

 NFU Concludes 115th Anniversary Convention with Adoption of Policy, Special Orders of Business

The National Farmers Union (NFU) 115th Anniversary Convention concluded today following the adoption of the organization’s policy book and special orders of business.  Nearly 500 family farmers and ranchers convened in San Diego both to engage in thoughtful policy deliberations, as well as to learn from agricultural experts and each another.

The adopted policy book and special orders of business will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, including the current farm crisis and upcoming deliberations on the 2018 Farm Bill.

“As a family farmer and rancher-led organization, our grassroots policy adoption process is the most important part of our annual convention,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “This year, NFU delegates adopted strong language to address a variety of issues facing family agriculture and rural communities, including the depressed farm economy, corporate consolidation, and international trade.”

The convention featured two high-level panels on federal farm bill and conservation issues, as well as remarks from industry leaders from a variety of agricultural sectors.

“Our programming provides members with the opportunity to learn more about the issues facing their operations and communities, and it sets the stage for how the national organization should address those issues back in Washington,” said Johnson. “With deliberations beginning on the upcoming farm bill, this year’s panel discussions provided valuable insight, important context, and diverse viewpoints that will shape the debate.”

As a means of providing the organization a prescriptive set of priorities, 136 delegates from 33 states approved six special orders of business:
~ Family Farming and Crisis Relief
~ Family Farming and Farm Bills
~ Family Farming and Trade Policy
~ Family Farming and Leading the Way on Climate Change
~ Family Farming and Expanded Higher Ethanol Blend Utilization
~ Family Farming and Dairy Policy

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at

PNW Vessel Delays Begin to Improve

Steve Wirsching, US Wheat Assoc. Vice President and West Coast Office Director

This winter the Pacific Northwest (PNW) has seen snowstorms and record rainfall that reduced vessel loading and inbound rail service. A slowing of rail service for just a few weeks manifested itself into long vessel lineups and loading delays of up to three to four weeks. Normally there are 12 to 15 vessels in the Columbia River waiting to load. However, the Daily Grain Bulletin, published by the Portland Grain Exchange, reported 38 grain vessels waiting to load a few days ago. 

Almost every sort of natural disaster imaginable has interrupted rail service to the PNW. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad applied additional resources to restore full service as soon as humanly possible. Last week there was a break in the weather, which allowed the rail service to partially recuperate. This marginal improvement raised train velocities and increased the number of unit-trains arriving in Portland daily.

Export elevators are also struggling with the weather because they cannot load when it is raining. Reports are that vessel loading efficiency is down 25 percent due to the heavy rainfall. Portland set a record in the month of February when over 10 inches of rain fell in 28 days, the most precipitation since 1996. When it rains this hard, exporters must close the hatches to protect the grain from excess moisture. Some facilities have special hatch covers where some grain can be blown through a small hole, but the loading speed is dramatically reduced. 

Further complicating the weather delays are the planned repairs of the Columbia Snake River System. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers closed the river system on Dec. 12 for necessary long-term maintenance, putting additional pressure on the rail system, now the sole mode of transportation to move grain to market. An ice storm in the Columbia River gorge stopped construction for several days, delaying repairs with possible impact on the planned reopening date of March 20. The Army Corp of Engineers is doing everything in its power which includes working on the weekends and adding labor to complete the repairs on time, but there is only so much they can do when fighting mother nature.

The grain trade is working its way out of this backlog and all expectations are that by April the Columbia River will be back to normal. Currently vessels entering the river are waiting two to three weeks to load. Loading delays and higher basis levels will potentially crowd out spot market demand limiting sales for the next year. However, most wheat buyers heeded the advice of USW early last year, when told to purchase wheat ahead of the river closure. Wheat sales and shipments are ahead of last year’s pace, a clear indication that buyers responded to USW’s recommendations. Grain (wheat, corn and soybean) exports are as much as 21 percent higher this year, the best year in the last 10 on a calendar year basis. 

With a healthy dose of perseverance, the grain trade, railroads, barge lines, growers and overseas buyers will work through these logistical challenges and overcome the delays. Traditional U.S. folk lore says March weather “comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” There are hundreds of people here in the PNW, and among many of our customers, we are waiting anxiously for the lamb to arrive!

Tyson Farm Bird Flu Found Less Menacing Than Chinese Case

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that the bird flu virus detected at one of Tyson Foods Inc.'s TSN farm poses lesser threat to humans in comparison with the virus that was responsible for the deaths of 112 people in China. Further, the U.S authorities stated that although the virus shares the same name as its Chinese counterpart - H7N9, it is genetically different from it.

Outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in poultry farms and wild flocks across Europe, Africa and Asia in the past six months. As per disease experts, although the virus involved poses low risks to human health, the simultaneous presence of it in so many parts of the world, has aggravated the risk of viruses mixing and mutating, reports Yahoo News.

In the first week of Mar 2017, the U.S authorities detected the first case of avian flu in a Tennessee farm, following which thousands of chickens were eliminated at the particular site and 30 other farms within a six-mile radius were quarantined. Known as Highly-pathogenic H7 avian influenza, or HPAI, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported 73,500 birds have been infected by the virus.

Bird flu is highly contagious in nature and infects the entire flock very quickly. The bird flu spreads from birds to humans through the air, or when people come in physical contact with an infected bird or surface.

Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong have limited their imports of U.S poultry after the first case of bird flu was detected

State of the Fertilizer Industry Report Issued

The Fertilizer Institute's 2016 State of the Fertilizer Industry report tracks industry performance on key environmental, economic, and social indicators, such as safety, energy and environment, and jobs.

"The future of the fertilizer industry depends on our ability to provide good and services that help growers feed the world, improve lives, and protect the environment, or in short, sustainable growth," said Chris Jahn, TFI President. "The data in this report showcases the significant steps the industry is taking to make positive contributions and ensure its viability in the future."

Report says the safety of the industy's employees, first responders, and local communities is a high priority. In 2015, it dedicated in excess of 2,600 hours to training emergency responders. When compared to similar industries, the fertilizer industry experienced fewer than one-half the safety incidents of peers in the chemical manufacturing and merchant wholesaler industries.

In 2015, the industry invested $5.1 billion in capital infrastructure projects. These investments create jobs, increase worker and community safety, and help conserve land, energy, land, water, and air resources.

By employing certified crop advisors, the industry is guiding farmers to make sustainable choices and use 4R Nutrient Stewardship with their fertilizer use. In 2015, the industry employed 1,127 certified crop advisors, the report noted.

And the sector generates more than $154 billion in economic benefit and provides 89,000 direct jobs and 406,000 indirect jobs for a total of 495,000 U.S. jobs.

The report was done in cooperation with many of the key players in the fertilizer industry from all segments of the supply chain from manufacturing to retail. This report accounts for 93 percent of total fertilizer production capacity in the United States and represents industry wholesale and retail sectors.

CoBank Reports Slight Bump in Net Income in '16

CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, announced financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2016. Net income for the year rose 1 percent to $945.7 million, reflecting increased net interest income offset by a greater provision for loan losses as well as higher Farm Credit insurance fund premiums and other operating expenses.

CoBank's average loan volume increased 10 percent in 2016, to $91.6 billion, driven by higher levels of borrowing from affiliated Farm Credit associations, grain cooperatives, food and agribusiness companies, rural electric cooperatives and communications service providers.

For the fourth quarter of 2016, net income was $227.3 million compared to $236.3 million in the same period of 2015.

Earnings declined primarily due to a $15 million provision for loan losses taken during the fourth quarter of 2016, which more than offset the positive impacts of higher net interest income.

Net interest income for the quarter increased 3 percent to $345.0 million as a result of higher average loan volume.

Average loan volume increased 7 percent during the period, to $93.2 billion.

Maximize Soybean Yield with the Right Maturity Group

The end goal of any soybean field is to harvest the highest possible yield. Maximizing yield potential starts with the variety decision – and is greatly influenced by the maturity group chosen.

“If you want to maximize yield, you need to plant the right maturity group,” says Bayer U.S. Soybean Technology Manager William Johnson, Ph.D.

Johnson recommends growers have a plan outlining when they want to plant and harvest their soybeans. Growers also need to know their area’s best time for pod development and factor that into their maturity group selection. Later maturing varieties have a longer vegetative period than early maturing varieties. As a result, reproductive development occurs later in the growing season with later maturity groups, which can affect the timing of inputs.

Growers need a contingency plan to switch to a different maturity group if Mother Nature delays planting time, notes Johnson. Purdue University suggests growers should consider changing maturity groups if they have not planted their soybeans by mid-June or later. The university also recommends growers not plant a full-season variety after June 30.

Many growers, particularly in the South, opt to plant early maturity group to avoid potential drought conditions and troublesome insects, weeds or diseases often associated with a late maturity group variety. “In Arkansas, we have seen that an indeterminate late group IV may have better yield than a group V,” Johnson indicates.

He says this approach to select an early maturity group also would work well across much of the Corn Belt. If a grower chooses an early maturity group, Johnson recommends using a seed treatment. “It’s critical to have a good seed treatment like ILeVO or Poncho/VOTiVO to avoid diseases like SDS or soybean cyst nematode.”

Johnson advises growers to diversify maturity groups and variety types. “You need to diversify your soybean portfolio with different maturities,” he says. Planting the same maturities and varieties on the same fields could lead to an environment susceptible to weed- or disease-resistance issues. Plus, multiple maturities allow growers to operate their farm business more efficiently, giving them time to spread out their field activities.

According to Johnson, other factors to consider when choosing a maturity group and soybean variety include:
 ·    Production system – Factor in crop rotation, soil types and profiles, row width, planting populations and tillage practices. Maturity group performance can vary depending on production practices.
 ·    Weed management – Select a maturity group that gives you the flexibility to rotate seed trait packages and herbicide sites of action.
 ·    Disease management – Track disease issues on a field-by-field basis, then select a maturity group with specific disease-tolerant varieties.
 ·    Available resources – Consult with universities, retailers, crop consultants or a member of the Bayer Agronomic Service Team on the best maturity group(s) for your operation.

Johnson also encourages growers to plant test plots of various maturity groups before they decide to plant a new maturity group on a wider scale.

“Credenz soybeans from Bayer use smart genetics to provide tailored varieties across several maturity groups to fit any field conditions,” Johnson notes. “Each of the Credenz maturity groups has an excellent disease package for healthier plants and high-performing yields.”

Credenz also gives growers their choice of either LibertyLink or glyphosate-tolerant traits for their maturity groups. In addition, growers can select from best-in-class SeedGrowth seed treatments for early season protection from pathogens and diseases.

Wednesday March 8 Ag News


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is asking state poultry producers, large and small, to stay alert and continue to follow strict biosecurity measures on their own farms after highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in Tennessee recently.

“The confirmation of HPAI in Tennessee is a reminder for all Nebraska poultry producers to review biosecurity plans and do what you can to protect the health of your flock,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “Nebraska has large commercial poultry operations and small backyard poultry flocks all over the state. So, biosecurity and healthy poultry flocks are important to us all.”

As part of NDA’s existing avian influenza surveillance program, local, state, federal and industry partners work together to actively monitor the health of Nebraska poultry flocks and test domestic and wild bird populations in the state.

“Even though Nebraska has had no known cases of this disease this year, we want poultry producers to be aware of the situation in Tennessee and remain vigilant when it comes to the health of their flocks” said State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes. “Avian influenza can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. Wild waterfowl are natural carriers of the virus and are currently migrating north.”

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through NDA by calling 877-800-4080 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 866-536-7593.

Additional information on biosecurity can be found online at

PLC, NCBA Applaud Senate Push for Transparency of Judgment Fund

The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applaud the introduction of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act, introduced today in the U.S. Senate. The bill, introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), seeks to provide increased oversight and transparency of the Treasury Department Judgment Fund.

The fund was established in 1956 and is used to pay court judgments and settlements in cases brought against the federal government, if those costs are not otherwise covered by appropriated agency budgets. Currently, the Treasury has no reporting requirements or accountability to Congress or taxpayers.

“The livestock industry fully supports Sens. Gardner’s and Fischer’s introduction of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act, a good-governance transparency bill which will serve as a major step forward in the effort to track currently unaccounted-for tax dollars being used to put our producers out of business,” said PLC and NCBA Federal Lands Executive Director Ethan Lane.

The legislation would require the Treasury to issue a public report describing funds allocated, a brief description of facts surrounding the agency request and an identification of the recipient of those funds. The legislation targets abuse of the fund by groups that consistently challenge the federal government in court and receive reimbursement.

Lane asserted the bill would have a significant impact on the pervasive anti-agriculture lawsuits facing the government and livestock producers.

“In order to defend their homes and businesses, our members often end up paying out-of -pocket for personal attorneys at the same time that their tax dollars are being funneled to activist groups that have mastered the art of manipulating these programs,” he said. “This legislation will help make government more accountable.”

Donating to State Fire Relief Funds

As fires blaze across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado fellow cattlemen and women are battling to save their livelihoods. Fire relief funds have been set up for each area in the wake of the devastating fires. Currently there is a need for fencing supplies, feed, hay and trucking services. If you are able to help please see below, a list of how to donate to each area being affected. Please continue to say a prayer for those being affected.  

Kansas Livestock Association is organizing hay and fencing material donations for delivery to affected areas in Kansas. To make in-kind donations, call KLA at (785) 273-5115. Cash donations can be made through the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF), KLA's charitable arm, by going to

There is an immediate need for hay, feed, fencing supplies, individuals willing to provide trucking, etc. for the farmers and ranchers devastated by yesterday's fires. Donations should be taken to CHS Grainland in Haxtun. A loader and scale are both available, if needed. Contact Rick Unrein 970-520-3565 for more information about dropping off donations. Donations can also be dropped off at Justin Price's farm (11222 CR 7 Sedgwick, CO). For more information, please contact: Kent Kokes 970-580-8108, John Michal 970-522-2330, or Justin Price 970-580-6315.

If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation and put "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.

Multiple fires in the Texas Panhandle have burned more than 400,000 acres. As part of a coordinated response with multiple state agencies and emergency managers, Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is soliciting hay donations. Two supply points have been established to collect donated hay. Each has been listed below. If you have hay that you can donate and transport to either supply point, please contact the location directly prior to transportation.

Supply Point 1
202 West Main
Lipscomb, TX
Contact: J.R. Spragg
Office: 806-862-4601
Supply Point 2
301 Ball Park Drive
Pampa, TX
Contact: Mike Jeffcoat
Office: 806-669-8033

As more information becomes available Nebraska Cattlemen will keep people updated via social and media outlets. We are truly grateful for any efforts put forth by NC members to help our friends during this troubled time.

Iowa Corn Farmer-Leaders Set Policy at Commodity Classic

Iowa Corn farmer-leaders headed to San Antonio, Texas this past week to take part in the 2017 Commodity Classic. The delegation from Iowa consisted of both Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) directors as well as:
- Iowa Corn farmer voting delegates and alternates
- Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT) representing future leaders in agriculture
- Premier County Achievement grassroots leaders

A main task for ICGA at Classic is debating the policies that the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) should promote to benefit Iowa's farmers. "In Iowa, the policy process starts with the grassroots farmer-members from across the state through our membership survey and at our local roundtable meetings. The resolutions then move to the ICGA Grassroots Summit, and now onto national policy development during NCGA's Corn Congress at Commodity Classic," said Kurt Hora, a farmer from Washington and current ICGA President. "Last week Iowa farmers brought their concerns and policy positions that matter back at home in Iowa to the national platform."

The delegates discussed ICGA priority issues such as:
- Expanding existing and exploring new trade agreements, such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- Retaining U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ag export promotion programs
- Defending the Renewable Fuel Standard
- Protecting Crop Insurance funding

The Iowa resolutions passed by the delegate body include:
- Supporting the use of high compression engines, using low carbon, high octane renewable fuels to meet the CAFe standards
- Providing farmers access to the information and tools necessary to upkeep and repair their farm equipment
- Allowing for noxious weed control or drainage ditch maintenance within Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land or continuous CRP land

"ICGA delegates presented resolutions and in turn voted on these and other resolutions and policies brought forward by NCGA and other states," said Hora. "These policy positions set the framework for our federal legislative efforts and directly influence our direction for years to come."

The new NCGA policy document will be posted at when it becomes available. For more information on upcoming policy development meetings in your area, contact the Iowa Corn office at (515)225-9242 or email at


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted four Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Awards that were presented at the Iowa Agricultural Leaders Dinner held on March 7.  The winners were recognized for their progress, their innovative solutions and their commitment to serving our communities through collaboration and hard work.

Northey created the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Awards to recognize, honor and promote Iowa citizens, companies and organizations who have made significant contributions to Iowa’s agriculture industry.  Those recognized have displayed leadership within the categories of Innovation, Conservation, Service, and Collaboration.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to recognize these leaders that contribute so much to our state and the agriculture industry,” Northey said.  “These Ag Leader Award recipients epitomize the values of Iowa agriculture that makes our state a leader nationally and globally.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Award Winners

Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Science Team – Leadership in Conservation
In 2010, a partnership was launched between Iowa State University, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to develop the science assessment as part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a statewide strategy to reduce nutrients in Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico in a scientific, reasonable, and cost-effective manner.

The team working on this effort consisted of 23 individuals representing five agencies or organizations under the leadership of Dr. John Lawrence at Iowa State University. The goals         of the science team were to assess nutrient loading from Iowa to the Mississippi River and   conduct an extensive review of practices and their ability to ultimately reduce nutrients in surface water.

This assessment is believed to be the first of its kind and has since been replicated by several other states since the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s initial release. This strategy will continue to improve Iowa water quality and could not have been done without the dedication and expertise of these talented individuals.

Sehgal Foundation – Outstanding Service in Agriculture

Seedsman and agriculturalist Dr. Suri Sehgal and his wife Edda Sehgal established the Sehgal Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1998, and S M Sehgal Foundation in 1999, in Gurgaon, India.

Their goal was to make a positive difference in the lives of the rural poor and to strengthen relations between Iowa and India by actively encouraging student exchanges in agriculture and social sciences.

Working in partnership with communities, the foundations create and implement programs that increase agricultural productivity, manage water resources, and strengthen rural governance, with strong emphasis on the empowerment of women.  Their crop research unit adapts rural technologies to meet local needs, and advocacy for biodiversity and conservation is built into all projects.

The Sehgal Foundation teams in India and Iowa strive to design and promote rural development interventions that create opportunities, build resilience, and provide solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in India’s poorest communities so that every person can lead a more secure, prosperous, and dignified life.

The Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers – Leadership in Collaboration

The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers was established in 2004 by farmers for farmers to help those that raise livestock successfully and responsibly manage changes to their livestock farms.

The Coalition does this by helping farmers navigate regulations, providing a building site analysis, consulting on safeguarding the environment, and enhancing neighbor relations.  These services are provided free-of-charge to Iowa livestock farmers.

The Coalition is a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.

Their mission of helping Iowa’s farm families grow successfully and responsibly is still as important to the state today as it was thirteen years ago.

Their pre-emptive approach of helping farmers start raising livestock or grow their existing farms has proven to be successful – and in many cases – essential to reaching the farm family’s goals.

Sukup Manufacturing – Innovation in Agriculture Manufacturing

Sukup Manufacturing Company was founded in 1963 when Eugene Sukup patented a stirring machine which improved in-bin drying for thousands of farmers in the United States.  Since then, innovation has been a company priority.

In the last 20 years alone, Sukup Manufacturing Company has seen exponential growth due to the innovative minds of Charles and Steve Sukup, who emphasized advanced manufacturing methods and the development of new product lines. Today, 80% of sales come from products that didn’t exist just two decades ago.  These new product lines with patents include Grain Dryers, Grain Bins, Material Handling equipment and Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings.

Sukup Manufacturing now holds 85 patents and has sales in all 50 states and over 80 countries.  Headquartered in Sheffield, Iowa, the manufacturing company employs over 500 people, and has global distribution locations in Denmark and Ukraine.

Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Sukup Manufacturing has designed and delivered 240 Safe T Homes to the people of Haiti, which provide element-resistant safe housing. Made entirely of metal, they are earthquake-proof, hurricane-proof, and combine innovation with humanitarian need.

U.S. Red Meat Exports Maintain Strong Pace in January

January exports of U.S. beef and pork were up significantly year-over-year, maintaining the solid momentum established in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 96,488 metric tons (mt), up 17 percent from a year ago, valued at $515.5 million – up 18 percent and the highest ever for the month of January. Exports accounted for 12.2 percent of total beef production and 9.5 percent for muscle cuts only – with both ratios being fairly steady with January 2016. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $256.62, up 7 percent from a year ago.

January pork exports were up 21 percent from a year ago in volume (202,667 mt) and jumped 26 percent in value to $508.6 million. Exports accounted for 26.2 percent of total pork production and 21.7 percent for muscle cuts – up significantly from the respective January 2016 shares of 22.3 percent and 18.8 percent. Pork export value averaged $50.23 per head slaughtered, up 21 percent from a year ago.

“The red meat industry entered 2017 with an optimistic outlook, confident that we can continue our recent strong momentum in the international markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The January results certainly validate that feeling, but we understand that significant challenges still lie ahead. With record-large pork production and beef production also trending higher it’s more important than ever that we capitalize on our abundance of protein, and move more product out of the country by growing U.S. market share in established markets and breaking new ground in emerging destinations.”

Beef exports still red-hot in key Asian markets

Beef exports were higher year-over-year to most major destinations, but Japan and South Korea continued to be the pacesetters for the start of 2017. Exports to Japan were up 34 percent in both volume (22,487 mt) and value ($125.2 million), with muscle cut exports climbing 41 percent. Exports to Korea achieved similar growth, with volume up 35 percent to 15,194 mt and value increasing 36 percent to $91.6 million – maintaining the pace that carried exports to Korea over the $1 billion mark for the first time last year.

Other January highlights for U.S. beef include:

• Exports to Mexico were 26 percent above last year’s pace in volume (19,151 mt) and up 11 percent in value ($76.2 million). Exports to Canada also rebounded, up 8 percent in volume and 11 percent in value (9,885 mt; $60.8 million).
• Following a record year for export value, exports to Taiwan climbed 24 percent in both volume (3,591 mt) and value ($29.9 million).
• Led by growth in the Philippines and renewed momentum for U.S. beef in Indonesia, exports to the ASEAN region were up 56 percent in volume to 2,556 mt and 45 percent in value to $14.1 million.

Mexico continues to shine for U.S. pork

Coming off the fifth consecutive record year for pork export volume to Mexico, the Mexican market shows no signs of letting up. January volume climbed nearly one-third higher than a year ago to 72,406 mt – the third-largest monthly total on record. Export value was up even more dramatically, increasing 50 percent to $128.7 million, as Mexico’s strong buying helped sustain higher U.S. ham prices.

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong were up 17 percent from a year ago in volume (38,012 mt) and 19 percent in value ($76.2 million). U.S. exports to China/Hong Kong peaked last May at 58,000 mt and regained momentum in November and December, averaging 47,000 mt per month, with strong buying ahead of Chinese New Year. China’s hog prices have softened following the holiday, and are down about 5 percent year-over-year.

Japan took 31,597 mt of U.S. pork in January, up 6 percent year-over-year, valued at $125.7 million (up 11 percent). Following a record year in 2016, U.S. chilled pork exports to Japan continued to grow in January, up 12 percent from a year ago to 17,619 mt.

Other January highlights for U.S. pork include:

• Exports to Korea continued their recent upward trend, climbing 32 percent in volume (16,073 mt) and 48 percent in value ($45.1 million) year-over-year. Korea’s domestic pork prices have exceeded year-ago levels since late December due to a number of factors, including strong demand (especially for pork belly), relatively high domestic beef prices and most recently concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, which impacted domestic beef production.
• Exports to Central and South America continue to reflect growing demand for U.S. pork, with both volume (14,240 mt) and value ($33.1 million) up nearly 60 percent year-over-year. Muscle cut exports to Colombia were the second-largest on record in January – trailing only November 2016 – at 6,155 mt. Combined muscle cut and variety meat exports were also higher for Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Peru.
• Australia – a key destination for boneless hams and other raw materials for further processing – maintained its recent strong momentum with volume increasing 26 percent to 6,498 mt and value up 34 percent to $17.9 million.
• Exports to the Dominican Republic were record-large at 2,746 mt valued at $6.2 million, up 24 percent and 37 percent, respectively, from a year ago.

Slow start for lamb exports, but muscle cuts trend higher

U.S. lamb exports continue to be held back by weak variety meat volumes. January muscle cut exports increased 42 percent from a year ago in volume (194 mt) and 29 percent in value (to just under $1 million), but this was offset by lower variety meat exports. Combined export volume was 573 mt (down 41 percent) valued at $1.4 million (down 8 percent). Exports were lower to most markets, but increased to Jordan and the Netherlands Antilles.

ACE thanks members of Congress for RVP waiver extension legislation

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) sent letters to the House and Senate thanking Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa) for their leadership and support by introducing the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517, H.R. 1311). This bipartisan legislation clarifies that E15 should be allowed for sale year-round, increasing market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol while eliminating confusion at the pump.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to control the evaporative emissions of gasoline, or Reid vapor pressure (RVP), during the June 1  to Sept. 15 summer driving season to reduce smog from vehicle emissions. In 2011 EPA approved the use of E15, a clean and safe fuel with lower RVP emissions than E10 and straight gasoline. Congress granted E10 an RVP waiver because E10 reduces tailpipe emissions, but EPA has historically refused to extend the same RVP waiver to E15, even though higher ethanol blends are less volatile, and fuel such as E15 further decreases emissions.

Consequently, retailers are largely prohibited from selling E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles from June 1 through Sept. 15, robbing consumers of the opportunity to buy a lower cost product, as E15 typically costs 2 to 10 cents less per gallon than E10 and gasoline.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings noted in the letters that while ACE is very encouraged by statements from President Trump that EPA will revisit this regulatory burden, the coalition also strongly supports this legislation.

ACE’s annual Washington, D.C., fly-in coming up March 22-23 will serve as an opportunity for its members to rally more support. “Nearly 70 of ACE’s grassroots members will be calling on your colleagues to cosponsor the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act during our annual Washington, D.C., fly-in,” Jennings expressed in the letters.

Cosponsors of S. 517 currently include Sens. Baldwin (D-Wis.), Blunt (R-Mo.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Ernst (R-Iowa), Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Hoeven (R-N.D.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), McCaskill (D-Mo.), Roberts (R-Kan.), Sasse (R-Neb.) and Thune (R-S.D.). Cosponsors of H.R. 1311 currently include Reps. Cartwright (PA-17), Cramer (ND-AL), Davis (IL-13), King (IA-4), Kinzinger (IL-16), Peterson (MN-7), Pocan (WI-2) and Walz (MN-1).

Average Retail Fertilizer Prices Higher Again

Retail fertilizer prices were still on the rise the last two days of February and first three days of March 2017, though at a slower rate than in previous weeks, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This is the sixth consecutive week prices have moved higher.

For the second week in a row, all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, though none were up by a significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $436 per ton, MAP $458/ton, potash $335/ton and urea $361/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $440/ton, anhydrous $502/ton, UAN28 $246/ton and UAN32 $279/ton.

One interesting note is with anhydrous. The nitrogen fertilizer was back above $500 per ton for the first time since the first week of September 2016 when the price was $502/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Only three of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago while UAN32 and potash are both 10% less expensive. DAP is 9% less expensive, both MAP and anhydrous is 7% lower, UAN28 is 6% less expensive and urea is 4% compared to year earlier.

Tuesday March 8 Ag News

McPheeters Appointed to Serve on Nebraska Ethanol Board

Scott McPheeters joins the Nebraska Ethanol Board as the business representative. He was appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts Feb. 9 and sworn in by the legislature March 3.

McPheeters has a family farm operation southwest of Gothenburg, producing food-grade white and yellow corn for Frito-Lay, as well as soybeans and alfalfa hay. His family also has rangeland for beef production. While little of his corn crop actually ends up in ethanol production, he is still passionate about promoting renewable fuels.

“I’m looking forward to working with a board that has been so effective at helping our state build 25 ethanol plants and increasing knowledge and promotion of ethanol use, because it is a win for all parties,” McPheeters said. “It’s good for farmers, livestock producers, consumers, and the environment.”

A founding member of KAAPA (Kearney Area Ag Producers Alliance), the only farmer-owned ethanol plant in Nebraska, McPheeters has been involved in ethanol since 2000. Currently, he serves on the KAAPA board of managers and on the board for a sister company, KAAPA Grains. He was also recently elected to the American Coalition for Ethanol board of directors in 2016.

“Consumers are influenced by a lot of misinformation, and they don’t realize they can save money and the environment by using more ethanol,” McPheeters said. “People are surprised to learn that ethanol is in 98 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply and they’ve been using it successfully.

My objective is simple: provide facts for consumers so they can be confident their cars love ethanol and they should use it every time. It starts with the fact that ethanol is the safest component in gasoline today.”

According to EPA’s Urban Air Toxics report to Congress, U.S. refiners increasingly boost octane by adding refining by-products such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. Several of these chemicals are known and suspected carcinogens, and they’re more expensive additives.

“These products of oil refining, known as aromatics, can produce cancer-causing emissions,” McPheeters said. “Ethanol is much less expensive and burns cleaner than these toxic petroleum-based chemicals. Blending even just 10 percent ethanol in gasoline reduces tailpipe emissions that lead to smog. The inexpensive, renewable, octane-boosting capabilities of ethanol make it an indispensable part of the U.S. motor fuel supply.”

A study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January shows that ethanol releases 43 percent fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline. The report provides research that corn ethanol is a GHG-friendly alternative to fossil fuels while boosting farm economies.

“I look forward to helping farmers be profitable with additional markets for the corn we produce so efficiently,” McPheeters said. “Agriculture is a huge economic engine for us all, because when farmers make money, they spend it with businesses that put local people to work. We can keep more of our fuel dollars right here in the Corn Belt, rather than sending money to foreign nations.”

When not farming and advocating for ethanol, McPheeters and his wife, Patti, enjoy time with their four children and three grandchildren.

Paul Kenney, who farms near Kearney, Nebraska, preceded McPheeters as the business representative on the Ethanol Board. Kenney was recently elected to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents after serving eight years on the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

McPheeters joins current board members: Mike Thede, chairman (Palmer, Neb.); Jan tenBensel, vice chairman (Cambridge, Neb.); Mark Ondracek, secretary (Omaha, Neb.); Galen Frenzen (Fullerton, Neb.); Tim Else (Belvidere, Neb.); Randy Gard (Grand Island, Neb.); and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical Engineering Professor Hunter Flodman, who serves as the board’s technical advisor.

Members of the Nebraska Ethanol Board are appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms. The seven-member board includes four members actively engaged in farming (general farming, corn, wheat and sorghum), one member representing labor interests, one member representing petroleum marketers and one member representing business. The Board’s technical advisor serves as a non-voting member.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Small grains planted last fall are greening up and may be ready to graze in a few weeks.  This spring, let’s make sure these pastures are productive and safe.

               Did you plan 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.  Before long these fields will be ready to graze.

               These small grain pastures will be an extremely useful resource this spring.  They will relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals out onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains.  They’ll also help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to have good growth before grazing.

               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 smaller 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 and proper stocking, you could graze 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 risk by starting to feed magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain at least a couple weeks before starting to graze.  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.


Innovation is most likely to occur where disciplines intersect and when a diverse and inclusive group of stakeholders is working hard on an issue or opportunity. The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska has employed this fundamental principle to launch a distinctive fellows program dedicated to research, teaching and application with and in rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.

Fifteen faculty researchers from the University of Nebraska and other institutions as well as 10 community practitioners from across Nebraska have assembled to think strategically about opportunities in rural business, health care, education, technology and more.

“Rural communities and their leaders face a complex, interwoven universe of factors that cannot be neatly split apart for observation and lone actions,” said RFI Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. “RFI Fellows already understand this and have been working diligently throughout their careers to create solutions and opportunities for rural people and places.

“By bringing various disciplines of researchers together with community leaders in this purposeful way, we not only intend to help rural residents thrive, but to also give rural America a significant and consistent voice, and position it as vital to the future of our country.”

Through their work, RFI Fellows will connect with partners from across the University of Nebraska system, scholars from other academic institutions and experts in the public and private sectors to strengthen their capacity for research and application. They will foster student experiences in concert with communities, strengthening the community-by-community presence of RFI throughout Nebraska, the Great Plains and the world.
2017 RFI Faculty Fellows

RFI Faculty Fellows are professors and researchers who have contributed significantly to rural communities and people through research, teaching and outreach and intend to continue to strengthen the statewide, national and international knowledge resource of rural.
-    Todd Bartee, Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kinesiology and Sports Sciences
-    Robert Blair, Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Public Administration, Public Affairs, and Community Service
-    Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, Extension Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Panhandle Research and Extension Center
-    Randy Cantrell, Rural Sociologist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
-    Jim Cavaye, Professor, Institute for Resilient Regions, University of Queensland, Australia
-    Bree Dority, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Economics
-    Gregory Karst, Executive Associate Dean, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Allied Health Professionals
-    Peter Longo, Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Political Science
-    Bradley Lubben, Extension Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Agricultural Economics
-    Athena Ramos, Community Health Program Manager/Instructor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Center for Reducing Health Disparities
-    Kyle Ryan, Associate Professor, Peru State College, Exercise Science
-    Jessica Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law
-    Eric Thompson, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Business Administration, Economics
-    Kim Wilson, Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Architecture
-    Amanda Witte, Project Manager, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools

2017 RFI Community Innovation Fellows

RFI Community Innovation Fellows are community leaders, alumni and professionals from both the private and non-profit sectors working to advance rural people and places. This group represents rural places that have creatively partnered with RFI to inform outreach and programming efforts while connecting research and resources directly to communities and leaders. They are innovators in their industries and the communities they represent.
-    Tiffany Crouse, Director, Hastings Downtown Center Association, Hastings, Neb.
-    Marty Fattig, CEO, Nemaha County Hospital, Auburn, Neb.
-    Melissa Garcia, Community Affairs Manager, Black Hills Energy, Broken Bow, Neb.
-    Rachel Herpel, Assistant Director, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.
-    Don Macke, Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Lincoln, Neb.
-    Greg Ptacek, Director, Economic Development, City of Neligh, Neligh, Neb.
-    Reshell Ray, Assistant Director of Student Involvement, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.
-    Robert Stowell, J.D., Stowell & Geweke, P.C., L.L.O., Ord, Neb.
-    Milan Wall, Co-Director, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, Lincoln, Neb.
-    Jeff Yost, President and CEO, Nebraska Community Foundation, Lincoln, Neb.

Iowa Beef Center to Survey Corn Silage and Earlage Use by Iowa Producers

Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University is working on a project to characterize how Iowa producers produce and use silage and earlage for cattle feed. A two-pronged approach led by Russ Euken, extension beef specialist, will use results from a current survey of producers and lab analysis of silage and earlage samples. The combined results will better inform educational efforts by Iowa State as well as provide current data to update existing silage publications.

Euken said producers can request a printed copy of the survey or complete the survey online. Because both versions are identical, people should complete only one format. Some producers will receive the survey in the mail. Producers can access the online survey through a link on the Iowa Beef Center website. The survey will take only a few minutes to complete.

"A limited number of free silage or earlage lab analyses will be available to producers who complete the survey," Euken said. "Those interested in the analysis can provide their name and contact information on the survey and they will be contacted on how to submit a sample for analysis. The project ends in July and the limited free samples we’re able to offer are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so producers are encouraged to complete the survey as soon as possible."

A summary of the information collected will be available through Iowa Beef Center later this year. No individual responses will be identified, and all responses will be aggregated when it is made available.

Those with questions or interest in the project or would like a printed copy of the survey can contact any extension beef specialist.

 Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Symbol of Excellence Sales Kick-Off in March

This year marks the 32nd annual Symbol of Excellence Sales and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is offering yet another set of superior cattle. Over the past few decades, ICA has built a strong foundation for the sale with cosigners, sellers and buyers that are invested in enhancing the cattle industry through genetics and breeding.

ICA will kick-off their annual Symbol of Excellence cattle sales on March 20th at the Bloomfield Livestock Market, March 31st at the Dunlap Livestock Auction and May 5th at the Tama Livestock Auction. These sales will offer an outstanding variety of bulls and heifers in many for customers to choose from.

Phil Schooley is the owner of Bloomfield Livestock Market and has been involved with the sales since their formation. Phil has seen the sales evolve into what they are today and sees how the Iowa cattle industry has benefited from the Symbol of Excellence cattle sales. He comments “The ICA Bull Performance Evaluation Program has raised the bar for ALL seedstock producers.”

The Symbol of Excellence sales are part of ICA’s Bull and Heifer Evaluation program, which is designed to serve the needs of commercial and seedstock producers. This program offers producers an array of performance data for comparison and benchmarking as well as superior genetics to bring back to their operations.

Clay county cow/calf producer Will Jones has a long standing family tradition of buying bulls at ICA sales and sees great value in incorporating ICA sale genetics into his herd. Will comments, “I am 30 years old and we don’t have a bull that isn’t from one of the ICA sales.”

Bulls and heifers sold at each sale go through stringent testing and must meet very specific guidelines in order to be sale eligible. All animals that are entered are put on trial for several months leading up to the sale and only those that are in the top 75% of the test will be sale eligible.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s Seedstock Manager Carrie Horman oversees the program and is eager to show off the high quality animals that have been selected for this year's sales. Carrie views the Bull and Heifer Evaluation Program as a valuable tool for producers. “Our sales are a useful way for producers to see how proven genetics can be of great benefit to their operations.”

Each sale presents its own unique set of breeds and genetics with the goal to offer producers quality animals to bring back to their herd in order to increase their bottom line. The first of the three sales begins in Bloomfield where a set of Angus yearling bulls as well as a group of 18-month senior yearling bulls will be offered.

At the next sale, an array of options will be available with Angus, Red Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Simmental and Simm Composite bulls at the Dunlap Livestock Market. To round out our sales for the spring in Tama, Elite Open Heifers along with Angus, Charolais, Red Angus, Simmental and Simmental Composite bulls will be on the sale order.

The Bull and Heifer Evaluation program and the Symbol of Excellence sales were designed to serve cattle farmers in Iowa while providing a competitive playing field for producers to market their own genetics.  Buyers, sellers and consignors alike have ample opportunity to attain successful cattle businesses by being a part of the Symbol of Excellence Sales.

For more information about ICA Symbol of Excellence Sales or to request a catalog, please visit or contact Seedstock Manager Carrie Horman at 515-296-2266 or

Grain Marketing Educational Forum March 24 for Iowa Farm Women

Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times, A Grain Marketing Forum for Women  will be held Friday, March 24 in Ames, Iowa. The day-long forum, organized by the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag program, begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Scheman Building of the Iowa State Center.

In an era of price volatility, how well farmers are paid for a year’s worth of work can be wrapped up in just a few marketing decisions. During challenging times, farmers must re-assess marketing tools and approaches to survive. Weather, policies and economics are only a few of the many influences on supply and demand. Agricultural commodity growers generally face lower crop prices and higher production costs. This grain marketing forum will help women understand market trends and shifts.

Economists, climatologists and policy leaders will guide women in the use of tools and strategies to achieve marketing goals. The grain marketing forum for women is all about surviving and thriving in challenging times.

Forum speakers include:
-    Sharon Chism – Hertz Farm Management
-    Chad Hart - ISU Extension and Outreach
-    Laurie Johnson – Farmer
-    Steve Johnson – ISU Extension and Outreach
-    Gayle Klever – Farmer
-    Angie Setzer – Citzen’s LLC
-    Elwynn Taylor – ISU Extension and Outreach
-    Julie Ward – RJO’Brien and Associates LLC

“It can be difficult to market grain profitably in challenging times,” said Madeline Schultz, ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag program manager. “This forum is an opportunity to interact with other farm women facing similar challenges. This is a great way to renew yourself.”

Women attending this forum will attend breakout sessions and learn ways to develop successful grain marketing strategies. They will also hear what successful farm women are doing to stay profitable through up-and-down market trends. Registration for the forum can be made online at

“Speakers will share their personal experiences and knowledge to help women become better business partners and owners,” said Schultz.

Financial sponsors of the forum include Landus Cooperative, Hertz Farm Management, Inc., Farm Credit Services of America and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. For more information, contact Madeline Schultz at 515-294-0588 or e-mail

Dakota Access Funds Iowa State University Research of Pipeline Installation Effects on Farmland

Iowa State University will conduct a five-year research project that will study the impact of pipeline construction on crop production and soil compaction.

Researchers began collecting initial data last fall on university-owned farmland near Ames on an approximately two-acre site following construction activities for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The overall goal of the project is to quantify the impact of construction utilities equipment, field traffic and deep tillage on crop yield and soil compaction.

“The pipeline installation is an opportunity for field-based research that investigates the impact of utility construction and restoration practices on farmland, especially related to long-term crop yield and soil productivity,” said Mehari Tekeste, assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who leads the project along with Mark Hanna, extension agricultural engineer.

The research project, which will collect data through 2021, is funded by Dakota Access Pipeline LLC. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is building the $3.8 billion pipeline, which runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. In Iowa, the pipeline will cross about 5,740 acres of cropland, according to Dakota Access.

“We hope our research will develop data to support future recommendations on the restoration of agricultural soil and crop productivity to pre-construction conditions,” said Tekeste. “This will be of benefit to industry and governmental institutions, as well as other researchers and extension specialists.”

The research site in Story County will be planted in a corn-soybean rotation. ISU research farm staff will maintain normal crop practices throughout the growing season, from tillage, planting, pest management applications and harvest.

The pipeline’s route crosses about 18 acres of farmland owned by the university or university-affiliated organizations. Dakota Access completed construction and remediation activities last November, following the state-approved Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan for farmland in Iowa.

2017 Pork Act Delegates Elect Candidate Slate, Approve Advisements

The U.S. pork industry held its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum, March 1-3 in Atlanta. At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates ranked eight candidates for the National Pork Board and submitted the list to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The candidates, ranked in order by delegate voting results, are:
-    Brett Kaysen, Colorado (second-term incumbent)
-    Steve Rommereim, South Dakota (second-term incumbent)
-    Scott Phillips, Missouri
-    Heather Hill, Indiana
-    Deborah Ballance, North Carolina
-    Todd Erickson, North Dakota
-    Kristine Scheller-Stewart, North Carolina (second-term incumbent)
-    Charles Wildman, Ohio

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will select five members from the slate elected by the delegates to fill the roles of outgoing board members effective July 2017. The five nominees will each serve a three-year term. Fifteen pork producers serve on the National Pork Board, each limited to serving no more than two concurrent terms.

Delegates also elected Bryn Jensson, Iowa, and William Knapke, Ohio, to fill the two open positions on the Nominating Committee. The committee recruits and screens candidates for the National Pork Board and does not require approval by the Secretary. In other business, delegates approved two non-binding directives for the National Pork Board. The approved advisements read:

    2017 – DE 1 Export – submitted by Minnesota Pork Board. In order to support the National Pork Board Strategic Goal and to offer more revenue opportunities for pork producers, the Minnesota Pork Board recognizes the National Pork Board for its efforts to increase investments in exports and encourages continued budget prioritization and spending on export programs in 2017 and 2018 budgets. (Approved by delegates)
    2017 – ST 1 Research – submitted by Indiana Pork Producer Association. The National Pork Board is advised to facilitate and provide financial resources toward a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary research effort aimed at improving current industry livability rates from conception to slaughter. (Referred to Animal Science Committee)

Reports on advisement progress will be delivered to delegates attending the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, March 1-2, 2018.

Additionally, the Pork Checkoff hosted the annual producer update session immediately preceding the Pork Act Delegate session. More than 300 pork producers attended the event titled Real Change: A Live Discussion of On-Farm Antibiotic Use. Hosted by The Supermarket Guru® Phil Lempert, the 30-minute broadcast brought together experts in pork production, retail and animal care and welfare for a live, web-based conversation. The pork industry’s leadership in responsible antibiotic use and its implementation of new strict guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was the focus of discussion.

A replay of the broadcast can be viewed online at For more information on the National Pork Board’s efforts to assist farmers and others who want to learn more about responsible on-farm antibiotic use, visit

United States and Canadian Cattle Inventory Up 2 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 106 million head on January 1, 2017, up 2 percent from the 104 million head on January 1, 2016. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 45.3 million head, were up 2 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2017, totaled 93.6 million head, 2 percent above the 91.9 million head on January 1, 2016. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, were up 3 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in Canada as of January 1, 2017, totaled 12.1 million head, up slightly from the 12.0 million on January 1, 2016. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 4.79 million, were up slightly percent from a year ago.

United States and Canadian Sheep Inventory Down 2 Percent

All sheep and lambs in the United States and Canada combined totaled 6.01 million head on January 1, 2017, down 2 percent from the 6.13 million on January 1, 2016. Breeding sheep, at 4.48 million head, were down 2 percent from a year ago and market sheep and lambs, at 1.54 million head, were down 1 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in the United States as of January 1, 2017, totaled 5.20 million head, 2 percent below the 5.30 million head on January 1, 2016. Breeding sheep, at 3.86 million head, were down 2 percent from a year ago, while market sheep and lambs, at 1.35 million head, were down 1 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in Canada as of January 1, 2017, totaled 815 thousand head, down 1 percent from last year's number of 826 thousand. Breeding sheep, at 620 thousand head, were down 2 percent from last year. Market sheep and lambs, at 194 thousand head, were up 1 percent from a year ago.

United States and Canadian Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States and Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs for December 2016 was 85.2 million head. This was up 3 percent from December 2015, and up 5 percent from December 2014. The breeding inventory, at 7.34 million head, was up 1 percent from a year ago and up 2 percent from 2014. Market hog inventory, at 77.9 million head, was up 4 percent from last year and up 6 percent from 2014. The semi-annual pig crop, at 78.7 million head, was up 2 percent from 2015 and up 5 percent from 2014. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 7.34 million head, up 2 percent from last year and up 1 percent from 2014.

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2016 was 71.5 million head. This was up 4 percent from December 1, 2015 and up slightly from September 1, 2016. The breeding inventory, at 6.09 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 65.4 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up slightly from last quarter. The pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 5 percent from 2015 and up 6 percent from 2014. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.04 million head, up 4 percent from 2015 and up 2 percent from 2014. 

Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs on January 1, 2017 was 13.7 million head. This was up 2 percent from January 1, 2016 and up 4 percent from January 1, 2015. The breeding inventory, at 1.25 million head, was up 1 percent from last year and up 2 percent from 2015. Market hog inventory, at 12.5 million head, was up 2 percent from last year and up 4 percent from 2015. The semi-annual pig crop, at 14.3 million head, was down 2 percent from 2016 but up 5 percent from 2015. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 1.27 million head, down 1 percent from last year but up 2 percent from 2015.

US January Ethanol Exports Up 40% From Year Ago

The U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday that U.S. exports of goods and services in January totaled $192.1 billion, up $1.1 billion from December. Imports totaled $240.6 billion, up $5.3 billion from December. USDA later filled in more details for exports of ethanol, biodiesel, and distillers grains.

USDA said that U.S. exports of ethanol totaled 121.8 million gallons in January, up 40% from a year ago. Brazil was the top customer again in January, accounting for 48% of all exports and followed by Canada and India. 

U.S. exports of biodiesel totaled 6,066 metric tons in January, up 2% from a year ago. Peru was the top destination for biodiesel exports in January, taking 56% of the total with Canada second. 

U.S. exports of distillers grains totaled 937,628 metric tons in January, up 17% from a year ago. Mexico was the top export destination in January, accounting for 19% of total exports, followed by Turkey and China. China’s January purchase of 87,310 metric tons was down 60% from a year ago.

Soil Health Partnership to Expand to 100 Farm Sites for 2017

This year, 35 more farms will join a revolutionary research effort that hopes to show U.S. farmers how sustainability through soil health can also lead to increased profitably. The Soil Health Partnership announced the planned expansion to 100 farms at the 2017 Commodity Classic, March 2 - 4 in San Antonio.

This is the largest farmer-led soil health research project of its kind, said Nick Goeser, SHP director.
"We believe our long-term data on real, working farms will result in a better understanding of the links between soil health and our farmers' crop yields, economic investments and environmental risk," Goeser said. "Our enrolled farmers are the backbone of this project, both for their participation in the data collection process, and for serving as ambassadors in this agricultural shift."

The organization soon begins its fourth year identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve sustainability through soil health. These practices include:
-    Growing cover crops to improve water infiltration, prevent erosion and prevent nutrient losses, 
-    Implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till improve aggregate stability and soil structure, and
-    Using advanced, science-based nutrient management techniques to reduce nutrient loss to air and water.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program's goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.

Recent financial commitments from organizations and companies with common interests in sustainability through soil health are making it possible for SHP to expand to 100 farms a full year ahead of schedule. This includes a $4 million pledge in 2016 from the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, backed by Cargill, the Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Unilever, Land O' Lakes, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund.

Most farmers enrolled in SHP live in the key states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, with additional sites in Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri and North Dakota. The new farm sites, when identified, will likely expand beyond the current nine Midwestern states.

The data collection process is scientifically rigorous, led by a Scientific Advisory Council and executed by SHP's team of field managers and agronomists. The staff has recently expanded, hiring a fifth field manager and an operations manager.

"The momentum behind this effort is nothing short of exhilarating," Goeser said. "We look forward to releasing early data of this monumental effort soon."

Jobs and Money Take Top billing with American Biodiesel

When it comes to American biodiesel, jobs and economic opportunities are the hot tickets. In town from across the nation, biodiesel industry leaders are meeting with key influencers to spotlight America’s advanced biofuel.

“It’s simple. Biodiesel can continue to grow American jobs and prosperity in communities throughout the nation,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “Our members are making real investments and significant impacts across America, and they want to do more.”

The American biodiesel industry currently supports 64,000 jobs across the US. Many are the highest paying and most affluent jobs in the county or region.

“These aren’t just jobs; they’re great jobs. But American biodiesel will not reach its full potential under the current regulatory framework,” Rehagen said. “Changes that ensure American tax dollars and American programs support American production are just common sense.”

NBB governing board and executive staff members are in DC this week meeting with key leaders to discuss reforming the biodiesel tax incentive as a domestic production credit. The move would open the door for the industry to support an impressive 81,600 U.S. jobs and $14.7 billion in total economic benefit. 

Under the current “blender’s” structure of the incentive, foreign fuel imported and blended with petroleum diesel in the U.S. is eligible for the tax incentive. In 2016, importers brought in more than one billion gallons of fuel under the program, making up nearly a third of the U.S. market.

In addition to tax reform, leaders will push for additional growth in the Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations. Biodiesel producers have more than 1.5 billion gallons of unused production capacity that stands ready to be utilized.

NMPF Recommends Changes to Margin Protection Program to Make It Viable Safety Net for Farmers

The National Milk Producers Federation Board of Directors today unanimously approved a series of recommended changes to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) that will restore several key elements first proposed by NMPF during development of the 2014 Farm Bill. These changes to the MPP will ensure an effective safety net for the nation’s dairy farmers – if the recommendations are adopted by Congress.

The recommendations range from changing the way dairy feed costs are calculated, to providing farmers greater flexibility in signing up for coverage and using other risk management tools. The four-point plan was developed by NMPF’s Economic Policy Committee, and reflects feedback from dairy producers, economists and members of Congress. It reflects several features originally proposed by NMPF that were subsequently weakened or eliminated as the 2014 farm bill was finalized.

“Improving the MPP to make it a more realistic, effective safety net is a key focus for our membership in 2017,” said NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney. “For dairy farmers to have confidence in the MPP, we need Congress to make these corrections as soon as possible.”

As the conversation about the 2018 farm bill begins to take shape on Capitol Hill, Mooney said that NMPF is hoping for congressional action to implement its proposed changes at the earliest opportunity. Correcting the current program’s deficiencies “will require legislative changes,” he said.

The overall concept of a margin insurance program was developed by NMPF in response to the dairy financial crisis of 2009. The MPP allows farmers to insure against low margins – the gap between milk prices and feed costs – with participants paying higher premiums for higher levels of coverage. Congress incorporated the margin insurance program into the 2014 farm bill, but made several significant alterations that reduced the degree of financial protection farmers can obtain from the MPP, especially as another wave of depressed milk prices hit in 2015-2016.

NMPF’s proposal includes a series of adjustments that will affect the way both feed prices (including corn, alfalfa and soybean meal) and milk prices are calculated. The most needed improvement is restoring the feed cost formula to the one originally developed by NMPF. During Congress’s deliberations on the 2014 farm bill, it implemented a 10-percent cut to the weightings of all three feedstuff components of the MPP feed cost formula, based on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The resulting feed formula understates the price to farmers of producing 100 pounds of milk, thereby overstating the real margins farmers are experiencing.

“Just fixing the feed formula so it returns to its originally-proposed level would have a noticeable impact on the way margins are calculated. That’s the first step in improving the value of the MPP, although there are other changes that will also make a difference in the future,” Mooney said.

In addition to changing the overall feed formula, NMPF also recommends changing the data source for how USDA determines the individual monthly prices of corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay, as well as how it measures the national average price farmers receive for milk.

Another element in need of change involves the accuracy and affordability of MPP premiums. NMPF is asking for an adjustment to premiums paid into the program for coverage above the basic, $4 margin level.  This is necessary to incentivize additional participation by farmers. In 2017, only 7% of farms enrolled in the MPP have elected to purchase coverage above $4, and those farms represent only 2% of the milk supply.

“This is a significant drop in supplemental coverage since the program started in 2015, and undermines the viability of MPP as a national safety net option,” Mooney said. “MPP has become more expensive for producers than commercial risk management programs.”

Other recommendations include determining margins monthly, rather than bimonthly, and issuing payments on a more frequent basis when margins drop. NMPF is also suggesting to place the deadline for annual enrollment toward the end of the year prior to the calendar year for which they want coverage.

Finally, NMPF recommends that the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program be expanded and that producers be allowed to use both the MPP and LGM simultaneously. Under current regulations, farmers who participate in the MPP cannot also utilize the LGM program for the remainder of the 2014 farm bill, creating a disadvantage for producers. The LGM should complement the risk management offered by MPP, and farmers should be allowed to utilize both tools, Mooney said.

NMPF will be sharing these recommendations with members of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, and urging them to implement these improvements as soon as possible.

Monday March 6 Ag News

Governors Ask President Trump to Take Steps to Support the Nation’s Biofuels Industry

        Three leaders of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition outline steps to expand the states’ and the nation’s renewable fuel industry.

        The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition today sent a letter to President Trump asking him to support several initiatives to expand the states’ biofuel production and to help the states “harvest its economic and environmental benefits.” The governors also wrote to President Trump shortly after he was elected.

        “We write on behalf of governors from states across the nation who believe that two of America’s great treasures are agriculture and renewable fuels,” the governors wrote. The letter is signed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.

        “Our states are the home to over 200 biorefineries that are producing tens of thousands of jobs, sequestering tons of carbon, saving millions of barrels of foreign oil, and making enormous financial contributions to our states’ and the nation’s economies. We agree that one of the best ways to meet the nation’s energy needs is to expand renewable energy production and to continue to harvest its economic and environmental benefits.”

        The governors called on the President to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take the following actions:
-    Remove barriers to the use of higher ethanol blends
-    Enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard as approved by Congress
-    Update biofuels’ lifecycle carbon findings that are a decade old and do not accurately reflect biofuels’ environmental benefits
-    Correct the motor vehicle emission model’s (MOVES) mistaken conclusions about ethanol’s contribution to air pollution.

UNL Extension Tractor Safety Classes Offered Across Nebraska

Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety & Hazardous Occupations Courses will take place at nine Nebraska locations this year. Teens 14 or 15 years of age who will work on a farm should plan to attend.

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

The most common cause of agricultural-related death in Nebraska is overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Extensive training on Tractor and ATV safety occurs during in-class lessons with hands-on activities. Instilling an attitude of ‘safety first’ and respect for agricultural equipment are primary goals of the course.

The course consists of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. The first day of classroom instruction includes hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test.  Students are required to pass the test before taking the driving test on day two. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Students will complete homework assignments that will be due on day two. The second day will include a driving test, equipment operation, and ATV safety lessons. To receive certification, students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course.

Two locations, Gordon and McCook, will offer online course instruction to replace the first day of the two-day course. Students complete this at their convenience before attending the driving component of the course on-site.

All on-site classes begin at 8:00 A.M. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Dates, locations, and Site Coordinator phone numbers are as follows: 
  - May 30 & 31 - Kearney Fairgrounds (308) 236-1235;
  - June 1 & 2 – Auburn Fairgrounds (402) 245-4324;
  - June 6 & 7 – Valentine Fairgrounds (402) 376-1850;
  - June 13 & 14 – North Platte West Central Research and Extension Center (308) 532-2683;
  - June 15 & 16 – Gering Legacy Museum (308) 632-1480;
  - June 19 & 20 – Wayne Fairgrounds (402) 584-2234;
  - June 22 – Gordon Fairgrounds (308) 327-2312;
  - June 23 – McCook Fairgrounds (308) 345-3390;
  - July 10 & 11 – Grand Island College Park (308) 385-5088.
Participants must submit registration forms to the location they will attend at least one week before the course.  The registration form is available online: . Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches. For more information, contact the Extension Office of the location where student will attend.

Plan to Attend the 2017 World Pork Expo, June 7-9

The 2017 World Pork Expo — the world’s largest pork-specific trade show — offers hundreds of exhibitors, free educational seminars, live hog shows and sales, networking opportunities and much more, making it a must-attend event for all pork professionals. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), World Pork Expo takes place from Wednesday, June 7 through Friday, June 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

This year, the National Pork Producers Council is excited to announce the new World Pork Expo website. With its user-friendly design, the website has everything you need to easily register for Expo and plan a successful visit — including event schedules, exhibitor information, lodging and travel information and much more.

Education, innovation and networking

In 2016, more than 20,000 producers and agriculture professionals, including 1,100 international guests from 35 countries, participated in the three-day exposition. NPPC officials anticipate similar attendance this year.

“Anyone involved with pork production, including owners, managers, veterinarians, employees and allied industry, should attend World Pork Expo,” says John Weber, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Expo is truly an international show and offers a great opportunity to interact with producers and companies from other countries, which helps us better understand the global reach of U.S. pork production.”

The trade show is the centerpiece of Expo’s international connection, featuring hundreds of companies from throughout the world. The ever-expanding trade show, with both indoor and outdoor displays, presents more than 310,000 square feet of commercial exhibits specific to pork production. Attendees can visit the trade show from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8. Trade show hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 9.

A particularly valuable part of Expo is the chance for attendees to learn about new and changing developments in pork production during the numerous free educational seminars. Experts on topics such as business planning, swine management, herd health and marketing will present the most up-to-date information at the business seminars and Pork Academy on Wednesday and Thursday.

Food and fun at World Pork Expo

Of course, Expo always includes time for fun, fellowship and plenty of tasty pork. Allied industry tents provide a spot for producers to interact with each other as well mingle with representatives from a range of companies. Along the Grand Concourse on Thursday, attendees can enjoy a summer evening with MusicFest’s live music, grilled pork and refreshments.

Another activity not to be missed is the Big Grill, which serves free pork lunches each day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Last year, the Big Grill, staffed by Iowa’s Tama County pork producers, provided more than 10,000 pork lunches.

“Anyone who hasn’t been to World Pork Expo is missing out,” Weber says. “Whether you’re the boss or an employee, taking some time off to attend Expo can pay back the business in a variety of ways because there’s always something to learn.”

Swine shows

The World Pork Expo swine shows will kick off Expo week with activities beginning on Monday, June 5. Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and Team Purebred, the Junior National has evolved into one of the nation’s premier youth swine shows. It combines educational programs such as judging contests, a Skillathon and certification programs with live hog competitions through Friday, June 9. Continuing its record-setting pace, the 2016 show involved 2,351 hogs exhibited by 948 youth from 30 states.

Also located in the swine barn, the open shows will take place on Friday, June 9, with breeding-stock auction sales scheduled for Saturday morning, June 10. Last year, more than 1,090 purebred and crossbred gilts and boars were exhibited.

Register today and save

Online registration is now available. Individuals heading to Expo can register online through June 1 and receive a discounted rate of $10 per adult (ages 12 and up), which covers all three days of Expo. On-site registration will be $20 per adult, with a special Friday-only rate of $10.

Stay up-to-date on all the latest World Pork Expo news by following us on Twitter (#WPX17) and connecting with us on Facebook. Whether you’re looking to shop the trade show, sit in on the seminars or interact with fellow pork professionals, it’s not too early to start planning your trip to the 2017 World Pork Expo, June 7-9.

Mid-Sized Feedlots Exit the Industry

Katelyn McCullock, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

February's Cattle on Feed Report provides some unique insight of the previous year's feedlot capacity.  The daily livestock report highlighted some of the key points last week.  The monthly cattle on feed report provides numbers of those feedlots with 1000 of more head.  However, this represents only 7% of the industry's capacity.  There are just over 30,000 feedlots in 2016, and 93% of them held less than 1000 head.  Those 7% however, marketed more than 87% of the total cattle sold.

Smaller sized feedlots did increase capacity adding 2,000 lots (locations) compared to 2015 and increasing the number of head marketed during 2016 by just over 200,000 head year-over-year. This relatively large increase in small feedlots is driven by cheap feed, but is unlikely going to be a long term trend.  Over the last decade feedlots with 1000 head or less have fallen by 65%. The largest increases have been in feedlots with 50,000 head or more, up 28% since 2006.

Larger feedlots continued to add both capacity and numbers, increasing the number of lots with 50,000+ by 2, and the number of head marketed increased by 710,000.  The number of head marketed in this largest capacity category represents 34% of the total cattle marketed.  The smallest proportions of cattle were marketed in feedlots with 1,000-31,999 head capacity.  The number of lots increased in several of these capacity categories: 1,000-1,999, 2,000-3,999, 4,000-7,999, 8,000-15,999 each added 10 new lots last year.  Feedlots with 16,000-49,999 lost 12 lots total.

Larger feedlots have an easier time weathering negative margins using economies of scale. But, as we saw in 2016, inexpensive feed/ weak calf prices enticed farmer feeders (<1000 head) to hold animals and use their own feed.  These facilities on farmer feeder operations are fluid and tend to operate when the market conditions are favorable.  When conditions are less favorable those facilities remain empty and producers sell calves and corn. Mid-sized operations have less flexibility.  In the smaller mid-sized categories, feedlots added capacity as seen in the 1,000-15,999 head capacity groups.  In the larger mid-sized categories (16,000-49,999 head capacity), those that could not grow, exited.  These categories are never completely stagnant and change as the markets calls for.

Innovation Propels Soybean Industry Success

Every day, farmers make decisions to drive their farms forward despite volatile markets and unpredictable weather. Just like the farmers who compose it, the soybean industry’s success depends on a commitment to innovation.

The soy checkoff recognizes outstanding achievement and dedication to the U.S. soybean industry with the United Soybean Board’s Outstanding Achievement and Excellence in Innovation awards. John Becherer and David Green received these awards at the American Soybean Association’s annual banquet on Friday, March 3, held during Commodity Classic.

Outstanding Achievement Award – John Becherer, United Soybean Board CEO
John Becherer earned the Outstanding Achievement Award for his relentless focus on developing profit opportunities for farmers, creating partnerships, and leveraging resources alongside industry and government leaders.

In his tenure as CEO of the United Soybean Board, Becherer has served as a catalyst in many industry-wide changes. His work on behalf of farmers brought the checkoff into the 21st century through innovation and technology adoption in board governance.

“John has focused on bringing all sectors of agriculture together to collaborate and bring benefits to farmers,” says Brett Begemann, president and COO of Monsanto. “He has quietly led the United Soybean Board to be one of the top checkoff organizations in the industry.”

Past USB chair Don Latham agrees. “John has helped farmer-leaders put our unique ideas into action to improve profitability,” he says. “And he has kept a consistent focus on bringing opportunities back to farmers by partnering with industry.”

Excellence In Innovation Award – David Green, president of Greenhouse Communications
David Green received the Excellence in Innovation Award for his contributions to the soybean industry’s reputation abroad in the area of biotechnology.

The European Union is a key player in varietal success for U.S. soybeans as EU trade approval signals a significant step toward global approval of traits. Green, an expert on the intricacies of biotechnology adoption in the EU, is regularly called on to lend his voice to conferences and publications on food safety and technology acceptance abroad. He also has led trade missions to Europe on behalf of soybean farmers through the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

“David has been a key asset to the U.S. soy industry for more than two decades, championing farmer profit opportunities in biotechnology and market access in the EU and other overseas markets,” says Doug Winter, a USB farmer-leader who nominated Green for the award.

“John has invested time, energy and talent in the agriculture industry, and the return on his investment is more opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers to succeed,” says John Motter of Jenera, Ohio, who serves as the USB Chair. “Similarly, David’s leadership and expertise have opened doors overseas that continue to expand international markets for reliable, sustainable, high-quality U.S. soybeans.”

CWT Assists with 4.6 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 23 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 4.616 million pounds (2,094 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia, Central America, North Africa, and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 15.579 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.375 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 174.734 million 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. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

‘Get Out of My Space’ Theme Promoted During Agricultural Safety Awareness Program Week

Farm Bureaus across the nation are recognizing Agricultural Safety Awareness Program Week (March 5-11) by encouraging respect for spaces around farm equipment and tasks.

“Get Out of My Space!” is the theme of the week, noted Kalena Bruce, chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Grain bins, grain wagons, manure pits, tractor seats and livestock flight zones are all “spaces” on farms and ranches that require caution to avoid injury.

“It’s easy to take these spaces for granted when you work around them every day on the farm and ranch, but it only takes a split-second for disaster to occur,” Bruce said.

Farm Bureau is collaborating with U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers in sharing resources and messages related to the daily themes of the week:
  - Monday, March 6 - Confined Space
  - Tuesday, March 7 - Animal Space
  - Wednesday, March 8 - Equipment Operator Space
  - Thursday, March 9 - Electrical Space
  - Friday, March 10 - Driver Space

Join the movement and share your own safety messages on social media using these hashtags:
  - #KeepFarmsSafe
  - #ASAP17
  - #USAgCenters

Visit the centers’ YouTube channel ( for new content and fresh ideas about how to stay safe while working in agriculture, forestry and fishing.

NFU Commences 115th Anniversary Convention

National Farmers Union (NFU) officially convened its 115th Anniversary Convention this morning in San Diego, California. More than 450 Farmers Union members from across the country are gathered for the annual event, which runs through March 8.

“As a farmer-driven organization, NFU’s convention is the organization’s most important event of the year. Attendees learn and collaborate through breakout sessions, thought provoking panel discussions and a local farms tour, and delegates from each of our state divisions will set the stage for NFU’s policies and priorities in the year ahead,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Over the next several days, attendees will hear from two high-level panels on the upcoming Farm Bill and conservation in agriculture, and industry experts focusing on consolidation in the agricultural sector, renewable fuels, and sustainable food production.

The information learned will provide context for the policy discussions and line-by-line policy review by Farmers Union delegates in the final days of the convention.

“The policy adoption process truly embodies NFU’s strong grassroots network, and is very important to deciding the policy we bring to the table in Washington, D.C.,” Johnson explained.

“This year’s deliberations will be especially important, as family farmers and ranchers face a depressed farm economy, waves of consolidation, a new administration, and upcoming farm bill negotiation,” Johnson added. “We look forward to our members setting positions that are representative of policy solutions that work for family agriculture and rural communities.”

The convention will also feature a local farms tour, award ceremonies, and a number of NFU education programming events.

“We’ll host breakout sessions on soil health, dairy marketing programs, and NFU history, as well as a local farms tour that showcases organic production and small-plot urban farming in San Diego,” said Johnson. “We’re proud to be an organization representative of the diversity in American family agriculture and bring together folks of all different backgrounds and operation types to drive the future of agriculture.”

Court Rejects Animal Rights Groups' Bid For Cage-Free Egg Labels

A U.S. appeals court in San Francisco rejected a bid by two animal welfare groups to require egg carton labels to show whether the egg-laying hens were cage-free. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Food and Drug Administration and three other federal agencies met the legal standard for acting reasonably when they considered but rejected the groups' request for label requirements.

The Cotati-based Animal Legal Defense Fund and Washington, D.C.-based Compassion Over Killing wanted the agencies to set rules for labels specifying "Free-Range Eggs," "Cage-Free Eggs" or "Eggs from Caged Hens."

The groups argued that some current labels, such as those advertising "natural" eggs, are misleading and that consumers are entitled to know because free-range eggs are allegedly more nutritious and less likely to carry a risk of salmonella contamination.

The organizations sued the agencies in federal court in San Francisco in 2013 after rule-making petitions submitted to the agencies by Compassion Over Killing in 2006 and 2007 were unsuccessful. The appeals court upheld a summary judgment issued by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in favor of the agencies in 2015.

The four agencies "each acted reasonably in denying plaintiffs' rule-making petitions," the appeals court said.

The Food and Drug Administration had told the animal welfare groups that given its limited resources, it chose to pursue individual enforcement actions against misbranded eggs instead of developing an industry-wide rule on labeling standards.

Duo of dietitians to tackle food myths at Alliance Summit

Two dietitians will address attendees at the 2017 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit in a panel titled “Food History: Fact vs. Fiction and Dispelling Myths About Food.” The panel will focus on how to debunk myths about food and farming that frequently circulate online and in the media. Panelists include Leah McGrath, corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets and Amber Pankonin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and adjunct professor.

The 2017 Summit, themed “Connect to Protect Animal Ag” will be held May 3-4 in Kansas City, Mo. The conference will build on the 2016 Summit’s focus of taking action to secure a bright future for animal agriculture. Speakers will give the audience actionable solutions to take home and implement on their farm or in their business. Early registration rates are available through April 3rd by visiting

Leah McGrath is a corporate supermarket dietitian and former Army and public health dietitian. She is also the founder of “Build Up Dietitians,” a social media movement emphasizing evidence-based information and encouraging dietitians to “#StandForScience.” For the past five years, McGrath has worked to increase her knowledge about agriculture and farming by visiting farms and writing blogs and articles about her experiences to educate consumers and peers. She is proud to consider herself an “agvocate.”

Amber Pankonin is a registered dietitian nutritionist passionate about food, nutrition science and agriculture. She works as a nutrition and agriculture communications consultant and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Pankonin loves good food, Nebraska agriculture and building community. She shares the stories of farmers and ranchers through recipes on her blog,

“This year’s Summit theme is all about connecting, and that includes connecting with people outside of traditional animal agriculture,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Consumers are turning to dietitians and nutritionists for advice and information about food, so we are thrilled to have two representatives of that profession joining us at Summit. I am confident this panel will be both engaging and useful for our Summit attendees.”

Be sure to check the Alliance website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA17 and #ActionPlease2017 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Make your plans to attend:

The early registration rate of $425 is available through April 3rd. Discounted rates are available for Alliance members, government officials, university representatives and students. To see all rates and register, visit Complimentary registration is available for reporters covering the event for media outlets. Contact Hannah Thompson-Weeman at for details. 

The Summit will once again be held in Kansas City in 2017 with all events taking place at the InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza. Rooms are available at a discounted rate of $175 as supplies last. Rooms must be booked by April 3rd to receive this rate. For hotel booking instructions, visit

CropLife America Meets with Delegation from Chinese Ministry of Agriculture

A delegation of pesticide program officers organized by the Institute for the Management of Agrochemicals, China Ministry of Agriculture, met with senior leaders from CropLife America (CLA) today to learn more about the regulation of pesticides in the U.S. Led by Deputy Director-General Yan Duanxiang, the fifteen officers sought to learn about pesticide registration, sale and marketing, and risk assessment to better inform regulations, reevaluation and policy-making in China. The Center for Sustainable Development and Policy (CSDP) at the University of California, Davis, is hosting the group as part of its mission to promote dialogue and educational programs that build capacity for sustainable development and effective government.

“We are pleased to meet with Chinese agricultural officers and share information on the regulation of crop protection products in the U.S.,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “Our nation has one of the most advanced food systems in the world, built upon a solid pesticide regulatory system that uses the best available science and is based on the sound principles of risk assessment. Farmers around the globe rely on crop protection technology to grow nutritious and affordable food, making it vital for our industry to continue to advance these products and meet farmers’ needs.”

Dr. Janet E. Collins, executive vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CLA, added, “The crop protection industry in the U.S. is constantly striving to develop products that more precisely target crop threats. We are always pleased to meet and speak with groups both from around the U.S. and from different countries to inform the innovation of crop protection technology.”

The mandate of the Institute for the Management of Agrochemicals (also translated as the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals) includes pesticide/agrochemical registration, quality testing, biological monitoring/evaluation, residue analysis, marketing regulation as well as information dissemination and public outreach.

Friday March 3 Ag News


Dodge County is the first county in Nebraska to adopt the Livestock Assessment Matrix, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). The matrix is a valuable tool to assist local officials in evaluating livestock siting applications.

“Livestock development is critical to Nebraska’s agricultural industry because it adds value to the millions of bushels of feed grains we produce,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “I’d like to congratulate Dodge County on adopting the matrix and incorporating it into their local decision making process.

The Livestock Assessment Matrix is the result of legislation that directed NDA to appoint a committee and create a matrix based on input from those committee members. The committee represented several entities involved in zoning and livestock development, livestock producers and county officials. Committee members based the matrix evaluation guidelines on sound science, professional expertise and personal experiences in siting livestock operations, said Ibach.

The Dodge County Board voted unanimously to adopt the Livestock Assessment Matrix. Bob Missel, chair of the Dodge County Board of Supervisors, said it made sense for Dodge County to adopt the matrix because it provides another decision-making tool for siting livestock operations.

“The more tools and scientific information you have access to, the easier it is to make a sound decision,” said Missel. 

Dodge County Zoning Administrator Jean Andrews said the matrix will be part of the livestock siting application process. Applicants will be asked to complete the matrix and score their projects based on the evaluation guidelines. The county will still use their existing process of review and recommendation by the zoning committee as well as a review and public hearing before the Board of Supervisors.

The matrix can be accessed at For more information, contact NDA at (402) 471-4876.

Preserving Technology Protects Future

Herbicide resistance plagues soybean farmers across the growing region. But resistance isn’t limited to weeds. So to help farmers fight the next attack on their profitability, the soy checkoff is being proactive.

The United Soybean Board (USB) recently announced the expansion of its Take Action program. In addition to combating herbicide-resistant weeds, the program will now be tackling fungicide resistance in soybeans.

“Herbicide resistance is a significant issue farmers face in their fields,” says Carl Bradley, Ph.D., extension plant pathologist at the University of Kentucky. “It’s possible that fungicide resistance is going down the same path. Now is our chance to get ahead of it before it gets too severe.”

Take Action, an industry-wide partnership spearheaded by the soy checkoff, advocates a diverse approach to weed management to avoid resistance. The program applies the same philosophy to disease management.

“To stay ahead of fungicide resistance, we can’t cut corners,” says Gregg Fujan, a checkoff farmer-leader from Nebraska. “We believe a well-rounded method of pest management is needed to preserve existing technology and protect farmers’ long-term profitability.”

If not addressed soon, farmers risk losing the few fungicides they have available now.

“If we lose the tools we have, there’s a financial risk of having diseases we can no longer control,” says Fujan.

At a recent press conference, Fujan called out four steps farmers can use today to help preserve current technology and avoid resistance:
    1. Scout fields regularly for diseases.
    2. Understand disease thresholds.
    3. Apply fungicides only when it makes economic sense.
    4. Rotate fungicide modes of action.

“Many farmers may be of the mindset that a fungicide application will give a bit of a yield bump, even if diseases are not at economically damaging levels,” says Bradley. “But if they’re applying fungicides no matter what, they’re beginning to chip away at the tools they have to fight yield-damaging pathogen outbreaks. We want to encourage farmers to be mindful of what they’re using and when so they don’t lose what they have.”

Nebraska Soybean Board Seeks Leaders to Represent Nebraska Soybean Farmers

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking soybean farmers to serve on the Board
of Directors and to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

How does the Election Work?

The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July for Districts 5 and 7. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election in 2017 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail. 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.

What are the 2017 Election Districts and Counties?

The election districts and counties 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.
At-Large: All counties in Nebraska.

Who Can Be a Candidate for the NSB seats or the At-Large Position on the Board?

· Be a resident of Nebraska
· Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
· Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous 5 years
· Be 21 years of age or older
· Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

To apply for Candidacy in District 5 and 7 or the At-Large Position you must:

· Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky at 402-432-5720.
· Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district.
· Return petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2017.

Roles and Responsibilities of Soybean Board Member Representative:

· Attend every NSB meeting – 8 day fiscal year commitment.
· Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff in your district.
· Receive no salary but reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business.
· Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2017.

Areas of Focus for the Soybean Industry:

As an elected representative to NSB, you will help guide the Nebraska soybean industry in the areas of research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

If you have questions regarding the election process, please contact NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky at 402-432-5720. For more information about the Nebraska soybean checkoff, visit  


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Adding clovers, alfalfa, or other legumes to grasslands can boost profits.  Today I'll describe three steps to add legumes successfully to your pastures and meadows.

Can you afford to fertilize your pastures with expensive nitrogen?  Maybe you can if you graze effectively, but there may be a better solution - add legumes.

Legumes like red clover and alfalfa reduce nitrogen costs on pastures and make them more productive and higher quality.  But, to add legumes to your grass you must accomplish three tasks correctly.

First, fertilize for the legume.  Legumes need extra phosphorus and a soil pH above 6, and sometimes higher, to establish and grow in a grass sod.  So, add phosphorus and maybe even lime if needed.

Second, place seed into the soil.  One way is by frost seeding, which involves broadcasting seed on snow-free fields during winter. Right now is an excellent time for frost seeding.  The freezing and thawing of the soil as spring approaches helps work the seed into the ground.  Results from frost seeding have been variable in our area, though.  Red clover is the only legume that has given good results with broadcasting.  So instead, I suggest using a drill whenever possible, even if all it does is barely scratch your seed into the soil.  You’ll get faster, more uniform stands that way.

Finally, during spring, reduce competition from the existing sod.  I think the best option is flash grazing.  Whenever grass gets 3 to 4 inches taller than legumes this spring, stock heavily so animals graze grass down to the height of the legumes in just one day.  Then remove livestock until grass gets tall again and repeat the flash grazing.

Once established, legumes will cut your fertilizer costs and make your grasslands better than ever.

Cattle Groups Support a Sonny Perdue/Charles Herbster USDA Team

In a joint letter sent today to President Donald J. Trump, several local, state and national cattle trade associations urge the appointment of Sonny Perdue as the nation's next Agriculture Secretary and Charles W. Herbster as his Deputy Secretary.

Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, previously practiced veterinary medicine and started three agriculture-related small businesses.  Herbster, owner of Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City, Nebraska, is also a corn and soybean farmer as well as the owner of the manufacturing firm, Conklin Company, Inc. Herbster was appointed National Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee for the Donald J. Trump campaign for President.

 "The only way to improve upon the tremendous opportunity that Mr. Perdue will bring as your Secretary of Agriculture would be to include the entrepreneurial talents and production-agriculture knowledge of Charles W. Herbster on Mr. Perdue's executive team - as Mr. Perdue's Deputy Secretary," the groups told the president in their letter.

Although they did not specify what changes they want to see at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the groups made it clear they want Perdue and Herbster to lead American agriculture in a new direction.

The groups state, "We strongly believe that a combination of Mr. Perdue's leadership and Mr. Herbster's direct assistance will afford American agriculture the best opportunity for it to unleash its tremendous potential, which will undoubtedly result in an immediate boost to Rural America's ailing economy."

Signatories to the joint letter include R-CALF USA, Buckeye Quality Beef (Ohio), Cattle Producers of Louisiana, Cattle Producers of Washington, Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Kansas Cattlemen's Association, Missouri's Best Beef Co-Op., Navajo County Cattlemen's Association (Arizona), New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and Spokane County Cattlemen (Washington).

Nitrogen Fertilizer Feeds Healthy Soil in Corn, Soybeans

Newly published research from Iowa State University agronomists shows that the application of nitrogen fertilizer at optimum levels to corn and soybeans is required to maintain carbon in the soil, giving rise to a range of environmental and production benefits.

In a study published in the peer-reviewed academy journal PLOS ONE, ISU agronomists showed nitrogen fertilizer can contribute to soil health and water quality by helping retain carbon.

"Our data show that nitrogen fertilizer, when applied at a level that maximizes crop production, is critical to maintain soil carbon for sustainable agricultural systems," said Michael Castellano, an associate professor of agronomy and co-author of the study. "In fact, I'd say it plays an essential role."

The researchers collected soil samples from four ISU research farms in 1999 and 2000 and then again 15 years later, after each site received regimented applications of nitrogen fertilizer. The sites included both continuous corn and rotated corn-soybean production systems.

The results show nitrogen fertilizer helped build soil carbon content for the acres with only corn, while it was essential to maintain soil carbon content in the acres devoted to a corn-soybean rotation. Insufficient nitrogen fertilizer in both systems led to soil carbon losses.

Hanna Poffenbarger, a graduate assistant in agronomy and lead author of the paper, said nitrogen fertilization leads to increased crop yields, which leaves greater amounts of crop residue on the soil after harvest. The crop residue feeds soil microbes and builds carbon in the soil as it decomposes, Poffenbarger said.

"Soil carbon content is positively associated with crop yield, and it's an important indicator of soil health," she said.

Soil carbon improves the ability of the soil to hold water, which reduces runoff and improves downstream water quality. Carbon also helps soil retain nutrients, including nitrates, Poffenbarger said.

The study's findings contradict some previous studies that examined the impact nitrogen fertilization has on soil carbon, Castellano said. That's because the research team zeroed in on finding the optimal rate of nitrogen application to maximize crop production for each field without using excess fertilizer, a step that resulted in more precise results. He said the optimal application rate can vary depending on weather, geography and other soil variables.

"You really have to understand the optimum nitrogen rate to gauge the effect it has in a field," Castellano said. "Applying fertilizer to corn that is already well-supplied will not have the same impact on soil carbon content as a nitrogen application that boosts crop production."

Agriculture Literacy Challenge Grants Available

The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) is making grants available to support local efforts to develop an understanding of agriculture in students and adults.

The Agriculture Literacy Challenge offers five grants of up to $1,000 to help communities initiate new projects or expand existing projects that promote agriculture literacy through education and outreach. Grants can be used to fund innovative lessons, activities, classroom resources, guest speakers, outreach programs, fieldtrips, and other projects.

"Agriculture is vital to the state and local economy and it is essential that we all understand how to create innovation and sustainability in our food and fiber system," said IALF executive director Will Fett. "We hope these grants allow local organizations to teach more people about food, fiber, fuel and natural resources."

Organizations that have agriculture education as a part of their mission or purpose are eligible to apply. Applicants can use available resources to help teach others. Programs like FarmChat and Agriculture in the Classroom are encouraged.

"One in five jobs in Iowa is in the agriculture industry, but most Iowans don't have a direct connection to agriculture production or the agriculture industry," said Fett. "These grants will help elevate the understanding of the chain of production from the farm field to the dinner plate and everything in between."

The deadline for application is April 9 and the proposed project must take place between April 1 and October 31, 2017. To apply online or for more information visit

Former Ag Secretary Clayton Yeutter Dies At 86

Clayton Yeutter, a native Nebraskan who served as U.S. secretary of agriculture under President George H.W. Bush, has passed away.

Yeutter, 86, had battled cancer for several years but continued to be active in promoting global trade, the sustainable water use and agriculture.

Condolences were offered on social media as word of his death spread Saturday.  Gov. Pete Ricketts mentioned on his Facebook page: “Former President Reagan and Bush, Sr. Advisor Clayton Yeutter was a fierce advocate for Nebraska ag producers. On behalf of our fellow Nebraskans, Susanne and I send our thoughts and prayers to Cristy and the entire Yeutter family. Clayton’s work has left an indelible mark on our state, and will help grow Nebraska for years to come.”

 Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also tweeted: “I remember him best as Secretary of Ag & Midwest supporter of family farm.”

Also on Twitter,  Ronnie Green, chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said: “America and Nebraska lost a giant last night, and I lost a dear friend and mentor. Rest in peace Clayton P. Yeutter. Exceptionally lived.”

In March 2015, Yeutter made a $2.5 million gift to his alma mater, UNL, to establish a new international trade and finance institute.

Yeutter was named agriculture secretary in 1989 after serving as U.S. trade representative from 1985 to 1988.

He served as chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1991 until 1992, when he took on the job of counselor to the president.

Yeutter was born in Eustis, Nebraska and had deep roots in 4-H in Dawson County.

He graduated No. 1 in his College of Agriculture class in 1952 and later served as a faculty member teaching ag economics. He enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, but later enrolled in the NU law school, graduating No. 1 in his class in 1963.

Yeutter’s career also included a stint as president and CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In recent years, he served as a senior adviser at the international law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C.

Yeutter, who lived outside Washington, D.C., was diagnosed with colon cancer several years ago and had undergone surgery and chemotherapy.

He was the 1987 winner of the Nebraska Rural Radio Association’s ‘Service to Agriculture’ Award in 1987.

NPPC Elects New Officers, Board Members

The National Pork Producers Council elected new officers and members to its board of directors at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held here yesterday and today.

Elected as president of the organization was Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. Maschhoff is chairman of Maschhoff Family Foods and co-owner and chairman of The Maschhoffs, the largest family-owned pork production company in North America. A fifth-generation pork producer, Maschhoff formerly served on the Illinois Pork Producers Association board of directors as well as on the boards of Midland States Bank and Midland States Bancorp Inc. Currently he serves on the board for various local organizations including, Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School, Potter Electric and First Light USA.

Jim Heimerl, of Johnstown, Ohio, was elevated to president-elect. Heimerl and his wife Kathy, along with three sons and a daughter-in-law, run three farrow-to-finish farms in Ohio and 80 contract finishing farms in several states. Heimerl Farms LTD also consists of crops and cattle, as well as a trucking division and feed mill. Heimerl served as president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council and as board member of the Ohio Soybean Association.

David Herring, of Lillington, N.C., was chosen as vice president. He is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., a pork industry equipment company, and is involved with his family's TDM Farms, which includes a farrow-to-finish operation and 1,100 acres of cropland on which corn, soybeans, wheat and hay are raised.

Re-elected to the board for another three-year term were Phil Borgic, of Nokomis, Ill., Herring and Terry Wolters, of Pipestone, Minn., Scott Hayes, of Monroe City, Mo., was elected as a new member of the board for a three-year term, and Cory Bollum, with Hormel Foods Corp. in Austin, Minn. was reelected for a two-year term as the Packer Processor Industry Council representative.

They join current directors Kent Bang of Omaha. Neb. – who is the Allied Industry Council representative – Jim Compart, of Nicollet, Minn., Bill Kessler, of Mexico, Mo., Dale Reicks, of New Hampton, Iowa, A.V. Roth, of Wauzeka, Wis., Jen Sorensen of Ankeny, Iowa, and Kraig Westerbeek, of Warsaw, N.C.

Pork producers Brandon Schafer, of Goodhue, Minn., and Neill Westerbeek, of Clinton, N.C., were elected for two-year terms to NPPC’s Nominating Committee, which evaluates candidates for the organization’s board of directors.

“In Ken, Jim and David we have great leadership at the helm of NPPC, and the pork industry has some thoughtful leaders and innovators,” said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “And the addition of Scott to the NPPC board gives us a good young leader who will help take the industry into the future.”

Legislation Introduced Addressing Agro-Terrorism Threats

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to address the threat of agro-terrorism and ensure the safety of food put on the tables of American families.

"I have introduced this legislation in the Senate because it reiterates the important and necessary role of the DHS in the agro-terrorism space," said Senator Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "As DHS continues to build the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan., now is the exact time to shore up authorities regarding coordination and mitigation should the worst occur and the nation is hit by a biological attack on our food and agriculture. As former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I understand the unique threat our farmers and ranchers face. As the backbone of the U.S. economy, the spread of any deadly pathogen among our livestock and plant population would cause irreparable damage. I look forward to continuing to work with DHS and USDA, which play equally important roles, in protecting our homeland's food supply."

Reps. David Young (R-IA), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), and Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced the legislation in the House.

NFU Women’s Conference Provides Management, Leadership Skills

Building on a strong history of providing women in agriculture with important leadership and risk management skills, National Farmers Union (NFU) kicked off its annual Women’s Conference today in San Diego, California.

This year’s conference, with a theme of “Shaping the Future,” will prepare attendees and their operations for their own future in many areas, including: business planning, succession planning, running for local office, communications, and innovative marketing.

“NFU’s Women’s Conference offers women of all ages the opportunity to come together to engage with a diverse group of women in agriculture from across the country, and take home invaluable experiences and lessons to improve their farm operations and communities,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “All of agriculture, from family farms and ranches to agribusiness board rooms benefit when the views and ideas provided by women are included and emphasized.”

The Women’s Conference is also a great opportunity to network and hear from leaders and experts in the field of agriculture. This year, the conference will host a number of special guests, including:
~ Audra Mulkern, founder of The Female Farmer Project;
~ Lisa Kivirist, author of Soil Sisters;
~ Kriss Marion, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter;
~ Bridget Holcomb, executive director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network;
~ Madeline Schultz, manager of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Program;
~ Dr. Shannon Ferrell, associate professor at Oklahoma State University;
~ Poppy Davis, adjunct professor at University of Arkansas School of Law
~ Sarah Campbell, stakeholder engagement specialist at USDA Farm Service Agency
~ Charlotte Smith, founder of, and owner of Champoeg Creamery and Charlotte Smith Pastured Meats

The 2017 NFU Women’s Conference programming is sponsored by Farm Credit, CHS Foundation, and NFU Foundation.

Bird Flu Detected in Chicken Breeding Facility in Tennessee

(AP) -- A commercial chicken breeding facility in south-central Tennessee has been hit by a strain of bird flu, agriculture officials said Sunday.

The state Agriculture Department said in a news release that tests confirmed the presence of the H7 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI, at a facility in Lincoln County. The facility alerted the state veterinarian's office on Friday about an increase in chicken deaths.

The statement did not name the facility. The facility and about 30 other poultry farms within about a six-mile radius of the site are under quarantine.

"Animal health is our top priority," said Dr. Charles Hatcher, the state veterinarian. "With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 73,500 chickens are in the facility's flock.

Officials said HPAI poses no risk to the food supply, and no affected chickens entered the food chain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI can cause up to 100 percent mortality in flocks, often within 48 hours.

"Many Tennessee families rely on the poultry industry for their livelihoods, and the state is working closely with local, county and federal partners and the poultry industry to control the situation and protect the flocks that are critical to our state's economy," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.

According to the Tennessee Poultry Association, there are more than 1,650 commercial broiler and breeder houses on more than 550 family farms in the state. The state ranks 13th nationally in broiler production and processing with more than 6 million birds per week at five plants.

The statement said the most recent U.S. detection of HPAI was in January 2016 in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana. More than 414,000 turkeys and chickens were euthanized to contain the outbreak.

Thursday March 2 Ag News

Smith and Loebsack Introduce Bill to Broaden Fuel Choices for Retailers and Consumers

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) reintroduced legislation today to broaden fuel choices for retailers and consumers by expanding the existing waiver of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations related to the Reid Vapor Pressure of motor vehicle fuel, which E10 received in 1990, to include E15.

“By restricting retailers’ ability to market the fuel they feel is most competitive, these archaic EPA regulations are impeding the free market and limiting consumers’ options at the pump,” Congressman Smith said.  “There is no reason E15 should not receive the same regulatory relief extended to E10 decades ago.  We must foster the development of a robust energy marketplace, including ethanol and other renewable fuels, in order to achieve American energy independence.”

“Ethanol is a homegrown renewable energy source that supports millions of jobs in communities in Iowa and throughout the country,” said Congressman Loebsack.  “This legislation will remove an unnecessary barrier and allow E15 gasoline to be sold in the summer months.  This legislation helps expand consumer choice at the pump, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, and stimulate economic development throughout the country.”

“The introduction of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is the first step toward eradicating an unnecessary EPA restriction that limits consumer choice at the pump during the peak time of the year when Americans are on the road,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.  “E15 is a federally-approved fuel that saves motorists money, boosts engine performance, and improves the environment.  Biofuels like E15 are the most effective alternative to fossil fuels and a critical tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.  It is simply ridiculous that a law passed in 1990 to spur ethanol fuel sales would prevent today’s drivers from having this choice of a high-performance, environmentally-friendly 21st century fuel year-round.  We commend the sponsors of this bill for their efforts to provide consumer choice at the pump and look forward to working with them to get this important legislation enacted.”

Bipartisan Senators Seek to Expand Market for Biofuels

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The bill would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent. This would increase market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol. It would allow retailers across the country to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round, increasing regulatory certainty and eliminating confusion at the pump.

“As one of America’s largest producers of ethanol, Nebraska can provide renewable solutions for our nation’s energy needs. The bipartisan legislation we are introducing today would expand fuel options for consumers and remove regulatory burdens that limit the use of E15. It would also ensure a fair playing field for higher ethanol blends, expanding fuel choices and strengthening our energy diversity,” said Senator Fischer.

“Biofuels give consumers more options and reduce fuel prices at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the market for ethanol producers, opening more market opportunities for fuels grown on Hoosier farms. I am proud to join my colleague Senator Fischer, along with Senator Grassley, in a bipartisan effort to eliminate the senseless restriction on ethanol producers and consumers,” said Senator Donnelly.

“Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump,” Senator Grassley said.  “Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”  

Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended from June 1 until September 15. During these months, when many travelers are on the road, the EPA restricts the retail sale of fuels with ethanol above 10 percent. Only higher blends that go through extra and more costly refining may be sold to consumers during this time.

Furthermore, retailers are forced to change fuels or labeling during the summer fueling season. This is why retailers often choose not to sell higher ethanol blends, such as E15, since they can only sell these products mid-September until May. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would allow retailers to sell E15 all year long without going through the costly approval process.

New Legislation Would Extend RVP Waiver, Boost Consumer Fuel Choices During Summer Driving Season

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today released the following statement in support of the bipartisan, bicameral introduction of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517, H.R. 1311). This legislation – introduced in the Senate by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-3) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) – would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15), allowing retailers to offer E15 without restriction from June 1 to September 15.

“The introduction of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is the first step toward eradicating an unnecessary EPA restriction that limits consumer choice at the pump during the peak time of the year when Americans are on the road,” Skor said.

“E15 is a federally approved fuel that saves motorists money, boosts engine performance, and improves the environment. Biofuels like E15 are the most effective alternative to fossil fuels and a critical tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. It is simply ridiculous that law passed in 1990 to spur ethanol fuel sales would prevent today’s drivers from having this choice of a high-performance, environmentally friendly 21st century fuel year-round.

“We commend the sponsors of this bill for their efforts to provide consumer choice at the pump and look forward to working with them to get this important legislation enacted.”

RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates vapor pressure/RVP to prevent increased ozone or smog from vehicle emissions. Congress granted regular gasoline with 10 percent ethanol (E10) an RVP waiver because E10 reduces tailpipe emissions. EPA does not give E15 the same RVP waiver as E10, even though it is less volatile.

Consequently, retailers are largely prohibited from selling E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles from June 1 through September 15, despite its approved use by the EPA. The EPA fails to account for the fact that higher ethanol blends are less volatile, and fuel such as E15 further decrease emissions, replacing toxic additives in gasoline that have been proven to cause cancer, asthma, groundwater contamination and smog.

Currently E15 is being offered at approximately 650 locations in 28 states. Leading retailers offering E15 include: Sheetz, Thorntons, Murphy USA, RaceTrac, Minnoco, Protec and Kum & Go.

ACE elects 2017 executive committee

During its first quarter meeting, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors elected its officers and executive committee members for 2017.  Re-elected to serve as officers on the Executive Committee are:

Ron Alverson, representing Dakota Ethanol, LLC, an ethanol plant in Wentworth, South Dakota, which produces 50 million gallons of ethanol per year (MGY). Alverson is the current President of the ACE Board of Directors.

Duane Kristensen, General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels, which owns a 62 MGY ethanol plant in Hastings, Nebraska, and a 50 MGY ethanol plant in Lexington, Nebraska. Kristensen is the current Vice President of the ACE Board of Directors. 

Dave Sovereign, who represents Golden Grain Energy, a 120 MGY ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa, on the ACE board and serves on the board of Absolute Energy a 115 MGY ethanol producer in Lyle, Minnesota. Sovereign also owns Cresco Fast Stop; a convenience store that specializes in selling ethanol blends. He serves as Secretary of the ACE Board of Directors.

Brian Wilcox, with Nebraska Public Power District, which serves customers in nearly all of the counties in the state of Nebraska. Wilcox will serve as Treasurer of the ACE Board of Directors.

Two additional directors were elected to round-out the executive committee; Troy Knecht, representing the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, and Greg Krissek, CEO for the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Knecht operates a diversified farming enterprise in Houghton, South Dakota, and serves as the President of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. Krissek has nearly 30 years of experience in agriculture and the ethanol industry.

“ACE is fortunate to have strong leaders on our executive committee who are committed to representing the interests of our grassroots members,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President.  “We welcome the addition of Troy Knecht and Greg Krissek, their voices will be pivotal as we work to grow demand for ethanol.”

Pork Industry Honors Rich Degner with Distinguished Service Award

The National Pork Board today honored Rich Degner as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award during the National Pork Industry Forum in Atlanta. Degner is the former chief executive officer of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

At the pork industry’s annual business meeting, the award is given to an outstanding leader to recognize his or her lifelong contribution to the pork industry.

“Rich has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, who is a pork producer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Through the years, he worked tirelessly for the advancement of pork producers, as well as for the industry in Iowa and across the United States.”

The National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) also presented Degner with the inaugural Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award, which was developed cooperatively by the Pork Board and NPPC. The award recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork executives and was named after two top leaders – Don Paulson, past Minnesota state pork executive, and Rex Whitmore, past Wisconsin state pork executive.

Degner learned the value of hard work on his family’s farm in northwest Iowa. Following graduation from Iowa State University in 1972, he taught vocational ag in Iowa, first in Rock Valley and later in Ankeny. He joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1980 under the mentorship of Mike Telford and the late Don Gingerich.

Over the next 35 years, Degner served in many roles, including as CEO for 17 years. In 1981, He helped create the Iowa Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair. From its small beginnings, the Iowa Pork Tent is now a cornerstone of the fair and Iowa’s pork industry. Degner also played a key role in expanding pork export markets, leading producers on more than 50 trade missions to over 20 countries, including 30 to Japan.

During the farm crisis in the 1980s, he helped develop financial management tools for pig farmers who were facing foreclosure. He also led the Iowa Pork Producers Association in guiding producers to be in compliance with new regulations while modernizing their farms and propelling them into the future.

Former Iowa Pork Producers CEO Honored

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) joined the National Pork Board today in presenting former Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Rich Degner with the inaugural Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award at their annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held here.

The award, named after Don Paulson, past Minnesota state pork executive, and Rex Whitmore, past Wisconsin state pork executive, recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork organization executives.

Degner worked for IPPA for 35 years, serving as CEO the last 17 of those years before retiring in 2015. He began his career at the organization as program and communications director then moved to pork product promotion in Iowa and overseas.

He developed the structure for producer financial and business plan assistance following the pork economic crisis of the late 1980s, was active in federal level lobbying and helped create the Iowa Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair, which now is a cornerstone of the fair and Iowa’s pork industry. Degner also played a key role in expanding pork export markets, leading producers on more than 50 trade missions to more than 20 countries.

While at IPPA, he guided pork producers in complying with new regulations while modernizing their farms, helping to redefine the production model in Iowa to respond to environmental concerns and to write the regulations that would shape the industry.

Degner, who grew up on his family’s farm in northwest Iowa, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Iowa State University and, after graduation, taught vocational agriculture in Rock Valley and Ankeny, Iowa, before joining IPPA.

“Rich has dedicated his life to the U.S. pork industry, and the Iowa pork industry grew and prospered under his strong leadership,” said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “Like so many of our industry leaders, Rich focused on the producers and their success and on adding value to their product. NPPC is pleased, along with the National Pork Board, to present Rich with this well-deserved award.”

Inaugural Pig Farmers of Tomorrow Named

The National Pork Board announced today that Kyle Coble from Minnesota, Logan Thornton from Idaho and Madison Schafer from Minnesota have been named the inaugural Pig Farmers of Tomorrow. They were recognized today at the 2017 National Pork Industry in Atlanta.

“It is important for the Checkoff to recognize the future leaders of the pork industry,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “We are excited for these young farmers to share their unique stories with consumers.”

The new award recognizes farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and who are committed to raising pigs using the pork industry’s We CareSM ethical principles. The winners will speak at Pork Checkoff events and provide content on #RealPigFarming, which is the pork industry’s social media program.

Coble is the senior manager of production strategies and a swine nutritionist with New Fashion Pork in Jackson, Minnesota. New Fashion Pork, a leading producer of high-quality pork, has farms in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

“I’m excited to introduce the public to different types of pig farmers,” Coble said. “For instance, I use math and statistics every day to help our team decide which production practices help us provide a safe, wholesome, affordable protein.”

Schafer is the seventh-generation of her family to farm near Goodhue, Minnesota. The Schafers operate a 1,600-sow unit, a 600-sow unit and seven replacement gilt development barns.

“It is important for all pig farmers take every opportunity to start conversations about farming,” Schafer said. “These connections help dispel misconceptions about our farming practices and show consumers how much we care about raising healthy pigs.”

Thornton runs Flying Pig Farm, a farrow-to-finish farm near Kuna, Idaho. Flying Pig Farm markets 3,000 pigs a year. The Thorntons have a farrowing and nursery barn, and use hoop barns to finish pigs and for sow gestation.

“My family and I care for each pig individually,” Thornton said. “Raising healthy pigs is important to us, and I’m excited to share our story with consumers, especially on social media.”

An industry panel of judges selected the 2017 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, who all have had a Common Industry Audit completed on their farms.

Determan Inducted Into NPPC Hall of Fame

Barb Determan, a pork producer from Early, Iowa, today was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Pork Producers Council for her perseverance and leadership of and dedication to the U.S. pork industry at NPPC’s annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held here.

Determan, who grew up on a diversified farm in west central Illinois, is president, owner and strategist of Heartland Marketing Group. She and husband Steve also raise hogs.

Serving as NPPC president from March 2001 to March 2002, Determan oversaw the court-ordered split of the Pork Checkoff Program from NPPC that paved the way for the council to reestablish itself to provide the legislative, regulatory and trade advocacy necessary for the industry to achieve success.

In addition to leading the board of directors, she served as the de facto CEO of the reconstituted NPPC – most of the organization’s staff were running the checkoff, which then fell to the newly established National Pork Board. Three months after being elevated to president, Determan had to weather the cancellation of NPPC’s World Pork Expo because of the worldwide scare of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, then she guided the organization through the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.

Since those tumultuous times, Determan has dedicated much of her time and effort to promoting and serving American agriculture generally and the U.S. pork industry specifically. She served on the Iowa 4-H Foundation board of directors, including as chairwoman in 2012, and recently was nominated by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to serve on the Iowa Great Places Advisory Board. She also was elected to the U.S. Animal Health Association board. She has been a volunteer committee member for NPPC for the past 20 years and for the National Pork Board for nearly 15 years.

“As president of NPPC, Barb guided the organization through a period of great turmoil, and since that time, she’s dedicated herself to promoting and helping our industry,” said newly-elected NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “For her can-do spirit and innumerable contributions to the U.S. pork industry, we are extremely pleased to induct Barb Determan into the NPPC Hall of Fame.”

Late Doug Wolf Inducted Into NPPC Hall of Fame

For his passion for pork production and his genuine care and concern for those in the pork industry, the late Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., today was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Pork Producers Council at the organization’s annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held here.

Wolf, who died suddenly last July, was a partner in Wolf L&G Farms LLC, with his wife Kris and son Shannon. The farm includes a sow farrow-to-finish operation, a cow-calf herd, feedlot and 1,200 crop acres on which corn, soybeans and alfalfa are raised.

He served on the NPPC board of directors for five years, including as president from March 2011 to March 2012. In addition to his service with NPPC, Wolf was involved with the National Pork Board – including as chairman of its Trade Committee – the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the Wisconsin Pork Association, the Grant County (Wis.) Pork Producers, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Wolf was particularly interest in trade, knowing that pork industry growth would come from expanded export opportunities. He participated in several pork industry trade missions abroad.

“Doug Wolf was a humble guy, who put family first, the pork industry and farming second and himself last,” said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “His quiet, unassuming manner belied the fierce proponent he was for our industry. He truly valued the relationships he forged with pork producers around the country, and his spirit and love for agriculture and pork production lives on in many others, particularly his family. We are honored to have Doug be in the NPPC Hall of Fame.”

 AVMA applauds introduction of bill to increase access to veterinary care in underserved areas

The AVMA welcomes the introduction of S. 487, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). This bill will increase funding available for grants through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), which implements loan forgiveness for veterinarians who commit to serving in federally designated veterinary shortage areas. Representatives Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 1268, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

[The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, Senate bill 487, is a loan relief program for veterinarians who commit to serve in federally designated shortage areas.Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced the bill to strengthen rural economies and to protect the health and welfare of livestock as well as the safety of our food supply. Representatives Adrian Smith (R-Neb) and Ron Kind (D-Wis)introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1268.]

"The VMLRP is a win-win for veterinarians and rural economies because it provides loan relief while also helping alleviate veterinary shortages in areas that lack adequate access to veterinary services for livestock animals," said AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer. "Unfortunately, the heavy tax applied to VMLRP awards decreases the number of awards that can be made and the number of rural communities that can benefit from increased services. We're grateful our leaders in Congress are again supporting legislation to remove this tax and maximize the effectiveness of the VMLRP. The AVMA played a key role in implementing the VMLRP and will continue our strong support of the VMLRPEA during 2017."

Student loan debt for graduates of veterinary colleges in 2015 topped $140,000 on average. This significant debt can make starting a veterinary practice in a rural shortage area cost prohibitive for recent graduates. As a result, many new graduates are unable to practice in underserved areas where they are most needed.

The VMLRP makes practice in rural underserved areas more financially feasible for recent graduates by providing up to $75,000 in loan repayments in exchange for at least three years of service in designated veterinary shortage areas. Since the program's implementation in 2010, more than 350 veterinarians have participated across 45 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. federal lands. However, a 39 percent income withholding tax is applied to each award, which significantly lowers the number of awards that the U.S. Department of Agriculture can make each year. If this tax had been removed, more than 100 additional veterinarians – and rural communities – could have benefitted from the VMLRP. If passed, the VMLRPEA will implement this important change.

"Access to animal care is critical to Idaho's agricultural economy," said Senator Crapo. "But too often, ranchers and farmers can't access the care they need because they live in areas where demand for veterinary services exceeds availability. This legislation will increase the number of veterinarians able to serve in the areas where they are needed most, which will help strengthen rural economies and protect the safety of our food supply."

"Veterinarians are vital to animal welfare and our nation's agricultural economy," said Senator Stabenow. "Unfortunately, many small towns and rural communities in Michigan and across the country don't have access to the veterinary services they need most. This bill creates important incentives for veterinarians to practice in underserved areas, where quality veterinary care is needed to ensure healthy livestock and a safe food supply."

"Animal health is critical to maintaining the United States' world-leading standards for food safety, with veterinarians and producers working together to ensure livestock are appropriately cared for," said Representative Smith. "However, shortages of large-animal veterinarians in many of the rural areas where our meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are produced make this work more challenging. This legislation addresses an inconsistency in our tax code involving the treatment of student loan repayment programs while ensuring the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program's limited funding is more directly focused on bringing animal health providers to the areas where they are most needed."

"Large animal veterinarians provide critical services to communities in western and central Wisconsin. They are critical in helping maintain both the safety of our food and the health and welfare of our livestock," said Representative Kind. "However, there are a number of areas across western and central Wisconsin where there is a shortage of veterinarians. This legislation would help our communities attract and retain quality veterinarians in the places of highest need."

The legislation has broad support from more than 160 veterinary, commodity and agriculture-related organizations.

NAWG elects new president, officers

United States wheat farmers will be well represented going into the 2018 Farm Bill debate.

A third generation wheat farmer from western Kansas was elected president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) today at a board meeting held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

The newly-elected president, David Schemm, farms with his wife, Lisa, in Wallace County, Kansas.

Jimmie Musick, a farmer from Southwest Oklahoma was elected Vice President. Texan Ben Scholz moved up the ranks of leadership to Treasurer. Gordon Stoner from Outlook, Montana, will continue to serve on the executive committee in the role of Past President. Dave Milligan from Cass City, Michigan, becomes the newest face in NAWG leadership with his election as Secretary.

President Schemm talks about what inspired him to become a leader in the wheat industry.

“I originally started with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers,” said Schemm. “I really found a passion for what we do; engaging growers and trying to work for the benefit of growers on the Hill, not only at the state level, but also at the national level.”

Schemm continued, “We need to draw a bigger circle than just around ourselves, our family and our own operation. We need to have an influence outside of that.

“It’s been super rewarding and exciting to be able to engage on the growers’ behalf on a national level. I’m so pumped and so excited for the coming year.”

Schemm outlined some of NAWG’s priorities for the upcoming year.

“A couple of the clear priorities I have are making sure as commodities we are working together and we’re working for those commonalities that we can find. We’re all farmers. We can find so many commonalities between us and make sure that we get a good farm bill, a good risk management tool for our farmers out there, especially considering the challenging times we’re going through now.

“It’s not IF wheat will make an impact on the next farm bill,” Schemm emphasized. “Wheat WILL make an impact on the next farm bill. We will make sure that our voice is heard, and that we get the best tool we possibly can for wheat growers out there.”

As NAWG is setting priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill, they have been listening to the member-growers. “We’ve heard overwhelmingly that crop insurance is a top priority,” said Schemm. “Are there areas in crop insurance that need to be tweaked? Yeah, there are maybe some areas and that’s what we’re discussing. There’s got to be strong support going forward with that.

“The other area that we’re hearing is just some challenges that we’ve had with Title I and with the ARC and PLC programs. There’s been discrepancies in data, differences between counties that producers have found. So we’re exploring ways to try to find the right solutions.”

Other areas of concern to Schemm and NAWG leadership include trade and the labor force as it relates to immigration.

“We need to get our Secretary of Ag confirmed. We need to get our trade representative confirmed and in there, so that we can help to communicate the priorities that we have for bilateral agreements. What we don’t have is time. We’ve got other countries in the Pacific Rim and China that are poised and ready to start making these trade agreements that absolutely will be a loss to farmers in this country. Half of our U.S. wheat crop is exported and when we look at this past year with the production that farmers had but the historic low prices, trade becomes a huge issue for us.”

Funding for Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs are another of NAWG’s top priorities. A 2016 econometric study of export demand commissioned by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) showed that these programs return a remarkable $24 in export gains for every additional $1 spend on foreign market development.

“It just ties right back in with that trade aspect. These are two programs that allow us opportunities to get out there and make contact with our end buyers and end users and educate them and truly show the value that our American farmer does produce wheat and the quality is there. We hope to see those programs not only maintain but actually increase, just simply because of dollar return on them.”

The future of the U.S. wheat and agriculture industries is important to Schemm. He has embraced technologies on his farm, using no-till on his dryland wheat and strip-till on his irrigated. “We’re trying to employ technology in all aspects of our operation,” Schemm said. One of his passions for the industry is to secure a bright future.

“My oldest son is planning on returning to the farm and working into the operation,” said Schemm. “We’re excited about the future of our operation and honestly really excited about the future of farming in general.”

Schemm and his fellow leaders at the National Association of Wheat Growers are listening to the wheat growers across the nation and taking those messages to elected leaders in Washington, D.C.

“I’m really looking forward to this coming year, being able to engage both farmers and legislators to truly make sure that wheat’s voice is heard,” said Schemm. “It WILL be heard. We’ve got some issues, we know that. We’ve got historic low plantings; we’ve got historic low prices. We know farmers are hurting out there. We’ve got ideas; we know there are ways we can improve our current risk management tools, and that is a message we’re going to be taking to the Hill, because we’ve heard from our farmers, and we look forward to making sure our message gets communicated.”

USDA Dairy Products January 2017 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.04 billion pounds, 3.7 percent above January 2016 but 1.2 percent below December 2016.  Italian type cheese production totaled 452 million pounds, 3.8 percent above January 2016 but 1.5 percent below December 2016.  American type cheese production totaled 413 million pounds, 3.0 percent above January 2016 but 1.2 percent below December 2016.  Butter production was 178 million pounds, 1.2 percent above January 2016 and
8.5 percent above December 2016.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with January 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 155 million pounds, up 13.1 percent.
Skim milk powders - 50.5 million pounds, down 1.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with January 2016)
Dry whey, total - 82.2 million pounds, down 1.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 92.2 million pounds, up 9.0 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 40.0 million pounds, up 2.6 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with January 2016)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 56.6 million gallons, down 0.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 29.5 million gallons, up 14.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.14 million gallons, up 27.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.24 million gallons, up 2.7 percent.

EWG's 'New' Database Used For Same, Old Purpose: To Attack Farmers

When it comes to attacking farmers and ranchers, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) never takes a holiday. Not even in the midst of a depressed farm economy.

For years, EWG has been using its so-called "farm subsidy" database – a collection of publicly available, but outdated information – to spread a false narrative about farmers and farm policy.

As we have reported in the past, they spin old, irrelevant data to make it look like our agricultural producers are "cashing in" on the farm safety net while leaving out valuable context for why such support exists. This includes many factors outside farmers' control, like devastating weather events, high input costs, sour economic conditions, and foreign subsidies. They would never report the amount of money farmers spend from their own pockets, or the overall contribution this makes to the economy we enjoy.

One of the more recent examples of spreading misinformation happened when President Trump announced his agriculture secretary nominee. EWG painted Governor Sonny Perdue as a subsidy recipient, but failed to mention that he has not received farm safety net support since 2004 – more than a decade ago – under policies that no longer exist.

And, now as we begin to debate the next farm bill, EWG has rolled out yet another "database." This one purports to track funding for four conservation programs in the farm bill over the last two decades.

But, it is more of the same as EWG tries to push another false story. This time it is that current voluntary conservation efforts are not working, that money spent on conservation efforts has been frittered away, and that farming is threatening our natural resources. The only solution, they say, is more government regulations on farms and mandates from D.C.

"They started with a conclusion – we want to regulate farmers – and then they took the data set and tried to match that conclusion," explained Pelham Straughn, founding partner of the 9b Group, in an interview with Farm Policy Facts. "To compare what we were doing 10 to 15 years ago and lump all of that data in with the things that we are doing today is just not fair."

"Tracking everything by dollars, by acres, that's just one part, but it doesn't get to the outcome," added John Larson, the executive director of programs at American Farmland Trust, a group dedicated to preserving farmland across the country. "If you look at the timeframe – 1997 to 2015 – that's a lot of years and the dollars spent is not very much for the number of acres we're talking about."

Straughn and Larson both noted that the database and the way EWG is using it does not reflect what is happening on the ground. It ignores years of changes to policy and practices that have made voluntary conservation efforts successful, including the investment farmers make to protect the land, water, air, and wildlife.

"Let's not forget that it's farmers that are implementing these conservation practices," said Straughn. "Also, let's not forget that these are cost-share programs, so producers are also paying a portion of this."

Moreover, the very approach to conservation priorities has changed. A decade ago, 54 percent of farm bill conservation funding went to land retirement programs and 35 percent to working lands. Now, more than half of funding is going to working lands.

One shining example of a working lands program, and a specific target of EWG's latest attack, is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). It is a 100 percent cost-share program, which means that if the producer wants to implement a certain conservation practice, he pays a significant portion of the installation and the federal government provides the other part so land stays in production, but with more sustainable practices and techniques.

Just this week, Timothy Gertson, a fifth-generation rice grower from Texas, described how the program offers collective benefits to both the farmer and the environment during a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing. Gertson explained that he "cost-shared the installation of more than four miles of 16-inch underground pipeline to replace irrigation canals," which resulted in using 20 percent less water needed to grow a crop.

Gertson was able to tailor the voluntary program to fit his specific need. A regulatory framework, like the one EWG proposes, would be a one-size-fits-all approach, which would not account for how vastly different farms can be across the country.

Further, regulatory mandates would strain many farmers, particularly young and beginning farmers, during times like the present when prices are depressed and net farm income has dropped to a historical low.

"We know that in order for the best conservation to be put on the ground, the operation has to be economically viable," explained Coleman Garrison, the director of government affairs at the National Association of Conservation Districts. "If farmers cannot even survive on their own, that's not the best way to get results."

"There are so many variables and factors that a producer doesn't have control over," said Larson. "It's going to be a much more valuable, productive, long-term solution if we're training and incentivizing people to make changes to conservation practices on their own."

No doubt EWG will use this new "conservation" database to undermine the farm bill reauthorization effort. But, it is unlikely to get much traction. As Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, once said, "EWG has no credibility."

Indeed, we've all seen this one before.

Data Coalition, Growers Join to Launch National Ag Data Cooperative

A cooperative of growers and an agricultural data nonprofit have agreed to combine their technology platforms and create a vital resource for data-driven agriculture — a neutral, secure and private data storage repository controlled by growers. The combined platforms will be known as AgXchange™ and will be an independent data repository commercially available through the Growers Ag Data Cooperative (GADC) where producers can control, store, view and share their farm data assets.

The effort resulted from dialogues between Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC), a grower-formed data warehouse and sharing cooperative, and Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC), a nonprofit corporation formed by 14 founding members, including universities, industry organizations, agricultural groups and companies. The two organizations have been in communication since the ADC announced its mission to help farmers better control and manage their electronic data and facilitate noncommercial research. Realizing their common vision and missions based on grower-controlled data, GiSC and ADC have agreed to combine their efforts and create more synergy between the two organizations and their members. GiSC will rebrand and become Growers Agricultural Data Cooperative, and the two organizations will work closely to provide producers, universities and others a platform to securely store, control and, if they choose, share their data.

“After meeting with each other, we realized we were working toward the same end goal, though from slightly different approaches. It was quickly clear that combining efforts would provide substantial benefits and move us all toward the objective of a grower-controlled, independent data storage repository,” said ADC President Ben Craker.

AgXchange™ is a platform developed through the collaboration of GiSC and ADC. GiSC has a working data storage and visualization platform. ADC developed a data storage and sharing pilot repository, featuring data connections to several precision farming data platforms. The two entities will integrate their complementary platforms to improve functionality and value, improve grower control over their data and allow growers to share their data with universities and other researchers, in addition to other service providers, if the growers choose to do so.

“The central idea was to use the capabilities and resources of the diverse members of the ADC to establish a centralized, dynamic, but completely neutral, resource,” Craker said. “Any time a grower who has an AgXchange account wants to share their data with a service provider, researcher or other business interest, they will be able to grant permission if they so choose.”

“GiSC, now recognized as GADC, will fill a need many growers may not have recognized yet — neutral and secure data storage,” said Billy Tiller, the founder of GiSC. He explained that many growers do not currently maximize the opportunities to use their data, while others may use third-party services to do it for them but often unknowingly grant perpetual rights to use their information to the service providers.

“Growers not only need to be able to maximize the use of their data through capturing and sharing data, but they also need to be able to control the use of that data generated on their operations. When a grower gains complete control of his/her data, the grower will then be able to maintain complete control of his/her operation from the present to the future,” said Jason Ward, CEO of GiSC.

Announced just one year ago, the ADC is the result of years of planning and coordination by AGCO, Agri-AFC, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn University, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Ice Miller LLP, Iowa AgState, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Raven Industries and Topcon Positioning Group.

Grower Information Services Cooperative, GiSC, is the only grower-owned data cooperative in the United States. GiSC is made up of growers across all geographies, commodities and demographics. The coop, and the data that resides within the organization, is governed by a board of directors composed of the growers’ peers. GiSC works to protect growers’ data rights as well as provide a secure place to warehouse and share growers’ data.

U.S. EPA Proposed Revocation of Chlorpyrifos Threatens Growers’ Livelihoods

In the months since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to revoke U.S. food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, growers, university Extension specialists and scientists have united to voice overwhelming support of the widely used insecticide. Since first registered in the United States in 1965, chlorpyrifos has played an important role in pest management efforts worldwide.   

With the official EPA comment period concluding Jan. 17, 2017, and a final EPA decision forthcoming very soon, the future of chlorpyrifos – chemistry that is registered in nearly 100 countries for use on more than 50 different crops – hangs in the balance.

“For more than half a century, growers around the globe have relied on chlorpyrifos because of its outstanding control and low cost, and its role as an important tool in Integrated Pest Management programs,” says Phil Jost, portfolio marketing leader, U.S. crop protection insecticides for Dow AgroSciences. “Without chlorpyrifos to control many yield- and profit-robbing pests, growers face limited or, in some cases, no viable alternatives.”

Dow AgroSciences is concerned about the far-reaching impact of EPA’s proposal to revoke U.S. food tolerances for the insecticide. The company is specifically concerned that EPA’s assessment of the chemistry lacks scientific rigor and that establishing food tolerance levels based on a nonreplicable epidemiology study sets an untenable precedent for current and future registrations.

EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other experts, have voiced concern that EPA has attempted to regulate chlorpyrifos based on a single unreplicated and unvalidated epidemiology study. In contrast, however, an extensive database of reliable and well-replicated data — developed based on sound scientific standards for chlorpyrifos — demonstrates that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos provide wide margins of protection for human health and safety when used as directed.

For growers like Allen Tucker, a sugarbeet producer from St. Thomas, North Dakota, chlorpyrifos is critical to protecting his crops from devastating pests and his operation’s sustainability. Tucker farms more than 4,000 acres – 700 dedicated to sugarbeets – and chairs the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, an expert source of information on the sugarbeet industry.

“There are a limited number of products that can control sugarbeet root maggot effectively,” Tucker says. “With chlorpyrifos as a tool, we can apply it as a rescue treatment, if necessary, later in the growing season. Chlorpyrifos is our last line of defense against sugarbeet root maggot outbreaks. My farming operation would suffer greatly if this invaluable tool were to be taken off the market.”

John Weinand, a diversified grower from west-central North Dakota, echoes Tucker’s sentiment. Weinand grows dry pea, winter and durum wheat, corn, sunflowers, barley and canola, and relies heavily on chlorpyrifos. He is also a member of the National Association of Wheat Growers’ Environmental and Renewable Resources Committee.

“We rely heavily on chlorpyrifos to control orange blossom wheat midge,” Weinand says. “We turn to the expertise of our land grant university researchers for many agronomic practices and chlorpyrifos is their recommended ‘treatment of choice’ for midge. After using it, we nearly doubled our yield where there was a treatable infestation.”

“Anytime you take tools out of the toolbox and throw them away, it’s a loss for our operation,” Weinand says. “The recommendation we get from our university is based on solid science. It’s not random, and we feel EPA needs to understand that.”

IPM and resulting environmental implications
Tucker says that without chlorpyrifos as an effective pest control tool, he would be forced to use other, less effective insecticides far more aggressively to keep sugarbeet root maggot pest outbreaks at bay.

“We would have to apply other insecticides before knowing the severity of an outbreak,” Tucker says. “The net result would likely be an increased application of insecticide active ingredients at a greater cost. From an environmental standpoint, it benefits no one if we have to apply extra active ingredients of alternative insecticides to overcome insect pressure.”

“We remain optimistic that once EPA considers all of the scientific evidence and grower concerns, this product will continue to be available,” says Jost. “The decision carries huge implications, not only for food production and grower livelihoods, but just as importantly, for environmental sustainability, efforts to manage insect resistance and grower IPM programs.”

DuPont Pioneer Announces Limited Commercial Introduction of Pioneer® Brand Qrome™ Corn Products

DuPont Pioneer announced today the limited commercial introduction of its Pioneer® brand Qrome™ products for the 2017 growing season. Over 100 growers in the western U.S. Corn Belt will plant these new, high-yielding products that feature a triple stack of multiple insect protection traits, including two modes of action to control corn rootworm.

“We’re excited for growers to begin experiencing this innovative trait technology,” said Steve Reno, DuPont Pioneer vice president, regional business director – U.S. & Canada. “Through a sophisticated, efficient molecular breeding process, we’ve developed a product package that combines top-tier genetics, strong defensive traits and advanced seed treatments.”

Across the Pioneer corn product lineup, Qrome products show leading yields within a broad range of elite genetic platforms. In multi-year testing, Qrome products consistently delivered 4- to 7- bushels per acre yield improvement over legacy triple-stack technology.

Qrome products are approved for cultivation in the United States and Canada and have received import approval in a number of importing countries. DuPont Pioneer continues to pursue additional import approvals for Qrome products, including in China, in accordance with Excellence Through Stewardship Product Launch Guidance.

The limited commercial introduction of Pioneer brand Qrome products will allow participating western U.S. Corn Belt growers to benefit from this new technology. These growers will implement certain stewardship responsibilities, including using harvested grain for local or on-farm livestock feeding. Other growers across the U.S. Corn Belt also will be able to see how Qrome products perform locally through Pioneer managed product knowledge plots.

Some of those plots are part of the nationwide “Unlock Your Yield Tour,” which showcases the technology behind Qrome products. The tour vehicle – a custom, stainless steel Timpte® Super Hopper grain trailer – has traveled over 15,000 miles to industry and grower events since August. The tour’s last stop will be at the 2017 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., where Pioneer will donate the Timpte trailer to the National FFA Organization for auction. All proceeds will support National FFA’s mission to make a positive difference in the lives of students. Richie Bros. Auctioneers will facilitate the auction, which will accept both live and online bids.

Bayer and LibertyLink Soybeans Help Protect Hearts in America’s Heartland

In an effort to support heart health and improve the wellness of rural Americans nationwide, Bayer is proud to announce its support of the American Heart Association (AHA). The effort, which runs through 2017, supports the AHA’s Healthy for Good™ movement to inspire all Americans to live healthier lives and create lasting change by taking small, simple steps today to create a difference for generations to come.
For each bag of LibertyLink® soybean seed sold for the 2017 season, Bayer will contribute 5 cents to the AHA’s Healthy for Good movement for a total maximum donation of $500,000. In addition to monetary donations to support the cause, Bayer will help raise heart health awareness across America through educational activities targeted to growers in rural communities.

The Crop Science division of Bayer, the developer of LibertyLink, helps growers protect their most important resources in farming with industry-leading solutions. They will also help soybean growers and rural communities protect their most important resources in life – their heart health.

As part of this program, Bayer also helps the AHA meet its 2020 impact goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and strokes by 20 percent. AHA’s Healthy for Good movement focuses on healthier diets, additional physical activity, blood pressure management and cholesterol control.

Allen Gent, Strategic Business Lead for Bayer, said, “The average age of the American farmer is well over 50 years old, and automation is much more prevelant in today’s agriculture climate. Growers are more sendentary than in the past, which is one contributing factor to cardiovascular disease. This program solidifies the Bayer mission to help growers succeed by promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Helping rural Americans is essential to our industry as growers are our greatest resource. A nation and global economy depend on their agriculture production. We’re thrilled to partner with the American Heart Association to have a positive effect on not only heart health, but our industry as well.“

“We’re thankful for Bayer’s support of our mission and excited to extend health and wellness messages further, reaching more and more people in the United States,” said Alvin Royse, J.D., CPA, AHA chairman. “This project will help build a culture of health in rural communities.”

Successful Planting Starts With Planning

Planting sets the stage for the entire season, so it’s understandable why so much time and so many resources are spent planning for it. From maintenance of farm equipment to hybrid and variety placement, there are a multitude of tasks to checkoff before pulling into the field. To get off to a strong start and stay on track, Mycogen Seeds recommends a planting plan.

“There are years that planting starts smoothly and continues with relatively few hiccups. Other years, Murphy’s Law goes into effect the minute the planter enters the field,” says Melissa Bell, Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist. “Luck may have something to do with the difference between a rocky start and smooth one, but good preparation never hurts your chances of hitting the ground running and keeping that momentum through the season.”

According to the University of Wisconsin-Extension, several early season factors have a substantial impact on the success of the crop, including planting populations, uniform spacing and emergence, and hitting the right planting window. Combined, optimizing each of these factors could preserve up to 18 percent of yield potential. On a 220-bushel field, that’s nearly 40 bushels per acre, or $150 per acre with corn priced at $3.80.

“As farmers, our lives heavily depend on genetics by environment by management interactions. Although we are unable to control the environment, putting our best foot forward in terms of management and selection of the best genetics can help us optimize yield potential,” Bell says.

Bell offers a planting preparation checklist to work through this spring.

    Seedbed preparation: Set the stage for crop success with clean fields. Whether performing tillage or using a burndown application in no-till scenarios, ensure a preemergence herbicide with multiple modes of action is applied to minimize weed competition early in the season. According to University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 12-inch weeds can reduce corn yield by 22 percent.

    Precision systems: “Precision technology helps boost efficiency in real time and down the road,” Bell says. “In addition, data collection in the field can be a powerful tool to help make decisions based on fact rather than emotion.” Make sure you are familiar with navigating your display, and spend some time updating farm and field names to save frustration prior to the heat of planting. Check in with your local precision ag dealer to ensure subscriptions are up-to-date and schedule any necessary maintenance before the season starts.

    Planter calibration: Seed comes in a number of shapes and sizes. Adjust planters to accommodate your seed, and to ensure proper seed flow, use talc, graphite or a combination of the two. “Work with your local equipment dealer to ensure all systems and settings are working properly,” Bell says. “The correct meter settings and planting speed are major factors in achieving good spacing and singulation.”

    Planting depth and soil temperature: For uniform stand establishment, experts recommend planting corn 1.5 to 2 inches deep and into soil moisture. Consider soil types before you plant. Lighter soils tend to dry out quickly, so placing the seed deeper optimizes access to soil moisture. In heavier soils prone to crusting, plant shallower to allow the seedling to emerge quickly. “When it comes to temperature, rushing to the field to plant too soon can create stand establishment challenges,” Bell says. “Wait for ground temperature to consistently reach above 50 F. Emergence could take more than three weeks when soil temperatures are 50 F to 55 F, but fewer than seven days when temperatures exceed 70 F.”

Work with someone you trust

Successful planting takes a team. Work with your Mycogen sales professional, local agronomic expert and equipment adviser to ensure you’ve set your farm up for success — and a high-yielding crop.

“Planting only comes once a year,” Bell says. “It’s best to get it right. Take the time to develop a plan. Make stops during planting to dig up seeds to make sure you’re achieving good singulation, spacing and depth. Rely on your team for guidance and input.”

Extend Nitrogen Availability, Boost Profit At Harvest

Do you want Mother Nature to dictate your season, or do you want to keep nitrogen available to corn plants regardless of weather?

Early spring rains can reduce nitrogen availability during key times of early plant growth by converting it to a form subject to loss from leaching and denitrification. Regardless of soil type, up to 70 percent of applied nitrogen is lost below ground through leaching or denitrification, says Eric Scherder, Ph.D., field scientist, Dow AgroSciences.

“Corn takes up a significant amount of nutrients between the V5 and V8 growth stages or up to 75 days after emergence,” Scherder says. “Since these early stages of plant growth play a large role in determining yield, farmers need to use proven measures to ensure nitrogen is available in this significant moment of a plant’s development.”

Growers’ most effective line of defense in reducing the loss of spring-applied nitrogen is using a nitrification inhibitor, such as Instinct® or N-Serve®  nitrogen stabilizers, that extends nitrogen availability in the soil up to eight weeks.

For example, if growers apply urea on May 1, corn will emerge about two weeks later. By the V10 phase of corn, nitrogen has been in the soil for eight weeks. Without extending nitrogen availability, there isn’t much left in the ammonium form, Scherder says. Instinct and N-Serve prevent conversion of ammonium to nitrates, reducing the risk of loss.

No matter soil type, rain drives N loss

Rain can drive nitrogen lower into the soil profile. For farmers working with light-textured soils, one inch of rainfall can push nitrates six to eight inches lower in the soil profile, beyond the reach of corn roots.*

In states like Iowa where heavy soil types with more organic matter are common, nitrogen is especially susceptible to loss through denitrification.

Brian Kruse, agronomist and custom applicator from Farmers Feed & Grain in St. Ansgar, Iowa, recommends his customers use N-Serve and Instinct with their fertilizer applications to make sure they aren’t wasting the nitrogen they purchase. In 2016, Kruse’s anhydrous ammonia application customers unanimously chose to use N-Serve to protect their nitrogen investment by keeping it available longer.

“[Growers] can maximize their bushels and get better efficiencies out of their nitrogen using stabilizers to do that,” Kruse says. “We truly buy time with N-Serve. We buy ourselves six to eight weeks of protection from rains and from leaching.”

By extending nitrogen availability using tools proven to work in the soil, growers can boost profit, says Kenny Johnson, product manager, Dow AgroSciences. On average, Instinct and N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizers increase revenue $21 per acre, according to field trials.**

“It’s so important that growers understand that the majority of nitrogen is lost from the soil, below ground, and how to prevent that loss,” Johnson says. “More than 40 years of research and 1,000 field trials have proven that Instinct and N-Serve products extend nitrogen availability in the soil for maximum yield.”

Instinct® nitrogen stabilizer maximizes nitrogen and profit when used with UAN, urea and liquid manure. N-Serve works with anhydrous ammonia applications in fall and spring.

New Insect Trait Technology Gives Growers More Choice for Better Management

Corn growers make big decisions that impact yield and profitability long before planters roll into spring fields. Selecting the right insect trait technology is one of those choices, and growers now have an opportunity to take a more prescriptive approach for their farms.

New for the 2017 season, PowerCore® trait technology from Dow AgroSciences gives growers an advanced option to control yield-robbing, above-ground insects in corn. It provides superior, broad-spectrum control by incorporating a pyramid of three different Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins.

PowerCore is the latest addition to the Dow AgroSciences corn insect trait portfolio, which also includes SmartStax® trait technology for industry-leading protection of above- and below-ground insects. PowerCore and SmartStax are complementary technologies that give growers a choice so they can place the right trait technology on the right acre for prescriptive protection.

Where corn rootworm is of concern, SmartStax offers the excellent protection they’ve come to trust in the most robust corn insect trait technology on the market. Corn rootworm can be troublesome in fields with corn-on-corn production. Growers in these areas could particularly benefit from the below-ground insect protection in SmartStax. When corn rootworm control is not needed, PowerCore offers superior season-long, above-ground insect control with multiple modes of action.

“We want to provide growers with solutions that help them maximize production, protect yields and increase profitability,” says Jill Zeller, U.S. Seeds marketing leader for Dow AgroSciences. “When growers have choices to plant the technologies best-suited for their farms, they achieve their goals of higher yields and better bottom lines. SmartStax and PowerCore give them a choice between the industry’s most-trusted below- and above-ground technology and best-in-class above-ground insect technology.”

Growers see major benefit

Scott Becker of Manson, Iowa, farms a 50-50 rotation with corn and soybeans. On acres where corn rootworm is not a problem, Becker likes the idea of planting new PowerCore® trait technology. Although he doesn’t need the corn rootworm protection on every acre, he never knows if above-ground insects will be a problem in a given season. Becker got a firsthand look at PowerCore as part of a stewarded launch and was impressed with what he saw.

“I was interested in PowerCore because of my corn-and-beans rotation, and I knew that I didn’t need the below-ground trait across my whole farm,” Becker says. “PowerCore gives us above-ground insect control of a lot of different insects, especially ones that cause us problems like corn borer and corn earworm. With the different modes of action, PowerCore is like an insurance policy so you can sleep at night and not worry about above-ground insects.”

But Becker emphasizes that SmartStax® trait technology still plays an important role on his farm and provides protection on acres where corn rootworm is an issue.

“I’ve had really good success with SmartStax trait technology and like the above- and below-ground insect control for corn rootworm. It provides excellent insect protection,” Becker says. “It’s definitely an advantage to growers to get the right technology on the right acres. We can plant SmartStax if we have corn rootworm, or we can go with PowerCore to control fields that only have above-ground insects.”

PowerCore® trait technology available in five seed brands

This season, Dow AgroSciences seed brands Mycogen Seeds, Brodbeck Seeds, Dairyland Seed, Pfister Seeds and Prairie Brand Seed will offer PowerCore trait technology in new, high-yielding genetics within their corn portfolios. For more information on hybrids with PowerCore or SmartStax or to determine which technology is best for your farm, contact your local Dow AgroSciences sales representative. Once commercialized, PowerCore with the Enlist™ trait will be broadly licensed throughout the industry.

Wednesday March 1 Ag News


Industry representatives and corn and soybean growers wanting to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests should plan to attend the Nebraska Extension Crop Scout Training for Pest Managers program March 14 at the University of Nebraska’s Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center located at the Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

The training provides in-depth and detailed information from university specialists. 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 nutrient deficiencies.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the workshop is from 9 a.m-5 p.m.

Cost for the training is $165 which includes a resource book. For participants attending the training only (no resource book) the fee is $50.  Fees include lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and the  instruction manual. Registrants should preregister 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.

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits are available with 6 in pest management, 1 in crop management and .5 in fertility/nutrient management.

For more information or to register, contact Nebraska Extension at (402) 624-8030, (800) 529-8030, e-mail Keith Glewen at, or online at

51st  Annual TRIUMPH OF AG EXPO – Farm and Ranch Machinery Show Announces Agri-Award Winner

Over 1,000 booths with over 200,000 square feet of Exhibit space of the latest technology will be showcased at the 51st  Annual TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION Farm & Ranch Machinery Show, Wednesday, March 8th and Thursday, March 9th at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Regarded as the Area's Largest Indoor Short-line Farm Machinery Show, the EXPO has become a tradition for area farmers, ranchers, stockmen, and their families to come to the show and ask questions directly to the leading farm manufacturers and suppliers for ways to improve their farm operation right before spring fieldwork begins all at one time and under one roof. The Seminar schedule is listed below and provides a chance to learn more about some of the new products and services available at the Show.   The Farm Show is open Wed - from 9 AM to 4 PM and Thursday 9 AM to 3 PM.

The Triumph of Agriculture Exposition established the Annual “Agri-Award” as part of Nebraska’s Centennial Celebration, in 1976 to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals that have contributed to the Agricultural Development in the Midwestern area. This year’s winner is Terry Hejny. Director of the Nebraska LEAD Program.   He will receive the award at the Opening Day Luncheon on Wednesday, March 8, at 12 Noon at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Nebraska Corn Board Vacancies

Notice is hereby given that the terms for three members of the Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board will expire June 30, 2017. The members represent Districts 2, 3, and At-Large.

District #2 Includes the counties of Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, and Thayer. (Note: John Greer, the current District 2 director, has indicated that he will pursue re-appointment.)

District #3 Includes the counties of Merrick, Polk, Hamilton, and York.
(Note: Brandon Hunnicutt, the current District 3 director, has indicated that he will pursue re-appointment.)

At-Large At-Large District includes all counties in Nebraska.
(Note: Alan Tiemann, the current At-Large District director, has indicated that he will not pursue re-election.)

Appointments to the board for Districts 2 and 3 are made by the Governor. Appointment to the board for the At-Large District is made by the board.

Any candidate for appointment may place his or her name on the candidacy list by filing a petition with the Nebraska Corn Board. Qualified candidates include those individuals who are citizens of Nebraska, are at least 21 years old, have been actively engaged in growing corn in Nebraska for a period of five years, and derive a substantial portion of their income from growing corn. Board members who currently represent these districts and the at-large district are also eligible to re-petition.

Petitions may be obtained by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, P.O. Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509-5107 or by calling (800) 632-6761 or email A candidacy petition must carry the signatures of at least 50 corn producers from that district. Candidacy petitions for the at-large district must carry the signatures of at least 50 corn producers residing in the state. All petitions must be received by the Corn Board no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2017. Faxed copies do not qualify.

Community Fish Fries to Try High Oleic Soybean Oil

 The Lenten season means the return of community fish fries across Nebraska. This year several churches and other sponsoring organizations will be using high oleic soybean oil to prepare the fish. For the second year in a row, the Nebraska Soybean Board has donated the oil to a number of groups so more people can learn about the cooking benefits of the oil made from high oleic soybeans.

High oleic soybean oil contains no trans fats, is more stable at high temperatures and has a longer shelf life than many types of cooking oil. These qualities are prized by food companies and chefs, but taste is the true test. High oleic oil has a neutral flavor profile that doesn’t overpower food, making it ideal for frying and baking.

The Nebraska Soybean Board is providing high oleic oil for fish fries in more than a dozen communities, including Wahoo, North Bend, Humphrey, Lorton, Barneston, Lyons, Fordyce, Hartington, Crofton, Elgin, Clearwater and Petersburg.

Soybean industry leaders are hoping high oleic oil will help the industry recapture market share lost because of concern about trans fats in cooking oil. As demand for the oil grows, so will the need for farmers to grow more high oleic soybeans. In Nebraska, high oleic soybeans were available for the first time last year. Farmers interested in planting high oleic soybeans in 2017 should ask their seed dealer for more information.

U.S. Pork Industry Sets the Standard for Responsible On-Farm Antibiotic Use

In 2016, the U.S. pork industry saw record-breaking pork production and strong ongoing consumer demand. Additionally, consumer interest in how food is produced is also at an all-time high, leading the National Pork Board today to reaffirm its commitment to antibiotic stewardship during a live online broadcast event. Real Change: A Live Discussion of On-Farm Antibiotic Use, hosted by The Supermarket Guru® Phil Lempert, brought together experts in pork production, retail and animal care and welfare for a live, web-based broadcast. During the 30-minute program, experts discussed the pork industry’s leadership in responsible antibiotic use and how it has implemented new strict guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Those guidelines went into effect Jan. 1.

“There is very real change happening on the farm, and we want those who care about these issues to understand the commitment that pig farmers have with regard to antibiotic stewardship and continuous improvement in animal welfare,” said John Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Pork Board. “For nearly two years, we have been educating farmers on antibiotic stewardship, investing in research and helping prepare for these changes. Hands down, it has been our largest pig farmer education campaign ever.”

FDA guidance 209 and 213 ends the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and increases veterinarian oversight for on-farm antibiotic use through the Veterinary Feed Directive and prescriptions. All human medically important antibiotics administered to pigs in feed and water must have direct veterinarian oversight. This creates a strong veterinary-client-patient relationship between pig farmers and their veterinarians. These same pig farmers and veterinarians also are taking pig management and biosecurity steps that increase the health of pigs and reduce the need for antibiotics.

“We’ve always been committed to a process of continuous improvement in a number of areas, especially regarding responsible antibiotic use,” said Brad Greenway, a pig farmer from South Dakota and America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. “We have a great relationship with our veterinarian, with regular check-ins to make sure we’re operating safely and effectively. It’s only when it is medically necessary for the well-being of the animal that we are prescribed antibiotics.”

Another important topic addressed during the broadcast relates to antibiotic resistance – a complex issue that affects both veterinary and human medicine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 47 million human prescriptions are not medically necessary, at least 30% of all prescriptions written.

“The CDC has warned us that antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing health problems, and that’s why we’re committed to doing our part in antibiotic stewardship,” said Johnson.

“In the end, we’re committed to defining the ideal balance of the right medicine, in the right dose, at the right time for our pigs,” said Dr. Michelle Sprague, veterinarian and director of sow health at AMVC Management Services.

Shifting to the consumer landscape, the broadcast also focused on consumer concerns about food safety and animal welfare. The use of antibiotics on the farm has drawn increased questions from consumers, and the pork industry is dedicated to encouraging an open dialogue, working with its partners and building confidence in today’s pork supply.

“It’s a shared responsibility, and we all have to do our part to navigate this evolving discussion about antibiotics and providing safe food to our consumers,” said Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods at Food Marketing Institute. “Organizations like the National Pork Board are getting out there and being stewards of this complicated and evolving issue. The pork industry invites collaboration and constructive criticism among the leaders in food production and distribution.”

A replay of the broadcast can be viewed online at: For more information on the National Pork Board’s efforts to assist farmers and others who want to learn more about responsible on-farm antibiotic use, visit

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.12 million tons (171 million bushels) in January 2017, compared to 5.07 million tons (169 million bushels) in December 2016 and 4.81 million tons (160 million bushels) in January 2016. Crude oil produced was 1.98 billion pounds up 1 percent from December 2016 and up 6 percent from January 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.31 billion pounds during January 2017 decreased 7 percent from December 2016 but increased 6 percent from January 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 177 thousand tons in January 2017, compared to 179 thousand tons in December 2017 and 148 thousand tons in January 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 151 million pounds up 1 percent from December 2016 and up 20 percent from January 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 115 million pounds during January 2017 was down 2 percent from December 2016 and down 7 percent from January 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 44.3 million pounds during January 2017 was down 14 percent from December 2016 and down 1 percent from January 2016.

Edible tallow production was 70.4 million pounds during January 2017, down 7 percent from December 2016 and down 21 percent from January 2016. Inedible tallow production was 289 million pounds during January 2017, down 8 percent from December 2016 but up 4 percent from January 2016. Technical tallow production was 95.8 million pounds during January 2017, down 4 percent from December 2016 but up 5 percent from January 2016. Choice white grease production at 113 million pounds during January 2017 decreased 7 percent from December 2016 but increased 1 percent from January 2016.

USDA 2016 Fats and Oils Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks Data Published

As part of the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR) program, the 2016 Annual Summary of the Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks contains data and annual totals for January through December of 2016.

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 57.1 million tons in 2016.  Crude oil production was 22.1 billion pounds.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 2.10 million tons in 2016.

Tallow was published in three categories (edible, inedible, and technical). The largest percentage of tallow production was inedible tallow at 3.50 billion pounds in 2016.  Choice white grease production was 1.37 billion pounds in 2016.

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 530 million bushels in January 2017. Total corn consumption was up 7 percent from January 2016. January 2017 usage included 91.8 percent for alcohol and 8.2 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.42 million bushels, down 23 percent from January 2016. Corn consumed for fuel alcohol, at 476 million bushels, was up slightly from December 2016 and up 7 percent from January 2016. Corn consumed in January 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.6 percent and 10.4 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 2.07 million tons during January 2017, up 9 percent from January 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.39 million tons in January 2017, up 6 percent from January 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 347 thousand tons during January 2017, down 1 percent from December 2016 but up 9 percent from January 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 315 thousand tons in January 2017, up 8 percent from January 2016.

USDA 2016 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

As part of the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR) program, the 2016 Annual Summary of the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production contains data and annual totals for January through December 2016.

Total corn consumed for alcohol for 2016 was 5.39 billion bushels, up 1 percent from 2015. Corn for beverage alcohol in 2016 totaled 34.1 million bushels, up 1 percent from 2015. Corn for fuel alcohol was 5.29 billion bushels in 2016, up 1 percent from 2015. 

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 23.2 million tons during 2016, up 4 percent from 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 15.3 million tons in 2016, down 5 percent from 2015.  Distillers dried grain (DDG) was 4.86 million tons in 2016, down 5 percent from 2015.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 3.95 million tons during 2016, up 1 percent from 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 3.67 million tons, down 1 percent from 2015.

Dry and wet mill carbon dioxide captured was 2.53 million tons in 2016, up 1 percent from 2015.

All Retail Fertilizer Prices Higher

Retail fertilizer prices continued to rise the fourth week of February 2017, albeit at a slower rate than in recent weeks, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This is the fifth-consecutive week prices have moved higher.

All eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, marking the first time in several months that all price moves were to the higher side. While all fertilizers were higher, none of the eight were up any significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $433 per ton, MAP $452/ton, potash $332/ton and urea $359/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $440/ton, anhydrous $490/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $276/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Only three of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago while both potash and UAN32 are 11% less expensive. Both DAP and anhydrous are 9% less expensive, MAP is 8% lower, UAN28 is 7% less expensive and urea is 3% compared to year earlier.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for March 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for March 2017. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for March is 0.875 percent, unchanged from 0.875 percent in February.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during March is 1.875 percent, unchanged from 1.875 percent in February.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for March are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.500 percent in February; 1.875 percent with five-year loan terms, down from 2.000 percent in February; 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.250 percent in February; 2.500 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in February and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in February.

Farm Bureau Welcomes Zinke Confirmation to Lead Dept. of Interior

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Ryan Zinke will bring much-needed balance to the management of our nation’s land and natural resources. Farmers and ranchers are ready for an interior secretary that will work with agriculture to fulfill its mission to protect and manage America’s natural resources and cultural heritage.

“Secretary Zinke does not have an easy task before him, but we are confident he’s up to the challenge. He’s a proven leader committed to responsible land use and energy development. Agriculture is ready for an Interior Department that recognizes the importance of active land management and works with us, rather than pushes us out. From arbitrary grazing reductions to overpopulation of wild horses and burros to an outdated Endangered Species Act, farmers and ranchers have suffered for too long.

“We are encouraged by the strong bipartisan support Secretary Zinke received in his confirmation. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure the management of our nation’s resources is governed by science and sound policies.”

Animal Agriculture Alliance announces “30 for 30th” membership drive

The Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry-united nonprofit organization working to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork, launched a membership drive today in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The organization is seeking to add 30 new members during the month of March.

“If your company or organization is part of animal agriculture, now is the perfect time to join the Alliance,” said Allyson Jones-Brimmer, Alliance membership and marketing manager. “We have three decades of connecting stakeholders, engaging influencers and protecting the reputation and future of the industry. We’re ready to build on that history by welcoming new members and finding new ways to serve farmers and ranchers.”

Members who join as part of the 30 for 30th drive will receive recognition at the 2017 Stakeholders Summit, in addition to the benefits of Alliance membership. Membership begins at $500. Interested individuals and companies can learn more at

Membership in the Alliance includes:
-    Access to all the Alliance's resources, such as farm security resources, information on anti-animal agriculture activist organizations, crisis management tips, and reports and graphics to help you share animal ag's story.
-    Action alerts and special reports on emerging issues facing animal agriculture.
-    Discounted registration for our annual conference, the Stakeholders Summit.
-    Depending on membership level, an invitation to join Alliance committees and have the honorarium waived for an Alliance staff member presentation for your organization.

Membership contributions – which are 100% tax-deductible - help support our mission to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork and protect the future of animal agriculture. A few of our current initiatives include:
-    Coordinating industry wide efforts, such as bringing together a supply channel committee to share ideas and resources to enhance engagement with the restaurant and retailer community and a working group to investigate activist groups' use of religion as a strategy to end modern animal agriculture and develop necessary resources to help stakeholders engage at a grassroots level.
-    Proactively engaging mainstream media about hot topic issues, working with trade media to share information with the industry and robustly utilizing social media to engage influencers and consumers.
-    A Meat Matters campaign to help people understand the role of meat and poultry in a healthy, balanced diet.
-    Monitoring anti-animal agriculture activist organizations.

The Alliance looks forward to welcoming 30 new members to share its resources with more industry stakeholders and grow its network to broaden the organization’s reach.

Cattlemen, Public Lands Council Applaud Confirmation of Zinke for Interior Secretary

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council today hailed the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Ryan Zinke to be the next U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

“This is great news for America’s ranchers and cattle producers,” NCBA President Craig Uden said. “Ryan Zinke has an outstanding record advocating for Western communities and ranchers, and for the real inclusion of stakeholders’ voices in the decisions that affect them. We look forward to working with Secretary Zinke to restore common sense and balance on issues like public lands management, conservation, and endangered species.” 

PLC President Dave Eliason said having a Secretary of Interior who understands public lands and who values true cooperation with stakeholders is in the best interest of all Americans.

"Secretary Zinke is from the West and understands the unique challenges faced by communities with a large federal footprint,” Eliason said. “We look forward to working with him and his staff at the Department of the Interior to restore the role of local input in planning and review processes, fix laws like the Endangered Species Act, and protect grazing rights that are so critical to western economies."

Western ranchers own approximately 120 million acres of the most productive private land in the West and manage nearly 250 million acres of public land. Ranchers who hold grazing permits on public land do vital work that benefits public land including the improvement of water sources, improvement of wildlife habitat, and maintaining the open space that Americans enjoy, yet are often targeted by outside interest groups.

DuPont Pioneer Soil Fertility Study Affirms Phosphorus, Potassium Levels Can Impact Yields

Critical analysis of yield results from the 2016 growing season further affirmed a DuPont Pioneer study released in August 2016 that indicated growers may be leaving profit potential in the field by not carefully managing phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels.

“Growers have told Pioneer that they think improving soil fertility management is one of the best ways to increase corn and soybean yields,” said Rick Radliff, DuPont Pioneer senior agronomy manager. “In Iowa alone, our results indicate that marginal soil fertility may contribute to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue each year.”

With data from Iowa and across the Corn Belt, Pioneer found that yields trend lower in areas where phosphorous and potassium levels fall below state recommendations. This aligns with previous research conducted at Iowa State University indicating a 65 percent to 80 percent probability of positive yield response by fertilizing to raise P or K soil-test values from very low or low to optimum (Iowa State University Extension PM 1688).

The data also showed that the highest corn yields did not benefit from P and K levels that were above the optimum recommended amount; however, more work needs to be conducted as some growers are striving for much higher yields. Additionally, data variability indicates other factors could influence crop yield, such as soil compaction, planting date and population, drainage, foliar disease, insect feeding and weather.

DuPont Pioneer agronomists advise that these challenges can be addressed through regular soil-testing, a clear understanding of each field’s yield potential and a field-by-field fertilizer program that results in the biggest return on investment. Five specific tips for managing soil fertility include:
-    Know your soil test levels.
-    Don’t reduce nutrient application rates in low-testing soils, even if the fields are rented.
-    Don’t apply buildup rates within two years that are higher than needed to optimize yield goals.
-    Don’t fertilize in high-testing soils if budgets are tight.
-    Avoid practices that inhibit root development and nutrient uptake.

“Managing soil fertility is complex,” said Radliff. “Through offerings such as EncircaSM Fertility services, growers can access resources to help them achieve their goals.”

The study was conducted as part of the Pioneer® GrowingPoint® agronomy program, which provides valuable crop-management insights for growers on production practices to help growers improve productivity and profit potential.

Pioneer sampled nearly 9,000 fields between 2015 and 2016, with some fields in 10 Corn Belt states showing at least some deficiencies in soil phosphorus levels. This can lead to issues with early root and shoot growth and can reduce tolerance to drought, disease and temperature stresses. The same samples found that four Corn Belt states had at least some deficiency in potassium in its soils, which affects water regulation, enzyme activation and promotes stalk strength and late-season standability. Pioneer has developed individualized P and K reports for states and regions, as well as aggregate results for the Corn Belt.

BASF Announces University Partnerships for Living Acres Monarch Initiative

As part of its research-based initiative, Living Acres, BASF announced today it has provided grants to Texas Tech University, the University of Arkansas and the University of Minnesota to research how to effectively establish and maintain milkweed, the reproductive habitat for monarch butterflies and the only plant on which their larvae feed.

In the last two decades, the monarch butterfly population has declined due to a variety of factors, including loss of habitat. It’s estimated that the monarch has lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area roughly the size of Texas. As an iconic North American insect and a pollinator of fruits, nuts and vegetables, the monarch butterfly plays a vital role in our ecosystem and economy. Through Living Acres and its research partnerships, BASF aims to restore the monarch’s habitat by providing actionable guidance for farmers looking to cultivate milkweed in non-crop areas of their land.

“Restoring the monarch butterfly population will require collaboration from various entities and landowners,” said Luke Bozeman, Director, Research and Development Crop Protection, BASF. “Through these partnerships, BASF and university researchers will be able to share rich insights and determine the best approach for growing and restoring the monarch butterfly habitat.”

Led by experts in environmental and agricultural research, the universities will evaluate how to increase the monarch habitat and how the agricultural community can make an impact. Below is a summary of the research partnerships and objectives:

Texas Tech University ​
-    ​Establish demonstration sites for milkweed plants in the Rolling Plains Ecoregion of West Texas
-    Evaluate and quantify monarch butterfly utilization of these milkweed stands
-    Enhance the understanding of the value of milkweed in growing monarch butterfly populations

University of Arkansas
-    Evaluate changes in the monarch butterfly habitat over the past 25 years
-    Analyze the current land available for monarch butterfly habitats in the U.S.
-    Investigate the potential for restoring and expanding monarch butterfly habitats
-    Develop a migratory flyway habitat restoration and conservation plan for monarch butterflies

University of Minnesota
-    Determine the feasibility of programs that rely on farmer participation to promote biodiversity on the farm landscape
-    Identify the types and numbers of farmers likely to participate in milkweed establishment and maintenance programs in support of the monarch butterfly

Living Acres started as a research initiative at the BASF research farm in Holly Springs, North Carolina. The program provides guidance to farmers looking to increase biodiversity on their operations. The first issue Living Acres is helping to address is the monarch butterfly population. BASF research determined that farmers were uniquely positioned to positively impact the monarch habitat. With an upfront investment, farmers can establish milkweed plots in non-cropland areas of their farms, such as ditches, roadsides, alleyways and border areas. Restoring the monarch population is important for agriculture production systems and allows farmers to further demonstrate their role as stewards of the land.

Tuesday February 28 Ag News

GFDC Announces Development on Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry Project

The Greater Fremont Development Council announced the completion of the land purchase for the Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry project.

“We are extremely pleased to announce that Costco has completed its land purchase transaction and that it continues to make great headway with state and local authorities on the permitting process,” said Cecilia Harry of the Greater Fremont Development Council, a partner of the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership.

“We’re thrilled with Costco’s progress and anticipate receiving news of its final approval in the very near future,” said Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman. “This is one more step in their due diligence to bring this project to reality.”

Known to the local community as Hills Farm, the 414 acres of land is located in the south industrial area of Fremont. Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry are developing a state-of-the-art poultry processing complex in Fremont, Nebraska, including a processing plant, hatchery, and feed mill. Costco will invest around $280 million in the project, which will create an annual economic impact of around $1.2 billion.

Fischer Applauds President Trump’s WOTUS Executive Order

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today joined President Donald J. Trump at the White House for the signing of an Executive Order to roll back the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. Fischer has long been a proponent of scrapping WOTUS altogether. 

“Over the past four years, I’ve sounded the alarm about the harmful effects WOTUS would have on all Nebraskans. The American dream of owning a home would have been out of reach for many more families, due to the higher costs associated with these regulations. Taxpayers would have seen increased costs for road maintenance, and ag producers would have faced expensive permitting requirements. Today, President Trump is taking a concrete and much-needed step to unravel WOTUS and put Nebraskans back in charge of decisions affecting our state’s precious water resources,” said Fischer.

Earlier this year, Senator Fischer and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution that expressed the need to vacate the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule. The resolution signified the senators’ intent to continue working with the Trump administration to scrap the harmful rule altogether.

Senator Fischer has been a leader on additional legislative efforts to stop WOTUS. Last Congress, she helped introduce the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would have required the Obama administration to consult states and stakeholders before imposing federal regulations on state-owned water resources. She also helped introduce the Defending Rivers from Overreaching Policies (DROP) Act. This bill targeted the flawed science used by the EPA to expand the definition of water.

In March 2015, Senator Fischer chaired a field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Lincoln, Nebraska, to hear firsthand from Nebraskans about the effects of WOTUS.

The courts have also questions the dubious legality of WOTUS. In October 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay blocking the implementation of WOTUS nationwide. In January 2017, the Supreme Court decided to take up the dispute over which courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to WOTUS.

Sasse Praises Unwinding of Waters of U.S. Rule

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after President Trump signed an Executive Order that will begin to unravel the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS).

“The EPA’s unconstitutional water rule will die and Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers won’t shed a single tear. Everyone wants clean water but the bureaucrats at the EPA were out-of-control, writing new laws to regulate puddles and ditches from Washington. Nobody cares more about land and water than Nebraska’s producers but nobody here at home voted for these absurd regulations. This is excellent news for the rule of law and Nebraska agriculture.”

 Smith Joins President Trump at White House for Signing of Executive Order to Reset WOTUS

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) joined President Donald Trump at the White House this afternoon for the signing of an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers to go back to the drawing board on the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.

When the Obama administration finalized WOTUS in 2015, Smith introduced the House resolution to block the rule using the Congressional Review Act, or CRA.  The Senate version of the resolution passed both chambers of Congress but was vetoed by President Obama.   

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of our natural resources and take many steps to keep our water sources clean,” Smith said.  “You can’t tell me a bureaucrat in Washington can do a better job ensuring water quality than those who use and benefit from our water every day.

“WOTUS is a dangerous overreach, giving the EPA the power to dictate local land use decisions and farming practices nationwide.  Since the rule’s introduction, Nebraskans have expressed deep concerns about federal agencies having control over the water puddles and irrigation ditches on their properties.  Local officials have told me about infrastructure projects, such as cleaning and widening a drainage ditch, which have been needlessly delayed due to WOTUS red tape.

“The Obama administration refused to listen to the concerns of agriculture producers.  I’m glad President Trump is listening.  His order to reset WOTUS is a victory not only for farmers and ranchers but for all Americans eager for regulatory relief.”

Gov. Ricketts Comments on WOTUS Rollback

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that President Donald J. Trump had signed an executive order to begin the rollback of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“Thank you to President Trump for taking steps to end this rule which could cause irreparable harm to Nebraska’s ag producers and small businesses.  Rolling back WOTUS is key to reestablishing limits on the power of federal agencies, so we can protect families and businesses from unnecessary, job-killing regulations.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, on Behalf of Common Sense Nebraska Coalition, Regarding Defeat of the “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

 “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homebuilders, small businesses, counties, and landowners welcome President Trump’s Executive Order to send the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule back to the drawing board. This proposal was flawed from the start and proved to be little more than a federal land grab to take away private property rights under the guise of protecting water quality.”

“We have long called for a common-sense approach to this rule and today President Trump delivered that by putting the concerns of citizens ahead of government bureaucracy and federal overreach. We will remain vigilant to ensure any revised measure brought forth by the EPA meets the needs of Nebraskans.”

Common Sense Nebraska is a diverse, Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have united in response to the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule; a regulatory proposal that would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of the EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act. The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans. For more information visit Common Sense Nebraska on Facebook.

Common Sense Nebraska Coalition members include:
AKSARBEN Club Managers Association
Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter
Farm Credit Services of America
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association
National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska
Nebraska Agribusiness Association
Nebraska Association of County Officials
Nebraska Association of Resource Districts
Nebraska Bankers Association
Nebraska Cattlemen
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Nebraska Cooperative Council
Nebraska Corn Board
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board
Nebraska Pork Producers Association
Nebraska Poultry Industries
Nebraska Rural Electric Association
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Nebraska State Home Builders Association
Nebraska State Irrigation Association
Nebraska Water Resources Association
Nebraska Wheat Board
Nebraska Wheat Growers Association
Nemaha Natural Resources District
Pawnee County Rural Water District #1

Following reversal of WOTUS, Iowa soybean farmers remain committed to improving water quality

Iowa Soybean Association President Rolland Schnell issued the following statement regarding today’s executive order by President Trump to reverse the Waters of the U.S. rule.

“Today’s executive order alleviates the concerns of Iowa soybean farmers who feared the burden the broadened authority the Waters of the U.S. rule would have on their farms.

“Farmers and landowners have long spoken out about the potential adverse impact to agriculture. We appreciate the Trump administration’s quick action after hearing the merits of our concerns.

“The Iowa Soybean Association has long engaged and supported protecting Iowa’s water. While we recognize the need for clearer definitions within the Clean Water Act, we also are aware of the challenges farmers face from the ever changing landscape that can make management of Iowa’s water ways a moving target. Removing this rule does not change the commitment of Iowa soybean farmers to improving Iowa’s water quality.

“Iowa soybean farmers will continue to implement practices and support projects that protect and improve Iowa’s water quality.

“Water quality improvement in Iowa is warranted. Iowa soybean farmers remain focused on advancing real solutions to better water through the use of watershed planning, reduced tillage, cover crops and targeting installation of conservation practices where they have the most impact on the quality of our rivers, lakes and streams.

Cattlemen Applaud President for Ordering Reconsideration of “Extremely Flawed” WOTUS Rule

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s executive action ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider their controversial Waters of the United States rule:

“This extremely flawed rule would force ranchers and feedlot operators to get permits or risk excessive federal penalties despite being miles away from any navigable water. It would be one of the largest federal land grabs and private-property infringements in American history, and the President should be applauded for making EPA and the Corps reconsider this debacle. Ultimately, this rule should be taken out behind the barn and put out of its misery.”

Trump Repeals Waters of the U.S. Rule

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauds an executive order issued today by President Trump that begins the process of rescinding or rewriting a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that would have given the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.

The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal review of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, and ostensibly was implemented to clarify the agency’s authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

“America’s pork producers are very pleased that the president ordered EPA and the Corps of Engineers to repeal or rewrite this ill-conceived, overbroad regulation,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction and control over private lands.

“It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and no doubt would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers.”

NPPC helped lead the agricultural community’s opposition to the rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA’s jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased by 77 percent under the WOTUS rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the rule.

In arguing against the regulation to the appellate court, NPPC pointed out that EPA and the Corps of Engineers failed to reopen the public comment period after making fundamental changes to the rule before it took effect and withheld until after the comment period closed the scientific report on which the rule was based. The agencies also refused to conduct required economic and environmental analyses, engaged in a propaganda campaign to promote the rule and rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule, said NPPC in its court brief.

“The WOTUS rule sought to hand control of land-use planning decisions to out-of-touch activists and government regulators in New York, San Francisco and Washington,” Weber said. “We all want clean water, but this regulation was just a big government land grab that would have allowed activists to micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities. We applaud President Trump for taking this action.”

President Trump Overturns WOTUS

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded President Donald Trump for issuing an executive order repealing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible, and extremely difficult to implement.”

The WOTUS rule, which was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers under the Obama Administration, was challenged in courts by more than 30 states, environmental organizations, and numerous industry groups including the National Corn Growers Association. In October 2015, a federal appeals court issued a stay preventing the rule’s implementation.

“NCGA remains committed to work with the EPA to ensure farmers have clarity and certainty they need about the regulations affecting their operations,” said Spurlock.

Water Regulation Must Focus on the Farmer as Environmentalist

The American Soybean Association (ASA) cheers a direction issued today by President Donald Trump instructing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin the process of rolling back the controversial Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule. ASA President Ron Moore, who farms in the Mississippi River watershed in Western Illinois, issued the following statement on the administration's action:

"We are very happy to see a signal of clarity to come on the Clean Water Rule from President Trump today. Our concern with the rule has always about the nonspecific and overly broad nature of the rule as written, and never about the paramount goal of cleaner water and more environmentally sound farming practices. We believe that farmers can be a productive voice in the discussion over water regulation, and we look for a seat at the table, because as farmers, our primary goals are the healthy soils and clean water that sustain us from growing season to growing season. I'm 35 miles from the Mississippi River, and I've farmed my land for 36 years. I count on productive soil and clean water more than any other inputs, and I wouldn't be able to make it year to year if I fouled such important pieces of my operation. This rule, however, sought to expand EPA's authority into places where it was either unnecessary or duplicative, without any reasonable justification for doing so. We look forward to to collaborating with President Trump, Administrator Pruitt and others in the administration and Congress to pursue clean water goals in a way that respects both the environment and the farmer as an environmentalist."

Farm Bureau Praises Trump’s WOTUS Action

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“President Trump’s executive order to ditch the Waters of the U.S. rule is a welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country today.

“The flawed WOTUS rule has proven to be nothing more than a federal land grab, aimed at telling farmers and ranchers how to run their businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway.

“Farmers and ranchers have been calling for a common-sense approach to regulatory reform, and today the Trump administration responded to that call. EPA has too long been characterized by regulatory overreach that disregards the positive conservation efforts of farmers and threatens their very way of life. Today’s action is as much a beginning as an end, and there is much work to do to ensure that any revised rule is transparent and fair for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Comment from National Grange President on Executive Order about WOTUS

National Grange President Betsy Huber said Tuesday, “The Waters of the United States Rule has been the subject of great concern in rural communities and for those involved in agriculture since it was drafted. The expansion of the definition of ‘navigable water’ includes puddles, long-dried ditches and other land that collects rainwater but does not act as a waterway. This would bring nearly all of our farms to a halt as they attempted to comply with a rule that intrudes too far into property rights.

"In essence, the WOTUS rule was a veiled attempt to bring entire watersheds under federal land use control, whether the water there was impaired or not. We are happy the administration is taking a step back to allow for more vetting of the rule before potential implementation."

NMPF Commends Executive Order to Begin Rollback of Waters of the U.S. Rule

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation

“President Donald Trump’s decision today to roll back the controversial Waters of the U.S. regulation is a welcome development for the nation’s dairy farmers, who have been concerned by the continuing lack of clarity and certainty generated by this policy. Today’s action signals that the Trump Administration recognizes we need to go back and rethink the entire process that led us to this point.

“The Waters of the U.S. rule was finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015, but was subsequently blocked by a federal appeals court, which has suspended nationwide implementation of the regulation. Today’s decision directs EPA to revise or rescind the rule that expanded the number of waterways that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. Despite NMPF’s best efforts to influence EPA’s work on this measure several years ago, we were disappointed with many aspects of the final rule.

“NMPF and its members are committed to protecting U.S. waterways through voluntary efforts, as well as through regulatory compliance with the Clean Water Act. Clean water is central to healthy ecosystems, secure water supplies for human and animal consumption, and to the production of milk and other dairy products. The dairy industry will continue working with EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to find effective ways to achieve these important goals.”

News release: Farmer Co-ops Welcome Administration’s New Direction on Waters of the US Rulemaking

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) welcomed President Trump’s executive action today moving in a new direction on defining “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).   The Executive Order issued today will start a review and revision process to replace the WOTUS rule. That rule was issued in 2015 and then promptly became the subject of numerous lawsuits.

“In issuing the WOTUS rule in 2015, the Obama Administration greatly expanded federal jurisdiction over lands that Congress never intended to be regulated by the Clean Water Act. President Trump’s action today corrects that overreach and sets the stage for a more deliberate and reasonable approach in defining what is a WOTUS,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC.  “A new approach can ensure that Americans can enjoy clean water while limiting the rule’s impact on upland areas and isolated waters.”

The 2015 WOTUS rule raised numerous concerns for states, local governments, landowners, and the regulated community, leading to legal challenges by over thirty states, numerous industry groups and environmentalist groups on both procedural and substantive grounds.  The District Court of North Dakota and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the rule because they believe that the rule is flawed and that the challengers of the rule would “likely succeed on the merits” of the case.

“Farmer cooperatives look forward to working with the Administration to develop a new rule that fully protects water quality while keeping CWA implementation within the bounds of congressional intent and Supreme Court precedent,” Conner added.  “We fully endorse the goal of the CWA to keep pollutants out of our nation’s waters, and look forward to a rulemaking that supports our longstanding and ongoing efforts to achieve that goal.”


Nebraska's layer numbers during 2016 averaged 8.84 million, up 15 percent from the year earlier, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2016 was 291 eggs, down two percent from 2015.

Nebraska egg production during the year ending November 30, 2016 totaled 2.57 billion eggs, up 12 percent from 2015.

Total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2016 (excluding commercial broilers) was 10.7 million birds, up 13 percent from last year.

The total value of all chickens in Nebraska on December 1, 2016 was $41.6 million, up 13 percent from December 1, 2015. The average value per bird of $3.90 was unchanged from December 1, 2015, to December 1, 2016.

USDA 2016 CHICKEN & EGG Highlights

United States Average Number of Layers Up 4 Percent: Layer numbers during 2016 averaged 365 million, up 4 percent from the year earlier. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2016 was 279 eggs, up 1 percent from 2015.

United States Egg Production up 5 percent: Egg production during the year ending November 30, 2016 totaled 102 billion eggs, up 5 percent from 2015. Table egg production, at 88.4 billion eggs, was up 5 percent from the previous year. Hatching egg production, at 13.6 billion eggs, was up 2 percent from 2015.

United States December 1 Chicken Inventory Numbers: The total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2016 (excluding commercial broilers) was 495 million birds, up 4 percent from last year.

United States Total Value: The total value of all chickens on December 1, 2016 was $2.08 billion, down slightly from December 1, 2015. The average value decreased from $4.37 per bird on December 1, 2015, to $4.20 per bird on December 1, 2016.


All layers in Nebraska during January 2017 totaled 8.81 million, up from 8.27 million the previous year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Nebraska egg production during January totaled 229.6 million eggs, up from 184.1 million in 2016. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,606 eggs, compared to 2,226 eggs in 2016.


 Iowa egg production during January 2017 was 1.38 billion eggs, up slightly from last month, and up 53 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during January 2017 was 55.5 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 32 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for January were 2,486, down 1 percent from last month, but up 16 percent from last year, and the second highest rate of lay since records began in 1988.

January Egg Production Up 9 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.04 billion during January 2017, up 9 percent from last year. Production included 7.91 billion table eggs, and 1.12 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.04 billion were broiler-type and 87.7 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during January 2017 averaged 376 million, up 5 percent from last year. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,401 eggs, up 3 percent from January 2016.
All layers in the United States on February 1, 2017 totaled 376 million, up 5 percent from last year. The 376 million layers consisted of 318 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 54.7 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.50 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on February 1, 2017, averaged 77.1 eggs per 100 layers, up 3 percent from February 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 9 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during January 2017 totaled 43.4 million, down 9 percent from January 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 48.0 million on February 1, 2017, up slightly from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 222 thousand during January 2017, up 50 percent from January 2016.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 1 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during January 2017 totaled 809 million, up 1 percent from January 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 659 million on February 1, 2017, up 1 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.16 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during January 2017, up 6 percent from January 2016.

Corn, Soybean Price Protections Higher Than in 2016

Crop insurance price guarantees for corn, soybeans and hard red spring wheat got a bump from last year.

Looking at the prices from RMA's website, the average protection price set for corn this spring is $3.96 a bushel, up 10 cents from 2016, though still below 2013-15 guarantees.

For soybeans, the price guarantee is $10.19, up $1.34 a bushel from the 2016 protection levels.

The corn guarantee is based on an average daily closing price of the CME corn contract for December throughout the month of February. For soybeans, the price guarantee is set using the daily average closing price in February for the November contract.

The price guarantee for hard spring wheat was also set for $5.65 a bushel, up from $5.13 a bushel last year.

With the closing futures prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the month of February, USDA's Risk Management Agency will officially detail the prices.

ASA Calls to Double Funding for Export Promotion Programs

American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Joe Steinkamp called on Congress to double funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs, testifying in a hearing today to the effectiveness and necessity of export promotion programs in expanding U.S. agriculture exports.

Testifying on behalf of ASA, the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports and the Agribusiness Coalition for Foreign Market Development before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, Steinkamp touted agricultural exports as the strongest positive contributor to the U.S. trade balance and highlighted the need to increase funding for these programs.

“Despite the tremendous growth in U.S. agricultural exports, the effective level of federal funding that reaches the agricultural cooperators carrying out market development work has steadily eroded,” said Steinkamp, who farms in Evansville, Ind., and also serves as an Indiana Soybean Alliance director.

Steinkamp specifically urged Congress to increase funding for MAP to $400 million annually and for FMD to $69 million annually, with the increases phased in as part of the next Farm Bill.

“Increasing exports is a significant tool to improve the lives of America’s farmers and ranchers while creating jobs, expanding the farm economy and the larger U.S. economy, and increasing revenues to the Treasury,” Steinkamp testified. “The FMD and MAP programs have been critically important to this success.”

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, the $150 billion in U.S. agricultural exports that occurred in 2014 supported 1.1 million full time U.S. civilian jobs, representing 7,550 jobs for every $1 billion of agricultural export revenue.

“Agricultural exports are one the brightest lights in the U.S. economy, with a strong multiplier effect that is especially pronounced in rural communities” testified Steinkamp as he reiterated his call to double funding for export promotion programs.

Growth Energy Applauds White House for Denouncing RFS Rumors

Growth Energy thanks the White House for putting a stop to the circulating rumors that an alleged “deal” had been made to change the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) point of obligation. This afternoon the White House confirmed to several media outlets that no executive order is imminent.

“We look forward to a constructive, ongoing dialogue with this administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill about policies that will continue to uphold what has been the nation’s most successful energy policy, reducing oil imports and cutting transportation-related emissions,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.

“Under the RFS, the point of obligation – which obligates oil refiners to blend renewable fuel into our transportation fuel supply – is working as intended and is making sure that consumers have a choice of fuel at the gas pump. President Trump has voiced a strong commitment to the RFS and continued progress for homegrown fuels, and we are heartened by the White House’s quick efforts to silence these rumors. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with the administration on biofuel policy.”

Hog Prices Outperform Expectations

Chris Hurt, Purdue University 

The pork industry outlook has experienced a major shift to the upside. Pork producers are pleased to see 2017 hog prices higher than expected. The low point for the industry was in late November when hog prices dropped to near $32 per hundredweight on a live weight basis. Recent live prices have reached the mid-$50 and have pulled the industry out of deep losses into profitability.

The leading reason for the more favorable outlook is lower retail pork prices. Some have mentioned how strong pork consumption has been this year. One reason for that strength is lower retail pork prices. The "law of demand" says that people will buy more when prices are lower, and retail pork prices have moved lower.

Retail pork prices peaked in 2014 because of reduced supplies due to the PED virus and have generally been falling since 2015. In the final quarter of 2016, retail pork prices dropped 26 cents per pound from the same period one year earlier. The downward movement continued in January of this year with retail pork prices down 22 cents per pound from one year earlier.

An additional issue contributing to the extremely low prices for pork producers last fall was the small portion of the retail dollar getting back to producers. Another way of saying this is that the margins for the processors and retailers remained substantially higher than normal. As a result, the portion of the retail pork dollar that got back to the producer dropped to 17.5 percent. This was lower than the previous record low of 18.4 percent in the financially tragic final quarter of 1998.

Data this year are only available for January, but in that month the producer share increased to 22 percent. In cents per pound, the hog producer received 15 cents more per retail pound. That amounts to about $9.00 per hundredweight higher prices on a live hog. Lower retail prices are moving more pork and the pork producer is getting a higher percentage and a higher total value from the pork being sold.

For the rest of 2017, there is room for even lower retail prices and a higher percentage of that retail price getting back to the hog producer. Probably the biggest opportunity for hog producers is the advent of new processing capacity coming on line in the last half of 2017. The added competition for hogs will likely reduce the farm-to-wholesale margins with much of that reduction bid into higher hog prices. In 2016, for example, USDA reported the farm-to-wholesale margin as 70 cents per retail pound compared to 58 cents in 2015. Export demand remains a positive for the 2017 hog price outlook as well. USDA expects a four percent increase in exports with little change in imports.

Pork supplies are not the reason for higher hog prices in 2017. So far this year, pork production has been about three percent higher than for the same period last year.

Live hog prices are now expected to average near $51 for 2017, up from $46 in 2016. Live prices are expected to average in the very high $40s in the first quarter, then move to the low-to-mid $50s in the second and third quarters, and then finish the final quarter in the mid $40s.

Total costs of production for 2017 are expected to be near $50 per live hundredweight, similar to the annual forecast price of hogs. If so, this means pork producers will recover full costs of production in 2017. Losses in the first and fourth quarter would be offset by profits in the second and third quarter.

There has been an overall improvement in prospects for animal and animal product prices since last fall. That is true for beef, pork, and milk markets. The source of that improvement may well be related to the general improvement in the anticipated economic growth rates for the U.S.-think of the stock market increases since the election. These increases are largely based on anticipated policy that will stimulate the economy, including tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and reduced regulations.

Markets for animal products remain vulnerable to at least three outcomes that could differ from current optimism: 1) The anticipated economic stimulus is not implemented, 2) The strength of the U.S. dollar slows agricultural export sales from anticipated levels, and 3) The U.S. moves in a direction of more protectionism that increases trade barriers and reduces our agricultural export sales potential.

Each industry is trying to figure out what the new administration means for them. Agriculture incomes are importantly influenced by the domestic economy, by the global economy, by exchange rates, and by trade. Agriculture, like other industries, must take a "wait and see" attitude.

Oklahoma Cattleman Testifies in Washington on Conservation Policy

Fifth-generation Oklahoma cattle rancher Chuck Coffey today testified on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association regarding  the value of voluntary conservation efforts. Coffey testified at the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry’s hearing to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation programs.

“USDA’s conservation programs have been a great asset to cattle producers and it is important that these programs be implemented in a practical, producer friendly, and voluntary manner to ensure that cattlemen can continue to responsibly produce the world’s safest, most nutritious, and affordable protein,” said Coffey.

Chuck and his wife, Ruth, operate a cattle ranch in south central Oklahoma, where they own and operate over 30,000 acres of grassland. Chuck said though ranching in south central Oklahoma comes with its fair share of difficulties, by working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to use voluntary conservation programs and apply management practices that enhance their operation, they have been able to keep their operation sustainable even during the drought in 2011 and 2012.

Coffey grazes his cattle with a carefully managed grazing plan developed with the assistance of the NRCS. Through cooperation with state and local agencies, in addition to the development of innovative grazing strategies, Coffey said they have increased perennial grasses on the ranch, improved ground cover, greatly reduced soil erosion, and ensured adequate forage for livestock and wildlife.

“Since our livelihood is made on the land, the utilization of our natural resources, and being good stewards of the land, not only makes good environmental sense, it is fundamental for our industry to remain strong, “said Coffey. “We strive to operate as environmentally friendly as possible, and it is through voluntary conservation programs that ranchers will continue to be proud partners with the government to reach our environmental conservation goals.”

As Congress begins the process of developing the next Farm Bill, Coffey stressed ‘voluntary’ is the key to making conservation programs work for farmers and ranchers.

“The biggest point I’d like you to take away from this hearing is that the “voluntary” part of the conservation programs is what really makes it work for ranchers,” said Coffey. “If they were to become mandatory, the rules and regulations that farmers and ranchers would be subjected to would make it harder for them to utilize the unique conservation practices that help their individual operations thrive.”

ASA Congratulates Starling on New White House Role

The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates Ray Starling, recently named a special assistant to President Donald Trump for agriculture, trade and food assistance. In his new role, Starling will hold a seat on the National Economic Council, where he will advise President Trump on agriculture and trade issues. Previously, Starling served as chief of staff to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), as well as an advisor to Tillis on farm issues.

"To have an advocate for agriculture like Ray Starling in this position is very positive for soybean farmers," said ASA Director Jimmy Thomas, a producer from Timberlake, N.C. "In his time with Sen. Tillis, and prior to it with the North Carolina legislature and the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Ray has proven himself to be someone who understands the challenges farmers face and what role government can play in helping us to succeed. In his role, he will also be able to draw the direct connection between global agricultural trade and a successful farm economy."

North Carolina Soybean Producers Association President John Fleming, a farmer from Tarboro, N.C., added, “Ray Starling has spent the majority of his career in agricultural policy. He has a deep understanding of the needs of rural America, having grown up on his family’s farm in eastern North Carolina. Ray has demonstrated his commitment to soy growers and we congratulate President Trump on such a strategic hire.”

Land O’Lakes, Inc. Reports Record Earnings Year for 2016

Powered by growth in core businesses and the unification with United Suppliers, Land O’Lakes, Inc. today reported record net earnings for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016.

The company reported a record $320 million in net earnings on $13.2 billion in sales and returned a record $187 million in cash to its member-owners. This compares to net earnings of $304 million and cash to its member-owners of $161 million in 2015.

"We are pleased with another record year, particularly under current market conditions, and appreciate the dedication of our workforce and the support of our farmer owners,” said Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski. “We attribute our continued strong performance to our ‘marketplace back’ approach to doing business, which is different from the production orientation of many of our competitors. Our strategy is based on deeply understanding what our consumers, customers and farmers need to be successful and developing innovative, value-added products--and increasingly services--to meet those needs. We know that our success depends on their success."

Land O’Lakes, Inc. currently touches 50 percent of the harvested acres and 25 percent of the producers in the nation through its independent retail-owner network and strives to serve as the voice of the farmer for its farmer-owners.

For the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2016, the company reported $3.3 billion in sales, which were even with 2015, and $73 million in net earnings, compared to a record $116 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Coming off a record year in 2015, the company also achieved record performance in 2016 with growth in each of its core businesses despite challenging market conditions. The company increased its size and scale of its Crop Inputs and Insights division through acquisitions and the integration of WinField United, accelerated the revitalization of its Animal Nutrition division and continued to grow in Dairy Foods.

Business Segments

Dairy Foods reported 2016 net sales of $3.8 billion compared to $4.0 billion in 2015. Pretax earnings for Dairy Foods totaled $70.1 million in 2016, down from $83.1 million in 2015. The business achieved record branded butter volume, record foodservice volume and strong earnings performance despite the impact of low commodity markets and record milk production in the East.

Against the backdrop of low commodity prices, Crop Inputs and Insights realized growth and scale through the 2015 unification of Winfield and United Suppliers crop protection unit. In its first full year as a combined entity, the company delivered sales of $5.5 billion with pretax earnings of $202.9 million. That compares with $4.8 billion in sales and $189.6 million in pretax earnings in 2015. The full unification with United Suppliers takes place on Oct. 1, 2017, adding Crop Nutrient products to our portfolio, providing our independent retailers a total agronomy solution.

Animal Nutrition reported 2016 net sales of $3.8 billion on pretax earnings of $72.9 million, compared to $4.2 billion in sales and $57.8 million in pretax earnings in 2015. The business experienced growth in all customer channels. The business reinvented itself and launched its Feed Greatness campaign leveraging its many years of industry leading research, delivering a complete solution for animals supporting our Purina brand driving growth and a richer mix of products, including record volume and earnings in its Milk Replacer business.

DuPont Pioneer Unveils All-New Suite of Grower Tools from Encirca Services

DuPont Pioneer is launching its next generation of Encirca services tools as an easy-to-use, web-based dashboard during Commodity Classic 2017 in San Antonio, Texas, March 2-4.

Growers can easily navigate the new set of tools on their own, or they may have expert assistance from an Encirca certified services agent or their local Pioneer sales professional. Either way, through the new suite of tools growers can conceptualize their operational data and use those insights to make and validate critical decisions throughout the growing season.

New analytic capabilities within Encirca services also allow growers to more critically analyze harvest results to understand what happened in their fields during the growing season. With each crop cycle, growers can make more informed decisions to improve productivity and profitability.

“The new Encirca services online platform gives growers a fast, simple, and intuitive way to see their path to success all year long, year after year,” said Eric Boeck, DuPont Pioneer marketing director, Encirca services. “We’re confident that growers who leverage their historical yield data and as-applied operational data with these new tools will see advantages personally and financially.”

Getting started with the tools and insights from Encirca services is easy. The web-based dashboard integrates seamlessly with current Encirca services, which continue to keep growers in control of their operational data and user experience. It pulls together and conceptualizes a grower’s field operations data for monitoring, managing, evaluating and creating variable rate prescriptions for nitrogen, soil fertility and enhanced variable rate seeding.

For example, the new weather explorer tool lets growers compare historical and current weather information across variables like precipitation, high and low temps, and GDUs for all their fields. Similarly, the new yield explorer tool lets them evaluate their operation’s performance and determine which farms and fields are the highest yielding.

“We’re showing growers what their data can and should be doing for their operation,” Boeck said. “Through the Encirca services dashboard, growers can get clearer pictures of their operational performance than they’ve ever had before.”

Monday February 27 Ag News


For the month of February 2017, temperatures averaged six to eight degrees above normal across Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Heavy snow occurred over northern portions of the State during the month. Temperatures peaked in 70’s during the third week, resulting in producers beginning preparations for spring planting. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 17 short, 68 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9 percent very short, 21 short, 66 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 8 poor, 46 fair, 40 good, and 4 excellent.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 13 fair, 74 good, and 12 excellent. Calving progress was 19 percent complete. Cattle and calf death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 66 average, and 34 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 1 poor, 17 fair, 77 good, and 4 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 65 average, and 34 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 3 short, 89 adequate, and 7 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 92 adequate, and 1 surplus.

NePPA Announces Webinar Focused on Benefits of Expanding Pork Production

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is hosting a one-hour online webinar on March 7, 2017, beginning at noon, focused on the benefits of expanding pork production in Nebraska with emphasis on resources available to support producers and county officials during discussions about proposed expansion activities. Current row crop farmers who are interested in diversifying or adding potential income, as well as current pork producers interested in expanding, are encouraged to participate. There is no fee to participate in the webinar.

Research and extension experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present information regarding:
 ·    Benefits of expanding pork production in relation to community development benefits and value of manure to crop production and soil fertility
 ·    Overview of the Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix and recommendations for engaging with county officials about the matrix
 ·    Presenting a plan for expansion to the community and county officials using positive language

Each segment is scheduled to last 15 minutes, with the final 15 minutes dedicated to questions and discussion, to accommodate participants joining individual segments of the webinar if unable to participate in the entire program.

Participants on the webinar will have the opportunity to pose questions and engage in discussions with UNL experts, including:

Dr. Rick Koelsch,  professor in the Departments of Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, with extension and teaching responsibilities for agricultural environmental related issues.
Dr. Rick Stowell, associate professor in the Departments of Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, with extension and teaching responsibilities focused on animal housing systems and environmental control.

Dr. Amy Schmidt, assistant professor in the Departments of Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, with research and extension responsibilities related to livestock manure management and environmental and social risk management relative to livestock production.

The webinar can be accessed by visiting the producer tab on Participants are encouraged to join the webinar a few minutes before the scheduled start time to ensure that they are connected when discussion begins.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been working with Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to protect natural resources for over 80 years. During that time, one thing has remained the Agency’s main goal – help prevent soil erosion.

Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible in order to be eligible for some USDA programs.  Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been controlled as outlined in Farm Bill requirements.

            Recently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed compliance review procedures in several states, including Nebraska.  In their report, OIG recommended some modifications to NRCS’ compliance review procedures to provide more consistency across the nation.  Nebraska NRCS will be making some adjustments during this year’s compliance reviews that may impact several producers in Nebraska.

            So, what does this mean for Nebraska farmers and ranchers?

            “The main impact will be on farmers whose cropland has been determined by NRCS to be highly erodible,” Nebraska State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “They will need to consider installing additional conservation practices to better control ephemeral gully erosion.”

Ephemeral gully erosion is characterized by small ditches in fields that farmers often smooth over with disks. Previously, ephemeral gully erosion was only cited as a compliance problem if sediment was leaving the field and causing off-site damages.  Now, all ephemeral gullies on fields determined to be highly erodible will need to be controlled to meet the national standard.

“NRCS employees will be working closely with farmers to help them meet the erosion control requirements,” Derickson said.  “Farmers will not be expected to make these changes overnight. If erosion control issues are identified during this spring’s compliance reviews, producers will be given time to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices.”

Derickson said practices used to control ephemeral gullies include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, and terraces.  NRCS has conservation programs available to provide financial assistance for producers to install additional conservation practices, and Derickson said Nebraska NRCS has set aside additional funding this year to help meet this need.

Derickson stressed the importance for farmers to meet these erosion control requirements so they will remain eligible for Farm Bill program benefits – which include things like farm loans, conservation program benefits and Federal crop insurance premium subsidies.

“We want to help Nebraska’s farmers be successful in meeting the conservation compliance requirements on highly erodible land. The bottom line is NRCS staff will be available to help farmers identify where ephemeral erosion is or may occur, and then assist them with a conservation plan to identify conservation practices that best fit their farming operation,” Derickson said.

For more information, visit your local NRCS office located within the USDA Service Center or

Chemigation Certification Classes for Eastern Nebraska

University of Nebraska Extension will be hosting twenty-four chemigation certification classes across Nebraska in February and March for applicators applying fertilizer or any pesticide product through an irrigation system. See dates and locations at:   

The Nebraska Chemical Act requires anyone that applies chemicals through an irrigation system, to attend a meeting and become certified. Certifications are good for four years.  Applicators have an option to complete an online course and take the exam at a testing location or simply attend a training, and pass the written exam.

The training is for initial or recertification and there is no charge.  Especially for new applicants, it is recommended to contact the host Extension Office to receive chemigation materials prior to coming to the class. You can also find these materials online at the bottom of this website link at: 

If you need certification for the 2017 crop year, pre-register with the extension educator hosting the session you plan to attend by phone.

For more information contact your local Extension Office or host educator in charge of the trainings. 


Michael Boehm, vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) Program recognition banquet March 10.

Boehm will discuss leadership development, specifically the need for quality leadership at all levels, during the banquet in the Nebraska East Union's Great Plains Room, 1705 Arbor Drive.

At 4:30 p.m., the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council will conduct its annual meeting and elect new officers.

Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 6:30 p.m. banquet. Reservations are $25 and can be made by calling the Nebraska LEAD office at 402-472-6810 no later than March 1.

The Nebraska LEAD Program aims to prepare and motivate men and women in agriculture for more effective leadership. The program is under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and is supported by Nebraska colleges, universities, businesses, industries and individuals throughout the state.

New Corn Herbicides for 2017

Amit Jhala - NE Extension Weed Management Specialist

The following herbicides are now available in Nebraska for weed management in corn. When selecting herbicides, note the sites of action and rotate them to help reduce the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds in your fields. For more information see the newly revised industry Herbicide Classification chart.

Acuron® Flexi

[bicyclopyrone (0.87%) + mesotrione (3.47%) + S-metolachlor (31.24%)]
Acuron Flexi is Acuron without atrazine. Acuron Flexi may be used pre-emergence or post-emergence (up to 30 inches tall or 8-leaf stage) in field corn, seed corn, silage corn. It can be used in sweet corn and yellow popcorn, but only pre-plant or pre-emergence. Acuron Flexi contains the safener benoxacor. If organic matter content of the field is less than 3%, apply Acuron Flexi at 2.0 qt/acre; if organic matter is ≥ 3% apply at 2.25 qt/acre. Do not exceed 2.25 qt/acre of this product per year. Do not make more than one post-emergence application and not more than two total applications of Acuron Flexi per year. EPA Reg. No. 100-1568. Modes of Action: 27 + 27 + 15.

Armezon PRO

[topramezone (1.12%) + dimethenamid-P (56.25%)]
Armezon PRO is a premix of Armezon (topramezone) and Outlook (dimethenamid-P). It is an emulsifiable concentrate (EC) that provides systemic post-emergence control of emerged broadleaf and grass weeds followed by residual control in all corn types. Application rates depend on soil texture and organic matter content. It may be applied from corn emergence to V8 stage or 30-inch tall field corn and popcorn. For corn that is more than 12 inches tall but less than 30 inches, applications should be directed beneath the crop canopy using drop nozzles and appropriate nozzle spacing for best performance. EPA Reg. No. 7969-372. Modes of Action:  15 + 27.

DiFlexx® DUO

[dicamba (19.73%) + tembotrione (2.83%)]
DiFlexx DUO is a premix of DiFlexx (dicamba) and Laudis (tembotrione). DiFlexx DUO can be used for post-emergence selective control of broadleaf and grass weeds in corn and postharvest burndown weed control. DiFlexx DUO includes exclusive CSI™ safener technology which enables corn plants to better withstand herbicidal activity and provides better crop safety. It can be applied from emergence up to, but not including the V7 stage of growth, 36-inch tall corn, or 15 days prior to tassel, whichever occurs first. The application rates of DiFlexx DUO vary from 24 to 40 fl oz/acre depending on weed type and growth stage. Apply a maximum of two applications per growing season, separated by two weeks or more. EPA Reg. No. 264-1184. Modes of Action: 4 + 27.

Enlist™ DUO

[2,4-D choline (24.4%) + glyphosate (22.1%)]
For control of annual and perennial weeds in Enlist corn only. Do NOT use this product on Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, or any other type of corn. This herbicide is based on Colex-D technology. 2,4-D products that do not contain Colex-D technology are not authorized for use in Enlist corn and soybeans. It is a systemic herbicide intended for control of annual and perennial weeds.

Apply 3.5 to 4.75 pints of Enlist Duo per acre. Apply when weeds are small and corn is no larger than V8 growth stage or 30 inches tall (free standing), whichever occurs first. For corn heights 30 to 48 inches (free standing), apply using only ground application equipment using drop nozzles aligned to avoid spraying into the whorl of corn plants. Make one to two applications with a minimum of 12 days between applications. Do not apply more than 4.75 pints of Enlist Duo per acre per application. Do not apply more than 14.25 pints/acre of Enlist Duo per use season. EPA Reg. No. 62719-649. Modes of Action: 4 + 9.


[mesotrione (40%)]
Incinerate is for control of annual broadleaf weeds in field corn, seed corn, yellow popcorn, and sweet corn. This product has an active ingredient similar to Dual II Magnum. EPA Reg. No. 100-1131-1381. Mode of Acton: 27.


acetochlor (31%) + mesotrione (3.3%) + clopyralid (2.7%)]
Resicore is for control of annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in field corn, seed corn, and silage corn with preplant, pre-emergence, and post-emergence application. Resicore can only be applied preplant or pre-emergence in yellow popcorn. Resicore is a premix of three herbicides with different modes of action. The application rate of Resicore is in the range of 2.25 to 3.0 qts/acre based on soil texture and organic matter content. EPA Reg. No. 62719-693. Modes of Action: 15 + 27 + 4.


Early registration ends soon for the 29th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference, March 14-15, 2017, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney. After Feb. 28, the conference registration fee increases from $100 to $125. 

“The Governor’s Ag Conference is an important event for farmers, ranchers, ag leaders and agri-business managers in Nebraska,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach. “Along with a line-up of great speakers, the conference provides participants a chance to network, share ideas and concerns, and learn more about the future of agriculture.”

The conference starts Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 3:30 p.m., with welcomes and remarks from Governor Pete Ricketts and NDA Director Ibach.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a panel discussion on “Growing Nebraska in Broken Bow.” The panel features Broken Bow’s community leaders from city government, the Chamber of Commerce, and agriculture, including specialists in purchasing, production and finance.

The annual “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception begins at 6:00 p.m. on March 14 and features a mix of Nebraska food products and entertainment by leadership expert and author Rhett Laubach.

The conference resumes on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, with the following speakers:

·         Doug Carr, senior account executive at Firespring, who will discuss domestic trade and the value of a brand;

·         Bobby Richey, Jr., deputy administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, who will discuss working with USDA/Foreign Ag Service and Nebraska’s international branding efforts;

·         Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association, speaking on the “Outlook for the Farm Bill and Other Farmer Priorities in the Trump Administration;” and

·         Dr. Michael Boehm, vice chancellor for UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and vice president for NU’s Agriculture and Natural Resources who will discuss people, places, partnerships and possibilities.

“We’re fortunate to be able to bring such knowledgeable and experienced speakers to this conference to share information about marketing, economic development and farm policies and what it all means to Nebraska agriculture,” said Ibach.

The Governor's Ag Conference is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and is co-sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America. Registration and additional information is available online at or by calling 800-831-0550.

CattleFax elects Officers for 2017

Todd Allen, a cattle feeder from Newton, Kan., has been elected 2017 President of CattleFax, one of several new officers elected at the 49th annual business meeting of the organization on Feb. 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.

Allen has been involved in cattle feeding throughout the Central Plains for over 35 years. He has served on several committees and in leadership positions for Kansas Livestock Association, including President. At the national level Allen has served on the Executive Committee for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and has served on various NCBA committees, including Beef Safety, Live Cattle Marketing and Product Science and Technology. 

President Elect is Dale Smith, a stocker Operator from Amarillo, Texas.  Nick Hunt of Atlantic, Iowa was elected to replace Jamie Willrett of Malta, Ill., representing the Midwest region. Don Quincey of Chiefland, Fla., was re-elected to a four-year term representing the Southeast region.

Other directors currently serving terms for CattleFax are: Pono Von Holt of Kamuela, Hawaii; Mark Frasier of Fort Morgan, Colo.; Jerry Adams of Broken Bow, Neb.; and Jeff Sparrowk of Clements, Calif.  Tom Jensen of Omaha, Neb., will continue as Finance Director.

New Research Examines Beef Demand Indices

Beef demand is critical to understand and monitor as it directly influences overall beef industry prosperity. When beef demand strengthens, beef and cattle prices for the entire industry are higher than they otherwise would be, says Kansas State University Economist Glynn Tonsor. This highlights the clear economic value in accurately measuring beef demand. One way to do this is through construction of an index that provides an easy to understand, single-measure indicator of beef demand over time. A beef checkoff-funded study by Glynn T. Tonsor, and Ted. C. Schroeder, both of Kansas State University, recently examined the feasibility of developing new foodservice and grocery store beef demand indices.

“Despite the usefulness of existing demand indices for monitoring demand strength, all have a number of important limitations,” says Tonsor. “Indices that are updated more frequently, and that can be dissected by product or market region, can be especially informative about where demand is changing most. Armed with such information, the beef industry could better adjust, target and monitor product marketing strategies.”

As beef demand changes over time, insights from regularly updated demand indices would provide the entire industry a barometer of demand strength. Operators throughout the nation’s retail sector could use this information to benchmark their own situation within the broader beef demand position. If demand is improving in a retailer’s region but not in their operation, that information might lead to more timely solutions to their marketing challenges. Conversely, if a retailer’s operation is experiencing stronger beef demand than their broader region, that could provide valuable lessons about the elements of “winning strategies.”

“Ultimately a deeper understanding of any situation requires ongoing effort and appreciation for details that previously may have been ignored. Beef demand is no different,” says Tonsor. “Previously available insights regarding beef demand were limited to summarizing the situation in a highly aggregated, national manner. Going forward, refined insights specific to geographic regions or product type could be used to refine understanding of current beef demand.”

It is the researchers’ hope that this improved understanding will assist all beef industry stakeholders, including retailers who act as the face of the industry for consumers.

 NPPC Applauds White House Appointment; Champion of Agriculture to Advise President Trump

 Filling a position left vacant for most of the Obama administration, the National Pork Producers Council applauds today’s White House appointment of Ray Starling to the position of Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Aid. Starling currently serves as chief of staff for Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C. The following statement can be attributed to John Weber, president of the National Pork Producers Council.

“By picking a true champion of American agriculture to serve in this key advisory role, President Trump is sending a clear signal of his commitment to reverse unnecessary regulations inhibiting pork producers and all U.S. farmers from doing what they do best: supplying the world with the most nutritious, affordable and abundant food available.

“Growing up raising hogs on a farm in North Carolina that his family continues to operate today, Ray’s long, distinguished career in agriculture policy has always been informed by a deep understanding of pork producers and a sector so vital to our economy and national security. We look forward to working with Ray and the Trump administration to address the needs of rural America.”

Cattlemen Applaud Appointment of Starling to Council of Economic Advisors

Colin Woodall, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA’s) senior vice president of government affairs, today released the following statement in response to Ray Starling’s appointment to President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors:

“This is great news not just for America’s cattle producers, but for America’s entire economy. In short, Ray Starling gets it. He has a sharp understanding of how the economy works, and especially how the agricultural sector operates and benefits the citizens of every state in the nation, while also providing the world’s safest and most prosperous food supply. This is an A+ appointment, and we look forward to working with Ray and the rest of the president’s team on behalf of the American beef industry.”

NCGA Welcomes Exploration of the World of Corn

U.S. corn farmers reached new heights in 2016, growing the largest crop on record at 15.1 billion bushels, with a record national average yield of 174.6 bushels per acre.

To highlight this achievement, the National Corn Growers Association delves into the facts about corn production, using a historical comparison in its newest edition of the World of Corn. This statistical look at the corn industry, both domestic and worldwide, features a wide array of information on corn production and usage. In addition to the traditional statistics guide, this year's distribution includes a poster highlighting the ways corn farmers increase sustainability while also growing demand for their crop.

"America's corn farmers demonstrated their ability to sustainably produce an abundant crop in 2016," NCGA President Wesley Spurlock and Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak note in the introduction. "This record-setting crop offers infinite possibilities for feeding and fueling a growing world. From renewable fuels to high-quality feed to food ingredients, corn improves our lives today and offers a future limited only by our imaginations."

World of Corn is a respected collection of the most important statistics about corn production, exports and consumption, providing key information in a readable format, comparing numbers and trends across the years.

Again this year, NCGA proudly offers an interactive online presentation of the World of Corn that allows users to easily locate information or to explore the limitless possibilities the crop offers at their leisure. The format offers improved navigability with an elegant user interface.

To explore the World of Corn online, click here...

This year's publication, which was generously co-sponsored by Monsanto, is distributed through The Progressive Farmer and at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio.  A special edition of the World of Corn featuring statistics in metric measurements will soon follow.

Growth Energy Denounces Illegitimate Efforts to Rewrite RFS

Growth Energy today condemned efforts by Carl Icahn, owner of CVR Refining, to strike a backroom deal with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) that would irreparably change the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by shifting the point of obligation from oil refiners to fuel retailers and violating the Trump Administration’s commitment to the RFS.

“If true, this proposal would eviscerate America’s progress under the RFS and impose indefensible costs on consumers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Neither RFA nor Carl Icahn have the authority to strike a ‘deal.’ Mr. Icahn does not work for the U.S. government; he owns CVR Refining, which would profit directly from this change.  RFA does not represent a majority of the biofuels industry; RFA’s largest member is an oil refiner, which would also profit directly from such a change. They’re negotiating for the same side – and that is not the side of the ethanol industry or the American farmer.

“This move would be a slap in the face of rural America, its representatives in Congress, and the president. This is precisely the sort of self-serving insider deal the American consumer rejects. The administration must reject any such proposed deal and protect the program that has been working for 11 years to deliver better, cleaner, and more affordable choices at the pump.

“In exchange for getting his company an exemption for its responsibility under current law, Mr. Icahn has allegedly promised support for a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver from the EPA, a change that already has strong bipartisan support because it is a common sense solution that would increase summer sales of higher ethanol blends.

“Any assertion that this tradeoff would ‘greatly expand the market opportunities for ethanol’ is simply untrue. An RVP waiver means little if retailers no longer have an incentive to sell higher ethanol blends. This would halt and likely reverse all the progress we’ve made with hundreds of gasoline retailers who now offer consumers higher blends of ethanol. Changing the point of obligation impacts hundreds, if not thousands of new parties, demanding new rules, new staff, and new infrastructure. Moreover, the EPA is ill-equipped to manage such a large-scale restructuring of fuel markets, which could mean turmoil for retailers, higher costs for consumers, and years of uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of workers in the biofuel industry.”

CWT Assists with 2.6 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 19 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 2.588 million pounds (1,174 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 52,360 pounds (23.75 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through May 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 10.962 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.375 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 11 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 132.124 million 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. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Zoetis Introduces Veterinary Feed Directive Mobile Application

To benefit veterinarians and their busy schedules amid the implementation of the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation, Zoetis has introduced a mobile application for use on smartphones, helping simplify the process of writing a VFD for AUREOMYCIN® (chlortetracycline) or AUREO S 700® (chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine) for their cattle clients.

“Veterinarians now have the important responsibility of providing oversight and issuing VFDs for the use of medicated feeds, including AUREOMYCIN and AUREO S 700,” said Lynn Godbersen, senior marketing manager, feed additives with Zoetis. “Our goal is to provide a convenient and mobile tool for veterinarians to help facilitate the process of successful VFD implementation.”

The free VFD mobile app from Zoetis allows veterinarians to:
-    Easily download and register for the app at no charge.
-    Enter client information.
-    Ensure appropriate product indications based on animal health need, for seamless VFD development.
-    Access product information and combination clearances.
-    Quickly calculate drug levels per ton for the ration with a feed additive calculator.
-    Easily access previously issued VFDs.

The mobile application generates a PDF that can be emailed to clients and feed distributors. Further enhancing convenience and reducing unnecessary time and paperwork, the app saves the VFD in the veterinarian’s account, should it need to be reissued for the same client in the future.

“In an effort to demonstrate our continued commitment to veterinarians, we’re excited to offer this unique tool that will simplify the process of creating a VFD and assist veterinarians with providing the appropriate oversight to their clients when they utilize AUREOMYCIN and AUREO S 700 in the feed,” said Dr. Mitch Blanding, associate director, Beef Technical Services at Zoetis.

The app is available now for iOS (iPhone®) or Android™ phone operating systems. The links, when opened on a mobile device, will take you directly to the app store for your device. Or you can also search for My VFD app in iTunes® or Zoetis VFD Management in Google Play™. For more information, please visit with your Zoetis representative.

Mississippi River Sees Grain Barge Glut

A glut of idled river barges is clogging Mississippi River shorelines from St. Louis to New Orleans, leaving U.S. barge companies that haul grain, coal and other bulk goods counting their losses. Even with record-large exports of corn and soybeans, typically a boon for shippers that haul grain to Gulf Coast export terminals, the collapse of coal shipments to the lowest levels in decades has left the dry bulk barge fleet chasing too little cargo.

In pursuit of rising grain volumes since 2014, many shippers expanded their fleets too quickly.

Barge lease rates paid to companies like Archer Daniels Midland Co's American River Transportation Company, privately held Ingram Barge and a handful of smaller operators are at 1-1/2-month lows and more than 30 percent below the five-year average for February. Rates from St. Louis to the Gulf Coast of $8.40 per ton are down from a pre-harvest high of $18.00 - not enough for many barge companies to turn a profit.

A rise in grain shipments has not been enough to offset the steeper decline in coal shipments. Grain barge shipments rose 21 percent from 2012 to 2015 to a near-record 89.7 million tons, but coal shipments dropped by nearly 47 million tons in that period, to 126.2 million tons. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which tracks barge traffic, has not yet released data for 2016.

Demand for barges is at "historically weak levels," barge maker Trinity Industries Inc told analysts on a conference call last week. Orders for new barges in the fourth quarter totaled just $18 million, compared with $190 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Some barge lines are paying companies to lash their mothballed vessels along river banks rather than lose money keeping them active, according to barge brokers. At least 11 percent of the fleet was idled this winter, a number that could double by spring as South America's harvest competes with the United States for exports, according to industry estimates.

Friday February 25 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.45 million cattle on feed on February 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down slightly from last year. Placements during January totaled 540,000 head, up 10 percent from 2016. Fed cattle marketings for the month of January totaled 450,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. Other disappearance during January totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 640,000 head on February 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 7 percent from January 1, 2017, and up 3 percent from February 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 585,000 head on feed, up 4 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,225,000 head, up 6 percent from last month but down 1 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 128,000 head, an increase of 23 percent from last month and up 44 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 81,000 head, up 37 percent from last month but down 10 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 209,000 head, up 28 percent from last month and up 17 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 86,000 head, down 16 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 52,000 head, up 11 percent from last month but down 31 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 138,000 head, down 7 percent from last month and down 14 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 6,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on February 1, 2017. The inventory was 1 percent above February 1, 2016.

By State:  (1,000 hd - % of Feb 1 '16)

Colorado .......:        900          102              
Iowa .............:         640          103              
Kansas ..........:      2,210          103            
Nebraska ......:      2,450          100              
Texas ............:      2,450          101        

Placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.98 million head, 11 percent above 2016. Net placements were 1.93 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 380,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 445,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 585,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 410,000, 900-999 pounds were 116,000, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 45,000 head.

New placement weight categories are available this month. The new categories are 800-899 pounds, 900-999 pounds, and 1,000 pounds and greater. Information for January 2017 and January a year ago can be found on page 5 of this publication. This additional information will be published monthly in the Cattle on Feed report.

By State:  (1,000 hd - % of Jan '16)

Colorado .......:      180           124             
Iowa .............:       128           144             
Kansas ..........:       480           116              
Nebraska ......:       540           110              
Texas ............:       360           107         

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.75 million head, 10 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 53,000 head during January, 5 percent below 2016.

By State:  (1,000 hd - % of Jan '16)

Colorado .......:      175          135             
Iowa .............:        86           100             
Kansas ..........:      430           121              
Nebraska ......:      450           103             
Texas ............:      320            98         

2016 Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 81.2 percent of all cattle and calves on feed in the United States on January 1, 2017. This is comparable to the 80.4 percent on January 1, 2016.

Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2016 represented 87.1 percent of total cattle marketed from all feedlots in the United States, down slightly from 87.2 percent during 2015.

Nebraska Pork Producers Elect New Directors and Officers

Nebraska’s Pork industry gathered at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center in Lincoln for their Annual Meeting to address industry issues, recognize the Outstanding Pork Service Award winners, Allied Members and elect new directors and officers.

Russ Vering with Central Plains Milling in Howells was re-elected President for the Association. Darin Uhlir of St. Paul will serve as 1st Vice President, Tim Chancellor of Broken Bow assumed the position of 2nd Vice President, and Kevin Peterson of Osceola was elected to fill the 3rd Vice President position. Elected to his first two-year term as Director is Paul Segner of Friend. Alan Stephens of Elkhorn and Alesha Meyer of Diller were elected as alternate directors. 

John Csukker and Michael Luckey of Columbus, Stuart Spader of Waco, Darin Uhlir of St. Paul and Aaron Reichmuth of Humphrey were elected to serve another two-year term on the Board of Directors. Retiring from the Board of Directors was Aaron Kavan of York. 

The Annual Meeting began with Progress and Promise in the Pork Industry, a panel discussion     
on expanding the pork industry in Nebraska. Mike Brumm of Brumm Swine Consultancy located
in Mankato, Minnesota enlightened the audience with past, present and future trends in our
industry with a list of Brummism’s. Bill Davis, Senior Director for Congressional Relations with
the National Pork Producers Council shared issues, atmosphere, and developments from our
Nation’s Capital. A panel of Human Resource and Recruitment professionals reflected on
employee hiring and retention practices.

NPPA President Russ Vering recognized more than sixty industry Allied Members. He thanked
them for their financial support that allows NPPA to do continuing education, provide leadership
opportunities, assist with special projects and also for sharing their time and expertise.

2016 Outstanding Pork Service Award Winners and Hall of Fame Inductees Honored

Russ Vering, President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association recognized the 2016 Outstanding Pork Service Award winners at a ceremony held in conjunction with NePPA’s Annual Meeting. The Outstanding Pork Service Awards are given annually to recognize exceptional work by an individual, company, or organization that has advocated the fundamental efforts of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

Plaques were presented to each of the 2016 winners by NePPA President Vering. Acknowledging the National Pork Trailer and the exceptional individuals who travel with it, the Pork Service Award for Promotions was presented to Glen Roest and Jayne McCowell. Former Executive Director of AFAN, Willow Holoubek was recognized as the Producer Outreach award winner for her numerous speaking engagements on behalf of the pork industry. His positive voice and promotion of the Industry made Dave Harrington of St. Paul the obvious choice for Industry Outreach. Accepting the award for Outstanding Allied Member for Parks of Nebraska located in Humphrey was manager, Kevin Nolan.

Hall of Fame Inductees Terry O’Neel of Friend and Bruce Livingston of Fairbury were honored at the annual Ribs and Bibs, Salute to State Senators banquet. The guest speaker at the event was Governor Pete Ricketts.

Terry O’Neel of Friend was inducted into the Check-off Hall of Fame. For twenty-seven years Terry has been an active member of county, state and national committees and boards. Back in 1985 he joined the Saline County Pork Producers by, 1987 he was an officer, and by 1988 President. He went on to be a State Director from 2001 to 2009 and served as State President in 2007. He will begin term as National President in March of this year. “He takes great pride in his farrow to finish pork operation and shares his years of experience in the industry. Terry has earned and held the respect of fellow pork producers through his leadership and enthusiasm for the pork industry,” stated President Vering. 

Inducted into the Voluntary Check-Off Hall of Fame was Bruce Livingston of Fairbury. By the time Bruce has graduated from high school he owned a 150 sow farrow to finish operation. He turned it into a nationally recognized operation. With his early commitment to the hog business, a strong work ethic learned from his parents, and expansion always on the horizon, his sow number is 25,000 and growing. At the induction President Vering read, “In a recent article Bruce was quoted as saying, I could not wait for the weekends and summer breaks to arrive so I could work with pigs”, the scenario maybe a little different now days, but I’ll bet the sentiment is the same and the future of Livingston Enterprises is secure.”

NePPA Announces Participants in 2017 Pork Mentorship Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants of the 2017 Pork Mentorship Program. This year, six students will participate in the program, which has worked to further develop youth leaders through individual and group based learning experiences since 1999.

Participants in the 2017 Pork Mentorship Program are:

Catherine Jones of Omaha, is a junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication;

Cheyenne Gerlach of DeWitt, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural Economics;

Fina Choat of Saint Edward, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine;

Marissa Kegley of Kearney, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science;

Thomas Waldo of DeWitt, is a junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural Economics;

Vanessa Knutson of Palmyra, is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural Education with an option in teaching;

The 2017 Pork Mentorship Program is comprised of six members attending college at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with academic majors that represent a cross section of interests and disciplines within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Each year, participants in the Pork Mentorship Program participate in activities that encourage personal growth, career readiness, and develop leadership skills, while expanding their knowledge of the pork industry. Participants are also active in projects that encourage giving back to their community. Each of the participants will receive a $500 scholarship upon the successful completion of requirements throughout the year-long program.


The production of Iowa’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $14.9 billion in 2016, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values summary. This was a 5 percent increase from 2015.

The value of corn for grain production totaled $9.18 billion, up 4 percent from the previous year, and production was up 9 percent. Iowa’s corn price averaged $3.35 per bushel, a decrease of $0.17 from the last marketing year.

Up 9 percent from 2015, the value of soybean production was $5.34 billion, even though production was only up 3 percent. Average prices increased $0.49 from the previous year to $9.40 per bushel.

Value of production decreased in 2016 from 2015 for oats, alfalfa hay, other hay, and all forage. Value of production increased from the previous year for winter wheat.

'Working Together: Farmer and Lender Webinar’ provides tips to navigate 2017 and beyond

Good communication between farmers and their lenders has always been important, but the current agricultural economy makes the strength of that relationship critical to sustainability.  To help foster and grow farmer-banker relationships, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA) have partnered to present ‘Working Together: Farmer and Lender Webinar’ on Wednesday, March 8 at 1:00 p.m., as part of the IFBF Margin Management Webinar Series.  

The future outlook for the ag economy is foggy, and high production costs coupled with commodity volatility makes this a very challenging time for both farmers and lenders.  This collaborative IFBF webinar is designed to give tips to help navigate 2017 and plan for the future.

“Ultimately, lenders should be considered a strategic advisor for farmers, as they work to help the operation survive and thrive,” says Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. “We hope participants take the opportunity to pick up some tips on growing the relationship with their banker to truly maximize the resources and opportunities available.”

Kim Greenland, senior vice president of City State Bank and Mount Ayr branch manager, will speak about the communication between lender and farmer and the expectations lenders have.  Robert Hartwig, legal counsel and ag committee staff liaison with the Iowa Bankers Association, will also share his insights to help farmers understand challenges that lenders face.

“We are excited to partner with Farm Bureau to help assist Iowa farm producers with understanding lender expectations during this economic cycle.  IBA members are always focused on their customers’ success and the overall goal of building wealth in their farm operations, no matter what economic conditions persist,” said Bob Hartwig, IBA Legal Counsel.         

Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar.  Participants can register in advance or join the live webinar as a guest a few minutes prior to the 1:00 p.m. start time.

Dairy Beef Short Course Coupled with Dairy Expo

The third annual Dairy Beef Short Course will be offered March 28 at the Denny Sanford Premier and Convention Center, Sioux Falls.  This is a Pre-Welcome Reception Educational Events at the Central Plains Dairy Expo and is being hosted by the I-29 Moo University Collaboration.  Topics covered will include:

- Vaccination and Implant Protocols: Workshop will cover selecting the right vaccines and implants for your operation to improve herd health, optimize performance, and exceed customer expectations. Presented by Russ Daly, SDSU Extension Veterinarian.

- Managing Liver Abscesses in the VFD Age: Participants will learn about management strategies to minimize acidosis and liver abscess issues and comply with the VFD regulations. Presented by Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Specialist.

- Marketing Dairy Beef in 2017: This workshop will focus on issues surrounding marketing dairy beef, including market access, price discovery, increased red meat supply, and end product specifications. Presented by Brad Kooima, President Kooima & Kaemingk Commodities, Inc.

- Financial Management and Working with Lenders: This workshop will provide attendees with insight into what bankers are looking for as they work with cattle feeders. Presented by Dave Karnopp, Retail Commercial Lender/Beef Specialist - Farm Credit Services.

The Dairy Beef Short Course begins 10 a.m. with registration; program starts at 10:30 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m.  The agenda will allow for attendees to take in the evening entertainment at the Welcome Reception for the Central Plains Dairy Expo.

To cover costs, there will be a $25 registration fee which will include lunch. We would appreciate registrations by March 27th to insure a spot at the meeting, since attendance is limited to 80 people. Please contact the Watertown Regional Extension Office at 605-882-5140 or email to register. On-line registration will be available on the iGrow events page after Feb. 25.

In its 12th year of collaboration, I-29 Moo University has established a learning community which is a cooperative effort of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and Nebraska University Extension personnel along with the SW Minnesota Dairy Profit Initiative, Iowa State Dairy Association, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association, and the South Dakota Dairy Producers. The objective of various educational venues offered is to bring research-based information to stakeholders while helping to grow a sustainable agricultural industry.

Corn, Soybean, Wheat Crops Projected to Come Down, But Supplies Still High in 2017

In its early forecast for crop production, USDA's Outlook for crops lowers corn, soybean and wheat production for the 2017-18 crop year.

USDA pegs corn production at 14.065 billion bushels, 7% below a year ago with an average yield of 170.7 bushels per acre, down from last year's record yield of 174.6 bpa. USDA projects corn acreage at 90 million planted acres, down 4 million from 2016.

Despite USDA boosting soybean planted acres for this spring by 4.6 million acres to a record 88 million acres, USDA still lowers projected soybean production to 4.18 billion bushels, 3% lower than 2016 with an average yield of 48 bpa, down 4.1 bushels from 2016.

Wheat production is projected at 1.837 billion bushels, down 20% from last year with a yield expected at 47.1 bpa, down 10% from last year. Planted wheat acres are projected at 46 million, down 4.6 million from last year.

The USDA Outlook is the department's first major forecast of the 2017-18 marketing year, which will be updated in the March 31 prospective plantings report.

Expect Growth in Beef, Hog and Poultry Production

Is there such a thing as too much meat? Maybe, according to the USDA World Agricultural Board.

In an initial 2017 outlook comments for the beef, pork, and poultry industry, USDA cited 2016 as a record year for meat production in the U.S., which could weigh down markets as production continues to climb in 2017 and the U.S. beef herd enters its fourth year of expansion.

No single sector of the meat production industry set records, but together, beef, pork, broilers and turkey all increased production 3.1% from 2015 to a record 97.6 billion pounds in 2016. And 2017 may set more records, namely for red meat and poultry production, which are expected to increase more than 3% and surpass 100 billion pounds for the first time ever.

These soaring production levels will have the expected depressing effect on prices, USDA added. The board predicted lower prices for cattle, hogs and turkeys in 2017. Broiler prices are expected to make only "fractional" gains in the coming year.

As a result of lower prices, exports are expected to improve slightly, but the strong U.S. dollar and continued modest economic global growth will likely hamper any significant export gains.


Michael Springer, a third-generation crop and hog farmer from southeastern Kansas, Thursday testified on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council on the 2018 Farm Bill at a field hearing held by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Among other provisions, NPPC wants lawmakers to include in the next Farm Bill:
-    Authorization and funding for an FMD vaccine bank.
-    Funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which conducts diagnostics on animal diseases, and for grants to states for disease surveillance.
-    An increase in funding for agricultural research to ensure that the U.S. livestock industry maintains its competitiveness in the global marketplace.
-    Funding levels that sustain the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, which support U.S. exports.
-    Funding levels maintained for conservation programs.

In written testimony presented to the committee, which held its first in a series of field hearings at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., NPPC urged Congress and the Trump administration to pursue in the 2018 Farm Bill “policies and regulations that support the U.S. pork industry rather than hinder its ability to continue producing safe, lean and nutritious pork and pork products for the global marketplace.”


More than 500 agricultural, conservation, food and nutrition-assistance organizations, including the National Pork Producers Council and 13 state pork producer associations, urged Senate and House lawmakers on the budget and on the appropriations committees to reject cuts to farm and feeding programs included in the next Farm Bill. The groups pointed out in a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the committees that the 2014 Farm Bill included significant cuts, which were estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. The cuts, they said, resulted from “hard choices” made to reform and reduce the farm safety net, conservation initiatives and nutrition assistance.

“With the agriculture and rural economy struggling, households across the country struggling to meet their basic needs for nutrition, and farm income down 46 percent from only three years ago, it would be perilous to hinder development and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill with further cuts,” said the organizations.

NGFA supports STB proposal requiring railroads to make information available online

The NGFA supported the Surface Transportation Board's (STB) proposal to require Class I railroads to post and make available common carrier tariff rates and service terms for agricultural products and fertilizer on their respective websites in a statement submitted to the agency on Feb. 21.

The STB proposed the rule to update its 20-year-old regulations to reflect the fact that Class I railroads have begun making common carrier tariff rates and service terms available on their websites, rather than in paper form. Such information is required to be made available under the Interstate Commerce Termination Act of 1995. Agricultural transportation represents the largest users of common-carrier (non-contract) rail service, with grain representing approximately one-third of all common-carrier movements.

The NGFA strongly supported the STB's proposal that such information needs to be made available to all persons, not just the customers or prospective customers of the given railroad, and urged the agency to refine its proposal to prohibit current impediments to accessing such information that exist on some carriers' websites. The NGFA's statement noted that some carriers currently erect barriers to accessing tariff rates and service terms through cumbersome and time-consuming registration requirements or password-protection requirements that preclude the public from accessing such information.

"The STB should make it abundantly clear in its final regulations that such registration features must provide for immediate and unrestricted access to any person - not just current or potential customers - of all tariff rates, pricing information and all applicable service terms and conditions for agricultural commodities and fertilizer," as required under federal law.

In addition, the NGFA statement urged the STB to require that Class II and III railroads, if they voluntarily decide to provide tariff and service terms on their websites, do so under the same rules for transparency, accessibility and format usability as required of Class I railroads.

The NGFA statement also commended the STB for issuing a clarifying policy statement contained in the same proposed rulemaking document that would allow farmers, agricultural producers and state attorneys general (on behalf of farmers or shippers) to be potentially eligible to be granted standing to bring a rate challenge - and to aggregate their rate claims - at the STB, even though they have not been directly harmed and/or are not direct payers of rail freight. The NGFA concurred with the STB that current law expressly allows grain producers and other indirectly harmed parties to challenge unreasonable freight rates by filing complaints before the agency.

Case IH Celebrates 175 Years

Case IH is beginning a year of celebrations to commemorate its 175th anniversary at its global headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin. It was there, on the shores of the Root River, that founder Jerome Increase Case established Racine Threshing Machine Works to produce a revolutionary machine to speed up the separation of grain after harvest.

"I find it amazing to see just how far the farming industry and our company have come during the last 175 years, especially given the fact that we are stronger today than ever before," Case IH President Andreas Klauser said.

He added that the common theme that has always guided by innovative approach to provide customers with ever-improving technologies that enable them to farm more efficiently and profitably.

The company's beginnings are closely linked with those of the American economy, as pioneers moved West and new farms were established to feed the growing population centers in the East. In 1869, Case went on to manufacture the first steam engine tractor, which, although wheel-mounted, was drawn by horses and used only to power other machines.

In 1876, Case built the first self-propelled traction steam engine. As steam engines quickly replaced horses for threshing, the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company became the world's largest producer of steam engines by 1886.

In 1902, five companies merged to form the International Harvester Company in Chicago, the deal being brokered, personally, by J.P. Morgan, the American banker who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation at the time. The company produced its first combine harvester in 1915 and, in 1923, introduced the Farmall®, the world's first row crop tractor.

Providing greater productivity, reliability and safety, it was a revolutionary unified system of tractors and implements for plowing, cultivating and harvesting. International Harvester sold more than 5 million Farmall tractors and, in 1977, launched the unique single-rotor Axial-Flow® rotary combine, which revolutionized the farming industry with its simplicity, grain quality, grain savings, crop adaptability, matched capacity and high resale value. Axial-Flow combines still set the standard for harvesting performance today.

Case IH was formed in 1985 when J.I. Case acquired the agricultural division of International Harvester, uniting the legacies of Case and IH in a single brand. Its first product, the Magnum™ tractor with horsepower ranging from 160 to 240 horsepower, was introduced in 1987 and became the first tractor to win the Industrial Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America. Now producing up to 380 horsepower, the Magnum tractor continues to be one of the most recognizable Case IH products, and more than 150,000 have been sold.

Thursday February 23 Ag News

Nebraska Farmers Union Strongly Opposes Efforts to Dismantle Nebraska’s Unique Public Power System

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) testified in strong opposition to LB547 brought by Senator Dan Watermeier before the Natural Resources Committee today.  NeFU also strongly opposed LB657 and LB660 brought by Senator Justin Wayne heard by the Natural Resources Committee February 16th.

NeFU President John Hansen described the three bills as a package of bills brought to Senators Wayne and Watermeier by private sector special interests designed to unbundle and deconstruct Nebraska’s reliable, efficient, low cost, public power system.  “While describing their private approach as consumer choice, they are in reality undermining our public owned and controlled system of electrical utilities.  As owners and voters, we vote for the boards that control our public utilities. Replacing a phony choice for real control is a very bad horse trade.  The benefits of ownership and control far outweigh and offset any claimed benefits by out of state business interests,” said NeFU President John Hansen.

Hansen noted that the data clearly shows that all classes of Nebraska electric power users are not only getting reliable energy and first class service, they are paying less for their energy than most states, and less than states served by privately owned utilities with so-called consumer choice.  “The reason NeFU was such a strong advocate in the formation of our public power system was because rural Nebraska was literally left in the dark by the private sector.  Electrical services came to many rural communities in the late 1940’s, long after Omaha and Lincoln had electrical services.  While our public power system is an enormous asset to all Nebraskans, it is an even larger asset for rural Nebraska,” Hansen said.

“Our unique public power system is a kind of publicly owned cooperative.  Public power operates so well because our comprehensive system shares resources in times of need and works together to serve the overall interests of everyone in our state, both urban and rural users and owners.  When ice storms or tornadoes strike, our public power system helps their neighboring systems recover and restore services.  The good neighbor system we now have works very well, Hansen said.

“Our state’s unique public power system has operated so well for so long it is easy for us as owners of our own system to take its many benefits for granted.  We encourage all Nebraskans to contact members of the Natural Resources Committee to let them know that we still appreciate the advantages of our unique public power system, and urge them to oppose and indefinitely postpone (kill) LB657, LB660, and LB547,” Hansen said. 

Deere Opens Strategic Technology Office at ISU

Deere & Company has opened a strategic technology office in the Iowa State University Research Park, growing its on-campus presence in recognition of the world-class research, education, and talent development capabilities at Iowa State.

"We are delighted that John Deere is establishing a physical presence at the ISU Research Park," said Dr. Steven Leath, president, Iowa State University. "This is a significant step forward in creating a world-class research park and fortifying our university-industry partnership model to promote top talent and innovation."

Teams working at the Deere ISU location will focus on developing integrated solutions for John Deere's Agriculture & Turf and Construction & Forestry Divisions. One key area of concentration will be in precision agriculture technology.

The office will allow John Deere to leverage the work of ISU students and its research and to develop a talent pipeline in support of the company's business objectives.

"Working with Iowa State University helps John Deere continue its leadership in precision agriculture and many other areas of technology that are important to our customers," said John May, Deere's president of agricultural solutions and its chief information officer. "This new office at ISU will conduct groundbreaking research, engage future leaders of our industry, and will add to the extensive innovation and research capabilities that John Deere has invested in around the world," May added.

Deere's strategic technology office at ISU will collaborate with the company's business units to complement John Deere's global network of technology and innovation centers. This effort expands Deere's recent work with ISU that has included funding some activities at the university's research farm.

The Iowa State University Research Park offers corporate partners a unique model for leveraging the strong capabilities of the university and its students.

West Central Iowa Leads in Corn Production

The West Central District was Iowa's largest corn producing district in 2016 with 419 million bushels according to estimates released by the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. The Central District was 3.75 million bushels behind the West Central District.

Kossuth County was the largest corn producing county with 68.4 million bushels produced. Pottawattamie, Crawford, Webster and Sioux rounded out the top five. Other counties producing more than 40 million bushels were Hamilton, Franklin, Woodbury, Plymouth, Hardin, Benton and Clinton.

Cherokee led all counties with an average of 219.7 bushels per acre. Ida, Scott, Shelby, and Cedar counties rounded out the top five with yields over 215 bushels. Sixty of the 99 counties surpassed the 200 bushel mark in 2016.

Plymouth Leads Soybean Output at 13 Million Bushels

In 2016, four Iowa counties produced over 10 million bushels of soybeans, led by Plymouth County, with 13.0 million bushels according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Kossuth (12.8 million), Pottawattamie (11.1 million), and Sioux (10.1 million) also topped the 10 million bushel threshold. Woodbury (9.9 million) rounded out the top 5.

Soybean yields were highest in the northern two-thirds of the state, where all the districts averaged over 60 bushels per acre. The Northwest District produced the highest district average yield at 63.2 bushels per acre.

Statewide, one county (Cherokee) broke the 70 bushel per acre barrier with an average of 70.1 bushels per acre. Forty-eight other counties averaged over 60 bushels per acre. Ida (68.1), Plymouth and Lyon (66.7), and Sioux (66.4) counties rounded out the top 5. No county recorded an average yield less than 50 bushels per acre. Clarke County, at 50.3 bushels per acre, had the lowest yield in the State.

USDA Livestock Slaughter Report:  Record Low Veal Production for January

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.29 billion pounds in January, up 6 percent from the 4.06 billion pounds produced in January 2016.

By State:   (million lbs - % of Jan 2016)

Nebraska .......:     660.1            103      
Iowa ..............:     591.4            101      
Kansas ...........:     453.2            108      

Beef production, at 2.12 billion pounds, was 8 percent above the previous year.  Cattle slaughter totaled 2.58 million head, up 9 percent from January 2016.  The average live weight was down 11 pounds from the previous year, at 1,370 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.3 million pounds, 5 percent below January a year ago.  Calf slaughter totaled 46,600 head, 12 percent above January 2016.  The average live weight was down 39 pounds from last year, at 235 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.15 billion pounds, 3 percent above the previous year.  Hog slaughter totaled 10.1 million head, 4 percent above January 2016.  The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 284 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.3 million pounds, was 9 percent above January 2016.  Sheep slaughter totaled 177,000 head, 10 percent above last year.  The average live weight was 138 pounds, down 1 pound from January a year ago.

USDA Cold Storage January 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on January 31, 2017 were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 9 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 5 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 11 percent from the previous month but down 16 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 22 percent from last month and down 77 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on January 31, 2017 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up slightly from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 4 percent from the previous month and down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 22 percent from last month and up 17 percent from January 31, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on January 31, 2017 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from January 31, 2016.  Butter stocks were up 34 percent from last month and up 16 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 24 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month but up 4 percent from a year ago.

USDA Forecasts Higher Soy, Lower Corn Acres

USDA projects soybean acres will grow to 88 million acres planted this spring, up 4.6 million acres from last year, while corn planting will be 90 million acres, down 4 million from last year.

In a broader perspective, USDA projects farmers will have high overall production, slightly lower overall acres and higher exports. Still, USDA forecasts lower overall income for farmers in 2017. That was the first major forecast from the USDA Outlook Forum on Thursday by USDA Chief Economist Bob Johansson.

Corn acreage will decline by 4 million acres even though corn prices will increase slightly to an average of $3.50 per bushel, up about 3% from the 2016-17 marketing year.

Soybeans will see an average price of $9.60 per bushel for the 2017-18 marketing year, up roughly 1.1% from the current marketing year. Still, soybean acres will gain on corn because the price ratio for soybeans is projected at 2.6 times that of corn, based on the February futures prices. If the numbers hold through the rest of the month, they will be the most favorable price spread between soybeans and corn since 1997, Johansson said.

At 88 million acres, soybean planting will be 5.5% higher than 2016 and will ensure another record acreage for the soybean crop this year.

Wheat acres are projected to fall to 46 million acres, down 8.3% from last year. All-wheat acres are continuing to decline, which will help boost the average wheat price, projected at $4.30 per bushel, up 12% from the current marketing year.

Overall total acres for the eight major commodity crops are projected at 249.8 million acres, down 1.4% from the 2016-17 marketing year.

IGC Sees 2016-17 Global Grain Output at Over 2.1B Tons

The International Grains Council said Thursday it expects global grain production to top 2.1 billion metric tons for the first time as it raised its production forecast amid favorable weather.

The IGC increased its monthly output forecast for 2016-17 to 2.102 million tons from 2.094 million tons, which would be a 5% increase year-over-year.

Forecasts of giant harvests in many grain-growing regions have led the IGC to raise its production forecast in nine of its last 10 reports.

"Australia accounts for much of this month's adjustment, including record harvests of wheat and barley, while prospects for maize (corn) improved in South America," the IGC said.

The IGC upgraded its corn production forecast to 1.049 billion tons from 1.045 billion tons and its soybean forecast by 2 million tons to 336 million tons. It left its wheat production forecast of 752 million tons and its rice forecast of 482 million tons unchanged.

It said the upward revision in expected production will be nearly matched by a corresponding hike in its consumption forecast. As a result, its forecast for year-end global grain inventories was raised by just 1 million tons to 508 million tons.

Looking further ahead, the IGC said growing conditions for 2017-18 winter crops that have already been planted in the northern hemisphere "remained mostly favorable."

Farm Credit Reports Year-End Financials

The Farm Credit System reported combined net income of $4.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, as compared with $4.7 billion for the prior year. The system also reported combined net income of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2016, as compared with $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015.

"The System continues to execute its mission of lending to rural America despite headwinds arising from low prices for certain commodities," remarked Tracey McCabe, President and CEO of the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation. "Credit quality remains solid and System institutions remain well capitalized."

Combined net income increased $160 million or 3.4% for the year ended December 31, 2016, as compared with the prior year. The increase resulted primarily from an increase in net interest income of $432 million and a decrease in the provision for income taxes of $22 million, partially offset by increases in the provision for loan losses of $160 million and noninterest expense of $99 million and a decrease in noninterest income of $35 million. Net interest income increased 6.2% to $7.4 billion for 2016, as compared with $7.0 billion for the prior year.

The increase in net interest income resulted from a higher level of average earning assets, partially offset by a lower net interest spread. Average earning assets grew $24.7 billion or 9.0% to $299.6 billion for 2016, as compared with the prior year. Net interest margin decreased six basis points to 2.49% for 2016, as compared with 2.55% for 2015. The decline in the net interest margin was due to a decrease in the net interest spread of nine basis points to 2.31% for 2016, as compared with 2.40% for 2015.

Heinen Puts Soybean Farm Bill Roadmap on Record at Senate Ag Field Hearing

The American Soybean Association (ASA) laid out its initial approach to the upcoming farm bill negotiations in a hearing today before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in Manhattan, Kan.

Testifying on behalf of ASA, Lucas Heinen, who farms in Everest, Kan., and serves as the president of the Kansas Soybean Association, pointed to the state of the farm economy as the most compelling signal of the need for a robust risk management framework in the farm bill. Citing falling prices for soybeans and the reduced cost of the 2014 Farm Bill as compared to original estimates, Heinen noted that ASA will push to fund farm bill programs to the level needed to adequately address each program’s needs, even if that means increasing funding.

“I understand that the conventional view in Washington is that the cost of farm programs and other parts of the farm bill will need to be reduced again, just as they were in the 2014 farm bill. This is not acceptable to producers,” said Heinen.

Heinen continued by detailing four key areas in which soybean growers will seek to make headway in the farm bill negotiations, including a strengthening of crop insurance and a continuation of the Agriculture Revenue Coverage option decoupled from planted acreage and with a shift to the use of yield data from USDA’s Risk Management Agency, as well as support for current conservation programs, including EQIP and the Conservation Stewardship Program, agricultural research, and Energy Title programs focused on biodiesel and biobased products.

Heinen also underscored ASA’s commitment to increased funding for the development of export markets in the bill. “We strongly support doubling mandatory funding for the Foreign Market Development program and the Market Access Program to spur promotion of U.S. agricultural exports,” he said. “Funding for these programs has been frozen for over ten years while our foreign competitors are massively outspending us on market promotion.”

Closing his testimony, Heinen repeated ASA’s call to maintain the traditional relationship between producer- and consumer-focused programs in the next bill. “There is a relationship between the need to provide assistance to those who produce food and those who consume it, when either needs that assistance,” he said. “This bond explains how Congress has been able to come together and enact farm bills for over 40 years.”

Kansas Dairy Farmer Lynda Foster Tells Senate Action is Needed to Address Dairy Safety Net, Other Important Ag Issues

Dairy farmers need Congress to make improvements in the dairy title of the farm bill this year, and not wait until 2018 when the current bill expires, according to testimony delivered here today by Kansas dairy farmer Lynda Foster.

In a field hearing Thursday on the campus of Kansas State University, Foster told members of the Senate Agriculture Committee that “dairy farmers deserve better” than the current Margin Protection Program (MPP), created in 2014 by Congress. “We need Congress to act swiftly this year and make the necessary changes in order for our industry to be able to protect ourselves from the bad year that could arrive at any time, even in years where experts are predicting higher margins.”

Foster is a third-generation dairy farmer and owner of Foster Dairy in Ft. Scott, Kansas. She testified on behalf of her cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, as well as the National Milk Producers Federation, of which DFA is a member. Her full testimony can be found here.

The MPP, designed to assist farmers during periods of distressed milk prices or high feed costs, has failed to provide the level of protection envisioned in its original form. This has resulted in decreased participation in the program and dissatisfaction among dairy farmers across the country, Foster said.

“All we are seeking is a program that provides a safety net for dairy farmers when they need it most – something that delivers on the risk management promises dairy leaders and Congress committed to,” said Foster. “In order to do that, we must make adjustments to the program.”

In her remarks, Foster highlighted NMPF’s current effort to change the MPP. One of these changes includes restoring the formula for calculating feed costs to the one developed by National Milk in 2014. After NMPF worked to develop a model to reflect average feed costs for dairy cows, Congress subsequently cut that formula by 10 percent because of what turned out to be inaccurate projections by the Congressional Budget Office on program costs. This error resulted in a flawed calculation of dairy margins, and a much less useful program, Foster said.

Foster also discussed the critical need for proactive policies to help address farm labor demands. Citing a 2015 report prepared by NMPF and Texas A&M University, Foster said 51 percent of all dairy farm workers are foreign-born, and losing that labor would be devastating to the entire dairy industry, from farm to grocery store shelf. It’s why, Foster said, DFA and National Milk are urging Congress to address immigration reform “in a way that addresses agriculture’s needs for a legal and stable workforce.”

What has also changed considerably over the last decade is trade’s impact on dairy, said Foster. The industry went from $1 billion in exports in 2000 to $7.1 billion in 2014. Knowing the impact future trade policies could have on the health of the dairy industry, she said, it’s imperative that the United States protects the progress it has made when negotiating future agreements, or reassessing existing ones like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Foster also thanked the committee for their work on child nutrition programs. Milk has been a key component in school meals for decades, Foster said, but consumption has decreased because children are limited in their drink options. Foster encouraged the Senate to pursue policies that would expand milk offerings in the school lunch program.

Commodity Classic Education Showcases Mississippi Watershed Collaboration

Sharing knowledge is key to the Commodity Classic experience, and this year's attendees will have an opportunity to discover what efforts are being undertaken to address water management challenges within the Mississippi River Watershed. Harald (Jordy) Jordahl, Director of America's Watershed Initiative (AWI) will lead a discussion of private sector partners who are working together to craft meaningful improvements that look at the social, economic and environmental stability of the Mississippi River and its major tributaries.

"The demands on the Mississippi River watershed are growing due to increasing demands for water and productivity, crumbling infrastructure, habitat loss and the expansion of the hypoxic 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico," said Jordahl. "But finding solutions to these challenges is even tougher because the watershed includes parts of 31 states and thousands of local governments and agencies. Any improvements to America's watershed will require different groups and users - both private and public - to work together." The discussion will focus on the collaboration to promote innovation and best practices, direct investments aimed at developing a 'New Watershed Economy,' and efforts to raise the grade of the Mississippi River Watershed Report Card by 2020. Jordahl will be joined by Max Starbuck from the NCGA and Larry Clemens, Agriculture Program Director for The Nature Conservancy.

This Learning Center Session takes place March 3 from 1:45 - 2:45 p.m. room 214 AB at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Soy Growers Urge President Trump to Require Establishment of Under Secretary of Trade, Foreign Ag Affairs

Soy growers are urging President Donald Trump to support the provision contained in the 2014 Farm Bill requiring the U.S. Trade Secretary to establish an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

The American Soybean Association (ASA), along with other agriculture groups sent a letter to Trump this week, emphasizing the importance of international trade to the U.S. economy and highlighting how the Under Secretary would help bring unified high level representation to key trade negotiations with senior, foreign officials and within the Executive Branch.

“Trade currently accounts for more than 25 percent of U.S. farm receipts, and the production from one out of every three acres planted is exported. Our vast and efficient export system, including handling, processing and distribution of our food and agriculture products, creates millions of U.S. jobs and helps feed hundreds of millions all over the globe,” the groups state in the letter. “Our $17 billion net trade balance in agriculture and food products in 2016 represented the single largest contribution to our balance of payments.”

But the groups said despite the success, the trade structure has remained the same since its last reorganization in the ‘70s at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The U.S. agriculture and food industry is ideally positioned to experience significant growth in the decades ahead given projected population growth of an additional 2.5 billion people by 2050. Yet with these opportunities will also come significant changes to keep existing foreign markets open and gain access to new emerging markets for U.S. farm and food products,” the groups state.

The ag groups added the creation of this Under Secretary position would help modernize USDA’s trade structure and streamline management.

“We believe it is vitally important for U.S. agriculture to fully capitalize on the long-term, increased global demand for farm and food products in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Overseas markets represent 73 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 87 percent of the economic growth, and 95 percent of the world’s customers,” they said. “We can take a major step towards that goal by ensuring that the trade structure at USDA is effectively positioned to address the trade challenges and enormous opportunities that await us in the decades ahead.”

Sorghum Becoming Smart Choice for Peruvian Importers

Peruvian livestock may soon feast on U.S. sorghum, thanks to work last week by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to detail the economic and nutrition advantages of the crop during a conference in Lima.

From a trade perspective, Peruvian importers can purchase U.S. sorghum without an import tariff, per the existing free trade agreement between the United States and Peru, an immediate advantage against corn of any origin.

In addition, U.S. sorghum has little or no tannins, a purposeful plant breeding shift that maximizes the nutrient digestibility of sorghum in livestock and provides a considerable advantage over sorghum from competitors like Argentina and Brazil.

U.S. sorghum also is less susceptible to breakage, contains fewer mycotoxins and has a longer shelf life in hot and humid conditions. As a result, sorghum is a cost effective addition to rations for broiler chickens and laying hens, requiring only slight dietary adjustments that do not increase cost.

During a recent conference, a similar event last year and visits to key decision makers during the summer, Dr. Carlos López, nutritionist and professor at the Autonomous University of Mexico, explained how to adjust the formulation of poultry diets to take full advantage of the nutritional qualities of sorghum.

For example, high tannins reduce the nutritional advantages of sorghum for livestock, so López scientifically demonstrated decades of performance feeding animals tannin-free sorghum varieties planted in the United States, breaking down a strong misconception based on unfavorable results decades ago.

With all these factors combined, USGC staff and consultants estimate the Peruvian poultry industry would reduce input costs by an estimated $10 million if buyers there shifted 30 percent of feed consumption to U.S. sorghum.

“In Peru, previous experiences with high-tannin varieties created a huge barrier,” said Luis Bustamante, USGC marketing specialist for the Western Hemisphere. “Attendees realized Peru has great opportunities to use sorghum and that it is a smart supply decision for the poultry companies of Peru that aspire to form a world-class industry.”

Meeting attendees represented 95 percent of the Peruvian poultry industry as well as representatives from universities, trade, dairy and swine industries. This wide participation showed the strong interest in the grain among local buyers and end-users.

“We received very positive feedback from potential importers on their intention to buy sorghum,” said Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade. “Local traders informed us that they are receiving requests for quotes for the product in a regular basis.”

New study of antibiotic use on farms and antibiotic resistant Salmonella pathogens shows the need for more robust farm to fork research

A team of interdisciplinary scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Charleston VA Medical Center Research Service recently reviewed published literature for evidence of a relationship between antibiotic use in agricultural animals and drug-resistant foodborne Salmonella infections in humans, commonly known as salmonellosis. According to the 2013 CDC Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report, two of the eighteen pathogens that are of concern in the United States may have a direct link to agriculture — one of them being Salmonella.

Foodborne illness from both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella is estimated to sicken 1.2 million Americans annually (CDC, 2013). The study — conducted by veterinary and nutrition scientists and an infectious disease physician — reviewed 104 articles in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Scotland and Ireland over the past five years and has been published in [volume 57, issue 3] of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Animals included in the reviewed studies were chicken, turkeys, pigs, beef cattle, and dairy cows.

The overall prevalence of Salmonella and drug-resistance found in the systematic review aligns with recent National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) reports. The 2013 NARMS report showed that 81% of the Salmonella from human infections carried no resistance to any antibiotic, while Salmonella resistance rates in animals vary by the antibiotic tested. The findings of this systematic review did lead the team to important concerns about Salmonella and demonstrated that more research in this area is needed. For example, six articles showed increased antibiotic resistance in organisms derived from animals, not retail meats, used in conventional farming, versus those from antibiotic-free operations. No studies were found that followed animal-associated antibiotic resistant isolates from farm to retail products.

Lead scientist Kristi Helke, D.V.M., Ph.D. remarked, "While there were some studies worth noting in our review, it is most apparent that there is a greater need for a more robust data collection system and heightened publication expectations in the U.S. for transparency in antibiotic usage in both animals and humans. There is still much more research to be done. The agriculture and health care industries must work hand-in-hand with the scientific community, government regulatory agencies and human health community in order to ensure safe, humane, and affordable food sources to the public."

Richard A. Carnevale, V.M.D., Vice President for Regulatory, Scientific and International Affairs at the Animal Health Institute (AHI), who funded the study said, "On January 1, the agriculture community took an important step in promoting the effectiveness of antibiotics by being in full compliance with new FDA mandates—Guidance 209 and 213—which eliminates the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion purposes and requires approval by a licensed veterinarian for all remaining uses in feed through the veterinary feed directive. The proper public health focus—in both humans and animals—should be on using antibiotics only when necessary to fight disease. We support this research and more research like it to promote a positive impact on public health."

Principal investigator on the study, Bernadette Marriott, Ph.D., stated, "Our research results underscore the need for both veterinarians and physicians to work together as we advance toward solutions to concerns about antibiotic resistance."

Syngenta identifies key strategies to fight weed resistance  

As corn and soybean growers deal with an expanding and intensifying threat of resistant weeds, Syngenta is recommending strategies for managing weeds that begin early in the season. 

“Pigweeds have greatly affected our herbicide choices,” said Philip Nelson, a corn grower in Windom, Kansas. “In fact, we now apply herbicides ahead of time to keep the weeds from growing. It’s getting really hard to kill a pigweed at any stage of growth, but you can still kill the sprout and keep it from becoming a problem.”

As growers adopt more sustainable tillage programs and weed resistance to different modes of action expands, the importance of applying the right herbicide at the right time can't be overstated. Overusing the same herbicides without a programmed approach can lead to resistance. 

“It’s important for growers to always monitor their weed-management practices, because subtle weed escapes in a field can be a signal that there may be resistant weeds emerging,” said Dane Bowers, Syngenta herbicide technical product lead.

According to Bowers, if growers notice weeds surviving in fields, even in small numbers, they should consider changes in their management plan to help stop resistance in its tracks. 

“We have been on a herbicide resistance merry-go-round,” Bowers said. “We hop on one horse, or chemistry, and ride it until we wear it out, then we select another horse for the next ride. It is time to step off the merry-go-round and develop resistance-management strategies.”

To avoid getting caught in a cycle of resistance, growers can turn to pre-emergence applications of powerhouse combination technologies, like Acuron® and Acuron® Flexi herbicides for corn and BroadAxe® XC and Boundary® 6.5 EC herbicides for soybeans. These herbicides contain multiple effective modes of action and active ingredients that work together to control tough weeds before they emerge. 

“Using tank-mix partners or premixes with multiple effective modes of action in each application during the growing season can help reduce the selection pressure caused by using a single mode,” said Bowers, who also encourages growers to use residual herbicides whenever possible to help keep their fields clean all season long. 

Syngenta has developed Resistance Fighter® to help growers effectively manage resistant weeds through education, local recommendations and a strong portfolio of herbicides. Syngenta also recommends the following strategies to fight weed resistance: 

•        Start with clean fields. Help control emerged weeds before planting by applying a burndown herbicide plus a pre-emergence residual herbicide.

•        Employ crop rotation. This practice will extend the range of available herbicides and agronomic practices.

•        Rotate herbicide-tolerant traits. Alternate herbicide-tolerant traits or use herbicidetolerant trait stacks for more efficient rotation. This approach enables growers to rotate their herbicide applications and reduce selection pressure on resistant biotypes.

•        Always apply herbicides at the full, labeled rate and correct growth stage.  This ensures the most effective control of weeds in fields.

•        Prevent weed escapes from producing seed. Consider spot herbicide applications, hand removal of weeds or other techniques to stop weed-seed production.  

•        Do not tolerate any weeds in the soil bank. Not allowing surviving weeds to set seed will help decrease annual weed populations and prevent major weed shifts. 

•        Clean equipment. Always clean tillage, seeding and harvest equipment when leaving fields that are infested with herbicide-resistant weeds.

•        Utilize good agronomic practices. Consider narrow rows, increased plant populations and other practices that promote crop growth and competitive ability.

Wednesday February 22 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Celebrates Its Centennial; 100 Years of Representing Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural dignitaries from across the state will help honor the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) in a year-long celebration. A new centennial web page is launched and Governor Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation to recognize Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 100 years and its ability to unite thousands of Nebraska farm and ranch families under a common banner—doing together what they can’t do alone.

“100 years of engagement, 100 years of passion for Nebraska agriculture, and 100 years of representing Nebraska farmers and ranchers, the very people who grow our food, fuel, and fiber. It is not very often that an organization can say they have reached this milestone. I am very excited about our yearlong centennial celebration,” said Steve Nelson, NFBF president Feb. 14.

As part of honoring the past, renowned Nebraska sculptor Sondra L. Johnson, of Cambridge, will create a cast bronze bas-relief sculpture to mark the centennial. The sculpture, in the shape of the State of Nebraska, includes the many landscapes and crops found across the state. Looking to the future, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation announced the Cornerstone Campaign. “Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future” is the theme of the fundraising campaign to provide a financial foundation for its programs that promote an understanding of and appreciation for Nebraska agriculture.

“Through our new Foundation, we will equip the next generation of Nebraskans for careers, leadership positions, and consumer roles that intersect with agriculture,” said Nelson. “Foundation programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, student scholarships, and leadership development are an investment in the continued success of agriculture and all of Nebraska.”

The cast bronze centennial sculpture and corresponding Cornerstone Campaign donor recognition wall will be installed at the Nebraska Farm Bureau state office in Lincoln. An unveiling is planned for March 30, 2017.

Throughout this centennial year, Nebraska Farm Bureau will hold other statewide events including events for members in Western Nebraska, to be held in Scottsbluff June 8, Northeast Nebraska in Norfolk Aug. 8, and a tailgate will be held prior to the Sept. 22, Nebraska Husker football game against Rutgers in Lincoln. You can find out more about the celebration at our website

“As part of our centennial, Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to look ahead to the next century of possibilities, especially for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Helping them get excited about agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau is vital to strengthening the future of our organization and Nebraska agriculture,” Nelson said.


The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) brings together high school juniors and seniors from around the state to explore the ag industry, discover potential ag-related careers and strengthen their appreciation for agriculture. Applications for this year’s NAYI are now available from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). Current high school juniors and seniors interested in attending this summer’s program in Lincoln have until April 15th to apply.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s largest industry with an abundance of potential for future career opportunities,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “NAYI provides students time to network with current and future ag leaders, learn more about the agricultural industry and discover the many agricultural career paths available to them in the future.”

NAYI is a five-day summer program for current high school juniors and seniors. The Institute will be held July 10-14, 2017, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. NAYI features motivational speakers, discussion on agricultural issues and opportunities, a computer-simulated farm management game, a formal banquet and awards presentation and a street dance. Celebrating 46 years this year, NAYI is the longest running ag youth program of its kind in the nation.

NAYI is coordinated by the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC), which is comprised of 21 college-aged students selected by NDA for their passion and interest in the ag industry. The Council’s purpose is to provide young Nebraskans with a better understanding of agriculture, including agricultural opportunities available to today’s youth. 

NDA selects students to attend NAYI based on their leadership skills, interest and involvement in agriculture. Applications are available online at or by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 402-471-6859.

“It’s remarkable to think of the impact this program has had on the Nebraska agriculture community,” Ibach said. “NAYI is what the future of our industry looks like. If you know a current high school junior or senior interested in agriculture, encourage him or her to apply to NAYI before the April 15th deadline. ”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               I’m worried.  I’m worried that winter will return.  And when that happens, what will it do to our alfalfa fields?

               Alfalfa usually is a dependable crop.  It seems to come back year after year.  After the nice winters.  After the cold winters.  And even after the ugly winters.  But what about this winter.

               I’m not very good at predictions.  So I’m not going to tell you that your alfalfa will be fine this spring nor will I predict that it winterkilled.  But I will suggest that you check it extra closely this spring to judge how well it made it through this winter.

               The recent long spell of daytime temperatures in the 50s, 60s, and even some 70s probably awakened at least some alfalfa plants from winter dormancy.  When alfalfa plants break winter dormancy they use nutrients stored in their roots and crown and start to grow as if spring has arrived.  A return to average winter temperatures forces these plants back into dormancy.  Another streak of warm weather could break dormancy again, using more nutrient reserves.  If this is followed by more cold weather, eventually the alfalfa plants will exhaust their reserves and be unable to start spring growth when spring truly does return.

               Another potential problem in other areas has been snow followed by melting followed by freezing.  Prolonged or repeated formation of ice at or on the soil surface can prevent the exchange of gases between the air and the soil.  As alfalfa roots respire during winter they produce some gases that can become toxic to alfalfa plants if too concentrated.  The roots also need some oxygen to respire and remain healthy.  So ice can cause plants to essentially suffocate.

               It’s impossible to predict if alfalfa will be hurt this winter.  Since weather conditions have been risky, be ready to check your fields and make any necessary adjustments early.

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman will Screen at Commodity Classic

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, fresh from its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, will preview at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas before it airs worldwide on Discovery Channel in August. The Discovery Impact film weaves together the stories of a Montana rancher, two Kansas farmers and a handful of Gulf fishermen who feed the world while stewarding the land and water they work. Based on a book by the same name, the documentary is a tribute to the unsung conservation heroes of America’s heartland.

“The men and women profiled in the book and film work tirelessly to protect America’s natural resources, make their operations more productive and resilient and leave a legacy for their children. They don’t receive much credit for their conservation achievements, and we’re trying to change that,” said Miriam Horn of Environmental Defense Fund.

Horn authored Rancher, Farmer Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland, on which the film is based. NCGA and EDF will host an audience Q&A with Horn after the screening.

“Most farmers I know have spent a lifetime trying to do a better job of protecting the soil and water resources on their farms.  This love of the land and how to grow crops more sustainably is passed down in many cases for four generations or more,” said Brent Hostetler, National Corn Growers Association’s Sustainability Action Team chairman and a farmer from Plain City, Ohio.  “This project opens public dialogue to challenge traditional notions and show how modern farming and environmentalism can go hand in hand.”

The screening and audience discussion will be held in the Lila Cockrell Theatre during Commodity Classic’s Closing Learning Center Session on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 1:30–3:30 pm CDT. Anyone with a Commodity Classic badge may attend.

Most Retail Fertilizer Prices Higher

Retail fertilizer prices continued to increase the third week of February 2017, according to retail data tracked by DTN. This marks the fourth week in a row prices have moved higher.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier with four higher by a considerable amount.  UAN28 was 8% higher compared to last month while UAN32 was 7% more expensive, urea was 6% higher and anhydrous up 5%. UAN28 had an average price of $240/ton, UAN32 $276/ton, urea $357/ton and anhydrous $491/ton.  Three fertilizers were slightly higher than the previous month. MAP had an average price of $450/ton, potash $332/ton and 10-34-0 $440/ton.

DAP prices actually fell slightly for the month, with an average price of $432/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Five of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.  10-34-0 is 23% lower from a year ago while potash is 12% less expensive and anhydrous is 11% lower. Both DAP and MAP are 10% less expensive compared to year earlier.  UAN32 is now 9% lower, UAN28 is now 8% less expensive and urea is 3% lower compared to last year.

National Coalition Advocates for Investment in Rural Infrastructure

More than two hundred organizations from across the country wrote to President Donald J. Trump today encouraging him to prioritize rebuilding infrastructure in rural America.

“American agriculture truly feeds the world and creates millions of jobs for U.S. workers. Our nation’s ability to produce food and fiber and transport it efficiently across the globe is a critical factor in U.S. competitiveness internationally. Infrastructure that supports rural communities and links them to global markets has helped make the U.S. the unquestioned leader in agricultural production. Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens that leadership position,” the letter states.

The coalition went on to highlight the unique infrastructure needs in rural communities where populations are less dense and distance between communities creates challenges, calling on Trump to “provide leadership to ensure that rural America’s needs are addressed."

While a stronger transportation infrastructure will help American agriculture compete in an increasingly crowded global marketplace, the other infrastructure needs of rural communities differ from urban areas. The letter highlights the “critical needs” that “exist in providing clean water for rural families, expanding broadband to connect rural communities to the outside world, and enhancing the ability to supply affordable, reliable and secure power for the rural economy.”

The #RebuildRural organizations that signed the letter represent U.S. agricultural producers, rural businesses, rural communities and rural families.

Trump Reiterates Support for Renewable Fuels

In a letter sent Monday to National Ethanol Conference attendees, President Donald Trump reiterated his commitment to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"Rest assured that your president and this administration values the importance of renewable fuels to America's economy and to our energy independence. As I emphasized throughout my campaign, renewable fuels are essential to America's energy strategy," Trump wrote.

"As important as ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are to rural economies, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team... [will] identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit," Trump added.

"Thank you to President Trump for reaffirming your support for ethanol and the RFS," said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. "President Trump understands that the Renewable Fuel Standard is a critical economic driver for rural America. We look forward to working with him and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to maintain a strong RFS and promote American-grown, renewable ethanol."

New Economic Analysis Exposes Problems with Changing the Renewable Fuel Standard Point of Obligation

Growth Energy today released an expert economic analysis that identifies numerous problems associated with changing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) point of obligation. Growth Energy strongly supports EPA’s proposed denial to move the point of obligation.

“Changing the point of obligation would have a disastrous impact on the industry, retailers, and consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.

“Shifting the financial and administrative burden to retailers and fuel distributors would result in a logistical and regulatory nightmare. Hundreds – if not thousands – of new parties would suddenly be required to demonstrate compliance. This would require new rules, new staff, new infrastructure, and years of recalibrating a program that already works, not to mention potential delays with annual renewable volume obligations (RVO)s. Changing the point of obligation would dramatically expand the number of new obligated parties including fuel marketers, convenience stores, truck stops, trucking companies, railroads, and even consumer service companies like FedEx and UPS.”

The analysis, conducted by Edgeworth Economics, is part of the association’s detailed comments, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which were filed today. Growth Energy’s comments and the analysis detail how a shift in point of obligation would be detrimental to growing the renewable fuels marketplace and would ultimately undermine an energy policy that has cut oil imports and reduced transportation-related emissions. A change to the point of obligation would limit consumer fueling options and would increase costs for consumers by stifling competition among market participants.

The analysis’ key findings include the following:
·         Shifting the point of obligation would have no impact on the incentives to invest in biofuel infrastructure or increase blending of renewable fuels.
·         Renewable Identification Number (RIN) values represent neither windfalls for blenders nor out-of-pocket costs for refiners.
·         RIN markets are, for the most part, operating efficiently and competitively; moreover, a change in the point of obligation would have no beneficial impact on those conditions.
·         Changing the point of obligation would have no impact on fraud in the RIN markets.
·         The petitioners’ proposal would result in an increase in the number of obligated parties and an increase in the overall administrative burden of the RFS.

“The RFS point of obligation must be preserved to ensure that fuel retailers continue to have the incentive to make the investments necessary to deliver renewable fuels that provide consumers with better, cleaner, and more affordable choices at the pump,” Skor added.

Smithfield Foods Introduces Pure Farms™ Antibiotic-Free Product Line

Today, Smithfield Foods, Inc. announced the launch of an antibiotic-free line of fresh pork products under its Pure Farms™ brand. The Pure Farms™ product line meets the highest level of USDA standards with minimal processing and no antibiotics, steroids, hormones or artificial ingredients. The full line of products will be available in fresh pork cuts, ham cuts and packaged pork cuts such as breakfast sausage and bacon in both retail stores and food service beginning this month.

"The Pure Farms™ brand is ideal for families looking to enjoy the highest quality, antibiotic-free pork," said Ken Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. "We're proud to provide our customers and consumers with a broader range of products to meet a variety of needs and preferences, including antibiotic-free."

As the only company in the industry to report antibiotics usage since 2007, this new product line further affirms Smithfield's continued leadership of practices that uphold highest standards of transparency and strengthen consumer trust. Smithfield also recently refined its definition of ‘prevention' as related to antibiotics use in farm animals, providing a practical explanation to consumers and customers that offers greater clarity. These efforts are driven by an internal antibiotics task force, which supports Smithfield's commitment to industry-leading antibiotics initiatives.

"This new line from Pure Farms™ reflects Smithfield's continued commitment to meeting the needs of all consumers with good food that is made the right way," said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. "This commitment led to the creation of this new line and other bold steps we continue to take to ensure our products exceed our customers' and consumers' expectations."

Tuesday February 21 Ag News

Repealing The Death Tax
Senator Deb Fischer

Nebraska has a long, proud tradition of family owned businesses. Walk down any street, in any town in our beautiful state, and you’ll find them: the furniture store, the auto parts shop, the dry cleaner, the pharmacy. Like our family owned farms and ranches, each one of these businesses provides a valuable service to our people. Together, they make our communities stronger and more vibrant.

Building a family business is hard work. It demands passion, drive, and an unbounded willingness to work. It means long days and longer nights, the anxiety of meeting payroll, and the pressure of performing well. It is also profoundly satisfying. With that work comes the deep joy of a job well done, the dignity of honest labor, and the knowledge that the business can be passed down to one’s children. More than a job, for these small business owners, their work is part of a legacy that reaches through time, generation to generation.

But because of our broken tax code, many family business owners cannot hand down to their children their life’s work.

The reason? The federal estate tax, commonly called the “death tax.”

To quote the Internal Revenue Service, “the estate tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death.” Because of it, those family businesses with property valued above a set amount cannot hand down to their children the family legacy – unless those children pay up.

That’s right. Rising generations of small business owners, the backbone of America’s economy, must pay Uncle Sam before they can take possession of something their family already owns.

The death tax hits these families hard. Their wealth is in their business and the equipment they use to run it. They are cash-poor and asset-rich, but the death tax turns their assets into liabilities. Many times, the children of these families want to follow the path of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. But those who cannot pay the tax find themselves forced onto a different road.

Often, it takes them far from home.

The death tax harms our Nebraskan way of life. It hurts our economy. It is time for it to go.

In the Senate, I have cosponsored the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017. Introduced by Senator John Thune of South Dakota, this bill would permanently repeal the federal estate tax.

Our bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes. It would also make permanent the maximum 35 percent gift tax rate and the lifetime gift tax exemption.

Repealing this tax is good policy. It’s also the right thing to do.

Government, when at its best, unleashes the human spirit and rewards families for accepting a risk and working hard. It dignifies their labor. The death tax does just the opposite. Government at its worst, it punishes that spirit, seeking instead to take its cut of a lifetime of hard work, risk, and reward. It erodes that proud legacy shared across generations.

By repealing the death tax, we can help strengthen Nebraska’s proud tradition of family businesses. I am hopeful that we will.


Taxpayers, local school board members, superintendents, agriculture and education groups from across Nebraska today announced they have joined forces to create a coalition called Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education. The coalition which was formed in support of these two principles:


Adequate and sustainable funding of high quality K-12 education is imperative for the future of Nebraska.
·       A well-educated workforce is essential for economic development and a high quality of life.
·       Education reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases income. In sum, education is one of the most important investments a state can make in its people and its future.
·       Low levels of state funding for education is at the heart of Nebraska’s property tax issues, not school spending.


Tax reform which reduces the over-reliance on local property taxes is necessary to ensure our tax system is fair to all Nebraska taxpayers.
·       Nebraska must reduce property taxes to ensure a fair and balanced tax system.
   o   Nebraska ranks 49th in the country in the percentage of K-12 funding that comes from the state.
   o   Nebraskans pays the 7th highest effective property tax rate in the nation.
·       To fund the state budget, we need a tax system that is fair and balanced for all Nebraska taxpayers. Nebraska’s taxpayers need a significant reduction in property taxes.
    o   Nebraska K-12 schools receive 33% of their funding from state sources while the national average is 47%.
    o   Nebraska K-12 schools receive 49% of their funding from local property taxes while the national average is 29%.

Quality education opportunities for our children are critical to the well-being of our communities, our economy and our state. To ensure the future of Nebraska we must provide a more diverse means of funding our schools and end our over reliance on property taxes to carry this responsibility,” said Steve Nelson, President of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“ICON represents cow-calf operators with hundreds of members across Nebraska.  Our members are enthusiastic supporters of their local schools, which consume the lion’s share of a property tax bill.  Our segment of the cattle industry is at a breaking point.  With gross receipts declining by 50% across the grass counties, property tax reform cannot be kicked down the road any longer, and rural students should not be forced to cut programs because Nebraska is unwilling to step up and provide adequate state support for K-12 education.  We enthusiastically joined this coalition to demand that our Governor and Legislature find a solution,” said Al Davis, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.

“Nebraska Farmers Union enthusiastically joins this broad based coalition of education and property tax stakeholders to support appropriate funding for K-12 education and desperately needed property tax relief. Family farm agriculture is facing the worst financial crisis since the mid 1980’s with three years of below the costs of production commodity prices and more low prices forecast. We urge all impacted organizations and citizens to set aside their differences and get involved in the legislative process so that our combined efforts can push for the long overdue reforms in our state tax system.  Now is the time for all of us to work together for the good of our children and property owners across our state,” said John Hansen, President of Nebraska Farmers Union.

“It is an honor to work with this growing coalition to reduce property taxes while protecting funding for our public schools.  Coalition members come from all geographic parts of the state and all economic sectors: from Omaha to Chadron, homeowners, school board members, farmers, small business owners, public school leaders and others.  All believe that adequate and sustainable funding of high-quality K-12 education that will reduce our over-reliance on local property taxes is imperative for Nebraska’s future.  This should be Priority #1 throughout the legislative session,” said Mike Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools; President of Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education (STANCE).

“The quality of our educational system and staff is threatened now more than ever by surrounding states advancing their educational revenues with increases in state sales tax. Our coalition is expressing the need for dire change now before permanent damage is done to the ones we care about the most, our children across greater Nebraska,” said Boone Huffman, Board of Education Member, Chadron Public Schools.

“Reform of Nebraska's antiquated property taxing system to support local schools is way past due. Taxes on Nebraska's crop and pasture ground bear too large a burden. We strongly support public schools and funding them. We urge protecting two of Nebraska's greatest assets: Our children and agriculture,” said Doug Nienhueser, Nebraska Fair.

“Nebraskans want – and they support – quality public schools for their children and grandchildren. They also want a balanced system for financing schools. But our heavy reliance on property taxes and low state support has created inequities. Let me be clear: Nebraska’s elected school board members are thrifty stewards of tax revenue dollars. The problem driving the increase in property taxes is that the state is not doing its share. Nebraska is 49th in the nation in state aid to education. There is a strong correlation between state aid investment and property tax rates. When state aid does not keep up, property taxes go up that much faster to make up the difference. The solution is evident. If the state hopes lower property taxes, state aid is the answer,” said Nancy Fulton, president of the Nebraska State Education Association.

“The coalition of Nebraskans demanding property tax reform continues to grow. The legislature needs to act this year to balance Nebraska’s tax code,” said Trent Fellers Executive Director of Reform for Nebraska’s Future.

"I’m a retired teacher from Hampton and currently serve on the York Board of Education. We are thankful for this growing coalition that represents over 85% of the school board members and school districts in Nebraska. We're excited to stand together with all of these organizations, and those to come, to encourage our lawmakers to protect high quality public education funding while reducing our over-reliance on local property taxes. This has to be a top priority," said Barb Skaden, York Board of Education, retired teacher from Hampton.

“A unique relationship has been established amongst urban and rural communities in Nebraska with regard to protecting school funding and property tax relief. GNSA proudly supports this coalition and is encouraged that this partnership foundationally believes adequate and sustainable funding of high-quality K-12 education that will reduce our over-reliance on local property taxes is imperative to Nebraska's future,” said Dr. Rob Winter, Executive Director, Greater Nebraska Schools Association.

Nebraskans United includes property owners, ag and education groups, school board members, superintendents (representing all school districts across the state) and other taxpayers across Nebraska, we urge the Legislature to act and balance the state's property tax system. Nebraska needs a more equitable system to fund the state's education priorities into the state's future.

Groups participating in today’s news conference include:
Nebraska Farm Bureau                                              
Nebraska State Education Association
Reform for Nebraska’s Future                                   
Nebraska Council of School Administrators
Nebraska Corn Growers Association                       
Nebraska Farmers Union
Women Involved in Farm Economics                       
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska Pork Producers                                         
The Nebraska Wheat Growers
Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association  
Nebraska Fair
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska                        
Gage County Property Tax Group
Greater Nebraska Schools Association: Bellevue, Bennington, Blair, Columbus, Elkhorn, Fremont, Gering, Grand Island, Gretna, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington, Lincoln, McCook, Millard, Norfolk, Norris, North Platte, Omaha, Papillion-La Vista, Plattsmouth, Ralston, Schuyler, South Sioux City, Westside Community Public Schools.
Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education: Beatrice, Blair, Chadron, Columbus, Crete, Fairbury, Gothenburg, Holdrege, Nebraska City, Norris, Seward, South Sioux City, Wahoo, Waverly, York Public Schools

New Nebraska Dairy Princess Crowned in Columbus

Marta Pulfer, a 17-year-old from Wayne, Nebraska, was crowned the Nebraska Dairy Princess during the annual Nebraska State Dairy Convention in Columbus Feb. 21.

Pulfer is the daughter of Kent and Jodi Pulfer, and is a senior at Wayne High School. Her role as princess will be to make public appearances to help people understand the dedication of dairy farm families to their cows, their land and the milk they produce. Midwest Dairy Association sponsors the dairy princess program on behalf of Nebraska’s dairy farm families.

The new princess was a state delegate to the National 4-H Dairy Conference and has shown dairy, horses, dogs and cats at the Wayne County Fair, along with exhibiting dogs and a veterinary science project on dairy reproduction at the Nebraska State Fair. Her school involvement has included speech, music, cross-country and National Honor Society, and she is active in her church.

Pulfer plans to attend Texas A&M University next fall to earn a degree in biomedical engineering while pursuing pre-veterinary medicine.

The Nebraska Dairy Princess receives a scholarship from Midwest Dairy Association.

January Milk Production up 2.7 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during January totaled 17.0 billion pounds, up 2.7 percent from January 2016. December revised production, at 16.8 billion pounds, was up 2.6 percent from December 2015.  The December revision represented a decrease of 2 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,957 pounds for January, 37 pounds above January 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of January since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.69 million head, 67,000 head more than January 2016, and 5,000 head more than December 2016.

Milk production in Iowa during January 2017 totaled 433 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous January according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during January, at 215,000 head, was the same as last month but 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,015 pounds, up 30 pounds from last January.

2016 Annual Milk Production up 1.8 Percent from 2015

The annual production of milk for the United States during 2016 was 212 billion pounds, 1.8 percent above 2015. Revisions to 2015 production decreased the annual total 36 million pounds.  Revised 2016 production was down 76 million pounds from last month's publication. Annual total milk production has increased 14.4 percent from 2007.

Production per cow in the United States averaged 22,774 pounds for 2016, 378 pounds above 2015. The average annual rate of milk production per cow has increased 12.7 percent from 2007.

The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2016 was 9.33 million head, up 0.2 percent from 2015. The average number of milk cows was revised down 5,000 head for 2016. The average annual number of milk cows has increased 1.5 percent from 2007.

Scholarships Available from Iowa State Dairy Association

The Iowa State Dairy Association (ISDA) will award 14 $500 college scholarships to those associated with the organization. The scholarships are available to members, or to children or grandchildren of an ISDA member, as well as to employees or the children of employees. The deadline for applications is March 17.

The ISDA is a membership organization of dairy producers and industry members. Those who wish to join or to renew are invited to access the membership information at

Applicants for the scholarship must be full-time students at an accredited college or university, or be planning to attend next fall. Applications and guidelines for an essay can be found at

Save the date for Iowa Swine Day 2017 - June 29 in Ames, IA

Please be advised that Iowa Swine Day 2017 will be held on June 29th starting at 9:00 am in the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus; this maintains our practice of holding the event on the last Thursday in June.

This year’s conference – the 6th – will follow the same structure as in past years, with a plenary session in the morning followed by 3 concurrent sessions in the afternoon. There will be 16 presentations in total.  Topics include:
·         Planning for a secure pork supply in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak (Dr. Jim Roth, Iowa State University)
·         The future state of the U.S. pork industry (Mark Greenwood, AgStar Financial Services)
·         Gene editing for animal agriculture: Practice and possibilities (Dr. Randy Prather, University of Missouri)
·         Can diet be used to improve gut health? What role does drinking water play? (Dr. John Patience, Iowa State University)
·         Countering misperceptions about the use of science in meat production (Dr. Joe Schwarcz, McGill University)
·         VFD’s: What have we learned in their implementation (Dr. Jeff Verzal, Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship)
·         Update on viruses: Seneca, PRRSv, PEDv, etc (Dr. Pablo Pineyro, Iowa State University)
·         What is on the horizon for new engineering technologies applied to hog barns (Drs. Jay Harmon and Steve Hoff and Brett Ramirez, Iowa State University)
+ 8 other topics

More than 500 people registered last year, about a quarter of whom came from outside Iowa. More than 2.5 million sows were represented, along with many major feed, pharmaceutical, genetics and equipment companies.

Sponsorship has been very, very important to the success of Iowa Swine Day. Some 40 sponsors help to keep our registration costs very low, while at the same time providing top quality speakers.

As in previous years, a Program Committee made up of pork producers from across the state selected the topics and in many cases the speakers invited to Iowa Swine Day again this year.

The Organizing Committee consists of Drs. Jason Ross, Jay Harmon, Chris Rademacher, Ken Stalder and John Patience, with tremendous administrative support from Brent Pringnitz, Dessie Schroeder and Julie Roberts.

Further details will follow.  As in previous years, a BBQ organized by AB Vista and Techmix will follow the program.

2016 U.S. Pork Exports Show Impressive Progress

At year-end 2016, U.S. pork exports showed impressive progress following a challenging 2015. In 2016, 5.1 billion pounds of pork and pork variety meats valued at $5.94 billion dollars were exported, up 8 percent and 7 percent respectively from 2015, according to the USDA.

“We saw a strong 2016 for U.S. pork exports, but we still face challenges with increased global competition and a stronger U.S. dollar,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The Checkoff is committed to bolstering its partnership with international customers through additional funding of in-country promotions of U.S. pork with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.”

On average, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total pork production in 2016. Export value returned an average $50.20 per head back to producers.

During 2016, more than 100 countries around the world imported U.S. pork.
-    The top five markets by volume were Mexico (1.61 billion pounds), China/Hong Kong (1.21 billion pounds), Japan (854.8 million pounds), Canada (452.2 million pounds) and Central and South America (299.7 million pounds).
-    The top five markets by value were Japan ($1.56 billion), Mexico ($1.355 billion), China and Hong Kong ($1.075 billion), Canada ($798.5 million) and Korea ($365.1 million).

With more pork available in the U.S., the National Pork Board recently approved an increase of 12.7 percent in funding for 2017 export market activities. This financial commitment translates into tangible marketing activities that increase U.S. pork exports to emerging and developing markets.

According to Nepple, promotions and marketing activities will focus on displacing other proteins and global competitors and on promoting larger pork cuts.

House Ag Committee Chairman to Speak at Commodity Classic

U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, will address the thousands of attendees at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, March 2-4, 2017.

Congressman Conaway will speak during the popular General Session, which takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 3.

Serving his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Conaway represents 29 counties in Texas’ 11th congressional district, including the cities of Midland, Odessa and San Angelo.  A native Texan, he grew up in Odessa and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Texas A&AM University-Commerce.  A conservative Republican, Rep. Conaway’s background as a CPA gives him a unique perspective on fiscal responsibility.

In addition to his role as chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, Rep. Conaway also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“We are very pleased that Congressman Conaway has agreed to address Commodity Classic attendees,” said Ed Erickson, Jr., a North Dakota soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2017 Commodity Classic.  “With the change in administration in Washington, DC, the next Farm Bill due for debate, and discussions on international trade policy, the farmers attending Commodity Classic will be very interested to hear from one of the nation’s ag policy leaders on a wide range of issues.”

In addition to Congressman Conaway’s remarks, the General Session will include a presentation from John O’Leary, one of the most popular inspirational speakers on the circuit.  After suffering severe burns and amputations as a child, O’Leary shares a message of navigating adversity through decision-making, revealing a brighter vision for what’s possible and living boldly to impact others.

The General Session also features comments from the leadership of the four presenting commodity associations:  American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers.   A representative of the fifth Commodity Classic sponsor, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), will also make remarks.

All registration and housing reservations for Commodity Classic should be made online at  Experient is the official registration and housing provider for Commodity Classic.  Check the website for a listing of the official Commodity Classic hotels to secure your hotel accommodations.

Attendees may register for all three days of Commodity Classic or register for one day only.  For example, Friday registration includes the General Session, the early morning live taping of U.S. Farm Report, access to the huge Commodity Classic trade show with 425 exhibiting companies, the AG CONNECT Main Stage programs, and a wide range of educational sessions and technical presentations.  After the event, registrants will also be able to access on-line videos of selected educational sessions that took place on the days for which they were registered.

The 2017 Commodity Classic will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  The convention center will house most Commodity Classic events, including the Opening Reception, General Session, Evening of Entertainment, Trade Show, Learning Center Sessions and What’s New Sessions.

A detailed schedule of events is also available on the website.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

AFBF Joins Groups in Support of Farm Bill Funding

Reduced spending under the 2014 farm bill contributed greatly to the nation’s deficit reduction effort. However, additional cuts to the 2018 farm bill would present perils on many fronts, a diverse coalition today told congressional appropriations and budget leaders.

In a letter, 502 different groups, representing a wide range of constituents – from agriculture and nutrition assistance to rural development, conservation and local governments, said additional funding cuts would “hinder development and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

Support for the letter was spearheaded by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Bread for the World, Feeding America, the Food Research & Action Center, the National Association of Counties, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The letter strongly urged the congressional leaders “to reject calls for additional cuts” during a time when the agricultural and rural economies are showing stress, a significant number of American households financially are struggling to meet basic nutrition needs and U.S. farm income has declined 46 percent from only three years ago.

The last farm bill contributed $23 billion in savings to deficit reduction over 10 years at the time of passage, the letter states. That was the first time when spending for a farm bill was voluntarily reduced before Congress even began considering the measure.

“It was the only reauthorization bill in that Congress that voluntarily offered savings,” the letter said. “These difficult cuts resulted from hard choices made to reform and reduce the farm safety net, conservation initiatives, and nutrition assistance.”

In reality, savings from the 2014 farm bill was far more. The Congressional Budget Office’s January 2017 baseline estimates spending on nutrition and crop insurance alone was nearly $100 billion less than projected, while mandatory‎ federal spending outside the Agriculture Committees’ jurisdiction has risen over the same time period.

“We have all begun preparing for the 2018 Farm Bill and recognize that passing a bill with additional funding reductions would be extremely difficult, if not impossible,” the letter said. “Therefore, as the Senate and House Agriculture Committees begin preparing for the 2018 Farm Bill, it is imperative that the committees not be hamstrung by further budget or appropriations cuts to any farm bill program.”

The groups strongly encourage congressional leaders “to recognize the substantial savings already achieved, which far exceed expectations, and to provide the (Agriculture) committees the opportunity to complete their work through regular order, without arbitrary budget cuts or caps.”

“We know the (Agriculture) committees will once again face challenging budgetary and policy choices in the development of the 2018 Farm Bill,” the letter said. “That is why it is so important you ensure the committee process for the farm bill can proceed with some budget flexibility.”

American Ethanol Fuels NASCAR for 7th Season

The 69th NASCAR season kicks off this weekend during the Daytona 500. Amid all of the usual team, driver and sponsor paint-out design changes, Monster Energy also takes over as the Cup Series title sponsor, replacing Sprint. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is American Ethanol's footprint in the sport. "For the seventh straight year in a row, Sunoco Green E15 - a fuel blended with 15% American Ethanol - will power NASCAR," commented NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. "It's clear NASCAR is sticking with this winner. With over 500 million miles driven on E15 by American consumers, it looks as if E15 is also a proven winner at the pump." 

Also unchanged this season is American Ethanol's partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver Austin Dillon. Last year, Dillon's racing accomplishments raised American Ethanol's exposure on the track. In last season's first American Ethanol paint-out, Dillon won the pole position in the Cup race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. He picked up another pole award at Texas Motor Speedway, secured his first Chase berth, advanced to the championship's Round of 12 and finished the season 14th in point standings. Dillon's achievements coupled with NASCAR surpassing 10 million successful miles racing on E15, made 2016 a seminal year for American Ethanol.

American Ethanol also enjoyed an elevated profile off-track. Over the past year, the number of states selling E15 doubled. Consumers can now purchase E15 in 28 states at more than 630 gas stations, and can expect E15's availability to expand even more in 2017. 

Be sure to catch Austin Dillon in the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet at the following 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races:
March 26 - Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California
May 13 - Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas
July 1 - Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida
July 30 - Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania
September 3 - Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina
October 15 - Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama

CWT Assists with 1.3 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 6 requests for export assistance on contracts to sell 1.347 million pounds (611 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through May 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 8.374 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.323 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. The sales are the equivalent of 107.057 million 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. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Feed a Bee launches RFP for $500,000 pollinator forage initiative

Bayer, in coordination with the new Feed a Bee steering committee, today announced a call for proposals to establish additional forage for pollinators in all 50 states by 2018. Bayer’s Feed a Bee program, currently in its third year, has rallied more than 900,000 individuals and 117 partner organizations to plant more than 2 billion wildflowers across the U.S., creating and expanding forage areas for pollinators. Through this new initiative, Feed a Bee will build on the success of the program to fund forage initiatives and plantings for pollinators in every state in the U.S., working with organizations across the nation.  

To further the reach of Feed a Bee and contribute to additional forage development, the Feed a Bee Steering Committee, comprised of more than a dozen Feed a Bee partners, including R.D. Offutt Company, Sweet Virginia Foundation, Project Apis m., amongst others, as well as representatives from the Bayer Bee Care Program, will distribute $500,000 in funding over the next two years.

“We convened the steering committee to address an extreme need, now more than ever, to invest in forage and planting initiatives across the country,” said Dr. Becky Langer, project manager, North American Bee Health, Crop Science, a division of Bayer. “Today’s announcement represents a collaborative effort of some of the leading bee health stakeholders who are making it our mission to support the expansion of these programs and make sure organizations in every state in the U.S. have the opportunity to bring their pollinator initiatives to life.”

The committee is requesting forage initiative proposals that will promote pollinator health and help provide a tangible solution to the current lack of forage. Organizations including, but not limited to, nonprofits, growers (individual and trade groups), beekeepers (individual and associations), businesses, schools, clubs, gardening groups, government agencies, etc. are encouraged to submit a proposal.

Forage initiatives in each state must include the following priorities to be considered for funding:
1. Establishing pollinator forage via a dedicated planting or habitat restoration led by the applying organization. Examples of activities may include but are not limited to establishing a pollinator garden, increasing acreage of existing forage, management of right of way vegetation, restoration of native habitat land, etc. Location must be viable and able to support pollinator forage plants (wildflowers, ornamentals or trees) and pollinators, including (but not limited to) farms, community/urban gardens, schools, rights-of-way, etc.
2. Education initiative encouraging others to establish pollinator forage. Promote pollinator education to third parties, sharing with them the importance of planting diverse, abundant forage to provide pollinators with enough food.

Proposals should address one or more of the above priority areas and include:
Executive project summary (500 words max.)
Requested dollar amount with itemized budget
Proposal – background, objective, methods, results
Partners involved in project
Project site – If requesting funds for planting, is the site currently available or still to be identified? How will it be maintained after installation?
Funding will be distributed in grants of $1,000; $2,500 or $5,000, and proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. Proposals submitted before March 31, 2017 will be considered for initiatives and events to occur July – September 2017. The first projects funded will be announced during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2017.   Visit beginning March 3, 2017, for more information on how to submit proposals.

The Feed a Bee Steering Committee members forging this program forward with the help of facilitator Sarah Myers, education lead at the Bayer Bee Care Center, include:
Barry Nevaras, Massey Services
Becky Langer, Bayer Bee Health
Billy Synk, Project Apis m.
Dan Price, Sweet Virginia Foundation
Diane Wilson, Applewood Seed
Doris Mold, American Agri-Women
Keith Norris, The Wildlife Society
Nikki Hindle, Ernst Conservation Seed
Rick Johnstone, IVM Partners
Sandy Farber, University of D.C.
Scott Longing, Texas Tech University
Scott Witte, The Bee Barometer Project at Cantigny Golf
Vince Restucci, R.D. Offutt Company
Zac Browning, Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

Feed a Bee is one of several programs sponsored by Bayer’s Bee Care Program, continuing its nearly 30 years of supporting bee health. For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit: You can also follow and share with us on Twitter @BayerBeeCare, on Facebook at and view photos on Flickr.